You may have heard that there’s a lot of TV shows out there these days Much of it great, most of it good, a lot of it not worth watching at all. Here at The Warren Room, we like to celebrate not only the best shows of the year but those among all the others that fell firmly into the “Good” and sometimes “Great” categories.
You should definitely watch the 10 shows I list in my Top 10 Shows of 2018 article but if you find yourself with some more time (LOL) and nothing to watch (as if), these 9 shows make for some solid choices.
Voltron: Legendary Defender (Netflix)
Look, cartoons are cool, ok? From the executive producers and the animation studio that brought us Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender once again reinforced my deeply held belief that animation should not be overlooked as “just for kids.”
Across all 39-episodes that Netflix released this year (concluding the show with its eighth season), Voltron continued to deliver some draw-dropping animation mixed with great drama and heart. This show is great for families to watch together, and while it can be a little violent it tackles some serious topics in a way that is approachable for a variety of audiences.
Altered Carbon (Netflix)
Altered Carbon is what you get when you smash up a hard-boiled detective drama with some high-concept science fiction and give it a $100 million production budget. It’s clear from the first frame that Netflix spared no expense bringing the show, based on a series of novels by Richard K. Morgan, to life. Altered Carbon follows Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnamon) who is revived after 250 years by a billionaire (James Purefoy) to solve said billionaire’s own murder. Did I mention this show was pretty heavy sci-fi?
The show only occasionally gets bogged down in shaky writing and an overabundance of violence but it all comes together in a satisfying way that left me comfortable with the 10 hours I spent watching it. Altered Carbon is definitely not for everyone (it’s definitely TV-MA) but if you’re looking for some good science fiction, this is a good start.
12 Monkeys (Syfy)
Speaking of good science fiction, Syfy’s whacky time-travel drama 12 Monkeys came to an end earlier this year with one heck of a final season. With even more time-travel nonsense (trust me, don’t think about it too hard) and crazy plot twists to spare, I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect ending for this show.
I mean only 12 Monkeys could get away with featuring a cover of a P!nk song in a way that totally meshes with the rest of the show. You can check out the first 3 seasons of this good time on Hulu and I’m sure the fourth and final season will be up soon.
The End of The ****ing World (Netflix)
Here’s a show that did not overstate its welcome. The End of the F***ing World dropped on Netflix in early January and not a single one of its 8 episodes were longer than 22 minutes. Talk about a breath of fresh air for the new year! Honestly, it was hard for me to leave this one off my Top 10 list, it came pretty close to making the cut.
With knockout performances by Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden, The End of The ****ing World follows James (Lawther) and Alyssa (Barden) as two teens who go on the run and leave a lot of problems in their wake. The story moves quickly and efficiently and ends at the exact perfect spot. The ending was so perfect that I’m afraid that the upcoming (and unnecessary) second season will cheapen its impact. Here’s hoping.
The Man In The High Castle (Amazon)
It’s pretty hard to believe this alt-history drama from Amazon took an astounding 22-month break between the release of its second season and is third that released in late October. Well, better late than never right?
Season 3 finds High Castle going all-in on the sci-fi undertones that ran throughout the first two seasons while also taking a dark look at what happens when fascist regimes remain in power for long periods of time.
Make no mistake, this is not a fun show but did you honestly expect that given the subject matter? The writing is often shaky and some of the plot twists don’t quite land but there’s enough momentum and I like enough of the characters (especially Rufus Sewell’s conflicted Nazi commander) and social commentary to get through all 10 episodes.
The forerunner of Netflix’s now-doomed collaboration with Marvel saved its best for last. Season 3 finds Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) broken and unsure of his purpose but when his arch-enemy Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is released from prison, he has to go back into action to take Fisk down once and for all.
It’s a real bummer that Netflix and Marvel couldn’t work out a deal to keep this show (or any of the shows they made together) on the streaming service because man, did this season deliver. With great work from all the actors and writers, not to mention a jaw-dropping 10-minute long single take fight scene, Daredevil was firing on all cylinders. Most Netflix shows suffer from way too many episodes but there was really only one episode that felt super extraneous this year. I’m sad the show is gone but at least it went out on a high note.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)
I’m so thankful that this delightful musical-comedy is getting the chance to end on its own terms. While the fourth and final season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend hasn’t been quite as strong as previous years, the show is still packed with hilarious songs (like the one above) and an honest look at mental health and the challenges of living with those issues.
Jack Ryan (Amazon)
Sometimes show that takes a familiar genre and does it well is exactly what you need. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan premiered its 8-episode first season back in August and delivered the right mix of big-budget action and espionage thrills. John Krasinski and Windell Pierce do great work leading the cast and the show does a decent job bringing depth to its terrorist antagonists.
Unfortunately, the show squanders its momentum with a by-the-numbers finale that fails to bring a satisfactory conclusion to any of the season’s plot threads. Still, the early episodes move quickly enough and with only 8-episodes, it’s not too much of a commitment. It’s good enough to fill that place in my heart that 24 used to occupy.
Speaking of shows that take familiar genres and execute them on a high level, the fourth season of Amazon’s cop drama Bosch continued adding depth to the show’s rich characters while telling an intriguing story about police violence and community relations. Bosch isn’t doing anything you haven’t seen before but there’s something satisfying about watching a well-produced cop drama with a great cast and solid writing.
Big Mouth (Netflix)
Growing up is hard, awkward, and just plain confusing isn’t it? The second season of Netflix’s hilarious (and often times gross) animated comedy about a group of pre-teens going through puberty struck a great balance between gross-out humor and a surprising amount of sympathy for its young characters.
The voice cast is packed with amazing talents like John Mulaney and Nick Kroll (who created the show) alongside national treasure Maya Rudolph, who absolutely steals the show as Connie the Hormone Monstress. Like it’s Netflix sibling, Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth may not be for everyone but there’s a lot to love about this show if you can get past the awkward parts.
My Hero Academia (Hulu)
Alright, let’s be honest here, most of you reading this aren’t going to check out My Hero Academia (MHA) but I can’t talk about TV in 2018 and not mention this fantastic anime. It’s just too good. In the third season, Izuku Midoria is well on his way to becoming a professional hero with the help of his idol All-Might and fellow classmates at UA High but there are villains waiting in the wings who have vastly different plans for the world.
MHA is packed to the brim with incredible animation, memorable characters, intense fight scenes, and enough emotion to knock you out of your chair. I don’t think I’ve identified with an animated character more than Izuku and his relationship with All-Might is one of my favorite mentor-mentee relationships I’ve seen in any piece of entertainment. Most people would give this show a pass just because it’s an anime from Japan but I’d challenge you to get past that and give the show a shot. Who knows? You might like what you see.
Well, that does it for the best of the rest of TV in 2018. Have you seen any of the shows I’ve talked about between this and my Top 10? Are there any that you’re interested in checking out? Let me know if the comments!