During this long-ass duration of self-quarantine, I was able to really get acquainted again with television. I simply have a lot of time being home by myself and not seeing anybody, and the hum of the TV makes me feel a little less lonesome. When I’m not inundating myself with CNN and local news, I love drawn-out narratives, making humor at the expense of our grim reality, and spectacular visuals and cinematography. If anything positive can come out of 2020, it’s good TV.
Like my top 2020 albums post, here are my ten favorite shows of 2020 in no particular order. Keep in mind, I haven’t watched The Crown or The Queen’s Gambit yet, and in my opinion, there were better shows than The Boys Season 2, Killing Eve Season 3, or The Undoing. And I’ll try to be as spoiler-free as possible.
Fargo Season 4, FX
I love Noah Hawley’s take on the Coen Brother’s movie. With an all-star cast and a story centering on race, ethnicity, and what it is to be an American, this season of Fargo is so much better than the last. And I love Jessie Buckley’s character of Oraetta Mayflower.
Lovecraft Country, HBO
There was a lot of hype for this show, and it’s well-deserved. The visuals and effects alone are reasons enough to watch each episodic vignette of late-Jim Crow Era Chicago, but the way it subverts HP Lovecraft’s own racism is powerful in itself. Plus, Jurnee Smollett gives a great performance — and she’s a photographer who gets to hang out with ghosts and Shoggoth.
The Mandalorian Season 2, Disney+
I was a little apprehensive to finish season 1, but that’s because I didn’t want to use my friends’ Disney+ account; I didn’t want to feel like a leech or somehow interrupt them watching something. With the quarantine, however, I was desperate and binge-watched the rest of the first season and immediately caught up with the second. Hooked on Baby Yoda and cowboy gun-slinger Mando (call me a fan of Pedro Pascal), I waited every week to watch each release. I also kept referring back to Wookipedia and messaging my friend Brian to keep up with the Star Wars lore beyond the movies.
The Haunting of Bly Manor, Netflix
I’ll admit it’s not as great and mind-bending as its predecessor, The Haunting of Hill House, but Bly Manor holds its own. Great set design and cinematography. This season’s overall message about grief and loss and love hits you in the gut, and the show is more about yearning and relationships than scary-ass ghosts.
Schitt’s Creek Final Season, Pop TV
One show I binge-watched while banned from my home, starting from season two to its finale, was Schitt’s Creek. Maybe I was apprehensive trying to get deep into another series. Of course, after watching everything, it was worth my time and the cast’s and show’s Emmys were well-deserved. It was a happy ending for the Rose family, and 6 seasons of bougie disfunction were wrapped up so nicely. Lastly, the over-the-top characters of Moira and David are still making me search YouTube video compilations of them.
Doom Patrol Season 2, HBO Max
I love quirky programs like Doctor Who, but with that show off this season Doom Patrol filled that void. It has a serialized narrative, awesome visuals and effects, and seeing Brendan Fraser as a short-tempered, swearing robot is worth watching.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, HBO
Of course, one way to stay up-to-date with the news and current events is to watch CNN, but to stay up-to-date with a comedic twist? Watch John Oliver. Him and his show will always be my favorite way to spend a Sunday night, but with the absolute shitshow 2020 was, you need someone like John Oliver for a good laugh and a good, angry “fuck off” to this year.
What We Do In The Shadows Season 2, FX
This show about New York City (well, Staten Island) vampires keeps on getting better and better and demonstrates that even supernatural entities are as human as you and me. With appearances from Mark Hamill and Nick Kroll and spoofs of Williamsburg, office life, and Gen Z culture, I felt compelled to tune in every Wednesday night to catch What We Do In Shadows.
High Maintenance Season 6, HBO
Speaking of unsettlingly true vignettes of Brooklyn/NYC culture, the sixth season of High Maintenance was underrated by everyone but still so very good and very awesome. Each episode made me think, “yeah, that’s what living in NYC is like” — even against the background premise of purchasing weed from The Guy. What I loved more about this season, though, is that we get to know more about The Guy than ever before. It’s a very sentimental season.
How To With John Wilson, HBO
And more everyday vignettes of NYC living. How To With John Wilson is so subtle and so hilarious, and I’m more than impressed by the amount of footage he continuously shot. John Wilson’s observations and his way to take his footage into a larger, moral lesson is funny and inspirational to me to keep on documenting everything. Seriously, after watching the season, I really want to become John Wilson’s friend. It sucks that there are only a handful of episodes (you’ll see why), but here’s hoping he makes more.
Oh, I forgot to mention Tiger King, but everyone knows about that. I guess that’s number 11?