There is a lot of television happening right now. If you happen to buy into FX CEO John Landgraf’s most recent prediction that scripted original series will number up to 530 or higher by next year, then there’s probably going to be even more TV by the time Metro puts together a best of list for 2019. As silly as so-called “Peak TV” has gotten as of late, the amount of undeniably good TV being made by writers, producers and performers is also getting higher. So here’s Metro’s list of the best TV shows of 2018.
What were the best TV shows of 2018?
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘Barry’ (HBO)
Equal parts dark comedy and violent drama, the first season of HBO’s “Barry” saw “Saturday Night Live” alum Bill Hader leave his purely comedy roots behind for something far more complex and nuanced. As the titular character, Hader plays a midwestern hitman who, while scouting a new mark out in Los Angeles, falls in love with acting and decided to leave his storied career behind. Both Hader and Henry Winkler won Emmy Awards for their performances and some well-deserved recognition from critics. HBO renewed the show for a second season.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘Detroiters’ (Comedy Central)
“Detroiters” co-star and co-creator Sam Richardson recently announced that Comedy Central had decided not to renew his and Tim Robinson’s buddy comedy for a third season, which sucks. The heartfelt sitcom saw the pair of real-life friends playing real-life friends and ad executives trying to make a living in the titular midwestern city. Sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes warm enough to induce several tears, “Detroiters” remains one of the year’s best comedies.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘Daredevil’ (Netflix)
While the second season of Marvel and Netflix’s flagship series mustered little from its fans, “Daredevil” season 3 managed to tap into “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and other modern television classics to produce one of its best storylines. Which is a shame, because shortly after its October premiere, Netflix abruptly canceled the show (and not long after it had canceled fellow Marvel titles “The Defenders,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist”). Season 3 is a return to the form established by season 1, thanks in large part to the story and an iconic villain’s introduction.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘Castle Rock’ (Hulu)
The past few years have seen a new renaissance of Stephen King adaptations, including Hulu’s horror anthology “Castle Rock,” which takes its inspiration from the fictional New England region that many of King’s stories inhabit. With numerous ties, explicit and otherwise, to the accomplished author’s best-known works, the first season of the J.J. Abrams-produced series followed an outcast’s return to his hometown after a previously unknown inmate at the Shawshank State Penitentiary is discovered by the new warden. It’s horrifying, intriguing and gripping enough even to keep the most scare-resistant viewers watching.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘Atlanta’ (FX)
Among the many snubs at the 2019 Golden Globes, one of the most egregious was the second season of Donald Glover’s FX series “Atlanta.” Known as “Robbin’ Season,” the follow-up to the show’s award-winning first season saw Earn (Glover) and his cohorts dealing with a surprise eviction and many other business setbacks. It also introduced viewers to the ominous “Teddy Perkins” episode, in which Glover also plays the titular character while donning white face. Like the rest of the show, issues of race and racism are addressed in equally comedic and dramatic tones.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘The Americans’ (FX)
Speaking of snubs, awards shows have never been to keen on recognizing FX’s long-running spy thriller “The Americans,” despite critics and fans’ best efforts. Even so, Joe Weisberg’s expertly crafted period piece finally came to an end this year with its sixth and final season. Russian spies Nadezhda (Keri Russell) and Mischa (Matthew Rhys), undercover as Americans Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, are nearing the end of their long KGB mission to locate and steal valuable U.S. intelligence for mother Russia. And for those who followed along from the beginning, the ending is worth the wait.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘BoJack Horseman’ (Netflix)
Every time “BoJack Horseman” creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s animated dramedy manages to release a new season on Netflix, he and his team find several new ways to tug at their audience’s heartstrings. Season 5, which premiered in September, did just that with a brand new collection of episodes about the titular talking horse voiced by Will Arnett. From an entire episode that centers around a 25-minute eulogy to a new meta-narrative about the modern show business industry, Netflix’s surprisingly dramatic cartoon performed with flying colors.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘Killing Eve’ (BBC America)
No one was expecting a little BBC America series about a psychotic assassin tracking down the spy assigned to follow her to take off, and yet here we are. After a first season that took American and British audiences by storm, “Killing Eve,” which starred Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh as the assassin and the spy, proved itself to be one of the year’s best shows. Created by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the show won widespread critical acclaim and regularly skyrocketed on social media charts. And yes, a second season is coming.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘American Vandal’ (Netflix)
In its debut first season, “American Vandal” quickly proved that a comedic faux documentary lampooning our obsession with true crime stories like “The Jinx” and “Making a Murderer” could actually work. (It even won a Peabody Award!) So how could it possibly follow its own success with something just as good, if not better? By satirizing itself while avoiding a straight repeat of its first story, which is precisely what American Vandal season 2 did with the story of the so-called “Turd Burglar.” Sadly another victim of Netflix’s recent round of cancellations, Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda’s mockumentary won’t be back for a season 3.
Best TV shows of 2018: ‘The Good Place’ (NBC)
Fans of “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” have recently been on a tear about if, and when, both shows will buy into the current revival craze a la “Full House,” “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne.” So far, that’s not going to happen, which is perfectly fine since producer and writer Mike Schur is hard at work crafting new stories, jokes and philosophical traps for the characters on his afterlife comedy “The Good Place.” Now in its third season, “The Good Place” has presented some of the year’s more ridiculous comedy set pieces and launched a renaissance of sorts for Ted Danson.