Television 2020

The Crown

As usual for this time of year, I’ve compiled a list of all the television I’ve watched in an order that roughly ranks my enjoyment level. This year was a bit different, obviously, so the annual list will follow suit. Not only am I listing TV that has debuted in either the US or UK in 2020, but I am including EVERYTHING available to me on streaming that I managed to cram into my busy (aka lying about) schedule. Expect updates until 11:59pm on December 31st!

Halt and Catch Fire – Technically this show ended in 2017 so has no real right to make my top spot of the year’s television. But when I finally got around to watching it this year, it seemed to have had a bit of a resurgence in popularity due to a combination of lockdown, streaming accessibility, and years of think-pieces claiming it to be the best tv show of the past decade. And yes, it is indeed one of the best shows of the past decade. It doesn’t start off that way, but then blindsides you with all that it had been subtly and seamlessly building to. I cried SO HARD in the last season. Lockdown was actually the perfect time to be watching this show as Zoom had replaced in person socializing and technology had really become our window to the world. This show is so poignant, a few years ahead of its time, and an absolute must-watch.

The Crown – Charles and Diana have come to the forefront of the show, to the detriment of poor Helena Bonham Carter who only got 1 episode to showcase her talents. But Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin really stepped it up. Please give them all of the awards. Josh O’Connor in particular – might be my new favourite actor. I think this is possibly the best season of the show, but perhaps I’m just getting caught up in it all. I can’t wait to see what they do with the new cast for season 5, but I will very much miss Helena, Josh & Emma.

The Queen’s Gambit – Clearly the show of 2020. It’s been in the Canadian Netflix top 10 every week since it was released. It blew up Twitter. Just about everyone is watching it or talking about it. And it’s about chess! The tone, the acting, the style, the tension, everything about this show is perfect. Anya Taylor-Joy has truly done a star turn in this miniseries.

Giri/Haji – This show is stunningly made and totally gripping. Nothing like it on television! And what amazing performances! An absolute highlight of the year.

How To with John Wilson – They had me at ‘Produced by Nathan Fielder’. This docuseries fills the void left by the genius Nathan For You while not being a direct ripoff (which to be honest, I also would have been fine with). The endless footage of New York, coupled with Wilson’s narration, packaged neatly into niche episodes is done in such a clever and painstakingly thorough way. It feels like a labour of love, and to have the finale set during the pandemic was quite a surprising punch to the gut! I don’t know how Wilson can easily do more seasons with the world in its current state, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing how he’ll pull it off.

Normal People – A highly engaging character study and love story with two very charming leads.

I May Destroy You – And it did.

The Good Place – What a finale! Beautiful ending to a hilarious and inventive show. It will be missed.

Schitt’s Creek – I’ve been trying for awhile to get into this series, and lockdown finally gave me that extra push that I needed. I didn’t love season 1 which is why I struggled, but something really turns around in the season 2 finale, making it one of the most beloved shows in recent years. It finished with season 6 this year, and then won all of the Emmy awards. A slow burn success story for a show that will remain in people’s hearts for a long time to come. Especially Catherine O’hara as Moira and her OUTFITS!

RuPaul’s Drag Race (S12) – The franchise that just won’t give us a break was back with yet another season early in the year, and kept us going through those early days of lockdown. Season 12 turned out to be one of the best, one of the most positive (except for Sherry Pie who was mostly edited out, and that nasty Brita), and one of the most visually interesting seasons. It led to one of the strongest top 3 (and Top 5 for that matter – not counting SP) of all time and a TON of new fan favourites!!!

Sex Education – Still one of the best comedies on television.

Emily in Paris – The best part of Emily in Paris is hate-watching it over Whatsapp with friends. And reading about it on Twitter. But also genuinely loving it. I don’t know. So mal it’s bien? Plus s’il vous plait.

Cobra Kai – I thought I’d spend a couple of episodes watching Cobra Kai for nostalgia’s sake and then call it a day. I binged the first 2 seasons on Netflix and was raving about it endlessly for weeks. I didn’t think The Karate Kid had enough material to mine for such comedy gold and a meaningful exploration of the complexity of morals. WHAT!

The Good Lord Bird – After the first episode of The Good Lord Bird I was convinced it was going to be the show of the year – Coen Brothers meets Tarantino, with an Ethan Hawke performance better than all others (and he’s always very good!). A strong start, a big dip in the middle, and a lovely finish! It really should have been an even more mini miniseries comprising of two 2-hour films. I strongly believe that had it done that to tighten up the story and get rid of the filler, it would have been something truly marvellous rather than almost so. Frustrating to be this close to greatness!

The Umbrella Academy – Season 1 was kinda meh, but reviews for season 2 were good enough to get me back in. So glad I gave it another go as season 2 was fantastic. So much fun, great action. Much better than most of that Marvel and DC nonsense if you ask me. If you haven’t watched the series yet, read a recap of season 1 and just start fresh with the far superior second season.

You – Trash TV at its finest. Gossip Girl meets cheesy creepy stalker thriller. I cannot wait for season 3!

The Boys – I finally watched season 1 (no spoilers for season 2 please). Love this fresh new take on the superhero genre. Calling out the corporate greed is much less stale than merely cashing in.

Insecure – A good year for Issa Rae and Insecure!

We Are Who We Are – Luca Guadagnino does television.

The Undoing – Much talked about melodrama / whodunnit starring Hollywood movie stars. I don’t think Nicole Kidman can move her face anymore. Anyway, like everyone else, I also guessed the murderer wrong.

Run – 2 great leads albeit a bit of a silly plot. Very moreish though.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend – Just give me more Tituss Burgess please.

John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch – I never really got into John Mulaney’s standup, but this comedy special is one of the funniest I’ve seen! And we’ve been singing Mr. Music’s song for nearly a year now!

Selling Sunset – Another reality show to contradict my shaky belief that I don’t like reality television.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet – The next best thing to going outside is watching nature documentaries. About how we’re destroying the planet…hmm… but David Attenborough does offer some hope. A very mesmerizing, beautiful and sad documentary series. Watch the accompanying Behind the Scenes episodes.

Queer Eye – I love every season of this show, and during lockdown it was necessary.

Love LifeSATC light starring Anna Kendrick. What’s not to like?

Dead to Me – What a bold move bringing back James Marsden, but man, I do love James Marsden.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – I have no idea what season we’re on now…. I don’t think this year was particularly memorable compared to some others, but after many many many years on television, this show still holds strong, is still hilarious, and is still pushing boundaries.

Saved by the Bell (the reboot) – Ok… I did not expect to enjoy this one as much as I did. But I also never expected Tracey Wigfield to be put in charge of a Saved by the Bell series… So there we go.

Industry – It took me a little while to get into this show, and I nearly gave up a few times. It pays off. Stick with it!

His Dark Materials – I feel like I’m watching it out of some sick devotion to the source material. It feels generously faithful, and the casting is spot on. But it’s just missing that something. It feels flat even though all of the ingredients are there….. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

How to Get Away With Murder – The plot just got so wild over the years, it’s not even possible to watch the show for that reason alone. THE reason is Viola Davis and her towering performance. She elevates this soapy material to award-winning heights. This season, the show’s final, was a wonderful farewell to Annalise Keating.

Euphoria: Trouble Don’t Last Always – A surprisingly serious, low key special from Euphoria. Some wonderful acting by Zendaya and Colman Domingo.

The Great – By some of the same people, this TV series captures the spirit and tone of The Favourite while being its own thing entirely.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion – This shouldn’t have been interesting to watch at all, but that Will Smith / Janet Hubert chat was fire!

The Comey Rule – Coming out before the election was a smart move. But I’m so over this now…. bring on President Biden already please.

Workin’ Moms – I really enjoyed the first couple of seasons of the Canadian series, but it loses steam.

Indian Matchmaking – As it was classified as a documentary rather than a reality show, I could feel a bit less guilty for watching it. It was kind of strange in its portrayal of various social, sex, class and caste issues. But you totally get sucked in and want to follow each character’s journey through to its conclusion.

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado – The first I’d heard of Walter Mercado was from Alexis Mateo’s impression during All Stars 5 Snatch Game (one of the very few highlights of the season). So I was intrigued enough to watch this documentary on the legend himself and am now a huge fan!

Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story – Who knew that Dirty John had enough material for an anthology series!? Anyway, anything with Christian Slater in it is probably going to be watched by me.

Canada’s Drag Race – Very slow to get going while it coincided with way too much Drag Race on TV during the first half of the year. But, it won me over. Way more positive than normal Drag Race. Not sure I stan any of the queen’s in particular, but I quite liked them all generally speaking.

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction – Still love David Letterman. Very strange to see the latest series swap to Covid mode halfway through.

Douglas – Hannah Gadsby had a LOT to live up to to follow Nanette. While not as impactful, I found Douglas funny and engaging.

Vice Principals – I finally caught up with the final season of this Danny McBride show. Closure.

This is Us – The schmaltziest show on television. Really good for watching during 6am bottle feeds. Not watched current season, but keeping up on Netflix.

Tiger King – It not only became an instantaneous pop culture phenomenon, but it was also the weirdest documentary with SO many ‘WTF’ moments it’s almost unbelievable. If it didn’t leave such a lingering impact on the pop culture of 2020, I wouldn’t rank it even this high, but here we are. What a year!

Expecting Amy – I quite enjoyed this short documentary on Amy Schumer’s pregnancy.

Brooklyn 99 – I’m pretty sure I enjoyed the latest season or whatever it is that I watched… It made my list but I have very little recollection of this year.

Next in Fashion – I keep thinking I don’t like ‘reality television’ and then I get so into a show like this! The right person won as well which is ace!

Last Week Tonight – It became appointment viewing in such a newsworthy horrible year, but I am SO tired now I almost never want it to come back. Don’t give it reason to come back! (I love this show, but the world is too much sometimes)

The Righteous Gemstones – A bit tricky to get into with so many annoying loud characters, but as it’s Danny McBride, I knew to stick with it.

The Good Doctor – I have yet to watch the current season featuring COVID (do I really want to????), but I like this episodic network drama for some comfort watching.

Cheer – I really enjoyed this documentary on Netflix… but feel it’s now tainted due to recent developments on Jerry’s situation.

Dracula – I almost forgot about this miniseries from back in January from Moffat and Gatiss. Wow, it was trash, but the first two episodes were delicious! And now the world knows Claes Bang.

Killing Eve – Still fun, but has totally lost whatever made it so good in season 1.

Grace and Frankie – The show has not really been as good as the early seasons, but I still love this show because I love love love Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin.

The Outsider – I was quite into this Stephen King HBO drama, but it didn’t really go anywhere in the end.

Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik – If you don’t like Anthony Jeselnik, don’t bother. You get what you pay for here.

Middleditch & Schwartz – Love these two performers and love improv. This was pretty good to see on a mainstream outlet like Netflix and not just in a grubby theatre somewhere.

Babies – Maybe it’s because I have a baby, but I really enjoyed the scientific exploration of how babies develop.

Shrill – The series based on the works of Lindy West put out a strong second season.

Feel Good – I quite enjoyed this new series from Mae Martin! It didn’t stay with me, but I definitely enjoyed it at the time and will watch the second season.

7 Days In Hell – This was pretty stupid… but I laughed a couple of times!

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars (s5) – Without even a week off from the amazing season 12 finale, season 5 of All Stars debuted and disappointed. A worthy top 2, but my goodness it was a painful season to watch. Alexis Mateo was treated so badly… She’s always been one of my favourite queens from Drag Race and did not deserve this shit. Too much filler and bitchy childish drama. VOM.

Good Girls – This season felt like it was spinning its wheels.

Floor is Lava – What even is this show and why did I watch 2 episodes!?

Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens – Is she though? I didn’t buy it.

Sing On! – Basically Singstar the game show. Tituss Burgess deserves better.

I Know This Much Is True – Sure, Mark Ruffalo playing twins and doing some acting is enticing, but this series was just too dark for the time it came out, and I couldn’t bear it.

Kidding – I gave season 2 a go this year, but then I gave up.

Westworld – What a garbage season. I am done with this show.

The Third Day – Too pretentious to watch.

We’re Here – I do really like the drag queen stars of this show, but the premise felt a bit tired and contrived.

AP Bio – You know when you really want to love a show but you just can’t get through the first episode?

What Did Jack Do? – What DID Jack do???

Space Force – I thought this show was too big to fail. I was wrong.

Moonbase 8 – All of the right people involved, none of the laughs.

The Politician – Ryan Murphy off the rails. Season 2 a no go for me.

Legendary – On paper I should like this. On TV I do not.

Pete Davidson Alive from New York – Just not into it.

Goop Lab – I thought this would at least be so bad that it was good… turns out it was just unwatchable.

RuPaul’s Celebrity Drag Race – “Celebrity”, sure. Ok… Vanessa Williams is one, but this show is GARBAGE.

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