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The 15 Best Television Series of 2018

Another phenomenal year of television has come to a close and we are here to share our selections for the 15 best series to grace the small screen in 2018. Ranging from traditional network and cable shows to offerings from streaming platforms, this list collects the best long form series to debut this past year. The golden age of television continues to bring us a wide array of dramas, comedies, thrillers, and event series as well as introduced us to some of the most talked about programming in a long time. It was hard to whittle down the list to just these, so if you feel we missed one of your favorite shows, let us know in the comments below.

15 - Maniac (Netflix)

Cary Fukunaga's return to longform television is a vastly different series than True Detective. Blending comedy, surrealism, and a story that is one part INCEPTION and one part BLADE RUNNER, Maniac is a brilliant foray into the human mind with some stellar performances from Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. The supporting players, including Justin Theroux, Sally Field, and Julia Garner do a great job in each of the very different dreamscapes that are impressively realized on a small screen budget  Definitely not a series that will appeal to all audiences, Maniac is one of the most unique series on television and one perfectly suited for binge-viewing. -Alex Maidy

14 - GLOW (Netflix)

After a stellar debut season, GLOW (Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling) jumped into season 2 with a Glam Slam of drama, comedy, compelling characters and a narrative that goes way darker than you'd expect for a show about lady wrestlers in the '80's. Alison Brie proves that she is a true talent that goes beyond the typical hot wife/girlfriend roles she's been pigeonholed into during much of her career and Marc Maron is perfectly cast as the showrunner that both loves and hates the gig. The supporting cast is a diverse gaggle of misfits that all have thier own issues and characteristics that make for a fun, surprisingly deep romp-com drama. - Paul Shirey

13 - Westworld: The Door (HBO)

The first season of Westworld looked like it was going to be HBO's next Game of Thrones. With a huge cast and a sprawling mythology, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy took Michael Crichton's original film and turned it into a look into the definition of what it means to be human. Season two furthered the battle lines between man and macine with Evan Rachel Wood's Dolores and Thandie Newton's Maeve furthering their own agendas. We got to glimpse outside of the Westworld portion of the park as well as got some insight into how James Delos (Peter Mullan) brought the park to life. The acting was once again top notch and featured Zahn McClamon in one of the single best performances of 2018. -Alex Maidy

12 - The Deuce (HBO)

It's a shame that the drama surrounding star James Franco tainted the excellent second season of "The Deuce", which moved the action to disco-era late seventies New York. It's a shame that David Simon's epic will be coming to a premature end with it's third and final season, but to me it stacks up with some of HBO's best shows. Franco is good in his dual role, but the show is owned by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who's character came into her own this season as a shrewd businesswoman. I also loved Gbenga Akinnagbe's arc as conflicted pimp Larry Brown, who finds a hidden knack for acting once he becomes a porn star.  -Chris Bumbray

11 - Cobra Kai (YouTube Premium)

After multiple attempts at a reboot of THE KARATE KID films, an unlikely contender stepped into the ring to give it another shot at the title: YouTube. Brought to life with HAROLD AND KUMAR alumns Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald, the show managed to pull the two key players from the original films, Ralph Macchio as Daniel Laruso and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, taking them some thirty years into modern day L.A. where we catch up with the duo as they get sucked back into the world of karate by the next generation of "karate kids". Hilarious, nostalgic, dramatic and intensely satisfying, the showrunners have crafted a show that pays proper homage and serves as the best kind of fan fiction fast forward to a beloved classic film series as we've seen yet. I'm more than ready to enter the dojo for season 2. - Paul Shirey

10 - Better Call Saul (AMC)

After the death of Chuck, Jimmy McGill's transformation into Saul Goodman kicked into gear. Seeing Bob Oedenkirk dealing with the two sides of his own personality and trying to decide which side of the line to exist on is the most fascinating portrayal of duality since, well, Bryan Cranston as Walter White. The show also continues to show how Gus Fring and Mike Ehrmentraut's working relationship came to be as well as the continued machinations of Nacho to get out of his life of crime. Once again, I have to sing the praises of the amazing Rhea Seehorn who gives an astoundingly nuanced performance as Jimmy's girlfriend Kim Wexler. We know Kim doesn't factor in to the Breaking Bad storyline, so something is on the horizon that will break her and Jimmy apart. This season begins the build towards that moment. -Alex Maidy

9 - Atlanta (FX)

Donald Glover showed his talents as a writer and actor went beyond traditional comedy with the first season of Atlanta, but the sophomore run of his FX series blew all expectations out of the water. While the story still centers on Glover's Earn struggling to be manager to his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry), the story spent a great deal of time focusing on Earn's on-again off-again girlfriend Vanessa (Zazie Beetz) and Alfred's buddy Darius (Lakeith Stanfield). More dramatic and experimental than the first season, this run defies genre by giving us equal doses of unique comedy and drama. In fact, the episode "Teddy Perkins" may be the finest single episode of television in all of 2018. If you haven't seen it, find a way to watch it now as it is both hilarious and terrifyingly scary, maybe even more so than GET OUT. -Alex Maidy

8 - Homecoming (Amazon Prime)

I'm not convinced Sam Esmail's "Homecoming" had much substance to it, but boy oh boy did the show have style to burn. Julie Roberts is the best she's been in years as a former therapist working for a shady organization that prepares veterans for re-integration into society. She's ably supported by Stephan James as the vet she finds herself connecting to, Bobby Cannavale as her amoral boss, and Shea Wigham as the Department of Defense bureucrat digging into the organization. The cinematography, which toggles between full frame and a 1:1 aspect ratio is striking, but it's the use of repurposed film scores that pushed this one over the top. Everything from Pino Donaggio to vintage Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and John Carpenter makes the cut. -Chris Bumbray

7 - Sharp Objects (HBO)

Based on GONE GIRL author GIllian Flynn's novel and from Big Little Lies director Jean-Marc Vallee, Sharp Objects is a brilliant look at addiction, depression, and self-harm wrapped in a Southern Gothic murder mystery. Centered on Amy Adams' Camille Preaker, possibly the actress' finest performance in her career, we learn about a series of small town deaths that may point to a serial killer. Reuniting with her mother (a deliciously creepy Patricia Clarkson) and her hald-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen), Camille tries to unravel the identity of the killer before she unravels herself. Everything in this series is perfect from the music to the atmosphere and the supporting cast as everything pulls together to one hell of a twist ending. -Alex Maidy

6 - American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX)

While the ratings pales compared to "The People vs O.J", "The Assassination of Gianni Versace" ranks as Ryan Murphy's finest work to date. I've been a casual fan of his since the "Nip/Tuck" days, but he outdoes himself but opting for a reverse order chronology, with Darren Criss as breakout as Andrew Cunanan.. Other standouts include Finn Wittrock, Cody Fern and Edgar Ramirez as Versace. Of them all, only Penelope Cruz was perhaps a little over the top, but then again, considering who she's playing it works. -Chris Bumbray

5 - Marvel's Daredevil (Netflix)

The most disappointing thing about Daredevil's third season is that there won't be a fourth anytime soon. The surprise cancellation by Netflix came mere weeks after the third's debut, which is by far the best follow-up season to any of the Marvel/Netflix shows and a true show of attention to detail when it comes to source material and an exploration of character that builds upon past seasons rather than shoehorning in plot out of convenience. Part redemption story for Matt Murdock, part origin story for Bullseye and part revenge tale for Kingpin, this is a finely crafted story for The Man Without Fear that pulls from Frank Miller's Born Again storyline in the comics, while carving out its own niche for the show's universe. Chock full of action, intrigue and some scene-chewing greatness from all involved, particularly Vincent D'Onofri's Wilson Fisk/Kingpin, it's a true shame that these actors and showrunners have been blindsided with a cancellation as the future of all involved was something this season left us all hungry to witness. Here's to hoping Disney Plus makes a smart move and commandeers this team and revives the show. - Paul Shirey

4 - Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime)

In the first episode of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, directed by PASSENGERS' Morten Tyldum, it became very clear that John Krasinski was an ideal fit to take over the role previously played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Chris Pine, and Ben Affleck. Able to equally portray an everyman analyst and a trained military operative, Krasinski gave us the best hero to root for since Jack Bauer on 24.  It also helped that Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland crafted an original story that stayed true to Clancy's novels while updating the political setting to our current climate. Plus, seeing the antagonists as more than just villains and learning about their motivations drove the story home and more than earned the early second season renewal. Clearly one of the best shows of the year, Jack Ryan is not just a TV show but a ten hour action movie that holds it's own with PATRIOT GAMES. -Alex Maidy

3 - The Americans (FX)

When a show is as consistently good as "The Americans", things always get a little tense around the time of the finale. Mostly, I was worried they'd stick the landing and leave things on an unsatisfying note, but for me this ranks as one of the best finales - hitting a note that's ominous but also somewhat less dire than I was expecting. The final season was masterfully done, with Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys perfection as always. I especially liked the song choices this year, particularly when they returned a couple of time's to Peter Gabriel's seminal "So" album.  -Chris Bumbray

2 - Barry (HBO)

More and more Saturday Night Live veterans are finding creative outlets on the small screen and none more deserving than Bill Hader. While hilarious on the sketch series, Hader created, wrote, and even directed his dark HBO series about a veteran turned hitman who discovers an acting class. While Barry is not a good actor at all, he is a damn good assassin. Bill Hader balances comedy, drama, and even action in a show that works way better than it should have. Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, and Anthony Carrigan and grest in supporting roles but the Emmy-winning performance from Henry Winkler as acting teacher Gene Cousineau steals the show. -Alex Maidy

1 - The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)

Few shows were as buzzed about this year as Mike Flanagan's The Haunting of Hill House. Based on Shirley Jackson's classic novel, this series could have been a formulaic ghost story populated by jump scares and copious gore, but Flanagan did something amazing and defied convention by making this a story of people haunted by their own personal demons as much as real supernatural ones. Yes, this is a scary story with some legitimate horror moments, but it is also a layered family drama with two casts playing the Crain family in the past and present. Mike Flanagan outdid himself as a filmmaker as evidenced by the stunning sixth episode that is comprised of a half dozen long takes and seamlessly integrated flashbacks with contemporary scenes in one of the best achievements of all television in 2018. -Alex Maidy

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