best-web-shows-of-2018

The OTT space is finally coming into its own in this country and I’m NOT talking about the great original content being churned out consistently. Just having access to the best shows from around the world has been a huge leap for people scavenging the dark corners of the Internet for torrent links. 2018 saw the most anticipated TV shows, from just about everywhere, being available instantly or within days of their online or satellite premieres on Netflix India and Amazon Prime Video India and Hotstar Premium.

So, here I am trying to put together a list of the 10 best English language fiction shows of the year. The disclaimer, of course, is that I haven’t watched every show out there. No one has. You pick the shows that you have been following over the years or the big new show with a big star or simply the show that everyone is talking and tweeting about. This is the list of my top 10 from those shows I watched in 2018, in no particular order.

Better Call Saul (Season 4)

If you’ve been a fan of Breaking Bad and found the official prequel nothing like the mother show, especially its titular character, well, things have been changing and changing fast. This 10-episode fourth season is that pivotal season where Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk, as good as ever) is almost ready to get into the dirty dirtier dirtiest shoes of Saul Goodman. It also marks the beginning of the end of his relationship with Kim (Rhea Seehorn, so good) captured so beautifully in a split-screen montage in the seventh episode, Something Stupid.

Now Streaming on: Netflix

sharp-objects

Sharp Objects

Very few TV shows these days try and create an original visual language which elevates the material and makes it stylish and sexy. Sharp Objects does that in all its eight episodes. That the show has a consistently intense, almost claustrophobic, tone throughout is because all the eight episodes have been directed by the same person, Jean-Marc Vallée, who had made Big Little Lies last year. This adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s first novel also has a terrific cast in top form led by Amy Adams, who plays Camille, an alcoholic journalist forced to return to her hometown and to her nightmarish childhood memories, when a preteen girl is murdered there.

Now Streaming on: Hotstar Premium

Bojack Horseman (Season 5)

The thing with this show is that at the end of every season you are convinced that they cannot go deeper and darker and still keep things funny. And they do just that in the new season. A never-ending waltz between ego and self-hatred, the past catches up with Bojack (Will Arnett) in this fifth season while the other characters around him have their own little meltdowns. Razor-sharp writing coated with wicked humour, this is really streaming gold. Also, before Bojack, you never thought that you would use the phrases animated sitcom and emotionally devastating in the same line.

Now Streaming on: Netflix

barry

Barry

The moment you see Bill Hader in anything, the first thought is that the next few minutes are going to be loud and slapstick. But surprisingly, the show he’s created and for which he even directed the first three of the eight episodes, has him in a delicately nuanced, understated performance. But make no mistake this is a comedy, perhaps morbidly so. Hader plays Barry Berkman, a former United States Marine and now a “low-rent hitman”, who suddenly wants to become an actor. The problem is that he is not good at it and his day job is always in the way.

Now Streaming on: Hotstar Premium

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Season 2)

The Golden Globes seems to have upped the momentum for this Amy Sherman-Palladino show which not only takes off from where it left in the first season, but makes things better and brighter. As Midge (the luminous Rachel Brosnahan) gets more and more comfortable (read: powerful) behind the microphone as Mrs Maisel, the feminist theme resonates louder and longer. There’s just so much unalloyed pleasure and elation to witness a 1950s housewife pack (many) a punch, episode after episode, in the very-male world of stand-up comedy.

Now Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

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American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

No David Schwimmer here blurting out “Juice” in every scene of every episode (like in the first season – The People v. O.J. Simpson), but what tips the scale in favour of the new season is the astonishing performance by Darren Criss as serial killer Andrew Cunanan. There is no murder mystery to solve here as the show starts with the assassination and goes backwards and backwards into the horrifying mind of the sociopath. And unknowingly, you start to care and that’s what makes this Ryan Murphy show special.

Now Streaming on: Hotstar Premium

American Vandal (Season 2)

A sensational first episode – where a laxative-spiked lemonade has an entire school pooping not just in the toilets but in corridors and classrooms – and an overwhelming final episode – where the story of one little community alludes to a universal affliction – hold together a pacy, pulsating, binge-worthy season of the mockumentary whose first season was terrific in its own right. The best thing about the show is its self-awareness and how it truly understands the modern teenage mind.

Now Streaming on: Netflix

homecoming

Homecoming

Like Sharp Objects, Homecoming too has all its episodes directed by the same man (Sam Esmail) and like Sharp Objects, this is another visceral tour de force from start to finish. You look for the star Julia Roberts (in her big small-screen debut) in the first episode but soon you are sitting in that chair opposite counsellor Heidi Bergman at the facility trying to help soldiers transition back to civilian life. A slow burner yes but so satisfying, both emotionally and in terms of plot, by the time the characters come home.

Now Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

The Americans (Season 6)

This is a criminally underseen show about two Soviet KGB officers (real life couple Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) posing as an American married couple in suburban Washington, DC, during the Cold War. Right from season 1, this spy drama has impressed thanks to the chemistry between the leads and the way the show runners play with the period but in this final season, the stakes are raised with a piling body count. Let’s just say this is one show which finishes stronger than it started.

Now Streaming on: Hotstar Premium

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The Good Place (Season 3)

The funniest place on the small screen, this show just keeps getting better with every season. Working with a simple premise of a woman (Kristen Bell) being wrongfully sent to heaven (by the incredible Ted Danson) in her afterlife, The Good Place is like a long, warm hug full of hope and humanity. In the new season, things get delightfully flipped when the action moves to earth but the show continues to be a puzzle of moralities and that eternal search for the goodness within. A couple of episodes are still not out but this had to be on the list of the best of 2018.

Now Streaming on: Hulu (Season 1 is available on Netflix)

The 10 shows which almost made it to the list…

The End of the F***ing World

This is Us

Westworld

Maniac

The Kominsky Method

Pose

Bodyguard

The Handmaid’s Tale

GLOW

Succession

Total
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