NME’s TV Shows Of The Year 2018

From the first female doctor, to the end of long running favourites like New Girl, 2018 has brought some huge television moments. And after intense discussion we’ve whittled down the year’s most binge-able telly into a list of the 20 best series of the year. Need something excellent to get you through Christmas with the extended family? Here’s the definitive list of what you really should have been watching in 2018.

Words: Hannah Mylrea, El Hunt, Charlotte Gunn, Thomas Smith, Jordan Bassett, Sam Moore, Dan Stubbs

20. Inside No. 9


Easily the most under-rated show on telly, Inside No. 9 sees League Of Gentlemen alumni Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton in a series of self-contained teleplays, each taking place behind a door number nine, and each with a devilish twist in the tale. This year’s fourth series was the best yet, with episodes ranging from the heartbreaking (Bernie Clifton’s Dressing Room) to the horrific (the live Halloween special, Dead Line, which was the scariest thing on TV since the anal warts special of Embarrassing Bodies. DS

19. On My Block

Netflix dabbled in teen drama this year, first with mediocre Everything Sucks!, the coming-of-age drama set in the ’90s (which has since been cancelled), and much more successfully with On My Block. Centred around the lives of five inner-city teens living in Los Angeles, it received critical acclaim for sensitively tackling serious issues such as deportation and gang crime, and the brilliant young cast have rightly been applauded. With the series leaving us on a huge cliffhanger, we’re now just eagerly awaiting season two, due in 2019. HM

18. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Earlier this year, Fox announced this US cop-comedy was to be axed. And the fans did not like it one bit. After a day of campaigning on social media, NBC picked up the show for a sixth season, which is good, as this year’s fifth was the one where it really hit its stride. While still as warm and funny as before, fans finally got the moments they were waiting for (Jake and Amy’s wedding, Holt running to be police commissioner) and Rosa’s (Stephanie Beatriz) coming out story, which boasted some of the most heartwarming and emotive moments of the series so far. HM

17. Bodyguard


The first super off-peak Friday night train to Chippenham is tense at the best of times (when the platform is announced, Paddington station resembles the velociraptor scene from Jurassic Park) but thanks to Bodyguard, this hellish rail route just got its scariest moment yet. The first episode of the BBC show introduced us to a British Army war veteran called David Budd (Richard Madden) who suffers with PTSD. He somehow convinces a would-be suicide bomber hidden in a train toilet to surrender over the course of 20 dramatically filmed minutes, and he’s soon given a promotion. The problem is, he ends up in charge of protecting the UK government’s Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) – who supports the same war which left him traumatised. As their relationship gets… er, complicated… so does the show’s increasingly cryptic mystery. It’s a right headspinner, this one, and proof that the BBC can still make TV to compete with Netflix. EH

16. Homecoming

Homecoming | NME TV of the Year

Amazon Prime original Homecoming stars Julia Roberts as a counsellor rehabilitating soldiers back from Afghanistan before they re-enter the ‘real world’. Or is she? Brilliantly shocking right up until the end, Homecoming‘s alarming twists and turns don’t feel so far from reality, which makes it all the more unnerving. CG

15. Barry

Bill Hader’s dark comedy about a hitman who joins the LA art scene débuted in 2018 to rave reviews and an armful of awards nods. Starring the Saturday Night Live alumni as Barry, a former Marine-cum-hitman who inadvertently joins a local theatre group when he botches a killing of one of its members. Soon, a moral conundrum kicks in as he decides ditch his contract killing job with the Chechen mob and tries to make it as a (very bad) wannabe actor. Juxtaposing the brutal crime scenes, wicked performances from Hader and hilarious drama teacher Henry Winkler, as well as some, erm, killer lines it was an unexpected highlight of the year. TS

14. The Bisexual

The tide is starting to turn on LGBTQ+ representation in the mainstream; there’s a reason why this year is frequently awarded the title 20GAYTEEN. That said, it remains an uphill struggle, and the media’s lack of bisexual voices in particular leaves a lot to be desired. With depictions often steeped in the tired old stereotypes we’ve heard dragged out so many times before, Desiree Akhavan’s show The Bisexual is a much needed breath of fresh air.

Akhavan – who also directed ‘Appropriate Behaviour’ and ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ – stars as Leila. Fresh from the end of a serious relationship with woman called Sadie, she has always identified as gay – reversing the usual trope, the show follows Leila as she discovers her bisexuality. Akhavan explores this with endless nuance – not to mention that nearly every scene will leave you in stitches. EH

13. Wild Wild Country

The town of Antelope, Oregon, population of around 40, underwent a transformation in the early ‘80s. The Rajneesh, a cult centred around the charismatic Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, descended upon the community, renaming it Rajneeshpuram, creating their own city – with an airport, clothes store (which sold only items coloured the cult’s trademark red), bank and accommodation. The town’s original residents weren’t happy – and that was before the mass poisoning, the massive federal fraud case, the beavers in a blender… This is a wild, wild story, told over six hour-long episodes, the documentary style a dreamy meditation, its dispassionate tone at odds with the truly bizarre events depicted therein. JB

12. Killing Eve

There were a few moments that unified the nation in 2018. The World Cup. The nationwide confusion about what is actually happening with Brexit. The obsession with Killing Eve. The BBC America drama dropped, Netflix-style, onto BBC Three as silently as an assassin, but over the course of a weekend we were obsessed. The elaborate cat-and-mouse chase between MI5 Officer Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) was as exhilarating as it was funny, and that cliffhanger had the country talking for weeks. HM

11. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

If you thought the Netflix reboot of everyone’s favourite teenage witch was going to be filled with wholesome family fun like the ’90s sitcom, you’d be very much mistaken; but this isn’t a bad thing. They’ve sacked off the talking cat, and instead brought in fantastic re-imaginings of the classic characters, beautiful cinematography and some pretty bloody scary moments. Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka shines as the titular character, adeptly playing a version of Sabrina that’s navigating two different worlds: life as mortal and the darker, more thrilling side of her world as a witch. Sometimes silly, sometimes heart-warming, the first season was always brilliantly good fun. HM

10. The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House | NME TV of the Year

Netflix’s Halloween scare-fest The Haunting of Hill House delivered so much more than its spooky trailer suggested. A tale about family dynamics, the ghosts that haunt us all and dealing with immeasurable loss – with a fuck-load of actual scares thrown in along the way – it has way more depth than your average horror and is twice as scary. CG

9. Maniac

Maniac | NME TV of 2018

Cary Fukunaga’s Netflix epic started weird and got progressively weirder. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill play the show’s protagonists, two fucked-up individuals enrolling in medical testing for very different reasons, and find themselves drawn together through a number of drug-induced states. But it’s Justin Theroux’s mummy-issues professor and Sally Field – as his psychoanalyst mother – who really steal the show. Brilliantly odd and packed full of easter eggs, we’re looking forward to seeing what Fukunaga does next. CG

8. Queer Eye

After two seasons in 2018, it’s now hard to imagine our lives without the Fab Five. The reboot of Queer Eye dropped onto Netflix in February, and in a matter of days our five experts Bobby, Antoni, Tan, Karamo and Jonathan had become international treasures. But really it’s so much more than a makeover show: the series packs a hefty emotional punch with its candid discussion of serious subjects like coming out and race relations. Endlessly heartwarming, you won’t find another series this wholesome around. HM

7. The Handmaid’s Tale – Season 2

After a first season that closely followed Margaret Atwood’s novel, the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale had to pave it’s own way without a source text, which it did magnificently. Fans of the book got questions to answers they’ve always wanted, like how Gilead came to be and the futures of the characters. Darker and gloomier, the second season of the show was an unexpectedly brilliant continuation of the story.

6. Sharp Objects

Last year we had Big Little Lies and The Sinner to keep us gripped, and this year it was the turn of Sharp Objects. The adaptation of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s debut made waves, entertaining millions of viewers worldwide and becoming essential weekly viewing. Starring Oscar bridesmaid Amy Adams as Camille Preaker, an alcoholic reporter who’s sent to her hometown to investigate several murders, the actress dazzles in the role. With a storyline that’ll enthral and the stellar supporting cast (that includes the brilliant Patricia Clarkson and breakthrough star Eliza Scanlen), it’s a must see. HM

5. Bojack Horseman

Bojack Horseman has triumphed over the past few years with its unique mix of absurd humour and a surreal visual world elegantly sitting alongside sensitive handling of serious storylines (in the past it’s covered mental health, sexuality and fulfilment). The latest season was no different: this time around we saw Princess Caroline’s struggle to have a child, Bojack’s drug problems continuing to rage, and his heartbreaking attempts to handle grief. Making you laugh and cry in equal measure, Netflix’s “sadcom” has remained integral viewing. HM

4. GLOW – Season 2

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling returned for a second season in 2018, and it was another K-O! We continued to follow ex-best pals Ruth “Zoya the Destroya” Wilder (Alison Brie) and Debbie “Liberty Belle” Eagan (Betty Gilpin) alongside the rest of their amateur-wrestling group as they attempt to create a television show. With the huge ensemble cast all shining, and the writing remaining excellent, GLOW continued to be one of Netflix’s shining exports. HM

3. Big Mouth

An adult animated comedy about puberty? And it’s good? Big Mouth returned to Netflix for a second season in 2018 and it remained as funny and affecting as the first. This time around we saw an episode preaching the benefits of Planned Parenthood, the gang take their first trip (on marijuana laced gummy bears) and Nick continue to struggle as he goes through adolescence. Never shying away from the hilarious awkwardness of puberty, the comedy is one of the best of the year. HM

2. The Good Place – Season 3

The slow burning success of The Good Place is a matter of smug pride for avid stans of the show, who’ve long been championing this warm, affecting and genuinely laugh-out-loud comedy. Now in its third season, we’re still following bad-girl-gone-good Eleanor (Kristen Bell), supernatural being Michael (Ted Danson) and the gang as they try and navigate their paths through heaven and hell. With Jameela Jamil getting better and better in her breakout role, and the writing remaining consistently excellent, this is one of the best comedy series of the decade. HM

1. Atlanta

2018 was Donald Glover’s busiest year so far: just a few highlights include the release of the stunning ‘This Is America’ video, being cast as adult Simba in the new Lion King, and his stage-stealing ability to wow festival and arena crowds on both sides of the pond. But the arrival of the second season of his critically-acclaimed dramedy Atlanta is arguably Glover’s finest moment of the past 12 months. Glover’s intricately-crafted and oft-surreal love letter to his hometown exceeded even the loftiest of expectations with the brilliantly-titled ‘Robbin’ Season’, which took Earn, Van, Paper Boi and Darius on stranger and more enthralling journeys than ever before. From meeting the titular ‘Alligator Man’ in the season premiere to Darius’ horrifying encounter with the eerie Teddy Perkins (played by – who else? – DG), you never quite knew what you’d be getting from each episode of Atlanta this time round. And in that lies the shows’ ballooning genius as a boundary-pushing work of television which surprises and delights in equal measure each time it hits the small screen. Utterly unmissable stuff. SM