Barack Obama reveals TV shows he considered ‘as powerful as movies’

Barack Obama
Former President Barack Obama has released his lists of favorite books, movies, TV shows and music from this year.
(Jason DeCrow / Associated Press)

Right on schedule, Barack Obama has revealed his favorite books, music and movies of 2019. And this year, for the first time ever, the former president also listed some TV shows.

After unveiling his top picks in literature on social media over the weekend, the politician followed up Sunday with his best-of-film post — which included a brief sidebar of shoutouts for some of his favorite series.

The three lucky TV titles were HBO’s buzzy action series “Watchmen,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s hit BBC-Amazon comedy “Fleabag” and Netflix’s #MeToo miniseries “Unbelievable.”

President Obama continues his tradition of noting his favorite books of the year.


“Next up are my favorite movies and TV shows of 2019,” Obama captioned his roundup. “This year’s list includes everything from explorations of class dynamics and relationships, to an inspired reboot of a classic graphic novel, to a portal back to one of the most special places in history — an Aretha Franklin concert.”

A total of 18 films, including “Parasite,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story” and “The Irishman,” made the cut, as well as “a quick list of TV shows that I considered as powerful as movies” — a qualification that raised some eyebrows from those who thought he was implying that film is a superior medium.

“‘TV shows that I considered as powerful as movies’ is such a weird back-handed compliment,” tweeted Times TV reporter Meredith Blake.

“Not only does Obama have excellent taste in movies, he also shares my deep conviction that TV also exists I guess,” joked IndieWire’s David Ehrlich.

On the music side, Obama tipped his hat to songs by Lizzo, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Ocean, Sharon Van Etten, Solange and others in his year-end roundup he shared Monday morning.

Though the former commander-in-chief hasn’t released any official list of TV programs in previous years, he has expressed his support for some shows in the past.

Notably absent from his TV “quick list” was the final season of HBO’s hit fantasy epic “Game of Thrones,” for which the former president famously requested advance screeners — approved by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — back in 2016. The omission suggests that, like many of the saga’s devoted fans, Obama might not have been as satisfied with the show’s polarizing finale as he was with prior seasons.

From Rosalía and Summer Walker to Bruce Springsteen and Big Thief, former President Barack Obama’s annual year-end playlist goes from cutting-edge tracks to cool-dad jams.

He’s also a known fan of critically acclaimed Russian spy drama “The Americans” — inviting stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell to the White House before the series folded in 2018 — as well as Netflix’s “House of Cards,” pre-Kevin Spacey fallout. Both ended too early to land among Obama’s 2019 selections.

It’s safe to say Obama will be rooting for “Unbelievable” and “Fleabag,” which both scored Golden Globe nominations, come this weekend’s awards ceremony. The HFPA infamously snubbed Obama’s third choice, “Watchmen,” in all top categories this year — even excluding awards darling Regina King’s lead performance.

Here’s the complete list of Obama’s top TV shows and movies of 2019.

TV shows

  • “Fleabag: Season 2”
  • “Unbelievable”
  • “Watchmen”


  • “American Factory”
  • “Amazing Grace”
  • “Apollo 11”
  • “Ash Is Purest White”
  • “Atlantics”
  • “Birds of Passage”
  • “Booksmart”
  • “Diane”
  • “The Farewell”
  • “Ford v Ferrari”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “Just Mercy”
  • “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
  • “Little Women”
  • “Marriage Story”
  • “Parasite”
  • “The Souvenir”
  • “Transit”