Here again, back this time with “Part 2” of my Top 10 Favorite NEW TV Dramas of 2018. In “Part 1” of this series, I talked about my new favorite drama shows for #10- #6 featuring and discussing such programs as God Friended Me (CBS), Killing Eve (BBC), Succession (HBO), and Maniac (Netflix). For “Part 2” now, I will be finishing up this series of articles with my top picks for #5 – #1.
So without any further ado…..
5. Dirty John on Bravo.
Cast: Connie Britton, Eric Bana, Jean Smart, Juno Temple, Julia Garner
Dirty John is a series based on the popular podcast of the same name. I am not one that listens to podcasts, but hey maybe one day. Therefore, I only became aware of this story when I heard about the podcast being adapted for a TV Series that was to be on Bravo. The story sounded intriguing and with an All-Star Cast attached, this was a series I was most definitely going to be tuning into!
Overview & Thoughts:
The premise for the story of Dirty John sounds like that of a made for Lifetime TV Movie of the Week. It’s a thriller that involves deceit, lies, and addiction. All the elements that would make a perfect Lifetime Movie. Except the story of Dirty John is not that of fiction, but a true story. The story and the characters on this show are all very real and all happened in real life.
It’s about a woman named Debra who lives in California. She is an entrepreneur who runs and owns her own business. She is the mother to two daughters and one son. She is successful in her life with a thriving business and loving family. What’s missing in her life though is love. She’s been married several times and each time the marriage never lasts. She’s never found “the one”. That one person to spend her life beside her side forever and always. Even though she’s been married several times she’s never given up on love. She takes a chance on online dating. That’s when she meets a man named John.
Debra falls fast hard. After only five weeks of knowing each other she and John move into together. After only eight weeks they marry. Her daughters never came around to trusting John, always feeling as though something was off about him. That’s when her daughter Tara, hires a private detective to check out John’s past. After that, an unraveling of information of his past emerges that blindsides and scares Debra. He is not at all who he claimed to be. These dark scary sides to John slowly start to come to light bit by bit, making Debra realize how she never really knew him at all. That he is not the man she thought she knew, but a complete fraud and someone that she must get away from.
The series currently playing on Bravo, hasn’t yet finished its season. That being said, it’s so insanely good that I knew I had to include it on my list of top favorite new dramas of 2018. It’s crazy to think that this show is based on a true story and not that of fiction. You have to remind yourself of that fact while watching the show. At times you feel like you’re watching just another TV Drama, but than you remember this was very much in fact a true story written for TV and not a fiction story written for TV.
While never listening to the podcast or reading about this story prior, I have no idea how this story is going to end. The show continues to have twists and turns that you just don’t see coming. It draws you in with its every moment. Thanks in part to its amazing cast, its crazy story, the way it was filmed, and its performances. If you haven’t yet tuned in, turned that channel to Bravo now! The story of Dirty John proves that sometimes real life can be just as crazy as any fictional story that you could ever come across in a book, show, or movie.
4. YOU on Lifetime.
Cast: Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Shay Mitchell, John Stamos
This is the 3rd time I’ve written about the topic of YOU on my Blog. I’ve talked about it in an article about “Book Adaptations of 2018”, as well as in an article about “Books that I Read in 2018”. Talking about this book and its companion TV Series is always a pleasure simply because both are so insanely flipping good!
Overview & Thoughts:
I read YOU (by Caroline Kepnes) over this past summer and shortly after reading it was quickly swept in. It’s a very dark twisted disturbing read to say the least, but one of the best books and thrillers I’ve ever read. I read the book in anticipation of the TV Adaptation that was to go on Lifetime. I knew the moment I finished reading the book, that if done properly this would be a fantastic TV Show! Spoiler Alert: It was indeed done properly to perfection! Making this one of the best Book to TV Series Adaptations of 2018!
The story of YOU follows that of Joe Goldberg. He works at Mooney’s Bookstore. One day a girl he’s never seen before comes in. She goes by the name of Beck. They casual flirt as they talk about different authors and books. She pays for her purchases. Joe and Beck exchange their goodbyes. It looks as though the story might end there, but it doesn’t.
YOU is a tale of madness and obsession told from the perspective of the madman, Joe. This series based on the novel of the same name, is a terrifying story of deception narrated by a character who does unspeakable acts in the name of what he considers to be love. YOU is about how looks can be deceiving, especially in the age of social media. And how sometimes we never really know who someone truly is behind that smile until it’s too late.
YOU is the type of story where twists and turns continue from one episode to the next. It’s unpredictable with moments that truly are shocking. Kepnes wrote a novel that had all the elements that truly make a great thriller of a read. That was than transition to TV and its adaptation to the small screen was just as scary, twisted and insane as the novel was exactly.
3. POSE on FX.
This summer, in my opinion, just didn’t offer that many great new series. Although, there were a few good new ones. One of those good new ones was a show called POSE on FX. This new series was just beyond fantastic. POSE is another wonderful show from the mind of Ryan Murphy. It’s series that just grabs your attention from its very start and where you couldn’t help but want to watch episode after episode.
Cast: Billy Porter, Evan Peters, Mj Rodriguez, Kate Mara, Indy Moore, Dominique Jackson, Ryan Jamaal Swain, James Van Der Beek
Overview & Thoughts:
This is a series that takes place in New York City during the late 1980s. The show follows a group of individuals within the LGBTQ community who are just trying to live their lives. These individuals who are friends with each other and eventually become like family to one another. They are trying to find their place to belong in a world that doesn’t give them the same respect as others. They have a place that they can call their own during the midnight hours called “The Ball”. The Ball is a place where they are respected and can truly be themselves with no judgment from others for simply being who they are.
The Ball is a place where they are the stars. During these moments they can just be as they are. They don’t have to hide who they are or who they love. Here they are free of any judgment and can just simply be themselves. It’s in this environment of friendship, respect and love of just feeling alive and supported by others who have a mutual respect for one another. The outside world can be cruel and harsh and cold. Inside The Ball, life is happy, life is fabulous, life is glitz and glamour for days. It’s here where life is that wonderful and that happy, if only for a few hours. Where that judgment and harshness disappears and life can just be simple and wonderful and happy for some bit of time.
There are many different storylines throughout this 1st Season of POSE. One main storyline is that of friendship and family. A lot of these characters are abandoned or disowned by their families for loving who they love or wanting to be who they really are. Family, the people who are suppose to love you unconditionally no matter who you love or who you are are sometimes the people that can let you down the most. It’s sometimes the kindness of strangers who become friends who turn into family that can be that family that you never had. Sometimes family are not the people who gave you life, but those friends that love you and love you for who you are.
POSE is a show that makes you feel, think, and realize how at the end of the day we are all just people trying to live life in this world. How at the end of the day we are all the same. We all have hopes. We all have dreams. We all deserve respect. As far as 1st Season’s go this one was astoundingly perfect and it recently just got nominated for a Golden Globe that was very much well deserved! The performances and story in POSE makes it a series that you won’t soon forget.
2. The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix.
This series is based on the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. I have to admit as one who likes to read a book before watching its adaptation, this was a time when I ended up watching the adaptation first and skipping the novel. Although, after watching the Netflix series I’m definitely hoping to check out the book in 2019. This series was fantastic from start to finish. It was truly just a wonderfully done series and possibly the scariest show I’ve ever seen.
Cast: Timothy Hutton, Carla Gugino, Michel Huisman, Henry Thomas, Elisabeth Reaser
Overview & Thoughts:
The Haunting of Hill House can be described as “This Is Us” with a supernatural element to it. The story follows the Crain family in the early 1990s. The parents, Hugh and Olivia, renovate and flip houses as a profession. Their latest house renovation to flip is for a mansion that is referred to in the series as “Hill House”. Hugh and Olivia than move their whole family into Hill House to live in for the next several months as this renovation is to take place.
Hugh and Olivia, have done these type of house renovations several times before. This house renovation is just like any other job to them….at first. Slowly, all the children and parents start to hear and see strange things in the house. Things that don’t seem to make any sense. Things that can’t be explained.
The series flash forwards between the past and present during the course of the season. We see what went on during the family’s stay at “Hill House” in the past and how their time spent in Hill House affected them in their later years. The constant question of the series becomes was there really something supernatural in Hill House or were all the bizarre occurrences that took place there really just in their minds?
This series did something that you don’t see a lot in the horror genre. It deals with loss, it deals with sadness and it deals with how we sometimes can be held back by our past. The past which if you let it can hold you back from moving forward in your present and future. Those elements of grief and loss are just one part of the story here in this series. The other is that of the supernatural element. That unexplained scariness that makes this show one of the scariest I’ve ever seen on TV. Without giving anything away, there’s a lot more to the story than meets the eye in the story of “The Haunting of Hill House”.
1. Forever on Amazon Prime.
For my all time favorite new show of the year, in any category, it just simply had to go to “Forever”. This one of a kind gem is one that I’d like to refer to as an “existential comedy”. Being more of the existential side, I put this show on the drama category side. It dealt with a lot of deep issues told in a slightly comical way at times.
Cast: Fred Armisen, Maya Ruldolph, Catherine Keener, Noah Robbins
Overview & Thoughts: I wrote about this show a while ago if you’re looking for an more in-depth overview, be sure to check out my previous article on “Forever”.
This quirky and delightfully perfect gem of a series follows that of June and Oscar. They meet, fall in love, get married. After several years of marriage, a routine emerges for this couple. Wake up, work, dinner, sleep. Some don’t mind routine (Oscar). While some hope for more out of life and for some excitement with new experiences instead that of day to day routine for their life (June).
Forever is a show that is truly hard to talk about without giving away any spoilers. So with that said, it’s a show about life, about changes, about growth, about empathy. With only 8 episodes, it’s a show that tells its story in a timely and short manner. In the manner of only 8 episodes, “Forever” brings you on a journey of ups and downs. Throughout that journey it tells a story that makes you realize that at the end of everything that life is what we make of it. It’s us alone that hold us back or us alone that moves us forward. If we can be so lucky as to have someone by our side next to us on that journey, than that can truly be the greatest gift of all.
That’s my list of Top 10 Favorite NEW TV Dramas of 2018. This year many great new TV Dramas premiered from ones that were thrillers, to family dramas, to existential gems to were able to keep your attention. Stories told with performances that amazed. Being “that golden age of television” right now I definitely had more shows that I considered to be new favorites this year. Although I said I’d only list my top 10 new favorite dramas and I managed to stick with that.
Year after year new shows start and returning ones end. It’s a cycle as old as time. We are living in a time where hundreds of shows are constantly premiering making endless options and choices of what new shows are worth watching. That constant question of “Is this show worth the watch and my time?” every time you turn on the TV to pick a new program to watch. Next time you go to turn on your TV to enter a different world by just the flick of a button, I hope I made the question of “what to watch….what to watch?” just a little easy question to answer.