Welcome back to Bleeding Cool TV's Top 10 of 2020, as we look back at the best and brightest this year in broadcast, cable, streaming, and online television- with this round bringing us a tie. This year, it's important to recognize just how much Television stepped up in the face of a global pandemic as other mediums left their audiences to go it alone. No, not Television. Television stepped up to make our lockdown times a little more sane- a bit more bearable. From live-streaming table reads to tweet-a-longs with shows' best and brightest offering fans new content to productions going into massive "bubble modes" to knock out as much content as possible. In 2020, Television proved once again what it's always been. A reflection of what we've been, who we are, and who we have the potential to be in the toughest of times. With that in mind, we start with Bleeding Cool's Adi Tantimedh explaining why Michaela Coel's HBO and BBC One comedy-drama series I May Destroy You was more than deserving to make the list (followed by a look at the show it shares the #6 spot with, Schitt's Creek).
"Michaela Cole's 'I May Destroy You' is hands-down the best TV series of 2020. You won't find a more transparent, unflinching, difficult, complex, contradictory, funny, wincing, merciless yet kind show anywhere in any year. Cole writes, stars, and co-directs the series, the surest sign that this is entirely her vision and worldview. The story of a young woman named Arabella dealing with getting assaulted and having to rebuild her entire world while still trying to keep up appearances and live the cool life she feels entitled to is as timely as you're going to get," Tantimedh explained. "The series is inspired by Cole's own assault, but Arabella is not a fictionalized version of Cole. She's a specific character for Cole to explore not only her feelings of confusion, guilt, and rage while dealing with life in a 21st Century London where everything is digital, social media rules not only everyone's lives but also their psyche."
Tantimedh continued: "Not everyone is good or bad all the time. Everyone has an angel and a devil in them. Arabella, Terry, and Kwami are best friends but don't always treat each other very well. Arabella, as a millennial celebrity and public figure with a big social media following, can be massively self-obsessed and outright narcissistic. Cole is especially clear-eyed about the way Arabella uses social media to self-soothe and validate her identity, feeding off the adoration of her fans to shore up her self-image as she fights to keep herself from falling apart after her assault. She also writes some of the funniest and most inventive dialogue of anyone writing now. It's easy to see how Cole explores the bad decisions, the bad sex, bad dates, bad calls that Arabella and her friends make because they have 20something privilege that makes them think they're invulnerable until they actually get hurt. The entire series explores issues of consent, neglect, complicity, and self-care in a way that no one has done before. Cole knows that life is not a neatly structured crime or revenge thriller. There's no easy resolution or ending. Nothing really ends because life just goes on. The best thing to do is to be kind, to yourself and the ones you love."
Created by the father-son comedy duo of Eugene Levy and Dan Levy, CBC Television sitcom Schitt's Creek (which also aired on Pop TV) is exactly the right combination of old-school sitcom and modern sensitivities that Bleeding Cool's Brittney Bender believes earned it a spot on the list.
"There's rarely a show that can find its way into your soul, but 'Schitt's Creek' has done so. In a time where laughter and the comfort of everyday life have been needed, this series gave that and so much more. The combining forces of fantastic dialogue work and set up of the world of the show are only parts of why it found popularity," Bender explained. "The accessibility present with Netflix (and now also on Comedy Central) putting out all seasons to stream, including a table conversation special with the cast, helped those in 2020 who needed the chaotic but loving Rose family."
Bender continued: "The love between Moira and Johnny that focuses on the importance of growth and change in a relationship is a small piece of what connects me to the show. Expressing the fluidity and general spectrum of sexuality through characters like David and Patrick is a fantastic way to expand the way we write LGBTQIA+ characters on television. Giving an audience such comfort in seeing themselves on screen is powerful in itself. You find yourself witnessing truthful moments of mental health, such as David experiencing panic attacks and acknowledging his anxiety. Growth outside of the people they used to be, the Rose family surpassed my initial expectations from the pilot experience. Although I wished the series would have never ended, I'm beyond grateful that such a show was made in the first place."