It was a good year for craft beer and a terrific year for cutting-edge television and as usual we overindulged in both. So here (in no particular order) are some of our favorite television shows from last year along with a suggested beer pairing.
The Americans (FX Network)
What some have called the best the best undiscovered dramatic series of the decade, ended its six year run in 2018, with a soul shattering finale that compares with the great series endings like Breaking Bad and the Sopranos.
Set in the 1980s during the Cold War, The Americans tells the story of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the Virginia suburbs along with their children.
A deception that is only further complicated by a growing friendship with their neighbor Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), an FBI agent working in counterintelligence. Suggested Beer Pairing: Stone Russian Imperial Stout – Stone Brewing (Escondido, CA)
Babylon Berlin (Netflix)
Told over 16 episodes, which were split into two seasons when they debuted in Germany last fall, Babylon Berlin is a thrilling German crime drama that follows a young PSTD-addled homicide detective as he navigates the corrupt 1929 Weimar Republic just before Hitler’s rise.
Richly filmed at a cost of nearly $40 million, Babylon Berlin is Germany’s most expensive non-English language television drama series ever. It also features a soundtrack overseen by Roxy Music’s Brian Ferry which is very cool. Suggested Beer Pairing: Stone White Berliner Weisse – Stone Brewing (Berlin, Germany)
Killing Eve (BBC America)
Based on Luke Jennings’s “Codename Villanelle” novella series, Killing Eve is a British made American drama series and one the year’s biggest surprises.
Sandra Oh has already received a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Eve Polastri, a desk-bound MI5 officer who begins to track down talented psychopathic assassin (Jodie Comer) in an international game of cat and mouse that’s sexy, thrilling and sometimes darkly funny… Suggested Beer Pairing: Assassin Imperial Stout Jack – Toppling Goliath Brewing (Decorah, IA)
What has been described by some critics as Game of Thrones for the New York’s business elite, Succession centers around the fictional Roy family, the dysfunctional owners of a global media empire who are fighting for control of the company amidst uncertainty about the health of the family’s patriarch, Logan Roy (think Rupert Murdoch).
Brian Cox stars as the failing head of the family and media empire whose motivations are never quite what they seem. But in the end Succession succeeds on the strength of its brilliant ensemble cast and some of 2018’s smartest writing.
And while real life characters like Rupert Murdoch might have served as a starting point for this dark and sometimes comedic drama, Succession is more an examination of family and the secrets we all carry than a takedown of Fox News. Suggested Beer Pairing: Fox Rye Lager – Family Business Beer (Dripping Springs TX)
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul, returned for its fourth and arguably finest season in 2018…and if you haven’t as yet checked in on this this Emmy award-winning series you’re missing out on one television’s most artful and entertaining “long-form” television dramas.
Created and on occasion directed by Vince Gilligan, Better Call Saul furthers the story of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and his evolution from an aspiring lawyer to the charming, yet shady, Saul Goodman that we first met in Breaking Bad. Suggested Beer Pairing: Better Call Saul Sweet Stout – Green Duck Beer Co. (UK)
Honorable Mentions –
The Handmaid’s Tale (HULU)
Sacred Games (Netflix)
Sharp Objects (HBO)