The New Golden Age of Television continued in 2018 with yet another great year of television. This must be reiterated year after year — yes, even in a year without Game of Thrones — 2018 continued that age, or trend, in which television is as effective as, or even more so than, cinema. For some, television of 2018 is defined best by the return of the increasingly confounding Westworld, and, for others like me, it is best defined by limited series that kept my attention far better than most long-running shows.
I loved watching so many shows last year, many of which I didn’t even get to review, and it was very difficult to limit this to a top ten list. But here we are, so, without further ado, let’s get to it!
#10 – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season Two – Amazon Video
Ah, yes, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This was a show that I didn’t get the chance to start until I had pretty much already made up my mind about 2017’s top ten. Even though that first season did impress and wow me, it didn’t convince me to take off another show that I adored from my list. But this second season, which took Midge from her home to Paris and to the Catskills, made me fall in love with the show. Maybe it was the way Joel was written this year, maybe it was the addition of Zachary Levi to the already impressive cast, or maybe, just maybe, it was the always excellent pairing of Alex Borstein and Rachel Brosnahan that won me over. I’m a fan.
#9 – Maniac – Netflix
From my series review:
“Netflix’s Maniac won’t be for everyone, and I suspect that many will lose interest due to how long it takes for the show to truly begin. But I found its sci-fi style (including its excellent production design) and quirkiness to be charming, and I was captivated by some, but not all, of the series’ performances. I think this is a strong, but strange fall entertainment option that has moments showcasing both deep emotion and delightful curiosities. And even if Maniac doesn’t ever knock your socks off in the way that you want it to, then at least you get to see Emma Stone talk to a dragonfly and later explain the concept of loss to an overly emotional supercomputer.”
#8 – Homecoming: Season One – Amazon Video
Homecoming was a bit of a surprise, and, admittedly, I didn’t get to it right away. This was a show that I just binge-watched from start to finish on a day that I didn’t muster up the strength to get out of bed. And I was treated to a fascinating and fairly unpredictable mystery, at least to me, about memory and responsibility. I highly recommend it. Homecoming proves more thirty-minute drama series should exist, and it also proves that Sam Esmail can never be called a one-hit wonder as a television director and producer.
#7 – Daredevil: Season Three – Netflix
Oh man, I’m going to miss the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. In case you missed the news, Netflix has announced that the fan-favorite Marvel show, which launched Netflix’s corner of the Marvel universe, has been canceled following the third season of the hit show, which, in my honest opinion, breathed new life into the multiple Netflix-Marvel series which had mostly gotten stale. Daredevil, however, was always excellent, and to see it go out on top is a blessing, even though I know this show could’ve had many additional seasons to tell the story of Matt Murdock. I already miss it.
#6 – The Haunting of Hill House – Netflix
From my season review:
“As we get closer and closer to Halloween, Netflix has given [us] the perfect and most appropriate gift for the spooky month of October. I binge-watched the series the weekend it came out, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since. The Haunting of Hill House‘s beautiful blend of scares, sadness, and catharsis is the best horror entertainment that I’ve seen this year, even though the ending wasn’t quite as perfect for me as I had hoped it would be.”
#5 – Patrick Melrose – Showtime
From my series review:
“BBC’s Sherlock was, obviously, [Benedict Cumberbatch’s] breakthrough series, and it will probably stay as the piece of content for which he receives the most love from fans, even though he now has played a mythical dragon in The Hobbit-films and a fan-favorite hero in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. But his performance as the title character in Patrick Melrose might be his most complete and layered performance yet.”
#4 – Better Call Saul: Season Four – AMC
Better Call Saul is an underseen show, it is an underappreciated show, and it is a show that I always, always, always worry will lose its way in the balancing act of both staying as its own show and juggling the Mike-centric part of the series which is basically Breaking Bad-light. But every season — and I mean, every season — the show takes my breath away. This year it was with how Rhea Seehorn continued to amaze with her performances as the season moved forward, but also in the way, Jimmy McGill well and truly changed at the end of the season, the end of which was outstanding.
#3 – Barry: Season One – HBO
Dexter meets Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in an HBO half-hour comedy which stars a beloved Saturday Night Live-alum in a role that is sure to change his career for the better. Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s debut season hit is a show that I’ve been thinking about all year, and it is a show that I think has a lot of potential. It features a flat-out hilarious supporting cast, which includes standouts Anthony Carrigan, D’Arcy Carden, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, as well as the two awards-worthy performances from Henry Winkler and Bill Hader that kept me interested from week-to-week. This is a new show that you absolutely have to watch. No ifs or buts.
#2 – BoJack Horseman: Season Five – Netflix
From my season review:
“This was another great season of BoJack Horseman. It is still the same depressing animated show that you absolutely cannot get enough of, and it has a few tricks up its sleeves this time around as well. I stand by the idea that this is the best and most consistently great show on Netflix, and it would be a real shame if we didn’t get to see what happens next for the anthropomorphic horse whose vices seem destined to ruin his relationships and his career.”
#1 – Sharp Objects – HBO
From my series review:
“Novel creator and episode writer Gillian Flynn, series creator Marti Noxon, director Jean-Marc Vallée, and star Amy Adams have given us arguably the strongest show on television thus far in 2018. This adaptation fully lived up to the promise and potential of the book, and Vallée’s auteur touch has made this story of crime and trauma into a Southern Gothic mini-series masterpiece.”
What was your favorite show of 2018? Sound off in the comments.
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.