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Best TV shows 2020: the best TV series you can watch right now

Best TV shows 2020
(Image credit: FX/Hulu)

In this list of the best TV shows of 2020 so far, we've selected only elite-tier TV series that have offered a great distraction during this very strange year. While the year in TV isn't over yet by any means, with The Mandalorian season 2 set to debut in October and HBO's highly-anticipated Lovecraft Country coming in August, production shutdowns are likely to make the second half of this year much quieter than anticipated for new TV shows.

In our best 2020 TV shows list, you'll find weighty dramas, fun comedies and must-see documentaries. Below, we'll explain what the best TV series of the year are so far, and how you can stream them where you are. 

The Plot Against America

(Image credit: Michele K. Short/HBO)

Where to stream it: HBO Max (US), Sky/Now TV (UK)

This alternate history drama from The Wire creator David Simon is based on the book of the same name by Philip Roth, and explores a reality where anti-interventionist Charles Lindbergh successfully ran against Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 election over the subject of WWII. 

This story is told through the prism of a Jewish family living in New Jersey, and explores the latent antisemitism of the time. While the series functions well as a hard-hitting period piece, particularly with the sheer amount of money and talent thrown at the production, it naturally has modern resonance in the way it explores right-wing populism. The all-star cast includes Winona Ryder, Zoe Kazan and John Turturro. 

Devs

Devs series

(Image credit: Raymond Liu/FX)

Where to stream it: Hulu (US), BBC iPlayer (UK)

From Alex Garland, the director of Ex Machina and Annihilation, Devs is a moody treat of a tech thriller miniseries that blends in elements of sci-fi and horror. After her partner goes missing while working for secretive Silicon Valley tech pioneers, Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno) finds her boyfriend dead, and suspects the tech company had a hand in his (extremely shocking) demise. 

The further this thrilling miniseries goes, though, the deeper you get into what those pioneers were really making – and you'll never guess how it ends. 

Every episode aired on FX in the US, meaning you can now stream them on Hulu. In the UK, the BBC has the rights to stream the show, and you can watch them all now. – Samuel Roberts

Normal People

how to watch normal people online

(Image credit: BBC)

Where to stream it: Hulu (US), BBC iPlayer (UK)

One of the year's most acclaimed dramas is Normal People, based on the popular book by Sally Rooney. Set in Ireland, it's about the course of a romance between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), both of whom have different backgrounds, and it's rightfully drawn praise for the smart, complex way that relationship is brought to life and developed. While its 12 episodes may seem overly long on paper, they're only 30 minutes each, which is absolutely something more dramas should do in this age of decompressed TV storytelling. – Samuel Roberts

Dave

(Image credit: BBC / FX)

Where to stream it: Hulu (US), BBC iPlayer (UK)

Featuring rapper Lil Dicky (known as Andrew David Burd in real life) playing a fictional version of himself, Dave is about an up-and-coming aspiring rapper who's on the brink of fame and fortune, even if the people around him are frequently bewildered by his decision making. 

If the subject matter doesn't sound like your sort of thing, give it a shot. This is a proper laugh-out-loud comedy in the vague vein of something like Curb and other shows that riffed on that style, and episodes are directed by Superbad's Greg Mottola. Dave isn't revolutionary and feels built from familiar parts of comedies from the last decade, but this first season slowly peels back more depth to the characters in Dave's life, and it's funny throughout. A very easy show to marathon. – Samuel Roberts

McMillions

(Image credit: HBO)

Where to stream it: HBO Now/Go/Max (US), Now TV/Sky (UK)

In the '90s, McDonalds fell victim to a giveaway scam that rigged winners of its Monopoly-themed promotion for many years, before the FBI finally got involved and started to pick the case apart. This HBO documentary series about the orchestration of the scam makes for breezy, entertaining viewing, even if it is a little guilty of making McDonalds and law enforcement seem like the good guys of the story. A perfect follow-up to Tiger King if you're looking for a similarly outrageous, dark and character-led tale. – Samuel Roberts

The Trip to Greece

(Image credit: Baby Cow Productions/Revolution Films)

Where to stream it: VOD (US), Now TV/Sky (UK)

Confusingly released as movies outside the UK, The Trip to Greece is the fourth and final series of this semi-improvised travel comedy series starring British comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan as fictional versions of themselves. It's like watching old two friends on holiday, doing endless celebrity impersonations and occasionally sniping at each other's personal accomplishments (or lack thereof). 

If you're not familiar with the show, it's worth watching just to see the amazing locations and restaurants on display. Somehow, watching people eat in a restaurant feels like escapism right now. – Samuel Roberts

Westworld season 3

westworld season 3

(Image credit: HBO)

Where to stream it: HBO Now/Go (US), Now TV/Sky (UK)

After a divisive and ambitious second season that experimented a bit too much with storytelling structure, Westworld season 3 is a slightly more straightforward sci-fi thriller that's still heavy on game-changing twists. This year, Westworld abandoned the park, taking Dolores into the real world, and throwing in new characters, threats, big sci-fi ideas and an excellent turn from Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul. 

How much mileage is left in the show remains to be seen, but even if it's just for the production values, big-name cast and curiosity about which stories are left to tell, I'll definitely be watching Westworld season 4. – Samuel Roberts

Middleditch & Schwartz

(Image credit: Jeffery Neira/ NETFLIX © 2020)

Where to stream it: Netflix

You know when you're really, really tired – I'm talking jet lag tired – and someone makes a ludicrous joke that's just funny and strange enough to make you laugh for about two minutes? These entirely improvised specials by comedians and sitcom mainstays Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz are built on this kind of humor. They're plucked out of thin air, and are then stretched to such bizarre extremes that they're certain to make you laugh. Each episode is themed around a different idea: 'Parking Lot Wedding', 'Law School Magic' and 'Dream Job'. – Samuel Roberts

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

Tiger King

(Image credit: Netflix)

Where to stream it: Netflix

The documentary series everyone has watched in lockdown, and for good reason, Tiger King is a compelling series about the fall of now-incarcerated big cat owner Joe Exotic. Focusing more on the people who occupy the big cats world across America than the cats themselves, you'll meet an unforgettable handful of characters in this fascinating series. Just skip the disappointing Joel McHale-fronted follow-up episode, recorded remotely for obvious reasons. One of the best series of the year, even if it's a little tabloid-y at times. – Samuel Roberts

Tales from the Loop

(Image credit: Amazon Prime)

Where to stream it: Amazon Prime Video

Based on the striking sci-fi art of Simon Stålenhag, which combines two of the best things, robots and the 1980s, Tales from the Loop is a contemplative and often hopeful sci-fi anthology series about a small town living above 'the Loop', a machine that makes anything possible.

Without spoiling too much, expect some weirdness involving time, body swapping and much more, with great Philip Glass music and icy environmental shots to accompany it. Don't let this unusual but cool series go under the radar. – Samuel Roberts

The Outsider

(Image credit: HBO)

Where to stream it: HBO Now/Go (US), Sky/Now TV (UK)

This moody Stephen King adaptation was the first big HBO drama of the year, featuring a stellar ensemble cast (Ben Mendelsohn, Jason Bateman, Cynthia Erivo, Bill Camp). After a local boy is murdered and the local little league coach, Terry Maitland (Bateman), is accused of the crime, detectives are tasked with figuring out why the evidence doesn't line up. 

It superficially looks like another season of True Detective (and it starts like one, too), but since this is based on a King work, it doesn't take long for the series to shift gears and move in to supernatural territory. The Outsider is a pretty slow show, and the resolution to the mystery will prove divisive, but it's well worth checking out. – Samuel Roberts

I Am Not Okay With This

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

Where to stream it: Netflix

This dark teen comedy from the producers of Stranger Things and the director of The End of the F***ing World ends up feeling like an offbeat combination of the two. Syd (Sophia Lillis) discovers she has telekinetic abilities that only seem to manifest when she's angry, a familiar-but-perfect metaphor for teen angst. 

I Am Not Okay With This is only seven episodes long, and most of them only take 20 minutes to watch, so you can blitz through the whole run in the space of a single quiet evening. Let's hope we're not waiting forever for I Am Not Okay With This season 2. – Samuel Roberts

Castlevania

(Image credit: Netflix)

Where to stream it: Netflix

Castlevania isn’t just one of the best animated series on Netflix – it’s one of the best shows, period. Based loosely on Konami’s Castlevania video game franchise, it tracks the colliding lives of monster-hunter Trevor Belmont, magician and oral historian Sypha, and the big bad Dracula himself.

Full of gothic horror, bloodthirsty vampires and the kind of philosophical introspection rarely seen in such action-packed series, it’s real marvel – especially in how the world of the show expands with each season. The first season is really a movie – cut quite oddly into four brief episodes – but the second and third introduce a thrilling cast of characters, human and vampire alike, placing personal quests for justice, vengeance, or a quiet pint against a backdrop of undead armies mobilized in brutal war. The animation ain’t bad, either. – Henry St Leger

 Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet  

(Image credit: Apple)

Where to stream it: Apple TV Plus

To be honest, I haven’t been the biggest fan of Apple TV Plus up until now. The Morning Show held my attention for a minute, and the lure of Oprah's Book Club definitely intrigued me, but for months there was nothing I wanted to watch. 

That was, until I saw the first season of Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet

Produced by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney, and written by the phenomenally funny Ashly Burch, Mythic Quest takes us inside a fictional – and yet startlingly accurate – game development studio releasing its first expansion, Raven’s Banquet. While It’s Always Sunny focuses on a group of shameless, incompetent bar owners, Mythic Quest focuses on talented, but ultimately moody and unpredictable developers whose comedic exploits in the world of game design are both ignoble and ludicrous, simultaneously.

If you like the humor of It’s Always Sunny but wish it explored the foibles and constantly shifting landscape of video games instead, Mythic Quest is for you. – Nick Pino

BoJack Horseman

(Image credit: Netflix)

Where to stream it: Netflix

You've heard about this show since 2014 when it was one of the first animated shows on Netflix, but now it's maybe time you actually watched it? That's especially the case as it's now all finished. The second half of the final season dropped on Netflix earlier this year, and it's as great as ever.

It's heart-wrenching, difficult to watch and still somehow soothing to experience BoJack's journey through to its very end. If you're looking for a binge worthy show right now you may not want to consume all six seasons in one go considering the way it deals with difficult topics, but the fact BoJack’s creative team stuck the landing makes it one of Netflix's very best. – James Peckham

Narcos: Mexico

Narcos: Mexico

(Image credit: Netflix)

Where to stream it: Netflix

The original Narcos series, following the true crime rise and fall of Columbian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, was always going to be a tough act to follow. His ludicrous empire was beyond belief, and in Wagner Moura Netflix found the perfect actor to channel his calm menace.

Narcos: Mexico got off to a good start, but Moura’s absence was felt, despite the cast featuring the likes of Diego Luna and Michael Peña. Season 1's ending however opened the floodgates for a complex second season, in which Luna’s Mexican drug lord, feeling the pressures of deals gone wrong, friends betrayed and dangerous business partners is now on the back foot. A more thoughtful and intimate second series, and certainly worth a binge. – James Peckham

Curb Your Enthusiasm

(Image credit: Sky)

Where to stream it: HBO Now/Go (US), Now TV/Sky (UK) 

Curb Your Enthusiasm comes back whenever creator and star Larry David has ideas for his part-scripted, part-improvised sitcom, and this tenth season is terrific. The overarching story in these episodes sees Larrs opening a coffee shop next to that of his new rival, Mocha Joe, which Larry dubs a "spite store". 

In this season, Larry wears a MAGA hat to get out of a social engagement, and in one of the best episodes of the season, he calls out a restaurant for putting the ugly people in one section, and the good-looking people in another. The celebrity cameos are off the charts: this season brings stars like Timothy Olyphant, Clive Owen, Vince Vaughn, Isla Fisher, Laverne Cox and more. You've also got Mad Men's Jon Hamm popping up, whose appearance in any sitcom is usually a sign it's in excellent health (see also 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation). Curb is as good as ever. – Samuel Roberts

Better Call Saul

watch better call saul season 5 finale

(Image credit: Netflix)

Where to stream it: AMC Premiere (US), Netflix (UK)

Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad spin-off often hailed as being better than its predecessor, continued its run of amazing form this year. Jimmy McGill began operating in Albuquerque as the eponymous Saul Goodman this year, and the Vince Gilligan-directed episode 'Bagman' is considered the series' best yet in many circles (we won't spoil it here. Catch up!). If you're a lapsed Breaking Bad fan, it's time to jump back in, and enjoy some of the best characterization on TV. – Samuel Roberts

High Fidelity

(Image credit: Hulu)

Where to stream it: Hulu (US), TBA (UK)

Hulu quietly has two of the best new shows of the year. High Fidelity, an adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel (the basis of the John Cusack movie), is about a woman who reflects on her past failed relationships through music. 

Still, life doesn't seem that bad for Rob (Zoë Kravitz), who owns the coolest-looking Brooklyn record store you've ever seen. With ten breezy episodes that are certain to tap into some of the music you love, this is a solid reason to get Hulu in the US if you haven't tried it already. – Samuel Roberts