Best TV Episodes of 2018

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CREDIT: Guy D’Alema/FX/FX Networks

If you’re still catching up on the best TV of 2018, the following playlist would be a great way to go about it.

1. Atlanta, “Teddy Perkins”
2. Saturday Night Live, Donald Glover/Childish Gambino
3. Atlanta, “Barbershop”
4. Mystery Science Theater 3000, “Mac and Me”
5. Big Mouth, “The Planned Parenthood Show”
6. BoJack Horseman, “The Showstopper”
7. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Solves the Bathroom Problem”
8. The Assassination of Gianni Versace, “A Random Killing”
9. Barry, “Chapter Eight: Know Your Truth”
10. Pose, “Giving and Receiving”
11. Joe Pera Talks With You, “Joe Pera Talks to You About the Rat Wars of Alberta, Canada (1950–Present Day)”
12. BoJack Horseman, “Mr. Peanutbutter’s Boos”
13. Murphy Brown, “Thanksgiving and Taking”
14. Atlanta, “Woods”
15. Murphy Brown, “#MurphyToo”
16. Better Call Saul, “Winner”
17. The Last O.G., “Swipe Right”
18. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Mac Finds His Pride”
19. South Park, “A Boy and a Priest”
20. Sharp Objects, “Milk”

Best TV Shows of 2018

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CREDIT: Courtesy of the Networks

This post was originally published on News Cult in December 2018.

I spent much of 2018 despairing over how there isn’t enough time to watch every great show out there, just as I have every year for the past decade or so. Despite that permanent dilemma, I did not struggle as much as I usually do to settle on a top 10. But of course, there are always more than ten great shows that I would like to recognize. So before you continue reading on to my picks of the very best, here are some other shows I loved in 2018: Bob’s Burgers, The Goldbergs, The Good Place, Great News, Homecoming, Jane the Virgin, Killing Eve, The Last O.G., Mystery Science Theater 3000, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sharp Objects, Speechless, Trial & Error, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

And here are some 2018 shows that I kept hearing wonderful things about, but that I never got around to seeing: The Americans, The Good Fight, Lodge 49, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, One Day at a Time, Random Acts of Flyness, Succession, The Terror.

10. BoJack Horseman (Netflix) – Most BoJack Horseman seasons lead up to some earth-shattering conclusion. Season 5 followed much the same structure but wisely ultimately settled on a more even-keeled note, declaring that people sometimes do good things and sometimes do bad things, and the trick is to do good things more often. Maybe there is equilibrium in BoJack’s future?

9. Joe Pera Talks with You (Adult Swim) – Perhaps the most unique show of 2018, and probably the gentlest in Adult Swim history, Joe Pera Talks with You inspires wonder at all the simple facts of life. As a fictionalized version of himself, Pera presents a well-examined life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that we can all appreciate.

8. Better Call Saul (AMC) – Jimmy continued his path towards fully becoming Saul Goodman, which could really describe any season of this show. And yet by just continuing along its set path, it gobsmacks you evermore with its explorations of identity, duty, and destiny. It just goes to show you that it really is all about the journey.

7. Barry (HBO) – Alec Berg and Bill Hader walked a tightrope every episode as they tracked the progress of hitman turned very bad actor Barry Berkman. They pushed themselves into narrative corners, as violently dramatic consequences bumped up against the foibles of the trenches of showbiz, and yet they always followed through on their trickiest conundrums.

6. Pose (FX) – The push for diversity in television is valiant in terms of representation and employment. But is it also valuable for creativity? Pose is a perfect example to show that yes indeed, it is. This recreation of New York’s 1980s queer ballroom scene opened up groundbreaking avenues for televisual storytelling.

5. Big Mouth (Netflix) – Netflix’s animated tale of burgeoning puberty courtesy of Nick Kroll and company is raunchy and specific in a manner that is uproarious, gross, and a little profound. Hormone and Shame Monsters are the stuff of modern mythmaking.

4. American Vandal (Netflix) – The first season of this Netflix true crime mockumentary was a rousing success, but I had my doubts about the second. The jokes and intrigue around spray-painted dicks made sense, but taking on actual poop sounded a little frightening. Luckily the crimes of the Turd Burglar were treated as terrifyingly as they deserved to be, and we were treated to another fascinating portrait of adolescence, the high school ecosystem, and our online selves.

3. American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX) – It was really more “The Killings of Andrew Cunanan” rather than just “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” Progressing backwards and expanding outwards, this was Ryan Murphy’s other exhilarating formal experiment of 2018.

2. Baskets (FX) – The Baskets family went into business together and opened up a circus. It sounded like a great idea, but there are always struggles along the way. If you’re looking for portraits of genuine American families on TV, Baskets is a little odd, but it does the trick.

1. Atlanta (FX)Atlanta is a landmark achievement in surreal television. It all appears to tie together when watching it, but as I attempt to reconstruct Season 2 in my head, I wonder how Florida Man, a slippery barber, and Teddy Perkins can all possibly hang together. And yet I know deep in my psyche how much emotional sense it all makes. Donald Glover and company followed their muse to dark and exciting corners for our delight.