I never quite realise how much TV I’ve watched until I sit down to prepare my 20 Best TV Shows of 2018. Here they are though. It’s a curious list filled with more darkness than usual but also with lots of bright spots too. Feel free to comment on whether you agree with any of my choices and also don’t forget to scroll down and see some other little awards.
20. The X-Files
On the whole The X-Files reboot has been far from successful especially for those looking to expand the mythos of the series. Yet some of the stand-alone episodes have been truly delightful in 2018 from the rampant artificial intelligence that is angry about non-getting tipped properly or the ridiculous notion of collective illusion through the Mandela effect it was lovely to have their cynical take on the world. I’m not sure I want more of this but it’s hit ratio was far higher this time around.
It’s the weakest shows on the list with a solid B-tier status. For sure with its sometimes-wooden acting and cheap CGI it can make a poor impression. Yet somehow the concept of the world of Krypton before Superman works exceedingly well. Its factions fighting for power and beliefs and its ability to tie into the modern world makes it kind of compelling.
18. Mr. Mercedes
I try anything that has Stephen King’s name attached to it and it usually doesn’t end well. In recent years that has changed and then a show like this adds Brendan Gleeson to the mix. A hard-boiled washed up retired detective still haunted by his last ever case takes one last crack at it. The killer responds. A hint of comedy, tragedy and the supernatural all mix well to make what could be a run of the mill affair rise above. It’s second season is not necessarily as strong but and it’s still Brendan Gleeson.
I’m not quite as enamored by Barry as everyone else yet it is undeniable that Bill Hader has created a macabre and colourful comedy. It helps that it has a ridiculously good cast that embodies some truly eccentric characters. It doesn’t feel like a show with a whole lot of mileage though and its dramatic moment don’t always come across as strongly as it likes. But still for some solid laughs you can’t go wrong.
16. Doctor Who
In typical fashion the over blown concerns of Whovians and nerdom in general (especially the slightly sexist element) were revealed as hysteria because the moment Jodie Whittaker took over the sonic, she owned it. Her positivity and belief in her companions ultimately paid of in some truly great character moments. Not everything worked about this season especially a sense of cohesions in the season between episodes but some of the risks worked. I’m thinking particularly of the real-life history episodes which saw a Doctor who sought to protect the moment rather than change it.
15. The End of the F****ing World
This is one of those shows that came out in 2017 but due to international release windows it still was technically 2018 for the rest of us. This edgy love story is disturbing and hilarious. What begins with two very unlikeable characters and as they gradually open up with each other we begin to fall in love with them. It’s also about murder and going on the run. It’s stylishly shot and not for everyone but rewarding for those who persist with it.
14. Mr Inbetween
It’s possible this show is only on the list because it contains my local suburb as its backdrop. Of course it manages to achieve what I think Barry is going for much more successfully. A hitman trying to balance both work, family and romance and trying to keep them separate. Violence always has a way of creeping into his life and rather than a joke of clumsiness always represent horror. It has funny moments but also a reminder of how complicated we can be as people
It’s blood thirsty and pulpy but it still manages to turn a fairly pedestrian video game story into a meditation on religion and the monstrosity of humanity. Its animation is hyper stylised and reminiscent of the best of old-school anime and despite it’s US production will probably delight anime and video game fans alike. It might also win a few fans outside of this on the way too.
Billions is not the show it started out as nor promised, thankfully. It seemed like Suits in the financial industry. It turned to a complicated show about ego and scheming. Lead by two brilliant character actors who seem to be on either side of the law it soon becomes about how far one is willing to go to win. It is often filled with double-crosses and plot twists but always manage to keep them surprising. It also has expanded beyond the two main characters being at each other and taking apart that initial premise had lead to its success as a show.
11. Star Trek: Discovery
It’s a complicated thing to make something in the Star Trek universe and TV has not exactly been a point of success in recent years. Yet Discovery manages to walk the energy of the cinematic universe and the cerebral nature of the TV show. It at times feels like sometimes they are unsure of the show they want to make or the direction for the plot to take but at the end of the day it’s Star Trek taken seriously, well-acted and looking good.
10. Queer Eye
I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of reality shows especially self-improvement ones. But Queer Eye is just too hard a proposition to resist. The Fab Five represent positivity and change in a completely infectious way and their enthusiasm is truly inspiring. Renovating, accessorising, makeovers, fashion, lifestyle change it is all there but with a slightly more political and emotional edge. It’s truly a feel good experience and the best antidote for our divisive times that TV has to offer.
No, it doesn’t have any Whitney Houston songs in it but Imagine if 24 wasn’t restricted to its ridiculous format and British and you probably begin to get a sense of what the Bodyguard is. A compelling lead character unable to deal with PTSD yet finding himself in increasingly responsible and stressful situations. It’s a great and tightly designed thriller helped by a credible performance by Madden and is definitely a must-watch experience
8. Sharp Objects
If you stack a product with this much talent you’re likely to hit gold. Amy Adams leads this haunting story of returning to her hometown to report on a murder. It’s filled with a twisty stories filled with family secrets and southern hospitality. A killer soundtrack and amazing performances help sustain us through the fog of the occasional mysteries that concludes in equal parts frustration and satisfaction.
7. The Good Fight
Give the creators of The Good Wife the creative freedom to be edgier and political and you have a show that is frighteningly relevant to the current US political situation. It’s not always as heartfelt as it’s predecessor but like it’s leading character Dianne, it pulls not punches. Its exasperation at our modern situation is always done with an ability to laugh at is absurdity of it all. Not your typical law show.
6.Santa Clarita Diet
Imagine the perfect married couple in Suburbia struggling to keep the spice in their marriage and their family together. Now imagine one of them is a zombie. The Santa Clarita Diet is just a delight, a disturbing delight that involves killing and eating people but a delight, nonetheless. Olyphant and Barrymore are so perfect and their devotion to make their situation work is hilarious and macabre. Maybe not for the faint hearted but definitely those who believe in the power of love and brains.
5. The Terror
The Terror is based loosely on a true story and combines the elements of a period show with a horror one. Its amazing cast demonstrates not only a commitment to the premise but also a conviction that this is more than just for scares. Filled with a detailed understanding of historical ship life, it turns its eye on the true monster of man. It delivers a haunting, thoughtful and compelling work. Don’t be turned off by the scares (they’re aren’t many and are far from cheap) because this is a rewarding and complicated show.
4. The Good Place
The Good Place is a show constantly reinventing its premise-what started out as a show about someone who didn’t belong in Heaven, how now has been turned into something more…and its both deeply strange and exceedingly original. It’s likeable cast has now been fleshed out into something resembling interesting character. Also Jason still rules!!!
3. The Haunting of Hill House
Horror on TV done well is not exactly surprising but ones that manage to explore family conflict are. Haunting of Hill House is an exceptional ghost story that evokes deep emotions. It’s a technical marvel do with one episode’s single shot take something to rival even the best of what Daredevil thing. It plays with time, expectations, fears and feelings making it an easy recommend.
2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
It’s not really surprising that the creators of the Gilmore Girls would be back with something fast-spoken and witty. It’s not exactly surprising that it would be filled with colourful and strong female lead characters. What might surprise you is that a plot, creative freedom, a killer cast and a different era would make this one of the must watch shows of the year.
1. Killing Eve
Anchored by two astounding performances, this spy thriller defies genre with delicate ease. At times darkly funny but also hauntingly compelling. It tells the story of Eve, a low-level MI5 analyst whose data collection leads her to believe that an undocumented assassin is on the loose. Her discovery put everything and everyone she cares about into jeopardy.
Shows That I Can’t Decide Are Good or Bad in 2018
- Channel Zero
- Star Wars Resistance
Shows that Continue to Stumble in 2018
- The DC TV universe (Except Black Lightning)
- Handmaid’s Tale
- 13 Reasons Why
Old Shows I Discovered in 2018
- You’re the Worst
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Shows That Almost Made the Best TV Shows of 2018
- Little Drummer Girl
- Black Lightning