Ranking the best shows of the year at 2018’s midpoint
We take a look at 10 standouts so far this year on TV, including triple threat Donald Glover’s “Atlanta.”
1. ‘The Americans’ (FX)
The sixth and final season of FX’s stunning spy drama is everything fans could have hoped for. Moody and emotionally profound, the season sends its KGB agents Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and the late 1980s world stage spinning out of control, and then pirouettes into a graceful landing. Its last episode is a fitting a finale for Philip, Elizabeth, their daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), and FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich).
2. ‘The Good Fight’ (CBS All Access)
After a strong first season on the fledgling CBS All Access streaming network, the “Good Wife” spinoff comes back for a second in true fighting form. Season 2 gives us a run of deliriously energetic episodes that help the legal drama transcend its case-of-the-week format. The series portrays Trump-era exhaustion in a way no other show has managed to grasp.
3. ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ (FX)
The latest “American Crime Story” adaptation is a misnomer, as it follows
(mostly in reverse chronological order) the life of Versace’s murderer, Andrew Cunanan. But as played in a tour de force and award-worthy performance by Darren Criss, Cunanan’s and Versace’s (Edgar Ramirez) interwoven stories are riveting and revealing, a study of the lives and struggles of gay men in the 1990s. At times difficult to watch, the portrait of the spree killer is gilded and fascinating, gorgeous and off-putting from beginning to end.
4. ‘Killing Eve’ (BBC America)
Who knew the standard story of a cop chasing a killer could be so fresh? From writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Killing Eve” is an electric addition to a well-worn genre that gives Sandra Oh the starring role she deserves. Paired with a stunning performance from Jodie Comer as the assassin Oh is chasing, “Killing Eve” is a terrifying delight.
5. ‘The End of the F***ing World’ (Netflix)
Stylish, irreverent and darkly funny, this surprise British gem was one of Netflix’s first shows of the year, and is one of its best. “World” finds two misfit teens, self-identified psychopath James (Alex Lawther) and rebellious Alyssa (Jessica Barden), on the run and experiencing a series of escalating crises. Yet it manages to find the humor and pathos in their adolescent turmoil, no matter how absurd their circumstances.
6. ‘Barry’ (HBO)
Strange, funny, terrifying, dark and whimsical, Bill Hader and co-creator Alex Berg’s dark fairy tale about a hit man (Hader) with dreams of acting doesn’t seem promising on the surface. And yet this strange mashup of Hollywood dreaming and bloody crime drama is so gripping, you’d wonder why no one thought of it before.
7. ‘The Good Place’ (NBC)
The afterlife sitcom aired just five episodes in 2018, but they represent an incredible season of TV that is equal parts hilarious, philosophical, emotional and surprising. The episode “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent,” in which Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Janet (D’Arcy Carden) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) go undercover in the real Bad Place, is one of the season’s standouts and just a taste of the manic genius of this weird and wonderful show.
8. ‘Atlanta’ (FX)
We had to wait 16 months to get more of Donald Glover’s dramedy, but it was worth it. In its second season, “Atlanta” is more daring, idiosyncratic and satisfying than in its Emmy-winning first season. “Atlanta” experiments by separating its main cast for their mythic adventures in terrific standalone episodes, weaving short stories into something stranger and grander than you realize.
9. ‘One Day at a Time’ (Netflix)
The critically acclaimed family sitcom, about a single mom (Justina Machado) living with her mother (Rita Moreno) and two kids in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, follows a fantastic first season with a beautiful second. It takes more risks and offers a finale like an Broadway play, with each member of the family giving a soliloquy to Lydia (Moreno) as she lies unconscious in the hospital. Watching “One Day” is like getting a warm hug from a family member when you need it most.
10. ‘Superstore’ (NBC)
This underrated NBC sitcom manages to make the will-they-won’t-they romantic pairing endearing again with Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman), who finally consummate their relationship in a riotous season finale. Besides its sweet romance, “Superstore” is one of the most reliably hysterical comedies on the air, and it can deftly knock you over with its jokes every week.
The final season of “The Americans,” starring Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, is one for the ages.
Christine Baranski leads “The Good Fight.”
Netflix’s reboot of “One Day at a Time,” stars Justina Machado, center, Isabella Gomez, Rita Moreno and Marcel Ruiz.
Sandra Oh plays a cop in BBC America’s “Killing Eve.”
Donald Glover is back for Season 2 of “Atlanta.”
Edgar Ramirez and Penelope Cruz star as Gianni and Donatella Versace.