Man at His Best

The Best Television Of 2019 (So Far)

Including the return of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's 'Fleabag' and a high school series that takes you back to 2000

BY OLIVIA OVENDEN | Mar 7, 2019 | Film & TV


If you are what you watch, then according to 2019 we're a bunch of crime obsessives looking to hark back to the simpler days of high school. The year's television offering has already given us plenty of reasons to forsake our social lives, with Netflix's Russian Doll providing endless time-loops to pick apart, hours of unheard recordings of Ted Bundy in Conversations with a Killer, and two forays into the awkwardness of adolescence via Sex Education and PEN15.

It follows a bumper year of television in 2018, with new gems such as assassin thrill-ride Killing Eve, explosive British drama Bodyguard and Sharp Objects, a psychological thriller from Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.

Streaming services continued to dominate the conversation around the small screen with Amazon's Emmy-winning The Marvelous Mrs Maisel returning for a second shot. Netflix had a bumper year too, with new mind-bending series Maniac, the return of Making a Murderer, the last season of House of Cards and a reboot of Queer Eye that got everyone a little misty-eyed.

While there's plenty to look forward to coming in the next 12 months, the final instalment of Game of Thrones as well as the third season of Stranger Things, to name a few, here are the best things to grace the small screen, so far, this year:


A natural follow-up to Bo Burnham's saccharine childhood ode Eighth Grade, this Hulu series about the absurdities of high school stars co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. In it they play 13-year-old versions of themselves in the year 2000 (believably, too) alongside a cast of actual teenagers. Here they navigate the "cringeworthy" episodes of adolescence, from deciding whether to partake in drugs to experiencing graphic films for the first time.

It's a time-warp to a simpler time that doesn't gloss over how uncool your past self was. One episode, in which the pair decide on their first AIM screen-name, will be triggering for anyone who remembers the true shame of their MSN Messenger profile. You know who you are. 

Fleabag 2

At this stage Phoebe Waller-Bridge is just showing off. As well as her brilliant, genre-bending assassin series Killing Eve which captivated audiences last year, 2019 marks her return to Fleabag, the dark comedy which took her from the Edinburgh Fringe to Broadway via the BBC.

Returning after the sucker punch reveal of the season one finale (that Fleabag's grief for her best friend's suicide was, in part, her fault), the titular lead character still has plenty of caustic and profound asides left to break the fourth wall. Olivia Colman is back on brilliant form as Fleabag's menacing Godmother, and joining the cast is Sherlock's Andrew Scott, this time playing a priest.

Sex Education

A sort of Skins for the post-#MeToo generation, in this coming-of-age high school comedy drama we meet Otis Milburn, a 16-year-old boy at odds with his changing body and facing the repercussions of having two divorced sex therapists for parents. X Files actress Gillian Anderson is brilliant as his eccentric and overly chill mother who smokes weed with the class bully and displays graphic art throughout their house.

Dealing with issues like impotence, consent and abortion in a manner sadly missing from real sex education, it is also crucially very funny.


True Detective (Season 3)

True Detective's first season was an instant hit which melded the directorial talent of Cary Fukunaga and acting chops of Matthew McConaughey. It's third season is a return to form featuring Academy Award-winner Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff who play a pair of detectives investigates a case of two missing children which spans decades.

Ali is especially brilliant, showing shows subtle differences in mannerisms which - as well as his helpfully greying hair - tell you which of the three points in his character's life you're watching. As with season one, there's a sense of creeping unease that hangs over things, from the dark nature of the case to the shady suspects and the thick woods where clues are discovered.

Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

Kicking off a year of 'killer content' which will see multiple projects based on Ted Bundy and Charles Manson, this four part series features never-before heard interviews with the serial killer.

It has been met with controversy, some feeling that it dwells a little too long on how handsome the killer was and how his good looks and charisma allowed him to get away with horrendous acts. What it does do well is explore how Bundy gathered cult-status and hordes of fans while on trial, with many people pledging devotion to him. While it certainly makes for uncomfortable viewing, it's a case that continues to provoke debate.


Russian Doll

Orange is the New Black star Natasha Lyonne finally gets a leading role worthy of her on-screen charm in this story of a women who relives the same New York party over and over again, each time dying in a myriad of unfortunate ways. Written and directed by Lyonne as well as Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland, it refreshingly spotlights a woman in her late thirties, who is having fun and casual sex without needing to include a neat love story or romantic ending.

Against the backdrop of death there's a lot of consideration of life as it throws up questions about friendship, family, sex and love. With looping narratives that become more interesting each time, Russian Doll is a madcap mixture between Groundhog Day and The Good Place.


From: Esquire UK