Hidden TV gems you might have missed (or forgotten about) in 2020

Bethonie Butler

THE WASHINGTON POST – Despite the unprecedented challenges of 2020, there are a few things from last year we won’t mind taking into the new one – amplified appreciation for essential workers, the thrill of small victories, hope for a better future, a solid reading list, Dionne Warwick’s Twitter account.

These TV shows also fit the bill. Check them out if you haven’t already (or revisit them).

HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON

John Wilson’s New York City-focussed docuseries (produced by Nathan Fielder of Nathan for You fame) ended up on a fair amount of year-end best-TV lists. It’s a fitting accolade for the show’s behind-the-camera host, who infuses his coverage of mundane topics – ranging from small talk to making risotto – with humour, pathos and money quotes from New Yorkers. Wilson begins an episode on scaffolding (dubbed “the best half-hour of comedy in 2020” by the New York Times) with this macabre bon mot: “Everyone in New York is going to die, but sometimes the city tries to stop that from happening.”

The 19th-Century period drama ‘Bridgerton’. PHOTO: NETFLIX
ABOVE & BELOW: Nina Moran as Kirt and Ardelia ‘Dede’ Lovelace as Janay in ‘Betty’; and ‘How To With John Wilson’. PHOTOS: HBO

BETTY

This HBO dramedy, a spinoff of the 2018 film Skate Kitchen, follows a group of young women who find freedom and a mission – to dismantle the patriarchy – while navigating New York City’s male-dominated skateboarding scene.

HARLEY QUINN

This animated comedy (featuring Kaley Cuoco as the voice of Joker’s erstwhile other half) introduced Sanaa Lathan as Catwoman in its second season, which premiered early last year. It’s a lively and smart take on one of the DC Universe’s most intriguing antiheroines.

DESUS AND MERO

Bronx-bred duo Desus Nice and the Kid Mero broke the late-night model on Viceland before bringing their raw, insightful (and hilarious) commentary to Showtime in 2019. Amid a global pandemic, racial-injustice protests and an election year like no other, the pair’s voices proved more essential than ever in the show’s second season.

Last year’s line-up of illustrious guests was as dynamic as ever – with rapper Saweetie, chef José Andrés, Anthony Fauci and Barack Obama among them – highlighting the show’s range of perspectives and pop-culture savvy.

BRIDGERTON

This 19th-Century period drama is as extravagant as one might expect from Shonda Rhimes and her collaborators (including series creator Chris Van Dusen). It’s not exactly under the radar – nothing gets social media talking like a Shondaland production – but the show’s holiday launch still may have eluded you. The series follows the drama and romantic exploits of British high society, with a sharp-witted gossip columnist voiced by Julie Andrews serving as our irreverent narrator.

INSECURE

Issa Rae’s dramedy had an unusually long hiatus after its third season, which aired in 2018. The show’s understated fourth season, which premiered in April 2020, proved it was worth the wait. Insecure was sharper in its portrayal of young Black adulthood. Though Season 4 zeroes in on a particularly awkward stretch for Issa, Molly et al, the series itself is as assured as ever.