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

5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Always Sunny

This is probably my last time writing about Always Sunny this year, but I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth. The season finale “Mac Finds His Pride” was the clear stunner, of course, but the whole 10-episode run was far better than we had any right to expect from a thirteen-year-old show. After a year and a half of hemming and hawing, Glenn Howerton came back in the very first episode, but not before a couple excellently crafted fakeouts in which he was replaced by both Mindy Kaling and a seriously unsettling sex doll. “Time’s Up for the Gang,” “The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot,” and “The Gang Solves the Bathroom Problem” all deftly tackled social issues with Always Sunny’s usual satirical fire, and “The Gang Gets New Wheels” delivered a classic, joyfully debauched episode that could have aired years ago and hopefully assuaged some fans’ fears that the show is getting “too topical.” Always Sunny has already been renewed for a 14th season, and it still needs a 15th to claim the crown as longest running live-action comedy. God willing it’ll just keep going forever, popping into our lives every now and again to do whatever the hell it wants. I know I’ll always be there to watch. – Liz Baessler

4. Nanette


Nanette could change your life if you let it. That might not be what you’d expect to hear when discussing a stand-up comedy special, but Hannah Gadsby’s one-woman show of ferocity and fear and every feeling in between is so much more than a comedy special. There are jokes, to be sure, and they land perfectly thanks to Tasmania-born Gadsby’s clever mind and quirky, well-timed style of delivery. So where does it get life-changing? Oh, somewhere between Gadsby’s deconstruction of storytelling as a medium and her sob-inducing explanation of why she’s quitting comedy. There’s no way to talk about the throbbing, bloodied heart of Nanette without spoiling an hour of television that perfectly builds and loops and eases off the pedal before crashing full-force through the wall between comedy and tragedy, but suffice it to say this isn’t a performance you’ll be able to shake. All you can do is gather your tear-stained tissues, yell along to the Rilo Kiley outro, and learn to live with the tension. – Valerie Ettenhofer

3. Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

If I told you I like Better Call Saul more than Breaking Bad, would you hold it against me? The prequel might be the most consistently perfect show on television, dealing in meticulously crafted visuals, intricate writing, and unimpeachable performances. It’s a Shakespearean tragedy with a seasoned comedian at its head (always a winning strategy in my book) and it just seems to do everything right. While this year lacked some of the high drama of the previous one, it was no less engaging, slipping more into Jimmy and Kim’s private lives and plotting, in ways both clear and unclear, the beginnings of Jimmy’s slide into the Saul Goodman we know. There must, realistically, be an end to this show somewhere on the horizon. It can’t and shouldn’t go on forever. But a selfish part of me desperately wishes it would. – Liz Baessler

2. Bojack Horseman


What’s amazing about season five of Bojack Horseman is that we’re still with him. He begins on sleazy “prestige” cop show Philbert, which echoes his life in the worst ways, and ends it in rehab after strangling his co-star, and we see throughout his parents’ influence, culminating in “Free Churro” where the entire episode consists of his eulogy at his mother’s funeral (albeit to the wrong family). That final sting reminds us that this is still a comedy, and while it’s constantly pitch black its humor is also firing on all cylinders, from Will Arnett’s vocal performance to Todd’s robot Henry Fondle, which helps the season’s focus on toxic masculinity hit its target again and again with hysterical results. And we hate Bojack. He’s a drug-crazed sexist selfish asshole. He’s loathsome. But we’re still with him. – Charlie Brigden

1. Atlanta: Robbin’ Season


Twin Peaks with rappers.” That was how Donald Glover pitched Atlanta to the world before its 2016 debut. While the first season was incredible in a dozen different ways, it merely edged toward the Lynchian surreality that was promised without diving all the way in. Robbin’ Season had none of that hesitation. Across the course of eleven half-hour episodes, Atlanta introduced us to a pet alligator, parking lot race-runner Michael Vick, a towering German Schnappviecher monster, Drake’s potential grandpa, a “Laffy Taffy” dancing nude frat boy lineup, and of course, ostrich-egg-eating Michael Jackson lookalike Teddy Perkins. A dream team of writers (Donald and Stephen Glover, Stefani Robinson) and directors (Hiro Murai and Amy Seimetz) make every unnerving second of Robbin’ Season brilliant, as the series’ sophomore season makes important statements on race, gender, and class, then underscores them with surreal and heightened moments that reflect the absurdity of 2018 America. Observational, dynamic, heartfelt, and disturbing, Atlanta: Robbin’ Season is clearly a creative playground on which several artistic geniuses run wild. The result might be the best TV show of a generation. – Valerie Ettenhofer

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