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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Ten 2019 Emmy-Winning TV Shows You Should Watch Immediately

At the top of your list should be 'Fleabag' — it took home four awards.
By Sarah Ward
September 23, 2019
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Ten 2019 Emmy-Winning TV Shows You Should Watch Immediately

At the top of your list should be 'Fleabag' — it took home four awards.
By Sarah Ward
September 23, 2019
  shares

Helping kick off 2019's host-free Emmy awards, Bryan Cranston might've uttered the most obvious line of the night: "television has never been this damn good". You'd expect an event dedicated to celebrating and rewarding the year's best TV shows to make that claim, of course — that's really the whole message behind the glittering annual gala. Still, it doesn't render the Breaking Bad star's statement any less accurate.

This year's newly minted crop of Emmy winners definitely make that point, and what a crop they are. Sure, the ceremony itself always serves up plenty of its own highlights — Phoebe Waller-Bridge's complete and utter shock at winning not once, not twice, but three times; Jharrel Jerome's earnest excitement at winning over his big-name fellow nominees; and Michelle Williams' impassioned and inspiring speech about women being respected in their profession, for example — but it's their TV programs that we'll all be talking about for years to come.

Indeed, from hitman comedies, to multiple depictions of historical tragedies, to everyone's favourite dragon-filled epic fantasy series, this year's winners are reason enough to spend a week or several on your couch. Or, to be more realistic, to add all of the below shows to your various streaming queues and eventually work your way through them. (We haven't told you to watch 2019 Drama Series recipient Game of Thrones, though, because we're sure you've already done that.)

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FLEABAG

What it's about: When Fleabag's eponymous London resident turns to the camera, talks about her messy life and just generally looks exasperated, she's one of the most relatable characters ever committed to the screen. Unhappy, uncertain and surrounded by chaos in all of her relationships — romantic, platonic and with her family members — she's the complicated, charismatic protagonist for today's frenzied times. Not only creating and writing the series based on her one-woman Edinburgh Festival show, but starring as Fleabag as well, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is simply revelatory. And while the British comedy only spans two six-episode seasons, it packs more into its short run than most shows manage with twice, thrice or even ten times as many instalments.

Won: Comedy Series, Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Writing for a Comedy Series (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Directing for a Comedy Series (Harry Bradbeer).

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime.

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CHERNOBYL

What it's about: Venturing back 33 years to the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen, Chernobyl is a horror story of the most gripping and galvanising kind. The central explosion, caused when the titular power plant's reactor became unstable, is terrifying. The fallout — both in terms of radioactive debris falling from the sky, and the intangible ramifications — is just as fear-inducing. What truly cuts to the bone in this exceptional miniseries, however, is the bureaucratic arrogance and wilful ignorance that follows. There's nothing more chilling than seeing people hold others' lives in their hands and choose to do absolutely nothing. To convey that message, the five-part series also benefits from superb writing, direction and performances, including from Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson.

Won: Limited Series; Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special (Johan Renck); Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special (Craig Mazin).

Where to watch it: Foxtel Now.

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WHEN THEY SEE US

What it's about: Another huge true tale. Another huge cast, including Emmy-winner Jharrel JeromeMichael K. WilliamsJoshua JacksonBlair UnderwoodVera Farmiga and John Leguizamo. Another powerful mini-series. When They See Us steps through the story of Central Park Five — a case that's endlessly infuriating and shocking. In April 1989, Trisha Meili was raped while jogging, while eight other people were attacked across New York. In the aftermath, five African American and Hispanic American teenagers were prosecuted, convicted and jailed, only for their charges to be vacated when the real culprit confessed more than a decade later. From Selma to 13th, director Ava DuVernay has become one of the most crucial voices in interrogating America's oppressive and unjust past, and this stellar drama proves a worthy addition to her resume.

Won: Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Jharrel Jerome).

Where to watch it: Netflix.

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BARRY

What it's about: Airing its second season this year — and thankfully already renewed for a third — Barry boasts one of the best comedy premises on television. An ex-soldier and sharpshooter still haunted by his overseas military experience, Bill Hader's titular character has been putting his skills to use as a hitman since he returned from active duty. It's a natural fit, but then he heads to Los Angeles and discovers acting. Watching Barry try to leave his death-dealing past behind, and watching the chaos that springs for both his new thespian pals (including Henry Winkler) and his old gangster contacts (such as scene-stealer Anthony Carrigan) continually makes for both hilarious and dramatic viewing.

Won: Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Bill Hader).

Where to watch it: Foxtel Now.

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KILLING EVE

What it's about: At the Golden Globes back in January, Sandra Oh picked up a shiny prize for British spy thriller Killing Eve. At the Emmys, it was her co-lead Jodie Comer's turn to nab a gong. One plays an MI5 investigator charged with tracking down a psychopathic killer, while the other portrays the seductive assassin that she's chasing — and where their interactions go from there is best discovered by watching. Twisty, innovative and unafraid to do what it damn well likes with a well-worn genre, the highly acclaimed adaptation of  Luke Jennings' Codename Villanelle novellas is also the second of this year's winning shows to bear Phoebe Waller-Bridge's fingerprints (she's an executive producer, and wrote four of the first season's episodes).

Won: Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Jodie Comer).

Where to watch it: Stan (season one) and ABC iView (season two).

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THE ACT

What it's about: Perhaps you've heard about Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose. Perhaps you even read Buzzfeed's piece about them, 'Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom To Be Murdered'. You'd remember if you have — while true-crime tales are far from uncommon at the moment, especially on-screen, this one definitely stands out. Drawing upon on the aforementioned article for its first season, The Act steps into a story of abuse, death and Munchausen syndrome by proxy that really has to be seen to be believed. Patricia Arquette picked up an Emmy for playing the abusive Dee Dee; however, she's in exceptional company, with the series also starring Joey King, AnnaSophia Robb, Chloë Sevigny and Calum Worthy.

Won: Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Patricia Arquette).

Where to watch it: Google Play.

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OZARK

What it's about: Just a couple of months ago, when the final batch of episodes from Arrested Development's fifth season dropped, no one really cared. That might sound harsh; however, it's a case of sad but true. Don't worry — star Jason Bateman certainly has enough to keep him busy elsewhere. Since 2017, he's been leading, executive producing and sometimes even directing Netflix crime drama Ozark. In fact, he just won an Emmy for the latter. Following a financial advisor who moves his family from Chicago to a quiet Missouri town after a money-laundering scheme goes wrong, this is one of Netflix's quiet achievers. That it also features the always-exceptional Laura Linney, as well as this year's Supporting Actress in a Drama Series winner Julia Garner, also helps.

Won: Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Julia Garner), Directing for a Drama Series (Jason Bateman).

Where to watch it: Netflix.

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POSE

What it's about: New York's drag ballroom scene comes to the small screen in Pose, and the result is one of the liveliest shows on television. As energetic and inclusive as you'd expect given its setting, it's the latest series created by Nip/Tuck, Glee and American Horror Story's Ryan Murphy — although it clearly owes its biggest debt to seminal 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning. Story-wise, Pose follows a motley crew of queer and nonconforming African American and Latin American characters as they they vogue, dance and pose their way through performances, with each competitor vying for glory for their house. After diving into the community during the 80s in its debut run, the show's second season jumped forward to the 90s. No matter what decade he's in, as the resident emcee, Tony winner and now Emmy recipient Billy Porter continually steals the show.

Won: Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Billy Porter).

Where to watch it: Foxtel Now.

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SUCCESSION

What it's about: Meet the Roy family. Patriarch Logan (Brian Cox) started a media and entertainment conglomerate, turned it into a huge success and now wields considerable wealth and power; however, his health is failing. Because this is a family business, his children Siobhan (Aussie actor Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin), Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Connor (Alan Ruck) are all waiting in the wings — although Logan still needs to work out who'll do what when he's no longer working. If this sounds more than a little like the real-life Murdochs, well, you won't be the first to make that connection. Satirical as well as dramatic (and a compelling example of both genres, too), it's the latest series from Peep Show, The Thick of It and Black Mirror writer Jesse Armstrong.

Won: Writing for a Drama Series (Jesse Armstrong).

Where to watch it: Foxtel Now.

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FOSSE/VERDON

What it's about: It might be based on the biography Fosse by Sam Wasson, but this eight-part series focuses on two pivotal real-life figures, as the show's different moniker makes plain. It's impossible to explore the career of director and choreographer Bob Fosse without telling the tale of actor and dancer Gwen Verdon, after all, with their lives linked both professionally and personally. The ups, the downs, the enormous commitment to their work, and the huge productions such as Cabaret, Chicago and All That Jazz — they all form part of Fosse/Verdon. So do exceptional performances by Sam Rockwell as Fosse and Michelle Williams as Verdon, as well as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood standout Margaret Qualley as another dancer pivotal to their stories.

Won: Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Michelle Williams).

Where to watch it: Foxtel Now.

Published on September 23, 2019 by Sarah Ward

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