With its red-robed handmaids, zombie ice dragons and supernaturally gifted tweens, 2017 was by any estimate a memorable year for television. But even without a new season of “Game of Thrones” to look forward to, 2018 holds plenty of promise for TV fans. Here’s a look at the year ahead on the small screen.
In the past few years, numerous big-name feature directors have tested the limits of their endurance — and bucked industry norms — by helming entire seasons of TV. The trend arguably started in 2014 when Cary Fukunaga directed all eight episodes of “True Detective’s” acclaimed first season, and others like Steven Soderbergh, Spike Lee, David Lynch and Mary Harron have since followed suit. But 2018 might be the year that finally puts to rest the notion that TV is (inherently) a writer’s medium.
In the months ahead, filmmakers including Matthew Weiner (“The Romanoffs,” Amazon), Hettie MacDonald (“Howard’s End,” Starz) and Andrea Arnold (Season 2 of HBO’s “Big Little Lies”) will direct (and in some cases write) entire seasons of episodic television, while Fukunaga will repeat the feat with the black comedy “Maniac” for Netflix. Academy Award winner Danny Boyle will direct the first three episodes of the FX series “Trust,” arriving in January. So expect even more distinctive TV storytelling — and some nerdy infighting over the auteur theory — in 2018.
If 2017 was the year of #MeToo, then 2018 is poised to be the year of #WhoNeedsThatGuyAnyway. Like NBC’s “Today” and “CBS This Morning,” which have both seen ratings improve since the departure of Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, the final season of “House of Cards” will be more than fine without Kevin Spacey, whose Frank Underwood was last seen ceding the presidency to his wife, Claire (Robin Wright) — a plot twist that turned out to be prophetic. In the wake of #MeToo, look for other disgraced TV personalities, from showrunners to pundits, to be replaced by women — and for the world to go on spinning.
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Yara Shahidi has already made a mark playing the stylish, socially conscious if slightly spoiled oldest child Zoey Johnson in the sitcom “blacki-ish,” now in its fourth season on ABC. But the actress and activist, 17, is ready for a breakout year — and then some — in 2018. Starting in January, Shahidi will star in “grown-ish,” a spinoff on Freeform following Zoey’s adventures as a college freshman. And while a basic cable comedy is nothing to sneeze at, the Minnesota native also has a few other irons in the fire: she was accepted to Harvard, plans to attend in the near future and just directed her first short film. In other words, she’s just getting started.
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