The Year in TV – 2019

Rated Greg’s Top 10 Shows Of The Year

  1. Fleabag (Amazon)
  2. Succession (HBO)
  3. Mindhunter (Netflix)
  4. Euphoria (HBO)
  5. Cobra Kai (Youtube)
  6. The Crown (Netflix)
  7. Southern Charm (Bravo)
  8. Friends From College (Netflix)
  9. Derry Girls (Netflix)
  10. What We Do In The Shadows (FX)

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): The Mandalorian (Disney+), Watchmen (HBO), Mrs. Fletcher (HBO), I Love You Now Die (HBO), Barry (HBO), Dating Around (Netflix), Dark (Netflix), Crashing (HBO), The Loudest Voice (Showtime)

Fleabag (Amazon) – Season 2:  You check out Fleabag Season 1 because Season 2 has been socially publicized with a 100% approval rating this year.  You’re a little confused at first.  Why is she occasionally talking directly to the camera, breaking the fourth wall ala Zack Morris?  Actually not just occasionally, but seemingly once every 35 seconds?   It’s a unique avenue of perspective, but isn’t that overkill?  Maybe this just isn’t for you, like a lot of British shows that others love (Peaky Blinders is fucking dumb and I’ll say it to your face). But you stick it out because its only 6 episodes at 22-25 minutes a piece.  The end of each chapter leaves juuuuust enough intrigue to keep going.  By the end of season 1 Fleabag has grown on you, but not so much that you feel compelled to bring her up in conversation.   

Then you finally throw on Episode 1 of Season 2 and it ALL MAKES SENSE.  Of course people are raving about this show!  The Season 1 homework was all worth it.  You’re compelled to eat up the next 5 episodes consecutively but also consider savoring this masterpiece of television over the course of a week or two.  Each episode becomes more and more satisfying while painting a whole new light on the fourth wall structure.  Rated Greg thrives on hyperbole and he won’t disappoint here.  Fleabag Season 2 is the best rom-com this decade.

Best episode: The one at the restaurant

Succession (HBO) – Season 2:    Last year’s champion is sadly no longer my number one boy.  I wish I had the skill to talk like these assholes.  The Roy family saga is still just as good as the first season and remains the best written show on television, but Fleabag is the new, shiny thing thus gets the slight edge. 

Best episode: The one on the yacht

Mindhunter (Netflix) – Season 2:    After taking a year off, David Fincher’s Mindhunter made significant improvement in Season 2.  Netflix billed 2017’s first season as another cops vs serial killers show from the director of Seven, but viewers quickly learned it wasn’t exactly that.  There weren’t any cases to solve.  Instead the premise was rather about the onset of a real life FBI program in which they psychoanalyzed already captured deviants to improve their profiling capabilities and the toll this took on the personal lives of the FBI agents involved.  I still found it quite compelling but understand if it wasn’t what you were looking for.  

That said, if you are looking for a show about cops investigating shit, you should really check out Season 2.  It begins with a similar structure to the first season but soon a new, WILD real life case is introduced that I had never heard of before.  The agents now use what they learned about criminal profiling in the first season to investigate a string of mysterious Atlanta killings in the mid 80’s.  You’re still not going to see any car chases or shootouts, but it is remains thrilling filmmaking from Fincher. 

Best episode: The one with the stakeout

Euphoria (HBO) – Season 1:    I’ve heard secondhand that this was a really tough watch for the older generations.  The pilot for Euphoria is basically, I have to assume, the worst case scenario for what it’s like to be in high school in 2019 (drug addiction, social media driven depression, sexual assault, rampant glitter eye shadow).  It’s not like the 80’s and 90’s representations for high school life weren’t also angst filled, but there were definitely highs to go along with those lows.  Meanwhile, each of the kids at Euphoria High are doomed from the start. 

I will say that the pilot episode is without a doubt the most disturbing episode of the season and if you can make it past that you will likely find it rewarding, but if you can’t handle it I won’t blame you.  Nonetheless I found Euphoria to be absolutely captivating.  From a cinematography standpoint it’s the best looking show on TV, peaking with a carnival episode that’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. 

Best episode: The one with the carnival

Cobra Kai (Youtube) – Season 2:   You know what’s a really fun high school show?  Cobra fucking Kai. The biggest setback of watching Cobra Kai was that you needed a Youtube Red account, however the company has already dissolved their premium service and all episodes will be made available for free very soon.  You can read more about my enthusiasm for this reboot of the ultimate underdog story here.  

Best episode: The one with the first day of school

The Crown (Netflix) – Season 3:    BY GOD THIS IS JUST GOOD SHIT. I fancy The Crown.

Best episode: The one with the moon landing

Southern Charm (Bravo) – Season 6:    These idiots take the title from Vanderpump Rules as the best reality show on TV. 

Best episode: The one with the ski trip

Friends From College (Netflix) – Season 2:    The most underappreciated comedy since Happy Endings.  Much like Happy Endings, this show about messy adult assholes was cancelled way too soon.  At first I blamed misleading bad reviews from critics for the cancellation, but perhaps the cast is just too busy/expensive to all keep together (most notably Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, and Billy Eichner).   

Best episode: The one with the wedding

Derry Girls (Netflix) – Season 2:    This past summer the movie Booksmart was billed as “the female Superbad.” It’s a fair comparison and Booksmart is a good time.  However an even better version of “the female Superbad” is Netflix’s Derry Girls, about five friends acting a fool in early 90’s Northern Ireland.  You’ll likely need to watch this with subtitles because of the accents. 

Best episode: The one with the concert

What We Do In The Shadows (FX) – Season 1:    Based on Taiki Waititi’s movie of the same name, this comedy about vampires in modern day Staten Island seems stupid on paper, but I guarantee you will chuckle multiple times each episode. Just watch the clip below if you don’t believe me.

Best episode: The one with the trial

A Few Rated Greg Superlatives

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Lead Performances

  1. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)
  2. Russell Crowe (The Loudest Voice)
  3. Holt McCallany (Mindhunter)
  4. Kathryn Hahn (Mrs. Fletcher)
  5. Craig Conover (Southern Charm)*

*Never change, Craig

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Supporting Characters

  1. Tom (Matthew Macfayden) – Succession
  2. Hot Priest (Andrew Scott) – Fleabag
  3. Baby Yoda (A puppeteer) – The Mandalorian
  4. Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer) – Euphoria
  5. Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) – What We Do In The Shadows


Moonlight meets Euphoria

You don’t need me to tell you to see Once Upon A Time in Hollywood or Ford vs Ferrari or The Irishman.  Big movies with bigger movie stars that were all over social media and you saw ads for constantly.  They’re each 90+ on Rotten Tomatoes and are absolute shoe-ins for Best Picture nominations.  I mean, all you need to see are these posters and say no more, you’re ready to rock.

But how about this poster for the movie Waves below? 

Does that look like something you want to sign up for?  The actors listed aren’t even in legible font.  Only cinephiles have heard of the director and there aren’t any TV ads.  The picture advertisement alone probably isn’t going to cut it with all the shiny movies to the left and right of it at the theater.  You need to know more, right?  Well have no fear, that’s what Rated Greg is here for.  But before we get to that lets hop in a time machine and go back 3 years.

The movie Moonlight was released wide by A24 on November 18th, 2016.  Similar to Waves it lacked a descriptive poster and I do not recall seeing any TV ads.  But when did YOU first become aware of Moonlight or feel compelled to see it?  According to Box Office Mojo I’m guessing it wasn’t before Thanksgiving.  Despite coming out over two months prior, the highest grossing day for Moonlight was actually January 28th, 2017 with $637K.  It merely floated around among only the most devoted cinema fans until the Oscar nominations gave the general public the added context they needed to purchase a ticket.  Placing that much weight on the opinion of Academy is a bit silly given their track record, but I guess it’s better that Moonlight eventually got the amounts of eyes it deserved than never at all.  What’s that got to do with Waves?  Well, I have a feeling something similar is going to happen this year.    

It’s easy to see lots of parallels between Waves and the Best Picture winner three years prior.  An A24 release in mid November.  Features black characters in South Florida.   A stylishly shot drama that will empty out your emotional fuel tank.  But that’s about it.  Waves isn’t a copycat situation trying to capitalize on the fondness of another classic.  It’s a one of a kind, TOUR DE FORCE that will leave you out of breath by the credits.  No joke, it seems strange to portray a suburban family drama as an edge of your seat experience, but you’ll understand when you see it.  The way this film is shot is just as exhilarating as any of the excellent car races in Ford vs Ferrari. 

I’m not going to dive into much about the plot.  This story and even the format as it is presented is far better off seen knowing nothing beforehand.  One thing I did find interesting and worth mentioning is that Waves is a film about a black family that was written by a white person (writer/director Trey Edward Schultz).  This is a situation otherwise known as “The Green Book conundrum” but is handled far more delicately than last year’s shitshow campaign.

Apparently Waves is a semi-autobiographical take on a tumultuous time in Schultz’s Florida upbringing and the first person he cast was Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the teenage son, thinking it didn’t make a difference to the story what race the family was.  Which seems true on the surface.  Most of the shit that happens in this film could be about any modern day family and Harrison simply had the best audition.  However what’s cool is that once Sterling K. Brown (shoutout This Is Us) came on board to play the Dad he met with Schultz several times to alter the script and add specifically black perspectives to certain areas.  Brown felt strongly that the struggles each member of this family deals with would lead to slightly different experiences if it were a black family vs a white family, no matter if they were in the same tax bracket.  Schultz wisely obliged and Waves is clearly a far better movie for it.  Don’t be surprised if you see this at the top of my report card come December 31st. Grade A+