by Akshata Atre
I watch (probably) way too much TV. So much so that I’m not even going to try to pull together a list of my top TV shows of all time. Instead, as we head into what’s most likely going to be a pretty brutal winter, I’d like to share a few of the best shows I’ve binged in the hell that is 2020. These shows have brought me a lot of comfort this year, and hopefully they can do the same for you!
Yes, Community is on Netflix now and yes, I think it’s worth the hype. Frankly, there’s not much more I can say about how great this show is, but if you’re a fan of late 2000s comedies, this is a can’t-miss. The writing & main cast are both fantastic, the storylines are so wonderfully bizarre without being too over-the-top, and even the xany side characters add so much depth to the world of Greendale Community College. And if you’ve ever felt that the half-hour sitcom is hindered by its time constraint of 21.5 minutes, Community is here to prove you wrong. Just maybe skip season 4. After all, there was a gas leak.
Alias Grace (Netflix)
I’m a sucker for period dramas, and this is only the first one on this list. Based on Margaret Atwood’s novel by the same name, Alias Grace is set in late nineteenth-century Canada and tells the pseudo-true story of convicted murderess Grace Marks. Overall, I thought the show held pretty true to Atwood’s novel, the few typical Hollywood changes aside. Sarah Gadon is fantastic in the role of Grace, her emotions perfectly calculated as she recounts her life story to Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), a psychiatrist tasked with proving her innocence. The cinematography is also stunning, and all the actors are wonderful-- I especially love Gadon’s Irish accent and Zachary Levi’s surprise appearance. Another bonus is how short the show is-- a mere six episodes, each one better than the next.
Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
Am I late to the party? 1000%. But what was extra fun about watching Peaky Blinders this summer was watching it with a friend over Zoom! Okay, maybe not that exciting, but this show definitely is. Another period drama-- set right after World War I-- Peaky Blinders follows the members of the Birmingham gang of the same name as they rebuild their underworld empire and rise to new heights of power and wealth. Gorgeous cinematography, gorgeous cast, amazing storylines, and also a very successful use of modern music to score a period drama. I seriously cannot recommend this show enough, but be warned: you will need subtitles, and also season 5 ends on a pretty big cliffhanger which, given the pandemic, will probably not be resolved until 2022. But there are always Reddit theories to tide you over until then.
The Inbetweeners (Netflix)
Every time I stumble on a UK TV show like the Inbetweeners, I wonder why we don’t have a good US equivalent, because I’m definitely missing like 50% of the culture-specific jokes in both The Inbetweeners and the similarly-styled Derry Girls. But regardless, this show is absolutely hilarious and provides such a great perspective on what it’s like to be the kind of teenager who’s not the focus of typical teen TV dramas. The show follows Will and his (forced) friends Simon, Neil, and Jay and their misadventures in English public school. The boys are all wonderfully idiotic and misguided in their outlook on life, and although their antics are cringy, the characters’ self awareness keeps the show from falling into “Scott’s Tots” territory. The show is also another quick watch, with just 18 20-ish minute episodes.
Upload (Amazon Prime)
If you love The Good Place and Black Mirror, Upload is like a perfect hybrid of the two. Created by Greg Daniels-- yes, that Greg Daniels, creator of the US The Office-- the show follows Nathan (Robbie Amell) through his death and subsequent “upload” to the digital afterlife of Lake View as he develops a friendship with his virtual “Angel” Nora and tries to figure out how he died. The best way I could describe this show is if you took “San Junipero” from Black Mirror, expanded it, made it funny, and added in an anti-capitalist subplot. Basically all the ingredients for an awesome sci-fi comedy.
Space Force (Netflix) Another one from Greg Daniels… AND Steve Carrell?! Space Force is about, well, just that: it’s a comedic interpretation of the United State’s newest military branch. Although you might expect a Netflix show chock-full of comedy heavy-hitters to be a disappointment like the trailer suggests, Space Force is actually well worth the watch. Steve Carrell and his co-star John Malkovich are fantastic, the writing is almost too on-the-nose, and Ben Schwartz plays a social media director. What more can I say? This is also another show that does a good job fleshing out its supporting cast, which I always think makes a show like ten times better. But also maybe wait until after the election to watch this one.
The IT Crowd (Netflix) Picking up on the theme of British TV yet? A widely-beloved classic, I have to admit I was initially turned off by the multi-cam plus laugh track set up of this show. But a couple of episodes in you quickly realize that the audience laughter is truly deserved, and the writing on this show is just fantastic. The daily lives of Roy, Moss, and Jen down in the basement IT Department of Reynholm Industries are so bizarre yet also true-to-life in an The Office-satire kind of way… this show is just plain great. I wish there were more episodes!! Also, the show has instilled in me an everlasting love for Richard Ayoade. And can you believe The IT Crowd was on the air at the same time as Community, The Inbetweeners, The Office, and Parks and Rec? I mean, come on.
The Babysitter’s Club (Netflix) This one’s for the nostalgia. I still remember checking out the Babysitter’s Club books from my elementary school library and reading them late into the night. While the show isn’t set in the 80s like the original novels were, it’s a very cute adaptation of the first few books in the series, and a very light watch-- I finished the whole show in a weekend. The cast is absolutely adorable, and I actually found the writing pretty funny. I think people who haven’t read the books would still like the show, but for fans of the original series (and maybe also the 1995 movie) it’s definitely a fun adaptation.
Happy viewing! :)