The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (2024)

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By

Alison Herman, Aramide Tinubu

The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (1)

It’s impossible to keep up with everything on television. And for those of us who spend our working lives attempting to, it’s almost as hard to narrow the options down into a finite list of favorites. That said, Variety TV critics Aramide Tinubu and Alison Herman have each selected 10 standout shows from the first half of 2024, running the gamut from a Guy Ritchie romp to a real-life drama set at a Renaissance fair. For every global smash like “Baby Reindeer,” there’s an underrated gem like “Diarra From Detroit”; for every bleak post-apocalypse like “Fallout,” there’s a romance like “One Day” that lifts you up even as it breaks your heart. These 20 series —which each of us listed in alphabetical order — represent the full diversity and breadth of the year’s standout releases to date.

  • Aramide Tinubu's Top 10 So Far

  • Baby Reindeer

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (2)

    “Baby Reindeer” is comedian Richard Gadd’s fictionalized account of his being stalked and harassed during his twenties. The Netflix limited series, which has become a sensation, follows Gadd as Donnie, a bartender and aspiring comedian who unwittingly becomes the object of a woman named Martha’s (Jessica Gunning) desire. Though Donnie immediately knows Martha isn’t who she portrays herself to be, he finds himself flattered by her constant attention and affection, until it becomes pathological and even violent.

    While Gadd’s illustration of Martha’s obsession anchors the story, the drama series is, at its core, about the ramifications of varied abuses and the intricate ways that they can corrode someone’s life. “Baby Reindeer” is a series about the stories we tell ourselves to survive, and how painful it can be to face the truth.

  • Criminal Record

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (3)

    An enthralling police drama, Paul Rutman’s “Criminal Record” begins with an anonymous, chilling phone call and unveils a web of racism, negligence and inconsistencies in London’s police force. The Apple TV+ series follows Detective Sgt. June Lenker (Cush Jumbo). In her quest to identify the anonymous caller, she combs through an old murder case helmed by Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty (Peter Capaldi).

    Though Hegarty tries to keep June at bay, her tenaciousness unravels his decades-long corruption and fabrications that have ruined the lives of innocent people for the sake of his own legacy. Moreover, June learns that despite her badge, her gender and race make her a target. The series works well because it’s an unnerving examination of dehumanization for the sake of power.

  • Diarra From Detroit

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (4)

    Created by Diarra Kilpatrick, “Diarra From Detroit” is a detective story with a hilarious twist. Kilpatrick plays Diarra, a heartbroken school teacher who, amid her impending divorce, finds herself obsessed with an infamous 1995 Detroit case of a missing young boy. With a swirl of humor, mystery and Black cultural specificity, the BET+ dramedy shows Diarra in all her messiness and determination.

    With a stellar cast, Kilpatrick’s series is a uniquely refreshing examination of issues, including the epidemic of missing Black children, the pain of divorce and socioeconomic inequities. However, instead of just pushing information toward the audience, “Diarra From Detroit” is a spectacularly paced “whodunit” centering on a woman determined to take the reins of her life.

  • Eric

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (5)

    Set in 1980s New York City, Netflix’s “Eric” follows a loathsome but famed puppeteer, Vincent Anderson (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose world turns upside down when his 9-year-old son, Edgar (Ivan Morris Howe), vanishes on his way to school one morning. While Vincent’s wife Cassie (Gaby Hoffmann) puts her faith in the NYPD and Missing Persons Squad detective Michael Ledroit (McKinley Belcher III), Vincent takes matters into his own hands.

    Convinced that Edgar will return home if he can bring one of the boy’s drawings, a monster puppet named Eric, to life, Vincent begins to mentally and emotionally crumble. Though a missing boy stands at the center of “Eric,” it offers so much more than that — about corruption, inhumanity and who can see and seek justice.

  • Genius: MLK/X

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (6)

    An outstanding, unique examination of the lives of Civil Rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Malcolm X (Aaron Pierre), National Geographic’s “Genius: MLK/X” shines new light on the men’s legacies and personal lives. The series follows the men through their boyhoods and into their adolescence, while touching on the moments that radicalized them as distinct leaders in the fight for Black liberation.

    In addition to Dr. King and the Muslim minister, “Genius: MLK/X” also takes a deep dive into the lives of their wives, Coretta Scott King (Weruche Opia) and Betty Shabazz (Jayme Lawson), whose personal and professional sacrifices enabled their husbands to continue echoing throughout history.

  • The Gentlemen

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (7)

    Set in the same world as Guy Ritchie’s 2019 film of the same name, Netflix’s “The Gentlemen” is a wildly entertaining dramedy full of hijinks and gory violence. The series follows Army Captain Eddie Halstead (Theo James), a second son who inherits his family’s massive estate and father’s dukedom. This inheritance comes as a shock to drug queenpin Susie Glass (Kaya Scodelario), who had been using the Halstead family’s 15,000 acres to run a sector of her massive cannabis empire.

    Forced to honor his dad’s agreement with the Glass family while keeping his errant older brother, Freddy (Daniel Ings), at bay, Eddie finds himself in a series of absurd scenarios that force him to tap into a darkness he doesn’t even know he possesses.

  • One Day

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (8)

    An adaptation of David Nicholls’ beloved novel, Netflix’s “One Day” is a stunning, heartfelt drama about the anguish and beauty of love and friendship. Told over the course of 20 years, the U.K.-set series follows Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall), who meet on their final day of college and form a lifelong bond.

    Thoughtful and unexpected, the series recounts the ups and downs of life while addressing who and why we stay connected or fall away from certain people. “One Day” and its characters will sit with you long after the final episode has come to a close.

  • Presumed Innocent

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (9)

    Based on Scott Turow’s best-selling 1987 novel of the same name, “Presumed Innocent” is a haunting legal and psychological thriller about a man who can’t reconcile his behavior with the image he’s presented to the world. The Apple TV+ limited series follows Chicago’s chief deputy prosecutor, Rusty Sabich (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is on trial for murdering his colleague and lover, Carolyn Polhemus (Renate Reinsve).

    Full of twists and turns, “Presumed Innocent,” which was created by David E. Kelley, dives into Rusty and Carolyn’s affair while addressing the chaotic politics of a prosecuting attorney’s office. It also shows Rusty’s home life with his wife Barbara (Ruth Negga) and his teen children — who all feel the fallout from his choices. Gripping and dynamic, “Presumed Innocent” is one of the best legal dramas on TV in years.

  • Queenie

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (10)

    Based on Candice Carty-Williams’ bestselling debut novel of the same name, Hulu’s “Queenie” follows 25-year-old Queenie Jenkins (Dionne Brown), whose life begins spiraling out of control when her long-term relationship comes to an end. Set in London, the series unpacks the specificities of being a Gen Z Black woman living in the U.K.

    Witty and profound, the series showcases Queenie’s connections to her friends and family and how long-held trauma surrounding her relationship with her mother has deeply affected the way she perceives herself and the world around her. Despite the main character’s sometimes frustrating choices, “Queenie” stands out, as it captures the pain and joy of navigating those 20–something years.

  • The Veil

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (11)

    In this fascinating spy thriller, Elizabeth Moss stars as MI6 agent Imogen Salter, whose latest assignment is extracting a terrorist named Adilah El Idrissi (Yumna Marwan) from a Turkish/Syrian refugee camp. While Imogen is tasked with learning Adilah’s secrets and handing her off to the liaisons on her assignment, her time with Adilah forces her to rethink her moral code, as well as her past.

    Shocking and action-packed, FX’s “The Veil” is a flawlessly paced series ribboned with humor, intrigue and thrilling stunts. However, at the show’s core, two women try to make sense of their choices while determining whether they can trust one another. “The Veil” reminds us that though we all have our respective “truths,” they are informed by our limited experiences.

  • Alison Herman's Top 10 So Far

  • Fallout

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (12)

    The success of “The Last of Us” on HBO all but guaranteed video games would be the next frontier in Hollywood’s eternal quest for blockbuster IP. But what Amazon Prime’s “Fallout,” executive produced by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan of “Westworld” and overseen by creators Graham Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, accomplishes in eight episodes is almost more impressive. “The Last of Us” came with a ready-made narrative friendly to both the structures and themes of prestige TV. The “Fallout” team, on the other hand, had to fashion a story that channeled the feeling of the much more open-ended game series. The result pleases fans while drawing in a new audience with humor, high production values and a stacked cast —led by Ella Purnell (of “Yellowjackets”) and Walton Goggins (of too many highlights to count) — as two travelers traversing an America rendered a wasteland by nuclear war and the death cult of capitalism. That it’s brought to you by the house of Bezos has a dark irony that befits the show.

  • Hacks

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (13)

    Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder) are back, and it feels so bittersweet! In the third season of Max’s professional romance, Deborah and Ava reunite to help Deborah land her lifelong dream gig of hosting a late-night talk show. For both women, it’s a regression: Ava to her days of being Deborah’s punching bag before she’d established a career of her own, and Deborah to the last time she nearly got the job before her divorce blew it up, along with the rest of her life. “Hacks” gives us a few episodes of glorious wish-fulfillment, including a heart-to-heart on a hike and the rare storyline about college students that doesn’t write them off as joyless scolds (though they are quite self-righteous). But after basking in the duo’s platonic chemistry, it’s the end of Season 3 that truly kicks the show into a new gear, with Ava finally internalizing Deborah’s lesson that she has to look out for No. 1 —even at Deborah’s expense. Let the workplace warfare begin.

  • Interview With the Vampire

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (14)

    You might as well buy stock in AMC’s adaptation of the famed Anne Rice novel now, before the back catalog lands on Netflix and the rest of the world catches up. Season 1 already earned acclaim for its distinctive take on the tale of New Orleans bloodsuckers Louis (Jacob Anderson) and Lestat (Sam Reid), whose relationship was reimagined as an interracial gay romance. Season 2 delves deeper into Louis’ other relationships: with Daniel (Eric Bogosian), his ailing human interlocutor; with Armand (Assad Zaman), his rebound who turns out to have Lestat-like control issues hidden behind a more amenable facade; and with Claudia (Delainey Hayles, stepping in for Bailey Bass), the eternal teenager Louis took with him to Europe. Intellectual and sensual in equal measure, “Interview With the Vampire” combines twisted humor with a perceptive eye for dysfunction. When you have an eternity to work out your issues, it turns out they can always get worse.

  • Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (15)

    Say what you will about the behavior depicted in “Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show,” in which the titular antihero commits serial infidelity; shows a blithe lack of empathy; and even skips out on a friend’s wedding. The show itself, however, is wildly compelling, remaining at the top of this critic’s mind for months on end. The same cerebral exhibitionism that can make the series and its namesake so grating — staging debates over the prudence of filming private moments with an “Anonymous” friend who is clearly Bo Burnham in a mask —is exactly what makes it so singular. Carmichael is nominally attempting to work through the changes in his personal and professional lives that followed his coming out. In truth, he’s broadcasting the qualities that make him a far more complex figure than the rejected son or the proud queer performer. And while complexity isn’t always pretty, it is inherently interesting.

  • John Mulaney Presents: Everybody's in LA

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (16)

    John Mulaney’s most recent stand-up special, “Baby J,” was hailed as the comedian’s most personal yet for centering his recommitment to sobriety after an intervention and a stint in rehab. But in a sneaky, roundabout way, the six-night talk show “John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in LA” is just as, if not more, candid about the host’s inner life. An extended tribute to a city that “fascinates and confuses” Mulaney as many before him, “Everybody’s in LA” turned what could’ve been a pro forma promotional exercise for the comedy festival Netflix Is a Joke and turned it into a singular take on a staid and struggling format. Talk shows are, by design, generic platforms designed for longevity and mass appeal. “Everybody’s in LA” is limited and specific, channeling the music tastes, classical showmanship and pet obsessions of its MC. The “Helicopters” episode, which culminated in Marcia Clark and Zoey Tur discussing O.J. Simpson’s recent death while wearing sunglasses indoors. The conversation was like someone’s loopy dream come to life —which is exactly what it was.

  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (17)

    Donald Glover and Francesca Sloane’s espionage dramedy is a remake of the Brangelina film only in name. The titular spies are still married, but this time, the marriage is arranged by a mutual employer, an altered premise that sets the stage for an offbeat action rom-com that’s also a take on generational economic malaise. As Glover and Maya Erskine’s John and Jane settle into their palatial, tastefully appointed New York City townhouse, they stumble their way through a series of missions that mirror the milestones of a long-term relationship. Erskine and Glover form a solid foundation as a cold, detached careerist and her underachieving husband, even as they’re surrounded by a constellation of guest stars. Ron Perlman as a billionaire who devolves into a tantrum-throwing toddler was my personal favorite, but Parker Posey and John Turturro deserve honorable mentions.

  • Ren Faire

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (18)

    “What is a king without his kingdom?” That’s the question posed by both documentarian Lance Oppenheim and his latest subject, George Coulam, the founder and dictator of the Texas Renaissance Festival. Coulam claims he wants to retire at 86, yet over the HBO docuseries’ three episodes, he keeps finding excuses to reject potential buyers or successors, from his longtime entertainment director to a wily entrepreneur. Executive produced by the Safdie brothers, “Ren Faire” shares the filmmakers’ proclivity for finding extreme characters whose lives are stranger than fiction. Oppenheim pairs that anthropological lens with a heightened, kaleidoscopic filming style that freely mixes reenactments with fly-on-the-wall observation, recreating the simulated reality feel of the festival itself. As neatly as the events of “Ren Faire” track with scripted narratives about empires in decline like “Game of Thrones” or “Succession,” the show provides evidence that those tropes were inspired by eternal human truths.

  • Shōgun

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (19)

    Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo expanded the viewpoint of James Clavell’s novel from English sailor John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) to various notable figures in the 17th century Japan where Blackthorne’s ship runs aground. The resulting 10-episode limited series brings Clavell’s classic closer to a modern one: “Game of Thrones,” the current benchmark for dense, violent, epic television. Lord Yoshi Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) enlists Blackthorne to help in a brewing struggle for power, bringing him into contact with a society so distant and cut off from Great Britain it might as well be another planet. But by series’ end, characters like translator Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai) and self-serving feudal deputy Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano) aren’t just familiar; their incentives and psychologies become the drama’s driving force. No wonder FX has worked so hard to expand this story into future seasons. It’s hard enough to build a world of this depth these days. Why leave it behind after just one chapter?

  • The Sympathizer

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (20)

    The Captain (Hoa Xuande), the narrator and title character of “The Sympathizer,” is a North Vietnamese Communist who embeds with a South Vietnamese general in Los Angeles after the conclusion of what the Vietnamese call the American War. To bring the Captain’s story from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer-winning novel to the screen, director Park Chan-Wook and co-showrunner Don McKellar create a reality that reflects blurred identities and fractured loyalties. Robert Downey Jr. plays not one character, but four separate embodiments of white American hegemony; Park directs a bravura sequence in which the Captain kills one of the general’s deputies just a balcony below his unsuspecting family. Cerebral yet kinetic, “The Sympathizer” builds to a searing illustration of the nihilism and self-abnegation that take hold when ideological purity fails to get results.

  • Tokyo Vice

    The Best TV Shows of 2024 So Far: ‘Presumed Innocent,’ ‘Baby Reindeer’ ‘Interview With the Vampire’ and More (21)

    Creator J.T. Rogers knew he would have at least two seasons to adapt his childhood friend Jake Adelstein’s memoir about organized crime in Japan’s capital into an ensemble series starring Ansel Elgort as an American journalist at the turn of the millennium. That runway allowed an expanded Season 2 to culminate 18 hours’ worth of storytelling into a final confrontation between Jake, police detective Katagiri (Ken Watanabe), ascendant yakuza boss Sato (Show Kasamatsu), and their mutual nemesis. Archvillain Tozawa (Ayumi Tanida) represented the underworld’s shift from an honor-bound moral code to a ruthless, corporate new reality that would soon swallow the yazuka itself. But rather than ease the blow of the series’ cancellation by Max, such satisfying finality only proved how much more potential remains untapped, especially in cultivating a wide ensemble and showing new corners of Tokyo’s jam-packed sprawl. We should all be rooting for Rogers and producing director Alan Poul as they look to find a new home.

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