Best of 2019 | Introduction

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So, here we go. You all knew it was coming, I suspect.

From now until the 31st, I’m going to be counting down the best television of 2019 – ten of the best TV shows, and ten of the best episodes of TV shows. That won’t always necessarily be the same thing; just off the top of my head now, I can think of a couple of ‘best episodes’ from shows that aren’t on one list, and a couple of ‘best shows’ that didn’t have any individual episodes make it onto the other list.

Immediately, though, a few caveats:

  • “Best”, in this case, is a fairly idiosyncratic term, here falling somewhere between the actual definition of best, favourite, and most memorable. Which is to say that there are absolutely some entries on these lists that are, in every qualitative sense, absolute rubbish – but it is my list, so I’m still going to call them the best. (There is, at the moment, only one entry I’m debating – it definitely wins out on memorability, but it seems to fly in the spirit of the list somewhat. We’ll see.)
  • Something like 700 new television shows debuted across 2019. At the end of 2018, I said I was hoping to watch 75 new shows across this coming year. I would be surprised if I watched (and, crucially, completed – there’s been a lot of things I’ve watched an episode of and never got around to finishing) even half that.
  • So, yes, there are a couple of very obvious omissions: I still haven’t had the chance to watch Chernobyl or Watchmen, or to finish The End of the F***ing World series 2, all of which I suspect would’ve been fairly likely to make this list.
  • Having said that! I am actually only a few days ahead in writing these – there are definitely going to be a few tight turnarounds, and I am more than a little worried I won’t be able to write all twenty articles to schedule – so, on the off chance I find the time to watch any of the above before I finish the list, I reserve the right to change everything to accommodate. We’ll see, I suppose.

I’ll also have a little sidestep article, a ranked list of all the movies I saw this year – which is similarly incomplete, I don’t really watch as many films as I should. That’ll come a little closer to the end of the month (mainly so I can include Star Wars – and maybe Cats, which I am desperate to see, but probably won’t be able to convince anyone to watch with me). I think that’ll end up being a top 20 or so? I’m fairly sure I’ve seen twenty films this year. Something like that.

The other thing worth noting: I’ve limited the list to stuff that was actually broadcast in 2019. Which feels obvious, admittedly, but given I spent quite a lot of this year catching up on things from a while ago, I’m cutting out a few personal favourites there. A moment of silence for Crashing (which I wish had taken off in the same way Fleabag did), 30 Rock (my new favourite of those NBC sitcoms) and The Good Wife (which has a few episodes that could be contenders for best of the decade), all of which really do probably deserve to have made this list.

You can find my favourites from 2017 and 2018 here (in one handy list) in case you’re interested in those. I probably won’t try and put together a best of the decade list, if only because I’ve not really been paying attention properly for long enough – there’s so many huge, huge gaps in my critical framework for the decade, given I only really started doing this properly in 2016ish. (I do kinda like the idea of being difficult and doing a best of the decade piece in 2026, or maybe 2023 for this website’s tenth anniversary. We’ll see.) What I will say, though, just to stake out my position on the 2010s: any best of the decade list that omits Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a fundamentally incomplete list and can be quite easily disregarded.

That, I think, is everything – so check back here tomorrow for the tenth best TV show of 2019, and the day after that for the tenth best episode of TV of 2019, and then… so on and so forth. You get the picture.

Click here to find the rest of the Best of 2019 list – or, click here to filter by television shows and here to filter by television episodes.

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