The 10 TV Shows You Should Have Been Watching in 2018
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
Do not accept friend requests from the Bent-Neck Lady — but oh, just try to block her. She hovers above the floor and shrieks like a banshee. That’s her way of asking you to join her in the cold, eternal shadows of Hill House. This brilliant series updates Shirley Jackson’s 1959 horror novel to the age of family counseling — four siblings assess the emotional damage done by having lived in that awful place as children. It’s This Is Us by way of The Shining.
The year’s best, wildest thriller pits a seasoned intelligence agent (Sandra Oh) against an unhinged female assassin with the pretty name of Villanelle (Jodie Comer). There are outlandish murders, lunatic chases and a tantalizing sense of violent passion — an off-kilter gay romance.
Journalist Amy Adams returns to her hometown in southern Missouri to investigate murders that may be the work of a serial killer. This ripely gothic thriller at times comes across like Twin Peaks as conceived by Tennessee Williams, but the payoff is worth it. (Stick around for the closing credits!) Patricia Clarkson, as Adams’s decorously vicious mama, gives the TV performance of the year.
As a hit man, Barry is just going through the motions, a performer bored with his part. Then he takes an acting class and finds his true vocation. Emmy winner Bill Hader has the eyes of a killer — and maybe of a Romeo. In short, he’s leading-man material.
This bracingly good period piece, based on E.M. Forster’s 1910 novel, has a lighter touch than the Emma Thompson movie — sharper too. It dissects Forster’s themes of snobbery and money with surgical precision.
Julia Roberts’s first television vehicle is a suspense thriller that ingeniously slices and juxtaposes time frames into a densely layered casserole. She’s Heidi Bergman, a therapist who figures out that the company she works for isn’t on the up-and-up. To a degree, this is Roberts in Erin Brockovich mode, yet Heidi is never sure her crusade is on course. Is she a broke Brockovich? Thanks for coming to TV, Julia.
It’s hard to forget Penn Badgley as Dan Humphrey, that sensitive, delicately handsome young guy who got published in The New Yorker on Gossip Girl. You does the trick: Badgley plays a stalker with extreme notions of romance. He’s the sexiest sociopath since Michael C. Hall’s Dexter.
Producer Ryan Murphy has possibly the surest sense in Hollywood of how change can arise from a pop-culture moment — how the butterfly creates the wind. This touching series celebrates New York City’s 1980s voguin scene and its ground-breaking trans heroines.
ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA
Ben Stiller directed this impressively controlled slow boil about a prison escape in upstate New York: One flawless segment — six wordless minutes — follows an inmate testing out his underground path. Think of this
as Fargo without wood-chipper jokes.
Even now it’s impossible to say much about this beautiful, strange comedy without setting off spoilers — it’s like stepping onto a floor of baited mousetraps. June (Maya Rudolph) loves husband Oscar (Fred Armisen), but he’s too fond of routine. Well, that sounds conventional enough, doesn’t it? How about the fact that at one point everyone goes walking on the bottom of the ocean? Without scuba gear?