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The 20 Best TV Episodes of 2020

The year’s finest episodes helped us find peace and acceptance, even when we thought we couldn’t.
Best Tv Episodes
By  · Published on December 23rd, 2020

15. “Hype Man” – Dave (FXX)


You know what’s surprisingly smart and self-aware and even downright moving? Lil Dicky’s new FXX show, Dave. And no episode demonstrates that better than “Hype Man.” GaTa, Dave’s friend and erstwhile fun side character, becomes so much more as he reckons with his mental illness – both how it’s held him back in the past and how he plans to move forward with it. It’s a fresh and surprisingly empathetic take in a season that’s full of surprising empathy.

14. “The Paradise” – Dark (Netflix)


I reviewed the last season of Dark when it came out in the summer, and I’ll say about its finale what I said about it then. I cannot believe this show managed to pull off a satisfying ending, let alone an optimistic one. But pull it off it did. Any explanation would be one heck of a spoiler, so if you’d like to know more you should read my review here. Or, better yet, you should hop on Netflix and stream the whole thing knowing, like the rest of us never did, that there’s a real conclusion at the end of the confusing, convoluted, undeniably dark tunnel.

13. “A Dangerous Union” – Search Party (HBO Max)


As far as I’m concerned, Search Party is the most underrated show out there. After a long, long hiatus that left the fate of Dory and her friends in the balance, the show came back as a courtroom drama and a slow descent into Dory’s strange psyche. While that’s intriguing, the real winner of the season is Elliott and Mark’s multi-million dollar, corporate-sponsored wedding. Featuring a race against the clock, romantic intrigue, rats, and more opulence than you can shake a stick at, the episode is a welcome break from a lengthy trial and matters of life and death, a detour into pure bizarre spectacle and awkward heartbreak.

12. “Endgame” – The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)


The Queen’s Gambit was the year’s surprise Netflix hit, making chess sexier and far more exciting than anyone ever expected it could be. And that excitement builds over the course of the season to the finale and Beth’s ultimate Moscow showdown with her biggest rival. If you never thought you’d be invested in a chess match, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised, rooting for Beth’s victory for all it represents, sure, but also for the pure joy of the game.

11. “The Vat of Acid Episode” – Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)

Rickandmortythevatofacidepisode best TV episodes 2020

Rick and Morty is at its best, in my opinion, when it touches true existential pathos. And this episode’s lengthy wordless sequence, in which Morty finds love, suffers horribly, but then comes through it a better and stronger person, only to lose it all forever, forced to a “reset” point where he’s the only one who remembers any of it, made my soul ache in a way it hasn’t in a while. Rick’s later bombshell — the fact that Morty’s been “Prestige-ing” himself — is almost an afterthought. I was honestly so numb from the previous emotional ringer, I could scarcely care about this next blow. Now that’s TV that makes you hurt. And I love it.

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Liz Baessler is a frequent contributor and infrequent columnist at Film School Rejects. She has an MA in English and a lot of time on her hands. (She/Her)