Shows I Discovered in 2020

Hey, y’all! Merry belated Christmas πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸΎπŸ€ΆπŸ½πŸŽ and Happy New Year! πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠ πŸΎπŸŽ†

By the time this post is published, 2020 will be gone. It was a year unlike no other (and 2021 is already tryin’ to pick up the mantle…more on that later), but there was one thing about 2020 that was really cool: most of us got to catch up on our TV. Working from home gave me lots of opportunities to watch some new TV shows, as well as some other series that I’ve been meaning to binge watch. Some were fantastic. There were others that get an A for effort. Either way, I’m going to discuss all the shows I watched in 2020 and provide my two cents, as usual.

Miami Vice (NBC, Starz)

In all fairness, I didn’t discover Miami Vice in 2020. I remember it being all the rage when I was between the ages of 4-8 (from 1985 to 1989), and how my mom lived for the series, so I decided to check it out for myself. I didn’t get past the first season.

Y’all don’t know how much it hurts me to admit that I couldn’t really get into Miami Vice, especially given all the hoopla it made during the decade of decadence, but it just didn’t wow me. I got a lot more excitement watching the show with my mom as a little girl than I did as a grown woman. Miami Vice isn’t a bad show, but it hasn’t aged well in the last 30+ years. For the most part, the series is slow paced, some of the dialog is meh, and a good bit of the episodes barely held my attention. There were some episodes that I enjoyed, such “No Exit,” where Bruce Willis played an abusive arms dealing asshole. I also liked “Glades,” which found Crockett and Tubbs (Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas) stranded in the Everglades surrounded by murderous rednecks. I found Tubbs and Angelina’s relationship interesting, and the “In the Air Tonight” scene remains iconic. With all that being said, I might give Miami Vice another try…maybe.

Cooked With Cannabis (Netflix)

If Top Chef and Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke had a baby, it would be Cooked With Cannabis. The Netflix cooking competition series is hosted by R&B singer Kelis and cannabis chef Leather Storrs, and it features chefs from around the country that specialize in a certain type of culinary style. You guessed it! They all cook with weed! The chefs are tasked to cook three different meals with herb, and celebrity judges are on board to decide whether or not their dishes are acceptable. However, since the judges (and sometimes Kelis and Leather) are all high AF, some hilarious stuff happens while they’re tasting the food.

Cooked With Cannabis is a fun show. I’ve always had a soft spot for bougie food, and Cooked With Cannabis delivers that, along with a lot of laughs and down to earth personalities. Not only that, I was impressed with what these chefs could do with cannabis. I thought the only thing folks could make with weed was brownies and cookies. This series not only proved me wrong, but it made me interested in trying some of those cannabis infused dishes, and I don’t even fool with weed (seriously).

Harley Quinn (DC Universe*, HBO Max)

Like most comic book/superhero fans, I loved the Harley Quinn character ever since she was introduced on Batman: The Animated Series (one of my absolute favorite episodes of the show had to be when Harley and Ivy first met and became friends). I wasn’t even aware Harley had her own animated show until I accidentally stumbled across some clips on YouTube in mid 2020. What I watched was pretty funny, and when I later learned that I automatically have access to HBO Max—due to my HBO Prime Video Channel subscription—I decided to check it out.

I loved Harley Quinn. The series is laugh out loud funny, and it’s a trip how it makes me root for the “bad guys” instead of Batman and Commissioner Gordon. It’s not hard to love Harley, Ivy, and their crew. Deep down, they have good hearts. They’re more mischievous than anything else. Hell, most of the time, Batman’s crew takes credit for the good deeds that Harley and her crew do for the city. Another thing I love about the show is that the subject matter in Harley Quinn isn’t just exclusive to Gotham City and the characters within the Batman series. There’s also appearances from the Justice League (Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc.) and all their nemeses. A word of warning though: for those of y’all that think this is an animated series for the entire family, it’s not. In the words of Dave Chappelle, “Betta not bring yo’ kids!

*Season 3 of Harley Quinn will no longer stream on DC Universe and will be exclusively available on HBO Max.

Ratched (Netflix)

When I first heard that Netflix was premiering a series about Nurse Ratched’s origins, I had to check it out, especially given the fact that Sarah Paulson would be playing the titular character (she killed it as Marcia Clark on American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson). Ratched takes place in 1947, somewhere in Northern California, where we see Mildred Ratched take on employment at a local insane asylum. It’s soon revealed that Nurse Ratched wanted to work at the facility because she has another agenda in mind aside from just furthering her career.

Ratched had a very strong start, as evident by the zingers she delivered in the above video. Despite Mildred’s harsh demeanor, she had a sensitive side as well, which ended up hurting the show, unfortunately. Once Mildred’s kindness began to overshadow her more abrasive nature, it’s almost as if the showrunners weren’t sure which direction to take the series. As a result, there were a few story lines that were interesting, but at the same time, they had me thinking to myself, “How did we get here again?” Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the show and I’ll be back to watch season two. I hope it’s a bit more cohesive.

Euphoria (HBO, HBO Max)

I know what a lot of y’all are thinking: “Where have you been? Euphoria came out in 2019!” I realize that, but considering that the series reminded me of a new generation of Kids, I decided I’d pass. I slowly started to change my mind about the show when one of my homegirls recommended it, and after Zendaya won the Emmy for her portrayal of Rue, a teenage addict. The ultimate deciding factor was the Euphoria Special Episode that aired before Christmas. The entire hour long episode simply consisted of Rue and her sponsor, Ali (Colman Domingo) sitting in a diner, eating pancakes and discussing Rue’s relapse. The episode kept my undivided attention.

Euphoria really is Kids 2: Electric Millennial Boogaloo, so sometimes it’d take all I could to watch two episodes a day before becoming emotionally drained. Nonetheless, I kept coming back for more, and I binged watched the show in about four or five days. Euphoria is dark as hell, but it’s also well written and impeccably acted, which keeps you engaged despite the disturbing subject matter. The kids in the show are screwed up—really screwed up—but you care about them regardless (except Nate [Jacob Elordi]. I can’t stand that son of a bitch!). Needless to say, Rue is one of my favorite characters. Just imagine a darker version of MJ from the Spider-Man series, battling addiction, mental illness, and giving even less of a fuck than she already does. Zendaya more than deserved her Emmy win. This show is so good, I included two videos, and the second clip is one of the most creative ways to depict a young girl’s relapse that I’ve ever seen. If you have an HBO subscription, but haven’t watched Euphoria yet, what are you waiting for? Jump to it!

Hollywood (Netflix)

The premise for Hollywood is the stuff dreams are made of. The series takes the Golden Era of Hollywood—otherwise known as the 1950s—and turns it into a world where everyone is included and anyone with talent can have a chance: women, men, gay, straight, Asian, black, white, Puerto Rican, everybody just a freakin’ (a big kiss to whomever can guess that reference πŸ’‹). A diverse group of studio heads, screenwriters, producers, directors, and actors join forces to create a movie entitled Meg, and despite opposition from many of the short-sighted fools behind the scenes, the cast and crew are determined to have their project see the light of day.

I enjoyed Hollywood, but despite how much I loved seeing people of all walks of life making a successful film together, the show lost its way a tad toward the end.

***SPOILER ALERT!!! THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED HOLLYWOOD YET, PLEASE SCROLL PAST THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH!***

I’m a lady that LOVES happy endings. I mean, I love happy endings. However, the ending for Hollywood was happy to the point of being saccharin. I get that the series is depicting a fictionalized version of tinsel town in the 1950s, and I can suspend my disbelief in that aspect. However, what I have trouble accepting is that even though Meg had a black/gay screenwriter, a black female lead, a Filipino director, an Asian-American supporting actress, and two newcomers fresh off the bus, the movie was nominated for nearly every category at the Oscars…and won most of the awards it was nominated for. I’m sorry, I just can’t see that happening in the ’50s, especially given the (realistic) pushback the studio received for trying to get the film made. Hell, you can’t even get accolades like that for a diverse film in today’s society. I probably would’ve accepted the ending more if it were nominated for a few awards like Best Actress, Best Film, and/or Best Screenplay, but damn near every category in that time period? Nah. I guess life as a Southern black woman has jaded me that much. Those of you that have seen Hollywood, let me know what you thought about the ending. I’m keenly interested.

The Blacklist (NBC, Netflix)

I know what y’all are thinking again: “Where the hell have you been?” I get it; The Blacklist has been around for years—it’s coming up on its 8th season to be exact—but I never got to watch it until a few weeks ago. My mother started getting into the show first, and I always said I’d watch it (I say the same thing about Breaking Bad and Watchmen), but I’d always put it off. After my mom reminded me that I needed to finally do what I said I was gonna do and watch the doggone show, I did just that…and I’ve been hooked ever since.

The Blacklist is everything all my friends, family, and co-workers said it was. There’s never a dull moment, and Red (James Spader) is such an appealing character. His intelligence, wit, charisma, and the good heart that he has deep down inside, make you instantly fall in love with him. Not only that, but the love he has for Lizzy (Megan Boone) and the tender moments that they share from time to time make him even more endearing. The only thing that gets me about The Blacklist is the obvious “secret” Red is keeping. I’m not even going to post a spoiler alert, because anyone with common sense can see this from the first episode…Red is obviously Lizzy’s father. Stevie Wonder could see that. *Eyeroll* It doesn’t turn me off from the show; it just amazes me that Lizzy either cannot or will not accept the truth that’s staring her right in the face. Sad.

Blood & Water (Netflix)

In Blood & Water, young Puleng (Ama Qamata) lives with the ghost of her older sister, Phumelele, due to the fact that the latter was kidnapped from her parents when she was an infant. One night, Puleng crashes a local house party with her best friend and meets Fikele Bhele (Khosi Ngema), a rich and popular girl who looks very similar to Puleng and shares the same birthday as her abducted older sister. Puleng decides to transfer to Fikele’s school to investigate further, and between the intense (and never ending) teen drama and the extremely dangerous world of human trafficking, Puleng struggles to keep her head above water.

Y’all, Blood & Water is a great show, and unlike the two previous Netflix original series I mentioned, it doesn’t lose its way towards the season finale. I’m just hoping that they don’t completely go left during season two and/or three, like some of my other favorite Netflix shows have. Don’t act like y’all don’t know how Netflix always manages to drop the ball as their shows progress (She’s Gotta Have It and Dear White People are prime examples). Anyway, the storyline keeps tense drama going, whether it’s between the messy ass students or the messy ass adults involved in corrupt and/or immoral shit. What I really loved about Blood & Water is that it showed South Africans living day to day like regular people. There were no impoverished villages, or folks running around the bush dodging dangerous exotic animals. Blood & Water featured kids in regular neighborhoods, going to school, and trying to survive their turbulent teenage years. In Puleng’s case, she’s trying to survive the hostile environment of her new school all while making dangerous enemies by investigating Fikele’s true parentage. Y’all may think it sounds ignorant as hell to be glad to see African people on TV living in a modern civilization. Honey, you’d be shocked at how many people in this day and age honestly believe that Africa is a monolithic continent rampant with disease, where the inhabitants live in mud huts and are persistently harassed by giraffes. SMDH.

P-Valley (Starz)

It took a minute for me to give P-Valley a chance. First of all, I was still reeling over how Power ended, and secondly, P-Valley looked like a new and improved version of The Player’s Club. It appeared interesting, but was it really a show worth investing in? Turns out, the answer was yes.

P-Valley was so much more than a Player’s Club clone. It delves into some of the hardships strippers have to go through to make their money, and it also tackles subjects regarding spousal abuse, the loss of a child, blended families, and LGBTQ relationships. There’s also enough ratchetness from gangsters, cheatin’ husbands, and crooked politicians to keep P-Valley entertaining. The show is chock full of interesting characters, namely Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan), who became the breakout character of the series. Most folks can’t stand Hailey aka Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson)—who’s the main character in P-Valley, no less—but I actually like her. She’s shady, but so is everyone else in the little town of Chucalissa, MS. I believe Autumn’s just misunderstood and a hard nut to crack given the hell she went through before coming to Chucalissa. P-Valley never has a dull moment, and if you have Starz, I highly suggest you watch it. It’s so good, I had to include two clips from this show as well.

Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam CJ Walker (Netflix)

Hair care in the black community is extremely important (my mother is watching a hair care tutorial on YouTube as I’m typing this), so when I found out there was a limited series about the life and times of Madam CJ Walker, I had to see it. I especially had to watch it when I saw that my girl Octavia Spencer was playing the black history icon.

Many people blasted Self-Made for its historical inaccuracies, but truth be told, all bio-pics and/or historical TV series are rife with fabrications simply to provide further entertainment value. I enjoyed the series, and I loved seeing how Madam Walker rose from being a down and out launderette losing her hair to a powerful black woman with a booming empire (and hair down to her back). Mind you, this was during a time period when black women were only expected to take care of home and raise children. Per the series, she fought opposition from all sides, even from Booker T. Washington, another black history icon. Madam Walker even met resistance from her husband after she became more successful. Despite having very few allies, nothing deterred her. I also liked that the show addressed colorism, which is a serious issue within the black community. Again, everything in the show may not be accurate, and I wouldn’t base any official reports or biographies off the series, but Self-Made was inspirational and engrossing, nonetheless.

Lovecraft Country (HBO, HBO Max)

Upon seeing the previews for Lovecraft Country, I figured the series might be a little too scary for my taste. However, curiosity got the better of me and I gave it a chance. Hands down, Lovecraft Country is one of the weirdest shows that I’ve ever laid eyes on, which is saying a lot, considering I’m a huge Mr. Robot fan. It’s also one of the best shows I watched in 2020.

In a nutshell, Lovecraft Country takes place circa 1955, and depicts the supernatural occurrences surrounding Korean War vet Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), his childhood friend Leticia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and their respective family members. Each episode, the characters encounter many horrifying and sci-fi entities such as ghosts, monsters, sorcerers and witches. The only thing more frightening than the otherworldly beings the characters face is the rampant racism and bigotry they have to endure just for existing. There were episodes centered around Emmett Till’s death as well as the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. There’s also a recurring storyline about a character seeing the stark contrast between living as a black woman versus living as a white woman, but I won’t go too much into that. Y’all will have to see that for yourselves. I loved how Lovecraft Country blended horror with social commentary, and managed to have a separate, yet connected story for the characters week to week. Aside from how beautifully the show was crafted, the ladies in the series were servin’ looks, you hear me? Ms. Jurnee Smollett-Bell looked like a living black ’50s Barbie every week, especially in the above clip. I loved it. Even the most vile character on the show was never short of being flawless.

The best thing about the show is that it features a predominately African-American cast acting out stories inspired by author HP Lovecraft (hence the title), who was a known racist. I bet he’s flippin’ like Simone Biles right about now. Watch this show whenever you have the chance. It’s worth it.

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

I must admit, all the shows I mentioned on the list weren’t in any particular order, with the exception of this one. I wanted The Boys to be last on the list, because it was the best show I watched in 2020, hands down. The Boys is one of the many TV series I starting watching just to see “what all the fuss was about,” and I ended up hooked after the first five minutes. Much like Harley Quinn, The Boys is a superhero series that’s turned on its ear, but this time, I wasn’t rooting for the villains…because the superheroes are the villains.

The Boys brings up a very interesting question: if the world was inhabited by super powered beings, would they be humble and selfless a la The Avengers and The Justice League, or would they be a bunch of greedy, corrupt, narcissistic assholes that care about nothing but the almighty dollar? I’m a lady that loves superhero movies and TV shows, and although this series is completely different from what I’m used to, I love this fresh take on the genre. Exploring topics of corporate greed, dirty politics (within the government and the corporation), moral reasoning, and sprinkling the show with ass kickin’ action scenes, laugh out loud comedy, and killer graphics, all make The Boys flawless. Let’s not forget that the actors are on point. Antony Starr’s take on Homelander is phenomenal, as is Karl Urban’s portrayal as Billy Butcher. I also love Hughie, played by Jack Quaid. Bit of trivia: Jack is Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan’s son (he looks just like his dad!). Y’all probably don’t give a damn about that, but I thought it was cool. I always loved Innerspace.

I binged season one in about two or three days, and when I learned that season two would only air one episode per week (with the exception of the first three installments), I was pissed off. However, as the weeks went on, I found myself looking forward to Friday because it was The Boys night! Just knowing I’d be able to chill and watch The Boys while drinking a margarita or White Russian was enough to get me through my workday.

The Boys had a lot of phenomenal moments, and I would post a second video from the show, but I don’t wanna spoil anything for y’all. However, I promise that you’ll be hooked the moment you watch the above clip. Trust me.

—Written by Nadiya

So what shows did you discover in 2020 (old or new)? Were there any on the list you liked? Did I mention any shows you disagreed with? Were there any TV series on the list that you’ve been meaning to see? Let me know in the comments section!

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