HomeTelevisionStaff Picks: The Top 10 TV Shows of 2018

Staff Picks: The Top 10 TV Shows of 2018

Here at The Pop Break, we have a wide array of opinions across our writing staff. And that’s fitting, because there is a wide variety of TV to watch. Across the 21 writers surveyed to put together this Top 10 list, 55 different shows received votes — some from streaming, some from premium cable, and even some from the thought-to-be-extinct Big 4 networks. There was a lot of love to be spread around in 2018 — a testament to how many wonderful shows there are to binge in the new year.

In the end, these were the ten that got the most love from our staff writers. From comedy to drama, animated to live action, and across all different worlds and universes, our writers found time for a little bit of everything this year, raising the bar for what 2019 will have to offer.

10. Bojack Horseman: Season 5 (Netflix)

Bojack Horseman Season 5 Premiere
Photo Courtesy of Netflix

I don’t know what’s more impressive: that it’s been five seasons and BoJack Horseman has yet to miss a mark, or that it still feels like a triumph when it does so. BoJack has only gotten bigger and better since its beginning, and its fifth season is nothing less than another gift lovingly and agonizingly bestowed upon the gilded age of television. Season 5 took Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s razor-sharp and damningly cynical voice to craft a hauntingly resonant (to borrow from the great Courtney Barnett) illustration of loneliness.

Bringing its absurdism and firsthand knowledge of mental illness to subjects like the Me Too movement, the celebrity redemption cycle, and long-form streaming television, BoJack season five at its heart is an exploration of the multitude of human responses to loneliness and how far we will ourselves to go to avoid confronting it.

Our characters continue to grow, progress, and regress, and it is never less than enthralling. I saw myself in this season more than I ever have with this show before, and more than one episode left me feeling so utterly shook that I was not okay for several minutes afterward. There is no show on television doing what BoJack Horseman does every year.

–Matt Gilbert

9. Barry: Season 1 (HBO)

Barry HBO
Photo Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

Think about a show that is both a comedy and drama, then consider that it will be about a hit man turned actor, and on top of that, picture the hit man is SNL alum Bill Hader…hard to imagine right?Well that is exactly how Bill Hader sold this show to HBO and became one of the years most unlikely smash hit and critical darling, sweeping the Emmys in actor categories just a few short months ago.

Bill Hader is nothing short of miraculous in his role, proving not only his comedic chops, but his dramatic ones as well. His Emmy win at the time was a surprise, but is truly well-deserved once you see his performance. However, we can’t just talk about Hader when it comes to acting in the show, as the unstoppable Henry Winkler steals the show as well.

So here’s to Barry, one of 2018’s greatest surprise hits, and to many more years of success for it.

–Laura Dengrove


8. Daredevil: Season 3 (Netflix)

Daredevil Season 3
Photo Credit: Netflix

When the cancellation of Daredevil on Netflix went public, I didn’t feel the level of dread that I would have imagined. Why not go out on a high note? Season 3 was a return to form, a re-establishing of the unexpected phenomenon.

The brilliant introduction of Bullseye in this mythos aside, this season was about Matt Murdock.  As a reader of the comics over the past 30+ years and having a personal connection to the character, I can say that we really did get near perfect closure. We explored Matt’s classic motifs like his devout but conflicted faith, deep-seated father issues, and his martyr complex causing pain to his friends.

We also saw story elements that took decades to play out in four-color ink, from unanswered questions of Matt’s parentage to the maturation of Foggy’s career to the forsaking of the Daredevil identity altogether. Don’t be sad it’s over; be glad it didn’t live long enough to see itself become the villain.

–Matthew Widdis

7. Atlanta: Season 2 (FX)

Atlanta Season 2 Premiere
Photo Credit: Guy D’Alema/FX

Atlanta‘s second season continues the inner brilliance from the mind of Donald Glover as the characters continue to transcend who they were and who they want to become. Like in the season’s past, it’s able to do it in a way that speaks to the black experience directly and in a language that people can understand.

The fifth episode, “Barbershop” is a perfect example of combining experience furthering a story line through how deep repetition can be. The “Teddy Perkins” episode in all its Twilight Zone-esque glory takes the concept of the bottle episode and makes it on of the highlights of 2018. Celebrity, using social media as a weaponized tactic, and the ebb and flows of chasing fame are all explored in a way not like seen in television.

–Murjani ‘M.J.’ Rawls

6. Better Call Saul: Season 4 (AMC)

Better Call Saul Season 4 Premiere
Photo Credit: Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

After four seasons of unrivaled storytelling, it’s getting harder and harder to find new ways to describe Better Call Saul as the best show on television. It truly is the most consistently intriguing and best-written drama there is.

Is there any wonder why news outlets and celebrities like Guillermo del Toro are not just comparing it to Breaking Bad, but admitting that it might actually be better (pun intended)?

From breathtaking cinematography to heart-wrenching character moments, Better Call Saul has everything you have ever wanted in a tv series. It’s binge-able, addicting, and will have you wishing it will never end.

–Al Mannarino

5. Glow: Season 2 (Netflix)

GLOW Season 2
Photo Credit: Erica Parise/Netflix

When you think about it, GLOW was kind of the perfect show for 2018. It takes place in the 1980’s so it can’t comment directly on the present-day politics we’re all trying to escape from, but still managed to work in storylines and themes that paralleled some of the issues that dominated the discourse this year – like racism and the #MeToo movement.

It shined a light on how far society has come on social issues in the last three decades while also showing us how little the needle has moved and how much more work there is to do, all while entertaining us and telling us the stories of an empowered group of women who have chosen a different path than what was expected of them, and who have found comfort and support in one another.

Season Two cemented GLOW as exactly the kind of compelling drama we’re hungry for, and I won’t be surprised if after the upcoming third season Alison Brie’s Ruth goes down as one of the best-written female protagonists in television history.

–Melissa Jouben

4. Sharp Objects (HBO)

Sharp Objects Finale
Photo Credit: HBO

Having previously been a huge fan of the book, I was skeptical when I heard that Sharp Objects was being made into a series for HBO. Luckily, my worries were for naught, and having watched the entire season, I am incredibly happy they chose to make it into an eight-part series.

This format allowed for the show to really focus in on exposing the secrets lives of the people of Windgap. I remember reading the book and finishing it so quickly that I wasn’t truly able to process and appreciate the full story. Having to wait each week for the next “chapter” allowed me to take the time to really absorb how all the stories intertwine and the plot unwinds in this thrilling search for a small-town murderer.

Even with knowledge of the ending, I was still pleasantly surprised at how they interpreted the reaction of the characters and how I was left with an eerie, unsettled feeling that I don’t remember having when I finished the final sentence of the book.

If you’re not a book lover, then definitely check out the show, because the story is great. And if you are a literary fan, or at least a fan of Gillian Flynn, still check out the show. The acting is top notch and peppered with little moments that will remind you why you loved this book in the first place.

–Megan LaBruna


3. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season 1 (Netflix)

Photo Credit: Netflix

I wasn’t a fan of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch as a kid. Teenage angst was more my thing, so I stuck to the WB shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If I was going to watch a show about a witch, it needed to be dark and violent, not an adorable comedy with a talking cat.

When Netflix announced The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, I knew it was more up my alley. This time, Sabrina was becoming a witch, but doing so by pledging herself to Satan. There is no comedy and no talking cat, but, instead, we are treated to murder, betrayal, necromancy, vengeance and plenty of horror movie references for the trained eye to catch.

I am not ashamed to admit that I have binge watched it twice since it was added, and I’m sure there will be a third watch in the very near future.

–Ann Hale


2. The Good Place: Season 2B/ Season 3A (NBC)

The Good Place
Photo Courtesy of NBC

There has never been a show as willing to radically reinvent itself with as much frequency as The Good Place, and that’s only become more true over time.

Season 1’s unfolding plot had plenty of twists and turns, and Season 2 saw a few massive shifts in the show’s world, but in Season 3 the writers have fundamentally altered the very premise of the show practically every other episode. That could become disorienting, but somehow every new idea they present is even more fascinating than the last.

It’s an audacious gamble, one that continues to pay dividends by guaranteeing the show has never even started to rest on its laurels. And at this point it almost feels unnecessary to mention the perfect blend of philosophy, exploration of the difficulty of personal growth, an all-star cast, and absolutely incredible comedy that goes into every single episode.

The Good Place is a small miracle of a show, delivered in heavenly half hour chunks every week, and you owe it to yourself (and as Chidi might put it, to each other) to give it a chance.

–Chris Diggins

1. The Haunting of Hill House: Season 1 (Netflix)

Photo Credit: Netflix

The Haunting of Hill House was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most unexpectedly great shows of 2018.

Unexpected for two reasons, of course.

That’s because writer/producer/director Mike Flannagan opted to set a complex narrative about family trauma in a haunted house film. Every moment of this show was either stuffed with absolutely chill-inducing horror (BENT NECK LADY), and heartbreaking moments of trauma and drama (uhhh…BENT NECK LADY).

This show stands head and shoulders above all the other great television that came out this year because it’s outstanding on every level – acting, cinematography, score, effects, and writing. It’s show that you ended every episode with an organic, white knuckle gut-wrenching cliffhanger that compelled you to watch the next episode.

In short…it was simply the best.

-Bill Bodkin


Check out all of our Top 5’s on the next page!

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


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