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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

“I Am Not Okay With This”

Shawn Levy speaks on stage during the 20th Century Fox Panel: An Insider's Look at "The King's Man" and "Free Guy" on the first day of New York Comic Con, in New York2019 Comic Con, New York, USA - 03 Oct 2019

Shawn Levy

Steve Luciano/AP/Shutterstock

Release Date: February 26, 2020
Cast: Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Kathleen Rose-Perkins, Sofia Bryant, Aidan Wojtak-Hissong, Richard Ellis
Writers: Jonathan Entwistle and Christy Hall (co-creators)
Directors: Jonathan Entwistle (pilot)

Netflix is combining the creatives behind two of its sleeper hits for “I Am Not Okay With This.” Created by Jonathan Entwistle (who helmed “The End of the F***ing World”), produced by Shawn Levy (who helped bring “Stranger Things” to fruition), and based on a Charles Forsman comic (who wrote the original “The End of the F***ing World”), the new YA series follows a teenage girl (played by Sophia Lillis) who’s just trying to get through high school when mysterious superpowers begin to awaken from deep within her. Sound familiar? Sure it does, but that’s the point. Forsman has a talent for usurping expectations in typical teen stories, while Levy has proven he can bring quirky coming-of-age stories to the masses. Plus, Netflix already followed this formula with the 2019 hit, “Raising Dion” (where a young boy slowly discovers his own dormant superpowers) — why not try it again?

“Selena: The Series”

Christian Serratos in "Selena: The Series" Netflix

Christian Serratos in “Selena: The Series”

Netflix

Release Date: TBA 2020
Cast: Christian Serratos, Gabriel Chavarria, Ricardo Chavira, Saidy Lopez, Julio Macias, Jesse Posey, Juan Martinez, Paul Rodriguez
Writers: Moisés Zamora, Pamela Garcia Rooney
Director: Hiromi Kamata

executive produced by Suzette Quintanilla, along with Jaime Dávila and Rico Martinez from Campanario Entertainment, Simran A. Singh, and Moisés Zamora. Hiromi Kamata is the director.

Another coming-of-age story — this one based in history — “Selena: The Series” is the second scripted take on the life of Tejano singing superstar Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, following Jennifer Lopez’s breakout performance in the 1997 film. In Netflix’s series, Christian Serratos will play the eponymous Mexican-American entertainment icon, known for her music, fashion, and acting talents, who died tragically at just 23 years old. Little else is known about the project, other than its familial origins: Through Campanario Entertainment, Selena’s sister, Suzette Quintanilla, serves as producers on the project.

Ratched

Ryan Murphy and Sarah PaulsonRyan Murphy Honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Dec 2018

Ryan Murphy and Sarah Paulson

Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA (expected in September 2020)
Cast: Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon, Sharon Stone, Charlie Carver, Finn Wittrock, Judy Davis, Jon Jon Brione
Writers: Evan Romansky, Ian Brennan
Directors: Ryan Murphy (pilot), Michael Uppendahl, Daniel Minahan, Jennifer Lynch, Nelson Cragg

Yet another Ryan Murphy Netflix project locked in for 2020 (all told, he should premiere three new seasons this year, including “Ratched,” “Hollywood,” and “The Politician” Season 2), “Ratched” may be the most anticipated of them all. Not only does it reunite Murphy with his greatest muse, Sarah Paulson, in yet another horror story, but the new series serves as a prequel to Milos Forman’s classic film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Greenlit for two seasons at nine episodes apiece, “Ratched” is the origin story of the eponymous and evil Nurse Ratched (Paulson), explaining how she went from a helpful nurse to a full-fledged monster. Old Hollywood characters played by New Hollywood legends, Murphy’s latest should entice a wide swath of fandoms — at least, that’s what Netflix is hoping — and if it can live up to the hype, “Ratched” would honor its predecessor’s awards friendly roots and land in the thick of the Golden Globes fray.

“The Haunting of Bly Manor”

The Haunting of Hill House

“The Haunting of Hill House”

Steve Dietl/Netflix

Release Date: TBA (expected in Fall 2020)
Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Catherine Parker, Amelie Smith, Benjamin Ainsworth, T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, Amelia Eve
Writers: Mike Flanagan (creator), Meredith Averill,
Directors: Mike Flanagan (pilot), Axelle Carolyn

Technically the only Season 2 on this list, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is Mike Flanagan’s follow-up to “The Haunting of Hill House,” but it’s got new characters telling a new story in a new house — well, a new “manor.” Loosely based on Henry James’ 1898 horror novel “The Turn of the Screw,” Netflix’s anthology series sees Season 1 cast members Victoria Pedretti and Oliver Jackson-Cohen in new roles; the former plays “a governess” hired to take care of two peculiar kids plagued by more than a few ghosts. Henry Thomas and Kate Siegel also return playing different characters, but “The Haunting of Bly Manor” promises to be another throwback haunted house story from a team of producers who love haunted house stories. Plus, for anyone who liked Flanagan’s under-seen sequel to Stephen King’s ultimate haunted house story, “Doctor Sleep” — or “Gerlad’s Game,” or “Before I Wake” — “Bly Manor” should offer more tantalizing frights from an exciting voice in the genre.

“Never Have I Ever”

Mindy Kaling arrives at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Breakfast Gala, in Los Angeles2020 The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Breakfast Gala, Los Angeles, USA - 11 Dec 2019

Mindy Kaling

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA 2020
Cast: Poorna Jagannathan, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Richa Shukla, John McEnroe (narrator)
Writers: Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher (co-showrunners)

For the past few years, Mindy Kaling has been trying out each streaming service to see which one’s the right fit. First came Hulu, which resurrected her cancelled Fox sitcom “The Mindy Project,” but their partnership fizzled a bit after Kaling’s underwhelming remake of “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” Next was Amazon, but after lighting up the Sundance Film Festival with her debut feature “Late Night,” her comedy was met with disappointing theatrical box office. So now it’s on to Netflix with “Never Have I Ever,” a comedy series co-created, co-written and executive produced by Kaling and Lang Fisher (who both serve as showrunner), about the complicated life of a modern-day first generation Indian American teenage girl. Whether or not this one sticks, one thing is clear: Everyone wants to be in the Mindy Kaling business.

“Away”

Hilary Swank, as guest of the Leopard Club, attends the 72nd Locarno International Film Festival, in Locarno, Switzerland, 09 August 2019. Swank received the Leopard Club Award 2019 at the Festival del film Locarno that runs from 07 to 17 August.Leopard Club Award 2019 - 72nd Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland - 09 Aug 2019

Hilary Swank

URS FLUEELER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA 2020
Cast: Hilary Swank, Josh Charles, Ato Essandoh, Talitha Eliana Bateman, Vivian Wu, Ray Panthaki, Mark Ivanir
Writers: Jessica Goldberg (showrunner), Jason Katims, Andrew Hinderaker
Directors: Edward Zwick (pilot), Charlotte Brändström, Bronwen Hughes

After crafting three cult-favorite seasons of “The Path” for Hulu, Jessica Goldberg is taking her talents to Netflix and trading in theological debates for a deep space love story. Hilary Swank stars as Emma Green, an American astronaut chosen to lead an interstellar expedition that will take her away from her family for more than a year — assuming she survives the trip. An exciting opportunity with benefits for all of humanity, “Away” — which is loosely inspired by a similar, real-life mission — pulls back the delicate and fraught layers of the men and women who commit themselves to making history, and how that affects those they leave behind in the process. With a pilot directed by Edward Zwick, “Away” is set to be one of Netflix’s most ambitious new 2020 releases.

“The Midnight Gospel”

Pendleton Ward, accepts the award for outstanding short form animated program for "Adventure Time" during night one of the Television Academy's 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater, in Los AngelesTelevision Academy's 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards - Show - Night 1, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Sep 2017

Pendleton Ward at the 2017 Creative Arts Emmys

Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA 2020
Writers: Duncan Trussell and Pendleton Ward (co-creators)

Just announced in December 2019, it might be a bit presumptuous to think Duncan Trussell and Pendleton Ward’s animated comedy “The Midnight Gospel” will reach audiences in 2020, but that’s the company line, so we’re trusting Netflix here. The “Adventure Time” creator and comedian (who voiced characters in “Adventure Time” and HBO’s “Animals.”) have partnered up for a story about Clancy, a spacecaster with a malfunctioning multiverse simulator who leaves the comfort of his home to interview beings living in dying worlds. “The Midnight Gospel” will use interview clips from Trussell’s real-world podcast, “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour,” putting a meta twist on a fantastical story. We’re here for whatever Ward cooks up next, so here’s hoping we can see it sooner rather than later.

“The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show”

Iliza ShlesingerAudi Pre-Emmy Party, Arrivals, Sunset Tower Hotel, Los Angeles, USA - 19 Sep 2019

Iliza Shlesinger

Broadimage/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA 2020
Cast: Iliza Shlesinger
Writers: Iliza Shlesinger, Kim Gamble
Director: Laura Murphy (pilot)

It’s all in the title — comedian Iliza Shlesinger, who subscribers probably recognize from one of her five Netflix stand-up specials, is debuting her first sketch show in 2020. The former “Last Comic Standing” champion is working with Kim Gamble (“The Opposition with Jordan Klepper”) on six half-hour episodes set in “a secret world filled with absurd characters, insight into the female experience, and irreverent yet poignant social commentary” (per Deadline). Netflix’s last few sketch shows have garnered great reviews, starting with the white hot cult hit “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” and followed up by the well-received “Astronomy Club.” Shlesinger appears to be joining at just the right time, so now it’s just a waiting game to see how what kind of spin she puts on the genre.

“Grand Army”

Screen writer Beau WillimonMary Queen of Scots Premiere, London, United Kingdom - 10 Dec 2018

Beau Willimon

Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Release Date: TBA 2020
Cast: Odessa A’zion, Amir Bageria, Odley Jean, Maliq Johnson, Amalia Yoo
Writers: Katie Cappiello (showrunner), Beau Willimon
Directors: So Yong Kim, Autumn Eakin, Silas Howard, Tina Mabry, Darnell Martin, Clement Virgo

Last but certainly not least, Netflix has one more teen drama on the docket for 2020 — but this YA series is a bit different. Adapted from Katie Cappiello’s 2013 play “Slut,” “Grand Army” centers on five students at the largest high school in Brooklyn as they balance immediate wants and needs with bigger dreams of getting out, becoming somebody, and living a life that’s their own. Between Cappiello’s prestigious background (the award-winning writer and director also founded GoodCap Arts in 2016) and pairing her with the always ambitious Beau Willimon (“House of Cards,” “The First”), “Grand Army” looks to have a bit more on its mind than your typical YA fare, and the original play synopsis focuses on a 16-year-old girl who’s sexually assaulted by three of her lifelong friends. An indictment of rape culture and elevation of the right voices, “Slut” should spawn a series more in line with “Euphoria” than “Gossip Girl.”

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