The Haunting of Hill House
Horror TV found no better representative in 2018 than The Haunting of Hill House. While the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was a hoot, it can’t contend with the richly drawn characters, expert performances, and top notching storytelling present in The Haunting of Hill House from start to finish. Just the right amount of horror with surely 2018’s best TV setting, Hill House avoided the temptation for cheap scares and instead opted for an inescapable atmosphere of dread that permeated everything. With persistently creative direction throughout and the culmination of a spectacular casting effort, this tragic family tale is a TV experience you just can’t shake. It’s another story that will likely be a ‘one and done’ but regardless of the future, 2018 was treated royally by its presence in it.
Easily the wackiest new effort of 2018, Netflix’s Maniac was a visual delight, dazzling its viewers with compelling imagery, beautiful colours, and a movie-style lens that truly elevates it into the world of prestige TV. Directed in its entirety by True Detective’s Cary Joji Fukunaga, Maniac is engrossing right from the gun, presenting a world that simultaneously feels trapped in the past while obviously belonging to a science fiction future. With magnetic performances from Emma Stone and Jonah Hill at its heart, combined with TV’s funniest turn via Justin Theroux’s Dr. James K. Mantleray, Maniac is consistently hilarious and thusly an essential antidote to the devastating misery at the show’s centre. Maniac could have been an emotional slog but Fukunaga proved to be too good at his job to allow that to happen. Bravo.
While 2018’s excellent TV offerings are legion, there has been no better new series to grace us this year than Yellowstone – the largely watched modern day western from the Paramount Network. Brought to us by one of the brightest writer/directors working today in Taylor Sheridan (of Sicario and Wind River fame), Yellowstone stars Kevin Costner in his best role for years as the complex and formidable patriarch of a morally corrupt ranching family in Montana. Everything about Yellowstone is massive, from its gigantic wide shots of stunning scenery, the towering performances of Costner and the wonderful Cole Hauser, and then there’s the thematic weight behind the show which focuses on family, loyalty, ancestral rights, and conservation of the past. Yellowstone was exquisite, never letting up, with scores of big moments per episode, and more potential than any other series debuting in 2018.