2020 has finally come to a close, and although this has been a difficult year for everyone around the world in the face of the hellish landscape that has been COVID-19, and a Tier system that seems to be extending by the day, one of the few bright sparks has been the formidable selection of television shows released this year.
With streaming services fighting for dominance, returning favourites and a whole host of exceptional new shows, it has felt difficult to keep track of the best television 2020 has had to offer, even with two national lockdowns. However, there’s no need to fear about missing out, as we round up the 50 best shows released this year. And with none of last years top 10 returning, the battle for the number one spot is wide open.
Honourable Mention, The Expanse - (Amazon)
With only four episodes of the Expanses penultimate fifth series released to date, it would feel unjust to included the show within our top 50 list, just in case the unconscionable was to happen and the show pull a Game of Thrones. Nevertheless, if these early episodes are anything to go by televisions best ongoing science fiction show is set to have another barnstorming series.
50) Kidding - (Sky/Showtime)
Although Kidding may follow the story of a children’s television icon in the form of Jeff Pickles - played by Jim Carrey in his most over-the-top, bat-shit performance of his crazy career - there’s nothing child friendly about this cerebral comedy. Picking straight up from the shocking events of the shows first series, Jeff and his show are pushed to the very limits as his father Set attempts to take full control. With a full musical episode that takes us through the trials and tribulations of Jeff’s divorce, while featuring a host of singing puppets and guest star Ariana Grande, Kidding might be the most unique comedy on television.
49) The Wilds - (Amazon)
Only a year as bad as 2020, could make the idea of being abandoned on an island with limited food and shelter a compelling alternative to everyday life. And this is a point made early on in The Wilds, as Leah (Sarah Pidgeon) explains that life on the island was no harder than life as a teenage girl in modern-day America. Although this semi-reboot of Lost in which a group of girls crash land on an uninhabited Island - where not everything is as it seems - may at times tread the line very close into becoming outright ridiculous. The structure of the show will always keep you intrigued, with each episode provide more pieces to the puzzle while also producing new questions for you to mule over.
48) The Righteous Gemstones - (Sky/HBO)
First, he brought us Eastbound & Down, then Vice Principals, now Danny Mcbride has returned with another comedy gem in the form of televangelist comedy-drama The Righteous Gemstones. The show follows the world-famous and Shamefully rich Gemstone Family as they travel the world spreading love and collecting cheques. After a slow start, the show really starts to come into its own as we delve deep into the psyches of these larger than life crooks.
47) Ramy - (Starz/Hulu)
Ramy Youssef’s religious comedy returned for a much improved second series, as the show further explored Ramy’s indifference towards the expectations of a Muslim man in the western world. Very few comedies are willing to explore religion, with none of them brave enough to take such a microscopic approach as Hulu’s flagship comedy. Not only exploring the stereotypes often thrusted against Muslim communities situated in the United States, the show also explores the identity struggles that come with an at time overbearing religion. With many episodes in the new series dedicated to characters from Ramy’s life opposed to his own experiences, the show is at it’s best when it takes a step back to tell these other characters stories.
46) I Know This Much Is True - (Sky/HBO)
Not for the faint of heart, this brutal story of Dominick Birdsey and his attempts to free his schizophrenic twin brother from an American mental asylum makes for harrowing viewing. Mark Ruffalo produces one of the years most emotionaly poignant and distinguished performances of the year as the twin brothers. With an excellent supporting cast, a memorable score and all the production values we come to expect with an HBO limited series, I Know This Much Is True may be a downer at times and a merciless watch, but a watch that is worth the pain.
45) Criminal - (Netflix)
Netflix’s interrogation room dram returned with a bang this year, with four brand new criminals under the microscope. Every episode brings something unique to the table, whether it be Kit Harrington’s self-absorbed businessman accused of rape, Sophie Okonedo’s emotionally distraught Julia hiding a harrowing secret, Sharon Horgan’s sexual predator hunter or Kunal Nayyar’s brilliant turn as convicted serial killer Sandeep - showing a very different side to his acting expertise than his long-running role in The Big Bang Theory. With only the interview room and it’s adjacent surroundings available to the crew, each episode still feels both uniquely filmed and brings new aspects of interrogation techniques to the table. This series really gave Line of Duty a run for its money when it comes to the best interrogation scenes.
44) Teenage Bounty Hunters - (Netflix)
Kathleen Jordans, Comedy-Drama based around two god-fearing twin sisters turned bounty hunters was one of Netflix’s surprise hits of the year. Arriving with limited fan fare, the show started as a routine YA drama. However, as it grew into itself and started to embrace the goofy nature of its premise, Teenage Bounty Hunters became a real joy to watch, something that this year needed more of. The Chemistry between the two sisters Sterling and Blair, played by relative newcomers Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini was delightful.
43) Dead To Me - (Netflix)
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini returned on fine form as Jen and Judy in the brilliant second series on Netflix’s comedy-drama about friendship and loss. With the shocking series one final serving as the major narrative force this time around, along with the introduction of a new yet all so familiar character, the second series managed to not only build upon the goodwill generated by the pairs first outing but also further richen the world created by showrunner Liz Feldman.
42) The Undoing - (Sky/HBO)
THE HELICOPTERS!!!!. David E. Kelleys new adaptation of the hit novel You Should Have Known, was possibly one of the strangest shows of the year, but unlike any other show in absolutely gripped the nations during its weekly release schedule. Starring Nicole Kidman - who seems to have found her home on the small screen - and High Grant in a very bizarre performance - not his only one this year. The Undoing presented a murder that even your local traffic warden could probably solve, and they spent six weeks absolutely ripping up the script as it threw curve ball after curveball. It was trashy and came with an overwhelmingly 90’s thriller vibe nevertheless, the show still made for gripping television.
41) The Last Kingdom - (Netflix)
The good Viking show - yea you heard that right Vikings! - took another big-time leap as Saxon turned Viking, turned Saxon, Turned Vikxon? Uhtred final took the journey North to reclaim his homeland. And although things may not have worked out perfectly for him, as they rarely do, this series further built upon the excellent storytelling of its previous outings, as we are introduced to a host of new villains for our heroes to contend with. I’m currently waiting for the day that all of these constant time jumps with very little ageing will finally catch up with the ever-youthful cast.
40) Castle Rock - (Starz/Hulu)
After a rocky first series - shocking pun I know - Castle Rock, the Stephen King multiverse series returned for a much improvised second series. This time focusing on one of Kings most formidable and revered characters Annie Wilkes, played expertly by Lizzy Caplan in a unique but still respectfully way to the original character. With a side-story revolving around the infamous Salems Lot, this series succeeded in maintaining both the story and also the harrowing atmosphere until its shocking Finale. With so many King adaptations littering our screens every year, Castle Rock, with it’s unique premise of bringing all his stories together for one big fright, manages to remain fresh in a crowded world.
39) Mrs. Fletcher - (Sky/HBO)
Kathryn Hahn provided us with another memorable performance this year as Eve Fletcher in HBO’s new sleeper-hit comedy. Single mum Eve is left destitute after her frankly repulsive son leaves for college. What follows is a story of self-discovery as Eve attempts to form her own identity after spending much of her life being dictated by the desires of ungrateful son Brendan. With a great mix of both drama and comedy, Mrs. Fletcher may have been overlooked by many this year but is certainly a worthy watch.
38) The Great - (Starz/Hulu)
The tale of Catherine The Great was explored once again this year, but this time as a laugh out loud comedy. With Elle Fanning taking on the role of a young newly married Catherine, this feels very much like the unofficial sequel to the hit film The Favourite. Arriving with all the barbaric buffoonery of 18th-century society. Nicholas Hoult as the insufferable Peter is the epitome of the love-hate character, as he sleazes his way through his monstrous castle with no thought for his subjects or friends. Missed by many due to the show airing on Starz in the UK, The Great will be arriving on Channel 4 in January.
37 Kingdom - (Netflix)
Oscar-winning film Parasite may have been the talk of Korean cinema this year, but Netflix also treated us to a bloodthirsty, action-packed second series of hit 14th-century Korean zombie show, Kingdom. With the evolving zombie virus taking hold of the Korean peninsula, Crown Prince Lee Chang and his follower’s race to find a cure in time to save the doomed country. With all the blood and guts you come to expect with the genre and a brilliantly woven story to go with it, Kingdom was one of the strongest horror shows of the year. Breathing new life into a genre that has lost its bite in recent years.
36) Lovecraft Country - (Sky/HBO)
HBO’s 1950’s drama which sees the Freeman family travel across Jim-Crow America in search of magic was as bold as any show in 2020, and although some episodes didn’t always hit as they turned into a case of the week set up, the shows best moments were unlike anything else on Television, from monstrous beasts rising from the ground and ravaging a racist police force, to a woman who can shape-shift in one of the most gruesome ways possible, Love Craft Country aimed higher than most, with episode six being a true highlight for TV horror.
35) Industry - (BBC/HBO)
This is what I imagine people who work in Lloyds bank get up to in their spare time. Sex, drugs and a whole bunch of arseholes - figuratively on that last one, not literally - are the makeup of the BBC’s financial drama Industry. The story follows a group of five graduates trying to find their place in the brutal landscape of Pierpoint bank, and includes possibly the most unlikable collection of characters since HBO’s Succession. however, like Succession, this isn’t a negative, as the characters despite being unlikable still make for riveting television. Just one piece of advice, under no circumstance should you watch this with your parents. Consider yourself’s warned.
34) Defending Jacob - (Apple TV+)
The ultimate example of keeping the audience guessing, Defending Jacob is adapted from the best selling 2012 crime novel of the same name and tells the story of the Barber family whose world is ripped apart when son Jacob is charged with murder. Playing it’s cards ever so close to it’s chest not only is Defending Jacob gripping in a narrative sense, but its also beautiful to look at, with brilliant cinematography - something every Apple TV+ show seems to include - and included some stellar performances. With Chris Evans as dad Andy putting in made his most honest performance to date.
33) Little Fires Everywhere - (Amazon/Hulu)
The spiritual follow up to Big Little Lies, Little Fires Everywhere - another book adaptation - directed by the late great, Lynn Shelton follows the story of Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl as they move to the elegant Shaker Heights in Ohio, unwittingly becoming intertwined with the Richardson family who presides large influence over the town. Examining the class and race divide that often plagues towns like Shaker Heights, Little Fires Everywhere was a riveting watch, with Reese Witherspoon as Elena Richardson at her viciously entitled best.
32) Feel Good - (Channel 4/Netflix)
Canadian stand-up star Mae Martins brilliant comedy-drama Good Life follows recovering addict Mae loosely based on herself, as she tries to take control of her addition while also entering a new relationship with George played by Charlotte Richie. With Lisa Kudrow stopping by to play her brilliant and hilarious mum Linda, Feel Good is a touching sitcom that while funny is also insightful as it looks at the trouble of parental indifference, identity and as previously mentioned addiction.
31) Upload - (Amazon)
With The Good Life of our screens for good….sorry, Upload arrived to fill that afterlife shaped void. Although it may tread a lot of similar ground to The Good Life, with Nathan Brown a somewhat self centred jerk unceremoniously meeting his early demise and being transported to the afterlife resort of Lakeview, the show still manages to find it’s own identity. With the love affair between Nathan and his real world handler being a real sense of heart to the series, that unlike many comedies is funny throughout.
30) Westworld - (Sky/HBO)
A tale of what could have been for a show that has never finished outside of my top 2 previously. Westworld’s third series is undoubtedly a mix-bag, and although for the most part the shows good elements ranging from visuals, an unrivalled musical score and sublime direction make up for the shortages presented by the narrative, this issue cannot be overlooked. At the end of the fourth episode which weaved everything good about the show into a perfect hour of television, I was predicting this series could run away with the number 1 spot this year. Sadly this didn’t come true.
29) We Are Who We Are - (BBC/HBO)
Set on a United States military base in the beautiful Italian coast, Luca Guadagnino’s extremely personal follow up to this hit film Call Me by Your Name, is every bit as stunningly gorgeous as the film. With themes ranging from acceptance, sexuality, experimentation and the impact of a loved ones death the show never shys away from tackling big issues or taking it’s time when exploring them. The slow nature of the show may be off-putting to some, but the way Guadanino allows his shots to breath helps to enrichen the atmosphere he is trying to create. As you will learn later on I seem to have a thing for shows set in Italy.
28) Utopia - (Amazon)
A group of comic obsessed young adults meet at a comic-convention to try and purchase a graphic novel which predicts the end of humanity at the hands of an unrelenting virus - no not COVID-19…..although. This show has garnered a lot of hate, the main reason being that many don’t believe it lives up to the original Channel 4 produced version. And although I can neither confirm nor deny these accusations having never seen the original myself, what I will say is that the remake from the eyes of a new viewer is a brilliant, unique and enjoyable viewing experience. The only disappointment is that the show was originally touted to be directed by the legendary David Fincher, who sadly dropped out of the project.
27) Homeland - (Channel 4/Showtime)
After losing its way over the last couple of years Homeland reinvigorated itself just in time for the shows eighth and final series. Carrie after being locked up in a Russian gulag at the end of the shows seven series is finally home and despite large gaps in her memory Carrie has her sights set on re-joining the CIA. After spending the last two series on home turf Carrie is back in Afghanistan and no longer shackled by her family, who never really had a place in the show, and this is the main reason why this series that at a time felt it could go the way of Dexter, instead ends with what can only be described as one of the best final episodes of all time.
26) The Plot Against America - (Sky/HBO)
David Simons adaptation of Philip Roth’s famous alternate history novel, in which Nazi sympathiser Charles Lindbergh wins the 1940 presidential election couldn't have been released at a more appropriate time, as riots gripped America and Donald Trumps Archaic response shocked the world. The show despite being set 80 years in the past still resonates with today’s society, as it perfectly showcases the way that far-right ideals can slowly ebb into the fabric of democracy and how the fight for civil liberties and freedom will never be over, because they can so quickly be taken away. This is must-see television for this very reason.
25) The Mandalorian - (Disney+)
Baby Yoda!! Need I say more? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erIIFesX8nQ
24) Dark - (Netflix)
Dark, the German science fiction show that requires compulsory revision before each episode - I knew all those mind maps I made in school would come in handy - returned for its final mind-bending but brilliant series this year. After the outrageous decision to add an alternate reality to the shows already overwhelming five timeline story at the end of series two there where fears that the show might struggle to wrap up its unique story in the eight episodes final series run ordered by Netflix. Thankfully this fear didn’t come to fruition as the show’s creators managed to succeed in creating a personal, heartfelt and most importantly comprehensible ending to the most confounding show on television.
23) Dave - (BBC/FX)
Dave, the spiritual twin to FX’s other rap based show Atlanta was one of the years best comedies. The story follows Lil Dicki a.k.a Dave as he tries to go from a rapper whose hits include performing at a child’s wake to the big time entertainer of his dreams. With a great ensemble cast and an impeccable final episode, that features one of the most hilarious music videos ever created - even if we don’t get to see the entire thing - Dave is a must-see show for fans of rap and goofy comedies alike.
22) The Crown - (Netflix)
The Crown returned for its fourth series this year, and despite debuting in 2016 appears to have finally been discovered by the right-wing press, as journalists and political commentators around the country announced in their droves that this drama must be fitted with a disclaimer to confirm that yes as stated it is, in fact, a drama. ludicrous I know - although by the standards of newspapers like the Daily Mail it feels very much in character. As we reach the 80’s and the height of the Royal Family’s public embarrassments - until Prince Andrew decided to announce in a televised interview that he couldn't possibly be a wrong-un because he doesn't sweat - we’re introduced to two women who defined the decade for very different reasons, Princess Diana and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Both characters are brilliant realised as they take up the majority of the series main stories, with Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of the latter turning Thatcher into an almost sympathetic character.
21) Save Me Too - (Sky)
If you want an inspiring example of how to rip up storytelling conventions to look no further than the fourth episode of Save Me Too, the story of Nelly searching for his missing daughter jody who has been abducted and sold into slavery in modern-day London. In fact, the whole show can stand in this regard. Lennie James has created a world that is so real and unflinching it takes the subject matter - which is already harrowing - to a completely different level of authenticity. The Dialogue is superb, the acting perfect and as previously mentioned the show never falls into the typical conventions that you would expect for this genre.
20) The Outsider - (Sky/HBO)
Very possibly the best Stephen King TV adaptation, The Outsider came out swinging like a prime Mike Tyson, and although as the series progressed it started to look more like the Mike Tyson who enjoyed a cheeky ear nibble, the show was still a major success. Adapting Kings budding book of the same name, The Outsider presents a seemingly unsolvable case. A case that places one man at two different places at the same time. As you might have guessed by the fact it is written by the king of horror himself things do start to take a supernatural turn as the story progresses, and although this may not always work to the series favour, the unrelenting atmosphere of dread and mesmerising performance of Cynthia Erivo are enough on their own to make this series standout.
19) Gangs of London - (Sky)
Warning in advance, Gangs of London will likely make you wince. Three scenes of torture, two brutal assassinations and a head exploding before our eyes. There seemed to be no ground too bloody for sky’s London based crime thriller, as rival factions fight to fill a power vacuum created after a powerful crime lord is gunned down. Gareth Evans the man behind the brutally violent Raid films has taken his unique style of action to new heights. And although at times it may have even been too much for me this is sure to please many. The shows fifth episode is the standout, as Evans leans his focus away from the main narrative to create an almost short film, focused on an-all out battle staged at a house eerily similar to the one seen at the end of Skyfall.
18) I Hate Suzie - (Sky)
Billie Piper, teaming up once again with Lucy Prebble has created something really special in I Hate Suzie, a brutal look at the life of a celebrity on the wane, rocked by the sudden release of compromising photos stolen in a hacking attempt on her phone. Billie Piper is formidable in the lead role as she creates a sympathetic and loveable character in Suzie Pickles despite her flaws. The writing is razor sharp, with each episode presenting new challenges and laugh out loud moments. With a scarily authentic look at the use of cocaine being one of the shows many highlights
17) Devs - (BBC/FX)
Acclaimed director, Alex Garland made the jump from the big screen to the small this year with his complex tale of free will in Devs. Following the character of Lily Chan played by Sonoya Mizuno as she tries to uncover the mysterious circumstances behind her boyfriend’s disappearance, Devs keeps you guessing right to the last, but unlike some of Garland’s previous work, the show never falters despite it’s confounding, larger than life questions, that dig into the real purpose of humanity. With a formidable atmosphere created by some of the most distressing and all-encompassing music of the year, this is a show that fills the gap left by the cancellation of the OA.
16) The Boys - (Amazon)
Very few shows on televisions this year - or any year for that matter - were willing to two the line between darkly comedic and outright offensive as The Boys, thankfully for everyone they just stayed inside the lines. With no Marvel movies being released in 2020, the first time thats happened for over a decade and very limited superhero content anywhere else, this fast-tracked second series of the hit show was welcomed with open arms by superhero fans and haters alike. After all the shows main appeal is its utter destruction of the superhero genre and its overused conventions. With more blood and guts than before and an unrivalled love for dropping every swear word in the book at any opportunity, The Boys was a laugh riot, whilst also touching on a whole host of important topics. The show also created the most batshit superhero weakness since Green Lantern and his fear of the colour yellow. Long Live Black Noir!
15) My Brilliant Friend - (Sky/HBO)
HBO’s stunning Italian based series returned for a second series this year as we pick up with Elena and her friend Lila as the latter settles into what is clear early on, a very unhappy marriage. The story is of course brilliant, utterly compelling and quite unlike anything else currently on TV. But what really makes the show stand out is its beautiful setting and mesmeric cinematography. The idyllic southern Italian landscape is the envy of all us United Kingdom dwellers.
14) Ted Lasso - (Apple TV+)
The show that 2020 needed without a doubt, Ted Lasso is an unbridled joy. A sheer delight that will have you grinning from ear to ear. So is the unrivalled charm of Jason Sudeikis out-of depth American Football coach turned Premier League manager Ted Lasso. Even those with a steely disposition towards Football will still find so much to love in Apple TV’s standout show of the year. Rarely does something come along with so much heart, it’s no surprise that the creators behind the brilliant Scrubs are the ones at the helm here. I had my reservations before watching the show, at one point I even made a point of refusing to watch it, so is the awful history of Football based shows. I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong.
13) Perry Mason - (Sky/HBO)
Take the late 1950’s family-friendly Perry Mason, liquor him up, throw him into a crumbling law practice and destroy his hopes and dreams and you might just arrive at the character inhabiting this HBO reboot of the famous courtroom drama. Matthew Rhys is on top form as the shows down-and-out private investigator version of Perry Mason, set long before he establishes his renowned law firm. And although the show may be an unabashed slow-burn, the stunning visuals of 1930’s Los Angeles and compelling case of a child kidnapping gone terribly wrong are enough to carry you through to when the pace really starts to pick up.
12) Sex Education - (Netflix)
First hitting our screens all the way back in January, Sex Educations brilliant second series feels as if it was released a lifetime ago. I mean i’m sure the shows creators never envisioned that Eric’s witty response to a filthy bathroom user “Was your hands you dirty pig” would become a slogan for the NHS. Nevertheless, despite the show now being available for the best part of a year, its still one of the years biggest achievements. Improving on an already stellar first outing, the series introduced a host of fabulous new characters - and one not so fabulous voicemail deleting one - and was even bolder with it’s storytelling. One episode in which the shows female characters set aside their squabbles to help Aimee feel comfortable catching the bus again, after a sexual assault on the bus previously in the series, was an inspired decision.
11) Curb Your Enthusiasm - (Sky/HBO)
After an agonising three year break, the cantankerous Larry David returned for Curb’s 10th and not final series. Finally reaching the 100 episode landmark, this series really felt like a return to form as Larry sets his sights on destroying returning foe Moca Joe’s sub-par - at least by his high standards - coffee shop, by creating his own spite store in the form of Latte Larry’s. The genus of this show is how to this day, despite using a very similar formula for each episode, its still as hilarious as it was when HBO first aired the show in the year 2000. This year we are also treated to a hilarious cameo episode in which famed star Jon Ham becomes the second calling of Larry and a brilliant first episode in which Larry’s agent is confused for a not well-liked movie producer.
10) Unorthodox - (Netflix)
This four-part drama following the story of a young woman called Esther - played by Shira Haas - as she tries to escape an unhappy arranged marriage in New Yorks ultra-orthodox Jewish community was as educational as it was inspiring. Created primarily in Yiddish, with extreme lengths taken to ensure that the show was as authentic as possible, this is a prime example of what Netflix’s is best at. Taking small stories that might not otherwise have been commissioned and presented them to a massive audience.
9) Grand Army - (Netflix)
In a year that COVID-19 restrictions meant Euphoria wouldn’t be returning for a second series, Netflix’s Grand Army filled the void for no-holds barred teenage high school drama’s. However, to call Grand Army a simple placeholder for Euphoria would be doing the show a disservice, after all, it is very much its own beast. Unlike its counterpart, Grand Army follows five very different characters through the course of its first series, each battling their own demons whether it be with their sexuality, discrimination because of their race, poverty or sexual assault. This broad range of characters and real-life issues talked in a respectful, but never comfortable way is what makes the show so compelling. If only they would sort out that awful opening title sequence.
8) The Queens Gambit - (Netflix)
Who would have thought that a little mini-series about chess that arrived with very little advertisement by Netflix would become one of the most viewed shows of the year? 62 million households tuned in to see Anya Taylor-Joy’s Beth Harmon shake up the male-dominated world of competitive chess in the 1960s. Taylor-Joy is simply superb in the role of a lifetime, but what’s most refreshing about this show that could so easily have slipped into the traditional cliches of a rags to riches story, is that at every opportunity it can take the easy well-trodden road we’ve all seen before it veers, of course, taking us into uncharted territory. Our Creative Director Jamie put it perfectly when speaking about the show, “She’s
7) High Fidelity - (Starz/Hulu)
Hulu’s updated version of Nick Hornby’s acclaimed novel High Fidelity was an absolute treat for all pop culture and music lovers alike in 2020. With a gender flip that saw Zoe Kravitz perfectly take on the role of Rob, and a host of fresh, new ideas for the already splendid subject material to explore, the world created within High Fidelity feels like one in which anyone would be welcome. The incorporation of musical the main inspiration behind the story is perfect, with almost every episode incorporating its own ingenious top 5 breakdowns, from movie villains to breakups and every in between. It’s a travesty of OA level proportions that the show has been cancelled after just the solitary 1st series.
6) Ozark - (Netflix)
Mouth a gasp, toes digging into the carpet, perched so close to the edge of my seat a slight draft may knock me off. Thats the only way I can describe my reaction to Ozark’s astonishing series 3 ending. After two impressive if not rather run-of-the mill series, Ozark returned in 2020 with a bang, this is the year it jumped out of its comfort zone and truly made its mark on the genre. As Marty and Wendy’s ever precarious back sticks drug empire leaps feet first into the casino business, fireworks follow. Julia Garner -now Emmy winning Julia Garner - is once again magnificent as Ruth Langmore, the true star of the show is still actor and director Jason Bateman, who with his directing work on The Outsider as well, has shown he wholeheartedly understands what makes compelling television. I mean you just have to watch this show for that ending I’m sorry.
5) Babylon Berlin - (Sky)
Who knew 1920’s Berlin could be so spelling binding? Germanys most expensive ever drama - and it shows - Babylon Berlin returned for an incredible third series, as detective Gereon Rath and his protege Charlotte Ritter attempted to solve the murder of popular film star Betty Winter. However, as you may have guessed by the setting this isn’t your run of the mill detective show, as Babylon Berlin takes place during not only a time of economic turmoil for Germany but also the rise of the Nazi Party - or then coined National Socialism Party. It’s this fascinating backdrop along with the stunning visuals and enchanting musical score that make Babylon Berlin the most compelling German produced show on TV, sorry Dark!
4) The Deuce - (Sky/HBO)
David Simons under-appreciated gem, The Deuce reached it’s final act as we were transported to the late 1980s as the porn industry reached the end of its glory days, and New Yorks time square started to transform itself from the seedy sex-filled wasteland of the, 70s into the advertising hub we know it as today. This is certainly the show no one is watching that everyone should be watching. Simons eye for gritty realism hasn't been this fine-tuned since his Magnum Opus the Wire. And although The Deuces subject matter may be a turn off for most people, this is an important window into the realities of sex workers in New York during this time. It’s also worth saying that the shows final moments are nothing short of beautiful, a wonderful send off to one of TV’s best-ever dramas.
3) I May Destroy You - (BBC/HBO)
Michaela Cole’s groundbreaking series I May Destroy You is just more evidence that she is one of the best writers currently working in the industry. This semi-biographical series encompasses a whole host of different themes into its short 12 episode run - with Cole’s own experience of sexual assault during a difficult time in her writing career being the main narrative arch. Although it may deal with a plethora of important and heavy-issues, the show manages to juggle them perfectly, taking its time to tell its story in an almost exploratory way. As themes of sexual assault, the obsessive nature of social media, friendship and what it truly means to be a person living in this 21st-century society are explored. There are no easy answers, with Cole willing to go places that no other show has dared to before. And yet the show still manages to produce moments of beauty and laugh out loud humour in the face of this.
2) Normal People - (BBC/Hulu)
I’m not ashamed to say that I watched the entirety of Normal Peoples 12 episode run in one sitting the day it first aired on the BBC. So was the incomparable intoxicating nature of childhood sweethearts Marianne and Connell’s relationship as we journeyed through the ups and downs of their tumultuous love affair. It may not be revolutionary, but everything is handled so delicate, honestly and with such care and realism that the show despite sharing the same themes of so many shows before it, still feels like a unique once in a lifetime experience. This is a real tear-jerker, with Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescals impeccable performances and chemistry gipped the nation during lockdown. Let’s also not forget that the show treated us to one of the years ultimate bellends in the character of Jamie.
1) Better Call Saul - (Netflix/AMC)
The years best show - and very possibly one of the greatest pieces of television of all time - is Better Call Saul’s magnificent penultimate series. The loveable goof-ball that is Jimmy McGill has almost evaporated, as Bob Odenkirk’s character is knocking very much on the door of the Saul Goodman we all know and love from Breaking Bad. Not only are the stakes higher as the show leans more into its side story revolving around the ever-growing Gus Fring - Giancarlo Esposito’s third appearance on the list, all as villains - drug empire, but the ambition behind the story telling and execution of the said story is as awe-inspiring as the shows aforementioned compatriot. But the real reason Better Call Saul sits at the top of this list is for the towering performance of Rhea Seehorn as Jimmy’s colleague and partner Kim Wexler, who has become the true powerhouse of the show. The question that has been constantly thrown around about Better Call Saul is “Has the show now finally surpassed Breaking Bad”. And although we have to wait for its final series to be able to answer this definitively, one thing for sure its certainly its own animal.