Our guide to the best TV shows of 2019

With all of the great TV that’s come out this year, it might be difficult to decide what to watch next – luckily, two of our writers have put together a list of the best to check out…

Best new shows:

Image credit: Wear Your Voice

Ramy

If coming-of-age stories were buoyed by animated thirteen year-olds exploring adolescence only through sexual means (Big Mouth) or rendered through actual pre-teens roughing their way through the inner-city of Los Angeles (On My Block), then you should be blown away by Ramy – Hulu’s inconspicuous, middle-fingered clap-back to HBO’s Insecure. To clarify, the two shows are similar – they are somewhat based on each of the programmes main characters’ real life ethnic experiences.

The show, in which Ramy Youssef plays the title character, tells the story of a second-generation Muslim born to immigrant parents in the United States. You can find think pieces dragging the almost thirty-year-old actor and the programme for such casting choices elsewhere. Beware – Youssef obviously plays his role exceedingly well as the titular character and shared his experiences through several talk shows this year since the programme’s premiere and these are the very type of stories the programme champions. The best of Ramy (Youssef) is yet to come. Season two is expected to arrive in 2020.

Sex Education

With a title like that, its no wonder the programme itself is so explicit. Be prepared to be gleefully surprised if you watch Sex Education. The programme premiered in February this year and shares the ups and downs of Otis Milburn (X+Ys Asa Butterfield), a sexually awkward teenager with a mother (Gillian Anderson) as a sex therapist, who is constantly frank about all aspects of sexuality.

Within the series, we meet Otis’ main friends: the somewhat-gothic misfit, Maeve (gorgeously portrayed by Emma Mackey), Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) who is Otis’ gay-best-friend but rarely reduced to the stereotype, and we are taken on a sublime journey of sexual misadventures elevated by romance, drama and my personal favourite – comedy. Sex Education is honest proof that teenagers have raw, thoughtful emotions, the very definition of what it means to be sex-positive, all while indicating Asa Butterfield’s talents have been seriously under-utilised. Season two has a confirmed date of January 17, 2020.

When They See Us

Originally titled in post-production as ‘Central Park Five’ then later rejected by its director (A Wrinkle In Time’s Ava DuVernay) on the Oprah Winfrey Network, When They See Us (although a mini-series) is based on the events of the April 19, 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were wrongly prosecuted on charges related to the sexual assault and rape of a woman, in Central Park, New York City.

The programme features an ensemble cast, including (2016’s Academy Award Best Picture Winner) Moonlight’s Jharrel Jerome and (Teen Choice Award nominated) Twisted’s Kylie Bunbury. Ava DuVernay not only tenderly directs the series, but manages to focus and execute the truth on its betrayed characters, whilst simultaneously retaining honour in its costume, writing and setting of its era and does indeed challenge its viewers to reconsider what it means to find justice in the United States of America.

Unbelievable

Somehow evoking Jennifer Fox’s The Tale and Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge in superb fashion, the miniseries Unbelievable is based on a series of rape cases-turned-2015 Pulitzer-prize-winning article.

A distressing dramatisation of the events between 2008 and 2011, its main character, known as Marie (Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever) is a teenager who was charged with lying about having been raped, which causes a group of investigators (including Hereditary’s Toni Collette) to embark on the investigation of a lifetime. This programme will quench a true-crime lover’s thirst and honours survivors with pride and sensitivity.

Euphoria

When Miley Cyrus left Disney Channel, we were all in awe and shock of what was going to come next. You might react the same way if you were or are a big fan of Shake It Up’s Zendaya, who has finally reached and wonderfully blossomed her way (without much controversy, might I add) onto Sam Levinson’s HBO-distributed and A24-produced teen-orientated programme Euphoria (based on the 2012 Israeli miniseries of the same name by Ron Leshem) as a recovering drug-addicted teenager.

The programme relies on much originally as well as with its themes, break away from its stereotypes and come across highly mature given its content and PG rating, but it is a semi-accurate portrayal of some of today’s youth and is genuinely supported from a superb cast including The Kissing Booth’s Jacob Elordi, newcomer Hunter Schafer (who adds a whole needed layer of diversity for the programme) and Maude Apatow (daughter of Judd and Leslie). Season two is expected to arrive in 2020.

Honourable mentions: Good Trouble, Homecoming, Russian Doll

By Zach Omitowoju

Best returning shows:

Love Island UK

I thought I’d add ‘UK’ because there’s now a variety of copycat shows including those in the USA and Australia, but in simple terms, it’s a dating show where single guys and girls try and find love on an island in the middle of nowhere. There are twists and turns when people are dumped from ‘the island’, with special surprises and challenges along the way.

The most recent series included Curtis Pritchard, professional dancer and Tommy Fury, professional boxer, along with memorable characters including the likes of Amy Hart, Amber Gill, Greg O’Shea and Anna Vakili. There were also some social media influencers who decided to blog/vlog and speak about the events taking place on the show, including Jake Quickenden, ‘Chi with a C’ and Jack Dean (JaackMaate) and many others.

The Great British Bake Off

I’ll be honest and admit that I couldn’t watch the entirety of this show because it’s purely about baking and cooking, and anything they made often made me hungry, so I had to pause the show every so often to create a dish of my own – but I think Bake Off is one of those shows that you just can’t hate nor avoid.

No matter how distracted you get with ‘real life’ stuff, there’s always that thought in your head of “Oh, what are they cooking today?” I mainly watched this year’s series for skilled bakers Henry and David, and can’t believe that there have now been ten whole seasons of the nation’s favourite baking show!

The Circle

Out of these returning shows, The Circle has to be my favourite. Let’s just say that I applied for both of the first two seasons, and even got through to the first round of this series but wasn’t selected – how unfortunate. Anyways, this is a game show all about being nice, having a personality and trying to play the game well.

In the most recent series, we saw Notts girl Georgia Aurelia compete as herself, discussing her Crohn’s disease, along with fan-favourite Paddy who admitted to having cerebral palsy. Season 3 begins in 2020 so do stay tuned – I would 100% recommend you watch the show!

Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly is usually one of those shows where our generation know about 10% of the cast, and shout out “Who’s that?!” when the rest of the competitors appear on our screens. This year, I can confidently say I recognised at least half of the celebrity cast!

The likes of Kelvin Fletcher from Emmerdale, CBBC star Karim Zeroual, social media influencer Saffron Barker and David James, a former England goalkeeper were only four of the multi-talented celebrity cast who have been taking part this year.

The X Factor: Celebrity

The final show on this list is identical to the original X Factor that preceded it, but with celebrity contestants to prove that they also can sing on top of the profession that they are already in! Social media influencers Sofia, Alondra, Laura, Natalie and Wendii a.k.a ‘V5’ were among the cast, along with Love Island representatives Wes Nelson, Samira Mighty, Eyal Booker and Zara McDermott.

Also in the line-up was Eastenders actor Jonny Labey, professional footballer Vinnie Jones, The Chase’s “Vixen” Jenny Ryan and experienced TV personality Megan McKenna, who won a recording contract!

Honourable mentions: Take Me Out, I’m A Celebrity, The Apprentice

By Brandon Boyd


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