Pi Arts & Culture’s ‘Best of 2018’ series highlights the favourite things we’ve seen, heard and read this year. In this article, our writers reveal the best TV shows they’ve come across.
The Bridge (Season 4)
This year saw the UK release of the fourth, and final, season of Swedish-Danish crime show, The Bridge. A multitude of questions left unanswered at the end of Season 3 meant huge anticipation from viewers, and writers Hans Rosenfeldt and Camilla Ahlgren truly delivered, with eight absorbing episodes and one beautiful conclusion. The two main roles of Saga and Henrik are fascinatingly complex in Season 4, and they are portrayed superbly by Sofia Helin and Thure Lindhardt. The best characters in TV make the viewer truly care about them, and in both cases here, we find ourselves hanging on their every word, and their every action. It’s a wonderful ending that perfectly wraps up the criminal case, and leaves us satisfied as we say goodbye to the two characters, having followed their long journeys to find their identities, as well as their inner peace.
The Hook-Up Plan (Plan Coeur)
Netflix has been a little hit and miss recently with its original content, but this French romcom series is just a really enjoyable and genuinely funny watch. The plot centres on Elsa, still pining for her ex of two years, and her two best friends, who set her up with a male escort to try and get her over him. It’s all set in sunny and mysteriously un-crowded Paris, the characters are easy to relate to, if a little one-dimensional at times, and the story line is surprising and well-written. The only drawback is the jarring nature of watching a dubbed series in English, but with Netflix putting out more and more dubbed foreign content, I think it’s something UK audiences will eventually get used to.
House of Cards (Season 6)
The final season of House of Cards aired in November, among mixed feelings after Kevin Spacey’s sudden exit due to sexual misconduct accusations. The focus on Robin Wright’s performance as President Claire Underwood, now widowed and filling the shoes of the most powerful person on the planet, provides a very satisfying conclusion to the critically acclaimed political thriller. The narrative does not shy away in the least from the rich mythology of the show. Instead, it wraps up the loose ends, with its usual stunning visuals and nuanced performances, particularly from Wright and Michael Kelly. A high-quality production with merits as well as flaws, it will fuel discussion for years to come.
Jane the Virgin (Season 4)
It’s mind boggling that a show as loaded, intricate, and fantastical as Jane the Virgin could feel so effortless, but the show’s fourth season has ensured its continued reign as the most joyous, yet simultaneously relevant, show on television. Grounded by its charismatic cast almost as sprawling as the storyline itself (most notably a fantastic late-season subplot anchored by Jane’s criminally underrated mother Xiomara), the sheer scope of Jane the Virgin presents a wonderful allegory for the beautiful complexity of life, and argues that no story, no matter how irrelevant, is unimportant. The next season is supposedly the last. Fortunately, I have every faith that it will be executed properly.
Despite its Black Mirror–esque graphics and complicated storyline, Maniac is primarily a tale about companionship, and the importance of facing your demons. The first few episodes may suggest that Maniac is simply a sci-fi comedy, starring the depressed and the ill, but further viewing reveals that Maniac is multifaceted. The series delves deeply into the complexities of mental illnesses, bereavement and familial tensions, whilst treating them with sensitivity. They are not romanticised or glorified, but the dark comedic context provides an unusual approach to familiar issues.