Best 2020 Golden Globe-nominated TV shows

Written by:
December 13, 2019

Best 2020 Golden Globe-nominated TV shows

The first American TV drama was a 40-minute performance called “The Queen’s Messenger” that was broadcast Sept. 11, 1928. Back then, television screens were only about 6 inches wide so actors were limited to showing just their faces or hands. The few thousand hobbyists who had receiving sets were treated to a two-person storyline centered on a Russian spy and British diplomatic courier.

TV series throughout the 1930s were more akin to soap operas than the sitcoms or dramas we’re used to—even the name “soap opera” derives from broadcasts targeted at housewives with advertisements that mainly featured domestic cleaning products such as soaps. Television shows in the ‘50s centered on comedic and variety shows like “The Jack Benny Program” that eventually gave way to a spike in plot-based series ranging in genres from wholesome family dramas and comedies to sci-fi. Many of the biggest shows in the ‘50s and ‘60s—from “Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek” to “Leave it to Beaver” and “Lassie”—are still celebrated today.

Television series have been ubiquitous in American homes since. Today’s adults grew up with treasured characters from “The Brady Bunch” to “Full House” as television and its viewers evolved. Today, the format for television couldn’t be further from its start 91 years ago—and yet many of the elements are the same as the people working behind the scenes weave entire worlds for TV viewers to become absorbed in.

In a stunning testament to how much things have changed, this year’s Golden Globe nominations—announced Dec. 9—shut out network TV (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and The CW) entirely. Instead, nominations fixated on streaming services such as Netflix and HBO which received 17 and 15 nominations, respectively. Ahead of the awards ceremony Jan. 5, 2020, Stacker compiled IMDb data on all 2020 Golden Globe-nominated TV shows and ranked them according to their IMDb user rating, ties broken by IMDb user votes. From underdogs and surprise series to runaway blockbusters, keep reading to see which of your favorites made the cut.

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Origin Pictures

#26. Catherine the Great

- IMDb user rating: 6.1
- Votes: 2,428
- Where to watch: HBO

Starring Helen Mirren—nominated for Best Actress in a limited series or television film—HBO’s British miniseries “Catherine the Great” aired four episodes on the female monarch beginning in October 2019. Writer Nigel Williams and director Philip Martin take us into the later life of the Russian empress at the tail end of the 18th century. The historical drama is chock-full of scandals, affairs, and award-winning actors.

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Smokehouse Pictures

#25. On Becoming a God in Central Florida

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 1,869
- Where to watch: Showtime

Robert Funke and Matt Lutsky’s dark comedy, “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” was generally well-received by critics and aggregator sites. Kirsten Dunst is a financially desperate 1990s Orlando water park employee who is swept up in a pyramid scheme side hustle. For her performance, Dunst earned a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical).

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Jax Media

#24. Living with Yourself

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 16,198
- Where to watch: Netflix

Fans of Paul Rudd are in for a treat in this (extremely) dark Netflix comedy because there are two of him. Timothy Greenberg’s story of Rudd’s midlife crisis becomes a cautionary tale for both cloning and seeking happiness in a fledgling marriage (with wife Aisling Bea). The critical consensus is that “Living” is strange, powerful, and simply a great show, and Rudd garnered a Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical) nomination.

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#23. The Politician

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 9,357
- Where to watch: Netflix

“The Politician,” created in part by “American Horror Story” minds Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, portrays a quirky Santa Barbara high school’s student body president race. Ben Platt (“Dear Evan Hansen”) vies for president with running mate Zoey Deutch (whose character falsely thinks she has cancer), against the popular athlete and his gender-nonconforming VP. The series was nominated for Best Comedy or Musical with Platt earning an individual nod.

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Anonymous Content

#22. Catch-22

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 10,708
- Where to watch: Hulu

Based on Joseph Heller’s novel, “Catch-22” is a Hulu miniseries that takes place during World War II. Christopher Abbott plays John Yossarian, a bombardier stuck with the “catch” that he must be considered insane to take part in combat missions yet rational enough to consider himself insane enough to be sent home. The (understandably confusing) satire, which is nominated for Best Limited Series, garnered Abbott a Best Actor in a Limited Series nomination as well.

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FX Productions

#21. Fosse/Verdon

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 3,113
- Where to watch: FX

This FX biographical miniseries about the complicated relationship between choreographer Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and dancer Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams) already earned 17 Emmy nominations with Williams taking home honors for Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series. The show is now up for three Golden Globes for Best Actress, Actor, and Limited Series.

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Blumhouse Television

#20. The Loudest Voice

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 5,410
- Where to watch: Showtime

Roger Ailes (Russell Crowe) is “The Loudest Voice” as he creates Fox News and becomes one of the most powerful people in media in the 2010s. Much like the network in real life, the miniseries created a stir and earned mixed reviews; although it is up for Best Limited Series and Actor in a Limited Series.

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Légende Films

#19. The Spy

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 16,877
- Where to watch: Netflix

Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat”) plays the titular Mossad spy, Eli Cohen, who in real life infiltrated the Syrian Ministry of Defense in the 1960s. The six episodes released in early September to very favorable ratings, and Cohen, in a rare dramatic turn, was nominated for Actor in a Limited Series.

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3 Arts Entertainment

#18. Russian Doll

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 49,438
- Where to watch: Netflix

Natasha Lyonne (“Orange Is the New Black”) created and stars in “Russian Doll,” a comedy-drama involving a time loop in New York City. Nadia is a game developer who must relive the same night after dying repeatedly. Lyonne earned a Best Actress nomination for her role.

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#17. Ramy

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 2,678
- Where to watch: Hulu

Ramy Youssef plays “Ramy,” a first-generation Muslim American hanging between the moral balance of his Egyptian community’s values and those of a modern-day New Jersey millennial. The surprise hit earned the 28-year-old his first Golden Globe nomination, and the drama/comedy was picked up for a second season.

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Eat the Cat

#16. The Act

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 13,026
- Where to watch: Hulu

The eight-part true-crime series created by Nick Antosca and Michelle Dean stars Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee Blanchard, who in real life was murdered by her daughter, Gypsy (Joey King). There’s a lot going on here for those looking for a more light-hearted escape: An extremely overcontrolling, abusive mother falsely convincing her daughter and doctors that her child has cancer; long-buried secrets; and a murderous, rebellious plot. Arquette already won an Emmy, and both she and King are up for Lead and Supporting Actress Golden Globes.

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CBS Television Studios

#15. Dead to Me

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 29,421
- Where to watch: Netflix

Christina Applegate plays real estate agent Jen, who becomes a widow when her husband is killed in a hit-and-run. Linda Cardellini stars as a fellow widow and upbeat group therapy attendee Judy, who befriends Jen as the optimistic foil to Applegate’s relentlessly resenting character (which earned her a nomination for Actress in a Television Series). The black comedy was extremely well-received and highlights the different ways we deal with grief and trauma.

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Media Res

#14. The Morning Show

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 10,556
- Where to watch: Apple TV+

An ensemble cast (Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell) plays the hosts of “The Morning Show,” which portrays the rampant sexual misconduct issues plaguing the modern workplace. Based partly on Brian Stelter’s 2013 nonfiction book, the drama is an important commentary on the spate of recent headlines and the relationships and power dynamics behind them. The show earned three Golden Globe nominations for Best Drama and Actress (both Aniston and Witherspoon).

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Chuck Lorre Productions

#13. The Kominsky Method

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 17,168
- Where to watch: Netflix

Chuck Lorre (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men”) created this heartfelt Netflix comedy about an acting coach (Michael Douglas) living out his later years in Hollywood. Only tasting success for a short time when he was younger, Sandy Kominsky now teaches aspiring members of his craft. “The Kominsky Method” garnered three Golden Globe nods: Series, Actor, and Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin).

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Gary Sanchez Productions

#12. Succession

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 16,821
- Where to watch: HBO

The much-talked-about and beloved dysfunctional family drama, “Succession,” premiered in June 2018 and wrapped its second season in October 2019. Media conglomerate owners, the Roy Family, fight over remaining power and control of the company when the patriarch’s health precipitates a crisis. “Succession” earned three nods for Best Drama, Actor (Brian Cox), and Supporting Actor (Kieran Culkin).

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Alec Berg Productions

#11. Barry

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 31,665
- Where to watch: HBO

Alec Berg and Bill Hader’s “Barry” is an addictive, if perplexing, combination of dark comedy, relationship drama, and crime thriller—but unquestionably one of HBO’s best products in the last decade. “Barry” won three Emmys for its first season and has three nominations in 2020. Bill Hader is up for Best Actor in a Comedy as the hitman-turned-actor-but-still-hitman, and Henry Winkler gets the Supporting Actor nomination as Barry’s ultra-philosophical and existential acting coach.

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Sid Gentle Films

#10. Killing Eve

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 57,213
- Where to watch: BBC America

Extremely popular in both the U.K. and U.S., “Killing Eve” is nominated for Best Drama and Best Actress in a Drama (Jodie Comer). The spy thriller tells of Sandra Oh’s Eve, an intelligence investigator after Comer’s Villanelle, an assassin who becomes mutually obsessed with her enemy. The first season aired in 2018, the second wrapped in May 2019, and the series was picked up for a third go-round.

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CBS Television Studios

#9. Unbelievable

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 36,966
- Where to watch: Netflix

Based on a 2015 news piece called “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” the miniseries “Unbelievable” follows two detectives (Toni Collette, Merritt Wever) who investigate Marie (Kaitlyn Dever) after she is charged with fabricating being the victim of rape. A unique take on both true crime and the perspective of victims of abuse, “Unbelievable” tied for the most nominations with four: Limited Series, Actress in a Limited Series (two), and Supporting Actress.

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Home Box Office (HBO)

#8. Big Little Lies

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 127,773
- Where to watch: HBO

An ensemble cast highlights the critically acclaimed “Big Little Lies,” which has already earned 16 Emmy nominations and eight wins. The dark comedy follows five women in suburban California when they are caught up in a murder investigation. Its 2020 Golden Globe nominations include Best Drama, Actress (Nicole Kidman), and Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep).

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Anonymous Content

#7. Mr. Robot

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 293,680
- Where to watch: USA

Before “Bohemian Rhapsody” mega-fame, Rami Malek earned praise and notoriety for playing Elliot Alderson, a mentally ill cybersecurity engineer and hacker recruited by the titular character (Christian Slater). Now in its fourth season, “Mr. Robot” is wildly popular and led to Malek’s 2020 nomination for Best Actor in a drama; he was also nominated for the character in 2016 and 2017 and won the Primetime Emmy as Alderson in 2016.

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Color Force

#6. Pose

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 12,664
- Where to watch: FX

Another acclaimed Murphy/Falchuk FX creation, “Pose” portrays the ‘80s and ‘90s ballroom culture of New York City and has been praised for its deft visuals and idiosyncratic subject. Latino and African American LGBTQ+ models and dancers vie for underground fame and awards in “Pose,” for which co-lead Billy Porter earned a Lead Actor Emmy in 2019 (the first open black man to be nominated or win). Porter, who plays emcee Pray Tell, is up for Best Actor in a Drama at the 2020 Golden Globes.

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Two Brothers Pictures

#5. Fleabag

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 47,289
- Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Creator and lead Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” is a young woman in London with a uniquely brilliant, dark, funny perspective on her post-traumatic world—which she directly reminds you of while breaking the fourth wall. Born out of one of Waller-Bridge’s sketch-comedy characters, “Fleabag” has become a total sensation, earning 100% Rotten Tomato scores for both seasons and six Emmy wins for the second. In 2020 “Fleabag” is up for three Golden Globes, including Best Series (Comedy/Musical), Actress, and Supporting Actor (Andrew Scott).

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Left Bank Pictures

#4. The Crown

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 95,171
- Where to watch: Netflix

This historical drama about Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy followed by Olivia Coleman) begins in the 1940s and brings us to the 1970s in the most recent, third season. John Lithgow plays Winston Churchill, while Vanessa Kirby and Helena Bonham Carter play Princess Margaret. “The Crown” won two Golden Globes in 2017, two Emmys in 2018, and is up for four Golden Globes in 2020.

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Amazon Studios

#3. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 52,947
- Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Rachel Brosnahan stars as Mrs. Maisel, a 1950s Upper West Side housewife who ditches married life for unapologetic autonomous life in stand-up comedy. Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino tips her cap to groundbreaking female comics, and her heroine-driven “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” resonates powerfully with 21st-century humor and values. The third season is up for Best Comedy/Musical Series and Actress in a Comedy/Musical Series, and the first two racked up countless nominations and awards in the same categories, besides directing, writing, and supporting acting.

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Home Box Office (HBO)

#2. Game of Thrones

- IMDb user rating: 9.4
- Votes: 1,612,100
- Where to watch: HBO

The heralded, record-breaking fantasy show that needs no further introduction, “Game of Thrones” wrapped its eighth and final season in May 2019. The series’ rabid, and massive, fan base has enjoyed nine calendar years and 73 episodes of arguably the biggest enterprise in television history. In 2020, however, it earned just one Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series (Kit Harington).

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Home Box Office (HBO)

#1. Chernobyl

- IMDb user rating: 9.5
- Votes: 388,659
- Where to watch: HBO

The smash miniseries hit based on the 1986 nuclear disaster, HBO’s “Chernobyl” generated the highest IMDb user rating of any Golden Globe-nominated show on this list. Five episodes tell of the historical tragedy—mostly its lesser-known stories and figures—and of its spur-of-the-moment, life-altering (and -destroying) cleanup efforts in the aftermath. The one drawback for many viewers? British, Irish, and Swedish lead actors speaking English in their natural accents. Nevertheless, “Chernobyl” ties the top shows for the 2020 awards with four Golden Globe nods for Limited Series, including Actor (Jared Harris), Supporting Actress (Emily Watson), and Supporting Actor (Stellan Skarsgard).

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