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Jeffrey Neira/FX

The Best Shows of 2018 (So Far)

From a Russian spy drama to an eye-opening nature documentary

We're not entirely sure how it happened, but we've reached the halfway point of 2018 already. This means it's now time to take a look back at the best and brightest TV shows of the last six months and sing their praises before we inevitably forget about them as new shows debut and our summer and fall favorites make their long-awaited return to our TV screens.

Upon first glance, it might seem as if we've experienced a bit of a Good Television drought, but the 20 shows on this list beg to differ. In the first half of the year, The Americans went out on a high note, Killing Eve took the world by storm, and Queer Eye was a much-needed light in the darkness. In fact, there's been so much TV to love in the last six months -- and so many different genres and styles of programming -- that we've ultimately decided against ranking this list, because how do you compare the magic of Blue Planet II to everything that Atlanta accomplished? You can't. So, keep that in mind and check out the 20 best shows of 2018 (so far).

The Americans (FX)

Keri Russell, The Americans

Patrick Harbron/FX

FX's eerily prescient drama about Russian spies living as Americans during the height of the Cold War was rightfully called TV's best drama since its first season even if it didn't get the eyes and awards it deserved. (C'mon, people!) The final season was still high on the show's notoriously detailed spy-jinks, but The Americans was always a family drama first and foremost, and the climactic series finale was absolutely perfect as it wrapped up the questions we all had since the pilot in bittersweet fashion. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell continued to make their case for television's best/most real husband and wife, even to the end as the walls surrounding their secrets came crumbling down. Was it occasionally slow and too complex? Yep. But when it was on, nothing else on TV matched it. -- Tim Surette

Atlanta (FX)

Donald Glover and Zazie Beetz, Atlanta


Atlanta made it known in its second season that it has no competitors or peers. The FX series challenged the way stories are told with 11 seemingly unconnected episodes. It blended comedy, drama, horror and the all-out absurd, often in the same scene. It told honest truths about contemporary black life. It saw Katt Williams escape the police with the help of an alligator. And it had the entire internet trying to figure out who the hell Teddy Perkins was. Atlanta was once again at the top of its game in Season 2. -- Malcolm Venable

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Barry (HBO)

Bill Hader, Barry

John P. Johnson/HBO

Bill Hader and Alec Berg's sadcom Barrywalked the tightrope of comedy and tragedy as deftly as any show outside of BoJack Horseman. Hader gave a career-changing performance as a depressed hitman who dreamt of being an actor but couldn't escape his life. It was an extraordinarily well-drawn portrait of a person who wanted so badly to grow into a better person but just couldn't get there due to circumstances both beyond and well within his control. It was painful, but it was brightened by wonderful, hilarious performances from its supporting cast, especially Henry Winkler, Sarah Goldberg and Anthony Carrigan. -- Liam Mathews

Billions (Showtime)

Damian Lewis, Billions

Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME

No show on TV is as entertaining as Billions. "But what about...?" you whine. No. Grow up. Whatever show you're going to say isn't as funny, as elegantly plotted or as satisfying in its payoffs as Billions, which finally reached its full potential as an exceptionally sophisticated soap in Season 3. Every episode had at least one moment that made you shout "YOOOOO!" at the top of your lungs as someone was double-crossed or outfoxed or insulted with an incredibly specific pop-culture reference. Every single character is a morally bankrupt rich sleazebag, and they all rule (except Lara. Sorry, Lara). If you don't like it, you're like Allen Iverson on the Memphis Grizzlies: useless, forgettable and sad. -- Liam Mathews

Blue Planet II (BBC America)

Blue Planet II

BBC 2017

You can search the world over and you won't find a more breathtaking, more powerful, or more cinematic piece of art than the BBC's Blue Planet II. The seven-episode follow-up to the network's groundbreaking 2001 nature documentary The Blue Planet was the finest example of its kind, a docuseries that took viewers beneath the rippling surface of the ocean to thoughtfully explore, in high-definition, the mysterious depths of some of the most majestic places on the planet, as well as the awe-inspiring creatures who call them home. But even as Sir David Attenborough infused his now-signature narration with the same sense of wonderment viewers feel upon witnessing the breathtaking footage captured by the BBC Natural History Unit, Blue Planet II never shied away from highlighting the harmful, disastrous effects humans have had on Earth's oceans. The final episode was dedicated entirely to humanity's influence, but that theme was also carefully woven into nearly every episode, a stark reminder that we are to blame for the destruction of not just our home, but the homes of countless other creatures. The truth hurts, but it's also impossible to ignore, and that's what made Blue Planet II not just incredibly powerful but also necessary. -- Kaitlin Thomas

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The Chi (Showtime)

Michael Epps, Alex Hibbert and Shamon Brown, The Chi

Matt Dinerstein/SHOWTIME

Lena Waithe's coming-of-age story about young people on Chicago's South Side humanized those in news reports, balancing a narrative that dealt with murder and gunshots with touching glimpses of families and many moments of sheer joy. Lead Jason Mitchell anchored The Chiwith grace, tenderness and optimism, and the supporting cast built out a real and gritty but also welcoming world full of fascinating people making tough choices. Its knee-jerk comparisons to The Wire miss the point: The Chi showed people fighting to express their full humanity, with captivating results. -- Malcolm Venable

Counterpart (Starz)

J.K. Simmons, Counterpart


Potentially the best new show you've never even heard of, Starz's Counterpart has flown under the radar since premiering late last year. The series, which stars Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, is a thrilling, inter-dimensional spy drama that uses all the familiar weapons of the genre -- assassins, double agents, sabotage, and more -- to tell an infinitely compelling story. The series follows Simmons' Howard Silk, a meek, low-level employee of a bureaucratic agency who's rocked to his core when his bold and brash, higher-ranking double from a parallel world, created by East German scientists, crosses through a portal beneath Berlin to seek his help. What unravels is a twisty, complex story involving adrenaline-pumping action, threats of diplomatic crisis, thought-provoking questions of identity, and some of the finest TV you'll see this year. -- Kaitlin Thomas

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)

Rachel Bloom, Donna Lynne Champlin, Vella Lovell and Gabrielle Ruiz, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The CW

With infectious musical numbers like "Horny Angry Tango," in which Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) and Nathan (Scott Michael Foster) literally danced around their feelings, and a wild finale twist that saw Rebecca plead guilty to attempted murder, this undeniably entertaining musical rom-com continues to be one of The CW's most underrated shows. Never afraid to showcase nuanced discussions about depression and anxiety with the perfect balance of care and humor while also serving up some seriously catchy tunes, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continues to stand out in a crowded TV space and tops the list as a definite favorite. -- Keisha Hatchett

Dear White People (Netflix)

Logan Browning, Dear White People

Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Racial tensions at Winchester University ran high in Dear White People's second season as Sam (Logan Browning) and her friends tackled issues of cyber-bullying, white guilt, abortion and even secret societies. The show could have experienced the worst kind of sophomore slump, in which woke became wearisome and characters you used to love suddenly became unbearable, but the Netflix series kept the dialogue relevant and dug deeper into the characters' personal perspectives to have more honest conversations than ever before. The show's second season also introduced the mysterious Order of X subplot, as well as added some top-notch cameos to up the ante. -- Lindsay MacDonald

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The Expanse (Syfy)

Steven Strait, The Expanse


There's a reason there was such outcry when Syfy canceled The Expanse in May. The drama is one of the best sci-fi shows of recent years, and one of the best shows currently airing, period. And though the cancellation controversy and subsequent Amazon pick-up made many headlines, not enough people are actually taking the time to discuss how friggin' awesome this third season has been. Everything that has been brewing since the drama premiered is finally coming to a head in incredibly trippy fashion (wormholes! The slow zone! Ghost Thomas Jane!). In a lesser show, some of these developments might come off as cheesy or convoluted, but here they feel like a shot of juice straight to the veins as we eagerly followed the protomolecule and Holden's seemingly fated collision course. -- Sadie Gennis

The Good Place (NBC)

The Good Place

Colleen Hayes/NBC

There's not enough time in the world for us to extol the virtues of The Good Place, but we're sure as hell gonna try. While most of the show's second season aired in 2017, the back half of TV's most delightful show took us on a whirlwind journey to the underworld, complete with a series of unexpected twists that not even a psychic could have predicted. But even without spoiling all those delicious plot twists, we can definitively say The Good Place was an emotional gut punch of unexpected friendships, the kinds of sacrifices only true love can inspire, and the incremental and backbreaking work it takes to become a better person. -- Krutika Mallikarjuna

Killing Eve (BBC America)

Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

BBC America

Killing Evewas a breakaway hit that absolutely no one saw coming -- but we probably should have. The compelling thriller from Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) put a brilliant spin on a familiar (and admittedly tired) genre by swapping out the dudes for two fiercely competent women equally obsessed with one another. In one corner was the assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer), an emotionally stunted young woman desperate for human connection, and in the other was Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a low-level MI5 officer desperate to catch her. It was exciting to watch the two circle one another in a game of cat and mouse, especially since it wasn't always clear who was chasing whom, but what's more exciting now is the fact Oh could actually become the first Asian Best Drama Actress Emmy nominee for her role as Eve. And that's truly outstanding. -- Kaitlin Thomas

Nailed It (Netflix)

Nailed It


Most reality competition shows seek out the best of the best, but this refreshing take on the genre is all about having a good time. Hosted by comedian Nicole Byer and renowned pastry chef Jacques Torres, Nailed It features amateur bakers attempting to recreate edible masterpieces with wonderfully disastrous results. With amusing gags such as the "Nicole Nags" twist, in which a participant orders Nicole to annoy their competition for three minutes, and Nicole closing out each episode by shooting singles out of a money gun, what's not to love? -- Keisha Hatchett

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One Day at a Time (Netflix)

One Day at a Time

Adam Rose/Netflix

Anyone who complained about the lack of working-class shows on TV after Roseanne's cancellation needs to sit down, pull up Netflix and watch One Day at a Time. This critically beloved, tear-jerking sitcom about a Cuban-American family in Los Angeles takes the groundbreaking 1970s Norman Lear series upon which it's based and brings it into the present day, giving viewers refreshingly open conversations about depression, immigration, sexuality and financial insecurities. And did we mention it's also hysterical? Of all the shows on TV right now, nothing has quite the range of One Day at a Time, which manages to succeed on so many different levels we're truly in awe. So, although people often complain these days about the overload of reboots and revivals, they've all been worth it if it means we got One Day at a Time in the process. This show is not only great, it often feels like a necessity. -- Sadie Gennis

On My Block (Netflix)

Diego Tinoco, Ronnie Hawk, Sierra Capri and Jason Genao, On My Block

John O Flexor/Netflix

The problem with a lot of shows about teenagers is that the kids don't feel real; they talk and act like what a person in their 30s wishes they were like in high school. But On My Block is uncommonly authentic. The kids feel real and alive even when the plot gets a little goofy. (Let Jamal be part of the group in Season 2!) It's so refreshing to see young black and Latinx characters just get to be. Their lives are hard, sure, but their lives are joyous, too. The show builds South Central Los Angeles into a complex world without being pretentious or preachy about it. It's the kind of show 2018 needs. -- Liam Mathews

Patrick Melrose (Showtime)

Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose

Ollie Upton/SHOWTIME

Based on the novels of Edward St. Aubyn, Patrick Melrose isn't an easy watch; the five-part miniseries is an often painful exploration of addiction and abuse as told through the eyes of the privileged English upper class. But with the right amount of humor, a wild dash of debauchery and a dazzling performance from lead Benedict Cumberbatch, whose impressive range is the true star of this story of recovery, Patrick Melrose also demands your undivided attention. Of course, it helps the miniseries is well structured, beautifully filmed, and precisely the right length. Each episode covers one of Aubyn's five novels, which were based on his own life experiences, and it's easy to imagine a scenario in which a streaming service might have tried to stretch Patrick's story across entire seasons. But by keeping each novel contained to a single hour, Patrick Melrose is able to soar even as its titular lead must learn to face his pain. -- Kaitlin Thomas

Queer Eye (Netflix)

Queer Eye


There is no brighter beacon of light in these dark times than Queer Eye. In each episode, the big-hearted gay men known as the Fab 5 work their magic to make-over a nominee physically, mentally and spiritually. This isn't just a show about making people look better, it's about breaking down walls and making human connections. Queer Eye's hosts' never-ending optimism and uncanny ability to see the beauty in every single person they meet is what makes Queer Eye the most uplifting show of the year. And in its sophomore season, the series expanded its roster of makeovers to include women and trans people. The season premiere featured Mama Tammye, who requested the Fab 5's energy go into her church community center instead of herself, and it showed the power of love in these trying times. -- Megan Vick

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The Terror (AMC)

Jared Harris, The Terror

Jared Harris, The Terror

At first look, The Terroris another stodgy historical drama starring a bunch of British actors whom you recognize from Game of Thrones. But AMC's anthology turned out to be one of the most atmospheric and terrifying horror shows in recent memory. Based on Dan Simmons' book that detailed the catastrophic failure of the Royal Navy's attempt to find the Northwest Passage in the mid-19th Century, The Terror went beyond the expected cannibalism, mania and emaciation of two ship crews and added Inuit mysticism and folklore in the form of a man-eating spirit that looked like a massive polar bear with the face of a man. Sure, that was awesome, but the real juicy stuff came in watching Jared Harris' incredible performance as a ship captain fighting the inevitable losing war against nature -- both the unforgiving landscape of the north and mankind's ugly human nature. I don't think I've ever seen another show like it. -- Tim Surette

Vida (Starz)

Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada, Vida

Erica Parise, Vida

Starz tapped into something really special with its dark comedy Vida, which explored the community of East Los Angeles through the eyes of Latina sisters Emma (Mishel Prada) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera) after they returned home to bury their mother. The show, which had an entirely Latinx cast, was crisp and refreshing, telling relatable stories about family and growing up from a perspective we haven't really seen on television. It was not only a celebration of culture, but also of sexuality and finding your way in a world that seems determined to put you in a box. -- Megan Vick

Wild Wild Country (Netflix)

Ma Anand Sheela, Wild Wild Country


Although true crime is having a moment right now, it's been a while since a docu-series truly broke through the way Wild Wild Countrydid. The six-part look at the Rajneeshpuram cult and their attempted bioterrorist attack on the local Oregon community was such an engrossing binge that soon people began repping the cult's style in their real lives. Mandy Moore even hosted a girls' weekend partially inspired by the series! Is it problematic to turn a cult into a trendy fashion statement? Of course! But that just goes to show you the breadth of impact that Wild Wild Country had on fans. -- Sadie Gennis