Throughout the 2010s we experienced some truly groundbreaking, experimental, incredible television. As we enter this new decade, there will undoubtedly be new shows that aim to live up to these standards.
Here is our list of ten shows to look out for in 2020. Every show on this list will be a new release, with some being in a limited series format while others are presumably being made as the first of a multi-season run.
10) Y (FX)
Y: The Last Man has had an incredibly long development history. Based on the Eisner Award-winning comic series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, in the aftermath of a global event where every male mammal on the planet simultaneously dies, Yorick Brown and his pet capuchin monkey Ampersand are, inexplicably, the only males left on earth. The 60-issue long series is considered one of the greatest comics of all time and since it’s end in 2008, it has had multiple writers attached to the project, with several failed attempts at bringing it to the big screen. No solid release date has been announced, but while the series has been already cast Barry Keoghan, Imogen Poots, Lashana Lynch, Diane Lane, Amber Tamblyn , and, worryingly, Timothy Hutton – which is strange because it is reasonable to assume that any adaptation would require almost the entire cast to be female, aside from the man playing Yorick. Frankly, it’s disconcerting that FX have seemingly cast another male actor on the series, since it would have been otherwise groundbreaking for having an almost entirely female cast.
9) The Stand (CBS All Access)
In recent years we’ve seen a boom in Stephen King adaptations for both film and television, most notably It, Doctor Sleep, Mr. Mercedes, Castle Rock and The Outsider, with countless more announced and being currently being developed. Now, we’re seeing the long gestating (though second) adaptation of the sprawling, apocalyptic, classic novel The Stand.
The cast has already been announced, with the miniseries starring James Marsden, Amber Heard, Whoopi Goldberg, Jovan Adepo, Odessa Young, Alexander Skarsgård, and so on. The series has already run into a bit of controversy over the choice to continue Hollywood’s long history of casting a hearing actor in the role of a deaf character, here being Henry Zaga in the role of Nick Andros. It’s unknown how (if at all) the production team behind the series plans to rectify this, though it would be great if they did. One of the bigger criticism of the 1994 miniseries was the choice to cast Rob Lowe in the role, and he portrayed all the reasons why it’s best to cast a deaf actor to play a deaf character.
8) Perry Mason (HBO)
HBO’s upcoming limited series Perry Mason was, interestingly, originally supposed to star Robert Downey Jr. after finishing his decade long role as Tony Stark for the MCU. However, due to scheduling commitments, he’s stepped down from the role, and it now stars Matthew Rhys in the titular role, with Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald spearheading the series. Directed by HBO vet Tim Van Patten and co-starring Tatiana Maslany, Shea Whigham, and John Lithgow, the series is set in 1932 Los Angeles. Imagine the following blasting through the radio in an old-timey voice: “While the rest of the country recovers from the Great Depression, this city is booming! Oil! Olympic Games! Talking Pictures! Evangelical Fervor! And a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong!. Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner, this limited series follows the origins of American fiction’s most legendary criminal defense lawyer, Perry Mason (Rhys). When the case of the decade breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and, just maybe, a pathway to redemption for himself”. HBO’s Perry Mason, as of now, has no specific release date.
7) Little America (Apple TV+): January 17th, 2020
From Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, who together wrote the Oscar-nominated comedy The Big Sick, comes Little America. Structured as an anthology series, every episode will focus on the stories of immigrants and first-generation Americans. It is a story that many of us (as in immigrants or, in the case of this writer, a first-generation American) have wanted to see portrayed and told by us. We’ve seen slow and small strides in representation both in front of and behind the camera in recent years, and Little America is a sign that true, tangible change, however small, is truly happening. Reviews for the series are already out, praising it for its optimism, sincerity, and depth. The first season consists of eight half-hour long episodes, and has already been renewed for a second.
6) Hunters (Amazon Prime): February 21st, 2020
Al Pacino, Logan Lerman, Kate Mulvany, Tiffany Boone and Josh Radnor are Nazi hunters in 1977 NYC. Jordan Peele is executive producer. Did I mention that they’re Nazi hunters and, judging from the trailers, looks like they’ll be beating and killing as many as humanly possible? It is impossible to, in any way, shape or form, understand how you would need more than that. Even Al Pacino gets in on the action! How awesome is that?
5) Run (HBO)
Comedy thriller. Starring Merrit Weaver and Domnall Gleason. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Vicky Jones. Yeah, that’s, uh, all that needs to be said.
4) Devs (Hulu): March 5th, 2020
Annihilation was one of the best films of 2018, being visually arresting and thought provoking, functioning as a kind-of American Stalker. Alongside , and Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, are it is both some one of the best sci-fi films of the 2010s. Sadly, Annihilation was a failure at the box-office. All this is to say However, Garland remains one of the best sci-fi writer-directors working today, so it’s somewhat unsurprising that he’s now moving over to tv, specifically FX (well, technically Hulu). In his new project, Devs, follows “a young software engineer, Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno), [who] investigates the secret development division of her employer, (Nick Offerman), [the CEO of] a cutting-edge tech company based in Silicon Valley, which she believes is behind the murder of her boyfriend”. The miniseries was originally intended to air on the network, though because of Disney’s acquisition, like Mrs. America it’ll be moving over to Hulu as their new “FX on Hulu” brand.
3) Mrs. America (Hulu): April 15th, 2020
Mrs. America is a limited series focusing on the attempt to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, seen through the eyes of various women of that time. Cate Blanchett plays Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative who’s vehemently against the amendment, while Rose Byrne is Gloria Steinem and Uzo Aduba plays Shirley Anita Chisholm. They lead leading a stacked cast that includes Margo Martindale, Sarah Paulson, Tracey Ullman, Melanie Lynskey, Ari Graynor, John Slattery, and more. Announced back in 2018, it has been one of FX’s most anticipated shows, though a major change has occurred since it’s order. Upon Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox, the series will no longer be airing on the network, instead moving over to Hulu as ‘FX on Hulu’, one of many other shows originally intended to air on the acclaimed network.
2) The Plot Against America (HBO): March 16th, 2020
2020 will see the adaptation of the late Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, a 2004 novel set in 1940, that follows a Jewish-American family as they grapple with the recent political rise and eventual presidency of (real) white nationalist Charles Lindbergh as he pivots the country further towards fascistic rule. As the story breaks away and turns into alternate history, it nonetheless is incredibly grounded, what with the already incredibly popular Charles Lindbergh, who vocally supported Nazi Germany, and with the deep anti-Semitism of that time. The limited series has a cast that includes Winona Ryder, John Turturro, Zoe Kazan, and more. Not only this, the biggest draw of the series is who’s behind it: David Simon and Ed Burns, both responsible for The Wire, Treme, The Deuce, and Show Me a Hero, are some of the best writers to work in television. Given this, The Plot Against America looks to be something to look out for.
1) Lovecraft Country (HBO)
In 2016, Mark Ruff published the horror novel Lovecraft Country, a novel that is now being adapted by Misha Green (Underground) and Jordan Peele for HBO. The limited series follows “Atticus Black (Jonathan Majors), as he joins his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father (Michael K. Williams). What follows is a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from an H.P. Lovecraft paperback”. The novel debuted to strong reviews and given the talent on both sides of the screen, the series will likely follow suit, as well as interrogate the racist basis of Lovecraft’s works explicitly. HBO has yet to announce a more specific release date other than 2020.