Arts & Culture

The Best TV Shows of 2018

Bingeworthy inspiration, from Killing Eve to The Good Place, and beyond.
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From the slow burn of Succession to Doctor Who's first-ever female lead, to the success of Sandra Oh's fashion-filled crime thriller Killing Eve2018 was a strong year for television (however you choose to watch it these days). Read on for all our favorite TV shows of the year, be they dramas, comedies, or even cartoons.

Killing Eve


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"This thriller, created and produced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, follows a British intelligence agent (Sandra Oh) as she tracks a daring international assassin (breakout star Jodie Comer) who, in turn, begins tracking her. Yes, it’s a crime drama, but what kept us hooked was the razor-sharp dialogue, dark humor, and absolutely impeccable fashion. Comer’s Villanelle has a taste for pieces from Dries van Noten, Chloé, and Molly Goddard that one might describe as, ahem, to die for." —Adam Rathe, Senior Editor, Arts and Culture

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


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"For fans of the show’s fast-talking, candy-colored debut season, Maisel certainly delivered in its sophomore run. The theme seemed to be more: more locales, more costumes, more cash in the budget. And if it lost the plot every now and then, whether for a jaunt to Parisor a few days in the company of Ab-Ex artists, lovers of the series and its titular heroine will surely be forgiving." —Chloe Foussianes, Digital News Writer

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story


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"This over-the-top, Ryan Murphy-produced series revisited one of the fashion world’s most heinous crimes, the 1997 murder of the eponymous designer. It served not only as an eye-popping time capsule chock full of '90s glamour, but also featured a top-notch cast including Penelope Cruz, Édgar Ramírez, Ricky Martin, and Darren Criss, who won an Emmy—one of nine for which the series was nominated—for his role as the murderer Andrew Cunanan." —Adam Rathe, Senior Editor, Arts and Culture

The Good Place


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"A surreal exploration of centuries-old ethical quandaries doesn't sound like it should be laugh-out-loud network television. But week after week, Michael Schur and his cast of beloved big names (Kristen Bell, Ted Danson) and sensational newcomers (D'Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil) manage to make questions of morality funny without being cruel and endearing without being preachy. Plus, just when you think you've figured out the show, it pulls off a twist (like the brilliant one in this year's mid-winter finale) that will keep you guessing." —Caroline Hallemann, Digital News Editor

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette


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"This one hour comedy special on Netflix is the creation of Tasmanian writer and performer Hannah Gadsby and became a word-of-mouth cultural phenomenon last spring. This isn't a 90-minute joke-a-thon; it's a searing meditation on abuse, sexism, and self-discovery. It's also very funny and so beautifully constructed and told that it is ultimately life-affirming and inspiring. It uses standup, a form pioneered by men and often a platform for sexism and homophobia, to make the case that the only way through the worst elements of our culture—entrenched racism and misogyny—is to grapple with them head on. Watching Gadsby do the hard work made me feel braver. " —Elizabeth Angell, Digital Director

Doctor Who


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"Getting a new Doctor (in the iconic BBC sci-fi sense, that is) is always a bittersweet experience. You build a connection with the old Doctor and you wonder, 'Will the next on live up to the challenge? Will I love them as much?' 2018's regeneration held even more weight thanks not only to the entrance of a new showrunner, Chris Chibnall of Broadchurch fame, but also the first female Doctor in the show's 55 year history, played by Jodie Whittaker, also of Broadchurch fame. It was a daring (and, in some quarters, contentious) move and one that was forced to bear an enormous amount of social pressure on its back. It's also one that succeeded. Whittaker's Thirteen embodies all of the cleverness, the kindness, the zeal, and the empathy that have made generations of fans dream of taking a ride in the TARDIS—that she does it as a woman is an inspiring reminder of how far we've come." —Lauren Hubbard, Contributor

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Bojack Horseman


"Yes, it’s a cartoon about a talking horse. But this Netflix series, which tells the story of a washed-up actor and the true cost of fame in an alternate-universe Hollywood, is actually one of the most affecting (and addictive) on TV. There’s no denying that part of the appeal of Bojack is the snappy humor—and it’s definitely not a kids’ animated series—but it’s the intelligent and care that goes int the series that makes it really memorable. Even the New Yorker said that it’s 'one of the wisest, most emotionally ambitious and—this is not a contradiction—spectacularly goofy series on television.'” — Adam Rathe, Senior Editor, Arts and Culture

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Outlander


"After last season's much-anticipated reunion, Claire and Jamie Fraser are finally settling in to their new home together in pre-revolution America. But season four of the sexy Starz series is anything but staid. Between their daughter Brianna's trip back in time with an urgent message, and the surprise return of Frank Randall, played brilliantly by actor Tobias Menzies, there's enough drama to keep its passionate fan base tuned in." —Caroline Hallemann, Digital News Editor

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This Is Us


"To say that season three of This Is Us has been a doozy so far is a massive understatement. Between exploring Jack’s time in Vietnam (and introducing his brother, Nicky Pearson in the process), Kate’s exciting IVF success, Randall’s tense race for city council, and Kevin’s attempt to learn more about his father’s past, it’s been an eventful nine episodes so far. And that's all before even mentioning this season’s cryptic jumps forward. It’s an exhausting show to be a dedicated fan of, but I wouldn’t have it any other way." —Maggie Maloney, Associate Digital Editor

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Succession


"Succession was always going to appeal to the narrow audience of media watchers who were champing at the bit to see the stories of Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone dramatized onscreen. But what showrunner Jesse Armstrong created was far more than an insider-y gossip machine. The show unfolds masterfully, managing at once to be a complex character study and a gripping, high-stakes drama. But perhaps its biggest coup is making people care at all about the Roy family—each member of which is more delectably repulsive than the last." —Chloe Foussianes, Digital News Writer

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina


"Television, like much of the culture, has been dominated by dark themes in 2018, but Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix swooped in at the last minute and, well, cast a spell. Here is a show that has its cake and eats it too, delivering a not-so-subtle transgressive message about a self-possessed young woman coming into her powers while having entirely too much fun along the way. It’s that mischief that has always empowered the character, from its original comic incarnation through Nell Scovell’s groundbreaking interpretation in the ‘90s. And the latest edition relishes chewing up the scenery with a sense of play that sacrifices none of the horror genre’s scares or style. One of the pleasures of the new series is a cast, led by Kiernan Shipka, clearly having a ball, no one more than Michelle Gomez as the duplicitous Ms. Wardwell, who does more with a carefully swirled milkshake straw than most actors do with an entire monologue." —Erik Maza, Style Features Director

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Wild Wild Country


"Told over six episodes, this documentary series looks at the Rajneeshpuram community—some might call it a cult—as it set down roots in Oregon in the 1980s. It’s a stunning story of a magnetic religious leader who brings his followers, and his unforgettable assistant Ma Anand Sheela, to the United States only to end up locked in a battle royale with neighbors who initially seem small minded but, it turns out, might actually be right to be wary of the newcomers. And it’s a delicious example of truth—including private planes, more than 90 Rolls Royces, attempted murder, and so much more—being stranger than fiction." —Adam Rathe, Senior Editor, Arts and Culture

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Maniac


"The joy of Maniac is in its world-building. Whereas some shows stumble in the quest to create just one realm for its characters to inhabit, Maniac creates one after another, seamlessly careening from the retro-modern lab to its characters’ drug-induced fantasies, ranging from a suburban couple’s well-intentioned raccoon heist to a full-on, Lord of the Rings-style elfin kingdom. And yet, anchored by Emma Stone and Jonah Hill’s arresting performances, the show somehow never loses the thread." —Chloe Foussianes, Digital News Writer

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Brooklyn 99


"There's a reason fans saved this show from peril this year, initiating a social-media campaign that earned it a sixth season on NBC. In the tradition of great workplace comedies (The OfficeParks and RecNewsradio) this is an ensemble about the kind of family we create when we're thrust together with strangers every day. It's the perfect evening binge—snackable 1/2-hour episodes that don't require a flow chart to track some insane conspiracy—and it truly is hilarious. But the best thing about Brooklyn 99 is its sweetness. In a cynical and depressing world, there's something optimistic and loving about this particular police precinct." —Elizabeth Angell, Digital Director

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Billions


"The third season of Showtime’s drama about the push and pull between a billionaire hedge fund bad boy and the (not entirely admirable) U.S. Attorney out to take him down didn’t disappoint. The series not only does a bang-up job of keeping viewers on the edge of their seats, but was exceedingly impressive in its depiction of unbelievable wealth and the world it creates. Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti make for one of TV’s great nemeses, and getting to watch their high-stakes one-upmanship on Billions is, well, priceless." —Adam Rathe, Senior Editor, Arts and Culture

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Queer Eye


"I won’t be the first to note that in today’s divided political climate, Queer Eye provides a rare salve. Whether the Fab Five are rehabbing a church’s community center, navigating their different experiences with Christianity along the way, or helping a transgender man find his footing and learning about the trans experience through his personal story, they’re bringing people together in a way no one else seems to manage these days." —Chloe Foussianes, Digital News Writer

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Salt Fat Acid Heat


"I fell in love with Samin Nosrat's cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat when it came out in 2017 (seriously, I gave it to my whole family for Christmas last year) so when I heard that the author and Chez Panisse alum was going to be bringing her thoughtful, passionate, and un-fussy teaching style to a Netflix show this year, I preemptively marked all of my calendars. The show, much like the book that inspired it, refuses to be pigeonholed into merely a cooking show or a travel show or, that eternal Netflix standby, a food-porn show, instead incorporating elements of all three as Nosrat travels the globe, exploring what she calls the 'elements of good cooking' through four different food cultures: Salt in Japan, Fat in Italy, Acid in Mexico, and Heat in California. Whether you love to cook or you use your oven for extra shoe storage, this show, which feels like going on an amazing trip with your cool friend, is a must watch." —Lauren Hubbard, Contributor

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Homecoming


"With Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail at the helm, Homecoming was never going to be anything less than a stylized, mystery-fueled, awards-baity drama. And certainly, as the show jumps between its two timelines, the question of 'what happened' remains at its center, unresolved until the very last episode. It’s compelling in itself, but perhaps the most interesting thing about Homecoming is the new trends it affirms: the rise of the podcast adaptation, and the growing acceptance of the 30-minute drama." —Chloe Foussianes, Digital News Writer

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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