by Matthew Thompson
With the Fall season beginning to rev up, I figured I’d take a look back at my favorite television shows of the Summer. Which seemed like a perfect excuse to bring back my good old TV Power Rankings! Here are my top five shows that aired during 2018’s warmest months.
5. The Originals (Season 5)
After the eye roll-worthy ending to The Vampire Diaries, I just sort of stopped keeping up with The Originals. That wasn’t really fair to the spin-off and returning to it this summer reminded me why. This show never dipped in quality to the levels that the latter seasons of TVD did and the final season was definitely one of The Originals’ best. The scattering of the Mikaelsons was an interesting way to kick off the season and I’ve been waiting to see what Hope would be like as she got older since they first teased the magnitude of her powers, so I loved seeing that after the time jump. And lastly, I was really happy with how they ended the series. Unlike TVD’s finale this one actually felt like it had some teeth (pun intended!). I’m glad I jumped back into this show and I’m looking forward to seeing the next chapter of this universe in Legacies this Fall. Hopefully it gives me more of what I loved about both its parent series when they were at their best.
4. The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 2)
Without the safety net of its source material this time around, Hulu’s harrowing Handmaid’s Tale struggled to match the series’ brilliant first season. The plotting occasionally frustrated, the characters’ motivations at times inconsistent. And yet, just as before, I found myself hooked on seeing what happened next in the bleak world of Gilead. The Handmaid’s Tale horrified me on a weekly basis once again with the acts committed in its dystopian future, small moments of triumph doled out just enough so I wouldn’t crack under the weight of the show’s oft-dire circumstances. The acting remained stellar even when the writing faltered. Moss once again carried much of the show with her lead performance and narration, but I was particularly impressed with what Yvonne Strahovski did with the conflicted Serena Joy character this go around. And if nothing else, Season 2 gifted us the line, “Blessed be the Fruit Loops.” If that doesn’t garner it a spot on these Power Rankings, I don’t know what does.
3. Better Call Saul (Season 4)
I never would have imagined a Saul Goodman prequel being so dramatically rich when I first heard about it. That at its best it could match its parent show Breaking Bad. But now that we’re in the fourth season, that no longer surprises me. In fact, I’ve come to expect it. Only six episodes of Better Call Saul Season 4 have aired as of this writing, but it feels like all the major players have had a standout moment. Mike walking around that warehouse like he owns the place. Gus Fring’s brutal murder of Arturo at the end of “Breathe.” Kim tearing Howard a new one after the reading of Chuck’s will. And the whole saga of Jimmy’s little side business with the cell phones in the latest two episodes. Better Call Saul has been consistently great since its run began and that continues to be true during this latest string of episodes.
2. Casual (Season 4)
I’ve always enjoyed the overlooked Hulu comedy Casual, but its final season – which dropped in its entirety this past July – is the first time I felt it put together a truly great season of television. There was no awful subplot or character decision that drove me insane this time around. This was just eight straight episodes of exactly what I’d want from Casual. It also handles the extra weight of being the final season of the series with grace, wrapping things up in a satisfying manner. Things don’t end perfectly for the our core trio of Alex, Valerie and Laura or the friends they’ve gathered along the way, but that wouldn’t be very Casual if they did. Some things go appropriately awry, but I loved how they handled the characters’ growth in this final stretch. Throw in a few clever callbacks to the pilot episode and you had an excellent series finale on your hands in Casual’s last outing. I’ll miss this bunch and all the odd relationships they had with others and each other, but it went out on a high note. And that makes saying goodbye a little easier to swallow.
1. Sharp Objects
Based on the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name, HBO’s Sharp Objects drew me in like no other show this past summer. Everything just worked for me. The way it looked deep into Amy Adams’ character Camille’s psyche. The murder mystery when I was sure I had it all figured out… and when it turned out I clearly did not. The Southern Gothic setting of Wind Gap and the atmosphere it oozed in every episode. The wonderful direction and cinematography. The music. And of course, the acting – Adams was the star, but Patricia Clarkson and newcomer Eliza Scanlen give equally praise-worthy performances. I loved it all. Sharp Objects was the highlight of my television week every week during its run delivering a must-watch one-and-done limited series.
Other Shows Considered: Disenchantment (Season 1), The 100 (Season 5), Claws (Season 2).
That will do it for my Summer TV Power Rankings! What were your favorite shows from this Summer? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!