Joker’s Top 10 Television Shows of 2020

We all had a lot of time to binge and here were the best bits.

Special Recognition: Tiger King

Look, I’m not going to say that I thought Tiger King was the best show of the year, but I can say without a doubt that Tiger King was the most 2020 show. It was an absolute thrill ride into the most disturbed and depraved group of people you could get to sign a release. I don’t think we’ll see anything like it for a long time.

Probably because the king is in jail.

10) The Midnight Gospel – Netflix

Everything about this show was insane and somehow I think that made it one of the most original things on television. Essentially made of recordings of Duncan Trussell’s podcast with completely unrelated (or seemingly unrelated) images animated over them, this show ended up being a bunch of powerful and existential messages concealed in weird and wacky clips. 

And it’s hosted by a wizard, basically.

9) What We Do In The Shadows – Hulu

While some shows reinvent themselves a bit with their second seasons, this show instead decided to start expanding its universe beyond just the existence of vampires, bringing in ghosts, witches, and zombies while also giving its characters more fleshed-out and hilarious backstories. Also, it gave us Jackie Daytona, the ultimate human disguise.

What We Do in the Shadows | FX on Hulu
Also, Colin eats a corporation.

8) Lovecraft Country – HBO Max

An adaptation of Matt Ruff’s book of the same name, Lovecraft Country managed to combine the cosmic horror and monstrosities of H.P. Lovecraft with the existential threat and atrocities of racism in the United States. A number of the episodes and characters in this show were up at the top of television. Unfortunately, it did seem to get a bit off-kilter towards the end or it would be ranked higher. 

The show that taught white America about Sundown Towns.

7) Warrior – HBO Max

I only reviewed it last week, but this show brought Bruce Lee’s desire for a television show to life almost fifty years after his death and it is glorious. Filled with great action sequences, this show conveys the story of a martial artist in San Francisco during the late 1800s and it approaches that with an unwavering resolve towards accuracy. 

You can hear this photo beating you up.

6) Never Have I Ever – Netflix

A complete surprise to me, this show about a nerdy high-school girl trying to lose her virginity and achieve popularity was one of the best-written things I’ve seen in a while. It’s one of the funniest shows Netflix put out last year and I was surprised that it seemed to fade off of critics lists very quickly. Still, it’s going on mine.

The leads are all amazing.

5) The Queen’s Gambit – Netflix

If someone told me there’d be such a compelling mini-series about a woman playing chess in the 1960s, I’d have thought they were crazy, but this show managed to pull it off. Anya Taylor-Joy brought an amazing amount of charisma to a character that could easily have come off as shallow, often acting solely with her very expressive eyes. Also, it made chess awesome. Truly, a great accomplishment.

Smart is sexy.

4) The Mandalorian – Disney+

This show decided to use its second season to try and incorporate more traditional elements of the Star Wars universe into the series and rather than overshadowing the core characters, it made it clear that this was a universe filled with fun and exciting stories everywhere and that we’re only seeing a part of them. It’s what I wanted out of Star Wars for a long time. Plus, BABY YODA!!! (Now Grogu)

Behold the face of cuteness.

3) Perry Mason – HBO Max

It’s tough to do a new take on a series that ran from the fifties to the nineties, but HBO Max managed to pull it off. With a film-noir vibe and some new characterizations, this show made Perry Mason feel a little dirty while still emphasizing that he’s the good guy; the system he fights against is not. I hope they keep it going.

HBO Reveals PERRY MASON Premiere Date, Poster and Plot Details
It’s got hats, too.

2) Schitt’s Creek – Netflix

I hadn’t watched this show until it finished, but once I started I could not stop. It’s as funny as it gets and you will fall in love with the characters despite how much you would want to hate them at the start of the show. Containing as many moments that’ll make you cry as laugh, it deserves all of the acclaim it got. 

It also had a solid version of Cabaret.

1) The Good Place – Netflix

I would never have thought you could bring The Good Place to a satisfying end. It’s a show that starts off with the premise that all of the characters are already dead and, therefore, are already living an essentially eternal existence. However, somehow, the show managed to not only pull it off, but pull it off in a more touching and more real way than I could have ever thought. It was an amazing ride and we are all the better for taking it.

Plus, it had a promo with a sofa. Automatic win.

Netflix Review – Never Have I Ever: Wow, This is Really Good

Netflix gives us a series about a young Indian woman who is dealing with loss, love, and just being a dumb teen.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is a nerdy 15 year old Indian American in California. Her father, Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy), passed away last year of a heart attack, leading Devi to have a subsequent psychosomatic episode that paralyzed her from the legs down during her Freshman year. She recovers, thanks in part to her therapist Dr. Ryan (Niecy Nash), and plans to improve her life during sophomore year along with her two best friends: Science genius Fabiola Torres (Lee Rodriguez) and aspiring actor Eleanor Wong (Ramona Young). She decides that she’s going to try to hook up with the hottest guy in the class, Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darret Barnet), and avoid her “nemesis” Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison). At the same time, Devi’s overbearing mother Dr. Nalini Vishwakumar (Poorna Jagannathan) is dealing with Devi’s hot cousin, Kamala (Richa Moorjani), getting an arranged marriage. Also, the whole thing is narrated by John McEnroe as himself.

NHIE - 1Cast
Nerds: They have issues.

END SUMMARY

When I saw this coming up on Netflix, I thought it looked kind of like a generic high school dramedy. Still, it was high on Netflix’s rankings, so I decided to take a look at it and wow, I was really surprised. This does have all of the tropes of the kind of show that I was expecting, but it manages to do everything in a way that is clever and different enough to constantly keep you engaged. I then realized that Mindy Kaling created it and suddenly it made sense that it was so great.

Mindy Kaling portrait
The woman knows comedy. And Glamour Shots.

The writing is top-notch and extremely quotable, often because of Devi’s unusual and angry point-of-view on everything. One of the first lines I remember is her quick response to a friend saying she sounds like a sociopath: “Sociopaths get shit done.” Devi is not just a smart and driven character, she is also packed with vulnerabilities ranging from guilt over her father’s death (he was at her Harp concert), anger at her mother’s treatment of her, and also just being plain horny. She has some serious issues that constantly impact her decisions in very real ways. Ramakrishnan’s performance is just as nuanced, something that is even more impressive when you realize how many layers of the character she’s having to play constantly.

NHIE - 3Prayer
Her prayers are hilarious.

The supporting cast is similarly excellent. McEnroe’s very genre-savvy narration gives the show the kind of vibe that often allows them to mock or embrace the tropes of the typical teen drama as the situation requires. Eleanor and Fabiola are both people that you probably knew from your high school, being the theater geek and the science nerd, respectively. Paxton is the hot guy who constantly has people falling all over themselves to get his attention and do things for him and, as a consequence, doesn’t always think things through. Devi’s mother is constantly trying to shape her life to be more like what is expected of her, but she also is clearly dealing with her own issues over not feeling close to her daughter and losing her husband. 

NHIE - 4Abs
Paxton’s body does most of his talking.

Overall, just a really solid show that I was surprised worked as well as it did. Give it a try.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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