TV gets better and better, but it does not necessarily do so in a straight line.The first several months of 2018, I worried I might have a hard time filling this list. The last half of the year, though, came on with a burst of creativity that kept me adding and subtracting to the last minute.
This is one reason I don’t rank it in order. I’d be lying if I told you I liked my No. 7 show measurably better than No. 8, and you could make a solid Top 10 out of my near-misses (“Babylon Berlin,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Better Call Saul” among them).
You had to know the ending was going to hurt. The final season of this family spy drama with a melancholy heart as big as Mother Russia brought the long con of Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) to an end. The devastating, though largely bloodless, finale stayed true to the series’s theme that often the greatest sacrifices you make for a doomed cause are emotional. (Streaming on Amazon.)
I cringe when critics say, “You have to watch this” — there’s no better way to make TV sound like a chore. But this 10-part documentary, set at a racially integrated school in Oak Park, Ill., was not homework. The sprawling, nuance-minded story explored the difficulties of racial inequity, even in a socially conscious school.
But more than that, it was an involving, big-hearted story of kids, their dreams, their challenges, their triumphs and their everyday drama. You don’t have to watch “America to Me.” But you’ll be glad if you do. (Streaming on Starz.)