The Top TV Series of 2018: A Captivating Lineup Packed with Thrills and Drama
Get ready to embark on a thrilling journey through the small screen as we take a look back at the best TV series 2018 had to offer. From gripping dramas and mind-bending sci-fi adventures to dark comedies and thought-provoking international shows, this list has it all. Prepare to be hooked from the very first episode as we delve into the world of Killing Eve, The Handmaid's Tale, Westworld, and many more. So grab your popcorn, find a comfy spot on the couch, and let's dive into the captivating realm of the best TV shows of 2018.
The Best Shows of 2018
2018 was a year of ups and downs for TV shows. At first, I was worried I wouldn't have enough great shows to make a list, but the second half of the year surprised me with a burst of creativity. That's why I can't rank these shows in order – there were so many great ones that it's hard to compare them.
Here are the Golden Globe nominations.
What to watch now.
(BBC One/BBC America) Killing Eve was a thrilling show that constantly surprised and entertained. It was a refreshing take on the murder-based drama genre, with clever writing from Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Despite the tension and gore, it also had a human and funny side, which made it even more enjoyable.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's influence on Killing Eve.
Read our full review of Killing Eve.
The Handmaid's Tale
Hulu's hit show, The Handmaid's Tale, continued to captivate audiences in its second season. The episodes were filled with dark and intense moments, paralleling our own world in a chilling way. The performances of Alexis Bledel and Yvonne Strahovski were standouts, showcasing the incredibly talented ensemble cast.
HBO's Westworld pushed the boundaries of television with its mind-bending storytelling. The second season expanded the scope of the show beyond the theme park setting and delved into the fascinating world of artificial intelligence and power dynamics. The performances of Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Jimmi Simpson, and Ed Harris brought depth and humanity to their complex characters.
The Haunting of Hill House
Netflix's adaptation of Shirley Jackson's horror novel, The Haunting of Hill House, delivered a chilling and atmospheric experience. The show focused on the psychological impact of the characters, who were haunted not only by ghosts but by their own traumas. While the ending may have been a bit too neat, the show proved the power of the horror genre to explore deep emotions.
HBO's High Maintenance continued to impress in its second season, exploring the lives of everyday New Yorkers connected by their weed dealer, known as The Guy. This season brought new writers on board, resulting in a more nuanced portrayal of The Guy and the people he encounters. The show balances humor and humanity in a way that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.
Netflix's Maniac was a bold and ambitious series that delved into themes of mental health and the pharmaceutical industry. The show's trippy visuals and unique storytelling provided a tangible portrayal of complex emotions. While the narrative may have been confusing at times, director Cary Joji Fukunaga created a truly unique work of art.
Netflix's animated series, Big Mouth, continued to impress in its second season. The show explores the awkward and hilarious reality of puberty through a group of friends. With its talented cast and clever writing, Big Mouth improved on its first season and continued to entertain audiences with its unique take on adolescence.
The Best International Shows
In addition to the great shows from the US, there were also many fantastic international series in 2018. From Chinese soap operas to Spanish crime capers, there was something for everyone. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch all of them, but here are my top 10 favorites:
Better Call Saul
AMC's Better Call Saul continued to impress in its fourth season. The show, which serves as a prequel to Breaking Bad, proved that it can stand on its own. The performances of Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn were exceptional, bringing depth and nuance to their characters.
Amazon Prime's Homecoming, based on the podcast of the same name, was a gripping and mysterious series. Julia Roberts delivered a standout performance as a caseworker caught up in a government facility. The show's exploration of identity and memory kept audiences on the edge of their seats.
The Good Place
NBC's The Good Place continued to delight audiences in its third season. The show took a new direction, satirizing the modern world in a more direct and traditional sitcom format. Despite this change, the clever and philosophical humor remained, making it one of the most unique comedies on television.
HBO's Sharp Objects, based on Gillian Flynn's novel, was a gripping and atmospheric limited series. The show delved into the psychological turmoil of its protagonist, played brilliantly by Amy Adams. The performances and the exploration of complex relationships made it a standout drama.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
FX's American Crime Story returned with a gripping season focusing on the murder of Gianni Versace. Darren Criss delivered a phenomenal performance as the real-life killer Andrew Cunanan. The show explored the motives and psychology behind the crimes, shedding light on a tragic chapter in fashion history.
HBO's Barry was a standout comedy series that blended humor and darkness seamlessly. Bill Hader delivered a nuanced and captivating performance as a hitman trying to start a new life as an actor. The show's mix of emotion, surprises, and humor made it a must-watch.
Wild Wild Country
Netflix's Wild Wild Country delved into the fascinating and shocking story of the Rajneeshpuram community in Oregon. The series examined the effects of xenophobia, showcasing the clash between the religious group and the locals. The story unfolded with assassinations, bombings, and bioterror attacks, leaving viewers astounded by the real-life events.
Netflix's BoJack Horseman continued to impress with its unique blend of humor and emotional depth. The animated series tackled problematic male behavior in Hollywood, addressing the #MeToo movement with thoughtfulness and wit. The show's clever writing and talented voice cast made it one of the most compelling shows of the year.
FX's The Americans concluded its six-season run with a powerful and wrenching finale. The show followed KGB spies posing as American citizens, grappling with their loyalty and the impact of their actions on their family and friends. The performances of Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys were exceptional, making the show a standout in its exploration of identity and morality.
(FX/Fox) Donald Glover's Atlanta returned for a second season that was just as ambitious and odd as the first. The surreal examination of African American life continued to captivate audiences with its unique storytelling and exceptional performances.
(BBC Three) This Country, a mockumentary about rural life, tightened up and got even funnier in its second season. The addition of classic sitcom elements and a dramatic story arc made it even more enjoyable.
The Good Place
(NBC/Netflix) The Good Place took a new direction in its third season, satirizing the modern world in a more direct and traditional sitcom format. The clever gags and philosophical humor continued to impress.
These shows are just a glimpse of the incredible television that 2018 had to offer. There were so many more great shows, so please share your own favorites in the comments!
(Note: "The Crown" did not have a new season in 2018.)
(Channel 4) Derry Girls became Channel 4's biggest comedy launch in five years, thanks to its universal appeal. Unlike other nostalgic teen comedies, it manages to combine humor with a sense of gravitas. The show's clever writing and authentic production make it a delightful watch. If you're looking for enjoyable TV hours, Derry Girls won't disappoint. Read our full review
Whip-smart … Derry Girls. Photograph: Channel 4
Black Earth Rising
(BBC Two/Netflix) Hugo Blick took on the challenging task of turning the subject of the Rwandan genocide into a TV drama for the BBC. Despite the many constraints, he successfully pulled it off. Black Earth Rising impresses with its storytelling approach, unique style, and outstanding cast, including Michaela Coel, John Goodman, Harriet Walter, and Blick himself. Read our full review
Magnificent … Michaela Coel in Black Earth Rising. Photograph: Des Willie/BBC/Forgiving Earth
The Good Fight
CBS All AccessThe Good Fight fearlessly took on the challenge of being one of the first scripted shows on CBS All Access. After a successful first season, it continues to tackle specific plot points related to our reality, such as race and politics. Unlike other shows, The Good Fight doesn't shy away from these topics but instead embraces them convincingly. The show's storytelling is engaging, and its direction is clear. Even as it boldly explores the idea of impeaching President Donald Trump, it maintains a strong narrative vision. —Justin Kirkland
HBOThe Roy family, depicted in Succession, represents the epitome of wealth and power. Although they are unlikeable characters, they captivate audiences and reflect the reality of America's elite. Patriarch Logan Roy, in particular, embodies the ruthless nature of powerful figures like the Murdochs and Trumps. The show, created by Adam McKay, showcases the Roy family's influence in politics, media, entertainment, and more. Despite the morally bankrupt actions of the characters, Succession manages to make viewers unexpectedly like them by blending humor and unpleasantness. —Matt Miller
ShowtimeBased on Edward St. Aubyn's incredible series of novels, Patrick Melrose follows the life of its titular character, brilliantly portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. Throughout the show, Patrick wrestles with addiction and childhood trauma. Hugo Weaving delivers a chilling performance as Patrick's abusive father. Despite its dark moments, Patrick Melrose offers a wickedly funny perspective on the decline of British aristocracy, all through the lens of a broken man trying to hold himself together. —Tyler Coates
(BBC One) Bodyguard became the BBC's highest-rated show in years, providing an adrenaline rush of pure entertainment. Despite its popularity, it also offers a thought-provoking experience. Read our full review
A Very English Scandal
(BBC One) Russell T Davies explores Britain's conflicting fascination with moral propriety and tabloid gossip in A Very English Scandal. The show cleverly combines themes of repression, class, and the flamboyance of British politicians. Davies and director Stephen Frears avoid the pitfalls of heavy-handedness, instead embracing an anarchic queerness that is both humorous and well-written. Read our review
Anarchic … Ben Whishaw, left, and Hugh Grant in A Very English Scandal. Photograph: Sophie Mutevelian/AP
31 The Cry
(BBC One) In The Cry, Jenna Coleman delivers a powerful performance as a young mother struggling with sadness and anger when her baby goes missing. The show keeps audiences on their toes with its clever narrative twists. Read our full review
39 This Is Us
(NBC/More 4) This Is Us continues to tug at the heartstrings with its second season. Despite the contrived nature of some of the big moments, the show provides catharsis and emotional connection for its viewers. Read more
As we say goodbye to 2018, it's only fitting to celebrate the best TV series that kept us glued to our screens throughout the year. From gripping dramas like "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Westworld" to thrilling mysteries like "The Haunting of Hill House," the past year truly had no shortage of remarkable shows. Not to be forgotten are the international gems like "Better Call Saul" and "Homecoming," which offered a fresh perspective to our TV lineup. Whether you laughed along with the hilarity of "Big Mouth" or indulged in the dark depths of "Sharp Objects," there was something for everyone in 2018. So, here's to the binge-watchers, the loyal fans, and the creators who brought us another memorable year of TV magic. Now, let the countdown to 2019's best begin.
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