The 25 Best TV Shows of 2018, Ranked

     December 20, 2018


For more of our Best of 2018 coverage, go here.

2018 has been a blessed year for TV fans, with great series kicking into high gear right off the bat in January; no need to wait until spring even, things were righteously good from the start. Yes that quality slowed down a bit over the summer and, curiously, this fall — Peak TV also means a lot of mediocre television, in addition to the greats — but as with all of my year-end lists, this is about cheers and not jeers, so hopefully you’ll find one of two series you missed to catch up with. (Speaking of cheers, you can also celebrate the year in TV with my lists of the Best Performances and Best Episodes, as well as Dave Trumbore’s list of the Best Animated Series for Adults).

Below are my picks for 25 of 2018’s TV gems. Are there others that belong here? Absolutely! In fact, there are a few in my list of Honorable Mentions that honestly pained me to not include in the Top 25. But I had to create a cutoff, and since it’s ranked, I’ve also been tinkering with the whole thing for weeks (right up until the deadline to post, actually). On a different day and at a different time the list might not look quite like this, but it would be awfully similar. Happiness and weirdness are highly rewarded this year, especially series that really woke us up, showed us what TV can do, and/or made us feel good about it along the way. There’s a ton of TV; finding ways to stand out is good.

Don’t see your personal favorite here? Well, I watch what I can of 500 series, but I don’t get to all of them. Or maybe I just don’t like it! You’ll never know. But really, let’s focus on the good here, and there is plenty of it. One note on eligibility: series in this list had to have aired the majority of their seasons by of December 15th (which means Counterpart Season 1 is eligible, but Season 2 is not). Also, broadcast series are considered for all seasons that aired in 2018. Finally, this list considers both scripted and unscripted series — which as you will see, plays a pivotal role.

(A note on spoilers: I’ve tried to keep things pretty general, especially regarding the series most people haven’t heard of, but if you have any doubts then skip on to the next)