Summer Hangover: Best TV of 2018 (So Far)
Check out our movie version of the summer hangover here.
We’re in August, the dog days of summer, where most industries seem to kick back and wait for September… Well, the TV industry is still churning out show on top of show, and it’s a vast choppy sea of content out there. Here are a few recommendations, and what we think is worth watching:
“The Best of the Best:”
Atlanta Season 2, FX:
Donald Glover continues to make magic with the sophomore season of Atlanta. For a show with this much hype, it does the impossible by breaking new ground, while continuing to bring the hits.
The series follows Earn (Donald Glover) during his daily life in Atlanta, Georgia, as he tries to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-girlfriend Van (Zazie Beets), who is the mother of his daughter, as well as his parents and his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry), who raps under the stage name “Paper Boi”. Having dropped out of Princeton University, Earn has no money and no home and consequently alternates between staying with his parents and his girlfriend. Season 2 finds Earn and Alfred experiencing some success and with it the cracks beginning to show in the relationships between Earn and both Alfred and Van.
Zazie Beets and Lakeith Stanfield (Darius) continue to shine as supporting characters that could probably anchor their own show. However, Donald Glover and writer/director Hiro Mari (“This Is America” video) get the W here for continuing to push the medium forward.
Best Episode: “Alligator Man”
Succession Season 1, HBO:
From the minds of Adam Mckay (The Big Short, Step Brothers) and Jesse Armstrong. Succession lands in a unique spot on TV— a laugh out loud, hilarious show that isn’t a comedy.
Succession follows “the Roy family – Logan Roy and his four children – who control one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world. The series tracks their lives as they contemplate what the future will hold for them once their aging father begins to step back from the company.”
This is an ensemble show that does character work at such impressive lengths that it’s hard to believe it’s only been a single season. Jeremy Strong and Kieran Culkin are magnificent as Roman and Kendal Roy, but Sarah Snook sneaks in for the win. Who the fuck is Sarah Snook? You’ll have heard of her come next year’s Emmys, as she’s one talented star on the rise.
Best Episode: “Prague”
Glow Season 2, Netflix
Netflix puts out a lot of shows, but not a lot of good shows. Glow is one of the few exceptions (as well as Ozark and Mindhunter).
Set in Los Angeles in 1985, Ruth Wilder, a struggling actress, auditions along with many other women in a fledgling professional wrestling promotion called the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW). She is at odds with GLOW’s director Sam Sylvia due to her tendency to overact. When Ruth’s former best friend, retired soap opera actress Debbie Eagan, arrives at the ring, their confrontation promises to either make or break the show.
This show is charming and fun. There are solid performances all around, but comedian/podcaster Marc Maron shines in one of the only main roles that’s not a female. There’s not a lot to get mad at when discussing Glow other than it’s too short. Ten episodes with a thirty minute run time hardly gives you an opportunity to enjoy the show.
Best Episode: “Work the Leg”
Castle Rock Season 1, Hulu
FUCK YOU HULU!!!! Just drop an entire season at one time, so I can binge it like every other sensible platform…
Anyways, halfway through the season, and I like Castle Rock a lot. The anthology horror series based on the works by Stephen King pack a dark, twisted punch.
A psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. Castle Rock follows the uncovering of an unnamed and sinister prisoner in Shawshank Prison (the same Shawshank from the beloved film) setting into a motion a creepy chain of events.
It’s nice to finally see Andre Holland get some proper screen time as the show’s lead, Henry Deaver. If you’ve seen Stephen Soderbergh’s turn of the century medical show The Knick, you know about Andre Holland and you know this dude is primed for something special. Plus you get Scott Glenn playing a badass. What else is cooler than that? This show is getting unfair Stranger Things comparisons, but other than it’s a bit creepy and cool, they don’t have anything in common.
Best Episode: All of em’
Counterpart Season 1, Starz
If there’s one thing that most people can agree on is that Starz hasn’t really figured out how to break into the whole “prestige TV” thing. However, Counterpart might change that.
Howard Silk has been working for a United Nations agency based in Berlin for thirty years; however, his rank is too low for him to be told what his work really involves. In fact, the agency oversees a crossing point to a parallel Earth (the “Prime world”), a copy of Silk’s world, which was created by East German scientists in 1987, and which has been diverging ever since. Silk’s “other” self, his counterpart from the Prime world, is, among other things, a field agent who regularly makes crossings to Silk’s world (the “Alpha world”) to retrieve “others” who have gone rogue. Factional in-fighting in the agency in the Prime world spills over to the Alpha world, endangering Silk and his comatose wife, Emily.
The synopsis sums it up. If John le Carré wrote sci-fi, it would be Counterpart. Academy Award-winning actor J.K Simmons gets to use all of the toys in his proverbial toy box here. This is easily one of the most underrated shows of the year.
Best Episode: “No Man’s Land Part 1”
Patrick Melrose Season 1, Showtime
Patrick Melrose is a unique, limited series from Showtime that goes from extremely dark to interesting to funny, all the while grounding itself with an incredibly cool looking production.
Following the death of his father in the 1980s, Englishman Patrick Melrose attempts to overcome his addictions and demons rooted in abuse by his father and negligent mother Patrick Melrose is a 2018 five-part drama miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Melrose. The show is based on semi-autobiographical novels about Britain’s upper class. by Edward St Aubyn.
Benedict Cumberbatch is a revelation as the titular character, and each episode is based on a book from the series. This is not only a new level for Cumberbatch, but also a higher piece of quality that Showtime has not yet achieved. It will be a crime if this show doesn’t win everything at the Emmys.
Best Episode: “Bad News”