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The Best TV Series of 2020 So Far (And Where to Watch Them)

An ideal mix of returning favorites and new visions, here are 10 fascinating TV shows ready for you to stream right now.

Best TV of 2020 So Far

2020 is approaching the quarter mark, and there’s already plenty of TV series released this year that are worth some attention. As usual, the noteworthy shows in this great big mess of TV happen to be a cross-section of industry at large. Some shows are from cable stalwarts, while others are new favorites in the streaming world. (Thanks to some recent strategic brand synergy partnerships, some just happen to be both!)

So in the spirit of looking to highlight some of these quality series, we’ve assembled an opening round of 10 TV shows —some that have finished their seasons and some that are still ongoing — that we think are worth your time. A few are brand new 2020 debuts, while others are continuations of shows that are continuing their standout runs. (One show that recently wrapped its entire series this year — “BoJack Horseman” — is not on this list, but only because it’s an IndieWire list and at this point, it would probably make any best-of list we’d ever make.)

Our list isn’t exhaustive, but in a time when people might just be looking for newer viewing options, these are the shows from 2020 that are worth a first (or second) look. For each entry, we’ve also included the places where you can watch these seasons right now:

Better Call Saul

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill, Michael Mando as Nacho Varga - Better Call Saul _ Season 5 - Photo Credit: Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Bob Odenkirk and Michael Mando in “Better Call Saul”

Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

“Better Call Saul” has always been one of television’s most consistently excellent shows and Season 5 has been no different. The show’s contemplative and rare explosive moments are equally engaging, no matter if they’re about Kim Wexler’s mounting moral dilemmas, the Mexican cartel maneuverings that harken back to “Breaking Bad,” or Jimmy McGill’s latest outrageous (and legally dubious) stunt. “Better Call Saul” is a quieter, more slow-paced series than most of television’s heavy hitters and it’s a testament to the show’s impeccable writers that “Better Call Saul” manages to be so reliably entertaining despite the grim realities viewers know most of its characters are inevitability spiraling towards. —Tyler Hersko

(“Better Call Saul” is available to watch on AMC.)

Better Things

Better Things Season 4 "What's good, Shannon?" Episode 2 (Airs Thursday, March 5) -- Pictured: Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

Pamela Adlon in “Better Things”

Suzanne Tenner / FX

The life of Sam Fox keeps moving on. Whether it’s seeing the lives of her daughters accelerate at a speed she can’t recognize or the way her career sometimes moves at a crawl, “Better Things” always keeps a sense of momentum, even in its quietest moments. With Pamela Adlon returning both behind the camera and in front of it, Sam’s ongoing journey never moves in a straight line, but it’s one always worth following. In Season 4, Sam has almost resigned herself to the fact that she’ll never be 100 percent ready for her daughters’ new romances or discoveries or breakthroughs. It’s that kind of acceptance, though, that makes “Better Things” such an inviting watch. The audience now knows to expect the unexpected, whether it’s being stuck indoors on a rainy day or looking for a lost child on a shopping day or fighting for a friend on a day at the gym. There’s always a new surprise. —Steve Greene

(“Better Things” is available to watch on Hulu.)

Cheer

Cheer La'Darius Marshall Netflix

La’Darius Marshall in Netflix’s “Cheer

Courtesy of Netflix

The greatest documentary series teach you things you didn’t know and give you insight into the human condition that previously escaped you. Netflix’s “Cheer” does that, even if the insight you walk away with is just, “Whoa, competitive college cheerleading is more fucked up than I ever realized.” Helmed by Greg Whiteley (who also oversaw Netflix docuseries “Last Chance U”) “Cheer” plunges you into the world of Navarro College cheerleading where, like the sport itself, sometimes there’s someone there to make sure you have a safe, soft landing and other times there’s nothing waiting for you but the unforgiving hardwood gym floor. In the span of six hours, the series reveals the double-edged sword of a universe that allows marginalized individuals to fly higher than ever before, demanding only their fealty and young, lithe bodies, in exchange for a future that promises little beyond the confines of a community college and town that doesn’t even know they exist. “Cheer” is all the jaw-dropping spectacle of sport, the pageantry of, well, pageants, and the melodrama of burgeoning adulthood to make for excruciating, yet fulfilling entertainment you cannot look away from. —Libby Hill

(“Cheer” is available to watch on Netflix.)

Cherish the Day

Cherish the Day

“Cherish the Day”

OWN

If there’s one thing predictable about romance, it’s how unpredictable it can be, and that’s exactly how “Cherish the Day” approaches its dramatic shifts. it doesn’t tell an especially remarkable story, but that’s kind of the point. It centers on two people we are meant to instantly recognize, because they are us. It implies that the painful truth about love is that the real work of a relationship includes all the boring, dreary, unsexy stuff that often isn’t seen or appreciated. But what makes this Ava DuVernay series worth seeing is the writers’ care in developing characters and situations of infinitely greater credibility than those which litter the majority of today’s screen romances with black leads. The chemistry between Xosha Roquemore and Alano Miller is undeniable, and they embody their characters believably, in creating a rather sweet, sexy, realistic depiction of a modern romance. —Tambay Obenson

(“Cherish the Day” is available to watch on OWN.)

Devs

DEVS "Episode 1" (Airs Thursday, March 5) -- Pictured: Karl Glusman as Segei. CR: Miya Mizuno/FX

Devs

Miya Mizuno/FX

I’m not 100 percent sure I know what Alex Garland is doing with “Devs,” his new sci-fi mystery on FX on Hulu. Sonoya Mizuno plays Lily, a programmer working for shadowy tech billionaire Forest (Nick Offerman) who might be involved in her boyfriend’s disappearance. Within that basic set-up there’s discussion of the multiverse, surveillance, and (possibly) time travel — the typical Garland elements. If you enjoyed “Ex Machina” or “Annihilation,” then “Devs” holds a lot in common and that’s what keeps it so engaging. Mizuno captures the audience’s questions and fears, channeling them into a woman who is just as smart as Offerman’s mad genius. Watching the “devs” team (led by Allison Pill) work while discussing the finer points of everything from privacy to music adds some levity to all the pendulous foreboding. It’s a rabbit hole I’m certainly enjoying being led down. —Kristen Lopez

(“Devs” is available to watch on Hulu.)

Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE OKAY - "Giant Asian Mantises" - Matilda wants to get white-girl-wasted! Genevieve's low-key birthday party leaves Nicholas, Alex, and Matilda banished to the guest house. In the main house, Tellulah turns things up a notch. Nicholas is stuck being the responsible adult. This episode of "Everything's Gonna Be Okay" airs on Thursday, January 23, at 8:30p.m. ET/PT on Freeform. (Freeform/Mitch Haaseth)IVY WOLK, KAYLA CROMER, JOSH THOMAS, MAEVE PRESS, LORI MAE HERNANDEZ

“Everything’s Gonna Be Okay”

Freeform/Mitch Haaseth

Aside from the assurance of the title, one of the biggest takeaways from Josh Thomas’ new Freeform show is that it’s OK to laugh. Even as Nicholas (Thomas) and his sisters Matilda (Kayla Cromer) and Genevieve (Maeve Press) deal with a major loss, they’re able to find the humor in what the situation brings about. Relationship ups and downs, major life firsts, and some amateur entomology all come together to make a portrait of a family figuring it out as they go. Along the way, there’s no wasted energy, as the trio’s triumphs and shortcomings all seem to dovetail as they become a closer unit. The teens aren’t sure how exactly to be an adult and the adult isn’t exactly sure how to be a parent. The saving grace is that they all learn how to share the load — and the way that Thomas helps put all those pieces in place is bliss to watch. —Steve Greene

(“Everything’s Gonna Be Okay” is available to watch on Hulu.)

Gentefied

GENTEFIELD

Karrie Martin and Carlos Santos in “Gentefied”

Kevin Estrada/Netflix

Based on the web series of the same name and executive produced by America Ferrera, this stylish comedy follows a Mexican American family weathering gentrification as they struggle to keep their neighborhood taco shop afloat. Set in Los Angeles’ rapidly gentrifying Boyle Heights neighborhood, the cleverly titled “Gentefied” tackles uncomfortable issues with a no-holds-barred passion and heaping ladles of joy. Creators Linda Yvette Chavez and Marvin Lemus never lose sight of their community, covering a wide range of human stories that are equal parts entertaining and moving. —Jude Dry

(“Gentefied” is available to watch on Netflix.)

The New Pope

The New Pope John Malkovich HBO

John Malkovich in “The New Pope”

Gianni Fiorito/HBO

Paolo Sorrentino’s return to the Vatican didn’t exactly take the easy path to glory. Not only was the Young Pope (Jude Law) relegated to supporting duty, but the eponymous New Pope was a melancholy, fragile, old Englishman — the very opposite of his predecessor, and thus no longer custom-made to set the internet ablaze. And yet Sorrentino, who wrote and directed every episode, finds exciting new eccentricities for John Malkovich’s lead character, including a penchant for outlandish fashion choices and a vain fascination with celebrities. (He’s Meghan Markle’s go-to fashion advisor and holds meeting with Marilyn Manson and Sharon Stone in the Vatican.) There’s also a great deal of empathy to be shared with Sir John Brannix, whose focus on helping the weak stems from his own perceived delicacy, making for an ideal spiritual counter to Lenny Belardo’s Old Testament papacy. By the time Law’s pope returns, Sorrentino has established equal footing between the two men, making for an enticing and enlightening meeting of the pious minds. Yes, “The New Pope” is built on the back of “The Young Pope,” and Law’s presence — as well as Sorrentino’s well-established sense of humor — help elevate the follow-up season for devout viewers. But how well this fresh entry stands on its own merits makes it all the more worthy of praise. —Ben Travers

(“The New Pope” is available to watch on HBOGO.)

Sanditon

Sanditon Rose William Theo James

“Sanditon” on PBS’ Masterpiece

PBS

The PBS Masterpiece Theater adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinished final novel “Sanditon” is definitely a sexed-up TV version of courtship in Regency England — and that’s a good thing. This take — from executive producer Andrew Davies, who also wrote the 1995 Colin Firth-emerging-from-a-lake BBC version of “Pride & Prejudice” — first aired on ITV last summer in the U.K., and attracted a fair amount of pearl-clutching from traditionalists aghast at frequent allusions to, well, sex. Which, c’mon: What do you think all those sudden trips to Gretna Green in every Austen novel ever were all about? Not taking the country air, that’s for sure. The spirit of this “Sanditon” is beachy escapism, and this version offers a swoony take that should enrapture modern audiences. —Ann Donahue

(“Sanditon” is available to watch on The Masterpiece Amazon Prime Channel.)

Sex Education

Sex Education

Emma Mackey and Asa Butterfield in “Sex Education” Season 2

Netflix

Who knew a TV show could make you remember how it felt to fall in love for the first time? Those confusing butterflies, ignited by a single moment of eye contact, sending you into a tailspin of raging hormones and insecurities? Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound so great, but in Laurie Nunn’s charming and progressive high school-set series, it’s downright revelatory. “Sex Education” follows a teenage boy doling out sex therapy to his classmates for a modest fee, aided by his unrequited (or maybe not?) crush. His precocious amounts of intuition and empathy he no doubt learned from his therapist mother, who is played within an inch of her life by an impeccably dressed Gillian Anderson. The show addresses relevant sexual and mental health issues in a fun and honest way most teenagers are not getting at home or at school. More than that, it’s wildly entertaining, stunning to look at, and brimming with heart. —Jude Dry

(“Sex Education” is available to watch on Netflix.)

If you’re looking for more 2020 series that might catch your eye, you can sift through a complete compendium of our TV reviews for the year here

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