Lists · TV

The 25 Best Shows of 2018

Here’s our definitive ranking of the best the small screen had to offer in 2018.
Best Shows
By  · Published on December 22nd, 2018

10. The Terror

The Terror

Quoth The Terror’s stalwart seafarer Jared Harris: “there have been more successful trips to the moon than there have been passages of the Northwest Passage.” You’d think that folks could take a hint. Based on a very-real 19th-Century colonial whoopsie doodle, The Terror adapts Dan Simmons’ fictionalized account of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition into ten binge-worthy 45-minute installments. Binge-worthy, that is, if your idea of a good time is watching a show-stopping ensemble cast slowly die of scurvy while being stalked by a vengeful spirit. Throw in a smattering of this year’s best small-screen performances (hello, Paul Ready!), a truly skin-crawling soundtrack, and the best cinematography this side of a cathode ray, and you’ve got yourself one of the best must-watch shows of 2018. If you like exhaustively detail-oriented period-pieces, survival stories, genre fare, or (god help you) all three, please do yourself a favor and give this miserable, frigid, gem a watch. – Meg Shields

9. Letterkenny

Letterkenny Wayne

Here’s the scoop and I’m gonna tell ya: Letterkenny is the best damn Canadian import we’ve had in The States since we learned about the second kind of bacon. I’d call it the great comedy of a generation, but it still has a long way to go before its finished telling us tales of hicks, skids, hockey players, and natives as they attempt to co-exist in rural Canada. For now, it’s in our top ten so that you can turn your attention to the first two seasons, currently on Hulu. Then just after Christmas, Hulu is dropping anywhere from 2 to 4 more seasons of the show, all of which you’ll want to rewatch over and over again. There’s no better show to pass the time and I suggest you let that one marinate. – Neil Miller

8. Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects

Director Jean-Marc Vallee stunned audiences last spring with his adaptation of Big Little Lies, which premiered on HBO to rave reviews. This time, he’s teamed up with author Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame to adapt her debut novel, Sharp Objects, into a haunting eight-part miniseries. Amy Adams delves into her dark side to portray Camille, an alcoholic, self-harming journalist who is whisked back to her Southern Gothic hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to cover the murders of two young girls. What results is a seductive, slow-burn unraveling of Camille’s psyche, as the secrets of the murders and her past begin to intertwine. Her relationships with her estranged mother, Adora (a sinister Patricia Clarkson) and a younger half-sister, Amma (magnetic newcomer Eliza Scanlen) form the poisonous heart of the show in one of the very best — and most complex — portrayals of female relationships all year. It’s also a technical marvel: Vallee and his team of editors mimic the way memory and trauma play out on screen using quick, impressionistic cuts. Already nominated for a crop of Golden Globes, keep an eye out for this one next Emmy season — especially for Adams to finally get the awards recognition she deserves. And be sure keep watching throughout the final episode’s credits. Just don’t tell Mama. – Megan Sergison

7. American Vandal

American Vandal

Due to a studio conflict or something or other, Netflix has dropped American Vandal. I’m sure they’ve got their reasons, and I’m sure the show will find a new home, but from where I’m standing this is still an absolute crime. With its pitch-perfect character and genre parodies, American Vandal tricks you into caring about things you never dreamed you would, and there’s nothing else quite like it. Phones always at the ready, teenagers have become the world’s most willing and capable record keepers, and the show takes full advantage of that fact, digging as deeply into high school injustice as any murder investigation, and honestly, with a much better understanding of the world it’s studying. (A whole segment devoted to a wonky “I” due to an Apple update is sublimely detailed and clever). I don’t know where American Vandal will land next, but any network would be crazy to pass up this piece of brilliance currently in search of a home. – Liz Baessler

6. The Good Place

The Good Place

The Good Place, like its four lead characters, just keeps evolving. There’s no reason that a show about the heartless mechanics of the afterlife should feel so heartfelt and fun, but somehow, it does that too. While the tail end of the NBC series saw Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) dip into the Museum of Human Misery before being zapped back to earth, season three remained largely earthbound before finally, in the midseason finale, giving the crew a glimpse of the real Good Place. Mike Schur’s writing team has been known for making bold choices ever since the first season’s last-minute reveal left audiences stunned, and luckily, the episodes since have kept the same spirit of creative regeneration without ever seeming like they’re trying too hard to top themselves. Evolving is what the show is best at, so it was jarring to see the group stuck earthbound for so long. However, the stretch of earth-set episodes proved that the show was more than just a clever bag of tricks, allowing its actors to stretch their funny bones in a terrible world that’s actually just our own real-life 2018. A winsome exercise in wit, ethics, and the boundless human capacity to surprise, at this point The Good Place really is our Good Place. – Valerie Ettenhofer

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