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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.

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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)

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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)

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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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