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The 25 Best Shows of 2020 So Far

As we sit back and think about the TV shows we’ve watched already in 2020, the Film School Rejects team has assembled to bring you a list of our favorites.
Best Shows of 2020 So Far
By  · Published on July 15th, 2020

High Fidelity

High Fidelity

You’d be forgiven for not noticing Hulu’s High Fidelity if you’re someone who is very anti-reboots or remakes. That certainly can happen. You may have seen the movie from 2000 starring John Cusack, adapted from a story by Nick Hornby, in which a record store owner named Rob navigates a traumatic breakup by exploring where he went wrong in previous relationships. In Hulu’s re-adaptation, Zoë Kravitz stars as Rob, and yeah, she has the same problem that Mr. Cusack had 20 years ago. Yet, everything about this new version feels fresh and honest. Kravitz is as compelling, if not even more compelling as Cusack’s Rob thanks to her smooth comedic timing and the way she imbues Rob with an effortless cool. We are also gifted wonderful supporting performances from Da’Vine Joy Randolph, David Holmes, and Jack Lacy. In the end, it’s a smooth 10-episode season with a great soundtrack, characters that are worth investing in, and a smart group of filmmakers (including Natasha Lyonne and Girls alum Jesse Peretz) behind it. (Neil Miller)

I Am Not Okay With This

I Am Not Okay

Netflix has basically cornered the market on teen stories, so the fact that I Am Not Okay With This still manages to feel fresh while following in the footsteps of Stranger Things and The End of the F***ing World is a minor miracle. Syd (Sophia Lillis) doesn’t exactly feel like a miracle, though. Her small-town world is rocked when she begins to develop uncontrollable powers after the death of her father. This isn’t a superhero narrative, though; it’s a jagged-edged coming-of-age story that puts its protagonist’s rage, grief, and pubescent discomfort front and center. Wyatt Oleff, who co-starred in the IT reboot with Lillis, is a bona fide scene-stealer here as Syd’s enthusiastic neighbor Stan, who straddles the line between cool and ridiculous, while Sofia Bryant plays Syd’s best friend Dina. I Am Not Okay With This takes a cue from John Hughes by transcending adult viewers’ tendency to judge from hindsight, bringing us a story in which teens’ lives and emotions feel as urgent and potentially apocalyptic to us now as they did when we were that age. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

I May Destroy You

I May Destroy You Hbo
Natalie Seery/HBO

The sneaky benefit of waiting a few days to publish this list is that I, your faithful editor, have the honor of dropping Michaela Coel’s gut-wrenching and deeply engaging drama I May Destroy You onto this list at the last second. Sure, it’s still in the middle of its season on HBO at the time of publication. We’re not going to let that stop us. As you’ll note if you’ve read this incredible profile of Michaela Coel from Vulture’s E. Alex Jung, the path to making I May Destroy You was long and brutal for its creator, but her perseverance and incredible gifts as a storyteller have yielded a show that is arresting at every turn. At times, it’s very funny. At others, it’s like an anxiety attack come to life. In fact, its portrayal of anxiety is authentic and atmospherically driven in ways that feel brand new. If you’re not already on the bandwagon for this, one of the absolute best pieces of television in a while, you have the rest of 2020 to catch up before we undoubtedly have it high on our year-end list. (Neil Miller)

The Midnight Gospel

The Midnight Gospel

As it is the new project from Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward, it’s tempting to approach The Midnight Gospel as “Adventure Time for Adults” (with its frank discussions of death, drugs, and sex, it sure as hell isn’t for kids). But the animated Netflix original is so much more than that. Part interview-stye podcast hosted by real-life podcaster Duncan Trussell and part churning, impressionist animated vignettes, the show is like pretty much nothing else out there. Each episode is centered around the protagonist Clancy (Trussell) entering a world inside a malfunctioning simulated reality machine and interviewing one of its inhabitants for his Spacecast (it goes into space!). It’s a novel and fascinating concept from the start. But it’s the finale that truly makes it worthwhile. In it, Clancy interviews his mother (voiced by Trussell’s own mother, who passed away in 2013), as the two discuss death, grief, and acceptance. The episode is an absolute showstopper, and probably one of the best of the year. (Liz Baessler)

Mrs. America

Mrs America

Cate Blanchett as a villain for nine episodes of a weekly hour-long series is a dream come true. Her frequent and commanding portrayal of Phyllis Schlafly, who led the campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, could be viewed as problematically dominant for a series that’s supposed to be on the feminists’ side, but she’s actually overshadowed often. Plenty of episodes focus on other women whose supporting-sized performances are among the best of the year. Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, and Ari Graynor as Brenda Feigen, in their respective showcases, are all particularly amazing. And then there’s Sarah Paulson, a more constant presence as one of Schafly’s minions, who gives Mrs. America its peak moments in a climactic episode reminiscent of a Hunter S. Thompson story. History lessons are rarely this fun, and television rarely provides such a platform for so many extraordinary women roles. (Christopher Campbell)

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Valerie Ettenhofer is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, TV-lover, and mac and cheese enthusiast. As a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects, she covers television through regular reviews and her recurring column, Episodes. She is also a voting member of the Critics Choice Association's television and documentary branches. Twitter: @aandeandval (She/her)