The 15 best TV shows of 2018 so far

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Queer Eye

Best Episode: “Dega Don’t”

The Queer Eye reboot for Netflix varies little from its predecessor in its bare bones. Both feature hapless men who are in desperate need of a makeover. But the new version of the show has much more heart than the first, taking the time to make the recipients seem like whole people who aren’t just what they wear or how they look.

Although much of the show is sweet and desperately earnest, season 1’s “Dega Don’t” digs into some heady stuff, making it the best of the season. This episode features Cory, a white police officer from Winder, Georgia. He’s tragically dressed and has a NASCAR obsession, and he seems like one of the more hopeless of the bunch. What makes this episode special is the open dialogue between him and Karamo about police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

It makes you wonder if Cory has ever spoken to a black person he wasn’t arresting, and I found it extremely impactful.

One Day At A Time

Best Episode: “Hello, Penelope”

I can’t overstate how well done this remake of One Day At A Time is. It stars the beautiful and charming Rita Moreno as the matriarch of the Cuban-American clan, the Alvarezes. She lives with her daughter, Penelope, her two grandchildren, and is often visited by the dorky yet lovable superintendent, Schneider. In structure and story, it closely resembles its predecessor, but it varies widely in tone and mood. It’s funny yet topical, and  itstrikes a perfect balance between comedy and social commentary.

The show routinely takes on big issues. Penelope’s daughter came out as gay in the first season, and there were a few episodes addressing gun violence. However, the best of the best comes in “Hello, Penelope” when veteran Penelope goes off her anti-depressant meds, and slips into a depression and must grapple with her PTSD. The show handles it with poise and grace, and it never reads as a “very special episode.”


Best Episode: “Teddy Perkins”

Atlanta’s first season on FX was riveting and exciting, and revealed a very specific American point of view. It is important and smart, but never feels like eating your veggies. Showrunner and creator, Donald Glover took season 2 to new and unexpected places, offering episodes that felt more artistic and creative in storytelling and style. Glover plays Earnest Marks who, in the first season, wants to mange his cousin’s, up and coming rap career. However, Earnest and Co. venture far outside their characters in the sophomore season.

In the second season, Glover experiments with varying perspectives, and he comes hard with the surprising “Teddy Perkins.” It’s a major departure for the show, featuring Glover, in white face, as a fictional amalgamation of past performers like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

I won’t spoil it completely for you. You just have to see it for yourself.


Best Episode: “Happy Now”

No longer Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker plays Frances on Divorce, a recently divorced mother who has to start her life over after she’s caught in an affair. The first season was a bit of a bummer, as divorce often is, but the second season finds Frances and her ex-husband starting their new lives enthusiastically and without the dread of the first season hanging over their shoulders.

One of the things I love about this show is its attention to the relationships between Frances (and her now ex-husband) and their children. In “Happy Now,” Frances grapples with the teenage attitude of her daughter, and sort of loses it at her at a school function. I loved it because it’s a tiny bit of vindication for every time my daughter every rolled her eyes or made some low-key nasty remark at my expense.


Best Episode: “Mother’s Day”

Pose is another Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuck production, and it might be the best yet. Set in New York in the 1980s, it tells the story of ball culture and features the largest cast of trans actors ever. Ball culture, for those of us who never saw Paris is Burning, is a series of pageants, held in clubs across New York, in which members of the LGBTQ community compete in categories to bring home coveted trophies. This show looks like the most expensive series ever made, and you have to watch it to appreciate how gorgeous it looks.

The title of the fifth episode, “Mother’s Day” is a play on the hierarchy of the culture, in which performers align themselves with “houses,” led by “mothers.” The main character, Blanca, has recently formed her own house, becoming a mother to a burgeoning little family. In this installment, however, she must face the death of her biological mother, whom she hasn’t seen in years. She returns, unwelcome, to the funeral, and is met with hostility and aggression by her siblings.