The Best TV Shows of the 2020s So Far

The Best TV Shows of the 2020s So Far

June 18, 2024

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In this dynamic era of storytelling, the 2020s have already gifted us with a plethora of groundbreaking and unforgettable shows that have changed the landscape of TV. These shows have taken the small screen by storm with their compelling narratives, nuanced characters, more accessibility to new talent, and stunning production values, leaving us yearning for more. Explore this collection that showcases the unrivaled power of television to ignite our imaginations and leave an indelible mark on our cultural landscape.

11. Pantheon

best

8.7

Country

United States of America

Actors

Aaron Eckhart, Chris Diamantopoulos, Daniel Dae Kim, Katie Chang

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Challenging, Character-driven

Sci-fi is already a pretty wild genre. Anything can happen in this fantasy world, so it takes a special kind of skill to make a new entry seem original once more. But Pantheon throughout its eight-episode run manages to be just that thanks to its resonant storytelling, inventive editing, and brilliant, heartfelt premise. 

The scope of the story is as wide as it is wild: it’s about the unregulated rise of “uploaded intelligence,” after all, where human minds are fully uploaded and digitized for corporate use. Global tech companies are in an arms race to transform this discovery into weaponry, as they are wont to do, without giving mind to the human and environmental costs. Challenging them is the unlikely duo of Maddy and Caspian (Katie Chang and Paul Dano, respectively) who, as direct victims of this greed, have more than a few grievances to express. 

It’s exciting to see how far the dystopia of Pantheon goes, but anytime it flies too high, it’s always grounded by the fleshed-out humanity of Maddy and Caspian. The series runs on their self-discovery and existential crises as much as it does on extraordinary circumstances. Expect to shed a tear or two while watching this series. 

12. The White Lotus

best

8.6

Country

United States, United States of America

Actors

Adam DiMarco, Alexandra Daddario, Aubrey Plaza, Beatrice Grannò

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Funny, Grown-up Comedy

The White Lotus follows a group of vacationing tourists in Hawaii who, in their wealth and entitlement, get into some pretty horrific (but largely entertaining) mishaps. It’s always fun to satirize the rich, but what really gives The White Lotus its edge is a brilliant understanding of the trickle-down dangers of privilege. We’re made to witness the uncomfortable ways in which the service industry twists itself to accommodate the guests, and how time and again these efforts are lost to the upper class. Biting, witty, and relevant, The White Lotus effortlessly stands out in the recent slew of class consciousness content. 

13. Fleishman Is in Trouble

best

8.6

Country

United States of America

Actors

Adam Brody, Claire Danes, Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan

Moods

A-list actors, Binge-Worthy, Character-driven

Plenty of things go on between love and separation, marriage and divorce. There is the pleasant high of intimacy, the devastating low of heartbreak, the frustration of misunderstanding, and the bliss of friendship. Fleishman is in Trouble explores all this from the point of view of recent divorcees Toby and Rachel Fleishman, but interestingly, this POV is narrated by their friend, Libby. The result is a multifaceted take on love, entertaining and enlightening in its nuance. Based on the bestselling book by essayist Taffy Brodesser-Akner, the series is also strikingly written. Whether it’s Libby’s storytelling you’re hearing, Toby’s witticisms, or Rachel’s dagger-sharp remarks, prepare to cry and laugh in equal measure.  

In a case of perfect casting, Jesse Eisenberg plays the neurotic Toby, Claire Danes his unhappy wife, and Lizzy Caplan their quick-witted friend. Other sitcom greats make appearances too, like Adam Brody and Josh Radnor, making Fleishman Is in Trouble highly watchable on all fronts. 

14. Blue Eye Samurai

best

8.6

Country

France, United States of America

Actors

Brenda Song, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Darren Barnet, George Takei

Moods

Action-packed, Binge-Worthy, Challenging

Starting off the series with slicing off fingers, Blue Eye Samurai is a thrilling action series that brings back samurai sword wielding in such a gorgeous fashion. Reminiscent of the classics, the animated series is centered on its titular warrior, whose blue eyes set them apart from society. She dedicates herself to a lifelong revenge journey, with gruesome sword fights, all to kill the four white men who could have been her father. And while she takes some side quests to her journey, missions that make her question the path she took, these seemingly straightforward fights slowly uncover the woman she became, and the pain inflicted upon those who can’t help but be different. It’s an action-packed spectacle, but it’s also an unflinching examination of trauma, and possibly one of the best animated releases from Netflix this year.

15. Chernobyl

best

8.5

Country

Lithuania, UK, United Kingdom

Actors

Adam Nagaitis, Adrian Rawlins, Alan Williams, Alex Ferns

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Intense, Mini-series

It’s a near-impossible feat to turn something as tragic and devastating as the Chernobyl disaster into a gripping and enlightening tale, but the HBO miniseries does just that. Through insightful storytelling, affecting performances, and sharp dialogue, Chernobyl the show stuns viewers into awareness and, at its best, galvanizes them into action. 

It’s a well-crafted five-hour series that does just enough in the way of humanizing a distorted reality, bringing to light the all-too-relevant consequences of power plays and placing the interests of the political elite and national image over real, human lives.

16. Only Murders in the Building

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Aaron Dominguez, Amy Ryan, Cara Delevingne, Martin Short

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Funny

Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, and Martin Short star in this fun series about three strangers who suddenly find themselves in the middle of a murder scene. As true crime fans, they form an unexpected bond and run an investigation—all while recording a podcast. In between funny and poignant bits, they soon realize a murderer might be among them; they attempt to get to the truth of the matter before it’s too late.

Martin, Gomez, and Short make for an endearing bumbling trio of detectives, and with great charm and balance, Only Murders in the Building succeeds in serving mystery, empathy, and true delight in short-but-sweet episodes.

17. The Good Lord Bird

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Beau Knapp, Daveed Diggs, Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke

Moods

A-list actors, Action-packed, Challenging

It’s often said that history is told by the victors. Thankfully, this isn’t the case in The Good Lord Bird, which tracks the tumultuous events preceding the Civil War, as led by real-life abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke). 

Some viewers might already be familiar with the story of how Brown “saved” slaves, but with Black teenager Henry (Joshua Caleb Johnson) as the narrator, history is repositioned and recounted through a fresh new lens. Nuanced questions about slavery, abolition, and even the revered Brown himself are brought up by Henry and his kin, such as: how much of the movement is driven by justice and how much of it by guilt? Should the white savior be absolved or are his intentions inevitably marred by ego?

Accompanying this thought-provoking tale are richly detailed costumes and backdrops, impressive cameos by historical and celebrity figures, and of course, career-defining performances by Hawke and newcomer Johnson. 

18. Bad Sisters

best

8.5

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Actors

Anne-Marie Duff, Brian Gleeson, Claes Bang, Daryl McCormack

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Easy, Grown-up Comedy

Bad Sisters is an Irish miniseries that is part romance, part murder mystery, and all-around cheeky, bold fun. It follows the Garveys, five sisters who’ve developed a tight bond after the untimely death of their parents. They protect each other mainly from their brother-in-law John Paul, whose antics have become increasingly threatening and toxic over the years.

The series is very much in the vein of Big Little Lies, Dead to Me, and Good Girls, where women who’ve kept up with so much for so long finally let loose in a fit of violent rampage. But Bad Sisters narrowly escapes cliches thanks to a winning ensemble and deft handling of its weighty subject matter.

19. Acapulco

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Camila Perez, Damián Alcázar, Enrique Arrizon, Eugenio Derbez

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Funny

There is an art to making a comedy that can be enjoyed by all ages—a balance must be kept between mature and genial humor, serious and unserious matters—and it’s an art that Acapulco manages to execute with finesse. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re a kid looking for a good story or an adult wishing to drive by memory lane. 

The colors are vibrant, the characters are alive, and the plot, while familiar, is charming nonetheless. But perhaps the best thing about Acapulco is its call for viewers to be kind. It’s never explicit or preachy about it; it just comes naturally, by way of practice.

20. The Serpent Queen

best

8.5

Country

United States of America

Actors

Amrita Acharia, Barry Atsma, Beth Goddard, Danny Kirrane

Moods

Binge-Worthy, Character-driven, Dark

Despite being released amid a deluge of period dramas and biopics, Starz’s  The Serpent Queen, which follows Catherine de’ Medici’s rise from Italian servant to Queen of France, is a strong standout in today’s streaming fare. 

By balancing modern storytelling (expect poppy needle drops and fourth-wall breaks a la Fleabag) and historical realism (the costume and production design are as accurate and detailed as any thoughtful production), The Serpent Queen manages to have a genuinely fresh take on the historical drama. It’s also refreshing in its refusal to sugarcoat history’s crude ways, so despite its modern feel, don’t be too surprised to see 13-year-olds bedded and bodies graphically pulled apart by horses.

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