Top 10 TV Shows of 2019

HBO's Succession
HBO's Succession /

2019 was a great year in television. This is The Big Lead's list of the 10 best TV shows the networks had to offer over the last 12 months, from editor Liam McKeone and writer Bobby Burack, in no particular order. Please send all complaints to their Twitter accounts. Spoilers will follow in abundance. Reader beware.

Succession, Season 2 (HBO)

The Succession finale of their second season was, without a doubt, the best finale of the year-- both within and outside HBO. Kendall's complete heel-turn from sniveling son to Judas (complete with the kiss!) was an incredible twist that you didn't really see coming. Shiv's desire for power during the merger clashing with her father's continuous mind games kept the viewer on the edge of their seat. As a whole, the season once again stretched the bounds of what we thought was ridiculous when it came to the show, gave us plenty of Cousin Greg quotes, and far more emotion than I would've thought; Roman's character progression has been beautiful to watch, and Tom's struggles with Shiv culminating with "I wonder if the sad I'd feel without you would be less than the sad I feel with you" was heart-wrenching. This was the best TV show of 2019. - McKeone

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Adapted from the comic book series, nobody really knew what to expect when The Boys dropped over the summer. It ended up being one of the best superhero adaptions in recent memory. In the same year Avengers: Endgame made the most money out of any movie ever, Amazon adopted the "hero as the anti-hero" method to perfection and showed us just how it would work if superheroes really did exist. Corporate entities and money rules all, all the superheroes are actually awful people, and the worst one is the most powerful one-- and it's all a hoax, anyhow. It gave us some truly disturbing moments that were unmatched by most other TV shows this year (the airplane scene still haunts me) and the end was as gory and mind-blowing as expected. Season 2 is something to mark on your calendars next year. - McKeone

Watchmen (HBO)

The other big comic book adaption of 2019, Watchmen just had its season finale this past week to put a cap on one of the more riveting shows this year. Angela Abar's battle with her past and how her grandfather dealt with the mistreatment of a black man in America sets the stage for a show that entertained viewers, but it was far more than that. The mindset and actions of the white supremacy group Seventh Cavalry presented parallels to modern discourse that hit home given, ya know, everything going on right now in America. The end backtracked on some of their overall messages, but the soundtrack was perfect, the cinematography was excellent, and overall it was a great adaption of the comics. - McKeone

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Euphoria (HBO)

To put it simply, Euphoria was a beautiful piece of television. Every episode brought at least half a dozen shots that took your breath away. It also featured some of the best acting performances of the year, from Zendaya's heart-breaking struggle with bipolar disorder and addiction to Jacob Elordi's masterful performance as the jock who doubles as an absolute psychopath. His meltdown in the final episode haunts me to this day. You felt like Rue's breaking point would come at any time-- and it left you wondering if we'd even see her in the final episode as she was carried away by a choir in robes in an almost Kanye-esque final scene. - McKeone

Chernobyl (HBO)

One of the highest-rated television shows of all time, Chernoybl was a visual masterpiece. Its depiction of the series of events leading up to the nuclear meltdown, and the efforts of the Russian government to hide the aftereffects rather than deal with it immediately, was evocative and, at points, extremely difficult to watch. It was poignant, it was dark, and it was a can't-miss spectacle for five weeks straight. For all of the content HBO put out this year, Chernobyl very well may be its crowning achievement as perfectly executed television. - McKeone

Game of Thrones, Season 8 (HBO)

Yes, even with an ending that didn't satisfy GOT casuals, experts, or the book readers, the final season of Game of Thrones makes the list. No season this year, or a year ever in television, carried the weight and discussion created that the eighth season of the adaptation of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series did. Fans immersed themselves into the series and its characters, and it all culminated this season. It moved too fast, was too loose, and became less plausible by the week, but it absolutely was not absent of extraordinary moments that capped off this masterpiece of a series. We saw how strong the love was between Jamie and Cersei Lannister in the end, how far Arya Stark had come, what type of person Jon Snow was, and how Daenerys Targaryen would have handled being Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms. In hindsight, this season deserves a second watch. I miss you, Game of Thrones. - Burack

Fleabag, Season 2 (Amazon Prime Video)

Amid the streaming war between Netflix and Disney+, Amazon Prime Video dropped another flawless season of Fleabag, which was somehow better than its first. It was the most well-written show of the year, combining witty humor with a tear-jerking backstory that left you in awe. Andrew Scott's on-air chemistry with Phoebe Waller-Bridge flashed immediately. Late in the season, Waller-Bridge's character (no name), in a heart-breaking confession to the priest (Scott), whom she has a love interest with, revealed what has truly been bothering her from the first moment we met her. Thus, it all came together. A third season is not expected, and while as exciting as it would be, great has nowhere to go but down. - Burack

Barry, Season 2 (HBO)

Barry's second season proved just where comedy is in 2019 and how far it has come. The writers of Barry appear to be right from the school of Vince Gilligan. They've been Gilligan-esque thus far in writing the characters into impossible corners, and finding ways to write them out in illusory yet believable ways. Barry Berkman, portrayed by Bill Hader, is the most controversial "good guy, maybe bad guy" since Walter White. Like Fleabag, the follow-up season topped the shockingly acclaimed first act. Barry is a wild mixture of funny, enthralling, devastating, and outrageous. Next season now must tie up the shocking cliffhanger of the season finale. If I was forced to choose, this was the best show of 2019. - Burack

Stranger Things, Season 3 (Netflix)

It can be argued how much further this off-the-wall plot can go after its third straight thrill-ride. While the answer may be not much longer, it will be missed as the show has become the definition of an enjoyable watch. The characters are just as nerdy and captivating as they were in the pilot; however, the creators (the Duffer Brothers) have gotten better. As was the case in first two seasons, it was impossible not to get through this season in a weekend. Each episode left off with a hook that your mind could not erase. Stranger Things is known for its 1980s nostalgia, yet, somehow, the look and feel has been so appealing, so well presented, those born in 90s now feel they once lived in the decade before. - Burack

True Detective, Season 3 (HBO)

The third installment of Nic Pizzolatto's mysterious anthology crime was the most overlooked show of the year. It certainly wasn't the first, but was closer to that historic season than the horrific second one. The mystery of who did can be figured out midway through, while the how requires the final seconds to be added up. Once again, there are multiple time periods and Mahershala Ali excelled in all of them. Between the chilling scene and the somewhat content ending, every emotion is felt over the eight episodes. - Burack