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My Not-Top-Ten Television List: The Best TV Shows of 2018

Pity the television critics. Every year, everything changes. One year you’ve got discs, then streaming, then apps on your phone, then, probably, next year, chips behind our ears. Honestly, I shouldn’t complain, but it’s been a headache to keep up with the medium. Even so, now that there are approximately thirty million shows released every week (half of them on Netflix, each one four episodes too long), it should be easy enough to select ten to praise in December. As is my holiday tradition, I refuse to do so. Instead, I’ll divide my list into several smaller lists, none numbered, and change my mind along the way. Please understand that the show that I currently dislike the most is “ The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ,” so it may come up a few times. Consistently Great—I’m Serious A nasty and delicious dark comedy about a Murdoch-ish, Trump-like, Mercer-esque family of powermongers, but also the rare drama that improved throughout Season 1, then nailed the landing. Yes, I know you’re not in the mood for more terrible men, but what if the performances were great and the show were paced perfectly and exactly the right length? Then you would watch. Each season since the first has been impressive, but the fifth was one of the best commentaries that I’ve ever seen on the #MeToo movement (and I mean that as a compliment, not as a warning). Somehow both outrageously silly and bleak at once, it’s a show I binge as soon as it drops. Bonus points for the incredible funeral episode, if I gave points, which I don’t. One of the loveliest, most consistently satisfying series on television. A telenovela pastiche that doubles as a celebration of feminine artistic genres in general, it’s beautiful and humane, witty, well performed—the works. It has Rogelio de la Vega. This season ended with a gasp-inducing twist, which I won’t spoil. I’ll just trust you to catch up on the whole thing so that you can watch the final season, which premières next Spring. Do this instead of watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which is very overrated. Photograph by David Russell / HBO The show’s first season on HBO didn’t jell, but the dreamy, evocative, perpetually surprising Season 2 of this breakthrough anthology series was just flat-out wonderful. The “Globo” episode alone—a meditation on New York on the worst day of 2016—was one of the best things that I saw all year. But I also have a special affection for “Derech.” It’s basically the opposite of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I’ve already talked about this show. If you don’t understand my opinion, I’ve got nothing for you. I didn’t think that I would want to watch another murder show, but this one really worked for me. It starts nihilistic and ends humane. I really love shows from this year that are the right length, unlike, say, Netflix’s horribly paced “Maniac.” Even better than “The Good Wife”! I’m probably just saying that to be rude, but, […]