2018 has been a vintage year for brilliant TV and classy tunes. But what floated the HuffPost UK team’s boats this year? Here, we pick the stuff that had us glued to our screens and tapping our feet over the last 12 months.
TV Show: ‘The Assassination Of Gianni Versace’
Picked by Matt Bagwell, Executive Editor (Entertainment)
There has been so much brilliant must-see TV drama this year, but for me, Ryan Murphy’s nine-part second season of ‘American Crime Story’ exploring the murder of legendary designer Gianni Versace trumped everything. No mean feat considering the quality of the likes of ‘Killing Eve’, ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘A Very English Scandal’. Pretty much perfect from start to finish, former ‘Glee’ star Darren Criss as serial killer Andrew Cunanan is brilliantly unnerving, and he quite rightly bagged the Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy for his portrayal. His performance, together with the stunning cinematography, flawless soundtrack, reverse storytelling and a script that had more twists and turns than Katie Price’s personal life meant I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. TV really doesn’t get better than this.
TV Show: ‘Love Island’
Picked by Ash Percival, Entertainment Editor
Cast your mind back to when it was about 30 degrees outside and the nation was gripped by the action of Jack, Dani, Megan, Laura, Adam and co. It was a better time, right? This year’s ‘Love Island’ was a monster hit, and while some felt it slightly failed to live up to the year before, this series reached new heights of popularity. Personally, I thought it had everything. The perfect panto villain in Adam, a couple to really root for in Jack and Dani, the whole Georgia kiss saga, and the Laura-Wes-Megan-Alex love square. And who could forget the moment when Josh walked back into the villa coupled up with Kaz?! I am literally counting down the days until the next series already.
Album: ‘Bloom’ - Troye Sivan
Picked by Daniel Welsh, Entertainment Reporter
Hayley Kiyoko said it best on New Year’s Eve, when she tweeted she “couldn’t wait to wake up in #20gayteen”, and boy was she right. The quality of music by queer artists that has come out in the last year has been truly remarkable, from the impressive debut albums from MNEK and Hayley herself, to the stunning visual efforts of Janelle Monáe and the incomparable energy of Brockhampton. The album from this year that has stayed with me most though is Troye Sivan’s sophomore effort ‘Bloom’, an almost boastfully queer album that merges themes of romance and sexual desire in a way I’ve never heard from a mainstream pop artist. With songs and music videos relatable to people across the queer community, and beyond, this album made me excited for what Troye, and his fellow LGBTQ artists, will bring to the table next.
Album: ‘Dirty Computer’ - Janelle Monáe
Picked by Micha Frazer-Carroll, Intern
Janelle Monae unpacks race and queerness in ways ways that don’t shirk them as topics that are pertinent to modern America. But as a queer black woman, who in the past has famously described herself as “not for male consumption”, she also says “no thank you” to the white and heterosexual gazes by refusing to over-explain or pander to any audience who isn’t interested in liberation. Prince himself worked on this album – actually producing the signature synth groove on ‘Make Me Feel’ – before his death in 2016; and you can feel his influence both in the record’s sound, and its political scope. Who knows how this album simultaneously manages to be long overdue, incredibly of its time, and a futuristic piece all at once.
TV Show: ‘Killing Eve’
Picked by Sophie Gallagher, Life Reporter
I am normally so far behind the cultural zeitgeist that I want to have a conversation about the TV show of ‘the moment’ about three months later. But with ‘Killing Eve’, I was invested from the first episode, watching them back to back in a couple of nights (something I also never do, sorry short attention span). Jodie Comer’s performance was unreal - once I got passed the weird Russian accent - and Sandra Oh was sublime. The action scenes felt more refined than your usual 007-style, the costumes were original, and Phoebe Waller Bridge’s script was perfect. Would watch again.
TV Show: ‘Ugly Delicious’ (Netflix)
Picked by Charlie Lindlar, Blogs Editor
Stuck this Netflix series on one night cos I was hungry but ended up totally blown away by how such a simple show could be so compelling. Hosted by Korean-American chef David Chang, each episode focuses on a classic piece of comfort food like pizza, fried chicken or tacos and explores the cultural and culinary history behind each dish, and how they continue to be pioneered today. It’s a visual treat but gets surprisingly deep on race, identity and who ‘owns’ food.
Song: ‘Boys’ - Lizzo
Picked by Harriet Grecian, Senior Video Producer
I love this woman. She plays the flute and sings and is generally just amazing (check out her Instagram, you won’t be sorry). And this song is just so. much. fun.
TV Show: ‘The Good Place’ Season 3 (Netflix)
Picked by Steph Bosset, Video Producer
Alright, so the third season is a bit nuts, disjointed and downright loopy, but hearing Maya Rudolph, the Judge of the universe, say “Do you know how much weird stuff has happened because of your little experiment? England left Europe!” makes it watchable AF.
TV Show: ‘Sally4Ever’
Picked by Rachel McGrath, Entertainment Reporter
You don’t need me to tell you that 2018 has been a long year and it seems that as the final months draw to a close, dismal updates on Brexit, bad weather and Donald Trump are showing no sign of slowing down. What we’ve really needed, I think, is a good laugh and a distraction. Enter Julia Davis. The mastermind behind ‘Nighty Night’ came back with another filthy and outrageously funny sitcom, that focusses on Sally, (a kind-hearted square, played by Catherine Shepherd) and her sudden love affair with Emma (an overbearing, needy, hipster rockstar, played by Julia). As Julia devotees will expect, it’s packed with highly-quotable one-liners and scenes that’ll make you spit your tea out, while the cast includes loads of familiar faces. I was sold after nearly choking to death from laughing at episode one’s sex scene montage. Don’t watch this one with your parents.
TV Show: ‘Doctor Who’
Picked by Cathie Swan, Video Producer
‘Doctor Who’ has always been a special favourite of mine, but this year’s series has to be a particular standout with the arrival of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor. A bouncing ball of energy, this Doctor has breathed new life into the Tardis. With storylines on Rosa Parks and the Partition of India educating a whole new generation of young viewers, it remains not only one of the best shows out there, but more important than ever.
TV Show: ‘Succession’ (Sky Atlantic)
Picked by John Johnston, Senior Video Producer
This was a slow-starter from Jesse Armstrong but a little time spent with this HBO show and it really gets under your skin. Watching people with immense power and wealth constantly screw it up is a well-worn story by now but this is genre-bending, playing more like a drama than a comedy. The humour is definitely there though, acerbic and scathing, with particular plaudits for Rory Culkin, and if nothing else, it delivered the line of the year from TV - “I’m in a fucking knife fight here and I’m holding a dildo made out of American cheese.”
TV Show: ‘Riverdale’ (Netflix)
Picked by Lisa Golden, Video Producer
I read the ‘Riverdale’ comics as a kid, and absent-mindedly clicked on the new Netflix version of Archie, Betty and Veronica’s adventures, only to find a really dark, twisted show, which I absolutely love. There’s drugs, gangs, murders, romance and some deliciously OTT characters like Cheryl Blossom.
TV Show: ‘Bodyguard’
Picked by Connor Parker, Intern
It’s been a lonnnnnngggg time since I sat down and actually watched something at the scheduled time on TV, as opposed to streaming or catch up. Yet I found myself tuning in every week to watch the next episode of ‘Bodyguard’. No show I can remember managed to build up suspense, mystery and cliffhangers quite as well as the hit BBC drama. In fact, it was so good it did what few shows manage to achieve and became more than just a TV show we watch for enjoyment. It was a talking point, one that meant watching the latest episode was a prerequisite before we could actually have a conversation with our friendship groups.
TV Show: ‘No Offence’
Picked By Vicky Frost, Executive Editor, Life
Nothing on telly is better written than Paul Abbott’s brilliant, sometimes hilarious police procedural starring Joanna Scanlon as DI Viv Deering. Each line is as sharp as Deering’s peroxide bob; the plotting as smart as her glad rags. Scanlon gets most of the best lines as she knocks Manchester into shape with little regard for procedure (or indeed what telly leading women are supposed to look like). She’s supported by a cast that includes Paul Ritter, Elaine Cassidy and Will Mellor, and a backdrop of Manchester that looks recognisably like the city people live in, rather than some super-glamorous/really gritty telly approximation.
Song: ‘Mirror’ - IDER
Picked by Nicola Slawson, News Reporter
You may not have heard of them yet but you soon will. This London duo are set to go stratospheric in 2019 and their last single of the year, ‘Mirror,’ is a real taste of what’s to come. It’s a banger of a pop song with lyrics that will hit you right in the feels. How many of us have stared in the mirror and wondered who the hell we really are? Given we live in a country that is currently having a massive identity crisis, the message also feels very 2018. Full disclosure, one of the band is my cousin, but don’t let a bit of nepotism put you off what will soon be your new favourite song.