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 12/4/20

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MANK (CREDIT: Netflix)

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

Movies
Godmothered (December 4 on Disney+)
Mank (December 4 on Netflix) – Fincher on Mankiewicz.
Mulan (December 4 on Disney+, without the premium fee)
Let Them All Talk (December 10 on HBO Max) – Soderbergh directs Streep-Bergen-Wiest on a cruise.

TV
Big Mouth Season 4 (December 4 on Netflix)
MTV Movie & TV Awards: Greatest of All Time Special (December 6 on MTV)

Music
-Arctic Monkeys, Live at the Royal Albert Hall

The 53 Best TV Shows of 2019

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Amazon; Disney; Pamela Littky/FOX; Rhys Thomas/IFC

Under the known laws of physics, it is currently impossible to watch every TV show (or even just every good show) airing new episodes in a given year. But for those of us who treat televisual consumption as a transcendent pursuit, we do our best to fit in as many programs as possible, which means that there are more than ten or even twenty shows worth recognizing in an annual best-of list. So this year, I decided to rank as many shows as I thought were worthy of recognition and provide blurbs for the ones where I really needed to say something.

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 10/4/19

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CREDIT: Netflix

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

Movies
Joker (Theatrically Nationwide) – Worth checking out to have your own reaction.
Lucy in the Sky (Limited Theatrically) – Lucy! I’m home, in space!
Pain and Glory (Limited Theatrically)

TV
Big Mouth Season 3 (October 4 on Netflix)
Mr. Robot Season 4 Premiere (October 6 on USA) – The final season unfolds over Christmas.
Riverdale Season 4 Premiere (October 9 on The CW)
Nancy Drew Series Premiere (October 9 on The CW)

Best TV Episodes of 2018

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CREDIT: Guy D’Alema/FX/FX Networks

If you’re still catching up on the best TV of 2018, the following playlist would be a great way to go about it.

1. Atlanta, “Teddy Perkins”
2. Saturday Night Live, Donald Glover/Childish Gambino
3. Atlanta, “Barbershop”
4. Mystery Science Theater 3000, “Mac and Me”
5. Big Mouth, “The Planned Parenthood Show”
6. BoJack Horseman, “The Showstopper”
7. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Solves the Bathroom Problem”
8. The Assassination of Gianni Versace, “A Random Killing”
9. Barry, “Chapter Eight: Know Your Truth”
10. Pose, “Giving and Receiving”
11. Joe Pera Talks With You, “Joe Pera Talks to You About the Rat Wars of Alberta, Canada (1950–Present Day)”
12. BoJack Horseman, “Mr. Peanutbutter’s Boos”
13. Murphy Brown, “Thanksgiving and Taking”
14. Atlanta, “Woods”
15. Murphy Brown, “#MurphyToo”
16. Better Call Saul, “Winner”
17. The Last O.G., “Swipe Right”
18. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Mac Finds His Pride”
19. South Park, “A Boy and a Priest”
20. Sharp Objects, “Milk”

Best TV Episodes of 2017

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CREDIT: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

These episodes of television all originally aired in North America between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. I watched them, and I enjoyed doing so. I bet you will feel the same while watching them … if you haven’t already.

1. Twin Peaks: The Return – “Part 8”
2. Nathan for You – “The Anecdote”
3. Halt and Catch Fire – “Who Needs a Guy”
4. Nathan for You – “Finding Frances”
5. Rick and Morty – “Morty’s Mind Blowers”
6. Better Call Saul – “Chicanery”
7. Halt and Catch Fire – “Ten of Swords”
8. Black Mirror – “Hang the DJ”
9. Twin Peaks: The Return – “Part 17”
10. Halt and Catch Fire – “Goodwill”
11. Twin Peaks: The Return – “Part 18”
12. Mr. Robot – “eps3.4_runtime-error.r00”
13. Review – “Cryogenics; Lightning; Last Review”
14. The Good Place – “Dance Dance Resolution”
15. Great News – “Honeypot!”
16. Big Mouth – “Requiem for a Wet Dream”
17. Rick and Morty – “The Ricklantis Mixup”
18. Mr. Robot – “eps3.7_dont-delete-me.ko”
19. BoJack Horseman – “Time’s Arrow”
20. Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories – “Angel Man”