With only half of 2019 gone, Netflix has already debuted over a dozen strong shows that could have made a Netflix end-of-year Top 10 at any point in the streaming company’s history. If you’re the kind of person who waits until the end of the year to retroactively check out the “must-watches” on critics’ lists, then you’ll have a super busy winter of streaming.
The early-year release “Russian Doll” still tops my list of recommendations, but Netflix has had a few other solid contenders in the last couple of months to consider. Read on for the best of 2019 so far to see if you’ve missed any of these great shows in the constant deluge of new Netflix content.
1. “Russian Doll”
Premise: While celebrating her 36th birthday at a hip apartment party in New York, a woman keeps dying over and over again, only to reset back in the bathroom of the party. She goes on a journey to figure out why this is happening with the hope she can stop the violent cycle of deaths. This quest takes quite some time (many lifetimes in a way) and the world starts aging around her as if all life doesn’t truly reset. Figuring out what’s happening becomes an existential necessity.
Sum-Up: By far the best show Netflix has released this year, “Russian Doll” exists in a class of its own. The all-female writers and creators made ambitious creative choices with the over-arching concept and for the nuances within the story. With all the risky and experimental decisions, this could have been a trainwreck, but instead is a fast-paced, well-oiled narrative locomotive. The best part of this show is the fully realized female characters, with ambitions as unique as their attire. The male characters may tend to be dumb oafs, but this is not their story.
2. “Tuca & Bertie”
Premise: Two best friends, Tuca and Bertie, go on various adventures in a city full of anthropomorphic animals while entering adulthood. Although they used to live together, the duo still live in the same building, which means they see each other nearly all the time, to the mild chagrin of Bertie’s boyfriend.
Sum-Up: The production designer for “BoJack Horseman,” Lisa Hanawalt, created this show. The two shows both feature anthropomorphic animals drawn in basically the same style, but they diverge wildly in comedic sensibility. While “BoJack” has a narrative grounded in a reality close to the normal world, “Tuca & Bertie” embraces an absurdity that animation can afford. The show has fast cuts and a high-octane energy, with near constant animation-driven jokes (whenever something happens, it happens in the most extreme, near death-defying way, but the characters only react as if something normal happened). Instead of focusing on depression like “BoJack,” this show centers on female friendship, as well as the value of relationships in conquering the trials of contemporary life. Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong do a phenomenal job voicing the two characters and elevate the energy even further.