Year in review: 100 best TV series of 2020

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December 23, 2020

Year in review: 100 best TV series of 2020

Whether you’re a cord-cutter or still among the cable faithful, it’s hard to ignore the abundance of good TV shows available these days. Binging became even bigger in 2020 as TV viewers sought distractions from the COVID-19 pandemic. New stars are being created by the day, and a diversity of untold stories are being unleashed to the viewing public.

Many new series are based on recent hit books, but plays and movies are also a tried-and-true source for material. The emergence of streaming has led companies like Apple TV+ to seek content to keep up with established giants Netflix and Hulu, while traditional TV power players like HBO and NBC also tried to get in on the streaming pie. However, there are plenty of broadcast shows still making an impact, and niche channels like National Geographic are proving they can be just as adept at producing quality shows.

Many of the year’s best shows were geared toward younger audiences, from the drama inside Brooklyn high schools to the exploits of teenage bounty hunters. But there were also reboots of high school shows from a generation ago that landed well among both adults and younger generations. Movie stars like Cate Blanchett and Chris Rock are appearing on TV more often, and true-crime dramas seem to always reel in an audience. This year also saw the end of some great prestige dramas, including one that forever changed the way we view the world of spies.

As we approach the end of the year, Stacker gathered data from Metacritic on the best TV shows of 2020 and ranked them according to Metascore. Ties are broken by ranks assigned on Metacritic's site. New series and old series with new seasons were considered alike, as were limited series and docuseries. To qualify, the show had to have a Metascore and a 2020 release date. Comedy specials, although included under TV on Metacritic, were not included. Scores are updated as of Dec. 9, 2020.

Click through to find out what show is #1 and what to add to your queue.

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1 / 100
6th & Idaho Productions

#100. Tales From the Loop

- Metascore: 68
- Release date: April 3, 2020

This science fiction drama is based on the book of the same name. The series follows a fictional Ohio town and the influence of the local Center for Experimental Physics on its residents. Rebecca Hall leads alongside Jonathan Pryce.

2 / 100
Westward Productions

#99. Grand Army

- Metascore: 68
- Release date: Oct. 16, 2020

Adapted from Katie Cappiello’s “Slut: The Play,” “Grand Army” is a teen drama based at the fictional Grand Army High School in Brooklyn. This Netflix series stars Odessa A'Zion—the daughter of Pamela Adlon, who has her own show, "Better Things," and who you may remember as the voice of Bobby Hill on “King of the Hill.”

3 / 100
Aggregate Films

#98. The Outsider

- Metascore: 68
- Release date: Jan. 12, 2020

This HBO crime drama is based on a Stephen King novel. The series follows the murder of a boy in a small Georgia town and stars Ben Mendelsohn.

4 / 100
MGM Television

#97. Fargo

- Metascore: 68
- Release date: Sept. 27, 2020

Inspired by the critically acclaimed 1996 film, “Fargo” premiered in 2014 and has drawn in some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Billy Bob Thornton and Kirsten Dunst starred in previous seasons, and the latest saw Chris Rock in a lead role.

5 / 100
20th Television

#96. Love, Victor

- Metascore: 69
- Release date: June 17, 2020

This Hulu teen drama takes place in the same cinematic universe as the film “Love, Simon.” Previously unknown actors like Michael Cimino anchor the show, which follows teens along their journeys toward discovering their sexuality.

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6 / 100
Blumhouse Television

#95. A Wilderness of Error

- Metascore: 69
- Release date: Sept. 25, 2020

“A Wilderness of Error” is a five-part series based on an Errol Morris book examining the case of suspected murderer Jeffrey MacDonald. The FX production is directed by Marc Smerling, who previously helmed a series about Robert Durst.

7 / 100
BBC Studios

#94. Trying

- Metascore: 69
- Release date: May 1, 2020

As Apple TV+ has tried to break into the streaming game, “Trying” has been a pleasant surprise hit. The British comedy follows a couple struggling to start a family.

8 / 100
Scout Productions

#93. Legendary

- Metascore: 69
- Release date: May 27, 2020

The first HBO Max entry on this list, “Legendary” is a reality series based on ball culture. Megan Thee Stallion was one of the judges in the first instalment, and the show has been renewed for a second season.

9 / 100
Amazon Prime Video

#92. Little Fires Everywhere

- Metascore: 69
- Release date: March 18, 2020

Based on a novel by Celeste Ng, “Little Fires Everywhere” uses a whodunit premise to explore the lives and families of two women from different backgrounds. The show, which premiered on Hulu, stars Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.

10 / 100
Supper Club

#91. Trial by Media

- Metascore: 69
- Release date: May 11, 2020

“Trial by Media” has a pretty explanatory title—the show chronicles court cases that may have been influenced by media coverage. Premiering on Netflix, the show was executive produced by someone familiar with lots of media coverage: George Clooney.

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11 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#90. Industry

- Metascore: 69
- Release date: Nov. 9, 2020

This British drama depicts graduates aiming for a job at a prestigious investment bank. One of the executive producers is Jane Tranter, who formerly held high-ranking positions in programming for the BBC, and “Girls” auteur Lena Dunham directs an episode.

12 / 100
ABC Signature

#89. High Fidelity

- Metascore: 70
- Release date: Feb. 14, 2020

Fans of “High Fidelity” likely saw the 2000 film or read the Nick Hornby book of the same name. The show doesn’t deviate much from its predecessors, as it centers on record store employees obsessed with music and their own relationships.

13 / 100
Jim Spellman // Getty Images

#88. Gentefied

- Metascore: 70
- Release date: Feb. 21, 2020

“Gentefied” provided a welcome fresh perspective on the pursuit of happiness, centering on a Mexican-American family. The show tackles topics like gentrification but also serves as a love letter to East Los Angeles.

14 / 100
Plan B Entertainment

#87. The Third Day

- Metascore: 70
- Release date: Sept. 14, 2020

This British drama follows two characters on a mysterious island, where the locals are full of secrets. Jude Law stars in this compelling mix of mystery, horror, and action.

15 / 100
Carnival Film & Television

#86. Belgravia

- Metascore: 70
- Release date: April 12, 2020

“Belgravia” is a historical drama centered on an affluent neighborhood in London. As it takes place in the 19th century, there are plenty of balls, dukes, and duchesses, as well as lots of intrigue in this series written by Julian Fellowes, who previously created Downton Abbey.

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16 / 100
Berlanti Productions

#85. Katy Keene

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: Feb. 6, 2020

“Katy Keene” is a spin-off of the popular “Riverdale” series. Focused on a young woman trying to make it in the New York City fashion industry, “Katy Keene” echoes “The Devil Wears Prada.” Lucy Hale stars as the title character.

17 / 100
Ruby's Tuna

#84. Ted Lasso

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: August 14, 2020

There’s a longstanding stereotype that Americans are ambivalent about soccer. When NBC purchased rights to air Premier League games from England, the network introduced a character, Ted Lasso, to be a spokesperson for green soccer fans. Jason Sudeikis’ performance as Ted Lasso was so well-received that Apple TV+ made a show based on the character.

18 / 100
Red Planet Pictures

#83. Sanditon

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: Jan. 12, 2020

Another British historical drama, “Sanditon” is based on an unfinished Jane Austen manuscript. Many British viewers were so enthralled by the drama that they were outraged when it ended after only eight episodes.

19 / 100
Glass House Studios

#82. Looney Tunes Cartoons

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: May 27, 2020

An age-old classic works even in the streaming era. “Looney Tunes Cartoons” brings back favorites like Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, and Daffy Duck, introducing them to new audiences.

20 / 100
Love Productions

#81. The Great British Baking Show

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: Sept. 25, 2020

Who knew a show following bakers in the U.K. could become such a cult phenomenon? American audiences have gobbled up “The Great British Baking Show,” with some TV critics claiming it’s changing the format of reality television.

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21 / 100
Broadway Video

#80. Shrill

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: Jan. 24, 2020

The comedy “Shrill” is based on “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman” by Lindy West. The Hulu show features big-name executive producers Lorne Michaels and Elizabeth Banks, and it centers on a young professional (Aidy Bryant) juggling professional aspirations, body-image issues, and relationships.

22 / 100
DNA Films

#79. Devs

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: March 5, 2020

“Devs” is one show pushing for more diversity in Hollywood, as it stars Tokyo-born Sonoya Mizuno in the lead role. The sci-fi series explores the perils of technology, but also concepts like free will.

23 / 100
Teakwood Lane Productions

#78. Homeland

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: Feb. 9, 2020

The adventures of Carrie Mathison came to an end in 2020—or so we thought. The finale of this spy thriller tantalized fans, ending—at least for now—a show that revolutionized prestige TV with its detail, twists and turns, and memorable dialogue.

24 / 100

#77. McMillions

- Metascore: 71
- Release date: Feb. 3, 2020

Fast-food fans of a certain age remember becoming enraptured by McDonald’s Monopoly game, where customers collected Monopoly properties to try to win prizes. This series explores a scam within the game ultimately worth millions of dollars.

25 / 100
20th Century Fox Television

#76. Solar Opposites

- Metascore: 72
- Release date: May 8, 2020

This animated show places an alien family on Earth, where they try to determine if humans are a worthy species or not. The sitcom was created by the same guys behind cult favorite “Rick and Morty.

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26 / 100
CBS Television Studios

#75. Dead to Me

- Metascore: 72
- Release date: May 8, 2020

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay have been benefactors for a plethora of comedic hits, and Liz Feldman’s “Dead to Me” is the latest in this lineage. The show features Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, whose characters bond in therapy. Applegate in particular has drawn praise for her role.

27 / 100
Hillman Grad

#74. Twenties

- Metascore: 72
- Release date: March 4, 2020

“Twenties” is a heartfelt coming-of-age comedy that portrays the hurdles and ambitions of a trio of Black women. The show, created by Lena Waithe, was picked up for a second season on BET.

28 / 100
NBC Universal Television

#73. Saved by the Bell

- Metascore: 72
- Release date: Nov. 25, 2020

This reboot features a majority of the old Bayside High gang, now adults trying to reel in their own mischievous teens. Only Dustin Diamond (Screech) did not reprise his role. Many critics were surprised that the show was actually...good.

29 / 100
Tilted Productions

#72. Teenage Bounty Hunters

- Metascore: 72
- Release date: August 14, 2020

After a car accident gone awry, teens in this Netflix drama attempt to become bounty hunters. Despite the unique premise, the show was canceled after one season.

30 / 100
Screen Australia

#71. Stateless

- Metascore: 72
- Release date: July 8, 2020

Based on a true story, “Stateless” recounts the travails of Cornelia Rau, who was unlawfully detained in Australia. The show features acting heavyweights like Cate Blanchett and Dominic West and takes an intense look at Australia’s historical treatment of visitors without visas.

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31 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#70. The Capture

- Metascore: 72
- Release date: July 15, 2020

“The Capture” is a British crime drama about a special agent trying to clear his name. English actress Holliday Grainger stars with Famke Jannsen and Ron Perlman in the BBC drama, which made a notable impact in its first season with only six episodes.

32 / 100
Kudos Film and Television

#69. Deadwater Fell

- Metascore: 73
- Release date: April 6, 2020

Another British drama, “Deadwater Fell” chronicles a Scottish doctor who loses his family in a fire. The show was called “irresistible” by The Guardian and has drawn comparisons to the show “Broadchurch.”

33 / 100
3 Arts Entertainment

#68. Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet

- Metascore: 73
- Release date: Feb. 7, 2020

Rob McElhenney, of “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fame, brings the laughs in this comedy on Apple TV+. The show was co-created by McElhenney and “It’s Always Sunny…” colleagues Charlie Day and Megan Ganz. The show also stars F. Murray Abraham.

34 / 100
It's So Easy Productions

#67. Expecting Amy

- Metascore: 73
- Release date: July 9, 2020

This documentary from comedian Amy Schumer follows her through her pregnancy and her preparation for a standup special. The film is shot with selfies and other strategies typical of ”guerrilla” style filmmaking.

35 / 100
Lookout Point Ltd.

#66. A Suitable Boy

- Metascore: 73
- Release date: Dec. 7, 2020

It took more than two decades for the novel “A Suitable Boy” to be made into a TV series, but now viewers can enjoy this Indian coming-of-age classic. Mira Nair directed this BBC Studios period drama.

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36 / 100
Atlas Entertainment

#65. Dirty John

- Metascore: 73
- Release date: June 2, 2020

Based on a podcast, “Dirty John” retells a twisted story of secrets. Amanda Peet and Christian Slater starred in the most recent season—”Dirty John” is credited as one of the shows making podcasts a “goldmine” for TV studios.

37 / 100
Mammoth Screen

#64. World On Fire

- Metascore: 74
- Release date: April 5, 2020

This British war drama follows several storylines in various countries across Europe during World War II. Differing from other war-period pieces, “World on Fire” focuses on everyday people, as opposed to soldiers and generals.

38 / 100
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

#63. Frayed

- Metascore: 75
- Release date: July 30, 2020

Comedian Sarah Kendall created and stars in “Frayed,” which follows a woman returning to Newcastle to learn she is despised by locals. In real life, Kendall is a popular name in British comedy.

39 / 100
Left Bank Pictures

#62. Quiz

- Metascore: 75
- Release date: May 31, 2020

“Quiz” is based on a play by James Graham telling the story of Charles Ingram. After winning 1 million pounds on a game show, he is mired in controversy and scandal in the years following.

40 / 100
Hartswood Films

#61. Dracula

- Metascore: 75
- Release date: Jan. 4, 2020

An age-old classic gets an update in Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s version of “Dracula.” The show was praised for its seductiveness but divided critics after a spicy start.

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41 / 100
Thruline Entertainment

#60. The Great

- Metascore: 75
- Release date: May 15, 2020

Who knew a comedy drama about Catherine the Great was what we needed in 2020? “The Great,” starring Elle Fanning, is a satirical look at 18th-century Russia, but it also introduced the feminist power of Catherine the Great to audiences unfamiliar with the history of Russian dynasties.

42 / 100
Entertainment One

#59. Run

- Metascore: 75
- Release date: April 12, 2020

Will two former lovers reunite over a single word? “Run” leads us toward this climactic decision and stars Merritt Wever, formerly of “Nurse Jackie” fame.

43 / 100
ITN Source / ITV Studios

#58. Des

- Metascore: 75
- Release date: Oct. 15, 2020

Dennis Nilsen was a Scottish serial killer, and “Des” recounts his twisted crimes. If you like “Des,” ITV has a collection of similar miniseries based on British criminals.

44 / 100
CBS Television Studios

#57. Star Trek: Discovery

- Metascore: 75
- Release date: Oct. 15, 2020

The first new “Star Trek” series since “Enterprise,” “Star Trek: Discovery” gives us new tales about the crew of the USS Discovery. Sonequa Martin-Green, whom you may recognize from “The Walking Dead,” shines as the lead, and the show has been praised for its visual effects.

45 / 100
Propagate Content

#56. Hillary

- Metascore: 75
- Release date: March 6, 2020

Originally a documentary, “Hillary” was split into a four-part miniseries for Hulu. The production digs into the life of Hillary Clinton, giving an inside look at her political career.

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46 / 100
Fairview Entertainment

#55. The Mandalorian

- Metascore: 76
- Release date: Oct. 30, 2020

Jon Favreau’s “Star Wars”-inspired series was one of the most talked-about shows of 2020. Before the series returned, diehards of the franchise dissected Easter eggs, cameos, and leaked stills to grasp any information about the Jedis’ journeys. Many critics believe the show has reinvigorated the “Star Wars” franchise.

47 / 100
Armian Pictures

#54. Murder on Middle Beach

- Metascore: 76
- Release date: Nov. 15, 2020

In “Murder on Middle Beach,” Madison Hamburg attempts to solve his mother's murder. The series is an emotional roller coaster with a first-person perspective, although the finale divided critics and fans.

48 / 100
Warner Horizon Television

#53. The Flight Attendant

- Metascore: 76
- Release date: Nov. 26, 2020

“The Flight Attendant” is based on a novel by Chris Bohjalian. The show’s main character, Cassie Bowden, is a flight attendant who comes upon a dead body. The HBO series has been called a “Hitchcockian comedy-thriller.

49 / 100
CBS Television Studios

#52. Star Trek: Picard

- Metascore: 76
- Release date: Jan. 23, 2020

“Star Trek: Picard” takes us into the world of retired Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Patrick Stewart reprises his role as the iconic character, and the show has been a big draw for CBS’ All-Access platform.

50 / 100
HBO Documentary Films

#51. The Vow

- Metascore: 76
- Release date: August 23, 2020

This HBO series explores the mysterious NXIVM cult. Former members detail being inside the cult and the emotional aftermath after escaping leader Keith Raniere. The first season seemed to only scratch the surface of the darkness behind NXIVM.

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51 / 100
Bad Robot

#50. Challenger: The Final Flight

- Metascore: 76
- Release date: Sept. 16, 2020

“Challenger: The Final Flight” is an introspective look at the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. The show received kudos for recounting a “tragedy with grace.

52 / 100

#49. Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

- Metascore: 76
- Release date: March 20, 2020

At the beginning of the pandemic, it seemed the whole country was captivated by Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” exposed viewers to the complicated world of big-cat conservation and its critics but also spliced in criminal activity, romance, and murder mysteries.

53 / 100
Brightlight Pictures

#48. Julie and the Phantoms

- Metascore: 77
- Release date: Sept. 10, 2020

This musical comedy show is based on a Brazilian series. “Julie and the Phantoms” was praised for its catchy tunes and family-friendly content.

54 / 100
Sony Pictures Television

#47. Party of Five

- Metascore: 77
- Release date: Jan. 8, 2020

A reboot of a popular 1990s series starring Neve Campbell, “Party of Five” focuses on a Mexican family trying to adjust after deportations. Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser created both series, and the new “Party of Five” was praised for tackling timely issues about immigration.

55 / 100
Zero Gravity Management

#46. Ozark

- Metascore: 77
- Release date: March 27, 2020

“Ozark” has been one of Netflix’s pillars of original content thanks to its intense drama and intrigue. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star as a couple who relocate their family to the Ozarks after Bateman’s money-laundering scheme goes awry.

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56 / 100
Untitled Entertainment

#45. Betty

- Metascore: 77
- Release date: May 1, 2020

Based on the film “Skate Kitchen,” this HBO show follows an all-female skateboarding crew. “Betty” stars talented newcomers Dede Lovelace and Moonbear, who add life to the show with their vibrant performances.

57 / 100

#44. We Are Who We Are

- Metascore: 77
- Release date: Sept. 14, 2020

This drama follows teenagers coming of age on a military base. Chloë Sevigny stars with appearances from Blood Orange and Kid Cudi. “We Are Who We Are” was noted by critics for providing a refreshing look at adolescence.

58 / 100
Loki Films

#43. Love Fraud

- Metascore: 77
- Release date: August 30, 2020

“Love Fraud” is a true-crime drama about Richard Scott Smith, an internet stalker and conman. The show was called “absorbing” for its inside look at the mind of a criminal and the emotional toll on the women he targeted.

59 / 100
Expectation Entertainment

#42. In My Skin

- Metascore: 78
- Release date: July 30, 2020

This British comedy follows a teenager who tries to hide her turbulent home life from her friends. “In My Skin” has been a favorite of fans for its character work and “mordant humor.

60 / 100
Jax Media

#41. Search Party

- Metascore: 78
- Release date: June 25, 2020

A satirical comedy, “Search Party” follows a group of colleagues who become involved in a missing-person search. Michael Showalter, noted for his work on “The State” and “Wet Hot American Summer” is a co-creator. “Search Party” has earned renown for its scathingly funny script.

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61 / 100
FX Productions

#40. What We Do in the Shadows

- Metascore: 79
- Release date: April 15, 2020

Mockumentaries can easily hit or miss, but “What We Do in the Shadows” has won acclaim for the crisp writing of Jemaine Clement, who based the show on a 2014 film he wrote. Kayvan Novak, Natasia Demetriou, and Matt Berry have crisp comedic timing, and the show has featured a cadre of A-list guests like Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, and Nick Kroll.

62 / 100
Avalon Television

#39. Everything's Gonna Be Okay

- Metascore: 79
- Release date: Jan. 16, 2020

Australian comedian Josh Thomas scored a hit with this series on Freeform. Although that platform may not be as big as other streaming and cable options, “Everything's Gonna Be Okay” also found a home on Hulu. The series is about a young man attempting to become caretaker to two half-siblings.

63 / 100
Bad Robot

#38. Lovecraft Country

- Metascore: 79
- Release date: August 16, 2020

Based on a Matt Ruff novel, “Lovecraft Country” unfolds as a man searches for his missing father. The show does a good job of exploring complicated issues on screen.

64 / 100
HBO Documentary Films

#37. Agents of Chaos

- Metascore: 79
- Release date: Sept. 23, 2020

The aptly named “Agents of Chaos” explores possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The two-part series interviews key figures and explores several angles to answer one of the biggest political mysteries of our time.

65 / 100

#36. The Queen's Gambit

- Metascore: 79
- Release date: Oct. 23, 2020

You may be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about “The Queen’s Gambit.” The chess show became all the rage in late 2020, even leading to skyrocketing sales of chess sets. The show revolves around a chess prodigy played by actress Anya Taylor-Joy.

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66 / 100

#35. Never Have I Ever

- Metascore: 80
- Release date: April 27, 2020

Mindy Kaling helped create “Never Have I Ever,” which is partly based on her upbringing. The show has received praise for representation and breaking South Asian stereotypes.

67 / 100
Show of Force

#34. Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children

- Metascore: 80
- Release date: April 5, 2020

Over a two-year period, at least 30 African American children went missing or were murdered in Atlanta. Wayne Williams was prosecuted for two of the crimes, and this show picks up the story as other previously closed cases are reopened.

68 / 100
Amazon Studios

#33. The Boys

- Metascore: 80
- Release date: Sept. 4, 2020

Based on “The Boys” comic book, this Amazon Prime Video series explores the depths of celebrity and authoritarianism. Unlike some comic stories, the good guys don’t always win. A spin-off of “The Boys” is now in the works.

69 / 100
20th Century Fox Television

#32. Central Park

- Metascore: 81
- Release date: May 29, 2020

An animated sitcom from the minds of Josh Gad, Loren Bouchard, and Nora Smith, “Central Park” follows a family who lives near the famed landmark and tries to prevent it from being taken over. Kristen Bell and Stanley Tucci are among the voice actors, and some critics have written that “Central Park” is on the cusp of greatness.

70 / 100
Boardwalk Pictures

#31. Cheer

- Metascore: 81
- Release date: Jan. 8, 2020

At the beginning of the year, people became enthralled by Netflix’s “Cheer”—including NFL star JJ Watt. The docuseries follows competitors on their way to the National Cheerleading Championship and received several Primetime Emmy nominations.

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71 / 100
Jigsaw Productions

#30. Kingdom of Silence

- Metascore: 82
- Release date: Oct. 2, 2020

“Kingdom of Silence” is a captivating look at the career of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the events surrounding his killing. The show goes in-depth on journalism ethics, U.S.-Saudi relations, and the complicated life of a dissident, truthseeker, and critic.

72 / 100
Home Box Office (HBO)

#29. The Plot Against America

- Metascore: 82
- Release date: March 16, 2020

This show is a fascinating alternate-timeline look at the buildup to World War II and the controversial figure of Charles Lindbergh. Full of “what-ifs,” the show posits a world where the aviation hero becomes the U.S. president and embraces fascism.

73 / 100
HBO Documentary Films

#28. I'll Be Gone in the Dark

- Metascore: 82
- Release date: June 28, 2020

“I'll Be Gone in the Dark” is a true-crime series about the journey in telling the tale of the Golden State Killer. The documentary follows the late Michelle McNamara as she writes a book about one of the country’s most notorious serial killers. Amy Ryan provides narration.

74 / 100
Element Pictures

#27. Normal People

- Metascore: 82
- Release date: April 29, 2020

Based on Sally Rooney’s novel, “Normal People” extracts a wonderful love story in the Irish countryside. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal are the show’s breakout stars, starring as schoolmates who come from opposite social circles to unite in a secret relationship. Their story is backed by gorgeous, lush scenery.

75 / 100

#26. The Midnight Gospel

- Metascore: 82
- Release date: April 20, 2020

From the creators of the popular “Adventure Time” cartoon comes the animated series “The Midnight Gospel.” Protagonist Clancy Gilroy travels through various universes encountering mystery, mayhem, and interesting subjects for a “spacecast.” The show’s surreal nature stands out in a crowd of adult animated shows.

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76 / 100

#25. RAMY

- Metascore: 83
- Release date: May 29, 2020

Comedian Ramy Youssef provides a fresh perspective of Muslims living in America with an assist from Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. Youssef struggles to live both within the boundaries of his Egyptian community and in the greater world with its conflicting moral values. “RAMY” has been called “revolutionary.”

77 / 100

#24. Sex Education

- Metascore: 83
- Release date: Jan. 17, 2020

Gillian Anderson of “The X-Files” fame plays a sex therapist on “Sex Education.” Her son on the show, played by Asa Butterfield, is a teenager who starts his own sex-therapy sessions at school. The show is noted for its sweet approach to complicated subject matter and its emphasis on public health.

78 / 100
Objective Fiction

#23. Feel Good

- Metascore: 83
- Release date: March 19, 2020

“Feel Good” is a British comedy centering on relationships in a comedy club. Drug use and openness are two major themes, and the result is a rather insightful series.

79 / 100
One Story Up Productions

#22. Between the World and Me

- Metascore: 83
- Release date: Nov. 21, 2020

A documentary based on the groundbreaking book by Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Between the World and Me” includes some of the most notable and powerful voices in African American culture. Coates, Mahershala Ali, Angela Bassett, and Angela Davis all make appearances in a series that features readings and clips from a performance of a staging of the book at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.

80 / 100
Act III Productions

#21. One Day at a Time

- Metascore: 84
- Release date: March 24, 2020

A reboot of a popular series from over three decades ago, the new version of “One Day at a Time” centers on a Cuban-American family. The show has had its ups and downs since its 2017 debut but appears to be nearing its end after another cancellation. Justina Machado was a standout as Penelope, the family matriarch.

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81 / 100
CBS All Access

#20. The Good Fight

- Metascore: 84
- Release date: April 9, 2020

A spin-off of “The Good Wife,” this show focuses on female lawyers at a high-powered law firm. “The Good Fight” has won over critics for its stories based on political themes and its use of animated shorts.

82 / 100
Blumhouse Television

#19. The Good Lord Bird

- Metascore: 84
- Release date: Oct. 4, 2020

Ethan Hawke delivers another memorable performance in the historical dramedy “The Good Lord Bird.” The show follows abolitionist soldiers led by John Brown (Hawke) in events leading up to the Civil War.

83 / 100
EPIC Magazine

#18. Little America

- Metascore: 85
- Release date: Jan. 17, 2020

“Little America” shines a light on immigrant stories in the U.S. The show has been credited as being one of Apple TV+’s first hits, thanks to short tales of strife, hope, and patriotism.

84 / 100
Reel Peak Films

#17. Immigration Nation

- Metascore: 85
- Release date: August 3, 2020

This documentary series takes an inside look at the dealings of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Because of the rare access granted the filmmakers, many controversies arose, including demands to delay the broadcast until after the 2020 elections.

85 / 100
Studio Airlift

#16. Unorthodox

- Metascore: 85
- Release date: March 26, 2020

One of the few shows to feature Yiddish, “Unorthodox” is based on the book “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots.” It follows a woman in an unhappy marriage who flees her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. The show has been called “stunning,” especially thanks to the performance of lead Shira Haas.

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86 / 100
Chernin Entertainment

#15. P-Valley

- Metascore: 85
- Release date: July 12, 2020

P-Valley takes place in the unique setting of a Mississippi Delta strip club. The show captures many communities, with an emphasis on the struggles of low-income Black families in the South.

87 / 100
Bad Wolf

#14. I Hate Suzie

- Metascore: 85
- Release date: Nov. 19, 2020

Like so many series these days tackling millennial-specific conflicts, ”I Hate Suzie” is about an actress whose phone is hacked, which leads to the release of private pictures. Billie Piper is being lauded for her leading role, and the show provides some brutal laughs.

88 / 100
Left Bank Pictures

#13. The Crown

- Metascore: 85
- Release date: Nov. 15, 2020

Who knew British royalty could be so memeable? Another show that became (virtual) water-cooler talk toward the end of the year, “The Crown” dramatizes the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Because of the liberties taken on the show, the U.K. government has asked Netflix to put a disclaimer on the show’s credits.

89 / 100
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#12. I May Destroy You

- Metascore: 86
- Release date: June 7, 2020

Michaela Coel’s dark comedy is about a social media celebrity entering the literary world who tries to recount the events of a night out. The HBO show takes a serious look at sexual assault and provides important context in telling stories about such topics.

90 / 100
Shiny Penny Productions

#11. Mrs. America

- Metascore: 87
- Release date: April 15, 2020

This historical drama starring Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne chronicles the push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The show highlights the work of pioneers like Shirley Chisholm and Gloria Steinem alongside “breathtaking” performances

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91 / 100
Paulilu Productions

#10. The Baby-Sitters Club (2020)

- Metascore: 87
- Release date: July 3, 2020

Every generation seems to fall in love with “The Baby-Sitters Club,” and this generation gets a Netflix series. The show was chock-full of nostalgia for viewers who may have been familiar with the namesake books or movie—in another nostalgia trip, the show featured 1990s icon Alicia Silverstone.

92 / 100
Netflix Studios

#9. Lenox Hill

- Metascore: 87
- Release date: June 10, 2020

Following four medical professionals at Lenox Hill hospital, this Netflix hit exposed the detail and pressure of working with lives at stake. Subjects were praised for their “openhearted curiosity,” and being released during the pandemic, “Lenox Hill” created even more empathy for essential workers.

93 / 100
3 Arts Entertainment

#8. A Parks and Recreation Special

- Metascore: 89
- Release date: April 30, 2020

Five years after the series finale of “Parks and Recreation” aired, the crew of the Pawnee Parks Department returned for a one-off special. Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza and others all showed up, and the episode benefitted COVID-19 relief efforts.

94 / 100
Apple TV+

#7. Visible: Out on Television

- Metascore: 89
- Release date: Feb. 14, 2020

An important miniseries about LGBTQ+ representation in the television industry, “Visible: Out on Television,” is narrated by stars like Margaret Cho and Neil Patrick Harris. The Los Angeles Times called the show the best offering on Apple TV+.

95 / 100
ESPN Films

#6. The Last Dance

- Metascore: 90
- Release date: April 19, 2020

With the ability to watch many shows at any time, there are few must-see TV events that everyone seems to watch together. “The Last Dance,” released during the beginning of the pandemic, was one of those events. The 10-part series followed the Chicago Bulls during their heyday, providing inside looks and untold stories of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, and other key personnel on one of America’s most revered sports teams.

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96 / 100
Tornante Company

#5. BoJack Horseman

- Metascore: 91
- Release date: Jan. 31, 2020

A cult classic, “BoJack Horseman” continues to combine the absurd with gut-busting comedy like few animated shows. Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Paul F. Tompkins star as voices on what some already believe is the greatest animated show of all time. “BoJack Horseman” has also drawn praise for accurately portraying mental illness.

97 / 100

#4. My Brilliant Friend

- Metascore: 92
- Release date: March 16, 2020

Based on novels by Italian author Elena Ferrante, this series follows fictional character Elena Greco, who recalls a friendship with a missing bestie. “My Brilliant Friend” became a surprise hit for HBO Max amid rave reviews.

98 / 100
High Bridge Productions

#3. Better Call Saul

- Metascore: 92
- Release date: Feb. 23, 2020

Fans of “Breaking Bad” have embraced “Better Call Saul,” the spin-off that chronicles lawyer Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk). After five seasons, the show has proved to be just as good as its predecessor, with showrunner Vince Gilligan predicting “Better Call Saul” will soon surpass “Breaking Bad.” Who knew Albuquerque was so interesting?

99 / 100
Kartemquin Films

#2. City So Real

- Metascore: 93
- Release date: Oct. 29, 2020

Steve James, director of the seminal documentary “Hoop Dreams,” scores again with “City So Real.” This documentary miniseries follows the recent mayoral election in Chicago and creates a gripping narrative of social injustice and politics. “City So Real” exposes Chicago’s problems, but also celebrates its strengths as one of the most dynamic cities in the U.S.

100 / 100
Awesomeness TV

#1. PEN15

- Metascore: 93
- Release date: Sept. 18, 2020

Cringeworthy middle school memories have never been portrayed better. Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle have a chemistry like few duos on TV, tackling thongs, cultural identity, and crushes in a uniquely fresh way. Extra kudos to them for playing teens cast among real-life teens, despite actually being in their 20s and 30s.

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