The world of TV has seen some big upheavals in the last year, but the era of "Peak TV" is far from over. In 2019, juggernaut shows came to an end on all fronts, from conventional network hits like The Big Bang Theory to premium cable masterpieces like Game of Thrones. Just because some are gone, however, does not mean that the best is necessarily behind us.
As the 2019 fall TV season gets underway, it feels to many that there is still simply too much to watch. Rightly so — keeping up with every lauded titled on your screen these days would be a full-time job. Thankfully, the folks at TV Guide set out a priority list.
The outlet published a decisive list of the 100 best shows on TV and streaming platforms right now. This includes everything from network to Netflix, from scripted to reality and from time-tested to timely. The shows here are chosen by quality, on the basis of critical success and cultural impact.
The list only goes to show how unique this time in TV history is. As fans say goodbye to so many hits, a wave of new ones threatens to crush them in the coming months.
You might be right to feel just a little afraid. In addition to networks and cable channels catching up with streaming trends and the big streamers already established, there are more on the way. We will soon have Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Quibi to contend with.
Of course, too much TV is a great problem to have, especially when so much of it promises to be amazing. In the meantime, however, we may be looking at a last snapshot of the entertainment industry as we have known it for years.
Here are the 100 best shows on TV right now, as chosen by TV Guide.
Being on the bottom of a "best-of" list is not too shabby in the grand scheme of things. After all, hundreds of other shows did not even crack the top 100 at all. Still, let's take a moment to examine the bottom 10 of the top 100 by themselves. They are:
The Twilight Zone
Dead to Me
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
American Horror Story
Even die-hard fans of these shows might agree that they are right at home at the bottom of this list. Many of them are brand new, including The Twilight Zone reboot from CBS All Access and Miracle Workers on TBS. Given a chance, these shows may find their way to the top of the list later on. And since they're on here now, chances seem good that they will get that chance.
Others here are TV institutions that can't be ignored — including The Bachelor and American Horror Story. It would be wrong to leave these icons off of the list, considering how much they have contributed to the zeitgeist in their time.
Getting into the meat of the list, you may see some more familiar faces. There are rising stars making their way to the top, including the gritty Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans M.C. and Netflix's quirky super hero medley The Umbrella Academy. There are also long-standing hits here too, such as Law and Order: SVU and Grey's Anatomy.
Notable in this section are some shows issuing their last hurrahs. Even beloved series must come to an end, and it can feel pretty complicated when you know it is coming. This is the case with The Walking Dead and Lucifer this season.
Law and Order: SVU
The Good Doctor
The Umbrella Academy
Rick and Morty
The Walking Dead
Are You the One?
Perpetual Grace, LTD
Nearing the middle of the list, there are lots of premium cable shows to choose from, including HBO's beloved Gentleman Jack, Insecure and Westworld. The channel has made a quick and seamless transition into the world of streaming, just in time to lose one of its biggest series, Game of Thrones, this year.
Other unique item here is The Expanse, a sci-fi adaptation that was canceled after three seasons on SyFy only to be rescued by Amazon. As Deadline reported last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was a big fan of the show personally, and it was he who ordered his streaming division to pick up the series.
Murder for Hire
Beat Bobby Flay
Dear White People
This Is Us
The Masked Singer
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Star Trek: Discovery
The competition only gets fiercer as the list goes on. Here we have some streaming power-houses, from Netflix's puberty parody cartoon Big Mouth to Starz's 50 Cent-starring drama Power. There are some surprises here as well, such as nature docu-series Planet Earth, which earned props for combining education with awe-inspiring visuals.
For all the talk of super hero saturation in the media, we also see the only one of The CW's DC Comics adaptations to make the list right here. Unlike The Flash, Supergirl or Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow gets a lot of freedom with format and theme, and that has allowed it to become the most beloved series of the bunch for many fans.
The Other Two
Legends of Tomorrow
I Think You Should Leave
American Crime Story
What We Do in the Shadows
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Desus & Mero
Approaching the top spots on the list, there are actually fewer and fewer surprises. Streaming hits seem to dominate this batch, with The Handmaid's Tale, The Good Fight and Queer Eye all but ubiquitous these days.
Meanwhile, we also see comedies dominating near the top of the list, perhaps hinting at what kind of mood audiences are in these days. Shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Bob's Burgers have been firing on all cylinders for years, yet somehow they continue cranking out the hits.
The Handmaid's Tale
Real Housewives of New York City
On My Block
The Good Fight
The Bold Type
YOU did not get the love it deserved when it first premiered on Lifetime last year, but as the makers of the show will tell you, it's better late than never. The series jumped to Netflix for its second season, which is due out sometime soon.
YOU is a psychological thriller based on a novel of the same name by Caroline Kepnes. The story revolves around a bookstore manager developing an obsessive fixation on his favorite author, ultimately leading him to stalk her. The second season will adapt Kepnes' follow-up novel, Hidden Bodies for the screen.
It is hard to believe that there are already three seasons of Netflix's all-woman wrestling series GLOW, but fans are already begging for more. The series has an A-list cast, including Allison Brie and Marc Maron, and the pageantry is enough to keep fans coming back again and again.
Meanwhile, horror fans may be benefiting more than anyone from the age of Peak TV, as they have seen the biggest uptick in available content. Where previously they had to wait for late-night screenings of B-list movies, they can now go to Netflix and get grade A horror in long-form series instead.
In Season 1, The Haunting follows two families torn apart by tragedy, both with their own interpretations of the past. They are forced to try and reconcile their stories, while at the same time fending off apparitions and apparent ghosts.
The Haunting of Hill House adapted a horror novel by Shirley Jackson for its first season, and the second season will give the same treatment to Turn of the Screw by Henry James. The anthology format is a bigger risk for the series, but there is no reason to believe it won't pay off.
Of all the heartbreaking Netflix cancellations of 2019, One Day at a Time is a rare success story. The streaming giant dropped this modern-day reboot of Norman Lear's classic sitcom, but Pop TV was able to snatch it up. Fans were overjoyed to hear that more episodes were on the way, and it seems safe to say that the series' best days are still ahead of it.
Of course, Netflix's nostalgia collage could not be left out of a discussion of must-watch TV. Stranger Things began as a send-up of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and other beloved 1980s media, but it quickly grew into something of its own.
Stranger Things Season 3 dominated the pop cultural discussion in 2019, for weeks before and after it aired. The show remains one of Netflix's heavy hitters, and with more episodes on the way, we can expect it to stay that way.
In a world of spinoffs, reboots and revivals, Better Call Saul is a success story like no other. The show launched on AMC not long after Breaking Bad came to a close, and it has been cranking out hits ever since. Last month, when Netflix announced El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, many fans rejoiced that the show was back. To Better Call Saul viewers, it never really left.
It is safe to say that a show is great when fans are outraged at the creator for bringing it to an end. The Good Place has gone for three pitch-perfect seasons on NBC, and showrunner Michael Schur recently announced that Season 4 will be its last.
The show follows a few lost souls — including one reformed demon and one self-enhancing omniscience — on a journey through the afterlife in all its forms. The philosophically-driven series still manages to be laugh-out-loud funny, and the entertainment industry is going to miss it when it is gone.
HBO's hitman comedy Barry is right at home near the top of this list. The series stars Bill Hader as Barry, an assassin who is sick of his work and is drawn instead to the world of aspiring actors in Los Angeles, California. The show expertly juggles reality and fantasy, taking jarring jumps from shootouts with drug lords to acting class exercises without ever lowering the stakes.
After much consideration, the folks at TV Guide decided to forgive Atlanta for skipping 2019 altogether. In site of its lapse, the series remains at number two on the list of current best TV shows.
Atlanta is created by star Donald Glover, who plays a down-and-out hip hop fan in the city the show is named for. Glover's character Earn is trying to make a name for himself as the manager for his cousin, rapper Paper Boi, played by Brian Tyree Henry.
Finally, the number one spot on TV Guide's list of the top 100 series on today goes to Canadian sitcom Schitt's Creek. The series is riding high right now following its first few nominations at the Emmys, just in time for its upcoming final season. Before it bids farewell at the end of Season 6, many fans are catching up.
"What brings so much joy to me in terms of writing this family is that all of these monumental moments for each of these characters are, to most well-adjusted people, totally everyday things. Like saying I love you and being open with your feelings," series co-creator Dan Levy told TV Guide.
The show is produced by Pop TV, but can be watched on Netflix in the U.S.
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