Recommend a TV show to anyone and you’ll likely be greeted with knowing shrugs and agreement that ‘there’s too much good TV’ but ‘I can’t get through it all’. It’s a nice problem to have, but with the volume of high-quality original programs from streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu ; plus incumbents like the BBC, Channel 4 and HBO, the competition for your time is fearsome - and that's without factoring in 100 hour+ games like Red Dead Redemption 2 or, well, actual real life. It's challenging enough staying up to date with shows you like (or liked, but can't let go through acute sunk cost fallacy), let alone trying one of 2018's breakout hits, like Killing Eve, Pose, or The Haunting of Hill House.
Here at GamesRadar, we spend a lot of time talking about the biggest - and best - TV, but don't always get chance to cover those random Netflix documentaries, reality TV shows and acclaimed, but lesser-known, box sets that occupy our free time. We share our most-binged TV of 2018 below, and we'd love to hear what you watched most in 2018, from big water cooler TV blockbusters to guilty pleasure viewing. Drop us a line on @gamesradar or share a tip with fellow readers in the comments below. It's always good to discover that someone else found happiness in OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes… and you might just discover something new.
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“It’s consistently hilarious, whether it’s making fun of the church or telling abortion jokes”
The shows: Black Lightning, Jane the Virgin, Derry Girls, Grace and Frankie, and Nailed It!
While we’re definitely living in a binge-tastic world right now, the TV shows which I ‘binged’ the most this year - AKA, the shows I loved so much I just couldn’t stop watching - were actually series which aired one episode at a time, each a week. Ironic, right? Here I was, in 2018, forced to wait each week for the next entry of Black Lightning, Jane the Virgin, and Derry Girls. But oh boy was it worth it! While Black Panther was busy proving that African American cinema could indeed make money at the box office, another black superhero was taking similar strides on the small screen in the form of Black Lightning. A refreshing take on the superhero genre, it tells the tale of a superhero who comes out of retirement to fight the crime, social injustice, and racism which has taken root in his community and I couldn’t get enough of it. And just when I thought I was getting sick of superheroes too...
The other love of my TV life this year was the fourth season of Jane the Virgin. After devouring the first three seasons of the show on Netflix last year, I was gripping my sofa with anticipation as the season 4 premiere aired. Trust me, if I could have binge-watched the entire season in one go, I would have! I was once again sucked in by the lovable main character, the slightly unbelievable hijinks, and OMG THAT ENDING!!! I’m now desperately waiting for season 5. I also want to give a shout out to Derry Girls, which was one of the funniest (and most feminist) things I saw this year. Following four high school girls living Derry in the ‘90s during The Troubles in Ireland, it’s consistently hilarious whether it’s making fun of the church or telling abortion jokes, and it still manages to end of an important and poignant note with its final scene.
Finally, in terms of the shows I actually binged this year, the crown goes to Grace and Frankie season 4 and Nailed It! One is the fourth season of an incredibly underrated Netflix Original starring the amazing Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as two retirees who find out their husbands are having an affair… with each other, and I finished it in one night! Yes, really. And the other is a disaster cake-making competition which literally ends with the host saying: “We’ll see you next time, unless you’re binging this on Netflix in which case we’ll see you in a few seconds!” Enough said. Lauren O’Callaghan
"I can't recall enjoying a show as much as My Brilliant Friend”
The shows: Mum, The Handmaid's Tale, Love Island, Killing Eve, and My Brilliant Friend
Shout out to the cornflower-white-subtlety of BBC comedy Mum, which I warbled on about in March, for the warmth of Lesley Manville's performance as the agonized matriarch, and a 'finally!' moment to rival the ending of An Officer and a Gentleman. Only re-imagined as a repressed, Middle England game of charades, with Debra Winger and Richard Gere played by your mum and dad. I'd argue The Handmaid's Tale season 2 was even better than the first season, for remaining so grimly compelling - yet authentic to the source material - when unmoored from author Margaret Atwood's narrative. The best water-cooler TV experience of the year is, of course, Love Island, and if you want me to justify that, we can't be friends. Format TV doesn't get more delicious, and there's an unbreakable humanity to its endless contrivance.
Jodie Comer's Villanelle in Killing Eve is 2018's best TV character; irresistible, immaculate and repulsive. It might be recency bias, but I can't recall enjoying a show as much as My Brilliant Friend, HBO's lavishly-produced, yet aesthetically shoestring, adaptation of Elena Ferrante's acclaimed novels about two female best friends growing up in working-class 1950s Naples. The show's producers took months to find the 'perfect' childhood versions of Lenu and Lila, so you genuinely can't tell they're played by different actors as troubled teenagers. My Brilliant Friend tackles the destructive, yet irresistible, bonds of family; the nature of friendship and rivalry; and the impact of fate - and role models - in shaping our destiny. After every hour, you feel like you've spent time with friends, sharing their hopes and fears. Billed as a “masterwork” by The Wall Street Journal, it feels like a throwback to a different era of TV, knowing how to slow down and frame a scene for impact. Dan Dawkins
“I didn’t mean to watch pretty much an entire season in one go, it just sort of happened”
The shows: The Good Place and The Sinner
The Good Place and The Sinner season 2 are probably tied for the most abused TV in terms of binging for me this year. The Good Place consists of incredible funny 20 minute bursts that are impossible to resist nibbling through. I didn’t mean to watch pretty much an entire season in one go, it just sort of happened. All the key cast are great (fun fact: Janet is best) as they deal with some... unusual afterlife problems, while its twisty surprises and unpredictable reveals constantly keep things fresh; consistently morphing the overall arc in interesting and unexpected directions from season to season. The second round of The Sinner on the other hand is a tense guessing game built around a strange murder. It doesn’t quite have the full WTF impact of its debut season, but it’s close, weaving a densely characterised small town tale of cults and murder, full of hidden secrets bubbling to the surface as Bill Pullman’s excellent Detective Ambrose probes the case - it’s hard to turn off each time he connects another piece of the puzzle. Leon Hurley
“It was utterly bizarre and oddly fascinating”
The shows: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Dark Tourism, and Safe
I'm afraid I've watched the entirety of Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix twice this year, because it's 20 minute chunks of glorious comedy, with a cast of characters that literally feel like you could slot right in as one of the gang. It's one of the best shows about friendships, especially as a working team, which oddly always reminds me of the good times we have at GamesRadar. Of course, it helps there was a new season this year, and there was all the controversy about it being cancelled, and then saved, so it was constantly at the forefront of my mind too.
Elsewhere though, I've enjoyed slightly more obscure TV. Netflix's Dark Tourism took us on a slightly disturbing worldwide tour of the odd macabre trips people go on to see the more odd things people do on holiday, from the suicide forest in Japan to pretending to cross the border from South America to the US. It was utterly bizarre and oddly fascinating, to the point that my boyfriend and I actually took a trip to the incredibly disturbing Littledean Prison museum featured in one of the episodes. Now there's a holiday I'll never forget! There's also the incredibly brilliant Safe, featuring Dexter's Michael C. Hall as a father whose daughter goes missing after a party in an unsettlingly 'perfect' English suburbia. Queue twists, turns, drama, and a whole lot of gossiping as this crime drama unfurls. Sam Loveridge
“I can’t actually remember how we chose to give it a go, but, eight seasons later, here we are”
The show: Suits
This was a total and complete binge for me and the wife this year: often two or more episodes a day. Minimum. Suits hooked us in us so quickly and effectively I can’t actually remember how we chose to give it a go, but, eight seasons later, here we are. Helped by the stylish aesthetic that Suits always has - one that’s jealousy-inducing, often giving us clothing-, career- and office- envy - it presents the complexities of the lawyer-world in a very enjoyable way. Dispelling some but playing up to other stereotypes, it's a fun window into the inner machinations of the legal world, balancing highbrow legal stuff (that’s easy to follow), with humorous banter and relatable relationships.
The characters are very enjoyable too, yet deeper than meets the eye: Harvey is more vulnerable and complicated than his confident bravado lets on; and while Louis has an easily-dislikeable and brash exterior, it papers over a compassionate interior, and you do end up warming to him. Almost every episode is based around an interesting case, and the ones that are threaded over multiple episodes really get their hooks into you. It’s also been on long enough now to embed larger-scale plots and undercurrents that affect the characters and direction of the series, sometimes giving it a ‘how will this play out’ tension. Suits maintained a delicious moreishness to it throughout all the seasons, this year’s season 8 being no exception, and while it feels like it might be nearing a natural conclusion in the next couple of seasons, we can’t wait to devour the next tasty instalment. Rob Dwiar
“Not sure why I enjoy spending so much time with them…”
The shows: Peep Show and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
I don't have the attention span to binge any show that's longer than 20 minutes an episode (it's taken me nearly two months to get through Daredevil season 3), but short, spicy sitcoms are such easy viewing material that I can watch them over and over without losing interest. As such, 2018 has seen me munch my way through all nine seasons of the endlessly quotable Peep Show for the third time (“Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are just Frosties for wankers”), alongside every episode of the equally quotable It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia ("I’m not fat, I’m cultivating mass"), right up to this year's thirteenth season. Strangely, both of these shows are about a morally bankrupt group of Generation Xers with zero life prospects and a cringe-inducing attachment to dysfunctionalism. Not sure why I enjoy spending so much time with them... I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. Alex Avard
“Its twists mean you're always second-guessing people's motives”
The show: Sneaky Pete
Now that I've watched both seasons of Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime, I'm pretty sure I've effectively been tutored in the art of the con. Telling the tale of conman Marius, the story follows how he assumes the identity of his cellmate Pete to steal his family's money - who he owes to a frankly terrifying man called Vince, played by Bryan Cranston - it's an odd mix between thriller, comedy, and family drama. What Marius doesn't realize is that Pete's family are bail bond agents, meaning they hunt for criminals on the run which, as you can imagine, puts Marius in a tricky situation.
Everyone in the series has a secret, and watching Marius trying to bluff his way through family history on the fly made my heart beat faster than watching most horror movies. Marius's ability to twist facts and charm/threaten/con his way out of trouble is astounding, and as the series progresses you get an insight into how he justifies manipulating people and what happened to him as a young lad to turn him into such a ruthless con artist. The entire underground language of conmen (and women) is exposed too, making Sneaky Pete unlike anything I've seen before - plus its twists mean you're always second-guessing people's motives. You don't want to be conned yourself, after all… Zoe Delahunty-Light
“I only put on in the background while I worked, but it slowly caught my attention”
The shows: Power and The Last Kingdom
I've been watching a few this year, but the two that stand out for me are Power and The Last Kingdom. Both completely different, one is about drug gangs in New York City, and the other about Saxons in the year 872. Power has kept me watching just due to the twist and turns that keep coming out of nowhere, and the fact that you know who the rat is, but nobody in the show can find out which infuriates and intrigues me at the same time. Then there's The Last Kingdom, a show I only put on in the background while I worked, but it slowly caught my attention and made me invested into certain character storylines. It mixes gore, battles, love, and historical moments in a huge mash of problems, rivalries and a storyline that we've all seen before. But for me, The Last Kingdom really shows the struggles of Saxons just trying to survive, and I've never seen this in another TV show, not even Vikings. Watch Power if you're into crime and incredible New York City culture, or take a peek at The Last Kingdom if you're fed up with waiting for Game of Thrones season 8. Brandon Saltalamacchia
“Bob Odenkirk is just so lovable, even when he's being a bit of a scumbag”
The shows: Better Call Saul, OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, and Baskets
I'm not quite sure how the mood struck, but out of the blue this year I decided to get caught up on Better Call Saul, starting from the very first episode. And my god, what a show! Even without knowing all the 'this person will be important later' references - I only made it through four seasons of Breaking Bad, I'll admit - the show is so jam-packed with compelling character development that anyone can enjoy every step of Jimmy McGill's fleeting rise and calamitous fall. Bob Odenkirk is just so lovable, even when he's being a bit of a scumbag, and Michael McKean is the crown jewel of an amazing supporting cast. I also managed to binge almost all of OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, a simply delightful cartoon about the virtues of being a hero-slash-bodega employee. And Baskets continues to be one of my all-time favorite shows through season 3, with the way it works sweet, tender moments in between all the slapstick and gallows humor. I'm convinced that Louie Anderson was put on this Earth to perfectly play the role of Christine Baskets. Lucas Sullivan
“It brought me no small amount of joy to see this new Adora provide a strong role model for young viewers”
The shows: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Castlevania
I was cautiously curious about She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, especially as I have fond memories watching the original series (on VHS tape, no less). And, may my 6-year-old self forgive me, this reboot is just flat-out better than the 1985 original. She-Ra of 2018 is flush with sympathetic villains and flawed heroes, all of whom experience growth and change while boasting some excellent visual redesigns. It brought me no small amount of joy to see this new Adora provide a strong role model for young viewers, and that guitar riff when she transforms is pretty sick. It's not all smiles and rainbows here though, as I also couldn't get enough of Netflix's adaptation of Castlevania. I love this show's aesthetic: dark, grim, and violent, with blood spurts galore as vampires and other unholy beasts descend upon some truly unlucky village folk. And yet I also appreciate it for its quieter moments. Here, Dracula is not just a final boss awaiting our heroes, he's a conflicted and complex man with faults, but also some admirable qualities. The first season is a quick-and-dirty revenge tale setup, but the second digs deep into some juicy conspiracy and Game of Thrones-style political manipulation. Spectacular. Sam Prell
“Obviously I watched every second of Love Island 2018. Some of them repeatedly”
The shows: Sharp Objects, The Sinner, Killing Eve, Castle Rock, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, The Good Place, and Love Island
Despite being completely bereft of any Game of Thrones, it was yet another year where I struggled to keep up with all the great TV. Sharp Objects was like a punch to the back of the head (in a good way) and made me hungry for more Gillian Flynn novels, while The Sinner managed to win me back for another season with a creepy kid and an even creepier cult. Killing Eve made me falls for a Russian psychopath, Castle Rock had me fascinated - and at one point sobbing - and American Horror Story: Apocalypse was a return to form for the occasionally wobbly franchise. Pose on FX broke my heart into a million pieces then stuck it back together with glitter glue and sequins, and The Good Place continued to be the smartest, kindest comedy I've ever seen. Um and obviously I watched every second of Love Island 2018. Some of them repeatedly. Rachel Weber