The 10 best new television shows of 2020

Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, and Michael K. Williams in Lovecraft Country Season 1, Episode 4 - Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO
Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, and Michael K. Williams in Lovecraft Country Season 1, Episode 4 - Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO /
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best new television shows
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is among the best new television shows 2020 has to offer (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC) /

Take a look back at the best new television shows that helped us get through 2020.

As the horrendous year of 2020 comes to an end, we’re taking a look back at all of the best new TV shows that helped us get through these particularly difficult times. While we saw a lot of strife going on throughout the world–but specifically in the United States–this year, there’s also been somewhat of a creative renaissance on television.

Genres were blended and tested with new points of view, giving us such television success stories such as Lovecraft Country, Teenage Bounty Hunters, and The Haunting of Bly Manor. Voices were given to characters that all too rarely appear on the small screen, like the poignant coming out story featured in Hulu’s Love, Victor from a POC perspective or a show that features an actor with autism playing a series regular character who also is autistic on Freeform’s Everything’s Gonna Be Okay.

When looking at the definition of the “best” new shows of 2020, we’re judging them based on three important factors; originality, pop culture impact, and well-developed female characterizations. In looking at a show’s originality, this may have to do with the casting, the writing, or all of the above. In a world where reboots and revivals are becoming the norm, creating something original that clicks with a significant audience is a huge accomplishment.

As for pop culture impact, we examine the social media following the show and its cast have accumulated, along with the show’s effect on the television landscape. For female characterizations, we’re looking for female characters who have their own stories to tell, independent of any romance with a significant other. Again, this comes down to a matter of casting and writing as well.

Without further ado, here is our list of the best new shows of 2020.

Best new television shows of 2020: Lovecraft Country

Platform: HBO Max

Cast: Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, Aunjanue Ellis, Michael K. Williams, Wunmi Mosaku, Jamie Chung

This HBO Max original series is a rarity in that it is a horror series comprised of an almost entirely African-American cast. It delivers scares and schools the audience on the beginning of the civil rights movement, by focusing on Korean War vet Atticus Freeman (Majors) as he returns to his hometown only to discover he is part of a mystical lineage that makes him a target of a secret society known as the Order of the Ancient Dawn. He is aided by his old friend Letitia Lewis (Smollett), a skilled photographer, and his estranged father Montrose (Williams). The series finds the trio traveling across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of answers, struggling to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters lurking in the woods.

Each episode focuses on a different type of horror sub-genre, like body horror, sci-fi, and the supernatural. Although the show’s storylines can be a bit complex at times, all is eventually explained as key points of the overall arc of the series. The Lovecraft Country novel exists in the continuity of the series, as a novel written by George Freeman II, providing a fictionalized account of the events of the series.

The cast is superb, particularly Smollett and Chung, who give powerhouse performances in every scene they’re in. Majors also delivers a star-making turn, which no doubt helped ensure his upcoming role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.