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30 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2018

From new prestige dramas and must-binge sci-fi shows to the return of ‘Atlanta,’ ‘Westworld’ and more – what we can’t wait to tune in to

30 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2018

The 30 most anticipated TV shows of 2018 – from new dramas, sitcoms and sci-fi sagas to the return of 'Westworld,' "Atlanta' and 'Jessica Jones.'

So much television, so precious little time. We’re now way past Peak TV and deep into the age of Anxiety TV – when you simply can’t keep up with every must-see show, binge-worthy new hit, streaming-service event series and whatever else is being recapped and breathlessly chattered about on TV Twitter. Scripted shows were at an all-time record high last year in terms of sheer numbers. DVRs are no sooner partially emptied before they fill to the brim again. Netflix releases roughly six gajillion new specials, docs and episodic spectacles every week. (We need to check the stats on that.) There’s never been a better time to be a TV fanatic, or a worse time to be a completist.

So yes, the idea that 2018 is only going to bring more shows and new seasons of old favorites does fill us with a tiny tinge of dread. But it also makes us incredibly excited to dip into new soon-to-be classics and dip back into familiar worlds with characters we’ve grown to love and loathe – we’re getting more Westworld, and Legion, and Handmaid’s Tale, and Jessica Jones! There will be new Atlanta episodes! David Freakin’ Letterman is back, people!!! Plus one of the new series mentioned below may be the one we’re all talking about a year from now, the premium-cable drama or network sitcom that changes the game once again. (Speaking of “game,” what’s up with this GoT being pushed to 2019? Grrr.) These are the 30 shows that have us settling into the couch in eager anticipation for the next 12 months. Dates may change, as they are wont to do. Happy viewing.

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman (Netflix, Jan. 12)

Joe Pugliese/Netflix

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman (Netflix, Jan. 12)

David Letterman used to joke that showbiz was just “high school with money,” and that he was the class clown annoying the popular kids. But ever since he retired from late-night TV and grew an epic beard, the wise-ass comedian has become too cool boy for regular late-night school. Each episode of his new monthly Netflix series will feature in-depth conversations with some of the most famous people in the world, including Jay-Z, Tina Fey, Howard Stern, George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai and – for hour one – President Barack Obama. No “Stupid Human Tricks” on this syllabus. NM

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’ (Amazon, Jan. 12)

Amazon gets its very own Black Mirror with this sci-fi anthology series adaptation of 10 stories by the author of The Man in the High Castle, A Scanner Darkly and numerous other paranoid dystopia-lit masterpieces. The star power is heavy with this one: Bryan Cranston, Anna Paquin, Janelle Monae, Vera Farmiga, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard, Greg Kinnear and many more show up, with every entry promising that signature P.K. Dick brand of mindfuckery. Keep an eye out for “Kill All Others,” the season finale directed by Dee Rees (Mudbound) that’s sure to have people talking. BT

2018 Best TV Shows

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ (FX, Jan. 17)

The crown jewel of Ryan Murphy’s anthology-series empire returns with another deep dive into one of the Nineties’ most high-profile crimes: the killing of fashion legend Gianni Versace (Carlos star Edgar Ramírez) by young social-climbing sociopath Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss). Unlike the justifiably revered The People v. O.J. Simpson, which focused on the trial and media circus that followed its central murders, this new installment travels backward in time from the designer’s death, tracing the trail of lies – and bodies – the grifter left behind. It’s a brutal, frequently moving serial-killer story, which depicts the blood on the hands of homophobia as well as those of the murderer himself. STC

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Mosaic’ (HBO, Jan. 22)

You can already watch Steven Soderbergh’s murder mystery in the form of a groundbreaking app that allows viewers to choose different perspectives and narrative threads to help solve the crime at its center. Now, HBO viewers will be treated to the “director’s cut” of the story of the murder of Olivia Lake, a famous children’s book author played by Sharon Stone. Garett Hedlund, Fargo’s Allison Tolman, Beau Bridges and Paul Reubens are also along for the ride. When Soderbergh comes out of retirement, he really comes out. BT

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Altered Carbon’ (Netflix, Feb. 2)

Science fiction has been especially popular on the small screen in the last few years – it feels like we’re in the middle of fertile new wave right now – and Netflix knows how to capitalize on a trend. This
adaptation of the 2002 Richard K. Morgan novel certainly looks more Blade Runner than The OA, however, with Joel
Kinnaman as an elite UN operative … well, technically, he stars as his body. In the future, people can be put
it in different “sleeves,” and our hero wakes up hundreds of years after he was
murdered, tasked with solving an entirely new crime. Identity philosophy, a complex
mystery, a high-budget vision of the future and some serious men in black with
high-powered weapons? Sign us up. BT

2018 Best TV Shows

‘2 Dope Queens’ (HBO, Feb. 2)

Daenerys and Cersei aren’t the only queens on HBO anymore. Comedians and
best pals Jessica Williams (The Daily
) and Phoebe Robinson (Search Party) are stepping
up to thrones with a filmed version of their popular WNYC podcast. Taped in front of a live audience in New York, the show
features frank, funny discussions of race, romance, city living and whatever
else is on their minds. The HBO
version is directed by none other than Tig Notaro; the
series will cover topics like “Hair,” “Black Nerds” and,
yes, “Hot Peen.” And the guest list is nothing to sneeze at: Jon
Stewart, Tituss Burgess, Sarah Jessica Parker and Uzo Aduba will take the stage in the series’ four-episode run. To that we say: Yassss. JS

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Here and Now’ (HBO, Feb. 11)

Welcome back, Alan Ball! The man behind Six Feet Under and True Blood returns to HBO with a drama about two parents (Tim Robbins and everyone’s favorite sassy Southern mom Holly Hunter) who’d adopted three children in addition to conceiving one. Cut to the present, with the multicultural brood all grown up, the marriage appearing to be falling apart – and now the screaming starts. The showrunner has always had a knack for portraying group dynamics and adding a compelling level of intimacy to your run-of-the-mill melodramatics, whether it’s a family of funeral-home owners or vampire and werewolf clans. We like the look of this one. DF

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Good Girls’ (NBC, Feb. 26)

TV’s suburban moms have been turning to casual lives of crime for years (where art thou, Nancy Botwin?). But this particular moment in America is ripe for a drama about housewives breaking bad. Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Retta (Parks and Recreation) and Mae Whitman (Parenthood) star as three cash-strapped suburbanites who join forces and turn to a life of armed robbery that quickly spirals out of control. Creator Jenna Bans is known for a soapier brand of TV, having helmed The Family and written for Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. But with a cast of this pedigree – what a trio! – Good Girls looks like it’s going to be some good old-fashioned vengeful fun. JS

2018 Best TV Shows

‘The Looming Tower’ (Hulu, Feb 28)

Journalist Lawrence Wright’s definitive account of the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks receives a dramatic small-screen adaptation in this limited series, executive produced by Wright’s Going Clear collaborator Alex Gibney. French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim leads a cast of American heavy-hitters – including Jeff Daniels, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Camp and Alec Baldwin – as the intelligence agents and government officials who tried (and failed) to stop the unfolding disaster. It’s a chronicle of a comedy of errors in which no one’s laughing. STC

Quantrell D. Colbert/FX

‘Atlanta Robbin’ Season’ (FX, Mar. 1)

Look, Donald Glover can call the second season of his Emmy-winning, canon-worthy FX show any damned thing he wants – the actor/co-creator/all-around Renaissance man could have dubbed this sophomore run Donny G’s Wacky Fun-Time Crotch-Kick and we’d still tune in to see where this sensational, surreal-as-fuck series goes every week. There is nothing we’re looking forward to more than hanging out with Earnest “Earn”Marks, Van, Paper Boi, Darius and their fellow ATLiens again; we’re still cracking up over Season One’s “invisible car” callback and still shaking over that intense finale. It may be our favorite show currently on TV. And we’re about to get more of it. DF

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Hard Sun’ (Hulu, Mar. 7)

Hulu brings over this BBC import, an apocalyptic sci-fi/cop procedural mix that plops two detectives (Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn) into the middle of a huge cover-up conspiracy. It seems they’ve come into the possession of a flash drive that details, with science and numbers and some chilling worst-case scenarios, exactly how the world will end … in five years. (If you guessed that the Bowie song Five Years will be played on the soundtrack at some point, will salute your precognitive abilities.) Naturally, some government types would like this fact to be kept from the general public. Some serial killers and serious familial dysfunction gets added in for good measure. DF

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Roseanne’ (ABC, Mar. 7)

By popular demand, Roseanne Barr is bringing back her beloved Nineties sitcom, which dealt so intelligently and hilariously with the stresses of middle American life. Less popularly (perhaps), she’s announced that Roseanne‘s Connor family will remain up-to-date with working class trends … right down to the MAGA hats. ABC has clarified that the show won’t be explicitly pro-Trump, but rather that – true to the original – it won’t ignore the arguments much of the country is having. “Woke” or not, this revival should be riveting. NM

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Jessica Jones’ Season 2 (Netflix, Mar. 8)

If you’re anything like us, you suffered through the sludge that was The Defenders just to watch reluctant superhero Jessica Jones take Daredevil and his self-seriousness down a few pegs. Finally, after a two-year wait, Melissa Rosenberg’s leather-jacketed P.I. is back to kick ass and probably forget to take names. Season One was easily Marvel’s best small-screen effort to date, featuring a bruised, prickly central performance from Krysten Ritter as a super-strong, binge-drinking detective and an unwavering look at how trauma can mark a person, all while still sticking to its comic-book roots. Season Two looks like it will be delving deeper into Jessica’s past while still deftly sticking a pin in the genre’s mythos: “If you say, ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ I swear I’ll throw up on you,” our heroine growls in the trailer. JS

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Rise’ (NBC, March 13)

Parenthood, How I Met Your Mother and Hamilton fans, take note: You’re about to find yourselves in the middle of a big network-programming Venn diagram. TV vet Jason Katims teams up with Broadway kingmaker Jeffrey Sellers for this NBC drama about seven kids in a Rust Belt small town who get involved in a high-school theater program and suddenly find themselves opening up to the world. Josh Radnor plays the Teacher Who Cares, Maybe Too Much. This midseason drama has everything: teen angst, big dreams, show tunes, class consciousness, Friday Night Lights-style shaky-cam, Rosie Perez and an abundance of hope in the power of the arts. DF

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Barry’ (HBO, Mar. 25)

You know, it’s your typical hitman-goes-through-existential-slump-and-decides-he-wants-to-become-an-actor story – that old chestnut. Silicon Valley executive producer Alec Berg teams up with Bill Hader for this wry black comedy about a professional assassin who gets bit by the performing-arts bug while on a job in Los Angeles; he wants to quit the life, his Chechen-mobster clients and his handler (Office Space‘s Stephen Root) aren’t ready to let him walk away just yet. Showbiz jokes, identity crises and gunfire ensue. Hader does double-duty as a director in a storyline that manages to hit many of his sweet spots: the awkward-yet-charming romantic lead of Trainwreck, the pathos-driven character drama of The Skeleton Twins, the comic chops of his SNL etc. work. DF

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Trust’ (FX, Mar. 25)

First we got Ridley Scott’s take on John Paul Getty III kidnapping (All the Money in the World); now Danny Boyle tackles the same tabloid tale for this highly-anticipated drama that feels a lot like an offshoot of the network’s American Crime Story franchise. The Slumdog Millionaire director’s version promises a somewhat deeper dive into this world of excess, abduction and political skullduggery. Christopher Plummer – so sorry, our bad, Donald Sutherland – plays Getty; Harris Dickinson, Hilary Swank and Brendan Fraser fill out key supporting roles. BT

2018 Best TV Shows

‘The Terror’ (AMC, Mar. 26)

If you think this winter’s cold snap has been bad, you may want to put on a few extra layers before watching this adaptation of Dan Simmons’ enormous survival-horror novel. Set in the frozen Arctic wastes and inspired by a true story, The Terror takes its title from the name of one of two British ships sent to trailblaze the Northwest Passage through icy Canadian waters in 1845. It was never to be seen again. (Until the vessels’ wrecks were found several years after the book’s publication, that is.) For the crew, the threats of frostbite, food poisoning, starvation, mutiny, madness and cannibalism are just the tip of the iceberg, as supernatural forces are also stalking their every move. Mad Men‘s Jared Harris stars in one of the most promising horror shows to sail our way in ages. STC

Best tv shows 2018

Jason Kempin/Getty

‘The Last O.G.’ (TBS, Apr. 3)

Tracy Morgan’s comedy about an ex-con returning to his old Brooklyn haunts has had a bit of a bumpy road: The show, originally developed for FX, was supposed to hit the air last year when it lost its original showrunner at the last minute. TBS rescheduled it for some time in 2018 – but that doesn’t mean we’re not still excited to see Tracey Freakin’ Morgan come back to TV, much less in a show co-produced by Jordan Peele (!) and co-starring Cedric the Entertainer (!) and Tiffany Haddish (!!!). We will still take this sitcom out behind the high school and get it pregnant, in other words. DF

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Westworld’ Season 2 (HBO, Apr. 22)

The robots are really pissed off now. If the trailer for Season Two is any indication, the sophomore year of this existential sci-fi Western is going to be even bloodier than the first. (Like, literally, it’s just dead bodies everywhere.) Of course, the most insidiously clever conceit of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s series is inviting viewers to soak in the ultraviolence while at the same asking us to consider why we’re enjoying it so much. After the revelatory twists of the season finale and the newfound self-awareness of the park’s hosts, it seems that things are not looking good for the humans. We’ll be interested to see how the series move forward given that Westworld has quite literally blown up its status quo – or at least shot it full of holes. JS

Best tv shows 2018

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2 (Hulu, April 25)

Talk about a tough act to follow: The first season of The Handmaid’s Tale won eight Emmys, two Golden Globes and a permanent spot in our ongoing anxiety dreams about the future of America. So where do you go after a barnstormer like that, especially considering the end of Season One was also the end of the Margaret Atwood-penned source material? There aren’t many details of what showrunner Bruce Miller has planned, but he’s hinted that the next season will expand the world even further beyond the point of view of Elisabeth Moss’s Offred, depicting life in those “colonies” that the characters speak of with special dread. Considering how the original episodes felt eerily prescient of the political climate in which it was released, it will be interesting to see where it The Handmaid’s Tale goes as the real world slouches towards Gilead. JS

'The Umbrella Academy' (Netflix, 2018)

Jason LaVeris/Getty

‘The Umbrella Academy’ (Netflix, 2018)

A decade ago, My Chemical Romance singer-songwriter Gerard Way started writing the Dark Horse comic book The Umbrella Academy, a product of his co-mingled fascinations with superheroes, science-fiction, surrealism, teen angst and prog-rock. After an aborted attempt to turn the series into a movie, the material has found its more natural home on TV. Ellen Page stars as one of a team of a super-powered adopted siblings, whose tumultuous upbringing has warped both their adult lives and reality itself. NM

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‘True Detective’ Season 3 (HBO, 2018)

You can love or hate its two wildly divergent seasons so far – frankly, it seemed unlikely that writer Nic Pizzolatto’s HBO anthology series would ever see the light of day (or night) again. But like a body that won’t stay buried, the network officially announced the series’ return last year, with Deadwood genius David Milch joining the creative team. Green Room helmer Jeremy Saulnier and Pizzolatto himself will direct a cast lead by Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo and Stephen Dorff in a multigenerational murder mystery set in the Arkansas Ozarks. STC

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Cloak and Dagger’ (Freeform, 2018)

Marvel screen adaptations often do best when they’re based on more obscure or B-list comics characters (see: Guardians of the Galaxy, Legion, Jessica Jones), sans the weight of Iron Man-shaped expectations. So the dark and lowering sky’s the limit for this Freeform show, based on a 1980s fan-favorite duo whom we can only describe as the most emo teens in the Marvel Universe. They come from two different worlds: Cloak (Aubrey Joseph) has darkness powers! Dagger (Olivia Holt) has light powers! They’re kind of messed up about it, but they also totally have the hots for each other! Creator Joe Pokaski (Underground, Daredevil, Heroes) emphasizes the caped YA drama in a big way; it looks like it’ll be appropriately fraught and gloomy. Bring on the rooftop brooding. JS

Best tv shows 2018

Bruce Glikas/Getty

‘Kidding’ (Showtime, 2018)

Jim Carrey and his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry reunite for this black comedy about a children’s television icon named Mr. Pickles who finds himself in the middle of a mid-life crisis. Fellow Oscar nominees Catherine Keener and Frank Langella join him in this show created by I’m Dying Up Here producer Dave Holstein. This could be the kind of unforgettable oddity to keep the network in the good graces of Twin Peaks fans going through withdrawal. BT

Best tv shows 2018

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‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ (Netflix, 2018)

We’d been wondering when the Coen brothers might take a crack at television. (And no, Fargo doesn’t count.) Well, pardner … the wait’s over. In their typically off-kilter way, Joel and Ethan are making a western anthology series, telling six different tales about characters who range from a singing cowboy to a sloppy cattle rustler. The brothers wrote and directed the whole run, and will have longtime collaborators like composer Carter Burwell and actors Tim Blake Nelson and Stephen Root around to add more Coens-y flavor. NM

'Lost in Space' (Netflix, 2018)

Randy Shropshire/Getty

‘Lost in Space’ (Netflix, 2018)

Danger, Will Robinson! The wholesome Sixties sci-fi spin on Swiss Family Robinson gets updated for the streaming era in a reimagining we hope will be a bit more like the mid-Aughts Battlestar Galactica reboot than the Nineties big-screen remake. Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, and (yes) the Robot star in the saga of space explorers who drift wildly off-course; in a nice bit of gender-bent casting, no less than Parker Posey has been cast as Dr. Smith. With Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones‘ “Blackwater” episode) signed on to direct some installments, the horror and action quotients should get kicked up considerably. STC

Best tv shows 2018

Michelle Faye/FX

‘Legion’ Season 2 (FX, 2018)

Mega-powerful mutant David Haller ended Legion‘s first season in triumph, vanquishing (at least temporarily) his arch-nemesis the Shadow King, and saving the cutting-edge science institute that’s become his new home. Then, post-credits, a little metal ball shrunk our hero and whooshed him away. Creator Noah Hawley will have 10 episodes to explain what happened to his main character, while continuing to push the boundaries of mind-bending fantasy – which should be a fun challenge, given that Twin Peaks had just blown up most of the remaining limits. NM

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Heathers’ (Paramount Network, 2018)

Ever since the pitch-black teen comedy Heathers became a surprise cult favorite in the late Eighties, various producers, studios, et al. have tried to find a way to bring back this stinging saga of mean high school kids and misfit rebels. After toying with the idea of a sequel, the new Paramount Network (which took over the project from TV Land, which took it from Bravo, which took it from Fox) will be following the Get Shorty model, retelling the original movie’s story in the modern day, with a few new twists. Fuck us gently with a chainsaw indeed. NM

Best tv shows 2018

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‘Maniac’ (Netflix, 2018)

Cary Fukunaga – the man behind the first season of HBO’s True Detective and TNT’s big new show The Alienist – directs Jonah Hill and Emma Stone in this 10-episode series based on a 2014 Norwegian hit. Very little is known about this unique production other than a) it’s a comedy and b) the A-list stars play two mental-institution patients who have very vibrant fantasy worlds into which they regularly retreat. The dividing line between “film” and “TV” actors has been blurred for a while now, but it’s still a little surprising to see two names this big headline a Netflix show. And did we mention it co-stars Justin Theroux and Sally Field? BT

2018 Best TV Shows

‘Castle Rock’ (Hulu, 2018)

The Stephen King Cinematic Universe gets rolled into one TV series – we think? – in this intriguing project from J.J. Abrams. A cast including Lost vet Terry O’Quinn, The Knick‘s André Holland, and Sissy “Carrie” Spacek herself star in this horror series, set in the small Maine town were terrible things tend to happen in so many of the Horror-Lit Master’s stories. With the first volume of It marking the most successful King adaptation in ages, we’re anxious to see if the show will be more than the sum of its shout-outs to the author’s sprawling back catalogue. STC

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