It’s not all about Game of Thrones in 2019 (if you can believe it). The televisual landscape has been transformed by the likes of big franchises like the medieval fantast series, and The Walking Dead, but sometimes one can find big (and unexpectedly great) things in little places. With such an alternative mindset, the Edfe’s esteemed writers have set about pitching their excitement for the best ‘alternative’ TV shows you need to see in 2019!
His Dark Materials (Season 1)
After years of frustration at the forgettable adaptation attempt of 2007’s film The Golden Compass, BBC and HBO are finally hearing my call, and have started filming a TV adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, with a cast that I’m sure they stole from my dreams. Dafne Keen of Logan is perfect for the wild, strong-willed Lyra, the series’ precious protagonist, and the rest of the cast, including Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, X-Men and Narnia’s James McAvoy and Luther’s Ruth Wilson, are equally exciting. With Jack Thorne of Cursed Child adapting the script, and a directing team including Academy Award-winning Tom Hooper, and Jamie Childs and Euros Lyn of Doctor Who (the latter having also worked on Daredevil, Broadchurch, Sherlock and Torchwood), I am tentatively hopeful that this adaptation might be deserving of its beloved source material.
While we don’t have an airdate yet, we know from their Twitter that both Miranda and McAvoy have completed their time on the set, and the media consensus concludes a probable 2019 release date.
Big Little Lies (Season 2)
It was one of 2017’s outstanding sleeper hits: David E. Kelley’s Televisual adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel Big Little Lies had a star studded cast (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley) with career-best performances, gorgeous direction from Jean-Marc Vallee, and a story that was gripping over seven episodes. There is, however, trepidation for Season 2 because it was a limited series before its critical and commercial success meant a second season was on the cards. So how do you entice an audience to return to Monterey, California?
At the time of writing, the plot has been carefully placed under wraps but two key new additions should be enough to pull you back. The first is a change of director in Andrea Arnold, an experienced indie filmmaker who recently directed the engrossing coming-of-age drama American Honey, which is an inspiring choice on many regards. Her movies are mainly character driven so it will be interesting to view how she adds to Vallee’s direction from Season 1. The second is a heavyweight new addition to an already prestige cast: Meryl Streep as Perry’s mother Louise. How HBO managed to get her on board is any guess, but just thinking about how she will add to the dynamic is enticing to behold.
Santa Clarita Diet (Season 3)
Santa Clarita Diet is the unsung hero of the televised suburban horror sitcom genre. The cast is superb, featuring Drew Barrymore as realtor mom Sheila suffering from a zombified mid-life crisis; Timothy Olyphant as her former jock and pot-smoking realtor of a husband Joel; Liv Hewson as their ass-kicking daughter Abby; Skyler Gisondo as the hilariously nerdy but loveable neighbour Eric; and Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Eric’s overtly sexual mum Lisa. Oh, and that guy from Firefly (Nathan Fillion) as a decapitated head.
Their suburban bubble of bliss is burst when Sheila turns into a zombie. Everyone scrabbles around to cope with her personality changes and dietary requirements that ultimately liberate her from a life that she hadn’t been living to the full. She’s happier, she feels sexier, she is more confident; she just has to eat people now. The series has become all the richer for the motley bunch of neighbours and co-workers that populate their lives. With Season 2 ending on a couple of tantalising cliff-hangers, the taste for the Santa Clarita Diet has definitely intensified.
Mr. Robot (Season 4)
Oh Mr. Robot, we hardly knew ye. Coming to an end with a fourth and final season this year, the intense psychological drama brewed a perfect soup of pertinent themes – mental health, hacktivism, late capitalism and corporate power in US politics – to become the cult show of the moment when it first aired in 2015. For three seasons Mr. Robot has offered one of the most thorough explorations of extreme mental disorder on television, making Rami Malek, the spearhead of a terrific ensemble cast, a star well on his way to the A-list. The show has been teetering on the brink of full-on physical transcendence for a while; if ever there were a time to address those intriguing hints towards time travel and parallel universes, it would be now. These peripheral traces of sci-fi come second, though, to the immaculate manner Mr. Robot has balanced narrative, theme and inventive visual style. It’ll be missed.
Swamp Thing (Season 1)
Perhaps the most exciting thing about ‘DC Universe’, the newly-created streaming service for DC Comics’ characters (missed opportunity not calling it Batflix, but I digress), is the opportunity it presents to shed light on unknown characters. Swamp Thing, alter ego Alec Holland, a character I can best describe as a man-plant hybrid hulk monster, is one such character. His first season, scheduled to premiere on the service in mid-2019, promises a brand new take on the mythical character, with Andy Bean/Derek Mears set to play the two sides of the character’s personality. The potential for a fun ‘Jekyll and Hyde’-style double act is tantalising, as is the casting of the brilliant Kevin Durand as what is certain to be the season’s Big Bad, Jason Woodrue, AKA Floronic Man (tee-hee). If the series embraces its comic book roots, there’s little doubt in my mind that Swamp Thing has the chance of being 2019’s funnest new show.