Calum Henderson watched a new TV show every week of the year. Here's what he learnt from a life of binge-watching.
If reviewing a different new TV show each week this year has taught me anything, it's that our time on this earth is limited, and we should try to make the most of it.
Or, in other words, this year I've started watching a lot of really good TV series I'm realistically never going to get around to finishing, and I'm mostly fine with that.
Here's a list of some of the new shows I really liked the first one or two episodes of this year, the ones I might finish one day, maybe, if injury or illness means I have to spend several months housebound and bedridden in 2019: Counterpoint (loved the first episode, second episode lost me – a recurring theme), Barry, Wild Wild Country, Evil Genius, Patrick Melrose (it's only five episodes long!), Knives Out (it's a bloody 10-minute web series!), Wellington Paranormal, Sharp Objects, Greyzone, Howards End, Deep Water, Mystery Road, Castle Rock, Vanity Fair, Wanderlust, The Cry, Terrace House: Opening New Doors (watched the first 8 episodes, only 34 more to go), The Little Drummer Boy and My Brilliant Friend (in my defence, I wanted to read the book first – but will I ever finish that?).
What a weight, what a burden to have to carry around all year, all these unfinished shows. Only, I reckon the glut of great TV available now and the variety of non-linear platforms it's available on has reached a point where it's liberating more than overwhelming.
There's no such thing as 'must-watch' television anymore – just watch what you want to watch, however and whenever you like. Who cares if you haven't finished, or even started, say, Bodyguard?
Here's a tip: if you leave a heavily-hyped new show long enough, somebody will eventually publish a contrarian take that makes you feel like you were right not to start watching it after all. Apparently Bodyguard was actually a bit racist. Dodged a bullet there. And The Haunting of Hill House isn't even scary, just too long and kind of boring.
But while I started a lot of shows, I did make it to the end of a few as well. Is that an indicator of quality? Probably not – I watched every episode of Love Island Australia this year (Team Erin). But in other ways, what could be a more ringing endorsement than actually finishing a series when confronted with so many other options?
So, by default, I suppose these are my TV shows of 2018 – at least, some of the ones I actually watched every episode of and can vouch for all the way through: Killing Eve (TVNZ On Demand), Get It To Te Papa (Lightbox), Homecoming, Forever (Amazon Prime Video), Ugly Delicious, Salt Fat Acid Heat, American Vandal, The Sinner, Hip Hop Evolution, Big Mouth, Love (Netflix).
And my number one, the thing I watched more of than anything else this year? Bon Appetit cooking videos on YouTube.
• Calum Henderson is taking a few deserved weeks off, and will return to TV reviewing in the New Year.