2018 was yet another year of exceptional television, music, books, and movies. So much came out in each category over the past 365 days that it’s hard to remember every single thing. But alas, the year is over, which means it is time for us, as a staff, to take stock of the things we loved in 2018. With that being said, here are our staff favorites!
Shawn Cole: I don’t think there is any cohesive thought to my favorite television of the year so here we go. Yay me for deciding to binge The Good Place over the summer. I had no idea I was missing one of the best comedies on television. Runner-up goes to Splitting Up Together because I love Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson and their characters’ adorkable kids and messy life together. Still loving The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and that mini-season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. My favorite new network show has to be New Amsterdam, which has a strong cast, great writing and makes me cry almost as much as This is Us. The storylines are compelling and I dig that, so far, it’s a doctor show that isn’t all about who is sleeping with who. Favorite overall dramas for the year go to Killing Eve, POSE and ACS: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. I understand that list is all over the place but each drama is fantastic in its own – very different – way. Props to Darren Criss, Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Billie Porter and, well, really the entire beautiful cast of POSE for some of the most memorable performances of the year! I’m still loving This is Us, The Crown, and The Handmaid’s Tale and I’m sad to see Tatiana Maslany and her crazy talent say goodbye to Orphan Black. It also wouldn’t be a proper end of the year wrap-up without a nod to all the gloriousness that was Timeless and the Time Team and Clockblockers. #RIPTimeless. Finally, favorite guilty pleasure goes to Insatiable because it’s equal parts awful and amazing and The Great British Baking Show because watching that show makes me feel like the world is a warm and wonderful place full of nice people and tasty treats.
Stephen Anderson: For me, and I’m sure Bryna will agree, Arrow has been one of the biggest surprises of 2018. Beth Schwartz taking over as showrunner has given the show a new lease on life. After a rather disappointing sixth season, the current run has blown me away. In fact, Arrow seems to be the new fan favorite among the Arrowverse for 2018. This year was also really big for reality TV. I have to say CBS bringing a celebrity version of Big Brother to the states was one of my favorite highlights. As someone who has covered the UK version for eight years, I was excited to see how the US celebs would do inside the Big Brother house. And while my favorite contestant did not win, the season renewed fan interest in the long-running reality show. The year also saw the end of an era for one of my guilty pleasures, The Fosters. Freeform canceled the show after 5 seasons but gave it a proper goodbye and in 2019, we’ll get to see the spin-off, Good Trouble. I’m so excited about what television will bring us in the new year.
Charlie Green: A brilliant show is BBC’s In The Flesh which I discovered at the beginning of the year. It takes a unique viewpoint on the “undead,” exploring life after an epidemic. It’s so well written – Dom Mitchell crafts a genius story that is enlightened by believable science and prejudices that echo those of our current world. A late arrival – but definitely worthy of glory – is Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which was released at the perfect time, just before Halloween, and easily satisfied all my witchy cravings. Dark and thrilling, I immediately binged and then rewatched the next day. It is a timeless homage to witchcraft linking back to centuries old, well-known tales with interesting characters who are well-developed and funny. My interest was peaked and just as well satisfied with the “A Mid-Winter’s Tale” Christmas special. Praise Satan! I highly recommend this interpretation of the comic.
Bryna Kramer: Jane The Virgin gets better and better each season. The last minute of the season four finale had me on pins and needles and I can’t wait to see how they explain that cliffhanger in the show’s fifth and final season. The Bold Type delivered yet another outstanding season and I’m eagerly anticipating the spring release (!!!) of season three. Netflix’s Elite is definitely the best show you didn’t watch. I adored All American as it’s kind of like Friday Night Lights meets The OC. OWN’s Love Is ___ drew inspiration from creators Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil’s own relationship journey and was a refreshing look at the highs, the lows, and the magic of falling (and staying) in love. I was hesitant to give Station 19 a chance, due to my love of Chicago Fire and my love-hate relationship with Shondaland shows, but this Grey’s Anatomy spin-off managed to capture my heart with strong female characters, fun and flirty ships and the exploration of important yet seemingly taboo topics like PTSD in firefighters. And then there’s Timeless, the show that was canceled twice and just wrapped up with a two-hour holiday movie special. It had heart, great characters, important representation and a story that matters more and more each day. It will be sorely missed by many, myself included.
Terri Clark: I always hate how comedy is overlooked in TV and film. I grew up on sitcoms and truly believe laughter is the best medicine. The Good Place stands halos and wings above all others. Conceptually brilliant, never predictable, and always laugh out loud, it is a show all others should aspire to for daring to be different, sharp, intelligent writing, and one mother forking brilliant cast. For a more traditional sitcom, my favorite is One Day at a Time. You can not help but fall in love with the Alvarez family and as much as they’ll make you laugh, they’re not afraid to tackle tough topics and tug at your heartstrings. Plus, Rita Moreno. The woman is a goddess. Jane the Virgin is a show I wish would never end because I’ve grown so attached to the characters and their melodramatic lives. Fun, romantic, twisty, sexy, hilarious and touching, it takes you through an emotional wringer as any telenovela should. I will mourn its loss at the end of next season. Moving away from comedy, my obsession with The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld continued and I added Castle Rock to the mix. Basically, I like dark, imaginative, emotional and unpredictable. The pinnacle of that for me this year was The Haunting of Hill House. This gothic, edge-of-your-seat horror series, with a dysfunctional family you wouldn’t dare trade places with, had the intensity ratcheted up to near painful levels. Few series have crept under my skin and into my psyche like this one and I loved every terrifying minute.
Shawn: My favorite rom-com goes to Crazy Rich Asians for basically being sweet and wonderful and beautiful and hilarious. How do you pick a favorite Marvel movie this year with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp all vying for attention? I won’t pick one. All were great in their own puzzle-piece sort of way. I have a special, happy feeling for all the great, new, female superheroes we got in Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright and Evangeline Lilly. And finally, nostalgia wins out with my last two picks: Creed II (thank you for Michael B. Jordan’s abs and Sly’s cool) and A Star is Born (can we all agree that Bradley Cooper should win all the things?). I’m so ready to see Mary Poppins Returns and I’m going to go out on a limb and predict I’ll really like The Favourite.
Stephen: While I am a DC guy, there is no denying 2018 was a massive year for Marvel. Avengers: Infinity War was easily the No. 1 movie of the year in my opinion, with Black Panther being a very close second. As a Harry Potter fanatic, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald. And the new year promises to bring some great flicks to the big screen; I’m already looking forward to the new Men In Black (What’s up, Liam Neeson!?) and Godzilla: King of Monsters.
Charlie: Whilst I didn’t set any New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2018, an inadvertent one seems to be consuming a lot of films. I fell in love with classics like Dead Poets Society and was moved by films that reflected injustices faced in our real world, such as The Normal Heart, which shone a heartbreaking, much-needed light on the AIDs epidemic through epic writing and acting. Another brilliant, heartbreaking exploration of the epidemic is the stage musical (which was filmed) Falsettos. I seriously cannot recommend this funny, honest, shattering story of a family enough; the music by William Finn is brilliant, and James Lapine’s directing is sublime. For a more light-hearted film, every single person should watch Pride. I honestly cry from utter joy every time I see it. And I can’t even begin to guess how many times that is, but each time is just as special as the first. The humour and characters ripen with each viewing and the film grows more brilliant. I discovered it this year and, in case you couldn’t tell, it is absolutely my favourite movie.
Bryna: I’m terrible at going to the theater to see movies, but this year I made it quite a few times. Love, Simon was a sweet, heartwarming rom-com that took a leap forward in representation. Avengers: Infinity War destroyed my soul; I was an emotional and inconsolable wreck the whole movie, but I always love seeing my favorite heroes come together to fight evil. In non-theatrical releases, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before rightfully took the world by storm. This rom-com left me giddier and more all up in my feels than any other recent movie. I cannot wait for the sequel!
Terri: I generally avoid movies that will make me cry but I had to see A Star Is Born. For me, the real revelation wasn’t Lady Gaga, as I knew she’d slay, it was Bradley Cooper as a country crooner. I figured his singing would be passable at best. I was wrong. Not only did he completely transform himself but his whiskey-rough vocals were sexy as hell. Gaga and Cooper’s chemistry was tender fire and I’ve listened to their “Shallow” repeatedly. An even more stunning transformation was that of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.Truly, it was as if he’d brought the Queen frontman back alive. I’m a big Queen fan and not only did I love seeing how the group came together and the struggles they faced but I felt like I got to see the original Queen in concert. The ending had me both cheering and crying. Damn, note to self: avoid music movies if you don’t want to cry.
Shawn: I spent most of the year listening to Kasey Musgraves’ Golden Hour (beautifully chill), the soundtrack from A Star is Born (spectacular for car singing), Anderson East’s Encore, Imagine Dragons’ Origins, Pistol Annies’ Interstate Gospel (just for general goodness) and a whole lot of Elton John tribute/mix albums. I’m gonna have to give my album of the year nod to Post Malone, but I have no idea why? It just feels right. I had a great time at a Kesha/Macklemore concert in Vegas this summer but I CAN’T WAIT to see SPICE GIRLS in London in 2019!!
Stephen: 2018 was a massive year for former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello. Her first solo album titled Camila hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, then went platinum and her single “Havana” was No. 1 on the Hot 100. According to Nielsen Music, it had 9 million U.S. streams per week. Cabello was richly rewarded for her success, taking home four American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and a Billboard Music Award. While I listened to a lot of Cabello’s music, if you go through my Spotify playlist you’ll find songs by Drake — yes, Wheelchair Jimmy from Degrassi; he had a massive year and it is looking like 2019 will be an even bigger year for both artists.
Charlie: Music for me is definitely something that fluctuates at random. While Spotify tells me my interest in Folk music dominated, in actuality, it was slower songs that resonated with me musically and lyrically. Not entirely sure what genre they fell in. Most people might label them as “depressing.” Songs that I have been justifiably obsessed with (yes, I am one of those people who can listen to a song on repeat) are You by Keaton Henson and Epoch by Oliver Spalding. Both are beautiful masterpieces that will follow me into next year – perfect for moments of quiet tranquility or a frost-bitten afternoon where they can accompany the soft sound of rainfall and a flickering candle.
Bryna: I probably listened to more music in the last year than I ever have. I’ve listened to everything from country to pop to alternative to indie and every sub-genre in between, but there are a few standouts for me that I couldn’t get enough. Zach Callison, of Steven Universe fame, released his debut EP, A Picture Perfect Hollywood Heartbreak. The project is a wildly impressive theatrical experience that takes listeners on a musical journey through an incredibly personal time in his life. Maggie Schneider released not one but TWO new projects this year. One as a solo artist, and one as part of The Foreword duo with Alex Crain. She has so much power in her voice. She could literally sing the phonebook and I’d buy it. Tiera’s smooth country twang stands out amongst the many country artists I was introduced to this year. Her songs are reminiscent of old-school country but have a fresh, modern spin. I also really enjoyed Jimmie Allen, Morgan Evans and Kane Brown’s new albums and have had them on repeat since they came out.
Stephen: I will admit I haven’t done much reading this year. But I did get Michelle Obama’s Becoming for Christmas. I’m not sure how my parents got it, as finding Mrs. Obama’s book at the time was like discovering a Willy Wonka golden ticket. Anyway, the book is amazingly well written and I can see why it was so tough for bookstores to keep it in stock. From her family’s experience living inside the White House to Mr. Trump winning the Presidency in 2016, I could literally picture every moment in my head. I highly recommend this read for anyone.
Charlie: I have been so busy this year that my reading has slowed to a snail’s pace. However, some reading I had to do for work turned out to be extraordinary – one includes The Power by Naomi Alderman. The book explores a world where women suddenly have the power to electrocute things through their fingertips – I didn’t want to say “just men,” but they do primarily electrocute men. It is a wonderful, easy read and calls into question the power structures of our society. It features a lot of ruthless women who quite literally dominate the world. You’ll be left with so many questions that you’ll want to recommend it to someone else purely so you can discuss it. Another book that fits into the realm of female empowerment is Feminists Don’t Wear Pink & Other Lies, which is curated by Scarlett Curtis and features writing from 52 incredible women. I actually went to a book talk in Manchester with Scarlett and some of the contributors and it was such an empowering event (if you want to hear that talk, check out the Guilty Feminist Podcast episode with the same title as the book). It is a brilliant, educational book that would make a wonderful gift for someone in 2019. I’ve also fallen in love with Sylvia Plath’s poetry. Great insight into a genius mind that wove words together so beautifully. Inspired by her and the time I’m writing this (it’s the 24th), I ponder: What will they taste of, the Christmas roses? The bees are flying. They taste the spring.
Bryna: I also read more books for fun this past year then I have in a long time; in fact, I actually hit my GoodReads goal of reading Just Don’t Mention It by Estelle Maskame, which is the companion piece to her hit DIMILY series that I didn’t know I needed but always wanted. The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman is full of depth and emotion as it flows back and forth between free verse and prose. And My Favorite Half Night Stand by Christina Lauren was a laugh-out-loud read about the right person being in front of you the whole time.
We love getting recommendations and hearing what you nerd out over. Share your 2018 favorites in the comments below!