'TV's Top 5': The Highs ('Ramy') and Lows (Jussie Smollett) of 2019

Ramy Youssef Ramy Hassan Ramy (Hulu) - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Hulu

Welcome to the final 2019 episode of TV's Top 5, The Hollywood Reporter's TV podcast.

Every week, hosts Lesley Goldberg (West Coast TV editor) and Daniel Fienberg (chief TV critic) break down the week in TV news with context from the business and critical sides, welcome showrunners and executive guests and provide a critical guide of what to watch (or skip, as the case may be).

This episode features a look back at the year in TV and the following five topics: 

1. A look back at the year in the Streaming Wars.
Disney+ and Apple TV+ both finally launched, with one coming with a tremendous amount of buzz and the other, well, not nearly as much. How did their arrivals challenge streaming giant Netflix? How do Hulu and Amazon factor in? In this segment, The Hollywood Reporter digital editor Natalie Jarvey returns to the show to break down what was a very busy year in the streaming wars. The segment begins at the 5:29 mark. 

2. Iconic shows that ended in 2019.
This past year saw a number of legacy shows come to their natural conclusions. Game of Thrones, Big Bang Theory, Orange Is the New Black, Veep and several other landscape-shifting and network-defining hits signed off. Which were the most impactful? Which left the biggest holes? And which shows that didn't know the end was near will be missed the most? Starts at the 22:26 mark.

3. The highs and lows of 2019.
TV's Top 5 published 51 episodes in 2019, complete with nearly 20 Showrunner Spotlights and a number of executive and talent interviews — as well as a live show — along the way. Of all the stories that were featured on the show, this segment looks at some of our favorites that stand out the most — the multimillion-dollar deals, the shifting landscape amid mergers and other consolidations as well as the low points and scandals we wish we could forget. Begins at the 32:58 mark.

4. Speaking of a few of our favorite things …
As loyal Top 5 listeners know, Hulu's Ramy was a regular subject of conversation on the show as Fienberg did his best to convince me to watch it. And watch it I finally did! As Ramy was among our favorite topics (and shows) of the year, co-creator, writer, director and star Ramy Youssef calls in to the show from the set of season two to discuss his breakout year, which wrapped with a Golden Globe nomination. The interview begins at the 43:42 point.

5. Critic's Corner. 
While every episode typically ends with Fienberg sharing his thoughts on what to watch (or skip), we put a spin on it and end the year with a larger critical discussion of the best and worst shows of 2019. Vox critic at large and author of Monsters of the Week Emily VanDerWerff joins Fienberg for a look back at Fleabag, Succession, Russian Doll and many other must-see shows of the year, as well as the ones they wish they could forget (looking at you, The I-Land). Tune in starting at the 1:10:10 mark.

Note: TV's Top 5 will be off for the holidays. Our next episode will arrive Jan. 3, when we'll be joined by Party of Five co-creator Amy Lippman for a Showrunner Spotlight and take a look at the most anticipated shows coming in 2020. Until then, happy holidays!

Hear it all now on TV's Top 5. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an episode. (Reviews welcome!) You can also email Goldberg and Fienberg with any topics or questions you'd like to be addressed in future episodes at TVsTop5@THR.com.

TV's Top 5 is part of THR's roster of podcasts, including Awards ChatterScott Feinberg's weekly in-depth (and award-winning) interview show focusing on the most interesting talents of the Oscar and Emmy seasons; genre reporter Josh Wigler's Series Regular; crafts expert Carolyn Giardina's weekly series, Behind the Screen, which explores the top artists and technologies creating film and TV magic; Seth Abramovitch's monthly series, It Happened in Hollywood, which revisits indelible moments from 90 years of THR's entertainment history; and Hollywood Remixed, hosted by Rebecca Ford and Rebecca Sun, which focuses on underrepresented or misrepresented stories and characters in Hollywood. Other podcasts are in the works.