Disorderly Top 10: Our favorite TV shows from 2018
We watch quite a bit of television. That said, we don’t see it all. Here now are our own top 10 favorite shows of 2018.
10) Love - Nick
The ten spot was very competitive this year. I wanted something that broke from the dramatic, heavy-handed art pieces and sprinkled some fun into this year’s list. I had considered The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, this year’s breakout Netflix Original Series. With some particularly dark undertones and an overall charming presentation, I really enjoyed this new look at the teenage witch. GLOW was another near-miss. I love Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin really added some depth to the Debbie character this season. But ultimately, I had to go with the third and final season of Love. This Judd Apatow project was elevated above similar shows by the character development. Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust did an excellent job at portraying believable people, equal parts frustrating and endearing. The side plot between Bertie, Randy and Chris helped round out the show, as well, making it a deserving top 10 pick in 2018.
10) The Innocent Man - Dave
While I continue to chase the dragon of Making a Murderer, Netflix is thankfully here to help push. Based on the first nonfiction book by John Grisham, The Innocent Man centers around a pair of murders that took place in the early 1980s in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma. Two women are killer, four men are arrested and many more lives are ruined. As with other true crime hits like The Staircase, Making a Murderer and Serial, the less-than-stellar, bordering on incompetent, police work is examined in brutal detail.
9) Killing Eve - Nick
I’ve noticed a lot of year-end lists choosing between BBC’s Killing Eve and HBO’s Barry and the pairing is obvious. Both tell the story of an assassin with a sinister blend of dark comedy, romance and violent action sequences. Both are in one moment thrilling and in the next humorously disarming. While Bill Hader’s portrayal of Barry was far more slap-stick than anything in Killing Eve, it managed to hit the right notes and truly stood out as a promising new property for HBO. But stylistically, Killing Eve made a heavier impact on me. I was entertained by Barry but enthralled by Killing Eve. Plus the soundtrack is maybe the best of the year, with the possible exception of Sharp Objects. But more on that later.
The First - Dave
This might be a bit of a surprise entry but I really enjoyed this likely one-and-done from Hulu. After the mission carrying the first humans to Mars explodes during launch, Sean Penn scrambles to build and train a second team of astronauts. If that wasn't enough, he's forced to balance caring for his addict daughter as she struggles with recovery. If you like space dramas like First Man and The Right Stuff, you'll dig this one.
8) The Handmaid’s Tale - Nick
I mean let’s face it… The Handmaid’s Tale is a staple on each year’s top ten list. Truly one of the best shows on television, I was actually surprised to see that this was only season two of the series. It feels like it’s been on the air longer than that, right? Well in any case, it’s been quite a run for the Hulu Original. The winner of five Emmys in 2017 and nominated for eight more this year, the critics can’t get enough of this show. The fact that this was only number eight is more of a compliment to the rest of the list. Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale was brilliant; on par with the first.
8) The Haunting of Hill House - Dave
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. One of the tougher binges you're likely to find, Hill House is Wire-level dense. Shirley Jackson’s classic 1959 novel 'The Haunting of Hill House' is expertly adapted by horror director Mike Flanagan into one of the most unsettling series I've seen in a while.
7) Homecoming - Nick
This one came out of nowhere for me, and that’s my fault. For whatever reason, Prime Originals tend to elude me. Luckily, due to the star power of Julia Roberts and the mass promotion Amazon threw behind Homecoming, I was able to catch this one early and I’m grateful I did. Directed by Sam Esmail – the creator of Mr. Robot – this was a stylistic masterpiece. The acting was phenomenal, the story was gripping and the 30 minute format made for the perfect binge. This was a quick and compelling watch. If you haven’t seen it, and you’re looking for a little break from your Amazon holiday shopping, throw this on and thank me later.
7) The Americans - Dave
Oh boy. So it's come to this. Honestly, after six seasons of the most tense series on TV it's almost a relief to see it come to a close. It's like putting down a long-suffering pet. Other than being just incredible, which is certainly something, The Americans doesn't give fans the same sort of satisfying dopamine shots spread throughout the season like other hits. Instead, it slowly tortures you as you watch leads Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys sacrifice more and more for the mother land. It's been a hell of a ride.
6) Succession - Nick
If you listened to my Succession companion podcast, this was a real roller coaster of a series for me. I went from liking it to hating it, and by the time it was all over, Succession was one of my favorite shows of the year. More importantly, season two sets up beautifully. There was some expected awkwardness in the beginning. Familiarizing the audience with such a large cast of characters can prove difficult. At the very least, it takes some time. But once I began to peel back the layers of this family and their complicated, yet fascinating dynamic, Succession became a must-watch for me. The drama and stress was believable, yet it never strayed too far from the funny; a familiar balance for Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. I loved this show and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
6) Barry - Dave
It's been a hell of a year for lovable assassins. I wasn't sure Bill Hader had the chops for the role, or to direct, but here we are. Barry is a very strange show. It tackles the juxtaposition of the brutal reality of the criminal underworld and the fantasy of dreamers in Hollywood. Hader's Barry is forced to walk that tightrope all season until the worlds eventually collide.
5) Big Mouth - Nick
There are certain things that you can only get away with in a cartoon. If you had a sitcom about a bunch of preteens going through puberty… well there may be a few complaints. But in this medium, it proves to be one of the most original and brilliantly written shows in recent memory. Created by Nick Kroll with the assist from frequent collaborator John Mulaney, Big Mouth is a painfully accurate look at the most awkward years of our lives. It would be borderline traumatizing if it wasn’t so god damn hilarious. It’s nice to see the academy beginning to recognize this show, as well. The original song, “Totally Gay” is nominated for a Primetime Emmy. Who saw that coming?
5) Westworld - Dave
I'm not sure what Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy could have done to follow Season 1. It wasn't perfect but the the second season did just enough to keep it interesting. I'll admit I couldn't handle the number of subplots and the time hop editing was disorienting at times, but episodes like “Kiksuya” made this appointment viewing. I remain hopeful for Season 3.
4) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Nick
Man oh man, these top four shows are true juggernauts. I spent hours (minutes) mulling over the specific order. Any one of these could have been number one, and I really mean that. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was absolutely brilliant last year. It was rewarded for said brilliance by cleaning house at the award shows. Winners of Outstanding Comedy Series, Lead Actress, Supporting Actress, Directing and Writing in last year’s Emmys (poor Tony Shalhoub), season two is impossibly better than the first. Let that sink in for a moment. Plus, Zachery Levi was added to the cast this year and I can’t get enough of Chuck in my life. Bravo Mrs. Maisel.
4) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Dave
It got me, it got Nick and it'll get you, too. Just let it happen. Some critics were a little down on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's second season, but to me it was nothing more than the standard sophomore slump. Fans loved rooting for Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge during Season 1. The series repeatedly shows us the comedy of her fallout, albeit in an optimistic, cheerful manner. Season 2 is a bit more dark, letting you search out the hope yourself when Midge is hitting the snags.
3) The Deuce - Nick
Similar to Succession, large casts take time to establish. It’s not quite Game of Thrones, but The Deuce is as close to an epic as I can recall in 2018. I mean they’ve got James Franco in their twice… that’s how many main characters this things got. And because of that, it took some time for The Deuce to really hit its sweet spot. Now, I obviously enjoyed the first season, or I wouldn’t have watched the second. But what took this from outside the bubble to a top three finish, was the brilliant character development over the course of this series. The drama was better, the comedy was better, the entire series was elevated by the writing and set design. And I’ve got to give a special shout out to C.C. (Gary Carr) for being my favorite character in television this year. Amazing performance.
3) Billions - Dave
Aside from maybe Westworld, Billions is the series I'm most worried about. The show has become a bit of a paint by numbers gem after three season, which isn't all bad, but makes you wonder where it can go from here. While Season 2 climaxed on an insane plot reveal, Season 3 tried to replicate that moment with a mage villain and hero role-swap. Hampered by being on a smaller network like Showtime, the show's cult following has to be scratching their heads heading into next season.
2) Maniac - Nick
I had a really difficult time deciding between Maniac and Sharp Objects. Now it’s clear that Sharp Objects was the bigger of the two and that’s to be expected… HBO’s Sunday night offerings tend to get a lot of buzz. Plus, you have to factor in the hype of Gillian Flynn and the Gone Girl phenomenon. Maniac has more of that niche feel to it. It reminded me of Leftovers in a way, and not just because Justin Theroux was brilliant in both. Speaking of brilliant, Jonah Hill and Emma Stone were impressive in what was essentially a Nutty Professor undertaking with multiple versions of the same character. Ah how far these kids have come from Superbad. It’s wonderful to see.
2) Killing Eve - Dave
I enjoyed the quirkiness of Bill Hader's Barry, but it's impossible not to fall head over heels for Jodie Comer's psycho assassin Villanelle in BBC's breakthrough hit Killing Eve. A twist on the cat and mouse spy thriller, we see Sandra Oh's conflicted MI5 agent Eve torn between wanting to capture or worship the charismatic hit woman. Written by Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Killing Eve's first season is the strongest I've seen since Westworld.
1) Sharp Objects - Nick
And here we are… the top of the list! I did a companion podcast for Sharp Objects (as well as Succession, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Maniac) so I was able to really focus on the subtitles of the HBO mini-series. And let me tell you… the closer you look, the more amazing this show gets. The writers did a brilliant job at explaining crucial plot points with the slightest of detail, allowing the audience to play along with the Camille’s investigation. The disturbing history of this otherwise-quiet Wind Gap, Missouri was slowly unfurled throughout the season, rather than explained in some drawn-out monologue. The pacing of this show was as much a factor in its suspense as any of the plot elements and the soundtrack was perfectly utilized to create a distinct aura of uneasiness. It’s a shame this thing was only a mini-series because I loved Sharp Objects. For my money, the best of 2018.
1) The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story - Dave
Well, here we are. I'm a sucker for a straight true crime story but to have one dramatized into a near masterpiece like this is truly a gift. Detailing the lead-up and aftermath of the crime itself, The Assassination of Gianni Versace perfectly weaves the trendy time hop editing style we're seeing more and more. Premiering with Versace’s murder, the series works backwards to explain how Andrew Cunanan went from a charming social butterfly to spree killer in a matter of months. Darren Criss' performance as Cunanan is absolutely heartbreaking, somehow lending sympathy to a character you could easily compare to Patrick Bateman. It was my absolute favorite of 2018.