Vada’s Best TV of 2018 – Part 1

Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people.
Adam Lowe

2018 has been a great year for TV. With a mix of returning and debut shows, there has been plenty to choose from – and it’s perhaps no surprise that the bulk of what appears here, in our countdown from 10-6, has come from Netflix. Streaming has changed the TV landscape for good, and it’s making everyone up their game. (For numbers 5-1, see part two.)

We look forward to 2019 and the televisual treasures it brings!

10. A Very English Scandal

Undeniably queer and undeniably British, A Very English Scandal is the delicious pairing of writer Russell T. Davis (of Queer as Folk fame) and director Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things, My Beautiful Laundrette). This show tells the true story of an MP who gets caught up in a sex scandal, in true British fashion, and which made the papers for its already notorious Vaseline scene.

Plus, who doesn’t want to see Hugh Grant getting it on with Ben Whishaw? It was even more unexpectedly appealing than when Rupert Everett and Colin Firth snogged in St Trinian’s (we jest, of course).

9. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

First off: this isn’t a reboot of the original TV show. Technically, it’s an adaptation of the much darker comic revamp of the same name (Archie Andrews got his own darker revamp, which in turn became the Riverdale TV show). Secondly: the mythology of witches in the show is still somewhat muddled and in need of untangling (one moment the witches are cannibals and murderers, and they all worship Satan, then the next they fight evil demons and disapprove of murder the next).

But Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) and Harvey (Ross Lynch) have great chemistry, and Michelle Gomez steals every scene she’s in as the magnificent Miss Wardwell / Madam Satan. Rounding out the cast are fellow Brits Lucy Davis (from Shaun of the Dead) as Aunt Hilda, Chance Perdomo as cousin Ambrose and Richard Coyle (from Coupling) as High Priest Father Blackwood.

8. Stranger Things

Back for its second season this year, Stranger Things continues to spook and thrill with its ’80s Spielbergian style and strong cast of child actors.

Winona Ryder is understated and excellent as mother Joyce Byers, and David Harbour’s sympathetic Jim Hopper lends her support as the stakes increase. This time around, the Upside-down is fighting back and everything is bigger and badder.

It’s Joe Keery’s Steve Harrington who grows the most this season, and becomes an unexpected hero we can really root for. The kids all get ample screentime, and they’re a really affable bunch who make this show what it is.

The only thing holding this season back is a meandering sub-plot following Eleven as she joins a gang of misfits – which only serves to detract from an otherwise very tight, muscular second season.

7. The Good Place

The Good Place is still one of our favourite shows – even if it’s slowed down a bit in this, its third season. The cast are witty and charming, although the tension of the original premise has now largely evaporated while we take a deeper look into everyone’s backstories. That’s not a bad thing, but the heroes feel a little less pressed for time and are definitely more aware of what’s going on.

Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto and D’Arcy Carden are great together, and no doubt everyone has their own favourite character or pairing or they’re shipping (Jason and Janet FTW!). We look forward to The Good Place when it returns to screens.

6. Champions

Sadly cancelled after only one season, this gorgeous little sitcom was very pro-LGBT and was created by Charlie Grandy and Mindy Kaling. The star of the show was trans actor Josie Jay Totah (credited as J.J. Totah) as Kaling and Anders Holm’s theatrical son Michael Prashant Patel.

It really is a tragedy that Champions was cancelled so soon. The father-son dynamic between Totah and Holm was pitch-perfect, and we need more positive representations of straight fathers and their queer sons on TV. This was also a very diverse cast, and there was lots of promise among the characters they portrayed.

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