Dec 19

The FreakyTrigger Top 30 TV Shows of 2018

Do You See6 comments • 469 views

Sooo…… Sorry.

Four years ago I started the FT Film poll (to ape Kat’s music poll – but also because they are pointless fun things to do – and might be better than just putting my own top ten up). Two years ago, in the flush of the film poll going well, and the realisation that most FT readers were watching more TV than films, I thought to throw more visual media into the mix. It was the Golden Age of TV so it seemed to make sense.

The thing is, I don’t watch much TV. I go to the movies. So whilst I could cobble together a list of twenty shows for myself, it was a list that I knew would miss plenty of the best of the year because I had made a decision to not watch them due to time (or couldn’t watch them). So after putting together last years list – I was stuck having to write about thirty TV shows where I had watched just ten of them.

Of course I wasn’t going to write about something I hadn’t seen, so I threw myself into watching all of them. Or actually, I didn’t. I went to see even more movies knowing that The Americans wasn’t going away and that it seemed to have ended pretty well. All of this is to say that I won’t be running a TV Poll this year.

HOWEVER that leaves last years poll, which I really really should release for all of you (one person mainly) clamouring to see it. It may not surprise any of you, the field ends up being broad that there were only 28 with more than one vote to qualify out of a field of 85.

So here is last years list, the top five being very similar to the 2017 list, and very US Prestige TV.

30. You
29. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
28. Maniac
27. American Crime Story: Gianni Versace
26. Insecure
25. Doctor Who
24. The Sound Of Movie Musicals
23. A Very English Scandal
22. The Expanse
21. Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing
20. Jane The Virgin
19. The Haunting Of Hill House
18. Big Mouth
17. Barry
16. Sharp Objects
15. Derry Girls
14. Steven Universe
13. American Vandal
12. Vic & Bob’s Big Night Out
11. The Americans
10. Queer Eye
9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
8. BoJack Horseman
7. Better Call Saul
6. Atlanta
5. The Good Fight
3. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
2. Killing Eve
1. The Good Place

I’ll be going out for the film list tomorrow, and will so that properly, but shed a tear for the TV poll, (though don’t you think looking at the 2018 list a year late really recontextualises it… #excuses)


  1. 1
    Andrew Farrell on 19 Dec 2019 #

    I was surprised not to see Fleabag, but that’s because the first series was 2016 and all time is telescoping in on itself.

    I am also surprised not to see Adventure Time, but tbh I can’t even remember if I voted in this, so I may be responsible.

    Either way thank-you for the results, Pete!

  2. 2
    Mark M on 19 Dec 2019 #

    Thanks for finally putting this up, Pete. I get that it’s hard to generate the necessary enthusiasm when you’re, well, not enthusiastic. I was half-tempted to offer to adopt the TV poll, but unfortunately real life is being aggressively real at the moment…

    I voted for ACS: Versace, A Very English Scandal (all those half-remembered Private Eye covers of my childhood explained!), American Vandal, Atlanta, The Goods Fight + Place…

    The one of those people may not* know about is American Vandal, which is on Netflix. It’s a very precise parody of high-minded true crime series (particularly Serial, I think, despite being YouTube-y thing rather than a podcast) in which the crime being investigated is a puerile act of high-school vandalism (season two’s event is particularly gross). I love how seriously the characters take themselves, and the great care taken with something that is also very silly.

    Regarding stuff I didn’t vote for: Killing Eve I watched first episode of, and thought ‘This is tremendous’, and then binned it after the third. Basically, I liked Eve, and Kim Bodnia is always good value, but I found the killer an energy black hole. Part of my disillusionment was I realised that it was really a serial killer – rather than a hitwoman – show, and I find serial killers endlessly dull.**

    *Although, who can tell these days? A lot of people who look at me very blankly when I burble about the utter greatness of Atlanta.
    **True, ACS: Versace is about a serial killer, but the drama is much more interested in him as a fantasist and epic liar, and those I am fascinated by.

  3. 3
    Pete Baran on 20 Dec 2019 #

    Yep, I’m someone who has seen season 1 of American Vandal (and loved its specificity around its silliness), but still for some reason not got around to Atlanta – even though I know it isn’t much of a commitment.

    To be fair, putting it up like this has made me realise I don’t really need to write about the bits, I could just throw it up.

  4. 4
    hardtogethits on 22 Dec 2019 #

    I think I possibly was the “one person mainly” clamouring to see it! I’d like to say a massive thank you for putting this together. For giving it a go, seeing if it would work (your call on that), and for putting the results out. I bet most of us are lucky enough to have ‘competing demands’, and we can all recognise how a great project (esp a survey of others’ opinions) qcan become a chore).I hope you don’t regret doing it, it’s a really interesting list. Putting it now has a real charm.

    Sincerely, thanks and well done.

  5. 5
    dollymix on 24 Dec 2019 #

    #2, I’m with you on Killing Eve, although I actually made it through the whole first season. I also think the plot was a little ridiculous in how often it required characters to make really dumb decisions (even the people with years of intelligence or crime experience).

    Other than that, I can’t really object to anything on this list. Pulling up my list from last year, the stuff I voted for that’s not represented here is Forever (an odd little afterlife show with one standout episode), 3% (a Brazilian young adult dystopian thing that’s reasonably well done if a little silly), New Girl, Mosaic, and iZombie (which rounded out the list of “things I saw enough of to put on a list”, even though none are great, although I suspect Mosaic could improve on a rewatch).

  6. 6
    Tommy Mack on 26 Dec 2019 #

    I wonder where The Good Place would rank in a 2019 poll. I thought S1 was brilliant and each subsequent series slightly less so until the bending of its own internal rules threatens to distract from the brilliant ensemble cast and sharp script (I still laugh like a drain at Jason’s tragic confessional asides). I’ll still watch pt2 of the latest series but it feels ready to end.

    BoJack Horseman on the other hand remains right on top of its game. The last episode before the mid season break was particularly devastating. I’m not the first person to note this but how the hell can they continue to find new insights about depression, addiction, abuse and celebrity in a cartoon about a talking horse(man)?

    The only other one I saw on the list was BCS which I like though I’m baffled by a) the people who say it’s better than BB and b) the enthusiasm for the sillier developments in the last series.

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