Star Wars embraced the live-action TV format, Game of Thrones finally ended, Watchmen got an adaptation of its own, Stranger Things rolled on and the Federal Government even funded an anime. It’s been a wild year in TV, and here’s the series and parts we enjoyed the most.
Line of Duty (Stan, Netflix)
The UK cop drama had been recommended to me a few times and I finally watched it on Netflix (it’s also on Stan) and literally couldn’t stop. It took over my life, and now my life feels empty without it. It’s the greatest show on TV and I’m still thinking about it, months after finishing S5. Season 6 apparently goes into production next year and I cannot bloody wait. Bring on more bent coppers. – Josie, Pedestrian.tv head of editorial
The Boys (Amazon Prime Video)
Amazon’s adaptation of the “gritty superheroes” comic The Boys was needlessly vile, gratuitously violent and problematic in more than a few places. But I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. – Chris, Lifehacker Australia editor
It’s irreverent, dark and hysterical all at the same time. We’ve had a decade of superhero drenching (I’m looking at you Marvel), and it’s really fun to consider what it would be like if the good guys weren’t quite as good as everyone thinks. The take on supers as a multi-billion dollar industry – complete with action figures and corporate sponsorships – is far closer to reality than most would like to admit, and the parallels between “superheros” and real-life athletes, actors/actresses, and rock stars and their hand in consumerism are pretty apparent. Also, Karl Urban. – Erin, Open Air Cinemas senior producer
Russian Doll (Netflix)
Cat and mouse series are always fun to unravel, especially when they’re done well. Natasha Lyonne takes it several steps further with one of the funniest performances of the year, starring as a irreverent game developer stuck in a time loop.
The story is a more intricate tale about addiction, the loop users get stuck in and the joy of recovery, but it’s delivered with the lightest of touches. Always funny, packed with cracker performances and a killer visual aesthetic, Russian Doll is one of the easiest shows all year. Highly, highly recommend. – Alex, Kotaku Australia editor
Chernobyl (HBO, Foxtel)
Splitting Chernobyl and Succession is almost impossible. Chernobyl for its mind expanding and gut wrenching portrayal of something you thought you already knew about, but clearly didn’t. It was a televisual event. Succession series two on the other hand, became that perfect blend of drama and comedy that had you riveted and in awe of the best dialogue that’s ever been on TV. In the end I’d happily watch Succession again, but Chernobyl is a once in a lifetime. – Matt, Pedestrian Group CEO
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories (Netflix)
Netflix finally added a second season of Midnight Diner to their roster in the second half of the year, and thank God they did. It’s just as funny, charming, heartbreaking, whimisical and reflective as the first season, backed by new recipes and stories around food. Midnight Diner‘s first season provided short doses of humanity to recharge the soul, and the second season backs up with colourful characters, relatable stories and genuine heart. Warning: the first episode will probably make you cry. – Alex, Kotaku Australia editor
Over the last decade, the Midnight Diner manga has gotten several live adaptions. One of those is available on Netflix in English, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. The setup is simple: a chef called The Master runs a diner in Shinjuku that only opens from midnight, and the show focuses on the stories and lives of his patrons. It's a beautiful series of self-contained stories, and it's almost criminal that there's only 10 episodes.Read more
Succession essentially a modern day King Lear. A hilarious dark tragedy that has some of the best writing and acting in a show. It’s a mixture of laughing and crying. It nails the weird and wonderful uber rich families of the world who are just as fucked up as everyone else even when they have everything. – Will, advertising and partnerships manager
Fleabag (Amazon Prime Video)
Fleabag season two maintained the same DNA as the first. No mean feat when the first was such a runaway success. It felt like there was more depth, more of a nuanced storyline this time around.
Fleabag herself was just as charismatically messy, but it felt like she’d matured, like there was this palpable character development which felt really natural and was fun to watch. Plus, Hot Priest. – Lucinda, Pedestrian.tv presenter and producer
What is there to say about the second season of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s culture defining show, Fleabag, that hasn’t already been said? It’s revolutionary, heartbreaking, funny, and so good that no show should even ATTEMPT a “breaking the fourth wall” device for at least a decade. The intimacy PWB between herself and you, the viewer, is so strong you’ll feel equally as started and turned on when the Hot Priest breaks it. This is a perfect season of television, and you’ll never recover from it. – Alex, Pedestrian.tv deputy editor
True Detective (Foxtel, iTunes)
This feels like it flew under the radar after season 2 kind of flopped. It was more than a return to form of season 1, with Mahershala Ali giving an all-time great performance of a man entering the early stages of dementia watching his past, and his life-long connection to an unsolved case, start to blur with his untethered present state.
Emotional in an incredibly deep way, an intricate yet engaging plot, grounded in character work that matches anything else that came out this year. One of the most compelling meditations on memory and perspective that broke down the emotional toll of the way we remember our past, and our own faults within it. – Adrian, Pedestrian Group advertising & partnerships manager
Killing Eve (ABC)
If we’re talking cat and mouse games, then Killing Eve has to be on the list. Jodie Comer’s turn as the psychotic Villanelle is easily one of the top three performances of the year, still, but she’s not let down throughout the second season by Sandra Oh’s own comedic timing.
Killing Eve‘s brand of hard cuts, funny women and exploration of romance through violence was one of the best bits of TV when it debuted in 2018. The second season didn’t land with quite the same brutality as season one’s superb ending, and there’s a few episodes where the series starts to flag. But it picks up enough pace to leave you wondering what season 3 will do, because season two made sure neither character will ever be able to return to their lives again. – Alex, Kotaku Australia editor
The 100 (Netflix, iTunes)
Huge fan of all seasons, but this was the most consistently best of them all. Such an underrated series but such a goodie. Torturing the cast with an eclipse induced psychosis … like seriously, who comes up with this? All I can say is it was brilliant! And Murphy once again got the shit kicked out of him … so what’s not to love. The finale left a tonne of questions left to be answered. – Mollie, Open Air Cinemas account manager
The Crown (Netflix)
It’s a rare thing for a series to have no dead weight. The best series have it – enough has been said, or will be, about Chernobyl‘s excellence – but it’s much harder to do when you’re three series in.
Perhaps it’s helped by the sheer amount of money. The Crown doesn’t cost $US13 million an episode, but the lavish costumes, lengthy set shots and cinematography add a lustre to each scene that makes it easy to watch. And everyone plays their part supremely well.
Olivia Coleman, who took over from Claire Foy as the Queen in the last season, fills the room without overshadowing anyone in it. Helena Bonham Carter and Erin Doherty add some excellent comedic timing in their roles as Princess Margaret and Princess Anne, and Carter’s arc is especially prominent given how it illuminates the reality of being Queen. Josh O’Connor’s physical control as Prince Charles is fantastic, and Jason Watkins has a great recurring part as Harold Wilson, the unlikely Prime Minister who became a close friend of the Queen.
It’s been a blast firing up episodes and reading on the real history of the events of the time, from Prince Charles’ investiture, Harold Wilson’s election, the unmasking of the Queen’s art advisor as a KGB agent, and how Princess Margaret’s affair and suicide were depicted. It’d be a lot less interesting if The Crown wasn’t masterful in how all the events were portrayed, but luckily the show still reigns supreme. – Alex, Kotaku Australia editor
Food Wars (Crunchyroll, Animelab)
Earlier this year, my partner posed a simple question on Twitter: what’s a good anime to watch on a flight? Hilariously, some people suggested Food Wars, a show about principally about cooking. What they left out is that the cooking is good enough to turn most people naked. One character, a wiser member that oversees some of the younger students, spends most of his time naked anyway, presumably to avoid having to rebuy clothes and shirts all the time.
So, Food Wars is a show about food with a lot of fan service. And it’s hilarious. New seasons came out on Amazon and Crunchyroll this year, but partner and I have been working our way through the first two. It’s fun, short and comprehensively silly, but still with enough discussion of actual food – and actual food techniques and tricks that can be applied anywhere – to keep it all going. – Alex, Kotaku Australia editor
What was your favourite TV series of the year? (And for those who have watched The Expanse – tell me everything, because it’s on my list and I still haven’t gotten around to it!)