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A LOOK BACK AT THE 10 BEST NEW TV SHOWS THAT CAME OUT IN 2018

In 2018 alone, there have been new episodes of over 500 (and really, we’re still counting) scripted series. And while you might not think it or honestly be able to know it, a lot of these scripted series are good. So when it comes to these year-end lists, there are a lot of options to choose from. And when it comes to new shows of 2018, that narrows things down, but there are still a lot. I chose to narrow things down to 10, but that also meant dropping shows that most likely truly deserved to be on this list as well. (Full disclosure: I have not seen Pose and Lodge 49. So their not being included is not a scathing indictment of their quality in their debut seasons. There’s just a lot of television.)

HBO

1. Succession

We’re talking Succession. Specifically, how it takes all the trappings of prestige TV (and the 1% of which the series’ Roy family is a part) and just presses a mirror to how truly ridiculous and self-serious it all is. The only thing missing is Succession arbitrarily deciding to turn off all the lights in scenes. (Looking at you, Ozark.) It’s not immediately clear at first, but the key to Succession — which as positively been compared to Billions, which is also the same type of show in terms of the prestige of it all — is that it’s technically a very dark, very dry (really, very British, given the creator — Jesse Armstrong, Peep Show, The Thick of It, Fresh Meat) comedy. The key is also the performances from both Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook, as Roman Roy and Shiv Roy, respectively.

HBO

2. Barry

Two of the best new series of the year feature psychopathic assassins who you just kind of want to root for. (The blessing and the curse of that whole Golden Age of Television thing.) Fans of Saturday Night Live have been waiting for a true star vehicle for Bill Hader, and that’s exactly what Barry is (which makes sense, as he co-created the dark comedy series with Alec Berg). As the title character, Hader also plays a character who really needs to get his s— together; but in the case of Barry, as much as he has his idea of what that looks like—or at least, what it should look like—the series isn’t afraid to ask if that’s even truly possible for a person like him. Plus, Barry realizes just how inherently funny acting students in Los Angeles can be, and it honestly never gets old. Of course, one cannot mention that aspect of the series without also acknowledging Henry Winkler’s gut-busting role as acting coach Gene Cousineau.

HBO

3. Sharp Objects

Back in the day, Amy Adams perfected television when she appeared in a holy trifecta of The WB series —Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and Smallville — all in the span of one year. Since then, she’s been perfecting feature film, but this year, she decided to grace all of us television nerds with her presence once more with the HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Sharp Objects. This is one of those shows — and actually, unlike the rest of the series on this list, it’s specifically a limited series, one-and-done — where you either love it, hate it, or really want to love it because of the cast. (In addition to Amy Adams, you’ve got Patricia Clarkson, Chris Messina, Henry Czerny, and Elizabeth Perkins.)

USA

4. The Purge

Funny story: The TV version of The Purge is actually pretty good, to the point where it quite easily belongs on this list. To be fair, the show began slow in terms of finding reasons to actually care about the individuals it chose to focus on. But by the end of the season, The Purge managed to tell a compelling story — and in this case, that’s the kind of story where the audience truly cares who gets purged or not — both in the individual stories and in the inevitable “everything is connected” aspect of the series. (And, for Purge film franchise fans, the season had enough hints and pieces at the established future of all things under the purge — whether they be anti-purge groups or certain characters’ origins — that it doesn’t just feel like an unconnected small screen approach to the show.)

Facebook

5. Sorry For Your Loss

You might only know Sorry For Your Loss as “the Elizabeth Olsen Facebook death show,” and you’d be correct on that front. But one should also know that Elizabeth Olsen decided to apparently “slum it” on Facebook Watch for a really good show about grief, mental health, and also perspective (specifically in terms of how you may not always know someone quite as well as you thought you did). Olsen stars as Leigh, a writer who quits her job and moves in with her mother (Janet McTeer) and sister (Kelly Marie Tran) in the wake of her husband’s (Mamoudou Athie) death. The 10-episode drama is also one of those half-hour dramas you’ve been hearing about so much lately. And while the runtime makes it a pretty quick viewing, that’s also the case for its large about of heart — t’s not just non-stop depression, which is why it’s so much more than “the Elizabeth Olsen Facebook death show.”

BBC America

6. Killing Eve

Spoiler alert: Killing Eve is the best new TV show of the year. It’s also the starring vehicle Sandra Oh (who is the Eve of the title) has deserved and surprisingly (as well as frustratingly) hadn’t gotten until right now. And while someone like Oh is a proven commodity — especially with viewers in the States — the surprise of the season is of course Jodie Comer’s Villanelle (the one who is tasked with the killing of Eve), perhaps the shining star in this season’s new class of psychopaths. The spy vs. spy, cat and mouse Killing Eve is dark and funny, sometimes at the same time but never exactly quite when you think it will be. In fact, the constant tonal shifts of the series from scene-to-scene are both jarring (especially at first) and a large part of the appeal of the series. Thank you, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Also, the show’s first season is finally streaming on Hulu now, so if you hadn’t gotten the chance to watch it, there you go.

HBO

7. Sally4Ever

If you’re familiar with Julia Davis’ work as a writer/actress/director (Human Remains, Nighty Night, the original Camping), then you should not be surprised by how unabashedly “out there” Sally4Ever is. In a time when “cringe comedy” has perhaps lost all meaning, Sally4Ever certainly takes joy in putting its audience through moments of awkwardness and discomfort — but it does so for the purposes of revealing Sally’s (Catherine Shepherd, who is so good as the straight man you might take her front granted) glaring flaws herself. Sally4Ever comes it hot from the very first season, and while it’s certainly not fun for the whole family — unless your whole family has some pretty twisted sense of humors — it’s one of the funniest shows of the year, if not the funniest show of the year.

Netflix

8. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

While it’s still disappointing this isn’t technically the Riverdale spinoff one might have hoped it would be — because Riverdaleand The CW are seemingly still too afraid to go full-on supernatural with the series — it’s ultimately for the best. Because while Chilling Adventures of Sabrina isn’t a perfect series — as Netflix still search for its truly great original drama series — it more than lives up to the expectations set by showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and the very casting of La Shipka herself, Kiernan Shipka, as Sabrina Spellman. (Although, despite that whole Satan-worshipping aspect of the witches, honestly, the series could be darker.) A very-stylized series — even more so than Riverdale, if even possible — CAOS is at its best when it embraces its devilish camp, and with Miranda Otto and Michelle Gomez (as Aunt Zelda and Madam Satan, respectively) carrying the bulk of that particular weight, the rest of CAOS could honestly be a garbage fire and still work. (Just to be clear, it’s not a garbage fire.)

Netflix

9. The Haunting of Hill House

Speaking of Netflix’s search for its truly great original drama series, it’s worth noting that both new series that even tend to be part of the conversation for that are horror shows. Though, CAOS is more (like Riverdale) inspired by the horror genre than a full-blown horror series. So for lovers of horror who truly want to be spooked, then The Haunting of Hill House is easily the show. And for scaredy cats — such as myself — who want to watch a new, critically-acclaimed series but aren’t sure if you can handle it, I’ll let you know that it really is a show worth sticking with (even if you have to watch it with your eyes partially covered). If for nothing else, do it for Carla Gugino.

Amazon

10. Forever

Yes, there is a lot of television — just look at this list of new shows — but please don’t sleep on this Maya Rudolph-Fred Armisen-led Amazon series. Forever is an eight-episode marriage comedy, with Rudolph (the absolute MVP of the show) and Armisen as said married couple. They’re stuck in a rut, but past that, it’s really best to just go into the series blind; because while the show isn’t necessarily one that relies on the twists and turns, it’s much better to experience the journey for yourself. The Alan Yang-created show is honestly one of the most pleasant surprises of 2018.
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