With more original scripted TV shows being released than there are days of the year, chances are you — like us — are using the holidays to catch up on hidden gems you may have missed. There are so many different ways to categorize what makes great TV: it could be a recommendation from a trusted friend, buzz around a major title or even the suggestion of a media outlet you like and respect.In the spirit of the latter category, we have gathered up the 14 best-reviewed scripted TV shows of the year according to review aggregate website Metacritic. These series met universal acclaim from the critics who reviewed them, ranging from long-running series like Veep and Billions to newcomers like Undone and Back to Life. Note: simply due to the volume of content Netflix creates, we have created a separate list of just their best-reviewed titles which we will be running on Christmas Day.

If you’re curious for our take as well, click through the below gallery for IGN staff’s picks at the Top 10 TV Shows of 2019:

Nominees: Best TV Series of 2019

For some more information on how Metacritic determines their critic grade, they explain their scale of 0 to 100 according to the following parameters: “We carefully curate a large group of the world’s most respected critics, assign scores to their reviews, and apply a weighted average to summarize the range of their opinions. The result is a single number that captures the essence of critical opinion in one Metascore.”

Keep reading for the 14 TV shows with the highest Metacritic scores in 2019:

Fleabag: Season 2 (Amazon) – Metacritic Score: 96

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s second season of her critical hit Fleabag was the most praised show of the year for its writing, performances and emotional story. Among the 20 reviews counted by Metacritic for Season 2, Vanity Fair’s Sonia Saraiya says the “characters are so well-drawn, and the performers so skillful, that each frame is resonant with their interpersonal friction—and laden with their unspoken shame.” Meanwhile, Salon’s Melanie MacFarland praises the “absolutely masterful execution of the comedy’s sophomore run, an example of brilliance slathered on brilliance.” It should come as no surprise that Fleabag won IGN’s best comedy series of 2019.

Better Things: Season 3 (FX) – Metacritic Score: 94

Pamela Adlon’s FX critical darling continued toward greatness in Season 3, clocking in at 19 positive reviews on Metacritic. The Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert says Better Things “is the kind of intimate show that captures the characters’ mundane expressions of love, frustration, and loneliness so accurately that you forget about the art and effort behind them — the sensitive scripting, the genuine acting, the respectful direction. … You never know where an episode of “Better Things” will go, which is thoroughly refreshing.” Meanwhile, The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert writes, “Adlon doesn’t just take heavy subjects (an ineffectual HPV vaccine, a troubling medical diagnosis) and infuse them with humor. She shares her own humiliations and anxieties so freely that things that should be dark become affirming instead, through the weird trick of solidarity.”

Catastrophe: Season 4 (Amazon) – Metacritic Score: 92

With 9 positive reviews in 2019, Season 4 of Amazon’s British romantic dramedy charmed critics as it concluded the show’s four-season run. The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman says of the Sharon Horgan/Rob Delaney series, “A core truth of Catastrophe is that it derives much of its humor from the rough patches of life, especially in regards to marriage, and the series succeeds particularly, keenly well in part thanks to the amount of love evinced between the two of them.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever says this is “the show I keep telling people to watch when they complain about having nothing good left to watch.”

The Expanse: Season 4 (Amazon) – Metacritic Score: 91

The Expanse Season 4 Gallery

A late entry to the best TV series of the year, the four reviews counted by Metacritic laud the fourth season of The Expanse — previously airing on Syfy before being rescued by Amazon — as some of the best science fiction television of the year. IndieWire’s Steve Green credits the shift to Amazon as opening up the scope of the series: “Continuing the tradition of thoughtfully outlining a system-wide conflict while following through a portal to countless untold problems, The Expanse is an evolving text that an increased sense of scale has only made richer.” Of its long-awaited return, The AV Club’s Zack Handlen writes, “The show is still one of the best science fiction series out there, and it appears to have made the move to streaming with minimal compromises.” IGN’s David Griffin calls the season “great,” writing that “The Expanse Season 4 on Amazon is every bit as good as it was on Syfy.”

Succession: Season 2 (HBO) – Metacritic Score: 88

The second installment of the Roy saga was lauded by critics, earning 17 positive reviews for Season 2. Succession was praised for everything from its writing to its performances, with The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson calls Succession “chilling, despicable and horribly addictive,” writing, “Succession is skilled at steadily and surely raising its characters up to multidimensional horrors.” Says IndieWire’s Ben Travers, “Its eagerness to condemn the country’s terrifying trajectory, along with its efficiency and artistry, is what makes the drama great — the fun it has doing so is what makes it one-of-kind.” We agree, with IGN’s Eric Sams arguing why you really should be watching Succession.

Line of Duty: Season 5 (BBC) – Metacritic Score: 88

With five positive reviews, the BBC police procedural Line of Duty (which airs on Acorn TV in the United States) should be on your radar. Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt writes that Line of Duty’s fifth season is “a taut, screw-turning examination of an undercover officer gone rogue — the kind of slow-burn drama that earns your devotion.” TV Guide’s Matt Roush compares Line of Duty to The Bodyguard, saying, “a jolting twist at the season’s midpoint changes everything, and what initially seemed like solid and smartly done procedural becomes urgent, must-finish-now TV.”

Undone: Season 1 (Amazon) – Metacritic Score: 88

Amazon’s surreal rotoscope animation series from Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg earned rave reviews from 15 critics for its unique animation style and emotional story. USA Today’s Kelly Lawler said it was the best new show of the fall, praising how it uses “discomfort to its advantage, messing with our perceptions of what animation and live-action television is supposed to look like.” Variety critic Caroline Framke calls Undone a “deeply unnerving experience, it usually finds a way to twist its narrative, let its actors lean into their characters’ flaws, and reap unexpected rewards from often shattering revelations. There’s certainly no other show like it, which at this point is truly no small feat.”

Back to Life: Season 1 (Showtime) – Metacritic Score: 88

This BBC comedy series, which airs on Showtime in the United States, is written by and stars Daisy Haggard and explores a woman who gets out of prison after 18 years and returns to her hometown to start her life anew. Twelve critics gave the series a positive review; of the debut season, The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman describes Back to Life as a “wonderfully nuanced story that’s both extremely funny and tragically sad, but never leans too hard in either direction to get a reaction. It just exists and, after six episodes, it ends — and when it does you get the full appreciation of how exceptional it is.” As it comes from the same producers as Fleabag (though doesn’t involve Phoebe Waller-Bridge), many critics compared the two, with Time’s Judy Berman saying, “They share witty, concise scripts and defining fascinations with ugly emotions: grief, loneliness, guilt, shame, self-hatred.”

Veep: Season 7 (HBO) – Metacritic Score: 87

This critical darling of an HBO comedy remains one of the best shows on TV even after seven seasons on the air. Season 7 got 20 positive reviews from critics, with The Chicago Sun-Times’ Richard Roeper praising the ensemble of stars led by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, saying, “No surprise, Louis-Dreyfus and one of the best ensemble casts of the 21st century are as sharp and fast and flat-out hilarious as they’ve ever been.” The San Francisco Chronicle’s Steven Winn praises the way it deals with timely politics, saying “its gleeful celebration of pragmatism and hypocrisy, of self-serving politics bent on power at any cost, and dismissive scorn for institutions great and small is perfectly attuned to the times.”

Billions: Season 4 (Showtime) – Metacritic Score: 87

Showtime’s Billions earned four positive reviews for the fourth season of the Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti-led drama. Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk says Billions remixes enough of its standard formula to feel fresh in Season 4, while also sticking to the elements that work. Comparing it to HBO’s Succession, she writes that if “Succession is mostly interested in the mess that happens when a family becomes a business, Billions is a show about the process of power.” CNN’s Brian Lowry says, “Everything about the show is juicy — starting with the key performances — and its sense of the current political moment is savvy without needing to be especially specific.”

Ramy: Season 1 (Hulu) – Metacritic Score: 87

The first season of Ramy Youssef’s comedy about a first-generation Egyptian-American Muslim trying to balance family expectations with his own desires made a critical splash when it debuted on Hulu earlier this year, earning 18 positive reviews. The AV Club’s Caroline Siede compares Ramy to the likes of Girls and Masters of None, but says “the biggest thing that sets Ramy apart from other thoughtful comedies about lost millennials is that its lead character believes in god. … Ramy explores familiar territory about hookup culture, career woes, and general aimlessness … yet the show finds freshness in exploring those ideas within a religious context.” Meanwhile The New York Times critic James Poniewozik writes, “Youssef’s chill, thoughtful manner suggests a more bright-eyed version of Donald Glover’s Earn from “Atlanta,” with which “Ramy” shares a slice-of-life perspective and a sense of humor that relies on interactions more than gags.”

Barry: Season 2 (HBO) – Metacritic Score: 87

Barry: Season 2 Photos (Spoiler-Free)

Barry, Bill Hader’s HBO dramedy — oftentimes much more drama than comedy — only grew more buzz-worthy in its second season as it explored the hitman with an affinity for improv comedy trying to make a better life for himself and only making things much worse in the process. Of the 14 critics reviews counted, Slant’s Michael Haigis praises the show, saying, “while the new episodes maintain the show’s satiric view of self-interested Hollywood types, a poignant theme emerges which represents an evolution for the series. As an introspective Barry takes inventory of his past misdeeds, the show’s storylines cohere around the reflexive lies people tell themselves, and the myriad factors which comprise the masks they present to the world.” Meanwhile, Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall acknowledges that Season 2 is “a very different series [than Season 1] — one that no longer keeps its dark and light sides in harmony, but gives itself over almost entirely to drama.” Here’s IGN’s pitch on why you really should be watching Barry (if you’re not already).

Killing Eve: Season 2 (BBC America) – Metacritic Score: 87

Killing Eve: Season 2 Photos

After a critically lauded first season, Killing Eve’s standout stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer remained at the center of critical praise in Season 2. With 20 reviews counted, Time critic Judy Berman calls Season 2 “fizzy, fast-paced and binge-friendly. And at this point, Oh and Comer so fully inhabit Eve and Villanelle, you could imagine them carrying on without any script at all,” while Collider’s Allison Keene says, “The world that [Phoebe] Waller-Bridge has built and that [new showrunner Emerald] Fennell is continuing is one worth spending endless time in.” IGN reviewer Alicia Lutes called the Season 2 premiere “great,” writing, “Diving into all of this chaos is exactly what makes Killing Eve so thrilling and fun to watch.”

Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal: Season 1 (Adult Swim) – Metacritic Score: 87

Primal: Season 1 Gallery

With five positive reviews, Genndy Tartakovsky’s return to animation in Adult Swim’s Primal makes it clear this isn’t a show to sleep on. The Hollywood Reporter’s Dan Fienberg describes watching the five-part series as treating yourself, saying, “Epic yet intimate, Primal is awash in eye-popping imagery and if it looked as good as it did on a screener on my laptop, I assume the experience will only be boosted by the scope of your AV setup.” Meanwhile, IndieWire’s Steve Greene writes that “Primal is a piece of elemental storytelling that finds some real emotional depth without either of its protagonists uttering a single word of dialogue.”

Every TV Show That’s Canceled or Ending in 2019

What were your favorite TV shows of 2019? Let us know what you loved about them by sharing in the comments below!



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