2018 was a massive year for TV with existing series’ coming back for some stellar seasons as well as some newcomers hitting the ground running and standing out above the rest. It was difficult to whittle nearly 30 shows down to a list of the 10 best TV shows of the year but I feel like every entry on this list fully deserves to be there. But before getting to the list lets break down a couple honourable mentions that didn’t quite make it.
Good Girls was a new heist/drama series to Netflix in 2018 and it surprised me in that it was a genuinely good story with great leading female performances. It knows when to be serious and when to have fun which is part of the charm of the series. The Man in the High Castle returned for its third season and this Nazi-ruled alternate universe continues to get more and more interesting with a deeper dive into the more sci-fi elements of the series. I jumped on Atypical as this second season dropped and loved the story and all of the character drama and emotions that are explored in the series. It’s a really sweet series that’s a good light watch. The Terror was a limited series that released in 2018 which was a fictionalised account of the lost expedition of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus in the mid 1800’s. It’s a thrilling story that will definitely have you on edge for most of it.
#10 – Fuller House (Season 4)
Fuller House came back this year for a fourth season and that’s all the more reason to celebrate. The show is cheesy, the jokes are silly, but it all works because the show knows its tone, it knows its audience and it embraces that through every episode. There’s some family emotion and the occasional social message being nudged into some episodes but it’s all in all a fun feel-good series.
#9 – American Vandal (Season 2)
Mockumentary series American Vandal burst onto the Netflix scene with an incredible first season full of laughs but also genuine intrigue. Season 2 follows that up with a more outrageous story, some great humour, and a mystery that also grips you and keeps you invested. The execution of this series is fantastic, it takes a completely outrageous crime and builds a mystery around solving the culprit, presenting it all as a serious hard-hitting true-crime series. It makes way for a flurry of great opportunities for humour and with the number of character personalities involved there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had.
This season is an unfortunate step-down from the first which felt a little tighter and had a more compelling lead character but is still one of the better shows of the year. Unfortunately Netflix cancelled the series following this latest season which is a shame but I also don’t know where they would have gone from here.
#8 – Daredevil (Season 3)
Daredevil continues to be the king when it comes to the Netflix Marvel series’ as season after season it consistently delivers thrilling drama and amazing kick-ass action sequences. The characters of this series are incredible, over the last three seasons they’ve been developed extensively so you care about everyone on screen not just the Daredevil himself. Even the new characters this season such as Ray (Jay Ali) are intriguing. The introduction of Bullseye (Wilson Bethel) this season made for a number of exceptional action sequences and quite possibly the best villain the series has seen besides Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio).
The action sequence in episode 4 may be the best continuous action sequence in the series to date. The season builds to a strong final few episodes which are technically the last episodes of the series as Netflix also cancelled this series. However don’t be discouraged by this fact because I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Charlie Cox‘s Daredevil.
#7 – The Rain (Season 1)
The Rain was a Danish post-apocalyptic survival series that debuted on Netflix and it certainly surprised me. The post-apocalyptic genre has been done to death in both film and television but The Rain stands out as by far the best post-apocalyptic series on TV. What this series manages to accomplish in terms of character development and exploring relationships over such a short period of time is impressive. I was wholly invested in every one of these characters because they almost all get an equal amount of focus and backstory explanation at some point during the 8 episode run.
The story grips you early on and almost never lets up with questions calling to be answered and danger lurking around every corner. Thankfully Netflix has renewed The Rain for a second season so we get to see where the story goes.
#6 – Star Wars Rebels (Season 4)
Star Wars Rebels finally came to an end this year with the final 7 episodes of the final season being released over 3 weeks and these final episodes were so good they drove it all the way up to #6 on the list. The season as a whole was good, there was the occasional thrilling episode for Star Wars fans but you did have a bunch of ‘filler’ episodes more aimed at the kid-friendly audience. But these last few episodes were all business, delving deep into Star Wars lore and connecting everything to the wider Star Wars universe in some surprising and genuinely exciting ways.
Some would say this series understands the lore of Star Wars better than the new films and I’d have to agree. Sad to see the series go but it paves the way for some possibly bigger and better things.
#5 – Everything Sucks! (Season 1)
Everything Sucks! hit Netflix early this year and I instantly fell in love with this coming-of-age series. Everything about this season just worked, it was charming, beautiful, emotional, funny and all up one of the most genuinely enjoyable times I spent with a series this year. The performances from the entire young cast was fantastic, the exploration of characters and character relationships was deep and thorough to where from the first episode I felt like I knew them and cared about them. This continues through the entire season where your opinions on characters change as they do and it’s all backed by a fantastic love story.
I regularly think about this series now and it came out way back in February which is a testament to how memorable and enjoyable it was. It’s an absolute crime that it didn’t get renewed for a second season and that fact still hurts to this day. But the first season still exists and I strongly recommend checking it out.
#4 – The Haunting of Hill House (Season 1)
Rejoice for originality in modern horror and bless creator Mike Flanagan for this spine-chilling series which delivered some of the best horror of the year. The Haunting of Hill House takes a very atmospheric approach to terrifying you. It leaves the bulk of the jump-scares at home and goes for the more subtle forms of horror which I attest are the more effective forms of scaring someone. The looming presence of something in the background, the illusion that something could happen, and genuinely creepy and horrifying imagery will induce greater fear in someone than anything jumping out at the screen cued by a loud noise.
But it’s not just the horror which makes this series so phenomenal it’s the performances from the entire cast and the gripping emotional story which is just as scary as the scares themselves. It’s one of the best straight horror series’ in existence and one I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good scare.
#3 – Ash vs Evil Dead (Season 3)
From one horror series to a completely different one now with the sad conclusion of Ash vs Evil Dead in which we say goodbye to the infamous character of Ash (Bruce Campbell). The Evil Dead franchise is one of the longest running horror/comedy franchises in existence and the fact that it still has a major audience is a testament to its quality. This series never dropped a beat, three seasons and it was just as strong in its finale as it was in its premier, if not stronger. Bruce is synonymous with the character of Ash and is the heart and soul of this series. The humour, the horror, and the light touch of emotion is all exceptionally well integrated and presented through every single episode. This series never let me down, as a fan of the original films this delivered a thrilling story with incredible characters and performances and tonnes of outrageous comedy, some moments I don’t think I can ever forget.
It’s sad to see it go especially considering where it all ended but I cannot thank it enough for the genuine enjoyment and being one of my favourite shows of all time.
#2 – A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2)
Season 1 of A Series of Unfortunate Events was exceptional, it was quirky, hilarious, and thoroughly engaging with very little room for improvement. But somehow season 2 managed to find that room and capitalised on it on every occasion. I will quote myself on my verdict of this season which is that is is “flawlessly delightful from beginning to end”. I couldn’t pick a definitive flaw even if I tried. The dark humour is on point across every episode, the witty puns and more subtle intelligent stuff is much appreciated, and the general weird and ‘unfortunate’ storylines as fun and entertaining as ever.
And then you have the stylistic cinematography which is just phenomenal and the attention to detail in the set design which all works together to craft this unique world. I love the weirdness, I love the quirkiness, and there wasn’t a second of this season I didn’t enjoy. Neil Patrick Harris is a masterclass when it comes to his portrayal of Count Olaf and the highlight of every episode, besides the Baudelaire children of course.
#1 – Westworld (Season 2)
And now we have arrived at number 1 and there isn’t a series more deserving of this spot in 2018 other than Westworld. The sci-fi mystery/drama series from the minds of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy is exceptional in its presentation and execution of its many storylines and characters. Every episode is filled with questions, mysteries, and answers enough for me to write and entire review and breakdown of each of the 10 episodes in the season. An intelligent series like this keeps you thinking constantly, and every small detail is sure to add up to something, part of the fun is waiting to figure out what it is. And sure enough you’ll almost certainly never be right because the creators of Westworld are the kings of misdirection, I mean, look at either season, the big twists I’m sure some people picked out but not many would have because they’re so well hidden.
Every episode is filled with incredible performances and at least one thrilling storyline. This season did have one particular storyline I wasn’t a major fan of but amongst all of the cutting in and out of the other storylines it’s pretty easy to consume. With this season Westworld cemented itself in my top TV shows of all time and if it continues with the same quality going into the future seasons then it’s sure to top every one of these lists.
Check out my spoiler reviews for each episode of Westworld season 2 below.