Barry – The premise (Bill Hader stars as a hitman who discovers he really wants to be an actor) sounds like your average high concept comedy, but Barry is one of the most deceiving shows of the year. Yes, it’s incredibly funny, but that’s balanced with a surprising willingness to venture into the dark heart of a man who has killed a LOT of people and can never rule that out as a solution to a problem. Hader and co-star Henry Winkler deservedly won Emmys for their performances, but the whole cast is wonderful, especially Stephen Root as Barry’s ‘handler’ and Anthony Carrigan and Glenn Fleshler as bizarrely endearing Chechen gangsters.
Killing Eve – Another dark comedy about an assassin and one that would make a wonderful double bill with Barry. Sandra Oh is utterly brilliant as the titular Eve, an MI5 operative trying to track down an elusive assassin, but it’s Jodie Comer who is the revelation here. After decent performances in average fare like Dr Foster and Thirteen, she reaches new heights as the delightfully psychopathic Villanelle, a killer who views the rest of humanity the way a cat views a wounded mouse.
Bob’s Burgers – Bob’s Burgers is always wonderful but the show’s eighth season was especially wonderful, hitting the mark time and time again with brilliant episodes like Louise and Milly’s Silence Of The Lambs parody, Linda’s “mom-nipotent Mothers’ Day”, Tina’s adventures in lifeguarding and the hysterically funny season finale. Season nine has continued the winning streak but it’s likely that season eight will go down in animation history (alongside The Simpsons season six) as one of the greats.
Atlanta Robbin’ Season – Atlanta is repeatedly referred to as uncategorizable, as if that’s its sole reason for being. It certainly is hard to pin down but its diverse, eclectic nature isn’t its defining trait, rather it’s how all of these seemingly disconnected parts amount to a coherent and fascinating statement on what it’s like to be black and ambitious in modern day America. Along the way, it covers loyalty, depression, fame and identity with a panache that few other shows would even attempt. Widening the show’s focus in order to spend more time with Alfred (aka Paper Boi) turns out to be a stroke of genius, allowing Brian Tyree Henry to really shine. The Teddy Perkins episode is the one that got people talking, but ‘Woods’ is Atlanta and Henry at their weird, wonderful, thought-provoking best.
Kidding – Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry should only ever work together. As good as they can be individually, they never quite reach the standards they do when they combine forces. Carrey delivers his best work in over a decade as Mr Rogers-meets-Sesame Street type Jeff Pickles, who is struggling with grief and the collapse of his marriage. His father/boss (a brilliant Frank Langella) and sister/colleague (an equally brilliant Catherine Keener) desperately try to keep the show on the rails, even as it becomes clear it’s only making things worse. It’s surreal, hilarious and will repeatedly break your heart into a thousand little pieces.