2020 was a tough year. And for a lot of people it’s hard to find bright spots. One thing that helped get a lot of us through some of the toughest days and nights this year was entertainment. Through social media we were able to emerge from isolation and come together as a global family and experience some of the best in entertainment that 2020 had to offer. That’s always been the magic of television, bringing people together for the most pivotal moments in pop culture and history.
Here are just some of the best pieces of entertainment 2020 brought us. Have a happy and safe new year!
INSECURE (HBO) – This was the best season yet. The central conflict resulting in the demise of Issa and Molly’s friendship made for compelling television. The season was also a journey of growth for Issa as she found herself coming into her own professionally. The show delivered a season long romcom with beautiful writing and cinematic production values.
RAMY (HULU) – Season 2 mostly focused on Ramy’s spiritual journey and his burgeoning romance with episodes showing Ramy attempting to grow up. It was a rock ride with some success and one huge failure. Like season one, the show offered stand-alone episodes focused on supporting characters. One featured Ramy’s Uncle Naseem and his heartbreaking coming out story. The other episode of note revolved around Ramy’s mother and her journey to becoming a U.S. citizen. Both were beautifully written and performed.
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY (HBO) – This genre-bending series was a lot of fun to watch. The combination of SciFi, adventure and Black history made this series a standout in 2020. The story was complicated and you had to pay close attention or you’d miss a lot. What I appreciated about Lovecraft Country is that we got to see Black characters in a sci-fi would having big adventures while being the heroes and not just relegated to supporting characters.
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (NETFLIX) – It’s so hard to translate a stage play into a film. This adaptation of August Wilson’s play shows that it can be done exceptionally well when all the right talent is in place. Viola Davis shines in the lead role, proving that she’s one of Hollywood’s fiercest leading ladies. And what can I say about Chadwick Boseman that hasn’t already been said? What a gift of a final performance he left us with after his battle with cancer. Watching Chadwick and now knowing what he was battling at the time makes his delivery even more astounding. This film is sure to see multiple Oscar nominations.
LOVEBIRDS (NETFLIX) – Issa Rae was made for romcoms. She shines as half of a couple set on breaking up when they’re unexpectedly thrust into the middle of a murder mystery.
THE BOYS IN THE BAND (NETFLIX) – Another stellar adaptation of a stage play. Although this isn’t the first film version of the play, it feels more contemporary than the original. The outstanding cast makes the story accessible to a new generation. Ryan Murphy does a great job directing the movie while Jim Parsons will most likely add another Emmy nomination to his resume.
THE CLUB/DARK DESIRE/SOMEONE HAS TO DIE (NETFLIX) – One of things I love about Netflix is their international programming. These three series are Spanish language. Rising star Alejandro Speitzer stars in all three, giving distinguishing performances in each. These thrilling mysteries are one part guilty pleasure and one part compelling tv.
I MAY DESTROY YOU (HBO) – I started off thinking this was a British “Sex and the City” but I was wrong. The show became quite dark when we learned after a raucous night out drinking Arabella had been sexually assaulted. Subsequent episodes focused on her dealing with the physical and emotional consequences of her assault. Arabella’s friends were supportive but had their own sexual demons to contend with themselves, including Kwame being assaulted when an online hookup goes wrong. “I May Destroy You” was bold, daring, truthful and probably the most unique story told in a half hour format this season.
THE MANDALORIAN (DISNEY+) – Season two of this Star Wars spinoff offered up a lot of surprises. I won’t spoil them for you, but if you haven’t watched yet you should.
INDUSTRY (HBO) – This London set series following a group of young graduates vying for spots at an international investment firm is a must watch. The story is gripping while giving the cast of diverse and inclusive characters compelling, emotionally charged stories.
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER (ABC) – Not many shows deliver a perfect final season, but HTGAWM did just that! The series came full circle tying up six years of storylines. The series finale was one of the best I’ve seen. From Viola Davis’ stirring monologue to the emotional final moments, there wasn’t one disappointing moment in the hour. Viola should have been nominated for the Lead Actress Emmy as a final way to honor her final searing performance of Annalise Keating.
BIG SKY (ABC) – Created by David E. Kelley, this show is full of surprise twists. It’s pretty bold for a broadcast network show. The mid season finale moved the umbrella story into a new phase and it will be interesting to see where it takes the characters. The show also gets bonus points for making all the heroes women.
HBO MAX/DISNEY+/NETFLIX – These streaming services are really worth their subscription fees. They’re each making huge investments in original programming and acquiring big theatrical titles. HBO Max is shaking up Hollywood by offering subscribers the entire Warner Brothers 2021 theatrical slate, while Disney+ announced upcoming series and movies based on franchise favorites like Star Wars and the Marvel superhero films. Netflix continues to offer some of the broadest and most inclusive programming of any content provider.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD/BOB❤️ABISHOLA (CBS) – These aren’t groundbreaking sitcoms but instead tv comfort food. Love, friendship, romance and acceptance are the themes in which the episodes are centered while delivering lots of laughs along the way.
SCHITT’S CREEK (POP) – The series finale will live on “best” lists for years to come. David and Patrick’s wedding day finally arrived but was not without complications. From a rainy day that washes out their original venue to a mishap with a massage, the episode titled “Happy Ending” delivered just that. When the screen faded to black, the audience knew each of the characters would be just fine as they started new chapters in their lives. The show deservedly swept in all the comedy categories at the Emmys this year.