Favorite Overall TV Show of 2020
It’s a mixed bag when it comes to our favorite show of the year. It’s a strong showing for Kidding, and I can tell you that will continue as we proceed through the remaining categories of the TV awards. Brien already gave his away in a preceding section. Caemeron’s choice of Better Call Saul may please you, but you might get tired of him lauding the show by the time this thing is done. And then we have Simon choosing something that may or may not be a TV show.
Andrew Grevas: Kidding
Dave Holstein’s comedy/drama Kidding walked this line of absurdist comedy while telling this story of hope and perseverance that could have you in tears, laughing in hysterics and feeling uplifted about your own problems all in a thirty-minute span. There were some truly dark moments but the show masterfully found a way to balance those moments with reminders that no matter how hard life is, there is a light out there somewhere.
It was very true to life in the sense that sometimes, we simply cannot explain why life is so cruel and yet at other times, the beauty in the world is on full display. The same can be said for the absurdist nature of the comedy. Life can be truly absurd at times, so why deny that? Kidding packed more into a thirty-minute time frame than a lot of shows would do in an hour, yet it felt remarkably tight. Every beat deliberate, no line or motion wasted in a way that only The Sopranos had mastered prior. Kidding was everything I wanted it to be and so much more.
Christopher Blackmore: The Boys
Honestly one of the most unique and daring TV shows to come out, and the second season did not disappoint. Every single episode had a mind-bonk moment. The world-building is intricate and I am dazzled by a series that portrays superheroes in a narrowing light. Also, the special effects are beyond impressive.
Simon McDermott: Small Axe
This will be the fourth time I’ve written about Steve McQueen’s incredible series of five films that were aired week-to-week on prime time TV in the UK and on Amazon Prime elsewhere, so I’m starting to sound like a broken record. However, I also feel that they can’t be discussed too much either. Two of the films have been selected for Cannes and three have been selected for London and New York Film festivals. The stories being told are vital (now more than ever), compelling and fun. They fill a niche that has been left nearly empty for far too long, I hope they’ll be a turning point and we’ll be able to see more films such as these celebrating other cultures and their history as well in the future.
Honorable Mention: The Last Dance
Brien Allen: Devs
Devs broke my heart.
In a good way, mind you. This show…I haven’t felt so passionately about a show since Season 1 of The OA. It invoked so many of the same feelings. The visuals. The score. The performances. The story. Just a profound, esoteric beauty with the driving inevitability of tragedy hanging over the entire thing. It all makes my heart ache just thinking about it again.
I went into Devs almost completely blind. Taking a quick glance, I can see now that I didn’t even watch the trailer (OMG, it gives away so much). I had heard just the bare beginnings of hype, trickling in on social media for other shows (i.e. “this show Devs is giving me the same vibes”). I didn’t even know it was created by Alex Garland of Ex Machina fame.
The show was airing weekly through March and April, running just ahead of but mostly parallel to Westworld Season 3. That was interesting timing because it was raising so many of the same questions about free will versus determinism. That alone was enough to hook me. I love this sh*t. This is my jam. To me, and from what I’ve heard many others as well, Devs turned out to be everything Westworld was trying to be—but so much better.
There now, I’ve compared it favorably to The OA and Westworld. What more recommendation do you need?
I cannot recommend Devs strongly enough. It will probably be my “Favorite Overall Show of the 2020s” when all is said and done. It seems inevitable.
Runners Up: The Mandalorian Season 2, The Magicians Season 5
Derrick Gravener: Kidding/I May Destroy You
After much deliberation, I’ve had to call a tie between Showtime’s Kidding and the aforementioned HBO/BBC One series I May Destroy You. Both deeply affecting in different ways, I May Destroy You was unlike any other exploration of sexual trauma and queer sexual trauma I’ve ever seen on TV. It was a vision that was messy, complicated and full of contradictions and emotional twists that somehow became a mosaic masterpiece. Michaela Coel’s series left me speechless, and like a trauma itself, unable to fully articulate its effects. Kidding’s second season was a complicated and darkly funny exploration of grief, anger, blame, and ultimately forgiveness. It was filled to the brim with brilliant performances, a magical arc, and a self-aware finale that knew its ending was near. It also holds a special place in my heart because fun fact: Kidding articles were how I first found 25YL.
Caemeron Crain: Better Call Saul
I am pretty sure that Better Call Saul is the correct answer. Somehow this show just keeps getting better and I feel like we’ve long left behind the time when it would be controversial for me to claim that it is better than Breaking Bad. I could be wrong about that, and recency bias may be involved, but Season 5 of Better Call Saul just blew me away. To think that a prequel show where I know with certainty that certain characters will survive could nonetheless make me viscerally anxious on their behalf…just wow. This is the best currently running show on TV.