There’s a lot of television out there. Some would argue that there’s too much television and that we’ve tipped and have reached the point of no return. There are just not enough hours in the day to watch everything you want to watch.
Thanks to cable, premium cable, and streaming services there’s possibly just too much of a good thing.
But because we’re already through the looking glass here, there’s really no sense in complaining. Our only move is acceptance, which is why I chose to get specific when considering my best of TV list when looking back at 2019. I will defer to experts when it comes to what shows were the best and instead, focus on what moments were the best.
Here are the fifteen best things I saw on television this year.
15. When Seth Meyers Introduced The “Skip Politics” Option On His Netflix Special
Seth Meyers is a talented man. He is also a very funny man as well as a very smart man. My dude knows how to read the room.
So when it came time for him to do a Netflix special (which I think that, as a comedian, he is contractually obligated to do because every comedian has a Netflix special) he had some Trump jokes locked and loaded, but was very aware of the fact that some people might not be into them.
Some folks are Trump fans who don’t want to listen to jokes about the president and some folks might just be tired of the whole damn thing and are turning to a Netflix comedy special as a way to get away from it all.
Meyers knew that and gave them an out.
About two-thirds of the way into his special, Lobby Baby, he let people know that some political jokes were coming up and if they wanted to skip them, they could. The special included an option to jump ahead about ten minutes and allow the viewer to dip out on the political jokes.
It was a choose-your-own-adventure move and I dug it.
I didn’t partake myself, so while I stuck around for the political jokes, I appreciate that it was an option.
14. When Jason Found Out That The Jaguars Had Moved on From Blake Bortles On The Good Place
Jason Mendoza, one of The Good Place Four, is a simple man.
He enjoys bad house music, throwing Molotov cocktails, and watching his hometown team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Like many Jags fans, he loved their quarterback Blake Bortles. Jason’s love of Bortles and the Jags had become a running joke on the show—a joke that gained widespread attention when the Jaguars made it to the AFC Championship Game a few years ago.
Jason wasn’t alive to witness this glory but he was kept abreast of the team’s success courtesy of his all-knowing lady friend Janet.
However, after last season, the Jaguars finally decided to move on from Bortles and it became clear that someone was going to have to break the news to Jason. He had been busy trying to save humanity, so he could be forgiven for sleeping on Jaguars news.
It was heartbreaking.
However, wait until Jason finds out about Gardner Minshew.
Jason is going to love Minshew!
13. When The Citizens Of Pripyat Gather On A Bridge To Watch Chernobyl Burn
Chernobyl, the HBO limited series, was a tough hang. But, come on, we knew that going in. It’s why some people may have put off watching it.
Part of what made the series so engrossing and unnerving was how it really brought you into the town of Pripyat (where Chernobyl was located). The series made quick and effective work of showing what life was like there before the disaster and introduced you to enough characters that it made a huge impact when those characters all gathered on a bridge to take in the sight of the burning reactor.
It also drove home the tragedy of the whole episode because while we knew what was in store for them, they didn’t. They were instead captivated by the shockingly beautiful sight of the disaster as it was unfolding.
The show went on to say that every one of the civilians who gathered on the bridge later died due to radiation exposure, and while this has since been disputed, it’s a haunting visual nonetheless.
12. When Hopper Struggled With Being A Dad To Eleven on Stranger Things 3
Listen, being a dad is tough. I can speak from experience. I’m currently in year four of being a dad, and with each passing day, I usually break even on how many times I kill it and how many times I don’t. As far as I can tell, that won’t change anytime soon.
Now, it’s worth noting I’m learning to be a dad courtesy of a fairly normal little girl. I can only imagine how tough it would be to learn how to do the dad thing when the child in question is Eleven, a little girl with superpowers who was essentially raised in captivity.
That’s a lot. No one is denying that, and if you think you could fare any better than our boy Hopper did during the first couple episodes of the third season of Stranger Things, you’re fooling yourself.
Not only does she have superpowers, she’s got a boyfriend and then boy troubles. (not to mention hormones and all the wonderful joys that come with being a teenager).
Hopper had his work cut out for him—and that was before a Russian Terminator-looking dude started going after him.
All things considered, dealing with a Russian Terminator-looking dude might be easier.
11. When Everyone Showed Up For Selina’s Funeral During The Veep Finale
Finishing a successful television show is tough, tough business and many have tried, many have failed.
Actually, most have failed (see: Thrones, Game of.)
It’s not their fault.
It’s essentially a lose/lose situation, especially if it’s a beloved show like Seinfeld or Game of Thrones. No one wants the show to end, but if it’s going to end, they want it to end the way they want it to, not the way the show wants it to. All the showrunners can do is hope they come close to what most people want.
Veep actually nailed the ending, which really wasn’t that surprising given how great the show was throughout it’s run. It had consistently been one of the funniest, smartest, best-written shows on television. Them actually sticking the landing should have been expected.
However, what was surprising was how the show ended, flashing forward 24 years to the funeral for Selina Meyer.
Everyone was there, albeit older and in different roles. Even Gary was there, having gotten out of prison a few years earlier (he had been the fall guy for Selina’s shady dealings).
But they were the only ones who cared about their former boss’ death and for good reason: Tom Hanks died on the same day.
Even in death, Selina gets shafted and overshadowed. All her backroom dealings and selling out to Chinese was for nothing.
A perfect ending to a perfect show.
10. When Saturday Night Live Tackled Weezer’s Legacy
“Where the hell have you been, Rick?”
OF COURSE, WEEZER IS STILL AROUND!
Weezer’s legacy is one that will no doubt be discussed and debated for years to come. They have been around for almost three decades, and along the way, have gained fans, lost fans, brought back fans, lost those fans, encouraged some longtime fans to reconsider, annoyed everyone, covered Toto, and in the end, just left people confused.
Who better to tackle this heated topic than Matt Damon and Leslie Jones?
As a longtime Weezer fan, I get where Jones is coming from but I can understand some of Damon’s points as well.
I also get how some people would be confused that it’s a discussion even worth having.
In the end, the one thing we can all agree on is that after The Blue Album, shit just gets weird and requires patience.
9. When Hooded Justice Busts Up The KKK Hideout in Watchmen
I know that earlier I said I wasn’t going to dive into the best show of the year pool, but if I were going to even try to, I’d make the case for Watchmen.
It hasn’t ended yet but I don’t care. That show is amazing.
Now, I’m not a longtime fan. I never read the comic and didn’t watch the movie so I’ve been coming into the show pretty cold and not totally well-informed. But even I got the significance of the show’s sixth episode, “This Extraordinary Being,” where they told the real story of Hooded Justice, the first masked hero.
They turned everything upside down, man!
Hooded Justice was black. He had always been portrayed as a white dude, even in the show within the show that depicts those early days of masked heroes. Watchmen hasn’t just built up its own universe—it’s upended a pre-existing universe that the comic had created.
“This Extraordinary Being” episode was not just a marvel in story-telling. It was visually amazing thanks in large part to changes in color tones and continuous one-shots of amazingly choreographed action.
When it was over, I was exhausted. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had seen.
Again, I’m not going to dance in the best shows of the year dance circle, but if I were, I’d ride with Watchmen and have no regrets.
8. When Torey Krug Laid Out Robert Thomas During The 2019 Stanley Cup Finals
I don’t know if you watch hockey, but dude, hockey is dope.
As a fan of Boston teams, I naturally took a special interest in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, as it was between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues. Although (full disclosure), of the four major Boston teams, the Bruins are the ones I follow the least.
It’s nothing personal, I just hadn’t been a big hockey guy.
Oh, but that changed when I watched the Cup because as I previously mentioned, hockey is dope—especially high-stakes playoff hockey.
When I look back fondly of when I really became a hockey fan, I’ll most likely point to the moment in Game 1 when Boston’s Torey Krug took off down the ice without a helmet angry about a dust-up he had in front of Boston’s goal and demolished an unsuspecting Robert Thomas.
It was the best revenge movie I’ve seen since Taken.
7. When The Gang Experimented With Group Texting On It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
As far as unexplained miracles go, the fact that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia just finished its fourteenth season is pretty high up there. Just like how dynasties in sports these days are tough to come by, so is a show sticking around for so long and continuing to operate at a high level.
The show’s fourteenth season was surprisingly sharp and (if I’m being honest) better than the thirteenth season, which to be fair, had its moments. But this season was cooking and firing on all cylinders.
Episodes where The Gang is confined to the bar are typically some of the strongest, as it leaves them to their own devices and the destruction that’s sure to follow. But gems can be found when they venture out into the world, which is what happened when they went to the Philadelphia Zoo in “The Gang Texts.”
As per usual, The Gang was split up and embarked on different storylines but the throughline was their group text. Mac didn’t get the jokes, Dee was too late with the jokes, and Frank, Dennis, and (much to my surprise) Charlie, knew what was up and understood the delicate art of participating in a group text.
It should be noted that a runner-up here is Dennis’ infatuation with seeing the goat being slaughtered, further proving the Dennis is a serial killer.
Or when Charlie pisses on Mac.
Bottom line: great episode guys. Keep up the good work.
6. When Barry Met His Match On Barry
The second season of Barry was rock solid. I have no clue what they’ll do in their third season and how they’ll continue to exist within the tension they’ve built but I’m game to see them try.
Barry has become a series of escape attempts, mainly attempts involving Barry as he tries to run away from the sins of his past and create a new life as a struggling actor. One of those escape attempts occurred when it looked like his luck had run out and he had been caught. Yet he could avoid arrest if he killed someone for the cop—a martial arts expert who had been sleeping with the cop’s wife.
Easy enough, right?
Ronny, the martial arts expert, was a formidable opponent for Barry but the true test was Ronny’s daughter Lily, who may or may not have been superhuman.
Lily seemed to get the best of Barry before disappearing into the night. She then stalked Barry and Fuches as they tried to find her.
She couldn’t be stopped and wouldn’t be stopped. She was on a Torey Krug-like revenge mission of her own and the target was Barry, the man who almost killed her dad.
Eventually, her dad was killed but Barry didn’t do it. It’s complicated. A lot happened in the episode.
What’s important is that Lily is still out there and that’s something we should all be worried about.
5. When the Patriots Beat the Chiefs In The Overtime Of the AFC Championship Game
The Patriots weren’t supposed to win. The Chiefs were supposed to win. The Patriots did win but that’s only part of the story.
The 2019 AFC Championship Game was supposed to be the game when the Patriots’ dynasty ended and the Chiefs’ dynasty—one led by Patrick Mahomes—began. The Chiefs, not the Patriots, were supposed to go to the Super Bowl for a rematch with the Rams. The two teams had played an epic Monday night game earlier in the season and since then, everyone had been waiting for the sequel.
The last thing anyone wanted was another Super Bowl featuring the Patriots.
It was cold and for the first half, the game was generally back and forth. But as the fourth quarter went on, the Chiefs started to roll and climb back into the game. The Patriots scored what looked like the go-ahead touchdown at 1:24, but Mahomes drove his team into field goal range.
Kansas City tied the game at 31 with eight seconds left, sending the contest into overtime.
New England won the coin toss, electing to receive. They converted three third-down conversions and in the end beat the Chiefs 37-31.
The Patriots weren’t supposed to win, but they did. Again.
4. When The Pedestal Move Happened on The Bachelorette
Every season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette has a villain. The villain is typically established pretty early on and simultaneously wreaks havoc among their fellow contestants and continues to win the heart of that season’s Bachelor or Bachelorette. It’s infuriating.
At some point, the Bachelor or Bachelorette is told about the villain, they confront the villain, the villain denies everything, and from there, the villain either stays on or is given the boot. Few villains make it past this point. Even fewer make it to the end.
One villain did. Her name was Courtney and she won the whole damn thing and will forever be known as The Queen of All Villains. She could teach a class on how to excel at being a reality show villain and it would be top-notch.
On the most recent season of The Bachelorette, the villain was Luke P. and Luke P. was the worst. He was so bad. Just terrible. Yet Hannah, the Bachelorette, liked him so he stuck around and continued to stick around until close to the end. Not quite the end (not as far as Courtney got) but close.
Things finally took a turn after Fantasy Suites when Luke got a tad bit too judgemental and possessive. It was uncomfortable to watch, but it’s The Bachelorette, so it was also incredibly entertaining. Hannah sent Luke home and it seemed like that was that.
Ah, but it was not.
Luke, like Lily in Barry or Torey Krug, would not be denied. He stuck around. He did the unthinkable. He crashed a rose ceremony.
Again, very entertaining.
Luke wouldn’t leave. Hannah told him it was over. He said it wasn’t over. Hannah told him to leave. He said he wouldn’t. Hannah said she was over him. He said he wasn’t over her (which somehow meant more to Luke because Luke is a raging narcissist who only concerned himself with his feelings).
Then Hannah did it.
She moved the pedestal with the roses on it so that the rose ceremony could continue.
It was unprecedented. It was fantastic. It was probably the best thing that has ever happened on either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.
And Luke was the worst.
I stand by that.
3. When Billy Asked That Dude To Take One For the Team in the Netflix Fyre Fest Doc
It was very hard to only pick one moment from both of the Fyre Festival documentaries that came out earlier this year but they had to be represented. They just had to. Doing any kind of recap of the year in television without them would be reckless and irresponsible.
You know, kind of like planning an event like the Fyre Festival.
But what moment gets the nod?
Is it when that guy was fired for making too much sense? Or was it when they needed to abruptly move the location of the festival because they didn’t actually land the first location? Maybe it was when Billy MacFarland lost all those keys or launched a new scam from jail?
Maybe it was when that one festival attendee admitted to destroying a bunch of tents around him as he went into survival mode or the social media team’s haphazard attempts to control the backlash?
Or perhaps it was the fact that Ja Rule still doesn’t think that the festival was a failure?
Those are all worthy contenders but the best moment from either documentary goes to a moment in the Netflix film, FYRE: The Great Party That Never Happened.
Yup. We’re talking about the time Billy asked one of his event organizers to go suck a dude’s dick in order to get some water through customs.
Any list of the best, craziest moments from either documentary starts after the Andy King story and that is not up for debate.
2. When Megan Rapinoe Scored In The Women’s World Cup Final
If not for that kid who won a couple million bucks playing Fortnite, Megan Rapinoe would have won the whole damn summer. Instead, she had to settle for simply winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Rapinoe was a force during this summer’s Women’s World Cup, both on the field and off. She drew scorn and rebukes from President Trump and MAGA World when she said should wouldn’t go to the White House if the team won and with each attack levied against her, responded where it counted: on the field.
In five matches, she had six goals as the U.S. went on to win their second straight World Cup.
In the final versus the Netherlands, Rapinoe scored the match’s first goal near the beginning of the second half after a tense first half. Rose Lavelle would later score the team’s second goal, but it was Rapinoe, as she had done throughout the Cup, who set the tone.
More often than not, we don’t realize that we’re watching a legendary performance in sports until it’s too late. But that was not the case here. Everyone was incredibly aware that as we watched Rapinoe this summer, we were watching greatness and witnessing a run that would live forever.
1. When Jon And Daenerys Rode Into Winterfell At The Start of Game of Thrones Season Eight
Before things got frosty between Sansa and Daenerys and before Sam told Jon about who he really was, there was this.
Before Jon told Daenerys about his identity and before Jaime rode into Winterfell and before he knighted Brienne, there was this.
Before the Battle of Winterfell (where somehow almost every person of importance and note survived) and before Arya jumped from the darkness to kill the Night King, there was this.
Before Cersei killed Missandei and before the Battle of King’s Landing, there was this.
Before Daenerys kind of shocking, kind of not shocking but ultimately kind of rushed heel turn and before Jaime killed Euron and before Jaime and Cersei were crushed and before the much-hyped and much-anticipated Clegane Bowl, there was this.
And before Jon killed Daenerys then I guess admitted to it (because HOW WOULD ANYONE KNOW? THERE WERE NO WITNESSES!) and was locked up and before Tyrion convinced everyone that Bran should be king (EVEN THOUGH BRAN DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THE BEST STORY OF THE STARKS!) and before Jon was exiled north, there was this.
This was the moment everyone had been waiting for; the true beginning of the end.
I don’t remember being more excited for a season of television to start that I was for the start of Game of Thrones‘ final season. The anticipation and speculation were routinely peaking at record levels and everyone had theories and questions and questions about theories (and because of the shockingly inconsistent seventh season, everyone also had varying levels of concern).
Would Game of Thrones mess it up?
The show had raised doubts in fan’s minds—especially during the back half of season seven—and no one could really understand why the final season was so short seeing as how there was a lot left to be done. But at the same time, we all kind of just rolled with it because trust is a dangerous thing. For all the sticks and stones that had been sent David Benioff’s and D.B. Weiss’ way, there was still a degree of trust in them that they could land the thing and deliver.
Did they though?
What’s not debatable is that for the first six minutes of season eight, that was an afterthought and didn’t matter. Those six minutes were all gravy, all good. We had our friends back and that was all that mattered.
The little boy running around and angling for a better view of the Unsullied called to mind both Bran and Arya doing the same thing in the show’s premiere, albeit with King Robert’s men. Jon was finally going to be home after being away since early in that first season and for all the traveling we had done with Daenerys, now she was in Winterfell and you’re fooling yourself if your mind wasn’t blown a little bit.
Arya sees Jon!
Arya sees the Hound!
Arya sees Gendry!
And holy shit! THERE ARE DRAGONS FLYING OVER WINTERFELL!
However, eventually things settle down because Bran wants everyone to know that the Night King is coming in hot and the time for pleasantries is over.
The legacy of Game of Thrones is a complicated one. This is largely due to that eighth and final season, which left fans asking way more questions than they would have liked but also the same question over and over again: Why?
But that would all come later. For six minutes, anything was possible and we could allow ourselves to quiet our fears and concerns and just be happy the show was back. We could ditch our worries in favor of reunions that we had waited years for and sights that we had only dreamed of.
In sports, at the start of a new season, there’s the idea that hope springs eternal and that for every team, there is a chance for great things to happen to them. Over the course of the season, for the bulk of those teams, that hope eventually fades, but for a week or so in the beginning, it’s there for everyone.
Hope sprang eternal at the start of Game of Thrones’ final season, and despite the path that the show would eventually go down, it’s important to remember that it wasn’t all bad and wasn’t all disappointing.
It just would be later.