According to FX research there were close to 500 scripted original shows on broadcast, basic and paid cable, and online streaming services. While it remains virtually impossible for one person to watch every single show that debuted or premiered this year, Talkies Network can confirm that we did watch quite a bit of television this year. And among the series’ we did watch, there were ones that clearly stood out the most. They had us on the edge of our seats, laughing, crying, cheering and getting angry enough to throw our remote at the TV. From superhero dramas to veteran comedies, here are Talkies Network’s picks for the ten best TV shows of 2018!
10. The Handmaid’s Tale
Upon finishing its first season, many were intrigued as to where the story of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale could go next, given that author Margaret Atwood only wrote one novel. It was clear though that, after a nauseatingly sullen opening sequence, Hulu was ready to double down on its most successful original program yet. The handmaids of Gilead are on the brink as the odds grow increasingly against them in a series of episodes that teeters on becoming too dark for the general viewer. It may difficult to watch at certain times, but season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale is terrifically paced, superbly written and expertly shot. By focusing on the ensemble cast and their multifaceted characters, season 2 is able to successfully move away from its source material and carve its own name in the dystopian genre.
9. The Haunting of Hill House
Netflix had a banner year in 2018. Among the shows that took the streaming world by storm is Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House. Flanagan brings his distinct eye for horror that was seen in his past films to The Haunting of Hill House, in which he opts to make this adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s horror novel a character study rather than focus on the haunted house itself. The members of the Crane family are continuously troubled by the demons of Hill House and find themselves more connected to each other than they believe. Similar to other great horror projects this year, The Haunting of Hill House moves away from cheap jump scares and fleshes out each character in the Crane family beautifully. Sprinkling in real moments of terror in this beautifully written adaptation, The Haunting of Hill House definitely earned its spot on this ranking.
8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
I’m cheating a bit here because season 5 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine actually premiered in September 2017 but concluded its run in the latter half of 2018. Due to the season being so incredibly funny, I’m including it here on our top ten list (feel free to challenge this in the comments). After five years, a scary cancellation and a revival, B99 seems to honestly have everything figured out when it comes to crafting a network sitcom. The oddball cops that encompass the 99th precinct are as funny as ever with Andy Samberg leading the charge as good-hearted but bumbling detective Jake Peralta. Each actor is given their chance to shine with Stephanie Beatriz receiving the most amount of character growth and development through the show’s terrific handling of her character Rosa Diaz coming out as bisexual. The fifth season remained consistently excellent from start to finish, making B99 one of the finest sitcom on TV today.
To be honest, the episode “Teddy Perkins” alone earned Atlanta a spot on this list. Donald Glover’s inventive and thought-provoking comedy reached new heights in its constantly-surprising sophomore season about three friends trying to make it in the Atlanta music scene, but always find more meaningful adventures along the way. Mixing social commentary, heartfelt dialogue and stories that, on their own, seem to be about nothing, Atlanta managed to top its critically acclaimed first season and become something more. The season acted as an examination of the current culture climate in America and how it is impacting its citizens. Bold, impactful and hilarious.
6. Killing Eve
The series that finally gave Sandra Oh her due, Killing Eve was an unrelenting viewing experience that consistently subverted expectations. Based on Luke Jennings’s Codename Villanelle novella series and developed for television by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Killing Eve is an eccentric and vibrant new series that embraces a tone similar to Hannibal, but puts women at the forefront of a genre dominated by men. The creative repugnance of its murders and the building sexual tension amongst its two leads makes for such a tense ride that there is never a moment where you are not on the edge of your seat. Both characters are in constant danger but that does not mean that Killing Eve shies away from the odd funny moment in this weird and twisted game being played here. There are endless possibilities as to where the series could go next and we will be in front of the television as soon as the second season debuts.
5. Marvel’s Daredevil
Season 3 of Daredevil marked a return to form for Marvel’s Netflix corner of the MCU. While the first two episodes experience pacing issues, the rest of the season brings back aspects of the series’ first season that many fans love dearly. The characters are given compelling arcs, the tensions are higher than ever, the fight sequences are fantastic and the performances are phenomenal. Vince D’Onofrio in particular gives an amazing performance as main villain Wilson Fisk and the character’s arc is one of the most captivating portions of season three. Fisk could be described as a broken but even when he is beaten, he is not truly defeated. Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock is sheer brilliance as he truly channels the inner conflict of whether being a “superhero” is right for him. I’m not going to discuss the giant mistake that is the cancellation of this series so just remember that season 3 of Daredevil is near-perfection.
4. The Good Place
The sitcom that continues to subvert expectations and keep its audience guessing, The Good Place is our pick for 2018’s best comedy series. Three seasons in and the series continues to hilariously reinvent itself which results in truly joyous viewing. Moving away from the afterlife, the series returns Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani to the world of the living, and turned the story into a funny but emotional narrative defined by growth and change as we see our rag-tag misfit crew learn to find their way in life all over again. It’s a show that proves it can do anything it sets its mind to and we’ll be theorizing as to where season four will go until it debuts.
3. Sharp Objects
From the mind of Jean-Marc Vallée, one of the many collaborators that made Big Little Lies such a massive hit for HBO in 2017, and adapted from Gillian Flynn’s novel, Sharp Objects hones in on the Southern gothic window that made True Detective such a hit. Amy Adams stars as tortured journalist Camille Preaker, who returns to her small hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to look into the serial murders of young girls, wherein she also come to terms with the demons she left behind. Adams is phenomenal in the role as the audience gets an in-depth look into the conflicted and stormy mind of Camille. What makes Sharp Objects so great however is the fact that it is much more of a character study with the murder-plot looming in the background. This allows for Vallée to explore the dynamic between Camille and her mysterious family and it makes for some truly jaw-dropping moments in 2018 television.
2. Better Call Saul
A slow build does not always mean a boring build and this has never been more clear than with season four of Better Call Saul. The season that truly began the “better than Breaking Bad?” statements, season four of Better Call Saul has crafted a brilliant universe to play in, where greed, empathy, loss and opportunity all uneasily co-exist. The performances of Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman as Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler are simply marvelous as they make so much of a truly simple narrative. It’s a heartbreaking watch as we see Jimmy fall into the trap that becomes Saul Goodman, but it’s a criminally good story that never fails to surprise us in new and exciting ways.
1. The Americans
The final season of The Americans was a spell-binding narrative filled with soul-crushing choices and chilling swerves from creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, their writers and their cast. Each episode featured an unsettling premise that was compounded but brilliant performances, especially from Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. The dynamic series closed out with a finale that not only managed to satisfy fans, but go in such an interesting direction that walked the line of good and evil and resulted in a poignant, courageous and somber conclusion. It was an absolutely engrossing series that increased anxiety in its viewers and never seemed to have a “down period,” making The Americans not only the best series of 2018, but also on the greatest television series’ in recent memory.
Honourable Mentions: Barry, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Pose, Counterpart & The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
That’s our list! Don’t agree with it? What are your picks for the best television shows of 2018? Let us know in the comments down below!