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.

Schitt’s Creek: It Was Worth The Trip – Netflix Review

I finally got through the series and it definitely was time well spent.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy) is the multimillionaire owner of a video store empire. His wife, Moira (Catherine O’Hara), is a former soap opera actress and they have two spoiled adult children, David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy). Unfortunately, the family discovers that their business manager has absconded with all of their money and has failed to pay their taxes in years, leaving them essentially penniless. Their only remaining asset is a town that Johnny bought for a young David as a joke: Schitt’s Creek. The family moves to Schitt’s creek and into the local run-down motel managed by Stevie Budd (Emily Hampshire). The very eccentric and nouveau riche Roses quickly start to find themselves in contact, and occasional conflict, with the locals, including idiot Mayor Roland Schitt (Chris Elliott), his wife Jocelyn (Jennifer Robertson), upbeat waitress Twyla (Sarah Levy), local garage owner Bob (John Hemphill), local veterinarian Ted Mullins (Dustin Milligan), councilwoman Ronnie (Karen Robinson), and later local businessman Patrick Brewer (Noah Reid). However, the town and the Roses both start to rub off on each other, and maybe everyone gets a little bit better.

That’s it. That’s the show.

END SUMMARY

I know I was late to this game, but I can say that, having watched the entire series, this show is absolutely worth the time to get through. I was told up front that the first season was weak, and it definitely was in retrospect, but the actors are so good that you can honestly get through the first few episodes based solely on that. A part of the slow start is that they were more focused at the beginning on the original pitch of the show, which was “what happens if you put a reality show family in a small town.” While that premise is funny, the show really starts to hit its stride when the main characters start to actually realize how crappy they are as people and genuinely start to change. It adds a level of sincerity and emotion to the show that allows for the humor to really impact the audience because it’s now contrasted by solid drama. 

Also, it has a Cabaret episode and it’s wonderful.

The amount of comic talent in this show is second to none. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara have been together in multiple Christopher Guest movies and their chemistry continues on the small screen. While Johnny is often the straight man of the family, which suits Eugene Levy, O’Hara plays a ridiculously over-the-top former actress known for her eccentric grammar and pronunciation choices. If you think someone saying the word “baby” can’t be funny, she will prove you wrong. Dan Levy and Annie Murphy start off as being insufferably annoying, but quickly evolve into fun and compelling characters. It helps that David is usually accompanied by Stevie, whose deadpan snark is perfect with David’s melodrama, while Alexis is usually paired with Ted or Twyla, both of whom are so positive that they balance out Alexis’ general aloofness. All of the supporting characters help to round out the town, although I admit that I never quite got into Roland. He’s generally just too stupid to be enjoyable, which is only redeemed by the fact that Chris Elliott is naturally brilliant. 

They’re a fun group.

Aside from the cast, the strength of the show is that it manages to constantly subvert expectations in the absolute best ways. Any time that you think they’re about to fall into sitcom cliche, they manage to surprise you and turn it into something else that’s brilliant and funny. It seems like that’s one of the most consistent elements and it’s something that’s rare for any show. The fact that it only gets better as the show goes on is even more rare. 

They also have this scene, which is amazing.

Overall, just a great show.

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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