Sunday, January 5, 2020

2019 - The year in (good) TV shows

2019 was a pretty good year in terms of TV shows (at least in my subjective opinion). People have been writing articles about how over the course of this decade TV overtook big screen movies both in terms of quality and in prestige, and I tend to agree. I watched a lot of shows this year, as usual (while eating, while crocheting, and while sick - in case anyone wants to question how I "have time for all that junk") (and before anyone starts to make "I prefer to read"statements, I also read 133 books on the side). Anyway, I have a lot of favorites this year. In no particular order:

New Favorites

Doom Patrol - When DC gets an R rating and the writers get to go crazy, you get a really fun show with likable characters ant lots of enjoyable WTF moments. Long live Danny the Street.

Umbrella Academy - Seems like this year was the year of lovable, thoroughly messed up superheroes, portrayed by great actors and underscored by good music.

Euphoria - American remake of an Israeli show, but doesn't have much in common. Still, pretty good in its own right. Basically Skins for a new generation, with a similarly good cast.

The Mandalorian - Star Wars finally accepted that they have always been a western at heart, and embraced it. This, plus Baby Yoda, brought them back from the brink of the dark side, with Rise of Skywalker and all...

Unbelievable - This year's winner of the "hard to watch, but should be mandatory" category.

Chernobyl - Runner-up to the "hard to watch, but should be mandatory" category. Very well done, even though a lot of the fandom kinda missed the larger point about systemic failure, and blamed the whole thing on one guy.

His Dark Materials - I have not read the books yet, but the show is pretty entertaining. Ruth Wilson takes the cake, even though she is surrounded by similarly good actors.

Good Omens - Obviously.

Years and Years - Very scary, but also very well done, best of British TV style. I really hope it remains mostly fictional.

Gentleman Jack - A+ for representation, but even beyond that, a really fun and entertaining show with a lot of good music and clever humor.

Sex Education - Teenagers have all kinds of awkward sex and non-sex in this endearing show headlined by Asa Butterfield and Agent Scully.

The Politician - Ryan Murphy translates the American political system into high school student elections, and the parallel is excellently done.

Returning Favorites

Dragon Prince - We got two season this year, and this show just keeps getting better. It has the best of Avatar, D&D, Ghibli, and fantasy tropes in general. Plus very, very important messages for the younger generations.

Barry - This was on right after the last season of Game of Thrones every Sunday, and kept beating it with quality storytelling. Good humor, great actors, tight plot. And better action scenes.

Pose - Category is: spectacle, heartwarming, important. With a lineup of excellent actors.

The Good Fight - This show definitely goes the extra mile when it comes to making fun of the Trump regime, and also making good, serious points about political activism. Very entertaining. Full of nasty women.

True Detective - The show found its footing for season three, and is good again.

The Magicians - This one keeps getting wilder, and consistently better. Still does magic the right way, and follows through with consequences. I love the musical episodes. The season finale was well done.

American Gods - While people complain about this a lot, I think it's excellent. If you don't get the mythology references, go read some mythology.

The Good Place - I was not into this show at first, but by now I have fallen in love with it. And the latest season turned out great.

Harlots - Still spectacular, still fun, still has amazing costumes and a solid female cast.

Departing Favorites

Silicon Valley - It is a painful goodbye, but a well executed wrap-up for the best geeky show on TV (yes, screw Big Bang). I will miss them.

Veep - Whatever the writers came up with, it could not match reality in terms of surreal political situations, so they kinda just had fun with it.

Marvel's Runaways -  I am very sad to see this one go. I loved the comics and I loved the show.

What we shall not talk about

Game of Thrones - This is how you completely ruin a show that had all the conditions set to succeed. Shame. SHAME.

Stranger Things - I'm just mentioning this here before anyone asks why it's missing from the list. I liked it, it was fun, I'm just not as enthusiastic about it as the fans are.

A Discovery of Witches - I did not watch a lot of bad shows this year, because I had more than enough good ones to get to, so if something was crap, I just quit it. This one is a prime example of something I quit like 3 episodes in (at which point the heroine had already confessed her undying love to her brand new vampire boyfriend). The breaking moment was an internationally acclaimed expert of medieval iconography saying "it's some kind of an infant in an upside down vessel, what could it possibly mean?"

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