Countdown to 2019: 2018 TV

Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own riskā€¦

I had to push a lot of 2017 shows to 2018, like the final season of Girls, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Transparent. I did manage to watch a lot more this year, including starting shows but not quite getting to the latest seasons, like Westworld and The Bold Type. This list is a reflection of those shows I watched this year that aired the season I watched this year.

This is the last year I can use this graphic.

1. The Americans
It’s still hard to accept that The Americans ended, even though it was probably one of the greatest finales in TV–completely unexpected and yet so right. The showdown with Stan, leaving Henry, Paige’s choice, and Elizabeth’s and Philip’s return–I could never have predicted it. It left viewers with so many questions and interpretations in the best possible way. And I don’t want to forget the rest of the season, especially that sequence set to Patti Smith’s “Broken Flag.” I will miss you, The Americans, but can let you go because you ended wonderfully.

2. The Middle
As I said last year, The Middle could go on forever. But it ended, and, like The Americans, the ending was wonderful. It’s hard to find a family sitcom that was conistently good for nine years, and The Middle never wavered, even as the older kids went off to college and graduated. Sue remains my favorite character and one of my favorite TV characters overall, and there is talk of a spin-off centering on her character. If that happens, someone up in TV land is looking out for me. 

3. The Good Place
I’d been meaning to start this show, and I’m so glad I finally did. It’s always surprising and enjoyable, and just goes farther and farther out there while getting deeper and deeper. It’s like a constant brain teaser, challenging you philosophically but at the end of the day, it’s more about the emotion and relationships. Also, the cast is fantastic.

4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has gone on a roller coaster ride this year with Rebecca going to jail after dealing with Trent to her friends leaving to restoring relationships with Josh and fake Greg. I said goodbye to three shows this year, and next year I’ll have to say goodbye to this one. Even though it’s the show’s choice, if there’s one show has room for more story, it’s this one.

5. Jane the Virgin
Another show that is, sadly, ending this next year, although it does feel as though it’s moving toward some sort of end, at least with Jane’s romantic life. I’m interested to see where the cliffhanger from last season goes, considering it can go a number of ways. There are so many characters and storylines, and a lot to wrap up, and I hope they stick the landing as well as the shows ending this past year did.

6. The Tale
I rarely watch TV movies, but I’d heard this one on HBO was good–and it starred one of my favorites, Laura Dern. The story and visuals were so haunting, it’s hard to stop thinking about it. At times, what’s going on can be a little hard to take, but the filmmaker whose story it was, tells it so well that I felt in good hands. It’s not just a story but a question of whether this was the story, whether this is what really happened.

7. Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
I also rarely watch comedy specials but, again, everyone was talking about it. I’m so glad I watched it–it’s more of a solo show than a comedy special–there were funny parts, sure, but it takes such a turn that I wasn’t expected. I felt caught by it, in a way, as I had been watching it while doing other things but then suddenly I had to pay attention.

8. A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events tackled the 5th through 9th books, and it was thrilling because they’d never been visualized before. In general, the series is doing an excellent job of filling in the perspectives of the other VFD volunteers (and Olaf as well). It makes the series a companion piece to the books, rather than just an adaptation. It’s an important distinction, especially for a mystery series that always left the reader hungry for more info. My favorite episodes may have been The Vile Village episodes because they took one of the weakest books and added tons of backstory, shifting the focus to the larger mystery. Unfortunately, nothing will ever live up to how I imagined the Self-Sustaining Hot Air Mobile Home in flight when I read it and dreamed of seeing it on screen one day, but at least this fulfilled my dream of seeing it on screen at all. I can’t wait for the final season, which includes my favorite of the books: The Slippery Slope.

9. Younger
I love Sutton Foster on television, and Younger, about a 40-year-old woman passing for 26 in order to re-enter the workforce, says a lot about working mothers and how our society treats women. Even the supporting cast is both fun and grounded. I never liked Liza with Charles, and that was a big part of this season, but there was still a lot to enjoy, and I like how the circle of people who know her real age keeps getting wider and wider.

10. UnREAL
UnREAL returned with its two final seasons this year, and they were a welcome treat. Season 2 dragged a lot for me, but seasons 3 and 4 kept the momentum going and explored some interesting dynamics. Season 4 almost went off the rails multiple times, but I thought it held itself together and managed to end in a satisfying way.

Runners Up

Fresh Off the Boat

I love family comedies, and Fresh off the Boat, about a Chinese-American family relocating to Orlando, is the perfect blend of traditional and subversiveness.

Blackish has been a little hit or miss lately, but the good episodes are enjoyable, and I’m impressed with how they dug into the possible divorce storyline last season.

Compare to Last Year’s Rankings

Other Shows I Watch(ed)
Modern Family
Once Upon a Time
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Older Shows/Seasons I watched this year:
The Good Place season 1
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 1
Westworld season 1
Girls season 6
Broad City season 2
Napoleon Dynamite season 1
Transparent season 4
The Bold Type season 1

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