Arts & Culture

The Best TV Shows of 2019 (So Far)

If this slate of newcomers and returning favorites is any indication, we still haven't reached the peak of TV.
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Aided by a growing cadre of tech-entertainment hybrids, Hollywood is pumping out more content than ever. Most of that growth is in television, which after decades as the big screen's neglected younger sibling, is finally getting its turn in the spotlight.

Don't expect that to change this year. Already, audiences have been treated to a few gems. Here, the best television shows that have aired so far in 2019.

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Schitt's Creek

Photo by POP TV.

WATCH NOW: Pop TV 

Over five seasons, this low-stakes comedy has grown with its characters. At the start, it was a simple fish-out-of-water gag, and an excuse to poke fun at rich people (not that we needed another one). These days, it's equal parts heartwarming and hilarious, as the show follows David and Alexis into their belated adulthood. But even with great scripts, Schitt's Creek wouldn't work without impeccable comedic timing of the core four: Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, Catherine O'Hara, and Annie Murphy.

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Russian Doll

Photo by COURTESY OF NETFLIX.

WATCH NOW: Netflix

When Russian Doll debuted in early 2019, it set the bar extremely high for the year in television. Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) and Alan (Charlie Barnett) may not make much forward progress while stuck in a time loop, but the world of the show still manages to expand with every passing minute. In a tight eight episodes, the series packs in enough to compel you to watch again, digging through its layers to uncover new gems—not unlike the show’s namesake nesting dolls. 

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The Good Place

Photo by NBC.

WATCH NOW: NBC 

In its season three finale, everyone’s favorite philosophy-centric comedy managed to shake things up again, somehow returning Chidi, Eleanor, and the gang to another fake Good Place. It’s a safe bet that upon its return in the fall, The Good Place will only take an episode or two to flip this latest plot on its head.

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Victoria

Photo by JUSTIN SLEE.

WATCH NOW: Masterpiece PBS 

The third season of Victoria opens with an uprising. And just as King Louis Phillipe escapes his palace through a tunnel, the scene cuts to Queen Victoria, a crown firmly placed upon her head, her hand resting on her very pregnant belly. The juxtaposition is hardly subtle, and it previews what's to come over the next eight episodes: new babies and new challenges for the young British monarch, both in her kingdom and her marriage.

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The OA

Photo by NICOLA GOODE/NETFLIX.

WATCH NOW: Netflix 

After a three-year hiatus, Brit Marling's enigmatic sci-fi show returned—this time, as an entirely different animal. Whereas season one reveled in ambiguity, leaving one foot out of the rabbit hole, season two dives all the way in—and gets mind flower, psychic octopus, and tree internet-deep.

Mrs. Wilson

WATCH NOW: Masterpiece PBS 

Actress Ruth Wilson plays her own grandmother in this British period drama. The three-part mini-series, based on Alison Wilson's memoirs, follows Wilson's journey after the death of her husband—a man who, we soon learn, Mrs. Wilson may not have actually known very well at all.

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Veep

Photo by COLLEEN HAYES/HBO.

WATCH NOW: HBO 

When Veep returned for its final season, it had figured out how to make a political satire in the age of Trump. It isn't easy when the president is a parody of himself, and lesser shows balked at the challenge. But Veep—aided by a top-notch ensemble cast—found a way through. The trick, it turns out, is not to make jokes more ridiculous; it's to make them darker. Much darker.

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Killing Eve

Photo by ROBERT VIGLASKY/BBC AMERICA.

WATCH NOW: BBC America 

Killing Eve's first season was always going to be a tough act to follow. Season two manages finds its way through—albeit with a rogue plot hole here and there—if only on the sheer strength of its cast. Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, and Fiona Shaw are transfixing, nailing every line (even if the writing left something to be desired).

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Our Planet

Photo by STEVE BENJAMIN/SILVERBACK FILMS.

WATCH NOW: Netflix 

Sometimes, you just need to hear David Attenborough narrate the world. Netflix understands. They enlisted the creator of Planet Earth to make Our Planet, another docu-series in that vein. The results are—as expected—spectacular.

Fosse/Verdon

Photo by FX.

WATCH NOW: FX 

There's a lot to love about Fosse/Verdon—especially if you're a theater nerd. It revisits nearly all of Bob Fosse's greatest works, letting the audience in on behind-the-scenes showbiz secrets both real and imagined. But it's Michelle Williams's revelatory performance as Gwen Verdon that anchors the whole thing. Without her, the rest—as flashy as it looked—may have fallen flat.

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Les Misérables

Photo by COURTESY MASTERPIECE PBS.

WATCH NOW: Masterpiece PBS 

Masterpiece PBS brought us the non-musical, non-movie version of Les Misérables we didn't know we needed (but definitely enjoyed). The all-star cast, lead by Lily Collins, Olivia Colman, David Oyelowo, and Dominic West, really sealed the deal.

Chernobyl

Photo by LIAM DANIEL/HBO.

WATCH NOW: HBO 

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Chernobyl is expertly crafted, well-written, and perfectly performed. But even if it weren't, it would be must-watch television. The (albeit fictionalized) story of what actually happened at Chernobyl—and the people who laid down their lives in order to prevent further, unimaginable disaster—is both riveting and frightening. As is the grim reality of life in the U.S.S.R., where the KGB's "circle of accountability" is always watching.

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Tuca & Bertie

Photo by COURTESY NETFLIX.

WATCH NOW: Netflix 

Fans of BoJack Horseman, Ali Wong, and Tiffany Haddish, rejoice: Tuca & Bertie is the answer to your prayers. The new animated show comes from the mind of Lisa Hanawalt, an illustrator and graphic novelist best known for designing the characters on BoJack. And like BoJack, the show follows animals—specifically Haddish and Wong as Tuca and Bertie, two 30-something best friends living in the same apartment building.

Fleabag

WATCH NOW: Amazon Prime Video 

She's back. After a three-year wait, Phoebe Waller-Bridge's brutally honest, fourth-wall-breaking Fleabag is back. And this time, she's taking on Christianity. (Yes, this is where the Hot Priest you've been hearing about comes in.)

Good Omens

WATCH NOW: Amazon Prime Video 

After years of niche acclaim, Neil Gaiman's novels have truly broken into the mainstream with Starz's adaptation of American Gods, and now Amazon's Good Omens. While there's always a touch of humor in Gaiman's work, Good Omens is perhaps his funniest story. As he says, "Almost thirty years ago, Terry Pratchett and I wrote the funniest novel we could about the end of the world... Three decades later it's going to make it to the big screen." David Tennant and Michael Sheen star as unlikely friends—an angel and a demon—working together to avert the apocalypse.

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When They See Us

Photo by ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA/NETFLIX.

WATCH NOW: Netflix 

Acclaimed director Ava DuVernay is brought the story of the Central Park Five—a group of wrongly convicted young black men—to the small screen. The four-part limited series traces their story from beginning to end, starting with who they were as regular teenagers.

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Big Little Lies

Photo by HILARY BRONWYN GAYLE/COURTESY HBO.

WATCH NOW: HBO 

Big Little Lies's second season picked up months after its first season left off, letting the dust around Perry Wright's death settle, but not set—laying the groundwork for an eventual reckoning. The show's previously unplanned sophomore run wasn't quite as transcendent as its first, but it had its (largely Meryl Streep-related) merits. And if anything, it offered fans a longer stay in the somewhat surreal, thoroughly suburban world of Monterey.

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Succession

Photo by PETER KRAMER/HBO.

WATCH NOW: HBO 

It took a while for viewers to catch onto Succession's debut season, but by the show's season two premiere, it had amassed a sizable, fervent fan base. And they're not wrong: Succession is not to be missed. The series, which follows a Murdoch-like clan as they fight for control over the family business, has all the hallmarks of a top-notch prestige drama—compelling characters, quick-witted zingers, twisty plotlines—plus a little special, Cousin Greg-flavored sauce on top.

*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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