2020 was quite possibly the hardest year in modern day history. The world hit a stand still when COVID-19 officially reached global proportions in March forcing the population to work and learn from home and stay distanced from others. I know I am not alone when I say that this year has been an anxiety whirlwind that has only been soothed by thousands of hours of binge-watching tv, being hypnotized by TikTok videos, and consuming any bit of media that allowed for an escape from the chaos that was surrounding us.
In normal circumstances, I am a media fiend. Throw a pandemic and several iterations of stay-at-home orders into the mix and this year tops the rest when it comes to finding new and exciting stories. Streaming services allowed me to quickly escape long days of Zoom meetings while working from home for over nine months. It helped to drown out the incessant terrible news of the pandemic, the presidential election, police brutality and calls for social justice, Southern California’s wildfires, and countless other deafening narratives. We’re all human and we’re entitled to that release in the name of self-care.
This year one of the things I truly missed was watching live theater and going to the movies. So it’s no shock that I upped my streaming service game and subscribed to all the heavy hitting services to fulfill my entertainment needs.
With that said, 2020 also made us all slow down, reset and pay attention to our surroundings in new ways. I found myself paying much more attention to the stories I was experiencing on the screen. This new appreciation for media unlocked some incredible characters and plots that remind me why I love storytelling.
Below I will share my full watch list for 2020, complete with exquisite programming, guilty pleasures, and desperate trash television alike. But first, here are my top picks for this year.
These 10 have stayed with me well beyond their ending and have kept me thinking about the complex characters and storylines. The majority feature beautiful people of color and their narratives, which is a huge plus in my book.
#1 – Veneno (HBO Max)
Inspired by the real-life Spanish Trans icon Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez (La Veneno). The series seems plucked from the world of Pedro Almodovar and is heartbreaking, uplifting, comical, and conceptual all at once. The cast is comprised of dozens of trans and queer actors and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community by acknowledging the hatred and abuse that is engrained in the queer experience. Absolutely the best performances and dialogue I have seen in years. Do yourself a favor and watch it as it was intended, in Spanish.
#2 – I May Destroy You (HBO Max)
From the genius mind of Michaela Cole (Chewing Gum) is this raw and sobering story of British writer, Arabella. After being sexually assaulted in a nightclub, Arabella’s life changes irreversibly and she is forced to reassess everything, including her career, friends and family. The traumatic events cause a ripple effect in the lives of those who surround her.
#3 – La Casa de Las Flores [The House of Flower] (Netflix)
La Casa de Las Flores culminated with its third season. The story followed the De La Mora family and the secrets of their lives surrounding their family-run flower business. The series celebrates the dynamic of the dysfunctional family and queer relationships in a darkly humorous way.
#4 – The Morning Show (Apple TV+)
An inside look at the modern workplace through the lens of the people who help America wake up, pulling back the curtain on early morning television and focusing on the corruption that festers under the surface of corporate networks. Jennifer Aniston at her best as she portrays America’s favorite morning show host whose life begins to fall apart when a sex scandal plagues the beloved show.
#5 – We’re Here (HBO Max)
Drag queens Shangela, Bob the Drag Queen, and Eureka, recruit and train small-town residents to participate in a one-night-only drag performance. More than a makeover show, We’re Here works with everyday people who seek confidence and acceptance from their loved ones and community.
#6 – Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado (Netflix)
An up close and personal look at the life of Puerto Rican astrologer and psychic Walter Mercado as he discusses his life, career and post-fame seclusion. Through this documentary, the flamboyant and androgynous icon is seen like never before until the days before his death.
#7 – Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (HBO Max)
Comedian Awkwafina shines in Nora from Queens which follows Nora Lin and her cousin’s struggle with young adulthood in Flushing, New York. With a little help from her father and grandmother, Nora’s daily life is a series of adventures. Bowen Yang stars alongside Awkwafina in this series based on her life in Queens, New York.
#8 – Killing Eve (BBC America)
Eve is a bored, smart, MI5 security officer who is very desk-bound. Villanelle is a talented killer, mercurial in mood, who clings to the luxuries of her job but thrives on inflicting pain. Eve and Villanelle go head to head in a fierce game of cat and mouse, each woman equally obsessed with the other as Eve is tasked with hunting down the psychopathic assassin. The series is funny, dark, and evocative as their relationship develops.
#9 – Dead to Me (Netflix)
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are stunning in Dead to Me. After her husband is killed in a hit-and-run, Jen (Applegate) is determined to solve the crime. Optimistic free spirit Judy (Cardellini) has recently suffered a tragic loss of her own. The two meet at a support group and, despite their polar-opposite personalities, become unlikely friends. Judy tries to shield Jen from a shocking secret that could destroy her life as she knows it. The dark comedy explores the weirdly funny sides of grief, loss and forgiveness.
#10 – Alguien Tiene Que Morir [Someone Has to Die] (Netflix)
From the mind of Manolo Caro, creator of La Casa de Las Flores, comes a story so rooted in darkness that it is appropriate for 2020. In 1950s Spain, Gabino is summoned home from Mexico to meet his fiancé, but he returns with a mysterious classical dancer, Lázaro, and disrupts the status quo in the household. His grandmother, the matriarch of the family, is a ruthless sharpshooter regarded for her cold demeanor. The story full of secret affairs quickly unravels in this three-episode limited series becomes darker and more twisted.
If you want to see what else has been keeping me entertained during the pandemic, take a look at my full watchlist (listed alphabetically) below of shows and movies that were either newly released or new to me. There were other rerun and syndicated shows that didn’t make the list.
Take a look and see how many you can check off your list. If you need any recommendations feel free to slide into the DMs!
#blackAF: Season 1
Alguien Tiene Que Morir (Someone Has to Die): Season 1
Awkwafina is Nora From Queens
Big Mouth: Season 4
Broad City: Season 1-5
Dead to Me: Season 2
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay: Season 1
The Flight Attendant
Frayed: Season 1
Hollywood: Season 1
I May Destroy You: Season 1
Killing Eve: Season 3
La Casa de Las Flores (The House of Flowers): Season 3
Love Life: Season 1
The Morning Show: Season 1
Mr. Iglesias: Part 1-3
Never Have I Ever: Season 1
Orange is the New Black: Season 6-7
The Queen’s Gambit
Selena: The Series: Part 1
Shameless: Season 10
Sister, Sister: Season 1-6
The Umbrella Academy: Season 1-2
Veneno: Season 1
Westworld: Season 3
What We Do in the Shadows: Season 1-2
100 Humans: Season 1
The Big Flower Fight: Season 1
Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices: Season 1
The Boulet Brothers Dragula: Season 1-3
Canada’s Drag Race: Season 1
Cooked with Cannabis: Season 1
Crazy Delicious: Season 1
Dating Around: Season 1
Drag Race Holland: Season 1
Floor is Lava: Season 1
Full Bloom: Season 1
The Great British Baking Show: Season 7
The Great British Baking Show Holidays: Season 3
Indian Matchmaking: Season 1
Legendary: Season 1
Making the Cut: Season 1
Magic for Humans: Seasons 1-2
The Masked Singer: Season 3
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
Queer Eye: Season 5
Real Housewives of Atlanta: Season 12-13
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills: Season 10
RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season 12
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars: Season 5
Say ‘I Do’: Season 1
Sing On!: Season 1
Sugar Rush Christmas: Season 1 & 2
Supermarket Sweep (1990s)
Supermarket Sweep (with Leslie Jones)
Big Time Adolescence
Birds of Prey
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Boys in the Band
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Jinkx and Dela Holiday Special
On the Rocks
Transparent Musicale Finale
90 Day Fiancé: Season 1-7
90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days: Season 1-5
90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?: Season 1-4
90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way: Season 1-2
(Un)Well: Season 1
Circus of Books
Death to 2020
Down to Earth with Zac Efron: Season 1
High Score: Limited Series
Love on the Spectrum: Season 1
Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado
My Octopus Teacher
Savage X Fenty Show: Volume 1-2
A Secret Love
The Social Dilemma
Street Food: Latin America: Season 1
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness: Limited Series
We’re Here: Season 1
Chelsea Handler: Evolution
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas
Ilana Glazer: The Planet is Burning
Jenny Slate: Stage Fright
Jo Koy: In His Elements
Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia
AJ and the Queen: Season 1
The Circle: Season 1
Gentefied: Season 1
Grace and Frankie: Season 6
Leslie Jones: Time Machine
Shrill: Season 2
Now, to go watch some new cooking competition show and get started on my 2021 watchlist. Happy binging!
What’s on your list?