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Vocalo’s Top Ten TV Shows of 2020

Written by on December 21, 2020

In a year marked by staying inside, we had plenty of time to catch up on the cornucopia that is streaming-wars era television.

Here are some of our favorites and where to watch them …


City So Real

This heartfelt look at Chicago from acclaimed documentarian Steve James follows the election of Lori Lightfoot, the Movement for Black Lives, and the onset of COVID in Chicago. It’s a gripping and moving portrait of the city that is both full of love, and deeply divided.

Seamus Doheny

(Streaming on Hulu)

The Queen’s Gambit

A story about chess, but only as a vehicle for a woman’s plight to be accepted in a man’s world. It’s GORGEOUS, and that’s more than partly thanks to editor and Chicago native Michelle Tesoro. My homie and one of the most talented cutters in the biz.

Jill Hopkins

(Streaming on Netflix)

The Undoing

Hugh Grant, Nicole Kidman, and Donald Sutherland? What more do you need to know?!

Seamus Doheny

(Streaming on HBO Max)

Pen15

Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine – who are in their 30s – play middle school versions of themselves, and the self-reflection and cringe-factor makes me want to walk into the lake. MORE PLEASE.

Jill Hopkins

(Streaming on Hulu)

The Last Dance

If you’re from Chicago this one needs no explanation. My takeaways were the themes of pain vs. perseverance, the transcendence of victory, and style as revolutionary act. Also, it goes without saying, MJ is the GOAT.

Seamus Doheny

(Streaming on Netflix)

Lovecraft Country

It’s been weeks, y’all. WEEKS. Weeks since my eyes drank in the storytelling, the monsters, the human monsters, the allegory, the acting, the cinematography, the costumes, the biceps. WEEEEEKS. And, I’m still not right.

Jill Hopkins

(Streaming on HBO Max)

Industry

It’s Skins meets Succession and I’m here for it. Myha’la Herrold (as Pierpoint “Graduate” Harper) and Ken Leung (as her boss, the acerbic trader Eric) are superb as underdogs staking their claim in a world dominated by excess, image and status.

Seamus Doheny

(Streaming on HBO Max)

Cobra Kai

The back story, the fight choreography, the corniness! It is so stupidly glorious! #TeamJohnny

Jill Hopkins

(Streaming on Netflix, Prime Video, Vudu)

Saved By The Bell (2020)

Listen, I’m just as surprised as you are. This return to Bayside is smarter, wittier, and waaaayyyy more inclusive than the original. I started watching to mock it, and ended up re-watching it just to pick up on some of the subtle jokes and references I missed the first time around.

Jill Hopkins

(Streaming on Peacock)

The Good Lord Bird

A story about John Brown that sends up the “white savior” myth with brilliant, sharp satire and at the same time manages to be a compelling historical drama. The show deftly connects the historical struggle of Black Americans with the current racial inequality and oppression that we are still fighting today. Ethan Hawke is great, Joshua Caleb Johnson is a revelation.

Seamus Doheny

(Streaming on Showtime)