Gangs of London, from the creator of THE RAID films, THE BOYS, from the man who made PREACHER and DAVE, from the rapper LIL’ DICKY. The list goes on and on, but 2020 Television may have saved us. Here are my favorites:
#20. RUN (Limited Series)
From the creative team who brought us the strongest and most powerful love story of this generation – FLEABAG, comes the HBO series RUN. I thought I knew what I was going to talk about with RUN until midway through the series where the show turned from being this quirky comedy on a train, to something that would make the showrunners of FARGO proud. This shit is wild, uncomfortable and above all else, entertaining as Hell. (for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#19. The Outsider (Limited Series)
Stephen King’s novel was creepy as Hell, but The Outsider TV adaptation did a tremendous job towing the line between the horror and thrills of this murder mystery/monster hunt. The opening episodes are exhilarating and at times, beyond disturbing. I thought I was watching a spin-off from the IT franchise for a while until the pieces started coming together (even then, still sorta like IT, but that’s OK). It works and it works VERY well even though the series may have had 2 too many episodes by the time it wraps up. (for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#18. Raised By Wolves (Season 1)
Network: HBO Max
Ridley Scott’s bizarre sci-fi opus ‘Raised by Wolves‘ was some of the strangest shit I’d seen in all of 2020. The concept of an android re-colonizing an alien planet with human children is pretty cool but the story evolves in such strange and unexpected ways that I have no idea what to expect for season 2 aside from absolute chaos considering that bonkers finale, which truly shook me. Mother and Father are two of the best characters on TV today: Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim’s portrayal of android pioneers is unlike anything else you’re likely to see from the genre.
#17. Hunters (Season 1)
Network: Amazon Prime
Hunters is a show about Jewish assassins killing Nazis on American soil in an alternate Post WWII 1970’s USA. It features Al Pacino as the head of this task force and an incredible supporting cast of performers who are all delivering some of their finest work to date – Logan Lerman (this dude should be a Marvel hero by now right?) especially. But it’s breakout star Greg Austin, who plays the young Nazi hitman Travis who steals the entire first season with some of the most twisted villain work I’ve seen all year. (for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#16. Close Enough (Season 1)
Network: Netflix (Canada) HBO Max (USA)
‘Close Enough‘ is the first J. G. Quintel series I’ve ever watched. He’s known for Regular Show, which has a huge following, but this new series about a pair of young parents trying to raise their daughter is one of the best surprises of the year. The episodes start ‘normal enough’ but always descend into absolute lunacy, which makes for some of the most fun in animation all year and it was a STRONG year for cartoons.
#15. Love is Blind (Season 1)
Look, I’ve watched The Bachelor. I’ve watched it more times than I’d like to admit, but after experiencing Love is Blind, I’m never watching another reality dating show. This was a trainwreck, in the greatest ways imaginable. Netflix took all of these random singles and dumped them into your typical reality show house, but the only way they were allowed to “date”, is by talking to their potential husband or wife without ever seeing them until AFTER they propose. It’s an insane concept and on paper it shouldn’t work, but seeing these idiots say they’re in love after spending a day talking to someone else without ever seeing them – is hysterical. (for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#14. Lovecraft Country (Season 1)
I was one of those people who had no clue that the legendary HP Lovecraft, was also a big racist wacko. The concept of turning the lore of Lovecraft upside down, re-imagining it, and then integrating those themes of otherworldly dark arts and science fiction within a show that explores deeply serious subjects about racism and sexism in America – is a formula for success. There’s a scene in ‘Lovecraft Country’ where a woman rips off her own skin mid-sex to reveal a different person underneath. There’s also time travel, interdimensional space adventures and giant demon dogs. Showrunner Misha Green did an incredible job balancing all these weird and outlandish ideas into a show that sometimes felt like Scooby Doo fights the Klan Demons from Dimension 9.
#13. Upload (Season 1)
Network: Amazon Prime
Upload is a half hour comedy series about a digital afterlife and probably the fastest and most veracious bingfest of 2020 since Tiger King. Creator Greg Daniels (The Office) has managed to toe the line between dark sci-fi beats straight out of Black Mirror with some of the funniest scenes of the year. I will never get the image of that naked, headless corpse just dropping down in such a jarring manner after the digital afterlife machine finished scanning the brain. It is wild, unexpectedly heart-warming and Robbie Amell’s best performance to date.
#12. Doom Patrol (Season 2)
Network: HBO Max
Doom Patrol decided to follow up their incredibly bizarre and wonderful debut season with something even stranger and introduced us to the best new TV character of 2020 – Dorothy. The monkey-faced adorable immortal psychic power-bending phenom is both the scariest and most intriguing addition to an already packed cast. Abigail Shapiro’s performance stole the show and even though these nine episodes were too short compared to the fifteen, this is still remarkable stuff. That finale? Some of the most grim and unsettling scenes ever filmed – it would be hysterical if the series just… ended there. But please god no – give us more.
#11. The Umbrella Academy (Season 2)
The Umbrella Academy is all in on time travel. So if you have some reservations about superhumans and time travelling assassins – stop being a lame-ass and watch this show so your mind changes for the better. Elliot Page is a god this season and does some of the craziest shit you’ll get to see all year and we’ve seen it all. The opening battle is the coolest X-Men action moment ever filmed and the season finale’s cliffhanger is one of the COOLEST hype moments in quite some time.
#10. Solar Opposites (Season 1)
Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan have created a new animated series that may look, sound and feel tonally just like Rick & Morty (another show they both work on still) but because of their very wise and unusual creative choices, Solar Opposites manages to pull off being a TV show that can stand on its own merits. Solar Opposites is WILD. Not only is the series about a family of aliens trying to fit in with a planet that hates them, but it goes to such dark and crazy places that you’re constantly thrown for a loop.(for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#9. Better Call Saul (Season 5)
In its penultimate season, Better Call Saul has reached the quality level that Breaking Bad was at by the end of its fourth penultimate season. In other words, holy shit guys, Better Call Saul is just as good as Breaking Bad was when it was at its best (seasons 4/5). Actor Tony Dalton’s breakout performance as the series’ big bad Lalo, is easily one of 2020’s strongest performances (give that dude an Emmy). (for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#8. What We Do in The Shadows (Season 2)
The opening episode of the second season for What We Do In The Shadows (still airing) might be my favorite of the series and features a guest performance so funny, that I would absolutely be comfortable proclaiming this role to be the best thing that Haley Joel Osment has ever done. Yes – suck it Sixth Sense, suck it Silicon Valley, suck it all. (for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#7. Tiger King (Limited Series)
The entire world has seen it but that doesn’t mean that all popular things are bullshit, because Tiger King absolutely lives up to the hype. This docu-series about Joe Exotic (and all these other insane rare animal collectors) is one of the wildest things you’ll ever see. Ever – and that includes your real life people, because Tiger King is 100% real and 100% batshit crazy. You’d wonder why they needed so many episodes to tell this story, but after binging through them all, you’ll be craving more immediately. I found myself googling “Tiger King Updates” for days after watching the show. (for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#6. Primal (Season 1)
Network: Adult Swim
Primal is my favorite Genndy Tartakovsky creation. The series centers around a caveman (Spear) and his T-Rex (Fang) who are on a journey to travel the savage lands – to survive in a world that is terrifying. Zombie dinosaurs, giant bats, magical witches – more monsters than you can imagine, PRIMAL delivers the goods. There is NO dialog so all 10 of these masterful 20 minute episodes are an absolute work of art. Aaron LaPlante deserves an award for his voice acting as Spear the caveman. His grunts and screams convey more emotion than words ever could in this setting.
#5. Dave (Season 1)
DAVE is the biggest surprise of the year for me. I was unfamiliar with rap artist Lil’ Dicky before watching the FX series, but after binging through every episode I quickly became a major fan. The series is a semi-autobiographical exploration of the rapper’s rise to fame and is loaded with some of the most hilarious scenes of the year (the… milk table sequence?) But it also surprised me with its dramatic elements, especially from breakout star GaTa, who his Lil Dicky’s hype man. There’s an episode halfway through the season where GaTa delivers a performance SO GOOD, that you could nominate him for an Emmy right there and he’d immediately become the frontrunner.
#4. The Boys (Season 2)
Network: Amazon Prime
I remember declaring YEARS ago in my reviews that Banshee leading man Antony Starr should be hired by Marvel IMMEDIATELY to play a superhero. Marvel didn’t listen to me man, but Amazon Prime and The Boys landed one helluva deal when they hired Starr to play Homelander. Season 2 of The Boys is bigger, crazier, bloodier and better than its masterful debut. The series even eclipses the source material from Garth Ennis and that’s the ONLY time this has happened with his comics so far. Someone is killed by a giant penis in this show. Watch it. Obama did, so imagine Obama in his home watching a giant python sized dick, smash through a window and try to strangle a guy. Watch it.
#3. Gangs of London (Season 1)
Network: Sky Atlantic/Cinemax
Gangs of London is a crime series with story ambitions so high that they eclipse complex series like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos, but also features some of the craziest and most explosive action sequences ever put to film. The series is the brainchild of director Gareth Evans (who made THE RAID films) so I was expecting some glorious brutality, but even then I was not prepared for the carnage that was about to hammer me over the head for nine insane episodes. The show stars Joe Cole and newcomer Sope Dirisu (who is my favorite breakout TV star of 2020 overall) but in the end it’s actually an ensemble story in the vein of The Wire, as we constantly bounce back and forth between these various criminal gangs who run London but all Hell breaks loose when one of the leaders is murdered, causing a gangwar and all kinds of violent crazy shit that was nearly impossible to predict. (for more of my thoughts on this show – click HERE)
#2. Rick & Morty (Season 4)
Network: Adult Swim
Season four of Rick and Morty is hands down the best yet and that scares me because I don’t know how the team can continue to blow fans’ minds like this. We saw it all, from slut dragons to a Star Wars sized battle and season finale that will go down in history as one of the best 20 minutes of animation ever produced. Also – this is the TV show that gave us the most disgusting and wonderful compliment that one could ever give to someone’s jacked abs – cum gutters. It’s gross even typing that.
#1. The Mandalorian (Season 2)
Network: Disney Plus
Boba Fett is back. Spoiler alert. Not really – he’s in the first episode of season 2 and his reveal sets the tone for a series that is officially the best thing to ever come out of the Star Wars franchise, including the films. The Mandalorian, complete with his little green, egg eating machine, are on more missions, more quests and meeting MWOAAAR STAR WARS CHARACTERS THAN WE CAN HANDLE. The surprises this season were unreal. I understand that a lot of you won’t care about some of them, but even nonfans can appreciate the profound cinematic quality TV programming that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni pulled off. This is Disney Plus’ Game of Thrones – a show that just spawned spinoffs and profits for years to come. It was beautiful and the post credits scene in the season finale is the most metal shot in Star Wars history.