Staff Picks: Best TV Shows of 2020

This year may have absolutely sucked in every other way possible, but at least we got some fabulous new tv shows and some really awesome new streaming services like HBO Max and Peacock. From comedies to thrillers, miniseries to reboots, 2020 has been a year of truly exceptional content. Now let’s take a look at what shows the staff picked as the best of 2020.

1. Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)

Hulu

Starring an iconic duo of Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, there was no way this show was ever going to be anything less than incredible. The miniseries follows two unique women, Elena (Witherspoon) and Mia (Washington), and their families. Elena is a conservative white woman whose primary focus is on appearances and Mia is a single mother and artist with many secrets.

The main takeaway from this miniseries was how actions speak louder than words. Elena claims to be a progressive woman who “helped” the civil rights movement, yet her actions prove she is completely different. Mia is no perfect person either; despite claiming to always be looking out for her daughter Pearl (Lexi Underwood), she is mostly just looking out for herself. There is also a very present theme of regret in this series which often results in the characters harsh actions; fire acts as a metaphor. The fact that it is mutually entertaining and influential makes Little Fires Everywhere one of this year’s greatest shows.

Picked by: Blair Krassen

2. I May Destroy You (HBO)

HBO

I May Destroy You, created by and starring Michaela Coel, is unlike anything else you will be watching right now. It is probably the most original piece of television I’ve seen in years — fabulously written with pathos, humor and superb performances. Due to its often triggering and explicit content it may not appeal to you at first, but stick with it and you will be rewarded with a wonderful and moving piece of television. So realistic it almost hurts, all I can say is thank you Michaela Coel for sharing your story.

Picked by: Carly Pearce

3. Animaniacs (Hulu)

Hulu

As a kid, my experience with Animaniacs was only through reruns and the animated film as I was too young to experience it when it was popular. However, thanks to Hulu’s reboot I was able to finally experience it firsthand and I must say I was impressed. Animaniacs (2020) is exactly the same show I remember it being when I watched it as a kid. The Warner Brothers (and sister) Yakko, Wakko and Dot are back and so are the funny musical numbers, pop culture references and constant fourth wall breaks. In 2020 they all feel right at home. When I saw the episode featuring a not-so subtle parody of Tucker Carlson, I knew I was watching something special. The show is a great dose of nostalgia and humor and I highly recommend it to all.

Picked by: Brendan Bell

4. Shameless (Showtime)

Showtime

The tenth season of Shameless, which ended in January 2020, was one of the best seasons in the show’s history. The finale was particularly epic, being that Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey (Noel Fisher) finally tied the knot after nearly a decade of being together. If you have seen the show, then you know that Ian and Mickey are one-of-a-kind. Their partnership transcends gay stereotypes and is far more complex than most couples we typically see on screen. This episode and the show’s final seasons are subjects we will still be talking about well into the future. 

Picked by: Blair Krassen

5. Pen 15 (Hulu)

Hulu

While the first season of Pen15 was hilarious and painfully relatable to anyone who was an awkward mess in middle school, the second season soars as it becomes not only funnier in its writing, but even more emotional as well. This season features a stronger focus on the divorce of Anna’s parents and on the sexuality of Gabe (Dylan Gage). The second season is filled with such hyper specific middle school problems that one would think that it was actually a reality show about middle schoolers. From the truly terrifying fake friend Maura (Ashlee Grubbs), to that weird phase all girls go through believing that they’re witches, to the painfulness of all school theatre productions that will give any former theatre kid intense flashbacks, it’s all too real.

Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, starring as middle school versions of themselves, truly stand out in this season for not only treating their characters as more than just caricatures of middle schoolers, but for their physicality as well (Maya dry humping her father’s chair has flashed in my mind nonstop since I saw it). In the truly awful year that was 2020, the second season provided a funny escape.

Picked by: Brianna Benozich

6. The Wilds (Amazon Prime)

Amazon

As a huge fan of both teen angst and stories of survival, I knew I had to check out this Amazon Prime show based on the YA novel by Donna Augustine. What I didn’t know was just how enthralled I would be in the chaotic world of the show. Without giving too much away, The Wilds is a story about eight teenage girls who board a plane they think is headed to a relaxing feminist retreat in Hawaii, but become stranded on a desert island when their plane crashes into the middle of the Tasman Sea. From there, each episode follows one of the eight girls through a series of flashbacks as they learn to survive with the little resources they have in their suitcases. The authentic performances, unique concept and constant unforeseen twists have earned this show a spot on the best of 2020 list.

Picked by: Blair Krassen

7. What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

FX

Like Pen15, What We Do in the Shadows second season provided some much needed laughs for the awful year that was 2020. With the show having an ensemble cast of equally funny and unique characters, the second season gives room for all the characters to shine — from Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) starting up their “human music band,” to Colin Robinson’s (Mark Proksch) becoming more and more powerful, to the amazingly riveting tale of Jackie Daytona. The second season provided a different array of stories that lead to some hilarious character moments and quotable lines (the “Superb Owl Party” mixup is a pun so stupid it is genius). 

While the series may be about a group of gothic vampires, it is one of the most joyous and weirdly uplifting series of the year with its witty humor and enjoyably over the top performances. It is definitely one to watch when you’re feeling down and it is one to re-watch over and over again as well. Plus, since there are so many jokes per episode you’re bound to catch one you missed on the first watch. 

Picked by: Brianna Benozich

By The TV Tea Staff

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