Hello! If anyone at all is reading this: long time, no see. Or write, or read, I guess. I want to address two things real quick:
Number one, the last post I wrote on here was almost two years ago. But I’m thinking of blogging again. More details on that later.
Number two, yes I know this post is very late. Most people start doing their year-end recaps at the beginning of December. They definitely would’ve had this posted by Christmas. Well, I’m not most people—in that I am disorganized, apparently.
The real reason is that I’ve migrated this here blog to a different web host/server. It took a few days. I thought I’d be able to do it in a couple hours and then write this post, but it wasn’t that easy.
So instead, I’m sitting here on New Year’s Day and feel bamboozled out of my chance to sit and reflect on the year of television we had in 2018.
This list is by no means a definitive best of 2018 list. There is so, so, so, so much television on right now—much more than when I started blogging in 2011. It’s bonkers. I have barely watched five or 10 percent of all the shows on TV in 2018.
And this is also by no means my be-all and end-all list, either. Every time I tried to make a list in the last couple weeks, I realized that I forgot yet another show that I personally loved. So this is just the list that I’ve written at this exact moment. But it’s pretty close to being on target. This list is in alphabetical order. Anyway, let’s get on with it. I’ll make this quick.
1. The Americans
They stuck the landing.
I was watching a CNN special on the best TV shows ever the other day, and someone mentioned that series finales are a huge deal. According to them, if the series finale isn’t perfect, it can ruin an otherwise flawless series. I know a lot of people think that way, but I’m not sure I do.
Regardless, The Americans‘ final season was pitch-perfect. The only thing I disliked about it was they opted for 10 episodes as opposed to their usual 13.
Look, I’m sure you’ve heard this being said a million times before. The Americans is sublimely written, beautifully acted, and all-around fantastic. Nothing about that changed in the final season. It was tense, heartbreaking, and possibly one of the most satisfying (in terms of execution) and fitting conclusions to a high-profile series in a long time. If any other season didn’t before, season six of The Americans for sure cemented it as one of the best TV series ever. Ever. EVER.
2. The Good Fight
Does The Good Fight have its faults? Yes. Should it win an Emmy for scenes of people power-walking through hallways? Yes.
One of those faults: they completely dropped one of the main character’s storylines—but that’s not unusual for the Good Wife writing crew.
That said, they made up for it in pure effing rage.The Good Fight is pissed. And I’m here for it. Their entire lives shattered after a certain year that won’t be mentioned. This series is possibly the only one on TV that truly understands the weird political landscape we’ve found ourselves in, and unlike others it’s really not afraid to go there, while some shows pussyfoot. Plus, it’s still got all the charm, whimsy, and ballsy writing that made The Good Fight one of the best series on TV. If you haven’t watched it, well…
First make sure you’ve watched The Good Wife. And then watch this. It’s so worth it.
I saw no love for this season of iZombie on any lists this year and I for one will not stand for it!
Seattle has officially been quarantined and a group of militia zombies have overtaken the city (kinda, anyway). Simply put: iZombie covered topics of demagoguery, religion, fascist regimes, bigotry, and feminism more deftly than any episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. And it’s a helluva lot more entertaining, too.
At least when you watch iZombie you smile. TV needs more joy. And iZombie is created by people who understand and love TV as a medium.
4. Jane the Virgin
Speaking of joy, there’s possibly no more joyful show on television than Jane the Virgin.
This season (by which I mean last season because it has yet to premiere in the 2018–2018 season, not that I’m frustrated or anything) pulled even more crazy telenovela stunts and tropes. And you know what? It was as entertaining as ever, but also as deeply compelling and affecting as season one. The fact that this show has produced 81 episodes and not one of them has been bad is a feat all on its own. The kicker is that they’ve all been great, and far more have been exceptional.
I’m not worried at all about Jane‘s final season. I know they’ve got this.
5. Killing Eve
Jodie Comer got a lot of attention by the TV connoisseurs on the internet, and deservedly so. But Killing Eve is a fantastic showcase for Sandra Oh’s immense talent. This is a weird show. It’s about a murderer, and it’s dark, and it’s also funny, and it’s whimsical—but not in an Orphan Black way. There’s nothing like it on TV. In anyone else’s hands, all of that would’ve fallen flat. The show would’ve been too funny or too dark or too childish or too brooding. Sandra Oh takes the reins of such a dynamic role and runs with it. And everyone else on this show ain’t half bad, either.
I have no clue what the heck happened on this show, but I loved every moment of it. I watched it all in two days; I was captivated by it.
The one thing Maniac objectively has going for it is that one or two episodes are 50 minutes long—and the rest are 40 minutes or less. I think one episode is only 25 minutes long. It’s a huge sigh of relief in this age of streaming where people legit think their episodes need to be an hour long. They do not. If you’re a TV writer, I’m telling you right now: cut some stuff down, please.
But Maniac has a lot more going for it, too. It’s beautiful to watch. Jonah Hill and Emma Stone are delightful on screen. And ultimately, it’s a simple story about how two lost people become friends. Even if it’s also about how two people in a dystopian alternate timeline of the present submit themselves to a drug trial that causes them to overcome their deepest traumas in a coma-like state.
This year, Mom dropped all the pretenses in its opening credits. It’s no longer about motherhood; it’s about a group of sober women trying to make things work. And occasionally there are some moments where Christy mentions her children.
One such moment came during this season, when she finds out her estranged daughter hosts a popular podcast about how horrible of a mother she was. On any other sitcom, Christy and Violet would have reconciled and everything would’ve been dandy. But not on Mom. Instead, Violet tells her that life has been much better since she removed Christy from her life, and she wants it to stay that way.
This is why I continue to include Mom on any of year-end lists. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, yes. But it’s also the only sitcom I know of right now that subverts typical storylines and plots and tropes. It’s truthful and it’s at times cynical. And it’s a shame Anna Faris has never been recognized for her work.
7. One Day at a Time
The same can be said about Netflix’s fantastic One Day at a Time. Multi-cam sitcoms tackling difficult subject matter is nothing new. All in the Family and Family Matters made waves back in their day. And these days, the One Day at a Time reboot is one of the shows still carrying the torch. From LGBTQ representation to PTSD to gun rights to bigotry, the show isn’t afraid to make a statement—and sometimes use characters with dissenting views in surprising ways.
But it’s not just that. It’s also a joyous and truthful representation of a tight-knit Latino family, and I’m grateful that it will air a third season. Hopefully, it’ll be on TV for a few more years to come.
8. Single Parents
This is one of my two new favorite shows of the season. (Hint: my second is the next one on the list.) Single Parents is pitch perfect.
I’m urging you to watch this show if you like comedy, laughter, and having your heart warmed. You’ll come for the adult actors, but you’ll stay for the kids on the show whose comedic timing abilities are unmatched. They’re knockout performers.
Leighton Meester has finally found the comedy vehicle she’s been looking for, and she’s fantastic opposite a wonderfully cast Taran Killam.
Every episode of Single Parents makes me laugh from the depths of my gut. And that’s rare for most comedies these days. Even for The Good Place which is often lauded as the best comedy on TV. Go binge this show now.
Yes, Penn Badgley stars as Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl if he had a violent streak. And it might be the single best performance on television in 2018. I am not exaggerating.
Badgley handles this role with ease, perfectly blending the dark humor and suspense the show commands. How do they get me to root for this—spoiler alert—unhinged murderer? I am not sure, but apart from Badgley, I think the deft writing and sleek directing has a ton to do with it.
Good news: this show moved from Lifetime to Netflix. Season two will be arriving soon, but all of season one is up to watch, and I recommend you do. You’ll binge every episode of this at once. You’ll become obsessed. Stalker-ish even.
And when you do, come find me on Twitter and let me know what you think about it.
Can’t have a best-of list capped at just ten shows. You know that. There are just too many good series on at the moment. First, TV’s best bad show Riverdale remains as ridiculous and outlandish as ever and I eat up every moment of it. It’s INSANE. I’ve just started watching Bodyguard on Netflix; two episodes in, and I know if I had finished the season last year, it would’ve been on my official list. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has stumbled a bit in its final season, but it’s still one of the most unique shows ever to grace the TV landscape. I’m just thankful I rarely have to watch it through splayed fingers from cringing so hard. In a good way. Insecure continues to be funny, bold, brash, and aesthetically beautiful. Sharp Objects perfectly captured its source material—a humid, frustrating, dehydrated, sweaty, toe-curling thriller. GLOW got even better in season two. Big Brother had its best season in a very long time. And The Good Place continues unafraid, ready to reboot and charge through storylines like there is no tomorrow.
What a year.