As this year comes to a close, one thing that we can’t help but appreciate is how there were a plethora of shows that were released despite the pandemic and its collateral damage. 2020 saw some truly superlative shows grace our screens, both from India and the rest of the world. Here are some of this year’s best TV shows.
1. The Queen’s Gambit
This drama miniseries about a young chess prodigy upending social norms while battling her own addiction problems became an instant phenomenon. It coincided with the revival of an interest in chess due to the lockdown, and also happens to be an amazing show featuring standout performances.
2. Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet
Straight from the minds of comedic geniuses Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), this workplace sitcom about a video game company strikes the perfect balance between niche humour and relatable experience. The jokes always land, and honestly, this is one of the few good sitcoms of the last few years.
3. Never Have I Ever
Produced by Mindy Kaling, this coming-of-age series tells the story of a first-gen Indian American teenager struggling to balance two different cultures while trying to cope with the grief of her father’s sudden death.
4. Scam 1992
The story of Harshad Mehta, who scammed the Indian stock market for a bizarre amount of money, is told in finely rendered detail in this show. The titular character is played by Pratik Gandhi, who’s now recognised as a talent par excellence. This was truly one of the best shows of the year.
5. Paatal Lok
A flawed but inherently well-meaning cop is tasked with a high-profile case that takes him to the depths of human corruption and evil. The show was praised for its performances, as well as a plot that didn’t shy away from the disturbing.
One of the most endearing, heart-warming, and downright hilarious shows of this year, Panchayat holds a special place in many hearts for being a breath of fresh air in entertainment space. Featuring a perpetually irate Jitendra Kumar and a charmingly rustic Raghubir Yadav, this show truly made 2020 better.
This crime drama by Ram Madhvani and Sandeep Modi featured great acting and a solid plot. Sushmita Sen truly shone through as a strong, independent female lead, criminal tendencies be damned.
8. Perry Mason
This show tells the origin story of the famous defense lawyer Perry Mason, and is set in 1930s Los Angeles. Matthew Rhys plays the hard-drinking but dedicated titular character, and the show also features stellar performances by the immensely talented John Lithgow and Tatiana Maslany.
9. I May Destroy You
This show stars the acclaimed acting talents of Michaela Coel as a Twitter star-turned-author who’s in a race against time to finish her second novel. The overarching plot of this comedy drama focuses on Cole’s character trying to rebuild her life after being the victim of sexual assault.
10. Mrs. America
Cate Blanchette plays Phylis Schlafly in this historical drama about the movement to ratify USA’s Equal Rights Amendment, and the backlash it faced by conservatives. Blanchette has proved her talent before, and she does it again in this show with the performance of a lifetime.
This show has a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes for a reason. An adaptation of a play by Katori Hall, this drama revolves around a strip club in Mississippi with predominantly Black women who have to co-exist with the homophobia and racism prevalent in the deep south.
12. The Undoing
This psychological thriller miniseries stars Nicole Kidman as a therapist and wife whose husband is accused of a heinous murder. The husband is played by Hugh Grant, who has shed his babyface image in recent years to embrace a deliciously dark side that’s in full effect in this gripping show.
13. The Great
This genre-defying comedy drama is half satire, half historical fiction, and tells the story of Catherine the Great, Empress of All Russia. The series stars Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult as the Empress and Emperor.
Created by Greg Daniels (The Office), this show is a sci-fi comedy set in a future where people can literally upload their consciousness onto a VR after they die, and the kind of money you have decides the kind of afterlife you enjoy. With an innovative premise and solid writing, this show is another winner for the year.
Starring the inimitable Nick Offerman and Sonoya Mizuno, this science fiction thriller miniseries follows a computer engineer played by Chan investigating the disappearance of her boyfriend. It’s a pretty heavy show that covers everything from corporate espionage to existential questions, but it’s also highly rewarding if you stick with it.
And that’s a wrap!