The Best Podcasts of 2020, According to jmunney’s Ears

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Any ranking of the best entertainment of the year is necessarily incomplete and represents the personal proclivities of the ranker, and that’s especially true in the case of podcasts. I listen to more podcasts than anyone I know personally (by a wide margin), but that’s still less than approximately 0.0001% of all the podcasts out there. So for my Best Podcasts of 2020 feature, I decided to make it particularly personal by listing ALL the podcasts that I listened to in the past year, because they’re all special, and all worth shouting out. I’ve organized them into a few categories: 2020 Debuts, Veterans, a few specialty categories that you’ll discover when you get to them, and Podcasts That I Host.

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The Best TV Episodes of 2020

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(CREDIT: FX/YouTube Screenshot)

When making Best Episode lists, some TV critics limit themselves to one entry per show, but I never operate by that self-imposition, as certain shows are just masterful when crafting a single hour or half-hour (or whatever runtime they feel like using), and that ought to be reflected in the ledger. So you’ll find that several shows have wound up more than once in this list, and those tended to be the ones that also fared the best on my Best Shows of 2020 list. You’ll also find at least one program that didn’t make my Best Shows list, as it’s possible to have one excellent outing within an otherwise disappointing season. So forthwith, if someone who missed all TV in 2020 asked me for a refresher, here is where I would direct them:

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The 67 Best TV Shows of 2020

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Clockwise from Top Left: What We Do in the Shadows, Never Have I Ever, Better Call Saul, How To with John Wilson (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots)

Last year, I decided to rank as many TV shows as I felt like recognizing in my year-end list, and that worked out so well that I decided to do it again for 2020. So welcome to my ranking of the 67 Best TV Shows of 2020! Not every show is accompanied by a blurb, just the ones that I felt like I really needed to say something about.

I worked with a self-imposed rule that I had to have watched at least 50% of a show’s 2020 output for it to be eligible, but there were some shows that I’ve only just begun to watch that I wanted to recognize as well, so they’ve got their own Honorable Mention section. And there were also some shows that aired relatively few episodes in 2020 to the point that I didn’t think they should be eligible either, so they’ve also got an Honorable Mention section. And then there’s one more show that’s managed to establish its very own Honorable Mention section, and that’s where we start.

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 8/28/20

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A.P BIO — “Disgraced” Episode 302 — Pictured: (l-r) Glenn Howerton as Jack Griffin, Allisyn Snyder as Heather — (CREDIT: Chris Haston/Peacock)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
The New Mutants (Theaters) – I’m still not convinced this long-delayed movie is actually coming out! (Or that it’s safe to go to the theater yet.)
Bill & Ted Face the Music (Theaters and On Demand)

TV
A.P. Bio Season 3 (September 3 on Peacock) – One of the funniest sitcoms out there right now!

Music on TV
-2020 MTV Video Music Awards (August 30 on MTV)

Music
-Disclosure, Energy
-Dua Lipa, Club Future Nostalgia: The Remix Album
-Katy Perry, Smile

Jmunney’s 2019 Emmy Wish List, Part 1: Comedy

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CREDIT: Scott Patrick Green/Netflix

The 2019 Emmy nominations will be announced on July 16, and as that annual occasion approaches, I typically put together my own list of which shows and performers I would like to see recognized. But I’ve had some mixed feelings about that this year, as I’ve grappled with the fact that in the era of Peak TV, it becomes more and more impossible to capture all my favorites in one place. Ultimately I decided I wouldn’t be too formal or too precious about it. If there are ten shows I really want to see nominated, then I’ll list ten on my wish list. But if there are just two I really like in another category, then I’ll just list two.

I’m kicking things off today with Comedy. Before I get to my selections, I’ve got some thoughts to share, mainly about the new entrants. Among freshman shows, The Other Two mixed affecting family dynamics with the silliness of fame, while What We Do in the Shadows was just so wonderfully goofy. But it’s a couple of sadly cancelled high school-set sophomore shows that have my most love: Netflix’s poopy mockumentary American Vandal and NBC’s sharp and lovable A.P. Bio.

Among the actors, Young Sheldon‘s ensemble has really been a welcome part of my weekly life, and with that in mind, it’s been a while since either the Academy or I have recognized Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory, and you know what? I’m going to recognize him for his final year. Among names that you may not recognize (yet), let’s all keep in mind What We Do in the Shadows‘ Kayvan Novak for our future comedy endeavors.

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. My top choices are in bold.

Outstanding Comedy
American Vandal
A.P. Bio
Barry
GLOW
The Goldbergs
The Good Place
Jane the Virgin
The Last O.G.
The Other Two
Speechless
What We Do in the Shadows

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‘A.P. Bio’ Has a Striking Amount of ‘Community’ DNA

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CREDIT: NBC

Over the past few months, the delightful high school-set sitcom A.P. Bio has become one of my favorite shows on the air, but then NBC went a little cuckoo and cancelled it. There’s been some effort on the part of the cast, crew, and fans to find the show a new home, but unless that happens, we will have to be satisfied with two short-but-sweet seasons.

One of the reasons I love A.P. Bio so much is because it shares a lot of DNA with my favorite show of all time, which would be Community, another former NBC sitcom that was constantly on the brink of cancellation (though unlike A.P. Bio, it kept beating the renewal odds). Their premises and central characters are strikingly similar. In Community, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is a high-powered lawyer who gets disbarred and must enroll at a community college. Meanwhile, A.P. Bio stars Glenn Howerton as Jack Griffin, a disgraced Harvard philosophy professor who is forced to take a lowly part-time teaching job at a high school in Toledo, Ohio.

As I watched and grew to love A.P. Bio, I kept noticing more and more Community similarities, to the point that I could detect analogues for all the major characters. So I’ve assembled below a side-by-side comparison of the Greendale Human Beings and their corresponding Whitlock Rams. Enjoy, and let me know if you need help reacting to riding that ram.

(Thank you to my fellow commenters at the AV Club and Disqus for helping me out with these comparisons!)

Jack (Glenn Howerton) = Jeff (Joel McHale)

CREDIT: YouTube

The protagonists who try to act above it all but eventually embrace the crazy scholastic ecosystems they’ve become an integral part of.

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