How did it get to six months into 2018 already? Possibly because we’ve all been enjoying so much great TV we didn’t notice the time passing. But here we are, and it feels like a good time to stop, look back and take stock of the year so far. Here’s a rundown of our favourite 2018 TV hits to land in the first half of the year.
Luke Cage Season 2 — Kim Taylor-Foster (Entertainment Editor)
Of all the Defenders’ series, Luke Cage is on a par with The Punisher as the best. Yes, that’s better than Jessica Jones Seasons 1 and 2, Daredevil Seasons 1 and 2, Iron Fist, and last year’s inaugural season of the team-up series. Why? Because of the relevance of the issues it delves into and the way in which it represents black culture. The show also has a nice line in cameos from musicians and rappers, not to mention a scene-stealing turn from Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man in Season 1. Who wrote a composition expressly for the Hero of Harlem.
Season 2, however, upped the ante when the decision was made to focus on the development of Mariah Dillard as the villain of the piece. In showing her gradual transition from desperate woman fighting to escape her origins to ruthless, cold-hearted gangster unable to dodge her destiny as events conspire against her, Luke Cage Season 2 is responsible for putting Marvel’s greatest ever villain on screen. Kudos to showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, and the powerhouse turn from Alfre Woodard who plays Mariah.
Hap and Leonard — Chris Tilly (Managing Editor)
It’s sad writing this one right now, as a few weeks back, Hap and Leonard was inexplicably cancelled. Based on the novels of Joe R. Lansdale (Bubba Ho-Tep), the show took place in a fictional East Texas town in the 1980s, with each of the three seasons being standalone crime stories laced with high drama and dark humour. But the heart and soul of the show was the friendship forged between Hap Collins (James Purefoy) and Leonard Pine (Michael Kenneth Williams), a disparate pair who were raised as brothers, and whom trouble found on a regular basis. The show dealt with pretty serious subjects like racism and child abuse, but never felt preachy or patronising, while the amazing supporting cast included the likes of Christina Hendricks, Jimmi Simpson, Louis Gossett Jr, Brian Dennehy, Andrew Dice Clay and Corbin Bernson. But the touching bond between Hap and Leonard is what kept me coming back, with the true crime being that audiences won’t get to see more of their adventures onscreen.
Queer Eye — Adam Salandra (Entertainment Editor)
I would have never dreamed that a revival of Queer Eye would make it anywhere near the top of my favorite shows of 2018, but the Netflix series is truly the surprise success story of the year. The streaming service picked the perfect cast to fill the shoes of the original Fab 5, and their chemistry — both onscreen, and now, across social media — is mesmerizing to watch. But it is their interactions with the smalltown people they are making over that makes the show so magical. People from two different worlds with very different points of view coming together to learn, love, and better themselves is a beautiful thing. And in today’s social climate, what more could we ask for? Other than a giant box of tissues, of course — because this show will give you all the feels.
Voltron: Legendary Defender — Mike Delaney (Community Development Associate)
Voltron: Legendary Defender does something few television shows that have been reimagined successfully manage. On one hand, it is a unique entity in its own right, and does not need viewers to be familiar with the wider Voltron franchise to make sense. On the other, it feels so familiar to seasoned fans due to the overwhelming respect it has for what has gone before.
Combining great action with interesting storylines and in-depth character moments, Voltron: Legendary Defender breathes new life into the Voltron franchise. The series is not afraid to tackle issues like death, the effect of war on individuals, or even spirituality and personal growth. But it balances these with a healthy dose of humour and a sense of fun. Voltron: Legendary Defender is a great example of how to reinvigorate a franchise. Longtime devotees get a great nostalgia fix, while at the same time it’s accessible to a new generation of fans.
Atlanta: Robbin’ — Drew Dietsch (Entertainment Editor)
Donald Glover cannot be stopped. Between his role as Lando Calrissian and his challenging “This Is America” music video, the 34-year-old man of many talents is dominating pop culture. And the second season of his groundbreaking show Atlanta further serves to illustrate his creative excellence. This latest season showcases a masterful ability to shift drastically in tone from episode to episode. We laugh at the goofball antics of “Barbershop” only to dive into a straight-up horror tale with “Teddy Perkins.” And throughout these episodes we’re blessed with a cast that consistently delivers grounded and multi-faceted performances that feel all-too-human. Even if the situations they’re plunged into are totally absurd. Atlanta is a milestone in television history. It’s agonizing to have to wait for another season.