TV in 2018: The hits, misses, scandals and farewells
Image from “Game of Thrones”; courtesy HBO(NEW YORK) — 2018 was a year of change for television, as the #MeToo movement continued to rock the entertainment industry, a once-beloved TV dad was imprisoned for sexual assault, Roseanne Barr made waves for all the right — and very wrong — reasons, and fans said goodbye to some acclaimed dramas.
In January, NBC News named Hoda Kotb as the co-anchor of Today, alongside Savannah Guthrie. The change was the result of Matt Lauer’s termination the previous November due to inappropriate sexual behavior.
Also in January, the Peacock Network aired the 75th Golden Globe Awards, with Seth Meyers as host. #MeToo took center stage there, too — as did actresses supporting Time’s Up, a legal defense fund supporting women who were victims of workplace sexual harassment and assault. HBO’s Big Little Lies took home four awards, with Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale snagging two apiece.
In February, Super Bowl 52, saw the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New England Patriots 41–33 — and earned the dubious honor of becoming the lowest-rated Super Bowl telecast since 2009, with an estimated 103.4 million viewers. Justin Timberlake headlined the halftime show for the first time since he joined Janet Jackson for her notorious “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show at Super Bowl 38.
Following Super Bowl 52 was the highest-ever rated episode of NBC’s juggernaut drama This Is Us, which was watched by nearly 27 million people.
In February, Amazon Studios announced Emmy winner Jeffrey Tambor was terminated from his show Transparent after allegations of sexual harassment.
In March, grey-haired bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. ditched Becca Kufrin after proposing to her in the season finale of ABC’s The Bachelor in favor of the show’s runner-up, Lauren Burnham. In a surprise to nobody, Kufrin was then named the next Bachelorette.
In late March, Bounce TV pulled repeats of The Cosby Show off the air, after a Pennsylvania jury found Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. In September, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
On March 27, Roseanne Barr and the original cast of her sitcom returned to ABC for a reboot of Roseanne. The show scored stratospheric ratings upon its launch — but crashed two months later when Barr was terminated for making a racially charged tweet. The star blamed Ambien for the comment that said Obama White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, who’s black, is what you get when “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” Barr repeatedly denied being a racist and later signed over the rights to Roseanne so ABC could launch the spin-off The Conners, which was announced in June and debuted in November.
On April 19, “Gladiators” said goodbye to Kerry Washington’s White House Chief of Staff Olivia Pope, as Scandal ended its aclaimed seven-season run. Jimmy Kimmel dedicated his entire show that night to the swan song of Shonda Rhimes’ show.
In May, actor Clayne Crawford was unceremoniously fired from his role as Martin Riggs on Fox’s Lethal Weapon series after he was reportedly disciplined more than once for on-set behavior that included verbal scraps with co-star Damon Wayans. Shortly after Crawford was replaced by Seann William Scott, Wayans himself announced he was leaving she show.
On May 30, FX’s acclaimed spy drama The Americans wrapped. The six-season-old show ended its run with an Emmy win for co-star Matthew Rhys.
In an exclusive interview on ABC’s Good Morning America on June 5, Gretchen Carlson, former Miss America-turned the organization’s chairwoman, announced that the pageant will no longer include the swimsuit and evening gown competitions. She told GMA, “We are not going to judge you on your outward appearance … We are moving it forward and evolving it in this cultural revolution.” The pageant in September, in which Nia Franklin was crowned, was a ratings disappointment.
On June 8, Emmy winner Anthony Bourdain was found dead in France of a suicide at age 61, in the country to shoot his CNN series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Both CNN and Travel Channel, which produced his previous hit, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, aired marathons of his shows.
In a July New Yorker article by Ronan Farrow, CBS TV president Les Moonves was accused of sexual misconduct by six women. He was dismissed September 9 and although he denied any wrongdoing, an investigation into his conduct continues. Days after he stepped down, Moonves’ wife, Julie Chen, left her co-host chair on The Talk to focus on their family. CBS in December revealed their investigation found enough evidence of Moonves’ alleged improper conduct — including evidence he allegedly attempted to block the investigation itself — to deny him his contracted $120 million severance.
In July, Adult Swim announced it had ordered 70 new episodes of the beloved animated show Rick and Morty, much to the delight of the show’s fans.
Speaking of fans’ delight, NBC scooped up Fox’s cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine less than 48 hours after Fox pulled the plug on the beloved sitcom.
On July 19, 29 million Americans made up a global audience of nearly two billion people who watched Britain’s Prince Harry wed former Deal or No Deal model and Suits star Meghan Markle.
September 8, Game of Thrones won the primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Drama, while The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won five awards, including Outstanding Lead Actress and Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein, respectively. The show also scored the Outstanding Comedy Series trophy. Other winners included Henry Winkler, winning his first Emmy for his work in HBO’s Barry, and Glenn Weiss, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special — and then won the hand of his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen, to whom he proposed on stage.
Also in September, judge Zac Posen and co-hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn announced they were leaving Project Runway. Klum and Gunn subsequently announced a new series for Amazon Video.
September 27, CBS launched a rebooted Murphy Brown. The series debuted to weak numbers that steadily declined.
On the flipside, on September 28, Tim Allen’s show Last Man Standing debuted on Fox to solid numbers, a year after ABC cancelled the program. ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey weathered criticism that that decision — and how quickly Roseanne Barr was terminated — were politically motivated, as the stars were supporters of President Trump. Dungey denied the claims. In their Fox debut, Last Man‘s cast made in-episode jokes about the show’s cancellation and rebirth on another network. In November, Dungey resigned her position at ABC, with Netflix announcing in December that Netflix had hired her as vice president of original content.
In November, Netflix’s House of Cards returned for its sixth and final season. The show’s cast weathered the 2017 termination of former star Kevin Spacey amid multiple sexual misconduct claims against him. For the final season, his character, President Frank Underwood, was killed off off screen; his onscreen wife, Robin Wright, took the mantle of show lead and onscreen president for the series’ final season.
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