GlitchUp’s Favorites of 2018 continues! This time up, we’re talking about our most enjoyed TV shows of the year. And you may be wondering, there was no Game of Thrones? How did we even survive? Well, we have the answers below. From dystopian tales to southern whodunit adaptations, bleak and dreary to goofy and outlandish, our favorites covered that absence and did so much more. Read below for our favorites of 2018 and catch yourself up on our favorites of 2017.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Pat: A year without Game of Thrones means I’m left without my favorite show on TV and having to actually think about what I’m going to write here. But a year without Game of Thrones also means I have some more hours open weekly to check out some other shows. This year I’m trading the brutality of Westeros, for the brutality of Gilead.
It was only a few weeks ago that I started A Handmaid’s Tale and even having a newborn at home wasn’t enough to stop me from devouring both seasons. It’s a complex feeling writing about this show. Should I feel like a bad person for “enjoying” this? After all, my favorite show of this year is a brutal tale of oppression, rape, violence, and dangerous patriarchal religious fanaticism. It can be uncomfortable to watch. It’s not “fun”. It’s heavy, difficult to consume at times, but it’s just so well done that you can’t help but get hooked. I’m a sucker for dystopian fantasies and found myself absorbed in trying to understand the structure and rules of this new world. Complement that with an engrossing story, powerful performances, and some clever soundtrack choices, and you’ve got some can’t miss TV.
Honorable Mentions: Silicon Valley; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Better Call Saul
Chandler: Fans have been waiting patiently for four seasons to see how Jimmy McGill evolves into the Saul Goodman we all know and love from Breaking Bad. And the main question has always been, what major series of events will finally push Jimmy over the edge? Underneath the surface there is a consistent pull towards the antics of “Slipping Jimmy”. It’s a part of his personality closest aligned to Saul Goodman that relies on gaming the system for an advantage, pulling a fast one on unsuspecting fools, and not having to play by the rules to win. Clearly Chuck’s death, which ended last season, and Jimmy’s decision to release himself from its responsibility, severed attachment to the McGill name. And now in Season 4 we saw how much of an impact that break really is. The honest part of “James McGill” has run it’s course and its identity now only matters as a tool to manipulate people, get what Jimmy wants and leave all those behind – much at the expense of Kim who is often snared in his borderline illegal entanglements.
Season 4 had some jaw-dropping moments and the credit goes to creator Vince Gilligan who has masterfully juggled what essentially is two separate stories that sometimes weave together when it fits. This journey isn’t just going to make Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman. It’s also going to make Mike Ehrmantraut into the intimidating enforcer for the Gus Fring Empire. The show has been most enjoyable when Jimmy and Mike are outsmarting their opponent in every situation. Jimmy using a pay-as-you-go phone scam to bail out Huell from going to jail and Mike using chewing gum in the parking lot ticket machine to trap Lalo were particularly my favorites!
At this point, Better Call Saul has never felt closer to Breaking Bad. Whether it’s the constant tension from Salamanca’s crew and the reemergence of the cousins or Gus Fring building his super villain meth lab, it’s all coming together and the large set pieces are in place laying a perfect path towards the events leading into Breaking Bad. Next up, DEA Agent Hank Schrader!
Honorable Mentions: Cobra Kai
Andy: An HBO show with the writer of Gone Girl, the director of Big Little Lies, with a creepy small town serial killer ‘whodunnit’ vibe starring Amy Adams? This was the second season of True Detective that we deserved. Sharp Objects is a masterpiece of storytelling utilizing hidden messages, flashbacks, and direction to tell a story that isn’t for the faint of heart. This is not a show that affords you the ability to hate-scroll through whatever social media you fancy during a given episode, it requires your FULL attention.
When a teenage girl’s body is found dead in the small town of Wind Gap, and another girl goes missing, journalist Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) must return to her hometown and confront the many demons that remain from her youth. Adams takes on a role unlike anything we’ve seen her in before, and delivers a razor sharp performance (you’ll understand this pun later). Camille’s mother, played by Patricia Clarkson, deserves all the awards that will likely come her way for her hauntingly terrific portrayal. Also out of nowhere, newcomer Eliza Scanlan plays Camille’s sister with ridiculous confidence, and she will undoubtedly be scooping up much larger projects very soon.
Sharp Objects moves tantalizingly slow when it should, and has you on the edge of your seat as the walls close in when you least expect it. Watch every frame, listen to every word, and rewind if if you have to, because half of the fun with this fantastic show is trying to figure out who the killer is in this bleak fictional town. Pro-tip: Make sure to watch after the credits in the finale!
Honorable Mentions: Maniac, Waco, Ozark, The Americans, The Terror
Austin: If we string together a few favorites of mine across different forms of media, we can see how Maniac landed as my number one TV show for the year of 2018. Two of my favorite movies of all time are Superbad (hello, Jonah Hill and Emma Stone) and La La Land (hello again, Emma Stone). My favorite movie of 2017 was IT, a film that Cary Fukunaga, director of Maniac, had his hands on for a long time until parting ways prior to production. My favorite TV show of all time is The Leftovers (how do you do, Justin Theroux?). Sci-fi is one of my favorite genres, mainly when focused on human drama and mental/psychological themes (favorite movies of 2015 and 2018 respectively? Ex Machina and Annihilation). So, when we add all that together? Well, Maniac was destined to blow me away, or leave me disappointed from my lofty expectations.
Spoiler alert: It Blew Me Away.
It captivated from start to finish, weaving themes of mental illness, familial strife, and corporate secrecy into a black comedy about ill-fitted scientists delivering new drugs to remove sadness and pain from its participants. It’s a wild ride, and that’s even before getting to moments of insanity, like a Lord Of The Rings-esque adventure and Jonah Hill cosplaying as Post Malone. It features my favorite imagery of the year, which is Jonah Hill with a mullet wearing a knockoff 80s Oilers jersey. It is what the kids call a #mood.
And even with all of that absurdity, it never skimps on the heart and emotion. It presents a fair representation of depression, as it embodies the base of all of our main characters and their connections to each other. It doesn’t skate past the issue, but dives into it, and allows it as the plot mover for most of the episodes, from Theroux’s deep parental issues to Hill’s absence from being present in his world devoid of happiness to Stone’s drug addiction in attempt to avoid the real world struggles facing her. The show can devolve into a love story (still super entertaining!) at times, and the finale would imply that is what it was all along, but even while it pushes that to the forefront, we are never lost on the deeper look at all of these themes, and face no loss of development for the side characters we meet.
The world-building is top notch, the acting is exquisite, the direction is beautiful, and the humor hits when it needs to. Maniac brings everything you could want from a show into a concise 10 episodes, and leaves you satisfied beyond belief. That is, after you get over the swelling emptiness you feel once the end credits roll.
Honorable Mentions: Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Atlanta; Sharp Objects; The Good Place
Remember to let us know what your favorites of the year were, read up on our favorite movies of 2018, and check back next week for our favorite video games and what we’re anticipating most for 2019.