Paste’s Power Rankings: The 10 Best Shows on TV Right Now
The best of the week that was.TV Lists Power List
How much do we here at Paste TV love television?
So much that we are trying to make it human. Behold our new Power List logo. This little guy has arms to hold a trophy or perhaps to give you a well-needed hug after you’ve finished watching the new season of Veronica Mars. If you have a name for new mascot, tweet us at @Paste_TV and let us know!
The rules for the power list are simple: Any series on TV qualifies, whether it’s a comedy, drama, news program, animated series, variety show or sports event. It can be on a network, basic cable, premium channel, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you can stream on your smart TV, as long as a new episode was made available the previous week—or, in the case of shows released all at once, it has to have been released within the previous four weeks.
The voting panel is composed of Paste editors and TV writers with a pretty broad range of tastes. We’re merciless: a bad episode can knock you right off this list. So much good TV is available right now.
Honorable Mentions: Love Island (CBS), The Rook (Starz), Baskets (FX), Stranger Things (Netflix), Euphoria (HBO), Orange is the New Black (Netflix) and Jane the Virgin (CW).
10. New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV: G1 Climax 29 Night 9
Network: AXS TV
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked
Wrestling fans might quibble over who puts on the best wrestling in the world, but few would argue that New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual G1 Climax tournament isn’t a yearly highlight. This grueling round robin tournament pits 20 wrestlers against each other in two ten-man blocks, with the winners of both blocks facing off in the finals for a shot at New Japan’s top title at the Tokyo Dome in January. Almost all of these matches are long, athletic, hard-hitting affairs between some of the best wrestlers on the planet, and 2019’s edition is one of the best ones yet. AXS TV airs a two-hour show every Saturday night, and although they aren’t able to get every G1 show on the schedule (between the two blocks, there’s a G1 event pretty much every other day for four weeks), they have been able to get some of the best matches of the tournament on American TV. This past weekend featured an excellent match-up between Hiroshi Tanahashi, an aging superstar who was New Japan’s ace for most of the last 15 years, and SANADA, a skull-masked member of the insolent Los Ingobernables de Japon stable. The main event is a classic pitting the current IWGP Heavyweight champion, Kazuchika Okada, against KENTA, a top Japanese star who just returned to the country after spending a few years bumming around in WWE’s developmental league under the name Hideo Itami. I won’t spoil the finish for you—both were undefeated in the tournament heading into this match, and in the best New Japan tradition, the tension and excitement you’ll feel as the match enters its final moments matches that of any legitimate, non-predetermined sport. Pro wrestling is the one true art, and the G1 might be the highest expression of it.—Garrett Martin
9. Good Trouble
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked
I’m not going to lie, sometimes it can be exhausting trying to keep up with all that Good Trouble is trying to tackle. Like its predecessor The Fosters, the Freeform drama (which I must confessed is probably aimed at viewers much younger than I) leaves no social justice stone unturned. This season alone has tackled gender pay scale inequities, trans rights, coming out as non-binary, the Black Lives Matter movement, loyalty to the Republican party in the Trump era, depression, suicide and body image struggles. But somehow the show manages to never be preachy or pedantic. Amid all the issues of the day though are the storylines that make a young adult drama tick: navigating romantic relationships, career struggles, sibling fights, and parties where someone makes a fool of themselves. In its second season, the series remains a weekly delight and one well worth the trouble.—Amy Amatangelo
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Forgive me Pray Tell (Billy Porter) for I fell way behind on the second season of Pose. But now I am caught up and the category is: Summer’s Best Shows. In its second season, the FX drama, set against the backdrop of Madonna’s “Vogue,” dives deeper and more tragically into the reality of the trans community in the early 90s. It’s an unflinching look at the ongoing fight and struggle for acceptance and equal rights. Yet there’s still so much joy in the series. From the delight of a dance audition to Elektra’s (Dominque Jackson) ever-fabulous put-downs, to the weekly ballroom competitions, the series never fails to delight. Special shout out to MJ Rodriquez, whose Blanca is the true heart of the series. More than anything, Pose reminds us that family is often the one you make, not the one you are born into, and that there’s nothing like having the support of the ones you love.—Amy Amatangelo
7. Years and Years
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Russell T. Davies’ UK series has come to HBO with very little fanfare, which is unfortunate because it deserves your attention. It’s a compelling, if imperfect, look at what life might be like in the next 15 years, as the show cruises through a number of proposed (and likely) world events through the lens of one British family. An outstanding cast helps sell the show’s dystopian vision, giving it an exceptional amount of heart. But Davies also keeps all of the tech and politics and media of the future feeling grounded in the possible. Years and Years is arresting television, with an outlandishly oversized score that pulls you in fully to a story with shocking events and the familiar mundanity that follows them. Despite the erosion of freedoms for these formerly comfortable middle-class westerners, it still feels strangely hopefully, and most of all, embraces the idea of resilience even in the face of extraordinary change. —Allison Keene
6. Perpetual Grace, LTD
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
Creators Steve Conrad and Bruce Terris have crafted a visually distinct world full of moral quandaries, exploring the fluctuating nature of what defines a person’s character. That exists alongside scenes like Sir Ben Kingsley calmly telling the guard at a Mexican prison that he is “the pale horse of death,” just before being loaded into an ice cream truck for transportation to a Super Max facility.
The series builds out its own world in a vaguely modern southwest setting, where James (Jimmi Simpson) gets embroiled in a scheme to rob a couple running a scam church. Their son, Paul Allen Brown (Damon Herriman), repeats several times that “they’re just two old people,” but Byron (Kingsley) and Lillian (Jacki Weaver) are forces to be reckoned with—starting with the fact that James has to get hooked on methadone first to go through their detox as part of the heist. “That’s intense,” he says thoughtfully. Perpetual Grace has a weird, wry humor to it, but even more importantly it’s rooted in exceptional character work.
It’s a fascinating journey to begin, with no sense yet of how things might resolve, if they ever do. There’s no hurry to get there, though—spending time in this strange world is full of curiosities will likely keep us perpetually sustained.—Allison Keene
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked
The third season of FX’s Legion has been a virtual masterclass in playing with the way we, as viewers, understand heroes and villains in superhero stories, as leading man David Haller (Dan Stevens) pivoted from presumed good guy to Big Bad and former love interest Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller) stepped up save the world. But the series has really outdone itself with Season Three’s sixth episode, “Chapter 25,” which catapults Syd into a fairy tale world—don’t ask, just go with it— in order to reckon with her own choices, failures and future. At its heart, the episode is a morality tale about the impact of our actions on others and Syd’s rediscovery of her own empathy, and is more moving than it probably has any right to be. But it’s also got a rap battle between Jermaine Clement and Jason Mantzouka, and honestly, I don’t know what else you could possibly want from this show. It’s Legion at its emotional, utterly weirdo best.—Lacy Baugher
4. The Boys
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
At no point did I ever expect to say The Boys was the best thing I’ve seen on TV all year, especially given that it’s been promoted with clips putting the focus on shocking acts of superheroes behaving badly. But the reality is The Boys is the first true surprise of 2019, walking a careful line between Robocop and The X-Files to deliver eight jaw-dropping hours of TV.
Based on Garth Ennis’ bloodsoaked comic book satire of the same name, Amazon’s The Boys takes place in a world where superheroes are modern celebrities. Thanks to a partnership with the ironically Amazon-like corporate juggernaut Vought International, over 200 supers bring in billions a year from movies, commercials, and every endorsement that comes within reach. When a superpowered being behaves a badly, Vought is there to pick up the pieces, sometimes of people’s families. The world we see in The Boys is a savagely cynical place, full of sociopathic superheroes, conspiracies, staggering violence, and debauchery.
Yes, it’s crass as hell and one of the most violent shows on TV right now. But deep down, when you push past the gore, sex, and horrors committed to screen, the thing that sticks with you is the show’s emotional core. That, and a truly shocking final sequence that will leave fans of the comics reeling and new devotees Google searching for when Season Two will drop. If you’ve grown tired of superhero stories, here’s one last essential tale to take out your frustrations on people who wear capes.—John-Michael Bond
3. South Side
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
Creators and writers Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle tap into their Chicago locale and unleash just a little of its comic potential to hilarious results. It helps that they’re walking the walk. They show up in their own locally-shot series as a cop and a lawyer, respectively, in addition to their behind-the-scenes duties. Their heavy involvement is just one sign of the close-knit production that makes South Side one of the year’s most exciting and accessible comedies. Bashir’s brother (also a show co-creator) Sultan Salahuddin stars as Simon who, along with K (Kareme Young), recently graduated Kennedy-King College and works as a rental furniture repo man for K’s twin Q (Quincy Young) at Rent-T-Own. The store and the cops have a tenuous relationship as both sides try to make their money and keep shenanigans to a minimum. The pairs of brothers are exceptional and Chandra Russell, who plays Bashir’s partner and also serves as a writer, is another breakout. Come to think of it, there are few in the cast who don’t stand out as funny, energetic voices that should’ve been dominating comedy a long time ago.—Jacob Oller
2. Andi Mack
Network: Disney Channel
Last Week’s Ranking: Not ranked
Andi Mack did it. It went there. It made history. In last Friday’s much-hyped series finale—after Andi’s (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) catharsis watching Bex (Lilan Bowden) and Bowie (Trent Garrett) finally dancing their wedding dance, after the joy of seeing Cece (Lauren Tom) reveal herself to have been the break-dancing dinosaur in the middle of Andi’s party, after the long-awaited smooch between competitive buds Buffy (Sophia Wylie) and Marty (Garren Stitt), after a raucous, full-cast sing-along to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”—Andi Mack put Cyrus Goodman (Joshua Rush) on a quiet bench in front of a romantic fire with reformed-bully-turned-beloved-friend TJ (Luke Mullen), and let them finally break through their anxieties to come clean to one other about their true feelings. Friends, they held hands. Friends, DISNEY CHANNEL BOYFRIENDS.
If you’ve watched The Discourse about Andi Mack show grow in the last year or so, you will know that despite Andi Mack technically being an exquisite mother-daughter show about the relationship between Andi, Bex (Lilan Bowden) and Cece (Lauren Tom), the BIG thing it did better and sweeter and sooner than any other kids show out there was introduce Cyrus as Disney Channel’s first out gay character, an arc that started with an admission to one friend of a passing crush on another and grew not only to include the first utterance of “I’m gay” on Disney, but also the possibility that Cyrus could get a romantic “endgame” in the same way that so many straight teens on Disney do. And yet, by the time TJ burst in relief at Cyrus taking his outstretched hand, the work Rush, Mullen and creator Terri Minsky had done to get them there was so solid and subtle that it felt as much a “well, duh” part of the whole episode’s things change but we love and grow with them thesis as everything else in the episode—up to and including Andi revealing that, in preparation for her big move to her magnate art high school, she had cleaned out Andi Shack.
Not getting to see where Cyrus and TJ (and Andi, and Buffy, and Jonah, and Marty, and Amber) go next is going to be a huge bummer for fans, of course. But while there’s enough precedent of Disney Channel spinning original movies out of beloved series that one should never say never, if this is where Andi Mack leaves us, it is on a lovely note of hope even in the face of change. And that’s something we can all appreciate. — Alexis Gunderson
1. Veronica Mars
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
When your favorite TV show returns 12 years after its series finale and five years after its fan-fueled movie, you worry. Will our plucky heroine still be the beloved character we met all those years ago? Will her reformed, former bad-boy boyfriend still deliver the sardonic one-liners with aplomb? Can the show possibly live up to the anticipated hype?
Well my little marshmallows I’m delighted to inform you that the answer to all three questions is “yes.” The fourth season of Veronica Mars is fantastic. In this age of revival-palooza, much has been lost. In the quest for a quick money grab, revivals often leave their characters in a state of perpetual arrested development.
More than with any other revival, Veronica Mars’ creator and executive producer Rob Thomas has clearly thought about where these characters would be as adults. So my “yes the show is still awesome” comes with an asterisk. Gone is the happy-go-lucky breeziness of the Kickstarter video. Gone is the assurance the movie provided that almost everyone is living their best life. The result, which is an exceedingly honest look at adulthood, might not be the Veronica Mars we thought we wanted, but it is the Veronica Mars that we need.—Amy Amatangelo