Mandatory Best of 2019: Ranking the 10 Greatest TV Dramas of the Year
Life isn’t always about the laughs. Sometimes, it can be devastatingly serious. Viewers want entertainment to reflect that, which is why television dramas have endured as long as they have. Be it in a realistic setting or an outlandish one, dramas immerse us in the hard truths about humanity and help us access emotions we otherwise might not. This year, audiences were inundated with dramatic viewing options, which is why we’ve sifted through all the TV dramas that graced streaming services in 2019 and picked the 10 greatest. Get ready to pack your watchlist with these binge-worthy shows.
Cover Photo: HBO
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This series centers around the rivalry between former U.S. Attorney-turned-political candidate Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and finance wizard Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). Further complicating the archenemies' rift is Wendy (Maggie Siff), a therapist who works for Axelrod but is married to Rhoades. In season four, which aired this year, Axelrod began to lay the groundwork for a more intimate relationship with Wendy while Rhoades plotted to turn Axelrod's most valuable employee against him. There's plenty of drama left here for another season.
9. 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Hulu's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's groundbreaking novel, The Handmaid's Tale, has long since departed the book's post-democracy dystopian storyline. At the end of 2019's season three, protagonist June (Elisabeth Moss) got shot, leaving viewers wondering if she would survive. If you like dark, violent television that capitalizes on the collective fear of where our country may be headed under the current administration, this is your next binge watch.
8. 'Big Little Lies'
Big Little Lies was the surprise hit based on Liane Moriarty's novel of the same name. It focuses on several headstrong California women (and the men who love them) whose darkest secrets collide on one tragic night. The series was so popular that HBO stretched it into two seasons. The sexy, smart show kept us guessing until the 2019 finale, which left the door open just enough for the possibility of another season.
7. 'Mr. Robot'
Everyone's favorite socially anxious protagonist, Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), returned in 2019 for the fourth and final season of this dark, hacker-centric drama. As the series comes to a close, the already convoluted plot goes completely off the rails, guaranteeing that every theory you had about the show will be proven wrong.
6. 'Game of Thrones'
Never has a show kept audiences captivated en masse like Game of Thrones, nor has a series finale ever disappointed fans like the one in 2019 did. The relief that it's all over has quickly been replaced by panic over what series we'll get addicted to next.
5. 'True Detective'
After a face-plant of a second season, this beloved mystery crime drama once again proved it was worthy of its hype in 2019 with its third season. With a new storyline starring Academy Award-winning actor Mahershala Ali and a plot that flip-flopped between past and present, this gritty series explored the depravity of child predators, the resilience of their victims, and the perseverance of those who try to find them.
The Netflix original series inspired by a pair of real-life FBI agents who made major strides on unpacking the psyches of serial killers debuted its second season this year. The plot took partners Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) to Atlanta circa the early '80s when dozens of African-American children, teens, and adults were murdered, presumably by one man.
And you thought your family dynamics were messed up. Meet the Roys, a power-hungry pack of media moguls vying for control as the family patriarch, Logan Roy (Brian Cox), struggles to hang onto the throne in his old age. Loyalties change so fast on this intense family drama, it'll give you whiplash, but you won't be able to stop watching.
2. 'Peaky Blinders'
This drama takes viewers back to post-World War I England where gangsters fight for domination of Birmingham's streets. Cillian Murphy turns in a critically acclaimed performance as family crime boss Tommy Shelby in this must-see series.
Superhero show Watchmen brings an iconic comic to life with modern intensity. Adapted from a graphic novel of the same name, the show picks up 30 years where the book left off, and rewrites history in the process, examining themes of racism and terrorism with an insanely talented cast that includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. This is the TV drama 2019 will be remembered for.