The Haunting of Hill House, Maniac, Collateral, Better Call Saul season 4: The best shows of 2018

Archita Kashyap

Dec 17, 2018 16:25:23 IST

Editor's note: It's been an eventful, almost rebellious 2018. Over the next 2 weeks, as the year comes to a close, Firstpost will be looking at the major series, films, trends and talking points that dominated entertainment, cinema and pop culture in 2018.

2018 has witnessed genres grow and evolve, particularly horror. As it’s time for 2019 to ring in, here is a list of top five shows that you simply must watch before the year goes out. They engage, surprise, entertain; and missing out could leave you out of water cooler conversations that might matter.

The Haunting of Hill House

 The Haunting of Hill House, Maniac, Collateral, Better Call Saul season 4: The best shows of 2018

Still from The Haunting of Hill House. Image courtesy Netflix

There’s something to be said about terror that big, echoing, sonorous houses can create. It beats slashers, isolated lakesides or forest cabins and aliens or zombies. This Netflix series is classic horror drama, intense and emotionally rooted as it’s built around a family with five siblings and a haunted past that doesn’t let go of them.

Shirley Jackson’s novel, published in 1959, stands as one of the scariest, most well-written gothic horror books ever. Mike Flanagan, the director of this Netflix series, adapts the book to a family tale of surviving hauntings and an unexplained tragedy during their childhood years spent at Hill House. Besides a solid cast of performers, and slick production values, The Haunting of Hill House uses jump scares and fright-inducing sounds as support mechanisms to build up to a distressing tale of fragmented lives. Its climax remains slightly unresolved, adding intrigue to a gripping story. Horror evolves to a higher standard in the long format with this show.

Streaming on Netflix. Read Firstpost's review here.

Better Call Saul (Season 4)

A still from season 4 of Better Call Saul.

Spin-offs often find it tough to sustain interest. The latest season of Better Call Saul turns this fact on its head, giving this show a whole new character and identity riding on the emergence of Saul Goodman. Despite being a slow burn, Better Call Saul is uncompromisingly focused on its story — that of a man whose attempt to be good, and be legit, doesn’t hold up as life gradually takes over, and sucks him in.

This season, in particular, is brilliant because it concludes on an emotionally fraught point for its central character, Jimmy McGill. Peter Gould, who was co-creator of the epic Breaking Bad alongside Vince Gilligan, captures the life of its lead characters in smaller cities in America with such authenticity that one regrets the season wrapping up. In particular, Rhea Sheahorn, playing Kim Wexlar, is stunningly good this time, making me wonder why awards never seem to take notice. Good news is, the show returns with a new season next year.

Streaming on Netflix. 


The charm of Forever lies in the fact that it feels so real for the most part, and ascends towards hope later. Rudolph’s character goes through the motions: happiness, doubt, complacency, and it's all delivered perfectly, while retaining the humour. Life, death, the after-life and monotony — not too many narratives onscreen have tackled these subjects in such a blasé yet enjoyable manner.

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 


Carey Mulligan in Collateral

Carey Mulligan in Collateral. Image from Netflix

In the space of limited TV series, most of the really good ones have been recognised this year- Patrick Melrose and Sharp Objects being my personal favorites.

In terms of relevance, Collateral, with a pitch perfect, controlled Carey Mulligan in charge, wins hands down. It looks at refugee crises and impending consequences of this situation onto the lives of people caught in it, without being overtly dramatic. It also takes the highly evolved, well-developed police procedural genre in British TV to new maturity.

Streaming on Netflix. Read Firstpost's review here.


Jonah Hill and Emma Stone in a still from Maniac/Image from YouTube.

Jonah Hill and Emma Stone in a still from Maniac/Image from YouTube.

Cary Joji Fukunaga does have a random streak, albeit with approval from the haves in Hollywood. Maniac is mind blowing, no pun intended. With a backdrop of pill testing to sort out pain from human life, and with patients that have histories of mental disorders as subjects, the setting of a dystopian un-present sets this show up for experimentation and multiple walks on the wild side.

With a luminous Emma Stone playing one of the test cases, her borderline personality disorder takes over in flights of fantasy under medication. Jonah Hill is remarkable in his display of hangdog sadness. Maniac sucks you in and makes you stay in its manic universe throughout. This show is an absolute must-watch to be considered pop culture literate in the long run. And it’s fabulously entertaining.

Streaming on Netflix. Read Firstpost's review here.

Updated Date: Dec 17, 2018 18:50:41 IST