Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: What’s the best new overlooked show of 2018 so far?
Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint), The Hollywood Reporter
The best new overlooked show of 2018 so far is probably a show that I’m overlooking, so any answer I would give to you is probably wrong by virtue of my acknowledging it. That being said, the answer has probably been the same since the first week of 2018 when it premiered and that’s Netflix’s “The End of the F***ing World,” a romantic comedy cut with arsenic and featuring what ought to be star-making performances from Alex Lawther and Jessica Barden as a couple of British teens who find love on a road trip, except that he’s a budding serial killer planning to murder her and she’s dealing with psychological baggage that’s nearly as complicated. At eight episodes, all under 25 minutes, it’s one of the fastest binges you could do on Netflix and you’ll know within 10 minutes if it’s a show for you. Look at that! I answered a question in a completely straightforward manner without offering any additional contenders or honorable mentions!
Caroline Framke (@carolineframke), Variety
We published one of those handy “Best TV of the Year So Far” lists a couple weeks back, and I was very proud of it until I realized I left off one of my favorites that could especially use the boost, at which point I was horrified. So, let me try to make up for it here by saying how great “Vida” is! “Vida” is great! Though it has an admittedly pilot-y pilot to set up why its reluctant main characters would stay in their hometown for more than a day or two, the show’s first season is overall sharp and funny, as pointed as it is poignant. The acting (particularly from Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrerro as the two central sisters) is great, and not for nothing, this is the rare show that tells queer stories in a way that makes it clear just how queer the creative team behind them really is. I know we’re all busy, there’s too much TV etc and so on, but “Vida’s” six episodes will take you less than three hours total to speed through, so, get to it.
Ben Travers (@BenTTravers), IndieWire
For a series that’s totally self-possessed from the start, “Vida” is also absolutely alive with personality. It’s an easy binge in just six half-hour episodes, but each entry in Tanya Saracho’s Starz series has a clear voice, builds compelling characters, and marks a much-needed step forward for Latinx representation on television. Unlike other “important” shows, “Vida” doesn’t feel like homework. It’s as fun as it is gripping, and there’s really no reason it has yet to capture the cultural conversation. Keep talking about it, and give it time. This one will stick with you.
April Neale (@aprilmac), Monsters & Critics
Overlooked by many, but not canceled would be “The Terror” on AMC, which starred Ciarán Hinds and Jared Harris, both of whom were exceptional in their parts. Critics that followed it loved it including myself, but I felt the chatter and the spotlight waned at best on this gem. I hope that people who missed it will look for it on the usual suspect places like Hulu or AMC’s site.
This 10-part series Season 1 was adapted from Dan Simmons’s 2007 eponymous novel about period British exploration hubris set on two tall ships trapped in remote Arctic ice. The building psychological strain of their predicament was underscored by a fantastic random creature stalking them all as they sorted their mess while power roles shifted as time went on. This was, for me, what true cinematic horror is about. Not constant visual assault and excess blood and gore, but measured, smart writing and performances. Thrilled they are continuing this concept for another run at it.
My other overlooked TV series to recommend to people is “Big Dreams Small Spaces” airing for us Americans on Netflix. It features garden expert Monty Don, a middle-aged sexy Tom Jones-type replete with suspenders, velour suits and a “je ne sais quoi” of charismatic planting advice. Unlike the frenetic blokey style of Alan Titchmarsh who stars in another British gardening show, Monty is mesmerizing.
Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall), Rolling Stone
This hasn’t been an especially deep year for great new shows, and the best ones — “Killing Eve,” “Barry,” “Counterpart,” even “End of the F***ing World” and “Cobra Kai” — seemed to get plenty of oxygen from critics and fans alike.
So I’ll pick a show that could have used some more love before it got swept up in Netflix’s new “Hey, Canceling Shows Like Everybody Else Sure Seems Like Fun” phase: the ‘90s teen comedy “Everything Sucks!” It got dinged in many corners — not unfairly — for the overload of references to 90s songs, movies, and other fads, but once it stopped chugging Surge and focused on its appealingly vulnerable cast of kids (plus the most sympathetic principal in high school show history), it was pretty terrific. I wish more people had discovered it before the renewal decision had to be made, but those 10 episodes will live in the Netflix library, and they tell a sweet and funny story that works as a self-contained unit now that it’s been canceled.
Marisa Roffman (@marisaroffman), Give Me My Remote
What the world needs now is love and joy. And ABC’s “Splitting Up Together” is a freaking delight. Emily Kapnek has a knack for creating shows that are downright comforting (RIP “Selfie” and “Suburgatory”) and this rom-com – about a newly-split former couple trying to navigate life post-separation – flew way under the radar. Oliver Hudson and Jenna Fischer have a real chemistry, and I’m so glad the show is returning for a second season.
Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti), Vox
Is an acceptable answer “all TV shows”? In the world of TV 2018, it feels like a constant war to draw readers’ attention to any TV show, including the ones with lots of buzz, or awards nominations, or even ratings. Occasionally, a “Game of Thrones” or a (gasp) “Roseanne” pops through and dominates the attention of the country, but the days of big megahits are largely gone. The ratings “Game of Thrones” pulls would have been laughed at as a “big hit” even 20 years ago, and forget about before that. It’s a world of divided attention spans, of microniches, of people who feel like they’re all looking in different directions and are never sure what to focus on.
That said, the answer is “Altered Carbon.” I liked many, many shows better (including a bunch of shows that genuinely deserve your time and attention more than “Altered Carbon,” which I hope my colleagues have already singled out), but it’s nuts that something so expensive essentially evaporated from the public consciousness in about 12 hours, and I thought the show was a surprising amount of fun. So that’s my pick.
Joyce Eng (@joyceeng61), GoldDerby
I feel like “The End of the F***ing World’s” early January release got f***ing buried. The British import has one of those premises that probably shouldn’t work — a teen psychopath and a girl run away together, and he may also want to murder her on their road trip — but it totally does. It’s macabre, weird, fun, nihilistic yet heartwarming, and a more believable portrait of teen romance than, oh, I dunno, “The Kissing Booth.” Plus, the episodes are really, really short for a perfect night or weekend binge.
Kaitlin Thomas (@thekaitling), TVGuide.com
The crop of truly great new shows this year is rather small, but I feel like “Counterpart,” a sci-fi spy drama about an agency tasked with overseeing a crossing to a parallel world created by East German scientists, is one show that was vastly overlooked. I personally didn’t even get around to watching it until after the first season had concluded, so I was definitely part of the problem, but then I blew through it in a couple days. J.K. Simmons is (predictably) incredible in the dual role of Howard Silk, and the show’s supporting cast, which includes Harry Lloyd, Olivia Williams, and Richard Schiff, takes it to the next level. But it’s really the compelling narrative, which tackles themes of identity through the hallmarks of the spy thriller genre, that make it an addicting watch. It’s easily my favorite new show of 2018.
Liz Shannon Miller (@lizlet), IndieWire
There’s a part of me that wants to answer with shows like “The Chi” and “The Terror,” largely because I know they’ve been overlooked because I’ve failed to sit down and watch them. (Oh, god, and there’s also “Vida” and “Succession” and “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” and has anyone mentioned that there’s a lot of TV around these days?)
Of the shows I have watched, though, I would love to see the TBS animated series “Final Space” get more attention, if only because Mooncake is an eternal source of joy for me. The show also features some really stunning animation, great voice work from both relative unknowns and legends, and a lot more depth than you might expect from a show that on the surface might have looked like an effort to echo “Rick and Morty.” “Final Space” is a lot of fun. And DID I MENTION MOONCAKE???
Q: What is the best show currently on TV?*
A: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (three votes)
Other contenders: “Hannah Gadsby: Nanette” and “Westworld” (two votes each), “The Bold Type,” “Claws” and “Succession” (one vote each)
*In the case of streaming services that release full seasons at once, only include shows that have premiered in the last month.