These Are the Best TV Shows of 2018

So much TV, so little time, but these were our favorite series of the year

By Lauren Piester, Chris Harnick 27 Dec, 2018 2:00 PMTags
 Best TV shows of 2019E! Illustration

Over the last year, there were close to 500 scripted original shows on broadcast, basic and paid cable, and online streaming services (according to FX research). To say that's a lot of TV would be an understatement. That's a TON of TV.

And for the first time, streaming platforms produced more TV than broadcast. It's the wild west out there, and we watched so much of it.

It's impossible for any one person to watch the approximate 495 scripted shows out there (and reality shows? Forget it!), but among the hundreds we did get to watch, these were the ones that we loved the most. From The Good (Place and Fight) to a reality show that kept on giving major moments, from Sandra Oh's spy game to the groundbreaking FX drama that made us want to attend a ball, these are our favorite shows of 2018.

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Our Favorite TV Shows of 2018
Pose

The category is…one of the best shows of the year! What could've been a grim tale of the lives of marginalized LGBTQ community during the AIDS crisis was anything but. Pose, from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals, had a vibrant first season full of life, show-stopping fashions and performances sure to give you chills (we're talking about "Home" by Billy Porter and MJ Rodriguez). Upon announcement, Pose made headlines by having the biggest presence of transgender talent in a series regular cast, but now it's making headlines for being one of the best shows to grace our TVs in 2018.—Chris Harnick

Jane the Virgin

The CW dramedy always manages to be sweet and funny while also casually pulling off some of the best twists and turns on TV, and that was no more true than during the fourth season, when it finally seemed as if Jane could truly be happy with Rafael after her husband's death…only for that husband to show right back up again in the last moments of the finale. The surprises always manage to feel earned, no matter how insane they are, and that's not an easy thing to do on any show. It also helps that Gina Rodriguez is a magical force of nature. —Lauren Piester

The Good Fight

Where could you find Christine Baranski practicing martial arts? Christine Baranski popping balloons with an elegant brooch? Christine Baranski doing shrooms? Christine Baranski giving Alan Alda the finger? Christine Baranski waltzing into Audra McDonald's office and simply saying, "Hey. And f—k you," with a smile on her face? On The Good Fight's brilliant second season. The series played into its strengths (Baranski being one of them) and perfectly tackled the wacky outside world, expertly blending compelling drama with lighter comedic moments.—CH

Legacies

The world of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals could have ended with The Originals' series finale earlier this year, and that would have been fine, but I am so glad it didn't. Legacies has revealed just how much fun that universe could be when the vampires are no longer hundreds of years old and too angsty to function, and the teens are much more like normal teens who just happen to have supernatural powers. It's like they took Caroline Forbes (TVD's best character, fight me) and made an entire show out of her essence. It's so much fun every single week and I just can't wait to see where it's going to go.—LP

Schitt's Creek

It's easy to get bogged down in the bleak newscycle, by the ever-present TV antihero and the countless TV options out there. And that's where Schitt's Creek comes in. The fourth season of the CBC/Pop comedy from father-son creators and stars Eugene Levy and Dan Levy was pitch-perfect in every way. Series star Catherine O'Hara has never been better (the way she speaks as Moira Rose should be studied), the writing was sharp and the message at the heart of it all was the perfect antidote to everything else in the world. If your heart didn't explode during "Open Mic," well, do you even have one?—CH

Sharp Objects

I didn't love Sharp Objects immediately, but by the very, very end, when the true answer to the mystery was revealed only in quick flashes during the credit sequence, it was clear that this show was a masterpiece—a southern gothic horror masterpiece about how f—ked up things can get between mothers and daughters. I haven't stopped thinking about "Don't tell mama" for months.—LP

Killing Eve

Perhaps no show was more unexpected this year, just because it's a dark and somewhat brooding murder show about one woman's obsession with an assassin (and that assassin's obsession with that woman), but it's also filled with strange humor and feminine touches that make it feel like something brand new. I am always here for the comforting and award-nominated and award-deserving presence of Sandra Oh, and maybe next year all the award shows will also recognize the brilliance of Jodie Comer, who is absolutely incredible in every single way. —LP

You knew Sandra Oh was good, but did you know she was this good? Killing Eve let Oh shine. Her character Eve Polastri was instantly relatable, that, coupled with Jodie Comer's complex performance as Villanelle and the spy intrigue every turn made Killing Eve the must-watch show of the year.—CH

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Witches never really left TV, but you could still call their 2018 resurgence a much welcome comeback with Sabrina Spellman at the forefront, fighting the patriarchy (and the particularly dumb misogynistic rules witches have to follow) with a glimmer in her eye. She's not here for Satan's dumb crap, but she is here to have some fun and support her friends, magical or not, good idea or not. The first 10 episodes were weird and funny and theatrical and so stylistically strange and I loved every second. —LP

The Good Place

NBC's afterlife comedy from Michael Schur is perhaps the smartest show on TV. To anybody who Is scoffing at that notion, to anybody who stopped watching midway through a season, stop what you're doing. Go back. Watch a season as a whole. You'll understand. The Good Place is beyond good, it's forking fantastic TV. Ted Danson is aces, as per usual, Kristen Bell is doing some of the best work of her career, D'Arcy Carden is a star, Manny Jacinto is hilarious, William Jackson Harper is the emotional core every show wishes they had, and Jameela Jamil is an expert at being the best.—CH

There is no other show on TV that is this wildly unpredictable with every single episode, and it makes for a viewing experience that I don't get very often anymore. I never ever know who they're going to go or what strange world they're going to be living in next or who there will suddenly be seven of (please, watch the "Janets" episode if nothing else), and I'm never ever disappointed to find out. One of the most inventive shows in history, without a doubt. —LP

Atlanta

Donald Glover is an absolute genius, and also perhaps a madman who creates characters like Teddy Perkins, a man who will probably continue to haunt our dreams (and our award shows) for years to come. Atlanta is up there with The Good Place as some of the most inventive and exciting TV ever. —LP

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Midge Maisel and the styling of Amy Sherman-Palladino may not be for everyone, but they're more than A-OK in this guy's book. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel featured some of the most hilarious performances, sharpest one-liners and best clothes on TV this year. Rachel Brosnahan continues to be a marvelous (whatever, sue me) revelation as the titular hero. Come for the jokes, stay for the single-shot scenes that are sure to impress even the biggest cynic.—CH

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Even in its last doomed season on Fox, Brooklyn Nine-Nine was still killing it in every way. Rosa came out as bi in the most Rosa way possible and we all cried (in Dec 2017, but still), and the season ended with Jake and Amy's horribly ruined and then absolutely perfect toit nups. It 100% deserves its second chance at life on NBC, but if season five had been the end, it wouldn't have been a bad way to go. This show deserved its place among the pantheon of NBC sitcoms even before it was one. —LP

The Real Housewives of New York City

One of the best comedies on TV happens to be a reality show, The Real Housewives of New York City. Bravo's Big Apple stars know how to put on a good show, even when they're not fearing for their lives on a Colombian boat trip (though that did help the entertainment factor of this year). In addition to the aforementioned boat trip, this season gave us a reunion between Bethenny Frankel and Jill Zarin, Luann de Lesseps' arrest, rehab trip and cabaret debut (that last part gave us Dorinda Medley yelling "JOVANI!" over and over) and apparently the ladies battling a bad case of diarrhea that saw them poop in a bed and on the floor.—CH

Survivor

There is no show I talked about more with multiple coworkers each week than Survivor: David vs. Goliath. It was a perfect concept that resulted in some of my favorite characters in recent Survivor history. New advantages made it exciting gameplay, but the cast made it truly thrilling. 37 seasons in, that's particularly impressive. Natalie, can I have your jacket? ... Natalie? —LP

Claws

Niecy Nash is a powerhouse. You would know that if you watched the criminally underrated Getting On, the show that got her two Emmy nominations, and you'd know that if you watched Claws, her TNT drama about nail artists in deep with organized crime in Florida. The second season of the series leaned into the more absurd elements of a show about manicurists in deep with a bisexual crime lord and Russian gangsters, letting Carrie Preston soar while Nash anchored the dramatic and emotional lifting. Judy Reyes is over here doing so much while barely saying a word. Don't sleep on Claws. —CH

Insecure

Issa Rae's HBO comedy has always been a delight, but this season reached new heights as Issa Dee (Rae's character) attempted to find her passion. All the attention wasn't on Issa and the Lawrence (Jay Ellis) hive once the season kicked off, Natasha Rothwell stole every damn scene as Kelli, from the cupcakes to getting tasered (while on many drugs) and wetting herself. "Remember me different!" she said. Nah, we'd like to remember you just like, a delight.—CH

Queer Eye

It's hard to believe we've only known these guys for less than a year, because it feels like this Fab Five is exactly the friend group we all deserved, and this show is the therapy we all desperately needed. I can't wait to cry every tear I've got in my body once again in 2019. —LP

The Americans

I am going to deeply miss this upsettingly prescient past-set show and its messy married spies, its wigs, and its delightful sense of humor. I will also miss the brilliant acting and writing and everything else that all culminated in a brilliant and only slightly upsetting ending, but boy will I really miss not recognizing Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in those wigs. —LP

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Is there anything Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna can't do? No. They can do anything. And did so in 2018. From reintroducing Greg (Skylar Astin in place of Santino Fontana), to not one, but two songs for all mothers expertly performed by Donna Lynne Champlin and Tovah Feldshuh. It's the end of the road for Crazy Ex, but it's going out on its own terms and I couldn't be happier.—CH

Nailed It

Special shoutout to this Netflix gem, which I struggle to call a good show, but which brought me more joy than most things in 2018. It's a hot mess of a baking competition that has given me my biggest and loudest laughs this year and I love it with all of my heart. —LP

Bring on 2019!