The 15 best TV shows of 2018 so far

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Best Episode: “Plum Tuckered”

This show is so bonkers that it defies explanation. It’s based on the book of the same name, following an overweight woman who hopes to get weight loss surgery. Plum Kettle also works at a swanky women’s magazine answering letters to the editor for the glossy and over-plucked Kitty, played by Juliana Margulies. Plum gets sucked into some sort of extremist movement that targets male predators while simultaneously joining a new age diet cult. There’s a lot of moving parts, but it’s downright fascinating.

Much of the show features Plum’s internal struggle to accept herself and her body, and the character is open about wanting to change herself. In “Plum Tuckered,” as part of the cult’s initiation process, she must go on a handful of dates, which end disastrously. After the final, and possibly worst one, she heads home, but first stops by a hot dog stand. She is confronted by an angry, terrible man, who immediately defaults into insults about her weight. Having her fill, she spits her mouthful of hot dog on him. He punches her, in the face, hard. The act is so aggressive and abrupt it jarred me right out of my seat. It was very, very powerful.


Best Episode: “A Titanic Problem”

Younger may have started out as a summer guilty pleasure, but as the seasons wear on, it’s becoming a more serious contender for best show of the year. Sutton Foster plays a 40 year old Liza, who pretends to be a 26 year old woman in order to get a job in New York after her divorce. Inexplicably, everyone believes her and she starts to build a life.

Of course her secret slowly starts to leak, and her love interest, Charles, who is also her boss, finds out. The most remarkable thing about this plot point is how their chemistry changes so dramatically. You can actually see it happen. In “A Titanic Problem,” Liza and Charles’ interactions are so awkward and stilted that it’s a giant disappointment after the show has spent so much time making us invest in their relationship. However, when I say disappointment, I don’t mean it was poorly done. I mean it was done so well that I’m at home, sad for these two.

Jane the Virgin

Best Episode: “Chapter 78”

Jane the Virgin consistently, and without fail, delivers solid TV, every week. Sure, there are lots of antics among the Villanuevas, but the show can get you right in your feels, and it strikes a magical balance. In its essence, it’s a reboot of a Venezuelan telenovela, in which a young woman, a virgin, is accidentally inseminated and becomes pregnant. But The CW series is so much more than than that as we learn about Jane; her mother Xiomara; her grandmother, Alba; and all their respective life stuff. We love these ladies.

So, when Jane the Virgin decided to go straight for our heart parts, we knew it was going to be an emotional episode. In “Chapter 78,” Xo, Jane’s mother, is diagnosed with breast cancer, and the fallout is, predictably, devastating — for both the characters and for audiences. I can’t begin to list all the important scenes, but this episode really illustrates the best of what this show can do.


Best Episode: “Gender Reveal”

I just love a workplace comedy, and Superstore doesn’t disappoint. It captures the goings-on of a handful of coworkers in a big box store (suspiciously resembling Walmart), in which not everyone likes each other. The show is definitely an ensemble effort, but we are particularly interested in Amy (American Ferrera) and Jonah’s (Ben Feldman) will they/won’t vibe that started way back in season 1.

The tension in this friendship reached its height toward the end of season 3 in “Gender Reveal” when Amy learns she’s pregnant from a drunken night with her ex-husband. Although this seems like it should be the big news of the episode, it comes a close second to Jonah and Amy’s big kiss, followed by her announcing her pregnancy to him right after. The writers of this show giveth, and they taketh away. One minute we’re cheering because we want them together, and the next, we’re sad because of this big thing between them. (Insert sad trumpet noise here.”

The Good Place

Best Episode: “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent”

It’s hard to talk about The Good Place without dipping into all the twists and turns of the show. However, in its first moments, it’s about Eleanor Smallstrap, played perfectly by Kristen Bell, mistakenly ending up in a heaven-esque place. It becomes clear she deserves to be in the Bad Place, but she wants to try to earn her spot.

Eleanor is joined by a group of buddies, and as the episodes unfurl, there are lots of narrative bombs. I won’t get too much into them, but in episode 11 of the last season, “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent,” Eleanor and her gang find themselves in the actual Bad Place. They are in disguise, as the title suggests, and they must play the characters they’ve created in order to execute a caper, which I won’t reveal here. It’s fun to watch them step outside their usual characters, but the best part is the cameo by Bell’s real life husband, Dax Shepard. He plays the world’s best jerk.

Next: 15 TV characters we love to hate

Well, do you agree with our picks for the best TV shows of the year so far? What are the episodes that still have you talking? Let us know in the comments below.