The Eight New Shows to Watch in 2018
Look out for two dope queens, a superhero and a cult leader.
New years are for new beginnings—and that includes television. We’ve been living in the era of Peak TV, where each season there are more shows than ever(over 500 last year!), and that number is likely increasing. It can be impossible to keep up with your DVR, and to stay up to date on your returning favorites while also sifting through every new premiere to find out what to try out. 2018 is bringing us a whole host of new series to check out—from new entries in crime anthologies, to superhero dramas, to spin-offs and revivals and cult adaptations—so it’s natural to feel overwhelmed with all the choices. Trying to find a new show is often a trial and error and process, but we’re here to help narrow it down with our 8 most anticipated series of 2018.
Grown-ish (Freeform, January 3)
One of the most successful family comedies of the past few years has been ABC’s Black-ish, a sitcom that simultaneously follows around a black family while also stealthily educating viewers on the specifics of black culture and the problems our community faces. This month, creator Kenya Barris is aiming to replicate that formula with a spin-off on a college campus. Centered on eldest daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) as she begins college, Grown-ish will almost certainly draw comparisons to A Different World and it looks to be just as wonderful. Zoey is a character who sometimes fell into the background on Black-ish so it’ll be exciting to see her hold her own—especially as Shahidi is a gifted and charismatic actress—and to watch a Barris production that skews a little younger. Plus, we haven’t had a good college sitcom since Undeclared, so we’re definitely due.
The Chi (Showtime, January 7)
Lena Waithe already had a fantastic 2017: she co-wrote “Thanksgiving,” a loving and affecting coming out story that was easily the standout episode of Master Of None’s second season, and later she won an Emmy for that same episode—becoming the first black woman to win in that category. With The Chi, Waithe will keep up that success. Set in the South Side of Chicago, The Chi (created by Waithe, with Common as an EP) follows around a handful of kids and young adults in an affecting, relatable, and occasionally heart-wrenching coming-of-age drama. Waithe treats her characters with care and respect, and ensures that we see and hear from people who seldom get to shine on television. It’s sure to be one of the breakout hits of the year.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX, January 17)
As someone who is, well, not exactly a fan of Ryan Murphy, there was no show that surprised me more in 2016 than American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. Co-produced by Murphy and Brad Falchuk (Murphy also directs the pilot), Assassination is the second installment in FX’s American Crime Story franchise, this time focusing on the 1997 murder of iconic fashion designer Gianni Versace which set off a manhunt for Andrew Cunanan. Based on the Maureen Orth book Vulgar Favors, this season looks to be more introspective about the cultural climate at the time—similar to how People v. O.J. Simpson focused on race, Assassination will touch on homosexuality—rather than zeroing in on the actual crime. But with a near-perfect cast (Darren Criss, Penelope Cruz, and Ricky Martin among others) and an engaging story, Assassination is the show to watch.
Black Lightning (The CW, January 16)
As expected, there will be no shortage of superhero stories in 2018, both on television and in theaters. But while you’re waiting for the new Avengers or the second season of Jessica Jones (finally coming in March), why not take a chance on Black Lightning? The CW has had some luck with superhero shows in the past few years—Arrow and The Flash both have an especially rabid fanbase—but it’s not an exaggeration to say that they’re both fairly white as hell. Black Lightning features a black family with a former superhero father who is forced out of retirement so he can deal with the gang problem in his own community. It’s fun, fresh, and timely.
Heathers (Paramount Network, Spring 2018)
The Paramount Network (formerly Spike) television adaptation of the 1988 cult film Heathers can only go one of two ways: it’ll be surprisingly enjoyable or it’ll be our collective favorite hate-watch of 2018. Either way, I can’t wait! The update does sound interesting—THR reports that it’s an anthology series that will be “similar to FX’s Fargo and feature a new group of ‘Heathers’” each time—and is set in a far more progressive world. This time, the “Heathers” feel more like outcasts and are, thank God, far more diverse than the original film—one Heather is even genderqueer. Whether it will work remains to be seen, but it’s certainly going to be something new.
Waco (Paramount Network, January 24)
Paramount Network is trying to fit a hit this year and if Heathers doesn’t do it, Waco just might. Hoping to be your true crime fix of 2018, Waco is a six-episode miniseries “event” that zeroes in on the 1993 standoff between cult leader David Koresh and the FBI. It’s a truly epic and engaging story—the standoff lasted 51 days—but if that doesn’t hook you, the cast definitely will. Friday Night Lights heartthrob Taylor Kitsch transforms himself into Koresh while Michael Shannon plays FBI negotiator Gary Noesner. John Leguizamo, Rory Culkin, and Melissa Benoist also star.
Roseanne (ABC, March 27)
Continuing the never-ending trend of reboots, revivals, sequels—whatever you want to call them!—ABC made waves when they announced the groundbreaking Roseanne would return for a tenth season. It’s one of the few revivals that we’ll wholeheartedly allow, especially because the original run featured some of the funniest, warmest, and most honest depictions of what it’s like to be a blue-collar family with real problems—and how to deal with those problems with humor. Plus, it helps that the original cast is all down to come back (including Sarah Chalke in a new role!) and it’ll be interesting to see what showrunner Whitney Cummings does with the family in 2018.
2 Dope Queens (HBO, February 2)
This isn’t exactly a TV show—though I would absolutely welcome a 2 Dope Queens sitcom—instead it’s a short series consisting of four hour-long episodes from Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, based on their infectious and uproariously funny podcast of the same name. The shows were all filmed in New York City, directed by Tig Notaro, and features guests like Tituss Burgess, Jon Stewart, and Uzo Aduba. 2 Dope Queens will be one of the smartest and most joyous television events of the whole year—if you don’t believe me, just listen to a few of their podcast episodes.