An year of staying locked down behind closed doors has passed and the only escape from despair this year were our TV screens. Streaming-service subscriptions became closest companions of most of the people. The best and safest way to travel in 2020 wasn’t by plane, car, or train. It was by logging into Netflix, Amazon or HBO Max.
Here is a list of some of the best shows of 2020:
‘Never Have I Ever’ (Netflix)
“Never Have I Ever” is a masterwork of angst and alienation, a fresh perspective on immigrant culture, a moving profile in grief and a breakthrough in the relationship between women and anger onscreen. The half-hour series follows Indian American high school sophomore Devi, as she strives to lead a non-nerdy social life under the all-seeing eye of her strict Hindu mother. But the sudden death of her father has left a void in both their worlds, worlds already separated by culture and generation gaps.
‘I May Destroy You’ (HBO)
This daring and inspired half-hour HBO series, written and produced by “Chewing Gum’s” Michaela Coel, follows the trials of young, eccentric writer Arabella (played by Coel) after she’s drugged and sexually assaulted during a night out with friends. Odd as it sounds, this London-set series is part comedy, part drama and part social reckoning.
‘Little America’ (Apple TV +)
This eight-episode anthology drama is based on the true stories of immigrants across America, from the Indian motel owner’s son to the Nigerian wannabe cowboy professor. Each story is a separate vignette that together weaves a bigger story of what it takes to come here from somewhere else.
Death doesn’t mean actually dying, at least not in Amazon’s half-hour comedy — set in the year 2033, when digitizing and uploading one’s soul is big business. The more money you or your loved ones pay, the swankier the afterlife.
It was May, during the first round of stay-at-home orders, when Mahershala Ali touched down as a spiritual guide in Season 2 of Hulu’s Muslim American sitcom, “Ramy.” From his New Jersey Islamic Center, Sufi Sheikh Ali attempts to help the self-sabotaging millennial Ramy (played by series creator Ramy Youssef) become a better person and a better Muslim.
‘Dead to Me’ (Netflix)
Created by Liz Feldman, the polar-opposite characters that drive this series should go down in history as one of television’s best odd couples. The love-hate relationship between the two only grows as they try to work in tandem (ha!) to cover up their respective murders.
This six-part HBO docuseries chronicles the elaborate scheme of Jerry Colombo, a former police officer who rigged the results of McDonald’s popular Monopoly game for more than a decade. He scammed $24 million between 1989 and 2011 in a con job that included mob connections, strip bar owners, smuggled golden tickets and even a suspicious death.
‘The Vow’ (HBO)
Hundreds of hours of video footage and recorded conversations from former high-ranking members of the NXIVM self-improvement group provides the material for this disturbing yet riveting docuseries about the anatomy of blind worship. It follows a group of successful, smart, high-functioning people before, during and after they’ve extricated themselves from NXIVM and the group’s creepy, now-incarcerated leader, Keith Raniere.
‘The Boys’ (Amazon)
The crime fighting team of supes known as the Seven are worshiped by America, but in reality they’re a self-centered, vain bunch of Compound V junkies who are being used to sell military contracts, promote political divisions and stoke white supremacy. A vigilante group of misfits are out to destroy them, if only they could stay sober, stop infighting and avoid driving their speed boat into the center of a beached whale (long story). A warped superhero tale made for imperfect times.
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, the Netflix limited series drama The Queen’s Gambit is a coming-of-age story that explores the true cost of genius. Abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, a young Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Part Western and part crime thriller, this space adventure about a wandering Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) is one of the best things ever released under the Star Wars banner and the only one since Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series from the early aughts to apply a fresh style to all the familiar elements. Acting under a mask and armor, Pascal anchors the series with his sheer physical authority.