In a year where Hollywood came to a grinding halt, television has risen up to the occassion in spectacular fashion. Never has Netflix felt like such a necessity. Along with music, the only piece of consistent entertainment we could look forward to was television. Whether it was a weekly escape or an eight-hour binge session, these shows provided the excitment and thrill we were so desparately seeking being stuck at home. Of course, I haven’t seen every show that has come out in the past year and my list will definitely be more different so keep that in mind. I have rediscovered my love for animation since the pandemic started and this list will definitely reflect that. That being said, every single show is on here out of critical opinion and personal preference. If your favourite show is at the bottom, remember that this is my list! Feel free to comment down below what your favourite shows were.
‘Little Fires Everywhere’ (Amazon Prime Video / Hulu)
‘Rick and Morty’ (Adult Swim)
‘Adventure Time: Distant Lands’ (HBO Max)
10. The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
Superheroes did not show up to save the day last year as most of the big blockbusters were postponed. However Netflix brought some of the superhero magic to our small screens with the second season of ‘The Umbrella Academy’. While being an improvement on the first season and a mostly entertaining season overall it doesn’t come off as very memorable. A week after I binged it, it was completely out of my mind. That being said, the chaotic storytelling and unpredictability of the show paired with amazing performances from Aidan Gallagher, Robert Sheehan and Elliot Page make for an enjoyable binge, even if you will forget about it in a couple days. Full Review.
9. The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Unlike most fans, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the continuous use of nostalgia this season. I felt that with such a strong, independent first season, ‘The Mandalorian’ really switched gears in terms of priorities. Rarely did I ever feel that Mando/Din was the actual main character of the show. He was always sidelined by an appearance of a Jedi, a fellow Mandalorian or Grogu himself. However, flaws aside, this season still provided a thrilling escape to a far off place every week. It was one of the few times I had something to look forward to. Pedro Pascal continues to be a gem in the ever growing universe of ‘Star Wars’ and Grogu continues to steal everyone’s hearts (or eggs in this season). Despite making some questionable choices, this season packs a punch with thrilling action, exciting sights and wholesome banter between one of the best duos of all time. Full Review.
8. Never Have I Ever (Netflix)
One of the surprising standouts in television last year was this modern teen rom-com that caught everyone by surprise. I remember watching the trailer one day and the next thing I know, I binged it in a day. I was caught off-guard with how layered the story was. Mindy Kaling gives us a diverse, emotionally-rich and relatable rom-com which subverts expecations. It was so refreshing to see a South Asian character be the lead in a genre dominated by underwritten white leads. It was also wonderful how every single character had a story that needed to be told. Every character feels rich and layered which enriches the compelling narrative and helps us stay incredibly invested. I am so happy this was renewed for a second season! Full Review.
7. Love, Victor (Hulu)
The 2018 movie, ‘Love, Simon‘ is a favourite of mine for a multitude of reasons. I was ecstatic to learn that the world of that movie would expand into a show, giving it more time to flesh out the very important topics it covers. The amount of joy I felt watching this show was truly indescribable. It came out a time where I desparately needed something to lift me up and this show did that and more. This show will mean more to me than any other show on this list, especially since it helped me come out to my friends! The variety of topics this show covers also hit home quite effectively. ‘Love, Victor‘ truly feels like a warm, reassuring hug and I cannot wait to see more of it. Full Review.
6. The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
If I learned anything making this list, it’s that I really do not have the patience for hour long episodes anymore, ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is no exception, This isn’t an outright diss at this show or any show in particular, it’s just that the bloated runtime drags and affects the pacing losing my interest in the process. To be completely fair, this show did keep my attention fairly well compared to most of the hour long shows I watch and it is a fairly shorter series at that. Anya Taylor-Joy’s magnetic performance and the incredible visual choices definitely make this binging session easier to enjoy. I really can’t wait to see where Taylor-Joy’s career goes from here. The cinematography and shot-composition are visually striking and are definitely a strong motivator to keep watching along with the performances. It’s also incredibly strange how a show about chess captivated so many people, myself included. I only ever played chess once, and surprisingly enough I won. I never played again and so watching this miniseries makes me entertain the idea that somewhere in my mind I’m a master chess player. Just kidding… unless.
5. The Owl House (Disney Channel)
Nostalgia was one of the few things that I relied on maybe a bit too much to get through the year. While Disney Channel’s ‘The Owl House’ is a brand-new original tale, it made me feel like a kid again. I hear critics use that phrase way too often and I never really understood what they meant by it. Watching this show awakened that inner child who thought that perhaps, magic is real. This insanely loveable show feels like a safe space for anyone. The message that being “weird” is actually something that you should embrace is something everyone should hear. It’s even more effective coming from Disney’s first bisexual latinx lead! What a time to be alive! Canonically queer characters on Disney Channel! Never thought I’d see the day. Besdies that however, the show is so full of love and warmth that you can’t help but fall in love with it, episode by episode. Be sure to check this one out.
4. Steven Universe Future
The empowering ‘Steven Universe’ franchise came to an end last year with the second half of the epilogue series airing in March. This franchise means the world to me, it has genuinely made me a more compassionate person and it hleped me feel more true to myself. Getting to experience this limited series with the fandom was one of the highlights of the year. I watched every episode live at two in the morning, live-tweeting my heart away and communicating with the fans. Feeling a sense of community was really a special feeling to me especially since I didn’t have that many friends to geek out with growing up. As an ending to the story, ‘Steven Universe Future’ was truly everything I wanted. The fact that this series talks so openly about trauma, PTSD and the importance of mental health is so crucial not just to children but to anyone who watches. If anything, ‘Future’ only reinforces the theme of love, family and acceptance even more so than the original show. Once again, thank you Rebecca Sugar and the Crewniverse! Full Review.
3. The Good Place (NBC)
‘The Good Place’ is a show which I feel we never really appreciated enough as a society. It is one of the most clever comedies ever made and this last season really hammers it home. As we follow our favourite group of deceased characters into the actual Good Place, we see that there’s a problem. Once you’ve done everything you could possibly want in the afterlife, there’s really nothing left, there is no out. Seeing this show discuss not only rhe topics of the afterlife and what we leave behind but also what we constitute as being important to us. Every character chose to spend their time in the afterlife in different ways. It never forces a strict concept onto the viewer of how they should spend their life. Eleanor and Chidi spend it being in a loving relationship, Tahani spends it studying and building her way up, Jason spends it catching up with his father. There is beauty in the diversity of how you live your life and what matters to you the most. The series finale made me bawl like a baby for a good half-hour, easily one of the best series finales ever made. William Jackson Harper deserves that Emmy!
2. Infinity Train (HBO Max)
This animated sci-fi anthology series came back with a vengeance last year with not one but two incredible seasons. A thrilling, hilarious and reflective sci-fi adventure which gets better with each episode, ‘Infinity Train’ stands as one of last year’s hidden gems. Incorporating classic science fiction elements and creating a rich world full of enticing lore is just one of the many joys this shows provides. The anthology aspect enables the show to feature new and compelling characters each season, the latest being the most complex ones yet. It’s an animated show which is aimed at teens and older audiences while taking itself seriously. The world-building and the mythology is truly fascinating and once you combine that with the vibrant and detailed backgrounds and the thrilling synth score, you strike gold. If there is one show I would suggest for anyone, it’s ‘Infinity Train’. Full Review.
1. Normal People (BBC Three / Hulu)
The captivating nature of ‘Normal People’ lies within it’s view of the human experience. The most captivating stories are those that deal with the complexity of life. It’s one of the main reasons why coming-of-age stories are so beloved because it is throught that transitional period where we start to figure out who we are. There is a sense of relatability there that connects with a lot of people. ‘Normal People‘ goes a step further and follows it’s leads from high school into adulthood. One of the wonders of life is that we are constantly growing as people, every moment gives us something to absorb. To truly portray that sensation from the perspective of two wildly different characters and have it be scarily convincing is something that cannot be underestimated. Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones bring to life two characters so complex that often times I forgot I was even watching a fictional televised show. Easily my favourite performances of the year.
Having these shows provide a sense of normalcy in a year which did anything but that was really comforting. These shows provided some much-needed escape from the literal hell that was 2020. These are the shows that connected with me the most. Of course it’s going to be different for everyone. My list features more animated and upbeat shows because I was looking for a sense of positivity, I wanted something some easily digestable entertainment or at least something not overly dark. It’s the only reason shows like ‘The Boys’ or ‘Lovecraft Country’ aren’t featured on this list. Here’s hoping that this year won’t be a rerun.
What were your favourite shows of 2020?
What was your favourite TV moment of 2020?