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Best TV Shows of 2020


40 Best TV Shows of 2020 (Part One)

And the best TV shows of the year are…

With so many movies, festivals, shows, sports, and other events from around the world being canceled, it’s reassuring to know we can always rely on the small screen to keep us entertained.

Yes, folks, TV has been a blessing in providing some much-needed escapism. As a worldwide pandemic brought most productions to a halt this spring, the television landscape has continued to expand its borders at a pace that’s all but impossible for anyone to keep up with— so, in order to help,  we’ve compiled our list of the best TV shows of 2020 so far. We hope with this list, you will discover something new that you’ll enjoy!

Please note: This list is in alphabetical order, and since there were so many great shows this year, we have decided to split it up into two posts.


Special Mentions: The following shows were all considered for this list but in the end, did not get enough votes (possibly because not enough of our writers have had a chance to watch them yet).

Betty (HBO)
Big Mouth (Netflix)
Cheer (Netflix)
City So Real (Nat Geo)
The Good Lord Bird (Showtime)
The Great (Hulu)
The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)
High Score (Netflix)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO)
Insecure (HBO)
Joe Pera Talks with You (Adult Swim)
Lovecraft Country (HBO)
Ms. American
Perry Mason (HBO)
P-Valley (Starz)
Raised By Wolves (HBO)
Search Party (HBO Max)
The Undoing (HBO)
Unorthodox (Netflix)
We Are Who We Are (HBO)

The Best Television Shows of 2020

Alex Ryder - Best TV Shows 2020

Alex Rider (Prime Video)

Based on the novels of Anthony Horowitz, Alex Rider is the biggest surprise of 2020. Adapted by Guy Burt, the first season takes elements of the first two books in the series, focusing primarily on the plot of the second novel (Point Blanc) while working in characters, and subplots from the first entry, Stormbreaker.

The eight-episode first season is nothing short of exciting and packed with enough action for all your escapism needs. It’s far more mature than the 2006 movie adaptation and features a superb ensemble cast, with the biggest standout being Otto Farrant who stars as the titular character, an adolescent secret agent who is recruited by a subdivision of MI6 as a teenage spy.

It’s no exaggeration to call the first season of Alex Rider one of the most promising shows of the year— a smart, mature, riveting action thriller that can stand toe to toe with some of the best spy thrillers. It’s refreshing to watch a series that doesn’t feel the need to be dark, broody, and violent to entertain an audience. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you’re a fan of the James Bond series! (Ricky D)

Better Things (FX and Hulu)

Pamela Adlon’s FX series, which can also be found on Hulu, has always been something of a little series that could. It’s an autobiographical show about Adlon’s life, as a 50-ish actress of midlevel fame raising her three daughters as a single mom.

The show has always been one of the best on television at conveying the often chaotic reality of parenthood, but it hit another gear in its fourth season, which aired on FX between March and May.

Better Things has always been outstanding, but it hit a new gear in season 4, as Adlon’s character, Sam, has dealt with the mental decline of her mother (Celia Imrie), and the maturing of her daughters (Mikey Madison, Hannah Aligood, and Olivia Edward.)

The new season had several highlights: A long scene in which Sam and one of her daughters repeatedly screamed the c-word at each other, an entire episode in which Sam and her friends commiserated about their divorces, Sam’s foray into cannabis, and the great scene of daughter Frankie re-enacting Jerry Lewis’ old invisible typewriter routine:

The best episode of the season, though, which had Sam visiting New Orleans for the wedding of her gay pals Maneesh and Andrew, which included Sam repeatedly running into an old flame, and even flirting with the idea of moving to The Big Easy. Like all the best cultural depictions of New Orleans, the episode made me want to immediately get on a plane and go there.

The season ended with Sam finally getting some closure in her relationship with her hated ex, Xander, including a check made out to “Xander Hall Is A Loser Who Abandoned His Kids, LLC,” before a musical interlude set to R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming.”

There will be more in the adventures of Sam Fox, as Better Things was renewed for a fifth season. All of the seasons to date are available on Hulu. (Stephen Silver)

BoJakc Horseman

Bojack Horseman (Netflix)

Netflix’s animated Hollywood satire has always had a jarring tone to it. Bojack Horseman has spent 6 years balancing animal puns and show business silliness with grim depictions of personal self-destruction and the ravages of trauma and mental illness. While not all viewers could get on board with these ebbs and flows, for those who could, Bojack Horseman was a breath of fresh air in the modern animation department.

The show’s final season, split into two parts, saw Bojack finally breaking away from his toxic behavior and learning how to truly recover. However, as the demons of his past come back to haunt him, Bojack Horseman enters its darkest phase yet, with a harrowing penultimate episode that was a huge a gamble, to say the least. Luckily risks like these pay off and Bojack Horseman finished off its final run of episodes with a poignant and thoughtful ending that befitted its legacy. (Mike Worby)

Best TV Shows of 2020 The Boys

The Boys (Prime Video)

Helmed by Supernatural creator Eric Kripke and based on the comic series of the same name, created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys asks audiences to consider the ramifications of what life would be like with superheroes. While Marvel and DC Comics have mostly concluded that the world would be a safer place with these beings upholding the law and professing the importance of truth and justice, The Boys takes a darker spin. 

In this Amazon Studios exclusive show, The Boys gives us a world where superheroes have been commodified and made a capitalist’s dream thanks to Vought International. This massive corporation represents only the best and brightest of the heroes around, markets them to mass audiences, and make an insane amount of money in the process. Like all conglomerates, Vought International is wrought with corruption and shady practices, much like the heroes it represents. 

Season two, which hit Amazon Prime this past September, is a painfully poignant season for audiences. While the first season showed us just how terrifying heroes—in particular Homelander (Antony Starr)—could be, this season shows us just how terrifying the divide in American ideologies are. The show introduced a new hero, Stormfront (Aya Cash), who seems like a feminist dream when we first meet her. Unfortunately, we come to realize that she’s a literal Nazi, and a lot of the values she’s preaching are being used to further bigotted causes while highlighting the problematic nature of white feminism. 

The Boys is a fascinating, albeit terrifying, show. Although it revolves around a world where superhumans are real, it’s very much a critique of where we are as a society today, while illuminating the monster we might become if given the right opportunities. It’s like looking into a funhouse mirror and seeing a distorted version of yourself.  If you’re looking for something that will keep you awake at night, make you genuinely laugh, and have you impatient for season three (which will feature another Supernatural alumnus, Jensen Ackles, as Soldier Boy), then be sure to give The Boys a try. (Caitlin Marceau)

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul (AMC)

Better Call Saul has been one of the best shows on television for 5 years now. Its stellar fifth season only further confirms its place as an all-time great. 

Seeing Jimmy grow increasingly unhinged as he embraces his new moniker of Saul Goodman and Kim break bad in a vendetta against the man who helped to maker her, Better Call Saul took new narrative risks and gambles as it shook the cage of our expectations while ratcheting all the more further toward the events of Breaking Bad.

With a final season on the way, Better Call Saul will no doubt wow us even more as it enters into its twilight but showrunners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould can rest assured that the legacy of their killer legal-crime drama is already well secured. (Mike Worby)

Best TV Shows 2020: Brockmire

Brockmire (IFC)

On paper, Brockmire sounds like more dross for the Peak TV era: aggrieved white antihero, check; jokes about wokeness and white male privilege, check; a series-spanning “will they/won’t they” relationship, check (and yawn). Yet over its four eight-episode seasons, the last of which aired this year, this pitch-black comedy about a self-destructive baseball announcer (the great Hank Azaria in a rare starring role) managed to expand and evolve every year, ultimately becoming an ambitious and even moving take on not just “the American pastime” but America itself. A live-action counterpart to Bojack Horseman, Brockmire takes a different tonal tack, finding hope in the possibility of individual redemption and the joys of genuine personal growth, even as it stares unblinkingly into the unstoppable decline and collapse of the American empire. Oh, and it’s also incredibly funny. (Simon Howell)

Best TV Shows 2020: Castlevania Netflix

Castlevania (Netflix)

In a time where video game companies seem to always fail when landing in the medium of film and television, Netflix’s Castlevania is a miracle that is only successful due to its phenomenal lead writers and animators who slave themselves to recapture the magic of the beloved Konami franchise. Saying the series has escalated in quality and popularity over the course of its run would be an understatement. Castlevania season 3 reaps moral complexity and emotional brutality as it aggressively dives into its junior year that is chock-full of phantasmagoric cinematography and psychological layers of depth. Between its original recurring cast and every season’s newcomers, Netflix’s Castlevania is constantly out to up its surprise and action episode after episode. In comparison to its predecessors though, the third season absolutely nails the pacing and character arcs previous chapters sometimes struggled with.
The story starts out by wasting no time explaining the vast array of newcomers or filling gaps. Audiences are able to figure out what happened ever since Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard stormed Dracula’s castle with merely the reintroductions placed at the start of the opening episode. Every action from last season carries significant consequences for both sides of the battlefield as the heroes traught their comfort zones while the villains begin making daring plans. In order to kickstart a future vampire war, season three smartly takes a backseat on the spectacle of Wallachia and places all its bets on telling mostly self-contained stories. Outside of its wandering sorcerer Issac, every character is grounded to familiar locations that constantly evolve into larger fascinating mysteries. If you would consider yourself a fan of Castlevania or are interested in humans versus vampires with magic and philosophy thrown into the mix, absolutely give the series a chance. There is a reason why it is one of Netflix’s most-watched animations and original series on the entire platform.

Cursed Films (Shudder)

The Shudder original series Cursed Films debuted to huge numbers for the streaming service, becoming the second most-watched series premiere in Shudder history behind only the breakout hit Creepshow. And it’s easy to understand why since Cursed Films is required viewing for lovers of film and horror.

For the unfamiliar, Cursed Films (which is written, directed and edited by Jay Cheel) explores the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously “cursed” horror film productions through interviews with experts, witnesses and the cast, directors, and producers who experienced these events first hand. Were these movies really cursed, as many believe, or just victims of bad luck and bizarre circumstances?  

If you are looking for a documentary about how the public is fascinated by curses or how the “curse” adds to a film’s legacy, look no further. The series does a great job of providing insight from folks involved with the films in question as well as several renowned horror film experts and aficionados. (Ricky D)

DAre Me season one

Dare Me (Netflix)

High school dramas have taken a turn for the strange in 2020, as shows like Riverdale and Euphoria become the standard bearers of the genre. Somewhere in the middle, thankfully, was USA’s one-season wunderkid Dare Me and its high tension blend of competitive cheerleading and murder-y melodrama, co-adapted by author Megan Abbott and Gina Fattore. Featuring some of the most exquisitely directed sequences on TV (from directors like Josephine Decker, Olivia Newman, and Lauren Wolkstein), Dare Me offered an intoxicating mix of characters and elements, without some of the extraneous bullshit its aforementioned peers make their namesake (one could also argue Dare Me‘s particular brand of extraneous bullshit is just more satisfying to ingest).

Beyond the flashy direction and wonderfully arrhythmic narrative structure, Dare Me was also a powerhouse of TV’s next generation of female leads, in the form of Herizen Guardiola’s Addy and Marlo Kelly’s breathtaking turn as Beth Cassidy, an impressively baroque performance that elevates much of the show’s boilerplate high school material. Spearheaded by the trio of Guardiola, Kelly and Willa Fitzgerald (as the Sutton Grove’s new cheer leading coach), and driven by its engrossing visual panache, Dare Me is a powerhouse of creative expression, a 10-episode run that deserved much better than its unceremonious cancellation in April. (Randy Dankievitch)

Dark Side of the Ring - VICE

Dark Side of the Ring (Vice on TV, The Movie Network)

For decades, professional wrestling has had its share of drama, both inside and outside of the ring and like any popular sport and entertainment, there are enough rags-to-riches stories; career-ending injuries; strange myths; urban legends; and heartbreaking controversies to fill the pages of several novels. From harassment suits to steroid abuse to screw jobs and double-crosses to backstage affairs and real-life suicides and murders— there’s never any shortage of topics to discuss in the world of professional wrestling. Luckily for wrestling fans, documentary filmmaking over the decades has provided a candid and deeply personal look at the lives of some of the world’s most famous wrestlers and the best of these documentaries act as a source of valuable information, sometimes shedding a light on a wrestling promotion or superstar— and bringing understanding (and closure) to controversy.

Last year, Viceland debuted one such documentary series titled Dark Side of the Ring, a compelling six-episode show that explores several of pro wrestling’s most notorious backstage controversies. The series was well-received and proved successful enough to greenlight a second season consisting of ten episodes.

This time around, Dark Side of the Ring takes a look at what many dub the darkest stories in the history of the industry including the tragic death of Owen Hart which happened live during a pay-per-view event; the murder of Dino Bravo; and the story of WWE superstar Chris Benoit who committed suicide shortly after murdering his wife and son.

You don’t have to be a fan of wrestling to enjoy this! (Ricky D)

Dave FXX

Dave (FXX)

Partially auto-biographical, Dave follows amateur rapper Dave Burd, “Lil’ Dicky,” as he tries to gain a foothold in the music industry. Dave is a white, Jewish rapper from the suburbs who believes he’s destined for fame, but first he has to convince his friends and family that he has the talent to back up his ego. 

Though it has funny moments, Dave is not an outright comedy. Like Lil’ Dicky himself, the show yearns to be taken seriously even as it makes viewers laugh. By finding a balance between no holds-barred profanity and quieter moments, the series paints a complex, human portrait of Dave and the larger, ensemble cast. 

Interestingly enough, the highlights of the first season are often scenes where Dave is not present at all, when the series can step outside of the tight lens of Dave’s ambition to examine romantic intimacy through his girlfriend Ally (Taylor Misiak) or perception of mental health through his real-life hype man GaTa. 

In some ways, Dave stands in the shadows of titans like Atlanta, a clear influence on its style and humor. But until season three of Atlanta hits, Dave is a worthwhile distraction that blows expectations out of the water. (Meghan Cook)

Best TV Shows of 2020 Dead To Me

Dead to Me (Netflix)

(Spoilers Ahead)

Let it enter the record that the only way to pull off a ‘secret identical twin’ storyline is to get James Marsden involved.

There are moments in Dead to Me’s sophomore season where it seems as though everything is about to go off the rails. One such moment comes at the very end of the first episode when a very familiar, but supposedly dead, face shows up at Jen (Christina Applegate)’s door. It’s Marsden, now playing the twin brother of the wonderfully slimy Steve Wood. Ben, the new brother, is just a lovely guy trying to come to terms with the disappearance of the brother he’s been estranged from for years.

From there, things only get crazier: absolutely no other show could get me on board with an arc where a woman falls in love with the identical twin of the man she murdered, but Dead to Me is just that good at balancing comedy with darkness.

All of the leads are on top form, both in comedic and dramatic moments. The chemistry between Applegate and Linda Cardellini provides a center of gravity for the rest of the show’s craziness, and it’s a credit to both of their skill that the friendship stays believable even after both of them have killed each other’s partners. Cardellini provides some of the most impactful moments of the season; in particular, the scene where Judy is listening back to the increasingly verbally abusive voicemail messages from Steve on the night of his death is heartbreaking.

There’s something magnificent about the tightrope Dead to Me walks. This is a show that deals, every episode, with issues of abuse, co-dependency, trauma, and guilt—but it’s still one of the funniest shows of the past few years, with hilarious soap opera-esque twists and characters it’s impossible not to care about. (Ellie Burridge)

Devs (FX and Hulu)

Devs, the limited sci-fi series that ran this spring as part of the “FX on Hulu” imprint, was roughly in line with what Alex Garland has been doing with his feature films like Ex Machina and Annihilation: Themes having to do with the scarier aspects of futuristic technology, and really, really gorgeous visuals.

The eight-episode limited series, which arrived in March and continued into April, combined those ideas with a super-creepy performance from Nick Offerman as an obsessive tech CEO. And it arrived with perfect timing, in a year in which distrust of Silicon Valley, for various reasons, has grown significantly.

Garland wrote and directed every episode of Devs, making it a more auteur-oriented project than is typically the case for streaming series.

The plot of the show dealt with Amaya, a cutting-edge tech company founded and run by Forest (Offerman), a man consumed with grief following the death of his young daughter. He’s decorated the company’s headquarters with a giant statue of the little girl and is also running a top-secret project, also called Devs, which appears geared towards reuniting himself with his child.

The series follows Lily (Sonoya Mizuno), who’s out to solve the mystery of what happened to her boyfriend, and also exactly what Amaya is up to.

In addition, the cast is filled with outstanding character actors, like Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zach Grenier, Brian D’Arcy James, and Alison Pill, along with Cailee Spaeny, a female actress playing a male character. Janet Mock also has a memorable guest turn in one episode.

The company depicted in Devs may not be sowing distrust in Silicon Valley giants in the exact way the real companies do, but it’s still a thrilling, spooky, and gorgeously rendered show about the strange things tech does to us.

Devs, which was a one-year limited series, can be watched in its entirety on Hulu. (Stephen Silver)

Dispatches From Elsewhere

Dispatches From Elsewhere (AMC)

It’s such a strange show, in so many ways. Four strangers are brought together to play an elaborate role-playing game around the city of Philadelphia. Over the course of its ten episodes, the show appeared to lose interest in the mystery and game parts, in favor of a focus on character, before pivoting again to fourth-wall-breaking solipsism in its finale. It shouldn’t have worked, at all, especially since it was based on documentary called The Institute which was, for lack of a better description, complete nonsense. But Dispatches From Elsewhere was a singularly personal work, masterfully shot and making better use of Philadelphia locations than any project since The Sixth Sense. That’s why it’s my choice as the best TV series of the first half of 2020. 

Created by actor Jason Segel, the series focused on four characters, played by Segel, Eve Lindley, Andre Benjamin and Sally Field, and even included a groundbreaking romance between Segel’s Peter and Lindley’s Simone, a trans woman. Beyond that, the show followed its every weird, auterist whim, all the way up to letting Segel sing a “Les Miserables” song.  Dispatches may not have clicked with most viewers, but it did with a small cult that absolutely got it, of which I’m proud to be a member. (Stephen Silver) 


If I told you one of the most exciting television programs of the year is a wrestling show, you might think I’m lying. The truth is, AEW Dynamite is just that— a bloody, brutal and exciting two hours of television with scene after scene of balls-to-the-wall action. No frills and all thrills, AEW (All Elite Wrestling) is more than just another wrestling league, and for the first time in a long time, WWE finally has some competition.

To say AEW’s Wednesday night program is just another wrestling show doesn’t do the program justice; it’s so much more than that. The high-flying action and breakneck fight sequences featured on Dynamite move at such a ferocious pace, you’ll swear the action was sped up. The punches, kicks, suplexes, body slams, dropkicks, and high flying moonsaults are so fast and well-executed, you won’t want to blink. The fact of the matter is, AEW features some of the best wrestlers and wrestling the world has ever seen and even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you’ll get a kick out of watching the action unfold on the screen.

What’s even more impressive is how Dynamite has managed to be so exciting during the coronavirus pandemic. At a time when just about every form of sports entertainment is struggling, AEW has managed to deliver some of the strangest TV viewing experiences you’ll ever see— at times reminiscent of Avant-garde theater and at times akin to a B-movie like quality. Stripped down to its bare essentials, Dynamite has been exciting, even without a crowd roaring its approval. Honestly, given everything that has happened, the season is pretty much a masterpiece of professional wrestling. In one episode they delivered the most bizarre wrestling sketch since Andy Kauffman and in another, AEW whipped together a hilarious spoof of The Hangover. Along with the beautifully shot vignettes, backstage drama, and the return of one of the most respected and iconic wrestlers of all time— it just doesn’t get any better than this. Dynamite is the most fun show I watched all year and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. (Ricky D)

Feel Good

Feel Good (Netflix, Channel 4)

Feel Good is many things; a show about addiction, self-deprecation, love, and community, as acerbic as it is quietly hopeful – and as funny as it is emotionally devastating. Created, co-written, and starring comedian Mae Martin as a semi-fictional version of herself, Feel Good packs about four different shows into its six-episode first season – and they are all fantastic, a series that quickly earns its place among the many, many counterparts in the burgeoning “comedian comedy” genre.

It is hard to decide where Feel Good is most compelling; is it telling the story of Mae, a struggling comedian and former addict? Or is the love story of Mae and George (Charlotte Ritchie, in her finest role to date)? What about the Mom-esque dynamics of Mae’s Narcotics Anonymous group? Feel Good brings so much to the table – I haven’t even mentioned Lisa Kudrow as Mae’s mother – in its brief existence, some might find it overwhelming; I found it exhilarating.

Led by Martin and Ritchie’s magnetic leading performances, Feel Good is a perfectly imperfect comedy; it can be slight at times, and there’s certainly reason to believe a few more episodes would’ve relaxed the show’s breakneck pacing. But if these six episodes are all we get (if anyone at Channel 4 or Netflix is reading this and wondering about renewing Feel Good: what the hell are you waiting for?), Mae Martin’s mini-opus will remain one of 2020’s most memorable series. (Randy Dankievitch)

Best TV Shows of 2020 The Good Place

The Good Place (NBC)

Unlike some shows that go on forever, The Good Place (which ended its run on January 30th) only lasted four seasons. And while it was sad to see this tale come to an end, it was a beautiful experience that left audiences emotional, satisfied, and wishing for more. Which, if you ask us, is exactly how a show should go out. 

The Good Place focuses on the afterlives of four central characters: Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto). They’ve all died at fairly young ages and now find themselves in the Good Place, the equivalent of Heaven. The four soon find themselves not quite fitting in and realize that this might, in fact, be the Bad Place. With the help of their Good Place architect (who’s actually the demon charged with torturing them for eternity), Michael (Ted Danson), as well as the embodiment of all knowledge and exceptional power, Janet (D’Arcy Carden), they work together to find where it is they belong. Along the way, they realize the system used to judge the lives of humans is flawed, redesign what it means to go to the Good Place and the Bad Place, and eventually—in their own time—find inner peace and cross over to what lies beyond death. 

The show is beautiful, and even that feels like an understatement. Watching Eleanor become a better person gives us hope that we can all be better people. Seeing Chidi overcome his indecisiveness and know, full stop, that he loves Eleanor is one of the most romantic demonstrations of love on television. Tahani realizing that she’s enough just as she is speaks to viewers who struggle with their own self-worth. Watching chaotic, but innocent, Jason fall in love with Janet is tender and hilarious. And seeing a demon advocate for the survival and redemption of humanity should feel like a done idea, but Michael’s charm and uncertainty make it fresh. 

The Good Place is, without a doubt, one of the best shows that 2020 brought us, and we cannot recommend enough that you watch it. (Especially if you could use something positive in your life right now.) (Caitlin Marceau)

Best TV Shows of 2020 Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn (Prime Video)

In a 1998 Batgirl Adventures comic, Harley Quinn says: “Oh, [Poison] Ivy can’t hurt me. She gave me a special shot once so we can play and I won’t get sick at all.” Incredulous, Batgirl asks: “You mean you two…?” It’s one of the first implications that Harley and Ivy are romantically involved, but in the twenty-two years since its publication, DC have continued to play coy with what could be one of their flagship couples.

Their first on-panel kiss came in 2017’s Harley Quinn #25, and the romance has cropped up in alternate universe comics like Bombshells and Injustice. But, in a general sense, Harley Quinn has remained stuck in a perpetual loop where she is defined by her relationship with the Joker, both in the comics and on the big screen (2016’s Suicide Squad being the worst offender).

Harley Quinn, the TV show, started strong in 2019 with Harley realizing that she has worth outside of her abusive relationship with DC’s most iconic villain. The second season continued on a high, with Gotham being excised from the United States and plunged into the chaotic rule of various factions, controlled by villains such as the Riddler, the Penguin, and Mr. Freeze. And there, amongst all the fabulous comic-book violence and rapid-fire jokes, was a love story two decades in the making.

Harley and Ivy’s friendship has always been at the center of Harley Quinn, but the writers wisely chose not to have Harley enter another romantic relationship immediately after her breakup from the Joker. Instead, they gave Harley time to figure out who she is as a person, and then they gave us one of the best kisses ever put to screen in the seventh episode of the second series: “There’s No Place to Go but Down”. The remainder of the series sees Harley working her way through her feelings for Ivy in a way that involves copious amounts of violence, deceit, and denial—but at the center of it all is a genuinely heart-warming message about being brave enough to love someone. It is, perhaps, not what we expected from the R-rated Harley Quinn animated show, but it’s one of the most welcome surprises imaginable. (Ellie Burridge)

High Fidelity

High Fidelity (Hulu)

Even in an era saturated with remakes and reimaginings, a television adaptation of High Fidelity (and a fairly faithful one, at that) didn’t seem like something the world needed. The Zoë Kravitz-captained first season, though, essentially makes the original film seem redundant. This doesn’t come down to a matter of simply having more time to explore High Fidelity’s characters and concerns in a longer format; the ideas and scenes here are just more refined. While some of the line-by-line re-enactments can get a little frustrating for viewers wishing to see an interpretation rather than a translation, the characters and the spaces they occupy feel much more lived-in by the end of the season than in the film. It’s funny, it’s sometimes touching and it’s unapologetic in its appreciation of both its source material and soundtrack choices. Costume designer Sarah Laux deserves special mention for such a gorgeous array of outfits that complement their characters and setting (Kravitz’ black Dickies shirt and green skirt, which should just come off as an everyday sort of design, sticks out as a particular instance of total understanding of color palette and texture). High Fidelity seems to get most of its details and enough of its bigger issues right, creating real excitement for a second season that will hopefully break away more fully from the film and be proud of the identity the series has started to create for itself. (Sean Colletti)

How to With John Wilson

How To With John Wilson (HBO)

The end of Nathan Fielder’s uncanny, daring comedy series Nathan For You was, for its small but rabid cult, a huge blow. Before long, though, word came down that Fielder would be producing a new series (How To With John Wilson) and co-starring in a new HBO series (The Curse, coming next year). Even if The Curse turns out to be merely a Righteous Gemstones-level pleasure, How To With John Wilson has proven to be the real deal, a fragmented documentary take on modern life that needs to be seen to be understood. Wilson takes small bits of footage from his immense archive and recontextualizes them into loose narratives and rapid-fire punchlines, while never becoming a cheap exercise in schadenfreude. Along with Fielder and Adult Swim’s Joe Pera, Wilson is finding new joy in the ordinary. (Simon Howell)

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