As Fleabag’s neurotic sister Claire, Clifford is one of the absolute best parts of the British series that includes one impressive ensemble cast. Anytime Clifford’s onscreen you can expect her to steal the show with masterful delivery of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s dialogue.
Lyric Ross, This Is Us
As Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) adopted daughter Deja, Ross offers fans a quiet and deep performance on par with her adult counterparts. In Season 4, her storyline with up-and-comer Asante Blackk as Malik has given fans the chance to see even more of that talent shine through.
Timothy Olyphant, Santa Clarita Diet
If you’re looking for one of the year’s best comedic turns, look no further than Olyphant’s Season 3 return as Joel Hammond, husband to Drew Barrymore’s Sheila who has turned their lives upside down after becoming undead. Thinking of Olyphant’s past roles in dramatic shows like Justified and Deadwood, it only serves to elevate the genius with which he handles this part. But beware… it is the last time you’ll see him play Joel as the show was canceled by Netflix.
Lizzy Caplan, Castle Rock
Apart from taking on an iconic character originated onscreen by Kathy Bates, Caplan delivered an Annie Wilkes all her own while maintaining some familiar notes. Caplan altered her voice, walk, posture and more to give viewers one of the year’s most sorely underrated performances while also having a hand in one of the most memorable TV death scenes in recent years.
Tim Blake Nelson, Watchmen
A character actor known for his collaborations with the Coen Brothers, we saw a different side of Tim Blake Nelson in his role as Wade Tillman (aka Detective Looking Glass). The actor particularly shined in Episode 5, showing off some deep dramatic chops while maintaining a calm and cool exterior associated with the character.
If Zendaya showed viewers anything, it’s that she’s not a Disney kid anymore with her revealing performance as Rue in HBO’s A24 originating series. As part of a large ensemble, Zendaya’s performance certainly stands out and is responsible for much of the buzz that swirled around the title when it released earlier this year.
Josh O’Connor, The Crown
In a season that included Best Actress winner Olivia Colman as the Queen Elizabeth, O’Connor’s thoughtful performance as Prince Charles stole the show and hearts. It was hard to walk away from this season and not feel sympathy for Charles which only validates the effectiveness of O’Connor’s portrayal. Plus, that posture was uncanny.
Ncuti Gatwa, Sex Education
Netflix’s surprising comedy Sex Education introduced viewers to Gatwa’s Eric at the beginning of the year, but his performance stays with you long after watching. Rather than being a static best friend character to Otis (Asa Butterfield), Gatwa’s turn as Eric brought depth and emotion.
Jeremy Strong, Succession
In Season 2 of the HBO drama following the Roy family and their business dynasty, Jeremy Strong’s Kendall stood out in a crowd of solid performances. It was also Strong’s performance that had viewers wowed in the finale where [Spoiler Alert], Kendall decided he wasn’t going to be the family fall guy.
Natasia Demetriou, What We Do in the Shadows
As the lone female vampire in the Staten Island abode where much of this comedy’s action takes place, Demetriou’s performance as Nadja is one of the many highlights from this quirky FX series. Whether its Nadja’s fascination with her reincarnated human lover or her quick rebuttals of idiotic ideas presented by her roommates would seem strange if they were delivered by anyone less funny that Demetriou.
Amazon Prime Video
Antony Starr, The Boys
In Amazon Prime Video’s comic book comedy, Starr’s Homelander had us loving his terrifying performance. The actor’s ability to switch between phony public celebrity persona and vicious baddie was jaw-dropping.
Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
In a season that wasn’t entirely necessary, Big Little Lies belonged to Meryl Streep’s performance as Mary Louise Wright, the grieving mother of slain Perry (Alexander Skarsgard). Sure, Streep is anything but underrated, yet this role certainly deserves more buzz since it was the main reason to tune in at all.
Billy Crudup, The Morning Show
In a show highlight two of Hollywood’s biggest actresses — Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston — Crudup’s performance as Cory Ellsion is certainly something to behold. The lively and almost theatrical spin Crudup puts on as the UBA executive puts some needed pep into the Apple TV+ flagship, and for that we’re grateful.
Great television would be nothing without equally great performances, and while there are some parts that gain more attention then others, it doesn't make the underrated ones any less relevant.
Whether it was a performance exhibiting great emotional range or unreal comedic timing, there are plenty of roles from 2019 that went underappreciated. In the gallery above, we've gathered 13 wow-worthy performances from the last year that definitely deserved more love from shows such as Watchmen, Castle Rock, Fleabag, Succession, The Boys and Santa Clarita Diet.