While 2020 may have felt like the pits at times, there are still things to be grateful for, including health, good conversations, enjoyable food, comfy clothing, a place to call home, wine, and the list goes on. But let’s not forget about a lifeline that needles us together: TV. 2020 gave us shows which kept us occupied, easing those squirmy moments when our minds would race. And it did the same for when our minds felt stale. TV was always there to say “Hi friend, come in and stay for however long you can.”
Here’s a selection of shows that got us through the challenging year.
When this mighty TV show came to Netflix in 2017, it had already built a loyal following, but Netflix certainly helped propel Schitt’s Creek‘s reach. Seeing a rich family forced from a mansion to a motel was great to follow along with, especially the snooty but comedic Rose family. From day one, the show has been about the conversations, the glares, the lessons, the family bickering, the bonding, the sarcastic tone of each character’s voice—all of it. As the years progressed, Moira got more forthright and hilarious; Johnny carried a greater presence while keeping is cheeky nerdiness in tow; Daniel became a source of consistent laughter, full of insults and brilliant exits; and Alexis never slid from the spotlight, connecting us to her mannerisms, facial expressions, dance moves, outfits, or what she didn’t say but said with her eyes.
Schitt’s Creek earned a whopping 15 Emmy nominations this year, with all four leads winning their respective categories. The finale wrapped up just as the early days of coronavirus were upon us, giving us that last hit of normalcy and consistent comfort in the wake of it, which is something we will definitely miss. Now, (spoiler alert) Johnny and Moira will dart to LA to rejuvenate their careers; the now single Alexis will move her publicity prowess to New York City (spinoff, please?); and the now married Daniel will stay in Schitt’s Creek with his beloved husband, Patrick. The sixth and final season wrapped up with final touches that fit. We’re grateful for it.
Just like the coronavirus, no one anticipated Tiger King. The Netflix show also dropped as we were starting to isolate ourselves from one another. And it sucked many of us in. The bizarre series introduced us to Joe Exotic and his mania, so, guns, explosives, his mullet, and his life being in charge of the Oklahoma Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. We also got a look into Carole Baskin, a woman of mystery who has ended up with the zoo once owned by Joe. The rivalry between the two of them made for some real intense drama. Throw in a tragic death, a possible murder-for-hire plot, Joe running for Congress, and the competition from all the other parks, and, well, you’re left with uncomfortably weird programming. Tiger King brought us into a world that we couldn’t help learn about.
Sam Fox is a single mom to three daughters, working as an LA-based actress and voiceover artist. The plot is something that Pamela Adlon can relate to; she pitched the show because she didn’t see anyone on television that represented a 40-something single mom, like her, working in Los Angeles while raising daughters. Although there is embellishment, Adlon, who is the creator and star of the show, has continued to deliver everyday stories that feel real because they probably, for the most part, are. Some of the best moments are with Sam and her mother Phyllis, an English expat that is pretty prolific in her own right. She bares all, sometimes literally.
There is a sense of fulfillment that Sam’s character brings about this season, now being able to pay alimony to her absent ex-husband. There’s an acceptance that things will work themselves out in life. Things get better. It’s a show that kept us feeling better.
FX has renewed Better Things for a fifth season, which will keep this narrative going, thankfully. Adlon has also signed an overall deal with FX, so projects she works on will be exclusive to the network moving forward. We’ll watch whatever she creates.
This docuseries follows the NXIVM “cult” started by and for the benefit of Keith Raniere. Raniere, who has recently been sentenced to 140 years in jail for his crimes, was no stranger to criticism. Over the years, he had done his job trying to dodge and dismiss any wrongdoing when probes were made into the structure of the “community” he was creating. This community mostly involved young, impressionable women that were told their lives would improve if they followed his rules that essentially bonded them to him. This series digs deeper into his sinister playbook. Live recordings and footage of Raniere show how things looked on the inside, with much of the footage coming from filmmaker Mark Vicente, who was hired by Raniere to film a doc for the organization. Vicente ended up becoming a prominent member in NXIVM, too, which complicated things. He eventually left and decided to unveil what he saw and heard. Other former members such as Sarah Edmondson, who bravely shared her story, are also central to the series. The Vow is a look at how powerful and destructive Keith Raniere and his minions became. It was necessary 2020 viewing, as disturbing as it was to watch.
The Last Dance
Anything that Michael Jordan does is going to get attention. This 10-part series really dissected the star that he is, the rivalries that he had, the attention that he desperately kept seeking, and the struggle of being the top dog in a highly competitive sport. We learned how to win, according to No. 23 from the Chicago Bulls. The excitement of reliving his glory days from the 1997-1998 championship season was nothing short of spectacular. It also comes packed with over 100 interviews from names like Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Dennis Rodman, and many more.
Stylish with Jenna Lyons
Watching Stylish with Jenna Lyons made us less interested in who won the job and more enthralled in how each project unfolded into a behind-the-scenes experiment. From Lyons having to remodel her old home which she shared with her ex-girlfriend, to the introduction of a date night challenge, to the spicy captions that graced the screen, or be it the guidance and honesty that Lyons and her colleagues effortlessly led with, the series gave an all-encompassing look at talent while honouring the beauty of creation and design. It concludes with the crowning of the winner who becomes the newest member of the team.