MANILA, Philippines — It was a tremendous year for entertainment. There’s so much good stuff out there. The toughest part of making this list wasn’t finding stuff to put in, but deciding what to leave out.
Shows like Castle Rock, American Vandal, and Atlanta all left their marks on 2018, but below are the ten shows that moved us on a gut-level
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 5)
That Backstreet Boys cold open is one of the funniest moments in television history — so much so that the scene went viral, and I’m willing to bet that the scene is partly responsible for saving the show from sudden cancellation. That said, Season 5 wasn’t the funniest season in Nine-Nine’s history. But it did a great job of setting up major developments for future seasons, whereas past seasons were sometimes content to spin their wheels.
The Good Place (Season 3)
The first season of The Good Place presented a familiar concept: everyone earns points while alive, and those points determine where they end up in the afterlife. People who do good things (“end slavery”; “never discussed veganism unprompted”) wind up in the Good Place, while people who do bad things (“commit genocide”; “pay money to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers”) end up in the Bad Place.
It’s a rock-solid premise, but the show spent the next two seasons exploring how much that premise could be twisted. In three seasons, we’ve had more twists than most shows do in their entire runs. It’s a gutsy creative decision, buoyed by the series’ potent mix of philosophical musings and lowbrow humor.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
The 80s were full of fun, cheesy — and let’s face it, cheaply-made — cartoons. Many of these properties endure to this day, but for some reason, She-Ra was relegated to being a footnote in He-Man’s history.
That all changed when Netflix introduced She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. The rebooted series is brave, inclusive, and empowering — all the hallmarks of a great show in 2018.
Better Call Saul (Season 4)
I’ll go out and say it: Better Call Saul is the superior show to Breaking Bad. Whereas Breaking Bad traded in spectacle — watch this meek science teacher turn into one of the most feared drug lords — Better Call Saul does a better job of exploring the personalities and motivations behind some of Breaking Bad’s most beloved (and feared) characters. By the end of season 3, Jimmy McGill finally breaks bad and fully embraces his Saul Goodman persona. Considering the depth of Better Call Saul, it is no longer fair to consider the show “just” a Breaking Bad spinoff.
It is its own thing, and it is awesome.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 2)
The Handmaid’s Tale is not a pleasant show to watch. Hell, there are times when The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t even an entertaining show. But that only underscores the show’s main design: to make us look at recent events and realize that what is real today could easily topple into the dystopian fantasy laid out by the show.
The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t just a cautionary tale; it’s a call to action. The fact that season 2 ended with the faintest glimmer of hope only emphasizes how high the stakes are in this story.
The Expanse (Season 3)
The Expanse is another beloved show that was saved — this time by Amazon — from cancellation. In The Expanse, humans have colonized Mars and the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Various human factions vie for power over this literal expanse, but one of the most compelling things about The Expanse is how it portrays space travel and life amidst the outer planets.
This definitely isn’t Star Trek… but Season 3 gave us some pretty mind-blowing reveals, and made us realize just how big the universe outside of our solar system really is.
Homecoming (Season 1)
Everyone loves a good conspiracy — just ask fans of the X-Files. While the X-Files touched on paranormal themes, Homecoming tackles personal doubt and psychological frailty. Owing a creative debt to Hitchcock, Homecoming provides ample amounts of misdirection and mind-blowing twists. This is also the first time Julia Roberts starred as the lead in a TV (er, streaming) series. Hey, better late than never.
BoJack Horseman (Season 5)
BoJack Horseman is a great work of absurdist comedy. The series is about the titular character, a has-been sitcom star from the early 1990s. The show tackles ennui and existential crises better than a surreal comedy about animals and humans has any right to.
Season 5 was about resolving and cleaning up the wreckage from the previous season. It’s notable for the “Free Churro” episode, where BoJack delivers a gut-wrenching eulogy for his mother.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 2)
Mrs. Maisel is fun, exhilarating, and at times somber and poignant. The series tells the story of Miriam Maisel, a housewife who embarks on a career as a stand-up comedian after learning that her husband was cheating on her.
Season 2 gives us even more of Miriam exuberance and energy. The series is a love letter for anyone who’s ever felt out of place, and had to face their fears and insecurities head-on.
The Haunting of House Hill (Season 1)
It was a good year for horror fans. The year saw notable additions to existing franchises (The Nun, Halloween) and new works (A Quiet Place). The Haunting of House Hill quickly rose to the top of the heap, thanks to its compelling story… not to mention the ghosts hidden in seemingly random places.
The series doesn’t rely too much on jump scares, instead using mood and atmosphere to convey a feeling of dread. – Rappler.com
Iñigo de Paula is a writer who lives and works in Quezon City. When he isn't talking about himself in the third person, he writes about pop culture and its peripheries.