When staying home was essential in 2020, TV provided a necessary getaway from reality during quarantine. There were many fantastic viewing options — too many to include in this list — but here are some of the most watched shows of the year.
In this musical dramedy, computer programmer Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy) gains the ability to hear others’ inner thoughts through song after an earthquake interrupts an MRI appointment.
This special power serves as both a gift and a curse for Zoey. Her father, Mitch (Peter Gallagher), has a neurodegenerative disorder that keeps him from speaking verbally, so Zoey’s able to communicate with him through song. At the same time, she’s caught in a love triangle with her best friend and fellow programmer, Max (Skylar Astin), and her colleague, Simon (John Clarence Stewart). She persistently hears them singing love songs about her.
The musical numbers are always a delight, often featuring catchy tunes and elaborate choreography, a feature that won the show an Emmy in September. The different relationships between Zoey and her mother, Maggie (Mary Steenburgen), neighbor and confidant, Mo (Alex Newell), and boss, Joan (Lauren Graham), are also enjoyable to watch the show explore. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” is a truly unique series that’s able to blend many genres and themes successfully.
Season 2 will explore how Zoey and the rest of the cast cope with grief in the season 1 finale. One can stream the Viewers won’t have to wait much longer for the show to return, as the second season premieres on NBC Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. Season 1 is available to stream on Hulu and for free on Peacock.
Premiering in May, “Stargirl” was a breakout hit for the defunct streaming service DC Universe and for The CW, home of additional DC TV series like “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and “Supergirl.”
Starring Brec Bassinger as teen Courtney Whitmore, “Stargirl” follows Courtney and her family as they move to Blue Valley, Nebraska. There, she discovers her stepfather, Pat (Luke Wilson), is in possession of the Cosmic Staff — a weapon she’s able to wield — so Courtney believes she’s the daughter of Starman (Joel McHale), former owner of the staff. Starman and Pat were members of the Justice Society of America (JSA), but 10 years in the past, the Injustice Society of America (ISA) nearly killed the entire JSA, with only Pat surviving.
Courtney takes up the mantle of Stargirl and goes to work creating a new edition of the JSA with her friends Yolanda Montez/Wildcat (Yvette Monreal), Beth Chapel/Doctor Mid-Nite (Anjelika Washington) and Rick Tyler/Hourman (Cameron Gellman). The newly formed team quickly finds enemies in their classmates, Henry King Jr. (Jake Austin Walker), Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy) and their parents — former ISA members — who concoct a plan to reclaim their power and mold the country in their vision.
“Stargirl” was a breath of fresh air from other DC series on the CW. The show had a lighter tone, in part to the younger cast, and balanced family dynamics, superheroics, comedy and drama at the same level as — or perhaps even better than — “The Flash.” Season 2 of “Stargirl” is in production and is expected to premiere sometime in 2021. One can catch up on season 1 via HBO Max or for free on the CW app.
Season 2 of Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” picks up right where the first left off as viewers follow the superpowered Hargreeves siblings and their wild attempt to prevent the apocalypse. Again.
After Vanya Hargreeves (Elliot Page) unleashed her suppressed powers and destroyed the moon, Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) sends him and his siblings back in time to the 1960s leading up to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and another world-ending doomsday event in November 1963.
Like season 1, “The Umbrella Academy” dives into the hectic lives of Luther (Tom Hopper), Diego (David Castañeda), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus (Robert Sheehan), Five, Ben (Justin H. Min) and Vanya without ever taking itself too seriously. The show’s humor, action, knack for incredible music and focus on the siblings’ different relationships make it a blast to watch and easy to binge in a weekend.
After releasing season 2 in July, Netflix renewed the series for a third season in November. Filming begins soon, so the wait shouldn’t be too long to see what happens next to the Hargreeves.
“The Mandalorian” is one of the best programs Disney+ has to offer. Beginning in October, season 2 brought the return of Mando (Pedro Pascal) and the Child to screens everywhere. With phenomenal guest stars, unbearable cuteness from the Child and top-notch action and storylines, tuning in to “The Mandalorian” each week was the perfect way to close out 2020.
The main story of the season was Mando’s quest to return the Child — who viewers learn is named Grogu — to the Jedi. Mando has many steps and detours along this journey, which gave executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni the opportunity to introduce formerly animated characters to the live-action “Star Wars” universe, like Mandalorian warrior Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and former Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson).
The highlight of the season was undoubtedly the burgeoning father-son relationship between Mando and the Child. The pair becomes increasingly attached to each other over the course of season 2’s eight chapters, which made for some highly emotional scenes.
The season finale teased the spinoff “The Book of Boba Fett” coming December 2021 and season 3 of “The Mandalorian,” which will come soon after. Additional spinoff series “Ahsoka” and “Rangers of the New Republic” are set in the same time period and are bound to crossover with “The Mandalorian” in the future as well.
Fortunately for audiences, each show is returning to screens or production soon — as are many other exciting TV series — so there’s plenty for viewers to look forward to in the new year.
Contact Michael Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.