In the golden age of television, scripted shows are a dime a dozen. The question is always “What’s good on TV?” and/or “Should I invest my time in this show?” And with so many new shows premiering every season, mid-season (and summers, too!), the selections of shows and what’s worth watching can become overwhelming. But that’s what we’re here for!
We polled The Young Folks writers to find what the five best new TV shows of 2018 are (so far!). There were some that didn’t make the list (The Assassination of Gianni Versace among them), but each of the below are examples of great television in which the writing, performances, and story all come together to create something wonderful.
Check out the five best TV shows of 2018 below and be sure to let us know what your favorites are!
“What’s refreshing about Black Lightning is that it dives right into real-life issues that other superhero shows tend to stay away from. Given that this series has far more African American writers, it’s in the right hands to delve into things like police brutality, racial justice, etc. And showrunners Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil do not shy away from these things, but lean into it. Jefferson, after hanging up his Black Lightning costume for nine years, is fed up with sitting on the sidelines after his daughters are kidnapped by Lala (William Catlett), a higher-ranking member of The 100 gang. “I tried to do it the right way,” Jefferson says to the police at one point before taking them out and you can see he really, really tries to suppress all of his anger surrounding the escalating tensions and violence in Freeland, to try and play by the rules even when it seems like it isn’t doing much. It’s in this vein that the show already feels darker and grittier simply because it’s more timely and relevant than other shows.” [Mae Abdulbaki]
The central concept for Barry, Bill Hader’s pitch-black freshman comedy, is a brilliant one. What happens when a hitman — someone who must detach himself from humanity almost entirely in order to do their job — decided to become an actor, a job where someone must be entirely in connection with their humanity? Created alongside Silicon Valley’s Alec Berg, Hader (who also co-wrote and directed the first three episodes) and his crew take that promising seed of an idea and grow it into a hilarious character study and a stunning morality tale in equal measure, one that finally gives Hader the star vehicle that he has needed since his Saturday Night Live tenure (which, in part, likely plays as an inspiration for the show).
Stylistically in the vein of The Sopranos, but written with the sharp piercing comedic wit that you would expect from the comedy veterans involved, it’s a curious-but-dynamic blend of sensibilities, resulting in one of the most engrossing first seasons of television to hit HBO in some time (and that’s saying something, since it’s HBO and all). Already renewed for a second season, Barry has already set the scene. Now, it simply needs to live in the moment. And, of course, keep killing it. [Will Ashton]
On My Block
On My Block is a special show, and what makes it special is more than what you see at first glance: a teen comedy-drama centered around a young group of people of color. It’s special because of how it challenges stereotypes so effortlessly and rides the ups and downs of life for teens who live in communities where resources are low and gangs thrive. The Netflix show premiered its first season almost under-the-radar, but the fact that it ended up garnering so much word-of-mouth exemplifies how much Monse, Ruby, Jamal and Cesar resonated with viewers. Charming, and even at times disarming (we are still reeling from the first season cliffhanger!), On My Block is a necessary and entertaining addition to today’s pop culture collective. [Gabrielle Bondi]
Not only did we get the series premiere of Queer Eye in 2018, but also a second season. The show, which follows the Fab Five, Antoni Porowski (Food and Wine), Bobby Berk (Design), Jonathan Van Ness (Grooming), Tan France (Fashion), and Karamo Brown (Culture), not only gives people makeovers, but it also teaches everyone involved about the deeper issues surrounding society today. The group has traveled all around Georgia, from the rural farmlands to the north Georgia mountains to Midtown Atlanta. They have given makeovers to men looking to propose, a college student, a transgender man, a Christian woman, a closeted gay man, a police officer, and more.
The best part of Queer Eye is that in just 16 episodes it has brought so many people together. The Fab Five sits down and talks real issues with their “subject.” In one episode, Karamo has a heart-to-heart with a small town police officer, while in another Bobby discusses his reservations with religion to someone who has put their life’s work into their church.
In the end, it doesn’t matter where the guys are or who they’re interacting with, they’re making a difference. And they’re being fabulous while doing so. [Savannah Brock]
Killing Eve, BBC’s latest series, is equal parts thrilling and multi-faceted. It follows Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a security operative for MI5, as she investigates an assassin named Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Based on the Codename Villanelle series by Luke Jennings, Killing Eve is smart and suspenseful television. It balances its dark elements with some unexpected humor, all in between the thrills. By the end of the series, everything makes sense because each step taken is masterfully built towards a finale that is both shocking and leaves both characters in precarious situations moving into season two. Both Eve and Villanelle are bored in different ways, Eve at a job that leaves her at a desk more often than not, while Villanelle finds her kill assignments too easy. Both want to be challenged in a way they haven’t before and their crossing paths more than makes up for that. In addition, TV show ratings have a tendency to drop after the series premiere, but Killing Eve did the exact opposite and viewership increased from week to week. Led by two powerhouse actresses and a story that is skillfully told, Killing Eve should be on everyone’s watch list. [Mae Abdulbaki]