2018 was another huge year for Netflix, with the streaming service having an estimated 137 million subscribers in the third quarter of the year, attracting more big showbiz names to the format like James Franco, Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, and David Letterman, and further cementing its status as the leading global provider of entertainment. The line “floating down the endless stream of great TV” in Arctic Monkeys’ track ‘Star Treatment’ is a pretty accurate description of how many of us spent our downtime, but what are you gonna do?
Here’s our list of the Netflix series that we just couldn’t turn away from in 2018:
Season two of Ozark was like watching one of those near-miss compilations on YouTube. Marty and Wendy Byrde trying their best to stay alive in their heavily-graded blue world was like watching someone spinning plates – if there was crazy rednecks, conspiring colleagues, rogue FBI agents, Mexican cartels, and creepy locals on those plates. It’s no wonder the anxiety-inducing series was nominated for a slew of Emmys in 2018.
Season five of ‘Bojack’ was arguably their finest to date. As we watched Bojack plummet into addiction, Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter deal with the pitfalls of divorce, and Todd further reckon with his asexuality, we became so involved that it barely felt like a cartoon. Outside of their endless run of gags, it’s the complexity and psychological diversity of the characters that had us completely hooked this year.
Watching this documentary about the Rajneesh movement and the feud between its leaders, surrounding communities, and the US government, you couldn’t help but wonder why the story was relatively unknown. It has everything you need in a great documentary; interesting characters, big ideas, internal conflict, and loads of tense moments, which is why it is easily our pick in the non-fiction Netflix realm.
After a riveting first season, in which the story was nicely wrapped up, you could be forgiven for being a little bit skeptical about the idea of a second season. Having seen shows like True Detective fail so badly on season two after reintroducing a new cast and storyline, hopes weren’t exactly high for the Jessica Biel-produced series. However, season two of The Sinner was utterly enchanting, and proved that our appetite for dark crime-drama can be satisfied with a well-written mystery that snakes along via the ever-evolving backstories of the main protagonists.
Watching the story of Michael Peterson’s trial for the murder of his wife Kathleen was more important than anything for a little while. There were so many unexpected twists and turns that it was nearly impossible to decide on whether or not he did it, making the show more addictive (and much cheaper) than heroin.
One of the most realistic (by Hollywood standards) depictions of a relationship on screen, it’s easy to see little bits of ourselves in both Mickey and Gus as they navigate the early stages of their baggage-heavy relationship. The only downside of season three was watching Randy become more of a central character, when all you want is Bertie to kick his ass to their well-manicured LA curb. The strength of the characters is so prominent that you don’t even realise that nothing much ever really happens in the show, which is fine by us.
Ok, so technically the fourth season of Black Mirror came out December 27th last year, but unless you bailed on New Year’s partying, you probably didn’t watch it until this year. With things like robotic dogs, slave clones, and in-depth compatibility tests, this season of the sci-fi drama/horror once again became a dinner table talking point regularly.
Season two of Big Mouth was a lot like season one. You slowly adjust your ears to some of the most annoying voices on TV, then you begin to actually enjoy the show. Coach Steve completely stole the series early on as he “makes thick in the warm”, and finally loses his virginity. Who would have thought watching teenagers talk about sex would be so good, and not very, very weird.
Admittedly Maniac wasn’t everyone’s favourite show, but it had many redeeming qualities such as the incredible set design, Jonah Hill and Emma Stones performances, and a plot that was like a strange puzzle. It was definitely made for a Netflix with each episode rolling into the other with little closure, making it feel like one super long movie – a movie that we would happily binge again.
Easily the scariest show that made our list this year, The Haunting Of Hill House changed our whole perspective on the horror genre. The tension felt when watching the Crain family’s lives unravel is only matched by the payoff at the end of the series tht will hopefully be back in 2019.