The Emmy nominations acknowledged some of the best shows we’ve had in the first six months of this year but the nods may not be the most perfect representative of “2019 on TV”. As the 32 nominations for Game of Thrones will tell you, it’s not really that simple. A great performance may not necessarily mean a great season. Here we are trying to list the 10 best shows of the first half of 2019.
Barry S2 (Hotstar)
The first season was terrific and the second season has beamed and bettered it. Created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader, who is so good as Barry the hitman-turned-actor, the show’s wit continues to be razor-sharp even as the stakes get bigger. The Ronny/Lilly episode alone is a spectacle.
Fleabag S2 (Amazon Prime)
A personal favourite, these six episodes are the glorious pinnacle of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s writing. The introduction of the priest (Andrew Scott) as the love interest really is a genius idea that sets Fleabag into delirious overdrive. Also, the show has such a high rewatch value.
Everyone knew about the genius choreographer Bob Fosse but this biopic miniseries shifts the spotlight on his third wife, Gwen Verdon, who was the secret recipe behind Fosse’s success story. Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams are splendid in the show which hops back and forth in style.
Russian Doll (Netflix)
Usually these high-concept shows fizzle out in the later episodes but Russian Doll gets stronger and stronger as the layers peel off. Starring Natasha Lyonne, who’s also one of the creators (along with Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler), it’s Groundhog Day on steroids with loads of humanity and compassion.
Tales of the City (Netflix)
A fresh spin to the fantasy Frisco of Armistead Maupin, this new version focuses on an all-new generation of characters struggling with their sexuality and gender. Laura Linney is as good as ever with Ellen Page playing her adopted daughter.
When They See Us (Netflix)
The best part about Ava DuVernay’s four-part mini-series is that it manages to highlight hope in the middle of the mayhem that was the wrongful convictions of the Central Park Five. Moonlight’s Jharrel Jerome stands out as Korey Wise.
If you were to choose just one show to watch from this list, let it be Chernobyl. The five-part miniseries dramatises the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Power Plant but what really propels the show ahead is the depiction of the Soviet propaganda in the meltdown. Irresistible cocktail of history and horror.
True Detective S3 (Hotstar)
After a disappointing second season, this crime drama series got its groove book, riding on the performance and changing appearances of its lead star Mahershala Ali, who hops across three timelines with effortless ease.
Veep S7 (Hotstar)
The show went out on an absolute high, keeping the tongue firmly in cheek even as it continued to mirror the actual scenes of lunacy in D.C. One of the greatest acting ensembles of all time, led by that wonder woman Julia Louis-Dreyfus, delivered episode after episode of unalloyed joy and laughter.
What We Do in the Shadows (Hotstar)
The original Kiwi faux-documentary about three vampires sharing an apartment was a hoot and this adaptation, set in Staten Island, is as good if not better. The lead cast is on point and you can’t miss the special episode with all actors who’ve played vampires including Tilda Swinton and Wesley Snipes.