It's a Guy Thing

Top 16 TV Shows

Barry (HBO)

Barry is a hitman attempting to escape his life of killing in order to pursue his true love, acting. Season 1 was a great drama-comdey that set up the character of Barry brilliantly. However, it was season 2 that truly set the show apart from its peers. The writing, the directing and the acting across the board became even more layered, deliberate, and gripping. The age-old question whether it’s possible for a person to live a good life even though his past doesn’t seem to allow it comes to the fore constantly and it’s brilliantly handled. It’s darkly hilarious and includes the introduction of some of arguably the best side characters this year.

Better Things (FX)

Better Things is the story of Sam Fox, a single mother and working actor with no filter trying to raise her three daughters – Max, Frankie, and Duke – in Los Angeles. She also looks out for her mother, Phil, an English ex-patriate with questionable faculties who lives across the street. Whether she’s struggling to keep her daughters close or trying to push one of them out of the nest, Sam approaches every challenge with fierce love, raw honesty, and humor. Pamela Adlon’s series about a divorced single mother and actress posts its strongest season this year, doubling down on its storytelling style. Adlon has an uncanny ability to create realistic characters with emotions that resonates with its viewers.

Catastrophe (Amazon)

During a business trip in London, an American named Rob meets Sharon, an Irish teacher with whom he shares incredible chemistry. While the two plan to have some fun with no strings attached, things go awry when Sharon learns she is pregnant. The unexpected news inspires the recent acquaintances to try and make it as a couple, despite nonstop complications that include hailing from different countries and a pregnancy that is not without risks. The fourth and final season is without a doubt the best in the series as the main characters come to terms with age, compromise and life as a whole. Of course the moving tribute to former co-star Carrie Fisher was very much the highlight of the series.

Chernobyl (HBO)

Chernobyl dramatizes the story of the April 1986 nuclear plant disaster which occurred in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union, telling the stories of the people who caused the disaster and those who responded to it. The series depicts some of the lesser-known stories of the disaster, including the efforts of the firefighters who were the first responders on the scene, volunteers, and teams of miners tasked with digging a critical tunnel under Reactor 4. Combining horror, black comedy, and political satire, and tying it all together with a respectful, at times funereal tone, this is one of the feel-bad events of the TV year, and strangely cathartic for that reason. 

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Netflix)

A prequel to the cult classic 1982 movie of the same name, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance sees the Gelfling race on the planet Thra become aware of the fact that their customarily worshiped overlords, the Skeksis, are exploitative, taxing essence-suckers who are destroying their world, three Gelflings, Rian, Brea and Deet inspire a rebellion after discovering a horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power that threatens their entire planet. It’s a masterfully made series returning to the heyday of puppetry and practical effects when Jim Henson and Frank Oz were household names and it goes to prove that not everything needs to be laden with CGI effects to dazzle an audience.

Documentary Now! (IFC)

Any documentary fans will instantly fall in love with the parody series from comedy legends Bill Hader and Fred Armisen. The premise is simple, each episode is treated as a “real” documentary shot exactly in the style of famous documentaries from the past. The mocumentary format is hilarious and surprisingly accurate. In season 3 the major roles went to heavy-hitting guest stars, including Cate Blanchett, Michael Keaton, Owen Wilson, Natasha Lyonne, and Michael C. Hall, with especially Blanchett’s performance as an eccentric European performance artist being a particular highlight of the season.

Fleabag (Amazon)

A dry-witted woman, known only as Fleabag, has no filter as she navigates life and love in London while trying to cope with tragedy. The angry, grief-riddled woman tries to heal while rejecting anyone who tries to help her, but Fleabag continues to keep up her bravado through it all. Comic actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge stars as the titular character on the series, which is based on Waller-Bridge’s 2013 one-woman show of the same name. Season 2 took the show to new heights, winning every award possible, it’s easy to see why this is the most talked-about show of 2019. Waller-Bridge is as sharp as ever, and the storytelling is even more focused, particularly with regard to a budding romance between Fleabag and a hot priest played by Andrew Scott. It’s six episodes of perfection that you’ll want to watch all over again the second you finish. 

GLOW (Netflix)

An out-of-work actress living in Los Angeles in the ’80s finds an unexpected chance at stardom when she enters the glitter and spandex-laden world of women’s wrestling, where she must work alongside 12 other Hollywood misfits. The third season of the female wrestling drama-comdey shifts the action from L.A. to Las Vegas, where the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are staging a live show several nights a week. GLOW gives more of the members of its ensemble cast time to shine, most notably Gayle Rankin’s Sheila the She Wolf. But it also continues to dissect the relationship between Ruth and Debbie, the best friends turned rivals turned colleagues who continue to look to each other for reaffirmation. 

 Los Espookys (HBO)

A primarily Spanish-language comedy with English subtitles, the series follows the adventures of Renaldo, a horror and gore enthusiast who forms a unique business that conjures thrills and chills for a variety of clients. Joining Renaldo in his eerie enterprise are friends Úrsula, who handles the logistics and execution of Los Espookys’ projects; Úrsula’s sister, Tati, who juggles odd jobs while acting as the group’s test dummy; and Andrés, the brooding heir to a chocolate empire who longs to unlock the secrets to his past. It’s a bizarrely weird and wonderful show with arguably some of the best and most out-there dialogue ever put to screen.

Mindhunter (Netflix)

Catching a criminal often requires the authorities to get inside the villain’s mind to figure out how he thinks. That’s the job of FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench. They attempt to understand and catch serial killers by studying their damaged psyches. Along the way, the agents pioneer the development of modern serial-killer profiling. The crime-drama has a strong pedigree behind the camera, with Oscar-nominated director David Fincher and Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron among the show’s executive producers. On the surface, the second season of Mindhunter becomes increasingly focused on the famous Atlanta child murders that happened in the late ’70s and early ’80s. But really, it’s about how, in different ways, every human being seeks attention and often gains it the more lurid their story becomes. 

PEN15 (Hulu)

This comedy series depicts middle school as it really happened. Comics Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play versions of themselves as teenage outcasts in the year 2000, during a time when the best day of your life can turn into the worst with the stroke of a gel pen. Adult Maya and Anna are surrounded by actual teenagers as they re-experience some of the ups and downs of middle school life. They get a lot of unexpected attention on the first day of school and later face the temptation to do drugs. It’s a portrait of young female friendship that’s poignant and crude, hilarious and cringey, brutally honest and gloriously nostalgic for early days in the new millennium. 

Russian Doll (Netflix)

Emmy-nominated actress Natasha Lyonne stars in this comedy-drama series as Nadia, a young woman who is on a journey to be the guest of honor at a party in New York City. But she gets caught in a mysterious loop as she repeatedly attends the same event and dies at the end of the night each time, only to awaken the next day unharmed as if nothing had happened. It’s Groundhog day for a new generation and the show surprisingly finds new and exciting ways to re-tell Nadia’s misfortunes every single episode.

Stranger Things (Netflix)

What turned out to be a shlocky horror tribute to the classic 80’s horror films has become a cultural phenomenon that with each season becomes the talk of the town as soon as a trailer is released. If season two of Netflix’s blockbuster ’80s nostalgia fantasy didn’t settle the question of whether it should have quit while it was ahead, season three went a long way toward justifying the decision to keep things going. All the major players got new threads to play out, and while some of these were forced and awkward, others were sensationally effective or amusing because of their sheer goofiness). The Duffer brothers once again proved they have a knack for unique storytelling and creating realistic characters set in a fantasy world. Plus with season 4 recently announced, everyone is curious as to where the series is heading.

Unbelievable (Netflix)

A dramatization of the 2008–2011 Washington and Colorado serial rape cases, Unbelievable follows Marie, a teenager who was charged with lying about having been raped, and the two detectives who followed a twisting path to arrive at the truth. Simply put, Unbelievable is one of the best crime series released in decades, with an intense and believable portrayal of female victims and the female detectives who play a vital role in tracking down a serial rapist. Unbelievable is distinguished from similar series by the gender-informed attention to detail that creator Susannah Grant brings to this study of lapses in the criminal justice system. Also, the performances are extraordinary. 

Veronica Mars (Hulu)

When a popular show receives a reboot, the odds of the show recapturing the magic are extremely low and disappointing. Fortunately, the fourth season of Veronica Mars distinguishes itself by being more than just a good old nostalgia wallow for the Marshmallows. The revival follows Veronica as she tries to get to the bottom of a series of bombings in Neptune during spring break, it feels like a throwback only in the sense that it does well what the first two seasons of Veronica Mars also did well. It digs deeply into a good mystery, gives Kristen Bell the space to make sarcastic remarks, and arrives at shocking conclusions. Any fears fans might’ve had at this being just a cash grab nostalgic trip, were put to rest as soon as they got to explore Neptune along with everyone’s favorite detective.

What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Based on the feature film of the same name from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, “What We Do in the Shadows” is a documentary-style look into the daily lives of four vampires who’ve “lived” together for hundreds of years in Staten Island. After an unexpected visit from their dark lord and leader, the vampires are reminded of what they were initially tasked with upon their arrival in New York City over a century ago, total and complete domination of the New World. But what exactly is the best way to go about achieving said domination? A camera crew follows along as the vampires set out to answer this query. This is without a doubt on the funniest shows on TV right now and perfectly captures the humor and silliness that made the movie such a cult hit.