The Best of 2020: Top 20 Returning TV Series of 2020

The Best of 2020: Top 20 Returning TV Series of 2020

Written By – C. A. Ponch

2020 kept us in front of our TV’s more than most years and we got some of the best seasons from some of our returning favorites. A lot of the returning programs this year didn’t seem as fresh as the new shows that we got in 2020, but the top ten were real stand-outs. There was a bit of a void left after some destined to be classic shows ended in 2019 including “Game of Thrones”, “Veep”, “Orange Is the New Black”, “Mr. Robot”, “Broad City”, “Big Bang Theory” and “Transparent”, but the top streaming services kept us engaged with new and returning programing. If you are a fan of witty adult animation, dark comedies or “Star Wars” than this was the year for you. If you haven’t had the chance to view some of these yet, I highly recommend the top 15 and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Our “Best of 2020” has been separated into Best Documentaries, the Top Films of 2020, the Top Returning TV series of 2020, and the Top New TV series of 2020. Please feel free to debate and check out some of our other “Best of 2020” lists on!


20. Killing Eve (BBC America/AMC – 2019 to Present): Ponch: 7/10 –  IMDB: 8.3/10 – RT: 89% – Metacritic: 79%

Season three was “Killing Eve’s” weakest season to date but it’s still a solid dark comedy thriller and   Jodie Comer as the psycho assassin, Villanelle is once again amazing. The series will never be as strong as what it was in the first season (written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), but the same sharp dark humor is there. We also get a closer look into Villanelle’s origin story, as she travels back to Russia, which is the highlight of the season. – Streaming on: Hulu Subscription, Fubo TV, BBC America

19. Insecure (HBO Max – 2016 to Present): Ponch: 8/10 –  IMDB: 7.9/10 – RT: 96% – Metacritic: 80%

Season four of “Insecure” has Issa (Issa Rae) getting her personal life together and planning a block party, but she is still the same self-involved person from the first three seasons unfortunately driving a further rift between her and her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji). It’s a great balance between witty humor and the struggles of 30-somethings building their careers. This season took Issa, Molly and viewers on a much deeper internal journey, lacking a little bit of the lightness of past seasons that I enjoyed but pushing the story further towards completion, with the upcoming fifth season being the series last. Molly’s story gets far more focus this season, and the interaction between Rae and Orji is still the draw of the series. – Streaming on: HBO Max Subscription

18. Ozark (Netflix – 2017 to Present): Ponch: 8/10 –  IMDB: 8.4/10 – RT: 81% – Metacritic: 77%

“Ozark” is such an intense series because of the high stakes pressure that always seems too loom over the characters. Season three brings back a little more of that excitement from season one that viewers loved, after a second season that was a little dark and dismal. By the end of the second season the story became more and more unbelievable and it was nice to see them stick to what works in the series while moving the story forward more quickly than what they did in season two.  Jason Bateman as Marty, Laura Linney as Wendy, and Julia Garner as Ruth, continually put in solid performances. – Streaming on: Netflix Subscription

17. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC – 2013 to Present): Ponch: 8/10 –  IMDB: 8.4/10 – RT: 95% – Metacritic: 80%

Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a very funny show that would have been considered a classic, had it came out about ten years earlier. It’s a similar show to the NBC “Must See TV” Thursday night comedylineups from a decade ago that included “The Office”, “Parks and Recreation”, “Community” and “30 Rock” and I feel like the move from FOX to NBC really helped the show. It seems like a more natural fit and season seven was one of the strongest yet. If you are fan of those early 2010’s shows, I highly recommend the series. The creators really focused on the best aspects of the show which is the interaction between Andy Samberg’s carefree Detective Jake Peralta and Andre Braugher’s Captain Ray Holt. In season seven, the series, put them in even more interesting yet extremely comical situations with the highlight of the season being the “Ransom” episode. The other supporting characters have settled in nicely into their roles especially Stephanie Beatriz’s Detective Rosa Dias who has slowly became more of a focal point the last few seasons.  – Streaming on: Peacock Subscription, Hulu Subscription, Fubu TV

16.  Search Party (TBS, HBO Max – 2016 to Present): Ponch: 8/10 –  IMDB: 6.8/10 – RT: 97% – Metacritic: 78%

I really enjoyed the first three seasons of “Search Party”.  I feel like a lot of people have never seen this satirical dark comedy gem while it was hiding out on TBS. Now that HBO Max is airing the series and will be streaming the new episodes it should gain a larger audience. Although this series can get a little outrageous, the comedic timing of the four stars; Alia Shawkat (Dory), John Early (Elliott), Meredith Hagner (Portia) and John Reynolds (Drew) is pretty incredible and reminds us that this isn’t a drama.  The highlight of the third season was Shalita Grant as Dory’s first time rookie lawyer who stole every scene she was in. This series starts out as a show about someone trying to find themselves and latching on to things that aren’t really there. As the third season starts, you quickly realize this show is turning into a show about selfish people who can’t get out of their own way. – Streaming on: HBO Max Subscription

15. What We Do in the Shadows (FX – 2019 to Present): Ponch: 9/10 –  IMDB: 8.5/10 – RT: 97% – Metacritic: 79%

“What We Do in the Shadows” second season improves on the first and still works as a silly and simple vampire parody, because it’s executed so well by everyone involved. There seems to more laughs per minute on this show than any other on TV right now. It may be a one joke series told over and over, but that joke hits every time. Harvey Guillen’s Guillermo shines in the second season and although “What We Do in the Shadows” is low on plot, the side story of Guillermo being the decedent of a famous vampire hunter makes for some fun laughs and possible interesting situations now and down the road. The second season solidifies “What We Do in the Shadows” as a classic mockumentary, proving that the genre can still be fresh and funny if done right. – Streaming on: Hulu Subscription

14. Big Mouth (Netflix – 2017 to Present): Ponch: 9/10 –  IMDB: 8/10 – RT: 99% – Metacritic: 88%

“Big Mouth’s premise of middle school students going through puberty hasn’t changed much in four seasons, but Nick Kroll (Nick), John Mulaney (Andrew) and the rest of the cast pack so much heart and laughs into every episode, it doesn’t really have too. The creators keep coming up with new relatable topics for these kids. The writing is strong and the voice work is solid. Anyone who is a fan of comedic adult animation like “South Park” and “Family Guy, and “BoJack Horseman” or coming of age shows like “The Wonder Years”, “The O.C.” and “Freaks and Geeks” should check out “Big Mouth”, it’s a blend of those two genres. For those viewers who were thinking of dropping off, don’t; season four is worth viewing. – Streaming on: Netflix Subscription

13. Umbrella Academy (Netflix – 2019 to 2020): Ponch: 9/10 – IMDB: 8/10 – RT: 82% – Metacritic: 67%

“The Umbrella Academy” is one of the most underrated shows on TV. Not only does it have one of the most diverse and entertaining cast, but it encompasses so many genres. Season two improved in both concept and story taking us to the 1960’s adapting the “Dallas” storyline from the comics. This is series that keeps building. The acting improved this season as well, and the cast just doesn’t get enough credit for making this show so much fun especially Robert Sheehan as the eccentric Klaus and 15-year-old Aidan Gallagher as Number Five, who plays a grumpy old man in the body of a teenager too perfection. I am sure past viewers were pleased with the second season and direction the series is going and for anyone who hasn’t checked out the show yet, if you are fan of Super-heroes, you will enjoy it. If you like time traveling thrillers or dark comedies or historic pieces, this is a series you will find highly entertaining. – Streaming on: Netflix Subscription

12. Pen15 (Hulu – 2019 to Present): Ponch: 9/10 –  IMDB: 8/10 – RT: 97% – Metacritic: 93%  

It took me about a season to really settle into the cringe comedy “Pen15”. The second season is far better than the first, which was a bit uneven, feeling more like a sketch show at times. In the second season, actresses Maya Erksine and Anna Konkle get better acclimated to their roles playing their teenage selves, and the audience does too. In the first season, I laughed a lot, but mostly just felt uncomfortable.  The second season is far deeper in my opinion as they explore the intense bonds of being someone’s best friend at that age, and the awkwardness of being a tween. The actresses playing their teenage selves no longer feels like a gag, there is more of a continuing story. For the creators to be able to re-experience their emotions at that time in their lives, and be able act out their feelings is pretty remarkable.  It’s an inside look at ourselves as teenagers that we would have never gotten from actual teenagers, who aren’t quite mature enough yet to express it as Erksine and Konkle do here. – Streaming on: Hulu Subscription

11. The Good Place (NBC – 2016 to 2020): Ponch: 9/10 –  IMDB: 8.2/10 – RT: 97% – Metacritic: 83%

As a series on a Primetime network, “The Good Place” was never going to be the funniest comedy on TV, but it is one of, if not the most, intellectually stimulating comedies ever made. This was a show that made you think about your own existence. I was sad to see “The Good Place” go but I do think that four seasons were enough for Michael Schur and the other writers to tell their story. There is so much witty dialogue and throwaway lines, that “The Good Place” is the rare show I am may watch again to see what I missed on first viewing. The finale was heartfelt as it was intelligent, I don’t think philosophers could had done as good a job as the creators at expressing the journey into the afterlife. The series was executed so beautifully, and the actors especially Kristen Bell were cast so “forking” perfectly that “The Good Place” will be talked about and re-watched dozens of times liked NBC’s other classic comedies. –Streaming on: Netflix Subscription


10. Harley Quinn (HBO Max – 2019 to Present): Ponch: 9/10 –  IMDB: 8.5/10 – RT: 94% – Metacritic: 82% 

The “Harley Quinn” animated series is the best DC comics property I have seen to date and it’s an almost perfect comic adaptation. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it and feel this is exactly how the character should be handled in any live action movie or series. As fast paced and energetic as the first season was, the second season doesn’t miss a beat and keeps the crazy train rolling. The remarkable and hilarious supporting cast including Ron Funchess (King Shark), Tony Hale (Dr. Pyscho, Felix Faust), Jason Alexander (Sy Borgman) and Alan Tudyk (multiple characters including Clayface and Joker) is what most fans will talk about, but Kaley Cuoco (Harley) and Lake Bell’s (Posion Ivy) relationship is the center and real heart of the show. If you go to any comic-con or check out any cosplayer’s Instagram account, you will see the popularity of the character, and this show really understands what works and what makes Harley so beloved in that community. – Streaming on: HBO Max Subscription

9. Homeland (Showtime – 2011 to 2020): Ponch: 9/10 –  IMDB: 8.3/10 – RT: 85% – Metacritic: 71%

I know we all love shiny new things, but it’s like the critics and Emmy’s forgot how great “Homeland” was, as it’s still one of the best dramas on TV. In its final season, “Homeland” proved once again how great a series can be with great dialogue in the proper hands. Claire Danes was incredible, especially her subtleness in the season finale, showing a true understanding of her craft. Mandi Patinkin produced some of his best acting of the series in the last season, which was already a very high bar. The acting has been consistently good for the last decade.  Unlike a lot of other long running series, “Homeland” stuck the landing, providing long time viewers with a very satisfying ending. When this show is revisited by pundits, years from now, it’s ability to change and evolve while still having an effective finale, will push it into one of the greatest of all time territory. – Streaming on: Showtime Anytime Subscription, Hulu Subscription, Fubo TV

8. Ramy (Hulu – 2019 to Present): Ponch: 9/10 –  IMDB: 8.1/10 – RT: 98% – Metacritic: 83%

When Ramy Youssef won the Golden Globe for his performance for the first season of his show “Ramy”, he started his speech by saying “Look, I know you guys haven’t seen my show,” and at the time, he was right, I hadn’t seen it. I was one of the many Christian Americans who either never heard of the show and/or didn’t think a series about a Muslim millennial would ever really appeal to me. Then I watched this incredible, modern and insightful series, and whether the topic was faith, losing your job, relationships, family disagreements, addiction or education: I found “Ramy” to be immensely relatable and ground breaking. There has never been anything like “Ramy” before and I think it does a great job of sharing the experience of what it’s like being a young Muslim and how it’s not that different from being a young Christian. The series deals with the same weighty issues in life, while making you laugh all the way through the journey.  I didn’t think season two was going to be able to match season one’s modernity, but Ramy and the other creators stuck with a winning formula by really diving into the challenges of what it means to be a Muslim millennial. – Streaming on: Hulu Subscription

7. The Boys (Amazon Prime – 2019 to Present): Ponch: 9/10 –  IMDB: 8.7/10 – RT: 90% – Metacritic: 80%

I own the full comic book series run and all of the mini-series of “The Boys” written by Garth Ennis, and I can honestly tell you I am shocked this was adapted at all. As much as I enjoyed the comics series, there are parts of the series that are far too graphic and gross to ever hit the screen. Some of that shock factor is what made it an interesting read, even if it wasn’t for everyone. The creators of the superhero satire show did a marvelous (pun intended) job of telling a more relatable story with characters that are far more likable. The average person almost always likes the book version of an adaptation better, and “The Boys” is one of those rare TV series that is better than the books because it’s more accessible. This is a very funny and sharp look at the behind the scenes life of superheroes and what it would be like having super heroes in the real life modern world. The second season is even better than the first, they really delve into the main character’s backgrounds expanding on each character’s motivations while keeping a real break-neck fun pace. There is a large bit of violence for anyone who is a little squeamish but if you enjoy super heroes and want something deep with multiple layers of comedy and drama, “The Boys” fits that bill perfectly. – Streaming on: Amazon Prime Subscription

6. Rick and Morty (Cartoon Network -2013 to Present): Ponch: 10/10 –  IMDB: 9.2/10 – RT: 94% – Metacritic: 84%

I would call “Rick and Morty” an instant cult classic if it wasn’t already so popular, so there is nothing really “cult” about it anymore. The show is not for everyone, but for the people who do dig great story telling, superb Sci-Fi world building, and outrageous family comedies, “Ricky and Morty” is the best adult animated action ever produced. The fourth season is no exception, although fantastic, it didn’t quite live up to the high expectations placed upon it by the excellence of seasons two and three. Some of the series best episodes are in this season, including “Edge of Tomortu: Rick Die Rickpeat” and “The Vat of Acid Episode”. It did however have some of the worst episodes of the series as well like “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty”, which may be my least favorite episode to date. Even with the fourth season being a little uneven, this was still one of the best series on TV in 2020. The highest compliment I can give the creators is that, no one else could make this show, but them. Every other show on this list could have been replicated in some form by someone else, but “Ricky and Morty” is still the most original and intelligent show on television, it’s as humorous as it is demented. – Streaming on: Hulu Subscription, HBO Max Subscription


5. Schitt’s Creek (Pop – 2015 to 2020): Ponch: 10/10 –  IMDB: 8.5/10 – RT: 93% – Metacritic: 95%

“Schitt’s Creek” is one of the rare shows that kept getting better as each season went on, this is especially rare in comedies when they typically peak in the early to middle seasons and slowly fade. In its final season “Schitt’s Creek” swept the Emmy awards and although I don’t necessarily agree they should have swept the Emmy’s, I can see why this series final season got the accolades it did. This is a really heartwarming and sweet show, and typically you don’t see those attributes in a series this funny.  This last season really brought out everything that is great about the Rose family, who all shine this season. Series creators Eugene and Dan Levy really did a tremendous job both behind and in front of the camera. If you start streaming this, with disappointment, wondering why the series is getting all the hoopla, keep watching. I think the first season is the worst season of the series, but it greatly improves each season. The Rose family is great modern fish-out-of-water story and the premise of a rich family trying to make it as a poor family in a back water town, worked best in the final season. – Streaming on: Netflix Subscription, Amazon Prime Subscription, Fubo TV, IMDB TV

4. BoJack Horseman (Netflix – 2014 to 2020): Ponch: 10/10 –  IMDB: 8.7/10 – RT: 93% – Metacritic: 91%  

The final season of “BoJoack Horseman” was cut into two parts with only a few episodes released in 2020. The impact of those final episodes didn’t just make it one of the best series of the year, but one of the best of all-time.  BoJack’s rollercoaster from rock bottom to redemption, then down again, is tragic yet funny and heartwarming. The humor still works very well amongst the depression even with this season having the least amount of laughs. This is the greatest animated drama series ever, and characters have deep vulnerabilities and insecurities that mirror what we all go through in life. “Bojack Horseman’s” finale was outstanding giving us one of the greatest lines to end a series ever: “Life’s a bitch, and then you die, right?” “Sometimes, sometimes life’s a bitch and then you keep living”. “Yeah”. “But it’s a nice night, huh”? “Yeah this is nice”.  Just brilliant, giving viewers a little hope. I am extremely sad to see this series go. – Streaming on: Netflix Subscription

3. The Mandalorian (Disney + –2019 to Present): Ponch: 10/10 –  IMDB: 8.4/10 – RT: 93% – Metacritic: 76%

I have said this before but mean it even more after watching the second season: “The Mandalorian” is the greatest “Star Wars” property since “The Empire Strikes Back” and quite possibly the best action series of all time. It’s one of the only shows of 2020 that I couldn’t wait to watch every week, and I wasn’t alone. Every “Star Wars” fan I know eagerly awaited every episode, but you don’t have to be a “Star Wars” fan to appreciate the series. Viewers who enjoy Westerns, Samurai films, or just great action will really enjoy this show. The second season was slightly better than first. We did see a lot of expansion into the “Star Wars” universe that fans were clamoring for, but it never strayed away from what made the show work; which is a strong story and a fresh look at “Star Wars”, balanced with a deep level of nostalgia. For “Star Wars” fans, that finale was everything. “This is the way!” meets “May the force be with you!” They nailed it, and I couldn’t stop re-watching that scene over and over. – Streaming on: Disney +  Subscription

2. The Crown (Netflix – 2016 to Present): Ponch: 10/10 –  IMDB: 8.7/10 – RT: 91% – Metacritic: 85%

Through the shows run “The Crown” has been consistently strong, but the fourth season was by far the most entertaining. This is the season that the historical drama reached the modern age that a lot of viewers saw play out in real life on their television sets and in the papers. The seasons with Prince Di were destined to be the most popular, but Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor’s shinning performances as Diana and Prince Charles are the reason this season really stood out as the best one yet. The whole cast is incredible in the fourth season and there is more to the story than just Diana and Charles’ romance. The Crown is still one of the most beautiful shows on TV, with its rich cinematography and elegant costume design that really captures the fashion of the time and the elaborate attire worn by the royal family.  The women of the cast rule the fourth season. Gillian Anderson’s Margaret Thatcher was amazing, and Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth and Helena Bonham Carter as Prince Margaret along with Corrin give masterclass performances. “The Crown” continued its reign as the best historical drama of all time. – Streaming on: Netflix Subscription

1. Better Call Saul (AMC – 2015 to Present): Ponch: 10/10 –  IMDB: 8.7/10 – RT: 97% – Metacritic: 92%  

“Better Call Saul” cemented itself very early on in its run as the best spin-off series of all-time, but the fifth season really was the first time that it eclipsed some of the seasons from “Breaking Bad”. It stands on its own as one of the best television series ever and the fifth was the shows finest to date. “Better Call Saul” is a prequel for anyone who saw “Breaking Bad”, yet there is still so much unrevealed. Even with the audience knowing this story picks up in “Breaking Bad”, the creators leave us with enough questions that still need to be answered. As the story hurdles toward the end of this series and the beginning of “Breaking Bad” it just keeps getting more intriguing and entertaining. The writing and performances were the best of 2020 and Odenkirk deserves the Emmy every year, but he isn’t the only reason to stream the series. Rhea Seehorn is probably the most underrated actor on television and the chemistry between the two stars is undeniable.  Jimmy and Kim’s relationship is highly tested in the fifth season. She loves Jimmy, and she works hard to keep them together on the right path, making it that much harder to watch.  As spectators, we know Kim’s not there in the beginning of the next chapter, and that sense of the unknown stays with you slowly turning into an overwhelming sense of dread. Jimmy’s slow jog of a transformation into Saul Goodman just turned into a sprint and at the center of that transformation is Kim.  As the viewer, you clearly see what’s coming, and like a train wreck you can’t look away. That desire for a different outcome is accentuated by the perfectly timed story telling of the creators leading to not just conflicts on screen but your own conflictions as the series heads into its sixth and final season: The quality of the series makes you want it to last forever but your gut tells you the characters’ story arch can’t end soon enough. – Streaming on: Netflix Subscription, Fubo Subscription

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