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The 20 Netflix Original Series to Be Excited About in 2020

Netflix's big deals look to pay off in 2020 with new shows from Damien Chazelle, Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes, Steve Carell, and Mindy Kaling.

Netflix 2020 Preview Shonda Rhimes Steve Carell Ryan Murphy

Shonda Rhimes, Steve Carell, and Ryan Murphy

Chelsea Lauren / Eric Charbonneau/ Stephen Lovekin/Variety/Shutterstock

Netflix is leaning into its strengths in 2020. Not only is the streaming giant pumping out dozens, if not hundreds of new shows, but many of their original series meet the demand illustrated by past successes or fill holes left by departing favorites.

So is there a new “Stranger Things” on the horizon? Perhaps a worthy follow-up to “Orange Is the New Black?” What about a replacement for syndicated sitcoms like “The Office” and “Friends”? You better believe Netflix is working to give subscribers what they want, and the below 2020 preview should illustrate exactly that.

With more competition than ever from Disney and Apple, and even more services on the way (hello HBO Max and Peacock), 2020 will be a critical year for the current king of streaming. So here’s what they’re working with:

“Locke and Key”

Release Date: Friday, February 7
Cast: Darby Stanchfield, Jackson Robert Scott, Connor Jessup, Emilia Jones, Bill Heck, Laysla De Oliveira, Thomas Mitchell Barnet, and Griffin Gluck
Writers: Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill (co-showrunners), Aron Eli Coleite, Joe Hill
Directors: Michael Morris (pilot), Vincenzo Natali, Tim Southam, Mark Tonderai, Dawn Wilkinson

A murdered father. Magic keys. Demons. These are just a few of the core elements in Netflix’s “Locke & Key,” a fantasy drama series based on Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s comic of the same name. After three orphaned siblings move to an old house in Maine, they discover a set of keys that bestows them with a “vast array of powers and abilities” (per Netflix’s synopsis). Little do they know a demon covets the keys, and a battle for their ownership ensues. The original comic involves time-hopping stories that date back to the American Revolution, as well as key names like “Animal Key” (which allows the user to turn into an animal) and “Angel Key” (which lets the user take flight). Following the success of “The Umbrella Academy” — another show offering a large ensemble of teen actors who gain superhuman abilities — Netflix is undoubtedly hoping “Locke & Key” scratches that same itch for subscribers.

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“Gentefied”

America Ferrera poses after announcing the nominations for the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Pacific Design Center, in West Hollywood, Calif. The show will be held on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Los Angeles26th Annual SAG Awards - Nominations, West Hollywood, USA - 11 Dec 2019

America Ferrera

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA (expected in Spring 2020)
Cast: Joaquín Cosío, Karrie Martin, JJ Soria, and Carlos Santos
Writers: Linda Yvette Chávez & Marvin Lemus (co-creators), Monica Macer (showrunner)
Director: Marvin Lemus (pilot)

Produced by America Ferrera from a 2017 web series that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, “Gentefied” follows three cousins as they try to save their late grandfather’s Boyle Heights taco shop. Through the lens of three disparate family members and the community they’re trying to connect with, the half-hour dramatic comedy explores individuals’ sexuality as much as Latinx heritage, tackling intimate personal issues and rising American challenges (like gentrification). Given the similarities to Starz’s excellent series “Vida” — about two distanced sisters who come together to save their late mother’s east side bar — “Gentefied” has a lot to live up to, but we’re excited to hear what this group has to say.

“Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker”

Octavia Spencer'Truth Be Told' TV show premiere, Arrivals, Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Los Angeles, USA - 11 Nov 2019

Octavia Spencer

Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

Release Date: Friday, March 20
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Blair Underwood, Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejogo, Kevin Carroll
Writers: Elle Johnson & Janine Sherman Barrois (co-showrunners), Nicole Jefferson Asher
Directors: Kasi Lemmons and DeMane Davis

So you’ve got an Oscar winner in Octavia Spencer as your star and executive producer; the NBA’s most successful superstar LeBron James is working behind the camera; “Tuca & Bertie” voice and stand-up comedy breakout Tiffany Haddish is right next to Spencer, and the rest of your cast is made up of top-tier TV talent like Carmen Ejogo (“The Girlfriend Experience”), Kevin Carroll (“The Leftovers”), and Blair Underwood (“Dear White People”). This should be all you need to know in order to start bingeing “Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker,” and it’s before we even get to the basic premise: Based on the biography “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker,” written by Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, the four-part series tracks the rise of Sarah Breedlove, a small town girl who built a business empire by marketing hair and beauty products to black women during the late 1800s. At the time of her death in 1919, Breedlove (aka Madame C.J. Walker) was the wealthiest self-made woman in America. In the capable hands of Spencer — who’s known for producing “Fruitvale Station” and “Green Book,” in addition to her onscreen performances — “Self-Made” seems like a home run.

Space Force

Steve Carell92Y presents Steve Carell, New York, USA - 20 Dec 2018

Steve Carell at the 92Y in December 2018

Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA (expected in Spring 2020)
Cast: Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Diana Silvers, Ben Schwartz, Tawny Newsome, Noah Emmerich, Jimmy O. Yang
Writers: Greg Daniels (showrunner and co-creator), Steve Carell (co-creator)
Directors: Paul King (pilot), Tom Marshall

This isn’t a replacement for “The Office”… except it’s pretty much a replacement for “The Office.” As the beloved NBC workplace comedy moves from Netflix to its new home on Peacock, the good folks at the world’s leading streaming giant are doing what they do best: making new content. Steve Carell stars in Greg Daniels’ next workplace comedy about a group of people tasked with creating the sixth branch of the armed services — Space Force. And Daniels has quite the resume: Not only did he create the American “Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” but the veteran comedy writer was a key creative force on “King of the Hill” and produced “The Simpsons” for five years during the ’90s (aka peak “Simpsons”). Expectations are sky high for Daniels’ Netflix debut and Carell’s first starring television role since he made Michael Scott into an icon. It’s unlikely “Space Force” is simply “The Office” in space… except it sure does sound like “The Office” in space.

The Eddy

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Amandla Stenberg and Andre Holland in “The Eddy”

Lou Faulon / Netflix

Release Date: TBA (expected in Spring 2020)
Cast: André Holland, Amandla Stenberg, Joanna Kulig, Alexis Manenti, Ouassini Embarek, Liah O’Prey, Afida Thari, Damian Nueva Cortes, Leïla Bekhti, Leïla Bekhti, Randy Kerber, Tahar Rahim, Adil Dehbi, Sopico Sidali, Tchecky Karyo, Benjamin Biolay
Writers: Duncan McMillan, Hamid Hiloua, Jack Thorne
Directors: Damien Chazelle, Houda Benyamina, Laila Marrakchi, Alan Poul

Speaking of creators returning to welcome territory, “La La Land” writer-director Damien Chazelle scats back into a jazz club for “The Eddy,” a new drama series set in modern-day Paris that follows the owner and his house band as they navigate their city’s dangerous streets. Chazelle is directing and producing, while songwriter Glen Ballard and composer Randy Kerber provide original music for stars André Holland (“The Knick”) and Amandla Stenberg (“The Hate U Give”). Shot in Paris with dialogue in French, English, and Arabic, Chazelle’s first foray into television isn’t far-removed from his most beloved movies — and that’s just fine by me.

“Cursed”

Cursed Netflix Katherine Langford

Katherine Langford in “Cursed”

Netflix

Release Date: TBA (expected in Spring 2020)
Cast: Katherine Langford, Devon Terrell, Ella Prebble, Florence Hunt, Gustaf Skarsgård
Writers: Frank Miller, Tom Wheeler (co-creators)
Directors: Zetna Fuentes (pilot), Jon East, Daniel Nettheim, Sarah O’Gorman

Katherine Langford need not toss a coin to “The Witcher” — “Cursed” got the green light long before Henry Cavill’s monster-hunting series turned into a surprise hit — but her first series after “13 Reasons Why” will have to match the fairly high, very weird bar set by Netflix’s last fantasy epic. Based on Tom Wheeler and Frank Miller’s illustrated novel of the same name, “Cursed” is a re-imagination of the Arthurian legend, told through the eyes of Nimue (Langford), a teenage heroine with a mysterious gift who is destined to become the powerful (and tragic) Lady of the Lake. After her mother’s death, she finds an unexpected partner in Arthur (Devon Terrell), a humble merchant, in a quest to find Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgård) and deliver an ancient sword. Netflix is hoping its latest teen-centric series connects with general audiences (given it’s a coming-of-age story) as well as fantasy aficionados (given there’s a wizard named Merlin), creating another multi-quadrant hit. One question: Does Nimue have a bard, and is his/her/their songs better than Dandelion’s?

“Hollywood”

Darren Criss arrives at GQ's Men of the Year Celebration, in West Hollywood, Calif2019 GQ's Men of the Year Celebration, West Hollywood, USA - 05 Dec 2019

Darren Criss

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Release Date: May 1, 2020
Cast: Darren Criss, Patti LuPone, Dylan McDermott, Jim Parsons, Holland Taylor, Maude Apatow, Samara Weaving, Rob Reiner, Mira Sorvino
Writers: Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan
Directors: Ryan Murphy (pilot), Janet Mock

Ryan Murphy’s Netflix mega-deal officially begins with “Hollywood.” Yes, the acclaimed producer behind “American Horror Story” and “Feud” already debuted his first Netflix original series — the Golden Globe nominated comedy, “The Politician” — and his “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” prequel, “Ratched,” also got the green light before this, but his “love letter to the Golden Age of Tinseltown” is the super-producer’s first series for the streamer that’s not bannered under 20th Century Fox. Does that mean there’s more pressure on Murphy to deliver a hit? Not really. Netflix would love to see this starry endeavor filled with Murphy favorites take off, but a hit is a hit — what really matters is that “Hollywood” makes a bit more buzz than “The Politician,” which didn’t quite capture the zeitgeist last fall.

“#BlackExcellence”

Kenya Barris30th Annual Producers Guild Awards, Show, The Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles, USA - 19 Jan 2019

Kenya Barris

Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutterstock

Release Date: (expected in Spring 2020)
Cast: Rashida Jones, Kenya Barris, Iman Benson, Scarlet Spencer, Justin Claiborne, Genneya Walton
Writers: Kenya Barris (creator)

Kenya Barris moves in front of the camera for the first time in his first Netflix original series, “#BlackExcellence.” The “Black-ish” creator has found loads of success behind the camera,  writing features like “Girls Trip” and the latest “Shaft” film, but don’t worry: He’s still writing and producing his latest family sitcom offering current discussions of relationships, race, culture, and, yes, parenting. But now the man behind Dre Johnson’s style will try to illicit the same comedic charms himself. Not only that, but he’s starring alongside Rashida Jones, so you better bring your A-game Mr. Barris. Rashida Jones can carry this whole thing herself.

“Jupiter’s Legacy”

Josh Duhamel30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, Arrivals, The Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles, USA - 28 Mar 2019

Josh Duhamel

David Buchan/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA (expected in Summer 2020)
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Leslie Bibb, Ben Daniels, Elena Kampouris, Mike Wade, Matt Lanter, Tenika Davis, Andrew Horton
Writers: Mark Millar (author), Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Directors: Steven S. DeKnight (pilot), Charlotte Brändström, Christopher J. Byrne

Being “Watchmen’s” second act sounds like a first-rate nightmare for any upcoming superhero series, but “Jupiter’s Legacy” is looking to put its own spin on the genre. Just as HBO’s “This Extraordinary Being” (Episode 6) served as an origin story for crimefighters in tights, Netflix’s adaptation of Mark Millar’s comic tracks the world’s first generation of superheroes, who received their powers in the 1930s. That being said, “Jupiter’s Legacy” isn’t really an origin story. It’s about living in the shadow of giants. After become living legends, the O.G. heroes (played by Josh Duhamel and Leslie Bibb) have to face a brand new challenge as their superpowered children struggle to live up to the legendary feats of their parents. Steven S. DeKnight (“Daredevil”) was the original showrunner before leaving the series over creative differences, but “Jupiter’s Legacy” is the first in a full slate of Millar adaptations planned by the streamer, so don’t expect them to let a solitary speed bump slow down this train. There are lots of superhero stories left to tell.

“Bridgerton”

Shonda RhimesVariety Studio, Presented by Inscape & iSpot TV, Day 3, Cannes, France - 20 Jun 2019

Shonda Rhimes

John Salangsang/Variety/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA 2020
Cast: Julie Andrews, Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Bessie Carter, Sabrina Bartlett, Claudia Jessie, Harriet Cains, Jonathan Bailey, Nicola Coughlan, Luke Thompson
Writers: Chris Van Dusen (showrunner), Shonda Rhimes (EP), Betsy Beers (EP), Janet Lin, Abby McDonald, Julia Quinn
Directors: Sheree Folkson, Alrick Riley, Julie Anne Robinson,Tom Verica

We’ve already written everything you need to know about “Bridgerton” right here, but in case you haven’t heard, this is a big title for Netflix. Not only is it Shonda Rhimes’ first show under her aptly expensive mega-deal, but the new drama is based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling series of novels and set in the sexy, lavish, and competitive world of Regency London high society. That’s right: It’s a hoity toity period drama with all the juicy trappings of a nighttime soap! And somehow Julie Andrews is involved, which seems extra nuts. Read on for more. Just make sure you’re prepped for this one when it lands in mid-2020.

“The Baby-Sitters Club”

US actress Alicia Silverstone arrives for The Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in Central London, Britain, 02 December 2019. The awards showcases individuals and businesses that have contributed to the British fashion industry.The Fashion Awards, London, United Kindgom - 02 Dec 2019

Alicia Silverstone

WILL OLIVER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA 2020
Cast: Mark Feuerstein, Alicia Silverstone
Writers: Rachel Shukert (showrunner)
Director: Lucia Aniello (pilot)

Based on Ann M. Martin’s cult-classic coming-of-age novels, “The Baby-Sitter’s Club” is a 10-episode live-action series about five best friends living in Connecticut as middle schoolers. Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn start their own babysitting business to support their preteen antics, while dealing with unavoidable real-world issues like divorce and prejudice. Alicia Silverstone will play Kristy’s mother while Mark Feuerstein co-stars as her husband and Kristy’s step-father. “The Baby-Sitters Club” is just one in a slew of literary adaptations being cooked up at Netflix, perhaps to help bolster an already strong children’s programming lineup — that’s still feeling the heat from Disney+.

Continue reading for more Netflix shows from Ryan Murphy, Mindy Kaling, and Iliza Shlesinger.

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