NPR Critics Pick Their Top 7 Favorite TV Shows of a Weird 2020

Couple Enjoying Top-Rated NPR TV Shows of 2020

The NPR Ranks This Year’s TV Shows

2020 was probably supposed to be everything that it didn’t end up being. People expected it to see new technological innovations, more cinematic experiences in the depths of sci-fi and AI, and an ever more boundless journey around the globe. Well, none of that happened as planned, but we still saw innovation, loads of TV, and travel of the virtual kind. The one thing that kept everyone going was good ol’ TV, often seen on a streaming service. The NPR recently released their favorites of the year. Check them out, they’re the perfect holiday binge material!

1. The Queen’s Gambit (on Netflix)

The Queen’s Gambit
If one miniseries manages to raise chess set demand by 300%+, you can be certain it’s no ordinary show. The Queen’s Gambit follows the fictional character of chess prodigy Beth Harmon on her way to becoming the world’s best chess player. Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Beth, gives a magnetic performance that leaves you breathless. A tale of addiction, sexism, and 1960s fashion, this show is a must-watch according to NPR critics.

2. The Invisible Man (on HBO, HBO Max, and streaming services)

The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is an exhilarating thriller that will bring back your fear of the dark, and it will make you question the world of the living. The story centers around Elizabeth Moss’ character, a woman who believes she’s haunted by her dead abusive husband. Trauma, paranoia, and a series of chilling encounters with an invisible force – this movie has it all.

3. The Last Dance (on Netflix)

The Last Dance
2020 was a year of awesome documentaries, and The Last Dance is definitely one of the finest sports docuseries we’ve seen so far. This never-before-seen look at the final championship season of the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98 with basketball legend Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman at the front, will sink you back into the golden era of this great sport. If you see only one documentary this year, NPR suggests it’s this one.

4. The New Pope (on HBO and HBO Max)

The New Pope
Much like The Young Pope, this new TV series focuses on the jockeying for power behind the Vatican doors. Despite changing Jude Law as Pius XIII with John Malkovich as Sir John Brannox, the show has preserved its tone and visual pace. Dive into a world of vaulted rooms, lush gardens, and arched hallways where the very earthly kind of power is won and lost.

5. Normal People (on Hulu)

 Normal People
The Sally Rooney novel comes to life on TV in this limited miniseries. This beautiful story of love, friendship, and growing up is a touching thing to watch. From two young students who fall in love with each other to two adults who see each other grow up over the course of many years, the tale of Marianne and Connell is the perfect thing to binge-watch this holiday season.

6. The Great (on Hulu)

The Great
NPR critics didn’t pick this show by chance. Dubbed as “an occasionally true story,” the series follows the life of young Catherine and her dubious marriage to Peter, Emperor of Russia. Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult offer witty, amusing, and incredibly charming performances you simply must see.

7. Boys State (on Apple TV+)

 Boys State
What happens when high school boys participate in a program where they run for office to form a mock government? This Texas-based documentary seeks to find the answer. Boys State is a closeup look at how young men approach politics, how young activists are born, and how early others pick up the bad habits of real politicians.