Last week we looked at the new shows that have made a splash this year. And now it’s time to list the best recurring shows, whose new seasons have either improved or matched their earlier seasons to give us a streaming hot 2019.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge the writer and Phoebe Waller-Bridge the actor played tag team yet again to serve us six exhilarating episodes that easily bettered the first outing and arguably bettered everything that streamed this year. As this Now Streaming column has been shouting from these pages week after week, if there’s one 2019 show you choose to see, let it be the adventures of this outrageously funny, sexually pervy and always grieving British woman.
Barry (Hotstar Premium) Season 2
Just like Waller-Bridge, Bill Hader the writer and Bill Hader the actor came together to create magic. Hader also directed two of the eight episodes of the second season including the jaw-dropping ronny/lily episode. Even as the past continues to haunt hitman-turned-aspiring-actor Barry, he finds new ways to weather the storm and keeps trying to fully transition to his new identity.
Succession (Hotstar Premium) Season 2
You can’t possibly like any of the Roy family members but you can’t help but love the show. Because while the series itself offers sympathy to its characters, there’s bottomless sadistic pleasure in watching a bunch of rich schmucks tear each other down episode after episode, armed with some terrific writing (which won the Emmy). And what made season 2 better is Holly Hunter joining the cast and, of course, that incredible season finale.
The Good Place (Netflix) Season 4
It’s never easy for a popular show to exit on a high but The Good Place has always been so surefooted about its flow that it seemed it always knew when to bow out. In this final season, there are laughs aplenty but most importantly it is still able to champion and celebrate the goodness in humanity. The ensemble cast including Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, as usual, are at the top of their game.
The Crown (Netflix) Season 3
With Claire Foy passing on the royal baton to Olivia Colman, this was always going to be a cracker of a season. A judicious mix of personal drama replete with delicious scandals and world events, the show continues to be delightfully compelling. As an older, more mature Queen Elizabeth II, Colman is a portrait of restraint, where every glance says more than many pages of dialogues ever could.
Veep (Hotstar Premium) Season 7
Another final season. Another glorious goodbye. The decade’s best political comedy didn’t let up in the last few episodes as Selina Meyer and her gang of incompetents took another shot at the White House amidst Chinese election interference. And that series finale was pure gold.
The second season had struggled a bit but the Duffer Brothers along with Shawn Levy got things back into the groove this year. By wisely taking out strands that were not really working and focussing on friendships that warmed the heart, the secret sauce continues to be 80s nostalgia and the sheer fun of watching the most amazing bunch of kids grow up.
Bojack Horseman (Netflix) Season 6
Only half of the final season is out – the other half arrives in end-January – but these eight episodes were some of the finest writing of the year. What was particularly brilliant was how all the main characters were on their separate trips of self-discovery and yet they were together in their redemption. By the time this is all over, the world’s favourite equine star and his friends would have come a long way from where they started.
The Kominsky Method (Netflix) Season 2
There is no major plot thickening here but just two old men “making the mundane exciting”. Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas make Chuck Lorre’s writing sing as Norman and Sandy negotiate old age and young people. You will not be able to wipe the smile off your face right through the eight episodes.
Better Things (Hotstar Premium) Season 3
Sometimes a series takes time to find its feet and strengthen its voice. Some times all it needs is the shedding of a co-creator (Louis C.K.). Pamela Adlon writes, directors and stars in this show about a 50-year-old actress who’s also a single mother. Emotionally raw yet so powerfully cathartic, every episode is a gem in what is easily the best season of Better Things.