The Best TV Shows of the 2020s So Far

Updated June 5, 2024 • Staff

In this dynamic era of storytelling, the 2020s have already gifted us with a plethora of groundbreaking and unforgettable shows that have changed the landscape of TV. These shows have taken the small screen by storm with their compelling narratives, nuanced characters, more accessibility to new talent, and stunning production values, leaving us yearning for more. Explore this collection that showcases the unrivaled power of television to ignite our imaginations and leave an indelible mark on our cultural landscape.

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80.

Such Brave Girls

In an early scene in Such Brave Girls, Josie (Kat Sadler) compares herself and her sister Billie (Lizzie Davidson) to a more attractive woman. “She’s live, love, laugh,” she says, “We’re death, silence, hate.” At this point, you’d think Sadler, who is also the creator and writer of the show, and Davidson, who is Sadler’s real-life sister, are the types to indulge in their sadness and romanticize their dysfunction. Though that happens to some degree, Sadler is self-aware enough to steer clear of wallow territory and offer something insightful about mental health and the ways we cope (or fail to, anyway). Parents who dismiss depression are called out, as are social workers and supposed experts who stereotype people with the illness. But weirdly enough, the show is never downright cynical. Josie is sweet enough to cut through the darkness, as are her ignorant and selfish though ultimately well-meaning family members. You’ll probably recall Broad City and Fleabag while watching Such Brave Girls because of its unapologetic approach to both sex and suicide, but maybe more than those two shows, Such Brave Girls is willing to root its themes deeper into reality. It almost never brings up mental health without contextualizing it in the family’s low-income state, making it one of the most relatable and urgent shows you can watch right now.

Our staff rating: 7.9/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Freddie Meredith, Kat Sadler, Lizzie Davidson, Louise Brealey, Paul Bazel
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch Such Brave Girls on Hulu for free
79.

Our Flag Means Death

The scene: 1717, the Golden Age of Piracy; the people: brute criminals living on nothing but loot. Seems typical enough for a pirate story, but more than just an action-packed swashbuckling treat, Our Flag Means Death is also a raging ensemble comedy that is both modern and subversive as it dares to recast masculinity in a whole new light. 

The show follows Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby), a flamboyant aristocrat who leaves his pampered life and turns to the sea in search of deeper meaning and purpose. Specifically, he’s out to figure out, once and for all, what it means to be a man. Does it entail remorseless murder and a stoic acceptance of one’s responsibility, as he’s been taught and taunted to do for so long, or is there more to it than that? The wannabe pirate gets closer to answering these questions when he meets and eventually falls for the legendary Blackbeard, played warmly and hilariously by Taika Waititi.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Action, Action & Adventure, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, History
Actor: Con O'Neill, David Fane, Ewen Bremner, Guz Khan, Joel Fry, Kristian Nairn, Matthew Maher, Nathan Foad, Rhys Darby, Rory Kinnear, Samson Kayo, Taika Waititi, Vico Ortiz
Rating: 18+
78.

Yellowjackets

When a girls soccer team is left stranded in the wilderness, things quickly descend from worrisome to outright, delightful, and sometimes unbearably weird. It’s a classic tale of survival injected with fresh mystery and drama, and as you watch these girls navigate humanity in all its extremes—from the primal urge to live to the existential need to bond—you’re left feeling both wildly entertained and deeply disturbed all at once. 

Though Yellowjackets has drawn comparisons to beloved stories like Lost and Lord of the Flies, its unique pulse on the female experience is arguably its own thing: a sure and instant classic in the making. 

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama, History, Horror, Mystery
Actor: Christina Ricci, Ella Purnell, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey, Sammi Hanratty, Sophie Nélisse, Sophie Thatcher, Steven Krueger, Tawny Cypress, Warren Kole
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch Yellowjackets on Fubo for free
77.

For All Mankind

What if the 1960s space race never ended? For All Mankind imagines such a world; here, Russia's cosmonauts arrive on the moon first, the galaxy holds resources beyond belief, and global wars have expanded in stakes and scale. More than just the final frontier, outer space is now the focal point of warring nations hungry to capitalize and claim new assets. 

For All Mankind's out-of-this-world premise alone make it a thrilling watch, but you'll be glad to know that the show also feels intimate and affecting thanks to its fully fleshed-out characters. If you're looking for an epic but grounded story to lose yourself in, this is it. 

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Science Fiction, War & Politics
Actor: Casey Johnson, Casey W. Johnson, Coral Peña, Cynthy Wu, Edi Gathegi, Jodi Balfour, Joel Kinnaman, Krys Marshall, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Sonya Walger, Wrenn Schmidt
Rating: TV-MA
76.

Trying

Trying is a realistic but charming take on couples venturing to build a life and stable future for themselves. Heavy themes are tackled here, like infertility, infidelity, and parenthood, but the immensely likable couple that is Nikki and Jase guide us through the murky ups and downs of them all. Their heart and humor aren’t just comforting to watch, they're also inspiring in a TV age obsessed with heavy dramatics. Like Ted Lasso, Abbott Elementary, and other well-meaning shows like it, Trying is a bit of lighthearted fare that we’d do well to indulge in every now and then.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Esther Smith, Imelda Staunton, Oliver Chris, Ophelia Lovibond, Rafe Spall
Rating: TV-14
75.

The Patient

When therapist Alan Strauss (Steve Carell) is kidnapped and imprisoned by Sam (Domhnall Gleeson), a patient with homicidal urges, Alan begins a painful journey that directs his attention to his dangerous surroundings as well as his repressed thoughts.

Both Carell and Gleeson are creepily good in this, with Rotten Tomatoes even dubbing their work here as a “career best.” Carell is almost unrecognizable as the troubled but subdued prisoner, while Gleeson is unnerving as the reform-seeking serial killer. The backstories and the ongoing mystery propel the story with great force, but the show is at its best when it takes time to sit with its two leads and let them go at each other. All this makes for a rewarding mystery and a compelling two-hander.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Crime, Drama
Actor: Andrew Leeds, David Alan Grier, Domhnall Gleeson, Laura Niemi, Linda Emond, Steve Carell
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch The Patient on Hulu for free
74.

Little America

Based on Epic magazine’s column of the same name, Little America is an anthology series based on real-life immigrant stories. The episodes vary in plot, topic, and even era—they’re as diverse as the characters themselves—but they are all connected by one thing: the hope of achieving the American Dream. In one episode, an Iranian father sets out to build his family’s dream home in a bid to prevent his son from moving out. In another, a second-generation Korean-American struggles to find his calling, much to the dismay of his war-survivor parents (“What do you know about suffering?” the mother, played by Parasite’s Lee Jung-eun asks when her son complains about med school).

Co-created by Lee Eisenberg, Kumail Nanjiani, and Emily Gordon (The Big Sick) and directed by Sian Heder (CODA), Little America is a heartwarming collection of stories, as moving as it is urgent. It’s easy to miss this over splashier shows on TV, but trust that this one’s worth tuning into.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: TV-14
73.

Hacks

The initial charm of Hacks is in watching sparks fly between its sharp-tongued leads. Neither the elderly Deborah nor the young Ava holds back the digs, both of them cutting to the core of their insecurities. Part of what makes their tension so watchable is that they’re stand-ins for different generations. Deborah represents the all-hustle culture of the boomers, while Ava represents burned-out millennials. Lock them in a scene together and you get endless (and endlessly funny) observations about the modern world. Eventually, however, their relationship deepens into something more meaningful than that. As Deb and Ava bond over their shared hopes and flaws, the show transforms into a clever and tender two-hander about their prickly but profound relationship. They’re two sides of the same coin, and even though no one can bring them down like the other can, the opposite is also true: no one else can lift them and push them to new heights like the other can.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Hannah Einbinder, Jean Smart, Mark Indelicato, Megan Stalter, Paul W. Downs
Rating: TV-MA
72.

Extraordinary

Imagine if the show Girls was Marvel-ized (or if you like, Derry Girls blended with Encanto): that’s kind of what this series is, but actually good.

It has all the trappings of a quarter-life-crisis sitcom—broke 25-year-olds with big dreams and little prospects living under one roof—while also being set in a world where everyday humans develop a superpower by the age of 18. The British series follows Jen, a late bloomer who has yet to find her power. Having had enough of sucky jobs and boyfriends, she sets out to discover her power in the hopes of finally knowing more about herself. It’s a bizarre premise with an authentic, endearing core that's certainly worth checking out. 

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy
Actor: Mairéad Tyers, Robbie Gee, Safia Oakley-Green, Siobhan McSweeney, Sofia Oxenham
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch Extraordinary on Hulu for free
71.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Despite their rising popularity, K-dramas have sustained a reputation for being, at times, too sentimental for their own good. Extraordinary Attorney Woo is not exempt from that tendency, but when it does shoot for schmaltz, it makes sure to aim right at your heart. Thanks to clever twists and moving performances across the board, Extraordinary Attorney Woo is an excellently emotional series. Every romantic encounter will make you swoon, every courtroom scene will have you cheer, and every ending will leave you in tears. 

Moreover, it’s not a show that simply happens to be about lawyers. It is a law procedural that deals with each new case with the utmost care. It’s smart and educational, with the proceedings and resolutions blending seamlessly into the characters’ own arcs. 

There’s something for everyone in this series, and it’s sure to be an easy favorite for one reason or another.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Actor: Baek Ji-won, Ha Yoon-kyung, Im Sung-jae, Jeon Bae-soo, Jin Kyung, Joo Hyun-young, Joo Jong-hyuk, Kang Ki-young, Kang Tae-oh, Kim Hieora, Koo Kyo-hwan, Park Eun-bin
Director: Yoo In-sik
Rating: TV-14

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