Binging Your Way Through 2018: A Guide to this Year’s Best TV
Issue   |   Wed, 01/24/2018 - 00:21

It’s a new year and that means one thing: new TV shows to binge. Although 2018 may initially seem to be a disappointment to TV fans — it’s the first year since 2011 without a new season of “Game of Thrones” and fan-favorite “Stranger Things” also won’t be on the air — there are many shows that will return this year for viewers to look forward to. Here are four you should not miss.

“Jane the Virgin” Season 4B
Release Date: Jan. 26
Available On: The CW

This American telenovela never fails to make me laugh and brighten my day. Although the show is based on a series of ridiculous circumstances — the titular Jane Villanueva is accidentally inseminated during a clinic visit and ends up pregnant with the child of her boss — the show itself is not silly or lacking in substance. Rather, it deals with the questions of what defines a family, how immigration influences America and what happens when life does not follow the plans we set for it, all while maintaining its signature witty tone. This season is especially exciting considering the last season shocked viewers with an episode that featured both the death of a major character and a three-year jump forward in the show’s timeline. With the loss of this major character, I’m excited to see what new characters the show will introduce and how the jump in the timeline will end up affecting the characters’ lives. Whatever happens, I’m excited to let the Villanueva family grace my TV screen again with their characteristic humor and resilience, even in the most trying of circumstances. If you’re looking for a show to watch after a hard day, “Jane the Virgin” would be my first recommendation — plus the first three seasons are available to watch on Netflix.

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” Season 5
Release Date: Feb. 18
Available On: HBO, excerpts on YouTube

Thankfully for us, this Emmy-award-winning talk show is not going anywhere soon. HBO just renewed the show for three more seasons, guaranteeing Oliver stays on our screens until 2020. In “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver either examines the events of the past week or dives deep into an issue that affects current events today, all the while serving his viewers a heavy dose of satire. Oliver is able to somehow balance being both informative and extremely hilarious, and he will not only provide you with laughs in the moment, but information pertinent to today. The show has also become surprisingly influential. Not only do hashtags in the show regularly go viral, but the show has caused viewer’s to flood the Federal Communications Commission with comments in support of net neutrality and even reinvigorated the campaign against smoking. In a time in which the news seems even more confusing and frightening than ever before, Oliver serves as both a humorous and practical presence that is able to explain the intricacies of current events without them being overwhelming. When “Last Week Tonight” is on break, I miss Oliver’s ability to both break down the news and make me laugh. I especially appreciate that for the majority of episodes, HBO will post the main segment (usually over 20 minutes) on YouTube, so anyone can access it for free.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 2
Release Date: April 25
Available On: Hulu

The first season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” was my favorite show of last summer, and this opinion seems to be universal: the show just took home the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series. Based on Margaret Atwood’s revolutionary 1986 novel, the show explores a dystopian future in which women have been stripped of all of their rights after a religious cult overthrows the American government and transforms the United States into the Republic of Gilead. However, the show does not just retell Atwood’s story, but rather expands on it, adding in the perspective of other characters that were largely unexplored in the novel. I am usually opposed to large changes to a book’s plot in an adaptation, but because the writers of the show worked closely with Atwood, the alterations made in the show are done masterfully and keep the theme of the show true to Atwood’s intentions. I’m especially excited for the second season “The Handmaid’s Tale,” as the novel itself lacks a sequel and has a cliffhanger ending. After over 30 years, the fate of the novel and the show’s protagonist, Offred will become clear. As Atwood is also highly involved in this second season, I am excited to see how she and the creators of the show choose to continue Offred’s story, introduce new characters and further explore Gilead in ways the novel was not able to.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” Season 5B
Release Date: To Be Announced
Available On: Fox

I recently discovered this hilarious workplace comedy, and it skyrocketed its way to becoming one of my favorite shows. With a similar feel to sitcoms like “The Office,” the show follows a diverse, mismatched group of cops trying to deal with their jobs and each other. The show is especially strong at creating and developing an ensemble of unique and lovable characters. The fun-loving and goofy Jake perfectly bounces off his studious and serious partner Amy, and although they hate each other at first, a joy of the show is watching their relationship evolve. Additionally, Captain Holt, who is a gay and black police captain, allows the show to confront issues of racism, homophobia and how prejudice can prevent many people from receiving the recognition they deserve.