Scandal, streaming, and a continuing plethora of reboots and revivals — some of the most memorable events in TV land in 2019 involved several of those things. Here, to help get viewers excited about the year ahead, we take a month-by-month look back at TV and streaming’s recent past.
#METOO MAKES WAVES
With Julie Chen having left her job as a co-host of The Talk on CBS (after husband Les Moonves was bounced out of his job as chairman at the network following a #MeToo-related investigation), Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba became a new Talk co-host … In other #MeToo TV news, Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of StarTalk on National Geographic Channel, saw his show put on hiatus while the cable network investigated sexual harassment claims against him. In March, NGC announced their investigation was complete, and new episodes of StarTalk resumed airing in April … In the aftermath of Lifetime’s docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, which detailed the long history of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B superstar, RCA Records, Kelly’s label, dropped him from their roster … In other Kelly news, Megyn Kelly (no relation) exited NBC News and received the entire amount remaining on her $69 million contract on her way out … The Punisher series finale (but we didn’t know it yet – see February) streamed on Netflix … Fox aired Rent Live, though the majority of the broadcast was pre-recorded footage after cast member Brennin Hunt broke his foot during rehearsals the day before the special … The producers of Family Guy, which turned 20 in January 2019, decided to stop targeting the LGBT community in jokes on the Emmy-winning series … Brooklyn Nine-Nine kicked off its sixth season on NBC after being canceled by Fox … The Sopranos turned 20 … Bob Costas exited NBC Sports after nearly four decades … CBS’s daytime soap The Bold and the Beautiful aired its 8,000th episode … Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ended its four-season run on Netflix.
PUNISHER AND JESSICA JONES CANCELED
Netflix announced in mid-month that season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher, which launched in January, would be its last, and that Jessica Jones’ upcoming third season would end that series, as well. The cancellations came after the streaming giant canceled Marvel series Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage in what came to be known around the office as “Marvel’s The Purge,” as in, Marvel was cutting ties with Netflix while Disney ramped up plans for Marvel characters on its streaming service, Disney+. At the time, Variety reported that Marvel’s deal with Netflix prevented any of its shows’ characters from appearing in non-Netflix properties for two years following cancellation … Maroon 5 performed at halftime and the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta … The Oscars aired without a host for the first time since 1989, after comedian Kevin Hart quit the job after controversy erupted over homophobic tweets he had posted previously … T-Pain, costumed as Monster, was the first winner of The Masked Singer… The Simpsons was renewed for two seasons (31 and 32), meaning it will become the first scripted series to run for 700 episodes … The dramedy Russian Doll premiered on Netflix and went on to earn Emmy nominations as Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for star Natasha Lyonne … Netflix also released the series adaptation of the superhero comic book The Umbrella Academy, which drew 45 million households to watch the first season during its first month of release.
A MONTH OF LAW AND DISORDER
HBO aired Leaving Neverland, during which Wade Robson and James Safechuck alleged Michael Jackson sexually abused them when they were children. The controversial documentary, the network’s third most-watched documentary in a decade, sparked backlash from Jackson’s fans and prompted producers of The Simpsons to pull from circulation a 1991 episode of the animated series – “Stark Raving Dad” – that featured Jackson as a guest star … Cops turned 30 … Full House star Lori Loughlin and Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman were arrested and charged with crimes related to a nationwide college entrance cheating scandal … Charges were dropped against Empire star Jussie Smollett, who had been accused of filing a false police report about an alleged hate crime attack in January. Chicago officials said the charges were dropped after Smollett agreed to perform community service and forfeit a $10,000 bond … Gayle King won stellar reviews for keeping her cool and forging ahead with a CBS This Morning interview with R. Kelly, even as the singer, charged with sexual crimes and dealing with dwindling finances, stood up from his chair and began loudly yelling at her and the camera … Project Runway, which moved to Lifetime after debuting on Bravo, moved back to Bravo for its 17th season … Broad City aired its series finale after five seasons on Comedy Central … Jeopardy host Alex Trebek announced he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.
GAME OF THRONES FINAL SEASON STARTS STRONG, BUT ENDS SERIES WITH A WHIMPER
Multiple Emmy-winning comedy Veep ended its seven-season run on HBO, while the network also said goodbye to Game of Thrones in a series finale that was the most-watched telecast in the network’s history with 13.61 million viewers … After 12 seasons, The Big Bang Theory aired its series finale, in which Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler won a Nobel Prize … CBS All Access releases a first look at Star Trek: Picard, which reunites Patrick Stewart with his fan-favorite role as Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation and feature films … Adam LevineleavesThe Voice … Into the Badlands ended its three-season run on AMC … Last Call with Carson Daly ended its 18-season run on NBC … The PBS Kids animated series Arthur began its 22nd season with an episode in which teacher Nigel Rathburn married his boyfriend, Patrick. The network explained the story line was introduced to include diversity among the characters, but two PBS stations in Alabama and Arkansas refused to air the episode … Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel produced Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons, a ratings-hit ABC special in which all-star casts re-enacted live versions of episodes of the classic sitcoms … HBO premiered Deadwood: The Movie, a made-for-TV movie that continued the story of the network’s 2004-06 series, and whose production had been the subject of rumors since shortly after the series ended … Lucifer moved from Fox to Netflix for its fourth season … Wheel of Fortune airs its 7,000th episode.
ZENDAYA SCORES WITH EUPHORIA
HBO premiered the intense teen drama Euphoria, which drew criticism from the Parents Television Council because of its graphic depiction of teen drug use and sex (including, infamously, a scene in which many penises were seen onscreen). The show earned particularly strong critical praise for star Zendaya, and was renewed for a second season … The fallout from Game of Thrones’ final season continued with actress Lena Headey, who played Cersei in the series, speaking out about her character’s fate: “Obviously you dream of your death,” she told The Guardian. “You could go in any way on that show. So I was kind of gutted. But I just think they couldn’t have pleased everyone. No matter what they did, I think there was going to be some big comedown from the climb” … James Holzhauer was nicknamed “Jeopardy James” for his 33-game winning streak on the game show, which, when it ended on June 3, had amassed $2,464,216 for him. The money is the second-highest Jeopardy winnings total ever … The St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins to win their first Stanley Cup, and the championship game on NBC earned the highest ratings for an NHL game in 25 years … Designated Survivor moved from ABC to Netflix for its third and final season … A revival of The Hills, called The Hills: New Beginnings, debuted on MTV, with several cast members of the reality series returning, including Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, and Brody Jenner … Jessica Jones ended its three-season run on Netflix.
So what that not everyone thought they stuck the landing with the Game of Thrones finale; series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss got the chance to cry all the way to the bank, as the duo signed a development deal reportedly worth $200 million with Netflix, after six different studios were in the bidding for their services … Word leaks that Ewan McGregor is in talks to reprise his role as a younger version of Obi-Wan Kenobi in an event series for Disney+ … NBCUniversal CEO Steven Burke announces to shareholders that the company’s upcoming streaming service, which is set to be the new home of The Office and many more series, is scheduled to launch in April 2020 … Saved by the Bell turned 30 … Extra host A.J. Calloway and Warner Bros. “mutually agreed to part ways,” the company said in a statement, after an investigation into sexual assault charges several women made against Calloway … The reality series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath ended its three-season run on A&E … Fox aired a six-episode revival of Beverly Hills 90210, called BH90210, with the meta series revolving around the original series cast, and the actors’ attempts to reboot their classic teen drama. Ratings dropped for every episode after the premiere, and the network didn’t renew the show for a second season … CBS’s Sherlock Holmes drama Elementary ended its seven-season run.
FLEABAG, GAME OF THRONES TOP EMMYS
Like the Oscars, the Emmy Awards telecast also went on without a host. Game of Thrones wins the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy, while Fleabag is named Outstanding Comedy Series, and Tony winner Billy Porter of Pose becomes the first openly gay performer to win the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy … Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins signs an eight-figure, three-year deal to create new TV series exclusively for Netflix … J.J. Abrams signed a development deal with WarnerMedia, earning between $450-500 million for his Bad Robot company to produce TV shows, movies, video games and digital content … New Saturday Night Live cast member Shane Gillis was fired before the season began when offensive comments he made about women, Muslims, Chinese Americans, and the LGBTQ community in a comedy podcast came to light … Emmy, Golden Globe, and Peabody Award-winning Amazon Video series Transparent ends its five-season run with a musical episode … The Brady Bunch turned 50. HGTV, which bought the Los Angeles house that had served as the Brady family home in exterior shots of the house in the original series, earned the network’s highest ratings ever with A Very Brady Renovation, in which the show’s cast and HGTV personalities worked together to make the interior and exterior of the house match the TV family’s home … The West Wing turned 20 … Baywatch and Family Matters turned 30 … Preacher ended its four-season run on AMC … Jeopardy celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Trebek-hosted version of the show … Sean Hayes hosted Comedy Central’s annual celebrity roast, with this year’s subject, Alec Baldwin … Suits ended a nine-season run on USA … Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were announced as halftime performers for Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Feb. 2, 2020.
Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, becomes the chief creative officer at Marvel overall, with oversight of all of their film, television, and publishing endeavors. Word leaks that Marvel TV Executive Vice President Jeph Loeb will announce his departure soon, a move that reportedly was in the works prior to Feige’s promotion. The news follows a general trend established when Marvel Studios, not Marvel Television, announced it would make limited run series with its MCU Avengers for the Disney+ service. Loeb was responsible for the company’s Netflix series (Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, etc.), ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., FX’s Legion, Runaways on Hulu, and more … Netflix debuted El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, the much-anticipated Breaking Bad follow-up that told the story of what happened to Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after the events of the BB series finale … The streaming war heats up, as Disney+ tweets out 500-plus images for titles that will be included in the service’s November 12 launch. Everything from 101 Dalmatians to Zootopia are included on the list. (See it here.) … Not to be outdone, Apple TV+ holds its very first red carpet premiere for Ron Moore’s For All Mankind and debuts a new trailer for Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld. HBO Max spams the media with announcements about its shows coming in 2020, and NBCUniversal’s upcoming Peacock streaming service flirts with free availability. Netflix calls all of the hubbub “noisy” … Damon Lindelof‘s highly anticipated adaptation of Watchmen premieres on HBO … The Price Is Right aired its 9,000th episode … Anchor and breaking news managing editor Shepard Smith, one of the original stars of Fox News, surprised audiences when he announced he was leaving the network … E! began airing new episodes (the first since 2012) of its long-running entertainment docuseries The E! True Hollywood Story … Ballers ended its five-season run on HBO … Critically-acclaimed (with a 96% series Tomatometer average), but low-rated AMC dramedy Lodge 49 ended its two-season run on AMC.
AMAZON’S THE LORD OF THE RINGS CASTS ITS GALADRIEL
(Photo by JA/Everett Collection)
The Lord of the Rings series in development for Amazon Prime loses a lead when Will Poulter (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) reportedly drops out because of scheduling conflicts. An announcement quickly follows that the project has cast His Dark Materials and Love & Friendship actress Morfydd Clark in the role of Elven ruler Galadriel, famously played by played by Cate Blanchett in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies … HBO’s Watchmen — Certified Fresh at 96% — finally reveals its Dr. Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) in episode “A God Walks into ABar” … Friends, one of Netflix’s most popular series, left the streaming service on Dec. 31, moving to the HBO Max streaming service in 2020. Several other classic TV series will also see new homes in 2020 and beyond – including The Office, The Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, and South Park – as competing streaming services rely on the archived series to lure subscribers … Harrison Ford signed on to star in his first TV series, a scripted adaptation of the Netflix docuseries The Staircase … Netflix announced 26 million homes had watched awards season favorite The Irishman in its first week of release on the streaming service … The merger between CBS Corporation and Viacom closes, with the new company now known as ViacomCBS … The Simpsons turned 30 … Emmy-winning Silicon Valley ended its six-season run on HBO … Live feeds and other PBS programming became available on YouTube … Saturday Night Live alum Eddie Murphy returned to host the variety series for the first time in 35 years, and earned the series’ best ratings in 11 years … Epix announced it would produce a 10-episode adaptation of Stephen King’s Jerusalem’s Lot, starring Adrien Brody … Madam Secretary ended after six seasons on CBS … Michael Chabon announced his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Kavalier and Clay would finally be adapted as a TV series, for Showtime … Responding to backlash from the conservative group One Million Moms, the Hallmark Channel bans ads featuring two brides kissing, but a boycott from LGBT supporters prompts the network to reinstate the commercials from wedding planning website Zola … The Chevrolet Suburban SUV becomes the first car to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, after appearing in more than 1,750 TV shows and movies since 1956 … Lear and Kimmel produce a second Live in Front of a Studio Audience episode, this time with all-star casts re-enacting live versions of episodes of All in the Family and Good Times … You moves to Netflix, from Lifetime, for its second season … America’s Funniest Home Videos turns 30 … Mr. Robot concludes after four seasons on USA.
What was the biggest TV or streaming news of the year for you? Tell us in the comments.