Everyone does a Top Movies list for the end of the year, but I have always been more a TV person. I am obsessed with TV. I like to joke that I watch forty hours of television a day. Despite this advanced level of television watching, I still couldn’t get through even a fraction of the horror TV that came out this year. I did manage to watch a lot, though. Below, in no particular order, are my ten favorite TV shows of the year.
American Horror Story: 1984
American Horror Story has been hit or miss since it began, but this season, it was a huge hit. Subtitled 1984, this season was set mostly during the year 1984, and was an ode to summer camp slashers. What began as a pretty straightforward “escaped serial killer returns to his hunting grounds to pick up where he left off” plot soon spiraled – but in a good way. A subplot with real life killer Richard Ramirez (aka The Night Stalker) was a little dodgy but it paid off in the end. If you have been wavering on whether or not to get back into AHS, do it. This season was nothing but fun.
What We Do in the Shadows
Based on the 2014 film directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the TV series follows a new trio of vampires and the trials and tribulations they face as they make their way in the modern world. It is as witty as the film, and the season finale will make you keep your eyes peeled in order to catch all the cameos.
Prodigal Son follows a freelance psychological profiler who works with the NYPD after being laid off from the FBI for erratic behavior. The profiler, Malcolm, is really good at his job, probably because his father was the city’s worst serial killer. Malcolm called the police on his father, and he was arrested when Malcolm was about ten years old. What I like about this show is that it would be easy to make Malcolm a pious character who wants to make up for the sins of his father. Malcolm is definitely not evil, but he is dealing with the trauma of losing his father, and dealing with not getting pulled back into his father’s web. Add to that some underlying mental health issues, and you have a severely flawed – and interesting – hero.
After watching the first three episodes of this series, executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, I am definitely intrigued. This show is weird and eerie and I want to watch more. The story follows Dorothy and her husband Sean, who recently lost their son, Jericho. Dorothy went into a state of shock until Sean bought a Reborn doll to take Jericho’s place. In order to keep up the delusion, Sean doesn’t fight her when Dorothy insists on hiring a nanny for the doll. The nanny, Leanne, doesn’t see this as weird at all, and takes care of the doll as if it were a real child. But things get weird when, after twenty-four hours, Jericho becomes a real boy. Did Leanne kidnap a child, or use witchcraft to Pinocchio the kid?
Creepshow is back, and it is creepier and showier than ever. The show sticks with the traditional anthology format that was so successful in the original film, complete with comic book panels between scenes. All the stories are brand new, and some of the biggest names in genre have joined forces to make Creepshow a love letter to the genre. Directors include Greg Nicotero (who also executive produced, and made sure all the FX were practical), Tom Savini, David Bruckner, Roxanne Benjamin, and John Harrison, working on scripts from Stephen King, David J. Schow, Paul Dini, and Joe R. Landsdale.
This French horror series chilled fans to the core when it was released on Netflix this September. A popular horror novelist, Emma, is drawn home after a childhood friend shows up, insisting that her mother believes herself to be Marianne, the ghoul in her novels. The friend hangs herself, and Emma returns home to figure out what the hell is going on.
I must admit, Season 3 wasn’t as good as the previous seasons. But the finale, which saw the mindflayer tearing up the mall in an effort to kill the kids, was an inspired hour of mayhem and madness.
The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror”
I’m a long time, old-school The Simpsons fan, and no matter what you think of the recent seasons, the Halloween episodes are always among my favorites. This, the 30th installment of the “Treehouse of Horror,” (which also happened to be the 666th episode of the series) included spoofs of The Omen, Stranger Things, and The Shape of Water.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
What could have been a traditional, coming-of-age teenage soap opera, or a cheesy, Disney-esque sitcom, was neither. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the old comic book series, follows Sabrina Spellman, a half-human, half witch, as she tries desperately to keep a foot in both worlds. At the end of season one, Sabrina gave herself over to the Devil, thus becoming full witch and leaving things to get dark and weird in season two.
Season two of the Netflix series, following the creation of the Behavioral Science Unit in the FBI, was even better than the first season. The first season divided itself between showing how the elite division was created, and spending time with various serial killers. The second season became more cohesive, and while there was still a strong concentration on serial killers, there was a stronger through-line this season, with a focus on the Atlanta Child Murders of 1978-1981, and a subplot dealing with the disturbed actions of an FBI agent’s adopted child.
Not quite horror in the typical sense, this HBO mini-series is based on the actual 1984 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. However, the actual meltdown is a horrifying chapter in human history, and the mini-series – especially the first couple of episodes – is some of the most terrifying dramatic television I have ever seen.