Best TV Shows of 2024... So Far

Undeniably, one of the biggest things on television was Travis Kelce, the 34-year-old tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor Swift, the 34-year-old singer-songwriter, and arguably the biggest music pop star on the planet. During the 2023 NFL season, Kelce and Swift were reportedly dating. Broadcast games where Swift showed up to support her boyfriend saw record-breaking viewership, numbers that rivaled past Super Bowl numbers. It all culminated in Super Bowl LVIII on February 11, which was the most-watched program in American history with 123 million viewers. It had the longest amount of game-play of any Super Bowl in all time. It's only the second Super Bowl to be decided in overtime. The high ratings are attributed to Swift's relationship with Kelce, driving up interest.

The Super Bowl was broadcast on CBS, which also launched the new series Tracker (2024), starring Justin Hartley. Hartley was recently seen in the hit NBC series This Is Us (2016). That show ended two years ago but Hartley has been a TV star for over 20 years, so it was curious to see where he might land. Because Tracker had the Super Bowl as its lead, that missing person procedural became the highest-rated, scripted program on any network. Its post-Super Bowl numbers were reportedly 18 million viewers. Yet, it's been averaging over 10 million weekly, which makes it the most-watched new show. When it comes to broadcast content, CBS continues to dominate in that regard with shows like Young Sheldon (2017), which just ended, and NCIS (2003), which will have its 22nd season this fall.

Fool Me Once (2024) is an adaptation of a Harlan Coben novel on Netflix. It was released in January and immediately rose to one of the most-watched shows on the platform with 98.2 million views. It has a pretty intriguing hook and enough twists and turns to keep an audience engaged. It currently has the highest views of any new show of the calendar year. According to Netflix's Most Popular TV Shows in English, the second highest new show of the calendar year is Baby Reindeer (2024), which garnered 86.9 million views. It's also been the source of some, if not most, of the controversy for the streamer this year, resulting in a lawsuit from the woman depicted in it.

Another talker of the town has been FX's Shōgun (2024). People have compared it to Game of Thrones (2011). Some are even predicting it will do well at the upcoming 76th Primetime Emmy Awards or at least have a good showing. It's a historical epic with pretty good action. It's also noticeable because of its predominantly Asian cast. Shōgun was one of several shows that put mostly Asian actors to the forefront. The others include Netflix's The Brothers Sun (2024), HBO's Tokyo Vice (2022) in its second season, Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024) and HBO's The Sympathizer (2024).

It's still not enough, but there has also been noticeable representation of Native American or Indigenous people on the small screen. A couple of projects have included the presence of Oscar-nominee Lily Gladstone in FX's Under the Bridge (2024) and Apple TV's Fancy Dance (2024). However, HBO's True Detective (2014) returned after a five-year break, following its third season. The fourth season is considered a standalone or limited series because it wasn't written by the show's creator, Nic Pizzolatto. The fourth season, which was named Night Country (2024), was written by Issa López, a Mexican filmmaker, whose show is about Alaska Natives or Alaskan Indigenous people. The year was kicked off with Echo (2024), which is Marvel Studios series about a superhero with Native American roots and the show featured a predominantly Native American cast.

In terms of shows or programs that have been highly rated in terms of viewers or that have been pushed for Emmy Awards, there is, as usual, a lack of African American representation or even Latino representation. We might see some Latina representation with Sofía Vergara getting nominated for Netflix's Griselda (2024) or Selena Gomez for Hulu's Only Murders in the Building (2021). There are plenty of potential nominees that have been in the conversation like Liza Colón-Zayas for The Bear (2022), Néstor Carbonell in Shōgun, Taylor Zakhar Perez in Red, White & Royal Blue (2023), Michaela Jaé Rodriguez in Loot (2022) or Ricky Martin in Palm Royale (2024). It'll be interesting to see if any of them actually get recognized.

With the exception of Abbott Elementary (2021), there isn't much hope that a predominantly African American series or even one that has an African American lead will get nominated at the Emmys. Black characters from FX's The Bear (2022) are likely to make an appearance. Some critics are pushing Omar Sy in Netflix's Lupin (2021) or Donald Glover in Amazon's Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2024). Others are pushing Maya Rudolph in Loot, Jharrel Jerome in Amazon's I'm a Virgo (2023), Uzo Aduba in Painkiller (2023) and even David Oyelowo in Lawman: Bass Reeves (2023). However, each one is low on the list.

Here are the shows or programs that picked my curiosity or held my attention this past year:

Best Series

11. A MAN IN FULL (Netflix)






5. GENIUS: MLK / X (NatGeo)





Best TV Movies / Nonfiction

5. THE DEVIL'S PLAN (2023) (Netflix) - This is a reality game show from South Korea. It came out in the fall of last year, but I completely overlooked it. It was recommended to me after I published my list of the Best TV Shows of 2023. If I had, I would've included it, so I had to mention it here. There are a lot of reality game shows, but this is one of the only ones that I've seen where being smart in mathematics and being good at solving logic puzzles are important. A lot of reality game shows involve physical challenges like CBS' Survivor (2000), but this one has none. Instead, contestants have to do literal algebraic equations.

4. ROAD HOUSE (2024) (Amazon Prime) - This Jake Gyllenhaal martial arts flick was originally set to be released in theaters but was switched to a streaming exclusive. It's not as good or even as pulpy as the original 1989 film with Patrick Swayze. However, there was a lot of fun here. UFC fighter Conor McGregor was hilarious and over-the-top but really seemed to be enjoying himself.

3. PHYSICAL: 100: SEASON 2 (Netflix) - This is another reality game show from South Korea. Yet, it's the absolute opposite of The Devil's Plan. This is a competition that has nothing to do with math or intelligence. It's mainly about brute strength and athletic prowess. It's not about exercising one's brain. It's instead all about flexing one's muscles. Some of the matches or quests are simply people having to run on a treadmill faster than everyone else or having to do pull-ups faster than the opponents. A lot of it is about running, lifting heavy weights or wrestle. It starts with 100 contestants and eliminates them in batches or one-by-one until there is a single winner. It's funny to see the various body types and which ones advance and which ones fail, which is often surprising, but the camaraderie is what's most striking.

2. NORWEGIAN DREAM (Here TV) - A Polish immigrant moves to Norway with his single mother in order to try to make a better life. He gets a job at a seafood processing plant or a fish factory where he meets another factory worker with whom he's attracted. This film isn't simply a queer romance. It's mainly about labor unions and workers' rights that's done in a really compelling way.

1. THE GREATEST NIGHT IN POP (Netflix) - If you ever wondered what went into the making of "We Are the World" (1985), the hit and Grammy-winning single that's nearly 40 years old, this documentary takes us behind the scenes and gives us a peek behind the curtains. Lionel Richie who was the co-writer of the song is interviewed and walks us through how it was mostly all done in one fateful night. It's a critical piece of pop culture that's really insightful and enjoyable.


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