Arianne’s Watchlist of 2020


We’ll let’s try this again, shall we? Last year I had the idea of doing this monthly watchlist where I would talk about all the shows I have watched and love. Now, the thing is I am lazy and busy so that didn’t work out. Now, since we were all stuck at home for months because of COVID and to say I have watched a lot of things, well it’s an understatement. From old shows to new ones, being home and watching everything was just a way of life during this time of self-isolation and social distancing. Now, I don’t know how frequent this will be. Once a month? Once every few months? Another year in between? I guess it will depend on my own time but also what is on television.

But let’s start with just this one, shall we? I tried to condense this to simply shows that were released this year or had a new season this year. Because if I go with shows that I ended binging the whole thing (I am looking at you Grey’s Anatomy) we would be here all year long. Maybe in the future, I will do shows that are old and that I love rewatching who knows, but for now here is what is on my watchlist for the year 2020.

(Please note that these are in alphabetical order and not preference.)

BETTY (HBO, created by Crystal Moselle)
Inspired by the film Skate Kitchen and expanding on the world that had been set up in it, Betty stands on its own. A show that isn’t flashy or fast but never settles to be anything other than amazing. With a cast that is not trained actors, most are skaters that Moselle found when she directed the documentary that inspired the feature film, Betty never tries to replicate the film, instead choosing to expand on its cast of characters and the world. The show might live in the same universe as the film but one does not need to have seen the film to be able to watch this. I will be honest and I wasn’t the biggest fan of Skate Kitchen, I enjoyed it but never found myself loving it. I wanted to watch Betty because of the diversity and queerness of the show, in the end, Betty became what I wanted Skate Kitchen to be, a diverse cast of characters that didn’t just focus on one character as the movie did. Betty is about the girls and their friendship, their lives, their love and skating. It’s a show that might not be exactly what everyone loves but deserves so much more love and praise than it did when it first premiered this year.

HIGH FIDELITY (Hulu, developed by Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka)
This is the cancellation of the year I am still not over. Maybe only Glow matches my sadness at the fact that I will never get another season of this show. High Fidelity is a rare example where the adaptation lives up to the original and even surpasses it at times. This gender swap adaptation of the 2000 film starring John Cusack stars Zoe Kravitz as Rob, a record-store owner who after her hard breakup decides to revisit her past relationships. High Fidelity was a little gem that never got its fair chance, a show that had so much potential and where each episode got stronger and stronger. Kravitz’s work on this show was probably her best yet and she shined whether it was in the comedic moments or the dramatic ones. With a strong cast all around, the show felt fresh and didn’t feel like all the adaptation or reboot out there, it took the premise of the film and decided to expand on it, giving Rob so much more to do. It’s a damn shame Hulu decided to pull the plug so fast because High Fidelity was one of those shows that stayed with me long after I watched it.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE (Hulu, developed by Liz Tigelaar)
It honestly doesn’t feel like Little Fires Everywhere was this year, it just doesn’t and yet it was released in 2020. Little Fires Everywhere was amazing and I hope they never touch it again, the ending of it all felt like it wrapped the story in a pretty messy bow just like the show deserved. I know after it ended, I wished for them to continue but after rewatching it, I hope they just leave it be because they did what they needed to do and they don’t need more. (Just like they should have left Big Little Lies be.) Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon were fantastic but it was truly the kids in the show that for me took this story to another level. Little Fires Everywhere had something to say and it felt contemporary, every episode pushing the envelope a little bit more and by the end, it delivered one of my favourite final episodes of a show in a very long time.

MONEY HEIST (Netflix, created by Álex Pina)
I will never stop loving this show, even if the new seasons are not as strong as the first two, Money Heist continues to be one of the best shows on television. The way the show is constructed makes it that everything is always such a surprise, never predictable and instead always trying to make sure that the audience is always surprised. With only one season left to wrap everything up, Money Heist continues to up the ante and not be afraid to take risks. Do I agree with everything they have done with their characters this season? No, I will forever cry for my girl Nairobi, but I can see that the chances they take make sense, it is always trying to be different and never wants you to settle. Money Heist couldn’t run forever, not with its premise, it might even have overstayed its welcome in a sense, but I will never forget this wild show. Honestly, Money Heist will live forever in my mind and I am okay with that.

MYTHIC QUEST: RAVEN’S BANQUET (Apple TV+, created by Charlie Day, Megan Ganz and Rob McElhenney)
I will be honest and had to change this list last minute because after talking television with Andres he told me to watch this. And oh man did I enjoy this. This show was honestly a nice little surprise that I didn’t see coming. After giving it a try when the show first launched, I just had trouble getting past the first episode but once I did, I fell in love with every character. And then I got to episode five of the series. The show decides to take a break and gives us one of the best episodes of television this year. A bottle episode doesn’t always work because it basically stops the show in its tracks but Mythic Quest did it brilliantly. But what is probably the show’s best feature is the assemble, and I think that has a lot to do with the creative team behind the show because after all, these are the same people that gave us It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and just like that show the entire show is made excellent by its cast and the crazy bunch of characters that they gave us.

SCHITT’S CREEK (CBC/Pop TV, created by Dan and Eugene Levy)
Oh, how I will miss this little show. This little town with these idiots that I fell in love with over six seasons ago. America came to this show later but I have been following this group since the first season and I will miss the Rose family and their misadventures. Schitt’s Creek was that little show that could, that show that always wore its heart on its sleeve. What first started simply about a family being so full of themselves turned into one of the most heartwarming television shows on television. Schitt’s Creek always felt like it was living on its own term, in its own little universe. A show that was all about love and family and that made us happier when we watched it. Am I sad that this show ended? Yes, I am. But I also love that they ended it on their own terms.

TED LASSO (AppleTV+, developed by Bill Lawrence, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly)
Perfection shouldn’t exist and yet Ted Lasso is right there. Honestly, that is all you need to know, but I will elaborate more. Ted Lasso shouldn’t work this much, based on a character that Jason Sudeikis created for NBC in order to promote the broadcast of Premier League games on their network. And yet, Ted Lasso is one of the most wholesome and perfect shows that exist. You might think, I don’t care about soccer so why should I watch this show? Because soccer is just a means to an end. It’s not about soccer, it’s about the group of people that inhabit the world, it’s about the teams, their loved ones, their laughs and cry, it’s about everything but soccer. You might think that the premise is stupid but it works so well, a show that never fails to make you laugh but also brings tears. The show never fails you, every episode is this little perfect thing, taking you by the heart and proving that maybe, just maybe, the perfect show does exist and its name is Ted Lasso.

THE BOYS (Amazon Prime, developed by Eric Kripke)
The Boys’ first season was one of those shows I watched so fast, I had read the graphic novel and I was so excited for this show. What I didn’t expect was for season two to come back and somehow be even better than the first season. The first season was great but the second season decided to continue on the gore but pushed the envelope, even more, when it came to make the show political and talk about today’s world. The second season of the show took risks but also advanced the story. The Boys isn’t scared to be gory but it also is great storytelling. A show that might not always be perfect but the risk it takes pays off most times. But I think what I love the most about The Boys is the fact that the show seems to have a bigger picture plan, the reveals seem planned well ahead. This season, in particular, was great at planting seeds for their twist and so when they came it wasn’t out of a left field. The Boys takes on the superhero genre in a way that might have been seen before but it does it in a way that changes the game and isn’t afraid to take calculated risks when it needs to.

THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR (Netflix, created by Mike Flanagan)
I don’t do horror. I just don’t. I hate being scared but ever since really starting to try and watch everything, I have found myself watching a lot more horror stuff than before. (I blame Andres but it’s okay) The first season of Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House found itself in my list of favourites of that year, a show that combined a great character study with some really good storytelling. The second installment in Mike Flanagan’s horror anthology might not be as good as Hill House but it is so different and also so good that I just couldn’t look away from it. These two seasons can live side by side and be their own thing without us comparing them. Because in reality, The Haunting of Bly Manor is the greatest love story told this year, ever even. (I have written extensively about the love story in Bly Manor, you can read it here.) Bly Manor shouldn’t be compared to Hill House when we talk about it because it is its own thing and it’s so damn good. Mike Flanagan knows how to combine horror and great character study, doing it in a way that is always so interesting and never settling for a cheap jump scare, instead the director tries to show that the scariest thing in the world maybe is us and not the ghosts.

THE GOOD PLACE (NBC, created by Michael Schur)
Oh, how I will miss The Good Place. The first season’s final episode, The Good Place made you understand that you never know what to expect. From that point forward, The Good Place made you realize how much deeper this show really was. The Good Place knew exactly what to do to take you by surprise but also do things that made sense. This show was a wild ride but oh so fun. When the fourth season was announced, it was also paired with the announcement that it would be it’s last. Was it bittersweet? Yes, because The Good Place never failed to be amazing, but it was also clear how the show wanted to end. The finale episode of the series proved that it went out on its own terms, but also proved that maybe not overstaying its welcome was right. The final episode of the show was one of those that even when I rewatch it, I can’t stop crying. It’s perfect, it delivers on every single aspect and wraps up a show that never failed to deliver surprises.

THE LAST DANCE (ESPN, directed by Jason Hehir)
I live and breathe basketball. I watch every game, I do fantasy leagues, I play when I can, etc. Basketball is the one sport that I watch religiously. So when the NBA shut down because of the virus, I was bored. And then ESPN came to the rescue with a documentary about Michael Jordan’s last championship before his second retirement. But The Last Dance did more than that, it explored the people behind the players, the teams, the rivalries, the legend that is Michael Jordan. Captivating and one of the best sports documentaries in recent memories, The Last Dance provided with a good distraction but also great television. Even today, you can see memes from it, every sports fan watched it, it was must-see television at the time, but also great television. Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player to ever play the game (let’s not get into the Jordan vs James debate) and he deserved one of the greatest documentaries about his legacy and that is exactly what he got.

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (Netflix, created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott)
The Queen’s Gambit was my favourite show of 2020. Growing up, chess was the game that my brother and I played and we even went to tournaments. I wasn’t very good if I am honest, but once I heard about The Queen’s Gambit I got really excited. I had read the book when I was young and just from the trailer, the show looked incredible. And god, this show did not disappoint. The acting, the writing, the editing, the visuals, everything in The Queen’s Gambit just felt right and by the end, I ended up watching the whole mini-series in one night sitting. Anya Taylor-Joy is my favourite right now for lead actress in a mini-series and I can’t wait to go back and rewatch this show because I know I probably missed a lot of little things that the show put into that you just don’t catch on the first watch. The Queen’s Gambit might not be full of action or fast-paced but it is a captivating series about loss, addiction, talent and so much more.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY (Netflix, created by Steve Blackman)
Just like with The Boys, I had read the graphic novel that The Umbrella Academy was based on before the release of the first season. The show’s second season was just so much better than the first, it slimmed down its stories and focused on the family dynamics and that has always been the best part of the show. The second season also did a lot to expand the universe of the show but also set up so many more seasons. I will always watch The Umbrella Academy for the family dynamic and their misadventure and that is exactly what this season gave us, the show didn’t waste time by keeping the family separated instead of going right into the action and they were so much better for it. By trimming down the plots, the show became stronger and it also felt like every actor was more comfortable in their own roles. And after that ending, I can’t wait to see the third season.

THE WILDS (Amazon Prime, created by Sarah Streicher)
Yes, this just came out and yes, it is on this list. Understand this, I went in watching The Wilds pretty blind, with only having seen one trailer and no idea what I was getting myself into. And boy, was it satisfying. What is The Wilds? The easiest way to describe it is a female-fronted mix of Lord of the Flies and Lost. But it is so much more. It’s rare that in such little time a show can make me feel for every character and have me connect to all of them but this show did just that. Even the characters that were at the bottom of my favourite list, I found myself loving them and rooting for them. Filled with twists and turns, action and great storytelling, The Wilds knew what it was and never stopped to take a breather. A show that I just couldn’t put away that I needed to finish and know what was going on, The Wild provided great characters and a story that we might have seen before but put enough twists on it that it just didn’t feel predictable.

WE ARE WHO WE ARE (HBO, created by Luca Guadagnino, Paolo Giordano, Francesca Manieri and Sean Conway.
We Are Who We Are is probably the most beautiful show of 2020. A show that is very reminiscent of Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name in terms of feelings and emotions that it brings out in you. We Are Who We Are is a lot of settings and feelings but it works so well. It’s a show that deals with sexuality and identity so well, handled it with a care that is rarely shown on television for those subjects. It was boasted by a cast that had so much chemistry it just bled off the screen. What was so great about this show is that it felt like it didn’t need to create drama for no reason, it didn’t need to explain everything, we were literally just thrown into the life of the characters. It never felt like exposition was done to explain things, instead, they just happened and we had to put things together. A show that might not be something that everyone will love but I personally was engrossed in it. The characters, the story, the setting, everything was just so captivating from start to finish. A show that just felt like a little slice of life and god I wish we got more of it.

I didn’t watch everything on television this year, including Lovecraft Country and I May Destroy You. While I started Lovecraft Country, I just didn’t have the time to finish it. And I May Destroy You has been on my list since its release but because of my mental state and scared of being triggered I have decided to keep it for when I am better. I also didn’t include the special episode of Euphoria because it was just one episode, but go watch it, it’s great. Some other shows that I just haven’t had the time to watch but are on my list of binge in the near future are The Undoing, The Good Lord Bird, P-Valley, How To John Wilson, The Baby-Sitters Club, Harley Quinn, Pen15, Never Have I Ever, The Great, What We Do In The Shadows, Devs, The Flight Attendant and so many more.

Shows that almost made the cut are Teenage Bounty Hunters, Control Z, The Crown, Normal People, Dare Me, Mythic Quest, Cheer, Upload, Hollywood, Tiger King, Hunters, Dead to Me, Warrior Nun, The Good Fight, The Mandalorian, Mrs. America and more that I am probably forgetting right now.