2020’s Top TV Series
From Sci-fi to period dramas, we were hooked.
If ever there was a year for some good ol’ TV watching it was 2020. Sure our clothes don’t fit us anymore and we have no idea how to socialise with anyone outside of our kitchen, but we sure did enjoy some wonderful series. In honour of some great bingeing and in celebration of the worst year there ever was finally ending, here’s a round-up of our fave series from this year.
(We are counting series that premiered in 2020 or had a new season release during the year)
Little Fires Everywhere
This Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington led drama is one of the most beautifully written, complex and devastating pieces of television I’ve watched in years, and was easily viewed within the scope of a single pajam-laiden day. The series tackles class distinctions, racial inequality, complicated mother daughter relationships, the weight of dark secrets and suburban pressures beautifully, and if you want to read a more in depth review you can click right here.
As someone who hasn’t ever really jumped on board the Star Wars train and a general avoider of the sci-fi genre, I was totally blown away by this epic and surprisingly touching series. Chronicling the tales of bounty hunter/ Mandalorian, Din Djarin, the show is a fun and addictive sci-fi spectacle and a great addition to the Star Wars universe. While it offers a lot of action, great effects and a killer cast (not to mention a very cute baby Yoda), this show is a success thanks to some good ol’ fashioned adventure storytelling. Also Pedro Pascal is a babe, but mostly the storytelling thing.
The Queen’s Gambit
I’ll admit I was late to the party on this one, and to be honest I really had to push through the first two episodes, but it was all worth it when I was totally absorbed by this clever and compex period drama. Chess might not sound like the most exciting premise for a show, but watching young prodigy Beth Harmon rise through the ranks of the world of chess while spiralling into the darkness of her own personal demons in the 1960s was fantastic TV, and had us all playing chess for a good few weeks after it premiered.
This historical drama television series details the political movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970s America, and the unexpected backlash led by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, played by Cate Blanchett. Schlafly is a controversial figure in history and an opponent to the feminist movement (she managed to mobilise an army of fellow homemakers to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, a piece of legislation that has still not passed). The character is brilliantly played by Blanchett who sweetly smiles as she delivers lines like “some women like to blame sexism for their failures instead of admitting they didn’t try hard enough”, while occasionally getting the audience to actually feel for her. This multi-layered series offers an interesting look at a fascinating time in history, and the show has a brilliant ensemble cast featuring Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug, Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm and Elizabeth Banks as Jill Ruckelshaus.
A series I was skeptical about but absolutely devoured when I got to watch it, Love Life follows Anna Kendrick’s Darby Carter as a young woman navigating a series of key relationships from her childhood to adult life in New York city. I loved the series’ somewhat scientific approach to the generally messy adventure that is life, as well as how it’s not all about romantic love (some of the relationships featured are those with her mother and best friend) but about how important human connections are in figuring out who we are and what we want. In some exciting news, the series is going forward with an anthology structure, and season two will star William Jackson Harper of The Good Place!
After some “umming” and “aweing” we decided to include this on the list thanks to its sheer lunacy and its universal appeal, bringing us all together during some of the hardest days of lockdown. The docu-series focuses on a small and wildly entertaining society of big cat conservationists and collectors clashing in Florida with some unbelievable and scandalous results. We’ve all moved on to new fads but we’ll always have a soft spot for Tiger King.
The Good Place
Season four (the finale) of this gentle and clever series dropped in early 2020 and we loved it. The series concluded with Eleanor Shellstrop and the rest of her afterlife gang proving their hypothesis to Maya Rudolph’s “the Judge” that the points system for assigning humans to the Good Place or Bad Place is fundamentally flawed; saving all of humanity’s souls in the process. This incredibly original show had an equally original and quite touching ending, and we’re going to forking miss it.
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant lead this intriguing and complex whodunnit series that sees a wealthy couple’s lives upended when the husband Jonathan (Grant) is accused of a gruesome murder, leaving his wife Grace (Kidman) to grapple with the fallout. We love a mystery and this show’s suspenseful tone and incredible cast makes it one to remember. While some may have felt let down by the ending, it’s worth checking it out to see how you feel about it for yourself.
Blood & Water
Shoutout to this epic local production that owned Netflix earlier this year. The series revolves around Puleng (Ama Qamata), a high school girl whose sister Phumelele was kidnapped shortly after her birth. One day, Puleng is invited to a party of a popular athlete studying at Parkhurst College, a prestigious school at Cape Town. While there she meets an older student to whom she shares a striking resemblance, and she starts to suspect she may have found her long lost sister. Deciding to try and get to the bottom of the situation she uncovers more than she expected. Listen, you had us at local.
The first Yiddish Netflix series, Unorthodox is inspired by Deborah Feldman’s autobiography, Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots. The four-part miniseries follows Esty, a 19-year-old Jewish woman in an arranged marriage living in an ultra-Orthodox community in New York City. After a spoilery development we can’t reveal, she runs away to Berlin, where her estranged mother lives, and explores life outside of her conservative community while trying to outrun her husband and his cousin as they search for her. Get ready for a LOT of feelings.
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