The 50 Best TV Shows of 2018

Boy, have we seen a ton of television over the past 12 months. In the age of peak TV, where streaming, cable and regular broadcast networks are vying for our eyeballs with a deluge of quality shows – it’s getting harder to find time to watch them all, let alone narrow down these year-end lists. Which is exactly why we’ve expanded beyond the 25 entries that we did last year, to 50 this year!


Honourable mentions: Portlandia, Forever, Hanebado!, Maniac, Deutschland 86, Magic For Humans, Big Mouth, Sacred Games, Supergirl, My Hero Academia

50) Kim’s Convenience

Although it’s already been running for two seasons over in Canada (where it’s racked up a ton of awards), this screwball family comedy is finally available for international audiences via Netflix. Based on Ins Choi’s eponymous play, this series about a Korean family running a convenience store in Toronto is an uproarious delight that never takes itself too seriously. Kim’s Convenience is a throwback to old-school sitcom dynamics that always makes you feel easy and welcome.

49) Vida

Created by TV’s first all-Latinx writers’ room, Vida’s representation of Latino and queer stories is remarkable for its sensitivity and sense of authenticity. Centered around two estranged sisters who return to their East L.A. neighbourhood after the sudden passing of their mother, tragedy takes a turn when they learn that their mom’s housemate has been her wife all along. Through grief and shock and the emergence of old relationships, the sisters’ journey organically tackles issues of race, gentrification, class status and sexual identity in a variety of nuanced and compelling ways. Featuring great acting, sharp social issues and vibrant Spanglish dialogue, Vida might be the most important new show to emerge in 2018.

48) Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia

Now in its third and final season, Guillermo del Toro’s imaginative animated series keeps a breakneck pace in the home stretch. Jim Lake (Emile Hirsch replaces the late Anton Yelchin midway) and his team of both human and troll allies face the ultimate evil of Gunmar, and the final confrontation brings about a very satisfying conclusion to the Arcadia story so far. The show ties up a variety of plot threads, with some thrilling sequences and leftfield twists that are sure to have fans excited for the future of the franchise.

47) Pose

Anchored by the largest ensemble of transgender actors in TV history, Ryan Murphy’s new drag ball drama is a glamorous, uplifting and totally unmissable celebration of LGBTQ culture. Naturally, Pose also deals with the hardships facing an oppressed community during an especially difficult time (homelessness and the AIDS crisis was omnipresent in 1980s New York), but it never dwells. Instead, the show fiercely struts in a warmer, more earnest direction, focusing on the value of found families, where underprivileged outcasts can feel welcomed.

46) America To Me

Hoop Dreams director Steve James spent a year following the students of an elite Chicago high school, looking to explore why it’s black students weren’t seeing the same benefits as their peers. And as this 10-part documentary shows, the answer is far more complicated and nuanced that one might think. America To Me – through it’s honest, intimate and empathetic chronicle of the lives of these kids, educators and parents – organically illustrates how well-intentioned diversity rarely means racial equity in the face of larger systemic problems.

45) Westworld

While season one of Westworld was astonishing, season two dramatically improves upon HBO’s lavish series by crutching less on non-chronological mysteries (though those puzzles are still key), and focusing more on character growth, emotional depth, and genuine consequences. It’s metaphysical themes and exploration of morality and sentience becomes darker and far more violent this season, as the robot rebellion, introduction of new parks, and Delos’ hidden agenda emerge as compelling new plot points.

44) The Venture Bros.

Finally returning for its seventh season on Adult Swim, The Venture Bros. still remains one of the standard bearers for this golden age of adult animation. In fact, it’s sharp satire of Hanna Barbera cartoons, superhero tropes, spy adventure conventions, and heady sci-fi concepts feel fresher than ever. Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer waste no time in rewarding patient fans by immediately paying off long-running mysteries, delivering shocking twists and unveiling hidden backstories that redefine the show’s core relationships. Read our full review here.

43) The Handmaid’s Tale

Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale is still one of television’s most brilliant and brutal experiences. And the show only gets stronger as it expands beyond its source novel to develop other aspects of Margaret Atwood’s shockingly horrific world (like the irradiated concentration camps within “The Colonies”). Gilead’s misogynist theocracy remains a potent cautionary tale, elevated by stunning cinematography and incredible acting – especially Elisabeth Moss’ transcendent and infinitely expressive performance. But this season’s standout looks to be Alexis Bledel, whose vulnerability and venom is miles away from Rory Gilmore.

42) Aggretsuko

Who could have thought that such a subversive, feminist gem could come from a cute anime based on a Sanrio character? Ostensibly a workplace comedy centering around the struggles of a red panda, Aggretsuko quickly transcends it’s adorably kiddy veneer to address some very grown-up issues. Dealing with misogyny, harassment, gossipy colleagues and overwork – our main character Retsuko hates her job so much that the only way she can deal with her rage is by screaming death metal songs during karaoke. From office politics to dead-end romances, this show is entirely too relatable for millenials caught up in the capitalist grind.

41) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

While it’s sad that we live in an era where comedy shows can provide better reporting and more in-depth journalism than legitimate news outlets, we sure are glad that a program like Last Week Tonight exists. Back for a fifth season, John Oliver and his crack team of writers have already done deep dives into topics such as the Italian elections, cryptocurrencies and the NRA. Crackling wit and sharp humour punctuate these thoroughly researched pieces, even as Oliver’s discoveries continue to offer grim insight into today’s political landscape.

40) The End Of The F***ing World

If you’re looking for a quick and satisfyingly self-contained little binge – The End Of The F***ing Worldis the Netflix series for you. This coming-of-age love story between two deeply troubled teens (one’s a budding psychopath serial-killer, while the other is destructive delinquent) only gets sweeter as their adventure gets darker and more perilous. This pitch-black comedy has such perfectly pitch-black ending that we hope they never do a second season.

39) Legends of Tomorrow

Whether they’re saving Elvis Presley from poltergeists or fighting a giant psychic gorilla in the Vietnam War – this time-travelling superhero caper is acutely aware of its own silliness, and excels because it never takes itself too seriously. Legends’ huge cast of supporting characters from other shows are given a chance to shine here (including new additions Wally West and John Constantine), but season three and four’s most intriguing development centers around a blossoming lesbian romance between captain Sarah Lance and her Time Bureau frenemy Ava.

38) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

It’s really difficult to escape the bleakness of the world these days, so Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s dose of empathy and enthusiasm is always welcome when a new season comes around. The show has always been about an abuse survivor dealing PTSD and varieties of noxious masculinity, but this fourth and final season really leans into it. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s brand of whip-smart, zany, cotton-candy humour (and Ellie Kemper’s aggressive upbeatness) is always underlined by dark truths, which is what makes this show so biting.

37) Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Dan Goor and Michael Schur’s cop show comedy might be the most consistently funny show on TV today. From a clever parody of Andre Braugher’s Emmy-winning performance from Homicide: Life on the Streets, to a hilarious crossword puzzle arson mystery, to the return of Jake Peralta’s annual friend/nemesis The Pontiac Bandit – the uproarious hijinks at the 99th precinct keeps delighting by digging deeper into the quirks of a rich ensemble that we’ve come to love over many years.

36) The Tick

Ben Edlund has done several versions of The Tick ever since he invented the character in high school over 30 years ago, and each incarnation (from comic to cartoon to live action) has always brilliantly reflected the zeitgeist of the time. His newest take on Amazon is still a savvy spoof and hilarious meta-commentary on superheroes in pop culture (this one focuses on today’s trend of gritty reboots), but its also so much deeper than it’s ever been. As great as the first half of season one was (Amazon made the unusual decision to split up its first season over two years), this latest batch of episodes is much funnier and much more exciting.

35) Room 104

Set within a single room in a nondescript motel, the Duplass Brothers’ inventive anthology series Room 104 is back for a second season. The genre-flexible series (drama, comedy, horror, musical, sci-fi, etc.) often feels fresher than most genre-specific anthologies, but this season is so much wilder, more surprising, and more eclectic than it’s first. Stacked with incredible talent, ranging from Mahershala Ali and Josephine Decker, to Michael Shannon and Brian Tyree Henry (and more) – Room 104’s new collection of 20-minute short stories are extremely engaging.

34) Queer Eye

Just four months after the first season of  Queer Eye, Netflix has blessed us with a second season of inspirational makeovers with the Fab Five. Still as empowering and emotional as ever, the self-improvement show continues to illustrate that social divisions can be bridged by bringing humour and positivity to people from all walks of life. This season highlights include a powerful episode that finds the crew helping young trans man feel confident in his own skin.

33) Cobra Kai

Allow us to wax on about how Cobra Kai is so much better than it has any right to be. What many thought was going to be nostalgia pandering instead turned out to be a savvy story about the cycle of bullying, and how perceptions of stereotypes can change as society evolves. Set 30 plus years after The Karate Kid, this YouTube Red series swept us off our feet by sharply turning the tables, and making an adult Johnny Lawrence it’s unlikely hero. The world isn’t as black and white as 80s’ movies would have you believe, and a lot of Cobra Kai‘s humour and emotion comes from your old Karate Kid archetypes discovering that.

32) Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj

Like all of Jon Stewart’s proteges from The Daily Show who spun-off into their own shows (Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee), Hasan Minhaj prizes thorough research and in-depth commentary just as much joke-crafting. Combine that with with his specific Indian-Muslim-American perspective – and you get something sharper, smarter and funnier than most of the topical talk show comedy drivel out there. Patriot Act’s informative deep dives into urgent social and political topics makes this is a worthy companion to Last Week Tonight.

31) Devilman Crybaby

If you’re squeamish about body horror, graphic sex scenes and shocking violence, fair warning, this may not be for you. But if you’re not, Devilman Crybaby is easily the best new show on Netflix this January. Its surreal and striking indulgence in the grotesque might appear gratuitous, but it’s all in service of a potent underlying message about bigotry, masculinity and humanity’s capability for cruelty in a climate of fear. You really don’t want to miss this jaw-dropping story of sensitive boy being bonded to a devil (or it’s killer soundtrack).

30) Insecure

In terms of tone and execution, Issa Rae’s storytelling sensibilities grow more assured and relaxed than ever in Insecure’s wonderful third season – even as her onscreen counterpart mines sharp humour and drama from sliding backwards. This show is a delightful low-key hangout precisely because it’s characters are so subtly drawn, it’s relationship dynamics are so nuanced, and it’s commentary on the contemporary African-American life is so organic. HBO’s hidden gem really hit its stride last year, and it only keeps getting funnier and smarter.

29) Sorry For Your Loss

Sorry For Your Loss is a beautifully acted new Facebook Watch drama created by playwright Kit Steinkellner. This meticulously observed portrait of grief combines lo-fi intimacy with high-end acting. Elizabeth Olsen is a revelation in her meatiest and most challenging role to date, and she’s supported by wonderful performances from Kelly Marie Tran and Janet McTeer. It’s rare to see fiction so thoughtfully explore the many layers of bereavement (it’s often lazily boiled down to loud emotion), but Sorry For Your Loss resonates because of its sensitivity and nuance.

28) GLOW

GLOW remains the easiest and most satisfying binge on Netflix in it’s superior second season. It’s everything anybody could ever want, and you don’t have to be a pro wrestling fan to enjoy it either (although it certainly does enhance the appreciation). It can be sharply topical (#MeToo and immigration figure into key subplots) and embrace fun, silly comedy at the same time. It’s amazing storytelling and excellent ensemble so easily disables your sense of irony, that you’ll be invested in it’s moments of vaudevillian camp and heartbreaking poignance in equal measure.

27) Killing Eve

Based on Luke Jennings’ series of Villanelle novels, Killing Eve is smart and spellbinding in very offbeat ways. It’s a cat-and-mouse spy story between a clever MI5 analyst and a seductive international assassin that draws you in with oddball British humour, and then ratchets up to white-knuckle tension when you least expect it. You’ll be hooked by Sandra Oh’s incredible lead performance as Eve Polastri and Jodie Comer’s playfully psychopathic turn as Villanelle, but you’ll stay for their uniquely feminist Batman-Joker dynamic.  Killing Eve’s propulsive blend of creative murder and globetrotting intrigue is instantly addictive.

26) The Expanse

As far as sci-fi space dramas, The Expanse blows it’s competition out of the water. The fantastic series returns for a third season to a galaxy at war, as the conflicts between Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA) reach a boiling point after the emergence of the alien protomolecule. But even as the show’s incendiary and intelligent interplanetary politics overtakes it’s main narrative drive, The Expanse is careful not to forget the story’s more human elements. It’s that combination of rich characters and compelling personal dynamics that continues to sustain the show’s multitude of moving parts.

25) Sharp Objects

HBO’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s (author of Gone Girl) debut novel is a vivid, raw-nerved and haunting tone poem. Marti Noxon’s beautiful writing and Jean-Marc Vallée’s atmospheric eye grips you despite it’s slow burn. The miniseries is brimming with great acting but the real highlight is Amy Adams, who is at the peak of her powers here. She’s an intoxicated and intoxicating open wound, and it’s her internalized descent that drives this disturbing Southern Gothic murder mystery. Sharp Objects might be unrelentingly dark but you’ll be riveted.

24) The Magicians

Adapted by Sera Gamble and John McNamara from the trilogy of fantasy novels by Lev Grossman, The Magicians is the story of a group of grad students at a school for magic called Brakebills. While the premise is reminiscent of Harry Potter, the show’s laser focus on character and themes over plot is more spiritually akin to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While The Magicians had a bumpy beginning, it’s since grown into one of the most brilliant and confident YA genre shows on TV in subsequent seasons. This inspired third season is their most audacious yet, turning a quest to restore magic into wildly creative genre experiments.

23) The Little Drummer Girl

Oldboy director Park Chan-wook’s debut show is an elegant adaptation of a knotty John Le Carré spy novel entitled The Little Drummer Girl. Set in the late 1970s, a young London actress (Florence Pugh is magnetic in this breakout role) is unwillingly drawn into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by shadowy Mossad agents (Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Shannon play to type perfectly) who seek to use her to capture an elusive PLO operative. It’s addictive espionage slow-burn is lushly hyperreal, slyly carnal, unexpected sardonic and gorgeously shot.

22) The Deuce

The Deuce jumps forward five years from 1972 to 1977, but it hasn’t lost a step. Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers her career-best performance as Candy’s elevation from street level sex worker to adult entertainment producer becomes the show’s new focal point. And while David Simon’ drama is positioned around the rise of the porn industry, it really is a more holistic exploration of a city undergoing enormous socioeconomic paradigm shifts, ranging from policing and crime to labour laws and evolving nightlife (disco and punk take center stage this season).

21) Babylon Berlin

Set in 1920s’ Weimar Germany, Babylon Berlin is a dazzling, lavish and gritty portrait of an era in German history that’s rarely been dramatized. Exploring a complex web that interconnects the city’s seedy criminal underbelly, ugly political machinations (corrupt social democrats battle communist agitators, as populist fascists sneak into power) and flourishing underground nightlife – the show’s plot can be dense at times, but it’s always thrilling to watch. Superb acting, a killer jazz soundtrack, soaring cabaret sequences and unpredictable twists will keep you riveted.

20) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Season five finds the rag-tag spy team transported to a dystopian future where the Earth has been obliterated, and the remnants of humanity are subjugated under Kree rule in a space station. Interstellar chaos and time travel loopiness present a new set of sci-fi challenges for Coulson’s crew, even as forces from their present seek to bring them down. This show’s awesome roller-coaster of action and emotion continues to prove that it’s far better and more satisfying than any of the MCU’s other TV offerings on Netflix or Hulu.

19) Dear White People

Dear White People levels up from great to genius with it’s superior sophomore volume. The show’s ability to ground thought-provoking discourse on American race relations in emotional consequence, relationship turmoil and offbeat comedy is extraordinarily compelling. Dear White People somehow manages to both challenge it’s own “woke” ideology (by meaningfully giving voice to the criticisms of season one), and double-down on it’s perspective of the black experience through richly layered character portraits. Read our full review of season two here.

18) American Vandal

American Vandal season two is less absurdist and much darker, but it remains just as compelling. It’s still a hilarious yet sad satire of true-crime documentaries (nailing everything everything from the genre’s gotcha sensationalism, to it’s visual language), and it’s commentary on contemporary American high schools and social media culture is incisive. But if you choose to take it’s ridiculous mystery about poop pranks at face value, you can because it works as a riveting investigation on its own, with better twists and turns than most actual detective shows.

17) Steven Universe

Over the last five years, Rebecca Sugar’s wondrous animated series Steven Universe has become a cultural phenomenon, appealing to kids and adults alike. Though acclaimed for its loveable aesthetic, gorgeous animation and beautiful music – the real reason it’s become so resonant is it’s empathetic exploration of themes like intimacy, love, gender, sexuality and family. Now in season five, the series has evolved from a goofy show about a boy and his magical family, into one of the most emotionally engaging and narratively daring series on TV today.

16) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

After a wonderful first season and plenty of Emmy glory, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s second season had plenty of lofty expectations to live up to. And we’re happy to report that there’s no sophomore slump here! In fact, this series about a 1950s’ housewife turned stand-up comedian is funnier, smarter and somehow even more delightful in season two. Rachel Brosnahan’s vivacious Midge continues to be a joy to watch, even as Amy Sherman-Palladino takes our fast-talking heroine beyond Manhattan to a wider, richer and more colourful world of challenges.

15) Atlanta

Subtitled “Robbin Season”, Donald Glover’s second foray into Atlanta has been certainly worth the wait. Continuing to find humour in unexpected and uncomfortable places, this show’s compelling combination of social commentary, incisive comedy and trippy surrealism is a must watch. This time, Earn’s journey through Atlanta’s trap scene is backdropped by a citywide crime spree, leading to situations that can be awkwardly hilarious or shockingly violent.

14) Brockmire

Hank Azaria’s tragicomic series about a disgraced baseball announcer is a brilliantly hilarious, elegantly crude, and delightfully acerbic redemption story – fueled by drugs, drink and depression. Brockmire’s phenomenal second season finds its titular character going down an even darker path, even as he reclaims a measure of success in podcasting and broadcasting. This sophomore rise movingly chronicles what happens when a comeback turns into a self-fueled nightmare, and how losing everything once again might be his only hope.

13) Howards End

Kenneth Lonergan’s (writer of Manchester by the Sea) four-part miniseries adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel is sublime. A visually sumptuous Edwardian period piece, with the pace and cadence of modern prestige dramas, Howards End is incredibly engrossing and a surprisingly relevant portrait of cultural division. Commanding acting, led by an indelible performance from Hayley Atwell (she gives Emma Thompson’s Oscar-winning turn a run for her money), and crackling dialogue elevates this progressive update above James Ivory’s 1992 film.

12) Detroiters

Although season one started shaky, Detroiters has quickly grown to be one of the very best pure comedies today in season two. A bit like Mad Men meets Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the delightful misadventures of inept ad men Sam Duvet and Tim Cramlin elicit mile-a-minute laughs with smart running gags, layered jokes, and blunt physical comedy. Although most of the humour in mined from it’s specifically downtrodden city, and the pair’s social obliviousness, there’s an earnestness to it all that keeps Detroiters’ surreally awkward mishaps from ever feeling mean.

11) Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul only continues to get better as we follow Jimmy McGill’s descent in this masterful fourth season. No other series is as adept making small human moments feels monumental. Bob Odenkirk’s nuanced performance here is absolutely gripping, conveying the toll of tragic misfortune, and the slow erosion of Jimmy’s soul, in subtle but no less powerful ways. As the show inches closer to Breaking Bad territory, the disparate worlds of Jimmy’s small-time hustle and Gus Fring’s big-time drug cartel begin to overlap in unexpected ways.

10) Baskets

Jonathan Krisel’s black comedy has quietly become one of the best televisions shows of the modern era. Now wrapping up its third season, Baskets’ blend of the odd, tragic and ridiculous remains marvelously dark and deadpan. Guided by indie film sensibilities and dry absurdist humour, this tale of failed professional clown Chip Baskets and his twin brother Dale (Zack Galifianakis’ nuanced dual performance continues to be sublime), is so sincere and affecting that you’re often either crying from pathos or crying from it’s understated goofiness.

9) The Good Place

Mike Schur’s afterlife comedy has taken so many radical turns that we don’t know where to start, but rest assured, the show has remained absolutely hilarious through each game-changing move. The climax of season two finds our poor souls wandering through a literal bureaucratic hell in an attempt to reach heaven, and their journey hasn’t just been full of laughs, its also landed more than a few moments of emotional poignance. From a demon learning to understand human emotion by forging his first friendship, to complex philosophical lessons being taught through mini-tales of personal discovery, The Good Place has been a blast.

8) Homecoming

Created by Mr. Robot writer-director Sam Esmail and starring Julia Roberts – Homecoming is such a gripping puzzle-box mystery about a capitalist dystopia. Based on a great podcast by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, Esmail has refashioned the audio narrative into a taut TV show that looks like a mix between Hitchcockian suspense and paranoid 1970s-era conspiracy thrillers. With it’s half-hour episodes and addictive story, this is an easy and enjoyable binge.

7) The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House is the greatest horror series ever created for television. Mike Flanagan (director of the fantastic Gerald’s Game) has created a sophisticated and spooky slow-burn, while telling some very emotional stories about the fractured family that inhabits Hill House. Try to imagine This Is Us in a haunted house, and you’ll kind of get the series’ compelling, character-driven genius. Beyond ghosts, this show explores how we can be haunted in many other ways (grief, mistakes, addiction, regret, etc..) through lyrical character studies.

6) The Terror

A slow-burning exercise in dread and misery, The Terror is a nerve-wracking expedition into the icy heart of darkness. Centering around the Royal Navy’s HMS Erebus and HMS Terror which become stuck in the polar wilderness, both ships’ crews must survive frigid weather, each other, and the unimaginable horrors beyond. The series’ beautifully shot landscape is gorgeous but also ominous, enveloping you into it’s ever-white abyss immediately. Less concerned with monsters than with the shifting power dynamics of desperate men, The Terror does a terrific job of intermingling the factual with the fantastical.

5) Counterpart

A wonderfully enigmatic, Kafkaesque espionage thriller that evokes the Cold War, just with added interdimensional political intrigue. JK Simmons gives an acting masterclass as spies from alternate universes – delivering subtle yet precise nuances in each personality. The world-building is gradual, the atmosphere is unbelievably tense, and questions of nurture versus nature are fascinating. This is a slow-burn mystery that we’re glad to puzzle over.

4) My Brilliant Friend

HBO’s gorgeous Italian-language limited series is a faithful adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s acclaimed novels about a passionate and challenging adolescent friendship set in 1950s Naples. This is a quiet epic of intimate beauty and understated grace, patiently immersing you into the difficult lives of two strong-willed girls, as differences in opportunity complicate their affection as they mature. My Brilliant Friend is a masterwork of uncommon sensitivity and emotional insight, buoyed by tremendous performances and exceptional production values.

3) Barry

The darkest dramas are often found in comedies these days, and Bill Hader’s Barry might be the best at straddling both tones. Half the show is a horrifying look at an emotionally broken hitman, while the other half is a hilariously outlandish tale of Barry pursuing an acting career by joining a local theater troupe. The beauty is that both sides of this show inform one another (e.g. a workshop involving the “out, damned spot” scene from Macbeth forces him consider the consequences of murder from a non-sociopathic perspective) – helping to develop one of the rawest, most complex character arcs on screen right now.

2) BoJack Horseman

As smart, funny and unforgiving as BoJack Horseman’s satire of Hollywoo(d) has been, this season’s theme of accountability is the show at its most cutting. This thoughtful, painful and structurally inventive fifth season explores cycles of abuse and empty public redemption, the complicity of the media machine, artistically bankrupt prestige dramas, and the unintended normalization of vile behaviour through entertainment’s anti-heroes. But even amidst moral alienation, the show never loses sight of his whip-smart humour or it’s nuanced empathy.

1) The Americans

One of the greatest prestige dramas of the modern era enters its sixth and final season by painfully honing in on the show’s central theme. The Americans has never argued for a political point of view because its essential perspective has always been a humanist one. It’s pitched as a Soviet spy thriller, but it’s really a family drama about communication, and how governments can corrupt genuine human connection. As Perestroika and Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies force Philip and Elizabeth Jennings into opposing ideologies, the Cold War’s impending conclusion pushes the show’s forward momentum to it’s inevitably tragic apex.