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25 Best Shows

Here Are the 25 Best TV Shows of 2020

These shows were our lifeline this year

We'll go ahead and say that no one is going to miss 2020 and all of its chaos. This year has put the world through the ringer, and we're looking forward to putting the past 12 months behind us. Not everything in 2020 was terrible, though. There was actually some great TV that helped us through the most turbulent times. 

We cried our eyes out when we had to bid adieu to Schitt's Creek, but we found another heartwarming show in Netflix's The Baby-Sitters Club, which arrived precisely when we needed it most. Meanwhile, the tense fifth season of Better Call Saul cemented the Breaking Bad spin-off as the best show on TV, and documentary series like The Last Dance, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult, and Love Fraud proved that sometimes real life is more interesting than fiction.

As we approach the final days of 2020, TV Guide has rounded up the top 25 shows of the year, but rather than rank them — how does one compare the hilarious antics of What We Do in the Shadows to something as emotionally powerful as I May Destroy You? — we've decided to keep it simple with an alphabetical list. These are the best shows of the year.

(Disclosure: Links to retailers may earn money to support our work.)



The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix)

Where to watch: Netflix

The Baby-Sitters Club

Netflix

Netflix's new take on The Baby-Sitters Club was the sunniest part of the summer. The series, which has been renewed for a second season because sometimes we can have nice things, faithfully adapts Ann M. Martin's classic children's books while also sprinkling in some more contemporary issues for those gumptious baby-sitters to deal with through their kindness-first approach to caregiving. The show is inclusive and so very, very pure. In a year brimming with indifference and even cruelty, The Baby-Sitters Club came through to remind us exactly what it looks like when integrity and goodness are the prevailing principles. Amanda Bell



Better Call Saul (AMC)

Where to watch: Netflix

Rhea Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

As a spin-off of one of television's greatest shows of all time, not everyone thought Better Call Saul was necessary. But co-creators Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan dug deep into Saul Goodman's (Bob Odenkirk) past for another fantastic character study that wasn't about growth; it was about change. And then we were all duped into believing that was what the show was about. Season 5, the series' best season yet, revealed the true tragic antihero of Better Call Saul is actually Kim Wexler. Saul's partner in love and grifts began the series as the beacon of light toward which we foolishly hoped Saul would steer, but she is now going rogue as a woman crashing through the median of the traditional road to success and milking the system for her benefit. And with Rhea Seehorn's Emmy-worthy performance as Kim (for which Emmy voters stupidly didn't even nominate her), it's one of the most carefully constructed character arcs of all time, Walter White included. Absolutely no one is saying this Breaking Bad spin-off is unnecessary now. –Tim Surette



Better Things (FX)

Where to watch: Hulu

Pamela Adlon, Better Things

FX

Better Things has always centered around the joys and hardships of simply waking up and existing in the world each day, and its fourth season was its most human yet. Pamela Adlon, who expertly pulls quadruple duty as the show's creator, star, director, and sometimes writer, has gotten her comedy to such a warmly lived-in place that it's almost surprising it can still pull out moving, thoughtful episodes like the ones we saw in Season 4, including "New Orleans," which sees Sam (Adlon) attend a wedding by herself, and "Father's Day," in which Sam and her friends get together to celebrate -- and commiserate about -- being single mothers. There are scenes this season that were so beautifully executed that I can't help thinking about them all the time, like the one in which Sam and her eldest daughter, Max (Mikey Madison), hurl vicious slurs at each other before dissolving into laughter and hugs, and Sam screening her documentary about aging for her kids. This show is all about the moments that make life worth living, and it continues to be a non-stop pleasure to watch. –Allison Picurro



Blackfeet Boxing (ESPN)

Where to watch: ESPN+

Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible

ESPN

In less than 30 minutes, ESPN's poignant documentary sheds light on an American epidemic largely ignored by lawmakers and civilians alike: violence against and mistreatment of Indigenous women. Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible opens on family and friends searching for Ashley Loring Heavyrunner, who was 20 years old when she went missing on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana, in June 2017. According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, there have been more than 5,000 unsolved missing and murdered Indigenous women (a crisis often abbreviated to MMIW) reported since 2016. A gut-punch statistic puts that in more tangible perspective: Native American women make up 3 percent of Montana's population but account for 30 percent of all missing women cases in the state. The flicker of hope in this darkness is the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club, founded by Frank Kipp in 2003. Fueled by the mistreatment of Indigenous women that he witnessed while working as a probation officer, Kipp started the gym to help women and girls learn to defend themselves, and to provide a drug and alcohol-free haven in an addiction-plagued society. The fascinating stories that stem from life inside the boxing club's ring are made all the more powerful due to the urgency of their plights. This is exactly the kind of documentary that people should be talking about. Lauren Zupkus



The Boys (Amazon)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

The Boys

The Boys premiered in 2019 as a raunchy, borderline absurdist response to superhero culture at a time when we were all still riding the high of Avengers: Endgame becoming the highest-grossing film in history. It revealed to fans what it might be like if their favorite caped crusaders had corporate backers and weren't all altruistic saviors. The Amazon series returned in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that has so far prevented any major superhero film from hitting theaters, and to be honest, the lack of superheroes at the box office just made us hungrier for the debauchery of The Boys. No one would accuse Season 1 of being afraid to go there, but Season 2 upped the stakes in every way possible without compromising character development or a coherent story. The introduction of Stormfront (Aya Cash) centered Season 2 around a Vought-sponsored "culture war" in which alleged super-terrorists threatened the American way of life, and The Seven's position was that only supe-maintained law and order could solve the problem. Considering Season 2 was filmed before the pandemic began and George Floyd's death at the hands of police officers sparked global protests against police brutality and systemic racism, it proves that The Boys not only knows how to give good superhero spectacle, but that the Amazon series might be the best in the game at doing so while actually telling a meaningful story. –Megan Vick



Cheer (Netflix)

Where to watch: Netflix

Cheer

Netflix

This cheerleading docuseries that chronicled the journey of the Navarro Junior College cheer team on their way to another national championship was the first must-watch Netflix show of the year. Eleven months later, it remains one of the most fascinating viewing experiences of 2020. Cheer celebrates the power of the human spirit; every Navarro cheerleader featured in Cheer overcame an intense personal battle — not only to make the team, but also to stay on the team and prove they are the best at what they do. Watching them throw seemingly inhuman tumbling passes was enthralling, but so was getting to know each of these tenacious athletes on a personal level. These intimate portraits of the team made it all the more devastating to learn that one of its most magnetic personalities, Jerry Harris, has since been arrested on child pornography charges. The sexual abuse allegations cast a pall over Harris' role in the Netflix docuseries, but he was hardly the only star of Cheer. The rest of the team made us all want to strive to impress intrepid coach (and now Dancing with the Stars alum) Monica Aldama. May we all be blessed with La'Darius' confidence, Gabi's work ethic, and Morgan's determination; nothing could stop us. –Megan Vick



The Good Lord Bird (Showtime)

Where to watch: Showtime

Ethan Hawke, The Good Lord Bird

Kevin Lynch/SHOWTIME

Ethan Hawke's blazing performance as the abolitionist John Brown is this historical limited series' main draw, but every element of the highly energized show is top-notch. It's funny in an "I can't believe they're pulling this off" way, as it's a comedy that deals with America's legacy of slavery. Hawke and his writing partners faithfully adapted James McBride's National Book Award-winning novel in a way that captures its irreverent spirit, and the show is stuffed with great performances, especially from young Joshua Caleb Johnson, who plays a freed boy who travels with Brown and observes antebellum America as Brown crusades against slavery. It handles Brown's complex legacy with respect and nuance. But best of all, the series has the confidence to just tell its story without telegraphing its themes. It allows viewers to appreciate the timely parallels to present-day America on their own, without beating them over the head with allegory — a rare feat in this unsubtle era. Liam Mathews



The Great (Hulu)

Where to watch: Hulu

Elle Fanning, The Great

Netflix

Hulu's The Great doesn't always tell the truth, but it nails it where it counts. The cheeky comedy from Tony McNamara reimagines the early years of Russia's Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning), chronicling her evolution from innocent idealist to determined revolutionary. The result is a fascinating exploration of court theatrics and politics as told through the eyes of a highly intelligent and competent woman, one whose ideas and desire for progress are regularly disregarded by intellectually inferior men. It is a timely (or perhaps timeless) story anchored by career-best performances from Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, who portrays Peter III of Russia as an oversized, self-obsessed frat boy, and the script is both bold and genuinely funny. Rather than feeling like a lecture, The Great feels like a call to action, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Kaitlin Thomas



How To with John Wilson (HBO)

Where to watch: HBOHBO MaxHulu with HBO add-onAmazon with HBO add-on

How to With John Wilson

HBO

The world is a scary complicated place, but at least one person is trying to make sense of it for the rest of us. John Wilson's... uhhh, show? Experiment? Docuseries? Portal into the human psyche? is slice-of-life entertainment as seen through the lens of Wilson's video camera while he walks through the mecca of human conglomeration known as New York City and dispenses wisdom that fits snugly in the cracks of the images he records. To hear him talk about relationships while visually capturing the various stages of love — a kiss, a proposal, a fight, a dead body under a sheet being wheeled out of a front door and then dropped by the paramedic (for real!) — through different residents of his wonderful and wacky city is a certain level of simple poetry the likes of which we haven't seen before. But it's the time he spends with real people -- a wrestling fan who tries to catch child predators, for example -- that unlocks universal truths and turns How To with John Wilson into something profound and hilarious. Tim Surette



I May Destroy You (HBO)

Where to watch: HBOHBO MaxHulu with HBO add-onAmazon with HBO add-on

Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You

HBO

Few shows in 2020 had the power and word-of-mouth buzz of I May Destroy Youa dark, deeply personal, and moving masterpiece from Michaela Coel. In 12 stunning, sometimes unsettling episodes, the series follows what happens after hip young writer Arabella, played by Coel, realizes she'd been drugged and raped while out drinking in her home city of London. As memories of what happened that night come back to her in spurts, the series shifts perspective, playing with notions of consciousness and chronicling her descent as she deals with the trauma and pain of the assault. By the series' stunning end, viewers come to realize that the story in totality was about healing, but the journey there was an unorthodox one as it explored consent, rape, and the ugly parts of sex in a way that was as playful and humorous as it was raw and wrenching.

I May Destroy You also took on sexual violence through the perspectives of Arabella's friends Terry (Weruche Opia) and Kwame (Paapa Essiedu). Though they are pieces in a bigger puzzle about Arabella's experience, their own sex lives are also muddied by questions of consent and experiences with sexual violence. The series does present rape as the heinous, reprehensible, criminal act that it is, but it also performs the savvy trick of showing some shades of gray with respect to sex — the way people objectify others' bodies for their own desires is one recurring theme — and the show's use of intentional ambiguity to make a point is just one of the reasons it's so compelling. The title itself leaves us with more questions than answers -- it's not clear who the "I" or "You" are, and in interviews, Coel never gives a firm answer -- and it's that kind of cerebral, bring-to-it-what-you-want fluidity that made the show so alluring. –Malcolm Venable



Insecure (HBO)

Where to watch: HBOHBO MaxHulu with HBO add-onAmazon with HBO add-on

Issa Rae, Insecure

HBO

Over the course of its first three seasons, Insecure handled everything -- workplace microaggressions, bad relationships, selfish friends, and much more -- with a wink and a hearty wine-fueled belly laugh. And while that levity certainly wasn't absent in Season 4, the most recent installment was all about emotional payoff, and whew, it delivered in the most explosive way. The simmering tensions between Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) boiled over in a friend breakup heard around the world. Tiffany (Amanda Seales) pushed aside her postpartum depression until she felt compelled to run away. Lawrence (Jay Ellis) learned he's going to become a father, and he reacted so poorly that it ruined his tentative reconciliation with Issa. And Andrew (Alexander Hodge) left Molly in a place where she was finally forced to consider the consequences of her actions. The final gutting scene showed Issa and Molly sitting down to a tentative truce, but their relationship has changed so drastically that it feels almost like a total reset of the show. Our girls are finally growing up. –Krutika Mallikarjuna 



Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (Netflix)

Where to watch: Netflix

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Netflix

Netflix's animated series Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts might be the most hopeful show to emerge this year. Based on the webcomic by Radford Sechrist, Kipo is set 200 years in the future, after The Great Mutant Outbreak of 2020 caused animals to mutate in size and intelligence, leading most humans, now much lower on the food chain, to seek safety underground. Kipo is a wide-eyed and effusive burrow girl who, when she finds herself on the post-apocalyptic, Ozian surface, just wants to snuggle all the gigantic but adorable creatures who are trying to kill her. Among the so-called "mutes" are the Timbercats, who ferociously wield lumberjack axes but can't resist spinny things; the Newton Wolves, who live in an observatory, wear Carl Sagan-inspired turtlenecks, and spit Wu-Tang-inspired lyrics about science; and the Chevre Sisters, a trio of blind goat prophets who divine the future from a cauldron of cheese. Lucky for tenacious and ever-optimistic Kipo, she finds allies to help her unravel the mysteries of her past, rescue her friends, new and old, and heal the rift between species. Kipo's message of positivity and inclusivity is an unexpected salve for the hostility and divisiveness that has infected our country this year. And the soundtrack slaps. Noelene Clark



The Last Dance (ESPN)

Where to watch: Netflix

The Last Dance

Netflix/ESPN

The Last Dance is not without its faults. ESPN and Netflix's basketball documentary miniseries about the Chicago Bulls' historic 1997-98 season is unquestionably a hagiography of primary subject and unofficial executive producer Michael Jordan. But Jordan is also unquestionably the greatest basketball player of all time, and The Last Dance doesn't shy away from Jordan's borderline psychotic competitive drive, notorious vindictiveness, and generally difficult personality. It's a fascinating dive into the deceptively simple psychology of what it takes to be the GOAT. It's built around extraordinarily intimate archival footage from the season and unguarded, caustically funny interviews with almost everyone who was even tangentially involved. But most importantly, in the darkest days of the spring pandemic, it gave sports fans something to enjoy. For five Sundays in April, viewers were transported back to the halcyon days of the late '90s, when things were much simpler. –Liam Mathews



Love Fraud (Showtime)

Where to watch: Showtime

Love Fraud

Showtime

We considered including Tiger King — a perfectly entertaining series, regardless of what fun-hating detractors say — in this list of best shows of the year, but the shallowness of it all ultimately gave it the boot. Not so with Showtime's thrilling four-part miniseries Love Fraud, which followed a group of women looking to bring serial con artist Richard Scott Smith — who married women and swindled them out of their money — to justice. The difference-maker with Love Fraud was that directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady were embedded with Smith's marks, who banded together to hunt him down, unspooling the sordid tale of twists and turns as it happened, and concluding with a mesmerizing finale interview with Smith that is one of the most awkward things you'll ever see. In a year in which liars and cheats got away with so much, it was cathartic to see one get caught. Tim Surette



Never Have I Ever (Netflix)

Where to watch: Netflix

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, and Richa Moorjani, Never Have I Ever

Netflix

Never Have I Ever was one of the few bright spots in a dark spring. Mindy Kaling's warm, wickedly funny spin on a classic high school comedy stars newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi Vishwakumar, a high achiever desperate to reinvent herself after the sudden death of her father (Sendhil Ramamurthy, joining the ranks of TV's hot dads even in flashbacks). As she navigates a love triangle and denies the depth of her grief, short-tempered Devi's inner life is narrated, hilariously, by tennis legend John McEnroe. Never Have I Ever is Kaling's best show yet, a charming Indian-American coming-of-age story that's both personal and absurd. Who knew we all needed to hear John McEnroe say "thirst trap"? Kelly Connolly



On My Block (Netflix)

Where to watch: Netflix

On My Block

Netflix

There is no show on TV quite like On My Block, which follows a group of Black and Latinx teens in South Central Los Angeles. Netflix's best young adult series deftly mixes coming-of-age tales and teenage hijinks with the harsh reality of growing up in a crime-ridden neighborhood that has taken far more from its residents than it's given. This is a unique but memorable combination that delivers laugh-out-loud moments of absurdity in one minute only to turn around and offer up sobering commentary on living within a cycle of violence and trauma, the result of nothing more than circumstance, in the next. In Season 3, the show upped its game once more to tackle humanity's desire for and capacity to change through Oscar (Julio Macias), the gang leader and older brother of Cesar (Diego Tinoco), who eventually lets go of his hatred and resentment for the life he was thrust into and escapes the cycle in the process. We can't change our past, but we still have a say in our future, and no show portrays that better than On My Block. –Kaitlin Thomas



P-Valley (Starz)

Where to watch: Starz

Elarica Johnson, Shannon Thornton, Brandee Evans, P-Valley

Starz

To the uninitiated, the arrival of Starz's scintillating summer series P-Valley could've seemed like the network's attempt to make a Hustlers for the small screen, or maybe to keep "underserved" customers in the fold after the conclusion of Power. How wrong they'd be. Only the savviest of cultural connoisseurs knew that the series, about the goings-on of a strip club in a fictional town in the Mississippi Delta, was an adaptation of playwright Katori Hall's work Pussy Valley, and that behind the pasties and G-strings was a layered, complex, and expertly crafted drama about women we usually ignore. Starting with a mystery and a ticking clock, P-Valley follows several characters but focuses chiefly on a woman named Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson), who is on the run from some kind of undisclosed trouble and winds up at a country juke/strip joint named The Pynk. The club, run by the nonbinary and wickedly smart Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan), is facing imminent closure — an impetus for its main attraction, Mercedes (Brandee Evans), to go legit and leave the stripper life behind for good. 

Of course, unexpected forces — love, betrayal, family, lust, trauma — complicate all of their plans, forcing them to align and collide in ways they hadn't imagined. The storylines are tightly crafted and highly believable, and the actual stripping is truly jaw-dropping as the actors perform acrobatic moves that seem to defy physics. As impressive as the physical feats are, though, the most exceptional trick P-Valley achieves is making the audience care deeply about people we've all been taught to judge, or at the very least ignore: poor, largely uneducated Black women whose stories society has deemed unimportant or natural consequences of their own moral failings. P-Valley undoes all our conditioning, humanizing people who need and deserve to be heard. Tender, hilarious, and pulse-quickening, the show is one of the year's best offerings for making viewers realize how much we have in common with these remarkable people who've found a way to turn tragedies into triumphs. Malcolm Venable



PEN15 (Hulu)

Where to watch: Hulu

PEN15

Hulu

Season 1 of Hulu's middle school comedy was a flood of wistful nostalgia filled with gel pens, AOL Instant Messenger, and innocent crushes, but underneath the awkwardness, it dealt with serious issues. We all remember the thong debacle, but the bits that really stuck with us were Maya's (Maya Erskine) reckoning with race and Anna (Anna Konkle) dealing with her parents' messy divorce. As happens with growing up, Season 2 tilted slightly toward the more serious, adding the pains of discovering sexuality, brutal breakups, and the worst stages of parents splitting up, and it's a better show for it, moving it away from an unsustainable parody and toward the most difficult moments of the most turbulent times of our lives while also earnestly acknowledging the bubbling feelings of 13-year-olds. But PEN15 doesn't forget there's comedy at this confusing intersection between being child and adult; the hilarious, long one-take shot of the pool party from the premiere is essentially seventh-grade Scorsese. The show is coming of age right before our eyes. Tim Surette



The Queen's Gambit (Netflix)

Where to watch: Netflix

Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen's Gambit

Phil Bray/Netflix

A show about chess may seem like it would be a snooze, but Scott Frank's miniseries The Queen's Gambit makes it look like war. The adaptation of the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis is part sports movie, part character study, and part thriller, following the early life of female chess prodigy Elizabeth Harmon in the late 1950s and '60s as she rises through the male-dominated chess ranks while dabbling in addiction to pills and alcohol, behavior at least partially learned from her adoptive mother. As Harmon, Anya Taylor-Joy again shows why many peg her to be a future Oscar winner in one of the great performances of the year, and Frank's direction and visual palette are entrancing, particularly for those of us who are fans of smart '60s clothes and dazzling wallpaper. The finale may have been a little flat, but the series pulled off a true anomaly for a Netflix series: a middle section that was better than its bookends. There are a few scenes — Elizabeth's "I'm not like the other girls" moment in Episode 3 and the dazzling U.S. Championship in Episode 5 — that I watch a few times a week because they're so good. Tim Surette



Schitt's Creek (Pop TV)

Where to watch: NetflixCW Seed

Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Dan Levy, Noah Reid, Emily Hampshire, Annie Murphy, Schitt's Creek

Pop TV

If heaven had a creek, it truly would be this one. Schitt's Creek's final season wrapped up the Canadian comedy with a heartwarming, Emmy-sweeping bow as the characters prepared to take their next steps in life. The procession leading up to David (Dan Levy) and Patrick's (Noah Reid) wedding was filled with chaos, escape rooms, and bad spray tans, culminating in one of the sweetest series finales ever seen on TV. Plus, Moira (Catherine O'Hara) is going to make her return to Sunrise Bay (seriously, how do we watch that?). Schitt's Creek is a show we will watch again and again whenever we need some happiness. In other words, it's simply the best. –Aliza Sessler



Search Party (HBO Max)

Where to watch: HBO Max

Search Party

Search Party returned in 2020 after a three-year hiatus, and having filmed its latest season more than two years ago, I was worried it might have become outdated during its time away. I was happy to be proven wrong. In Season 3, Search Party was smarter and darker than it's ever been, pushing Dory (Alia Shawkat) and Drew (John Reynolds) to their breaking points after they're put on trial for murder. The media circus that springs to life around them turns them into bona fide celebrities, and the show takes shots not just at the American legal system's history of going easy on privileged white people, but at our culture's voyeuristic fascination with true crime. The season is packed with big laughs, stand-out episodes (the one set at the sponsored wedding of John Early's Elliot is an instant classic), and exceptional performances from a cast of actors who have fully grown into their roles. But the detail I found myself marveling at most was the way Search Party goes deep into how all the characters succumb to their own beliefs and delusions. Early in the season, Elliot informs Portia (Meredith Hagner) it was "below the belt" of her to state a fact — that he did, in fact, help his friends bury a body — but it's Dory, especially, who has her sanity tested. At some point it becomes clear she's managed to convince herself she was not at all involved in the two murders she very much committed, and the way it culminates is absolutely bone-chilling. I can only hope that one day we'll talk about Search Party the way we talk about dramas like Breaking Bad, because with Season 3, it absolutely earned its place among the greats. Allison Picurro



Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult (Starz)

Where to watch: Starz

India Oxenberg, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult

Starz

The salacious details surrounding the NVIXM cult could make practically any series about the group watchable, which is probably why HBO's The Vow got as much attention as it did when it premiered in late August. Even in the endlessly shocking 2020 news cycle, a vaguely familiar television actress's involvement in sex trafficking and human branding is the type of bizarre scandal that cuts through the noise, no matter how deafening. The synchronicity of cult leader Keith Raniere's criminal sentencing with the Season 1 finale furthered the docuseries' word-of-mouth buzz. But while The Vow may have won the interest of your group chat, Starz's underappreciated four-part docuseries on Raniere's crimes is far superior in its objectivity and focus. In Seduced: Inside the NVIXM Cult, former member India Oxenberg serves as the narrator and explains both her personal susceptibilities and the layered grooming tactics of the alleged "self-help" rouse. While The Vow dedicates several hours to the supposed appeal of the group, Seduced swiftly and bluntly lays bare the sickening control tactics inflicted on its victims in specific detail, such as Oxenberg's forced weight loss and Raniere's unwavering demands for explicit photos. Oxenberg's narrative is regularly interjected with commentary from mental health counselors who specialize in cults to give more context to her foreign circumstances. Raniere, who at one point asserts to a crowd of his followers that he could "make a baby very rape-able," doesn't deserve forgiveness, and the Starz series thankfully doesn't grant him any. Lauren Zupkus



Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix)

Where to watch: Netflix

Phil Rosenthal, Somebody Feed Phil

Netflix

Living under lockdown, there are few things I've cherished more than shows that can take me far, far away from the two-room apartment I've barely left for the past eight months. Nothing has more successfully done that than Somebody Feed Phil, which follows Everybody Loves Raymond creator and living embodiment of joy Phil Rosenthal traveling the world, hanging with the locals, and eating everything he can get his hands on. Phil isn't a chef or a culinary expert; he's just a guy who loves food and meeting new people, which gives the show a relatable casualness that makes it easy to imagine experiencing his adventures yourself. And when every day feels the same, I cherish the ability not only to be whisked away to places like Rio de Janeiro, the Mississippi Delta, or Seoul, but also to see these cities through the eyes of Phil, whose optimism and ability to connect with anyone anywhere is a lovely antidote to the loneliness and cynicism this year has so often inspired. –Sadie Gennis



Vida (Starz)

Where to watch: Starz

Vida

This criminally underappreciated series concluded this year after three near-perfect seasons. From creator Tanya Saracho and starring Mishel Prada and Melissa BarreraVida was unrivaled in its authentic portrayal of grief, intimacy, and queerness in the Latinx community. The final season saw the sisters' relationship tested once again, as old wounds and their long-lost father threatened everything Lyn (Barrera) and Emma (Prada) had built together. But despite these challenges, and their own struggles with romance and identity, Emma and Lyn's love for each other is never forgotten, and Vida ended with an empowering message, reminding viewers that hope and healing are never completely out of reach — as long as you're willing to work for them. Sadie Gennis



What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Where to watch: Hulu

What We Do in the Shadows

FX

The funniest show of 2019 continued to be the funniest show of 2020 as Long Island's most fashionable vampires and their loyal familiar-turned-vampire-hunter Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) returned for a new set of adventures. But if the first season of What We Do in the Shadows was set up for success by the hilarious feature film of the same name, Season 2 revealed that Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, and the show's writing staff have gotten so comfortable in this extension of the film's world that they not only can meet the movie's genius, but surpass it completely. The show upped the ante in its second season with the help of a possessed undead Haley Joel Osment, a Superb Owl party, the world's most terrifying chain email, and the introduction of the man, the myth, and the legend that is Jackie Daytona. But while the sophomore season made us fall even more in love with the vampires (and appreciate Guillermo in a way they probably never will), the jaw-dropping cliffhanger is what has us champing at the bit to see what's next. –Megan Vick


Keep the celebration of the best TV of 2020 going!

Check out TV Guide's roundups of the best episodes of the yearthe performances we couldn't stop talking about, and all the shows we lost this year.


Edited by Kaitlin Thomas and Noelene Clark
Illustration by Jessie Cowan