From I May Destroy You to Tiger King, it was an excellent (and unpredictable) year for television.

By Isabel Jones
Dec 17, 2020 @ 10:53 am
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Credit: Courtesy/Erin Glover/InStyle.com

In a year of division and isolation, TV felt like one of the few points of connection to those outside of our Covid pods. We collectively typed "!!" and "!?" emojis into our Tiger King group chats and live-tweeted our Undoing theories (who else's money was on Donald Sutherland?). When everything else felt wholly uncertain, there was one thing we could count on: good TV.

Read on for InStyle's favorite 20 shows of 2020.

The Great - Hulu

You don’t need to be a history buff (in fact, it’s probably best that you aren’t) to enjoy this comical take on the years leading up to Catherine the Great’s overthrow of her husband, Peter III. 

BoJack Horseman - Netflix

The sixth season of this dark animated comedy saw its titular anti-hero join the ever-growing list of famous men who’ve fallen from grace in the years since the #MeToo movement began. Smart and self-aware as ever, BoJack’s final season did exactly what every series hopes to do: leave us wishing there was more. 

A Teacher - FX on Hulu

Student-teacher romance goes awry. The overarching subject is nothing new, but A Teacher’s intimate treatment of both the relationship itself and its aftermath feels more nuanced than most onscreen portrayals. 

Insecure - HBO

Insecure is one of the few shows of this era that gets better with every season (knock on wood!), and season 4 was pretty close to perfect. I’m approximately two months of quarantine out from writing Issa and Lawrence fan fiction. 

Normal People - Hulu 

Two young, hot Irish people fail to communicate properly over the course of many years. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll watch them have (a lot of) sex. 

Credit: Natalie Seery/HBO

Michaela Coel proved her genius once again with this distinctive and affecting series about a woman piecing together the events that led to her rape. 

Ozark - Netflix

Blessed be the year that everyone seemingly discovered Ozark (I’ve been telling you since 2017!). Anyway, maybe it was the isolation or just our collective desire for anything transportive, but season 3 was perhaps the series’ grittiest and most engrossing chapter yet. 

Sadly, Netflix chopped this delightfully quirky series after just one season. Cancelation aside, Teenage Bounty Hunters stands as one of the streaming platform’s very best forays into original content. Get past the slightly misleading title and you’re in for a wonderful 10-episode journey.

Never Have I Ever - Netflix

A teen comedy with … actual teens? How novel! Co-creator Mindy Kaling’s latest is the show for every current and former high schooler whose adolescence was spent in the library instead of the club. 

The Undoing - HBO

Say what you will, but The Undoing had us invested. The HBO limited series had it all: long autumnal coats, wealthy white people lacking scruples, family dogs that were actually family sisters … At just six episodes, it was the perfect length for our wandering quarantine-addled minds. 

Credit: PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020

The fictional universe of prodigious orphans may be crowded, but Beth Harmon is a standout. This Netflix miniseries is immaculate, from the acting to the writing to the costuming.

Blood & Water - Netflix

This private school-set South African teen drama is as bingeable as the best of them, but the stakes are high (like long-lost potentially kidnapped baby sister high). If its meager 7-episode first season offering leaves you frantically double-checking that you have in fact watched them all, rest assured, season 2 is on the way!

High Fidelity - Hulu

RIP to another series that was taken from us far too soon. Zoë Kravitz, queen of the reluctantly cool girls, reprised John Cusack’s 2000 role in this witty and winning relationship dramedy. 

The Crown - Netflix

Netflix’s historical(ish) royal drama was always good, but the series’ introduction of fan-favorite Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) had us tearing through season 4 faster than the palace could refuse comment. 

I didn’t expect to love a show geared toward 11-year-olds, but the modern adaptation surprised me with its refreshing sincerity. I believe that children are the future … and that Claudia Kishi is a style icon. 

Credit: Lara Solanki/Hulu

Pen15 - Hulu

Pen15 blessed early aughts tweens with another welcomely cringe-inducing dose of nostalgia in its second season. Who are we, as millennials, if we’re not lamenting the awkward pool parties we attended in middle school decades later. 

Cheer - Netflix

The world of competitive college cheerleading has never looked so demanding (or compelling). Texas’s Navarro College cheer team endeared millions earlier this year in the streaming platform’s wildly successful docuseries. 

Action-packed and at times divisive, HBO’s ‘50s-set sci-fi drama had everyone talking this summer. Come for the monsters, stay for Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett’s performances. 

Bridgerton - Netflix (streaming Dec. 25)

Gossip Girl, but replace the T-Mobile Sidekicks with handwritten letters and the headbands with delicate tiaras. If you thought mid-2000s private school teens delivered the drama, just wait until you see what the early 19th-century aristocracy has in store … 

Tiger King - Netflix

It’s weird to even classify this as a show at this point. Tiger King is a phenomenon, an early-quarantine cultural touchstone, a gateway for Carole Baskin to compete on Dancing with the Stars … 2020 is Tiger King. Tiger King is 2020.