Arts

Best Entertainment of 2018: TV

American Vandal Image By: Courtesy of Netflix and Courtesy of Netflix

“American Vandal” — Netflix

Mockumentary “American Vandal” raises the stakes in its second season, once again following the two high school filmmakers from season one as they are called in to investigate a mysterious figure known only as “The Turd Burglar” – a vandal who terrorizes a private school in Washington through poop-related crimes. Taking a step back from its more character-centric first season and instead choosing to focus more on the vandalism itself, the second season is better in nearly every way. The show manages to present a genuinely fascinating and absorbing mystery, but it doesn’t forget to capitalize on the ridiculousness and humor of its premise – through everything from the occasional fecal jokes to every episode being some sort of pun about poop. Never does this balance feel jarring or disjointed, either. Few shows manage to strike such a balance of humor and intrigue, making “American Vandal” a show uniquely fit for both genre lovers and critics alike — for crappy, it is not. -Joseph Marz

“A.P. Bio” — NBC

Fans of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were nervous about the show’s future when it was announced that original cast member Glenn Howerton may not be returning for upcoming seasons. As it turned out, Howerton did stay on, pleasing the thralls of “Sunny” fans everywhere — but not before taking time away to help produce “A.P. Bio,” my favorite new comedy of the year. Howerton stars as ill-tempered philosophy scholar Jack Griffin, who at the start of the series has just lost his position at Harvard University. Disgraced and in need of any form of teaching position he can get, Jack accepts a job at Whitlock High School in Toledo, Ohio, teaching Advanced Placement Biology. At first, Jack hates his job and only wishes to use his students for his own personal gain. For example, Jack attempts to “catfish” Miles — the man who took his position at Harvard — by using one of his AP students. This becomes a recurring gag throughout the season. Created by former “Saturday Night Live” staff writer and short filmmaker Mike O’Brien and featuring fan-favorite Patton Oswalt as Principal Ralph Durbin, “A.P. Bio” is sure to make you laugh and smile. Season two is on the way! -John Everman

“Barry” — HBO

Following a hitman who decides to make it in the big leagues as an actor, “Barry” presents somewhat of a quirky premise at first. However, the show manages to take this concept and use it as a tool to showcase engaging humor and thought-provoking dialogue alike. The series tells a nuanced story about a man forced to be something he’s not — and who can never seem to become what he wants to be — enjoying the humor of its premise and never ignoring the gravity of it. Bill Hader’s Emmy-winning performance as the titular character can’t be praised enough, as he makes “Barry” a constant joy to watch. Similarly noteworthy are the performances by Henry Winkler and Sarah Goldberg. The former presents a humorous charm that earned him an Emmy, and the latter demonstrates constant emotional development through her character. The show’s production is noteworthy as well, as the cinematography is captivating from scene to scene. All things considered, “Barry” provides a first season that should leave viewers aching for more. -Joseph Marz

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” — NBC (formerly FOX)

Focusing around the fallout of Jake Peralta and Rosa Diez’s wrongful imprisonment, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” returns in its fifth season as strong as ever. The show still manages to set new boundaries of comedy storytelling, packing constant laughs while never shying away from important issues such as racism, stereotyping and sexuality. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” presents some of its most tense moments in this season, seeing important character moments for Jake and Rosa in particular – the former learning to take the world more seriously, and the latter discovering who she is. None of this is to say the show lacks the detective work and comedy that viewers have come to love, as the show is better than ever in this regard. Actors like Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher are still a joy to watch as well. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” remains a show like no other, and it’s easy to see why its cancellation and later revival on a new network sparked such a storm on social media. -Joseph Marz

“Impractical Jokers” — TruTV

TruTV’s comedic hidden camera smash hit continues to gain steam into its upcoming eighth season. Joe, Q, Sal and Murr provide a brand of comedy equal parts risqué and wholesome. The viewer feels part of the gang and shares laughs with the group as they record each other and make absolute fools of themselves for our benefit. The awkward humor created by these unusual and unsettling situations is unlike most other shows I have ever seen. These pranks and skits are often set up in grocery stores, dentist offices and other highly visible and public areas. It is always amusing to see how different members of society react to being put in such uncomfortable situations, as almost all react positively and with a sense of humor once they are informed of the set up. Perhaps this is “Impractical Jokers’” most redeeming quality — its uncanny ability to bring people from all walks of life together with laughter and humor. In this time in our country’s history, that is an admirable trait. New York City: The Jokers are here to stay. -John Everman

Honorable Mentions: 

The Flash,” “Titans,” “Big Mouth,” “New Girl,” “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” 

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