By Michele W.
In 2020, we sought out escapism in TV when we couldn’t leave the house. We stayed home to protect ourselves and our neighbors from the pandemic, but we were able to catch up with characters in different worlds and eras through some excellent TV.
Below, find some of my favorite binge-worthy TV shows from 2020. Hopefully during the holidays you can enjoy some binge watching while cuddled safe at home. Do you see your favorite show on this list? What is missing? Let me know!
10. The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian’s second season premiered on Disney+ this Fall and surpassed even the highest expectations of adventure and excitement. Like a Western set in space, we follow a bounty hunter, the Mandalorian, on a mission to return “The Child” to its home. The high production quality feels like we are watching a movie rather than a TV series.
9. Search Party
Search Party has been one of my favorite shows since it first premiered on TBS years ago. Now on its fourth season and at its new home on HBO Max, this series about a psychopathic group of Millennial friends continues to be an excellent dark comedy. New to the series, Shalita Grant steals every scene she is in.
Upload is from Greg Daniels, series creator of The Office and Parks and Rec. This futuristic comedy is set in the future, where Nathan (Robbie Amell) dies but is uploaded to a virtual afterlife, where Nora (Andy Allo) is his guardian angel. I loved watching their relationship develop during a strange and futuristic situation.
7. Selena + Chef
Selena + Chef might just be the perfect cooking show. In 2020, she embraces staying home and films entirely in her beautiful kitchen, where she meets virtually with famous chefs who attempt to teach her how to cook. Selena is funny and humble and super easy to watch. It is total kitchen-porn, with interesting recipes. She also makes a donation to a charitable organization each episode.
6. Love Island U.S.
During a pandemic, we weren’t sure how Love Island would return with their rotating cast of Islanders. Somehow, they pulled it off, and we were treated to a cast of beautiful 20-somethings who spent several weeks quarantined together atop a Las Vegas hotel. Watching the sweet and pretty Justine find love with heartthrob Caleb was the highlight, but the drama that unfolded with everyone else made the journey that much more intriguing – and addicting!
5. The Great
The Great can be considered historically accurate in the sense the these characters have the same names as Catherine the Great and Peter III, but that is where the allegiance to historical accuracy ends. Instead, we are treated to gorgeous costumes, hilarious escapades, and intriguing excitement as Catherine finds her voice and power as a leader.
4. I’ll Be Gone in The Dark
The documentary series on HBO is based on the book of the same name; however when the book was published, DNA had yet to link the Golden State Killer with the man who eventually was arrested for those crimes. The documentary covers the horrific crimes and the lengths that Michelle McNamara went to uncover the truth. This documentary, featuring McNamara’s loved ones and co-researchers tell the stories of the crimes and the journey for justice.
Before watching PEN15, I didn’t realize I could uncover such deep memories and feelings of middle school. Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle return for the second season of this fantastic Hulu show, which is hilarious and cringe-worthy while also treating their teenage characters with the grace they deserve.
2. The Crown
I will admit that this was the first season of The Crown that I watched, but I am so glad to have started at the fourth season. I was initially interested in watching how the dynamics of Prince Charles and Princess Diana played out – and that was surely fascinating – but Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher stole the show for me. Watching the dynamics between Thatcher and the Queen was fascinating. I loved seeing the power plays between three very different but very influential British women.
My number one TV series of the year was not a drama or comedy, but rather the excellent docuseries Seduced on Starz. Like its counterpart docuseries on HBO, The Vow, Seduced covers the sex cult, NXIVM and the manipulations of its leader, Keith Raniere. However, Seduced focused its interviews with actress Catherine Oxenberg and her daughter India, who got sucked into the NXIVM cult to the point of being branded with Raniere’s initials and giving away all of her inheritance. In today’s world where cult-like personalities are elevated to the highest offices in the land, it is fascinating to see how people could be duped by a person like this, and more importantly, how they can safely escape.
I also loved these excellent shows in 2020.
Honorable Mention: The Baby-Sitters Club
A classic story of female friendship and entrepreneurship with a modern update for a new generation.
Honorable Mention: Emily in Paris
I couldn’t travel abroad in 2020, but thanks to Emily in Paris, I had a beautiful tour of Paris and a visit to Champagne to see the gorgeous vineyards.
Honorable Mention: Little Fires Everywhere
Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon deliver excellent performances in this 90’s set series based on the popular book of the same name.
Honorable Mention: Raised by Wolves
This super unique sci-fi show was unlike anything I’ve seen before with heavy biblical overtones and unpredictables twists and turns. Mother!