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BEST OF 2018 / Television

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THE DRUNK MONKEYS

TOP 10 TELEVISION SERIES OF 2018


10. THE TERROR

Image © AMC

Image © AMC

Based on the novel by Dan Simmons, which is itself based loosely on real events, AMC’s The Terror (an ongoing anthology show- each season will be a different story) manages to disprove the idea that the book is always better. With excellent direction and an impeccable cast, The Terror puts the audience in the place of eighteenth-century sailors trapped in the ice for years onboard two flagships. They are stalked by a beast outside the ships and by their own slipping sanity inside. By the second half of The Terror, the sailors abandon their ships, embarking out onto the ice and into a setting so bleak and oppressive you wonder how any human being could have survived it. The fact that these men do manage to form bonds of brotherhood amiss this hellscape makes this horror drama one of the most humanistic pieces to air on television in some time.

Donald McCarthy, Staff Writer

9. LOVE

Image © Netflix

Image © Netflix

Love is three simple seasons, but that's all we need. The third season of the Paul Rust/ Gillian Jacobs vehicle finds Mickey and Gus's relationship at a comfortable, functional plateau, with the ups and downs that comes with building a life around each other's neuroses. Highlights of the season: the Bertie-centric episode (something Claudia O'Doherty deserves!), the awkward season opener (perfect as a stand-alone), and the finale, which warmed my little dead heart.

Kolleen Carney-Hoepfner, Editor-in-chief

8. ATLANTA

Image © FX

Image © FX

The sophomore season of Atlanta takes everything that made Season 1 remarkable and goes into wild unpredictable territory with every episode. As with any fantastic piece of entertainment, Robbin’ Season’s true strength is to take your expectations of the characters and upend them at every step. For example, the less said about the “Teddy Perkins” episode, the better, but it serves as a wonderful capsule episode that can juggle comedy, horror, art, and tension with a deft mastery rarely seen these days. It’s a given that anything Donald Glover touches will be golden, so if you have yet to see any of this series, do yourself a favor and binge this ASAP.

Fritz Hoepfner, Prince Consort

7. BOJACK HORSEMAN

Image © Netflix

Image © Netflix

One may go into the newest season of Bojack with great trepidation; the fourth season left viewers with the bleakest sense of emptiness as Bojack navigated a maybe-daughter and his mother's worsening dementia. The latest season is somehow both more optimistic and depressingly realistic, as we see Bojack trying to be a better person while also dodging his own #metoo scandal. The show also explores Todd's asexuality, Dianne and Mister PB's divorce, and PC's desire to be a mom with a sensitivity that isn't often seen in television, let alone animation. Season highlight: "Free Churro".

Kolleen Carney-Hoepfner, Editor-in-chief

6. GLOW

Image © Netflix

Image © Netflix

GLOW’s universally praised first season was a tough act to follow, but season two surpassed it creatively, emotionally, and in sheer nerve—turning over one entire episode into a full-length episode of the fictional wrestling series the women are creating. That episode stands out for just how smartly it toed the line between flat out horrible and gloriously campy, all while still acting as a showcase for us to better understand these characters, who have some of the greatest emotional depth on television.

Matt Guerrero, Film Editor

5. POSE

Image © FX

Image © FX

Pose is a standout series from 2018 that deserves to be seen by everyone. From co-creator Ryan Murphy (whose credits include such television series such as Nip/Tuck, Glee, and American Horror Story) Pose is a crisscrossing tale of two worlds set in the 1980s: One is a celebration and exultation of the NY uptown ball scene (from which the series takes its name), and the other is the rise of yuppie culture centered around Trump Tower. As well, the scourge of the AIDS crisis looms large across all the storylines, and while the series could have followed this with a blanket of darkness and tragedy, Pose instead focuses on hope, dreams, acceptance, and family. Pose is also notable for including the largest assemblage of transgender actors and creative talent in television history, which undoubtedly lends itself to the rich portrayal of the characters throughout the 8-episode season.

Fritz Hoepfner, Prince Consort

4. GIANNI VERSACE

Image © FX

Image © FX

The title is a bit of a misnomer, as Versace, his lover, and his sister Donatella are merely supporting roles in a series that is actually all about Andrew Cunanan. Told in an intriguing backwards narrative, the first episode begins with Cunanan murdering Versace, and then each subsequent episode goes back in time. First, to the other murders Cunanan committed, and then to his life before his killing spree. Darren Criss gives an absolutely stellar performance as Cunanan, one completely free of vanity. There's no concern here that Andrew be "likable". He is utterly repulsive in a way that lead characters virtually never are. He's not an "anti-hero", he is a needy, mewling villain. Kudos to Criss for never once winking at the audience. And much in the same way Ryan Murphy made the OJ season last year be about racism as much as it was about OJ Simpson, America's homophobic past is also on trial, here. Time after time, Criss' Cunanan gets away with his crimes by leveraging society's discomfort with his homosexuality to look too closely at him. The standout episode of the season, and indeed, the best episode of television I saw this year was "House by the Lake", which features Cody Fern as David Madson, a real life friend of Cunanan's who is forced to go on the run with him before ultimately being murdered. It's a gripping and devastating 60 minutes that you won't soon forget.

Ryan Roach, Worth A Click: A Movie Review Podcast

3. NANETTE

Image © Netflix

Image © Netflix

Homophobia, misogyny, and Picasso: none of Nanette is expected; all of it is somehow essential. Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby uses the tools of stand-up to explore the limits of the art form and especially what marginalized artists must give up in order to entertain us. First you laugh at the way she explains the whole absurd system; then you laugh with relief at her having named the absurdity; then you cry. Nanette was originally billed on Netflix as “a comedian gives up on comedy,” but it’s more accurate to call it “an intellectual outgrows the confines of the comedy genre.”

Jeanne Obbard, Staff Writer

2. MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000

Image © Netflix

Image © Netflix

The idea of The Gauntlet would be to embrace the idea of suffering through a series of bad movies, one after the other. It’s also a commentary of sorts on Netflix’s insistence that their programming always remain bingeable. If you don’t care about any of that, understand that The Gauntlet is MST3K at its very best. Jonah Ray, Patton Oswalt, Rebecca Hanson, Baron Vaughn, Hampton Yount, and Felicia Day all contribute beautifully to the marathon concept. Mac and Me will likely go down as one of the best MST3K episodes of all time. The spirit of the show endures in near-flawless fashion, combining necessary changes with everything that makes the show and its ideals so appealing in the first place. More than ever, we need professional movie riffers.

Gabriel Ricard, Staff Writer

  1. THE GOOD PLACE

Image © NBC Universal

Image © NBC Universal

In 2018, during its second and third season, The Good Place took more insane risks than any television comedy since Community, but far surpassed even that series in how well-defined, and lovable, these characters remain, even though we are, in some cases, dealing with (spoilers) versions of the characters that have been reborn hundreds of times. Who, then, are these people? What determines our identity? The Good Place leans into these deep philosophical and moral questions and creates a space where, somehow, they easily coexist with jokes about genitals shaped like wind chimes.

Matt Guerrero, Film Editor