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The Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2020

We give you the scoop on the next big shows from Netflix, HBO, Disney+ and more.
Tv Shows
By  · Published on January 9th, 2020

15. Westworld Season 3

As Westworld makes its third season debut in a post-Game of Thrones world, the sci-fi genre-shifter has a chance to become HBO’s new flagship series, and the show plans to wow us. Emerging details about the season indicate that the show has moved beyond its Western roots, and this season, subtitled “The New World,” will take place both outside the park and in another themed world modeled after Nazi Germany. The spliced plotlines shown in the trailer above will have to walk a fine line to maintain the show’s existential thrills, but by anchoring each plot with one of the two badass female characters — Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) in LA and Maeve (Thandie Newton) in the Germany plot — and adding Aaron Paul into the mix, the new season looks as if it’s almost too big to fail.

Where to watch: HBO
When to watch: TBA

14. Lovecraft Country

Matt Ruff’s book Lovecraft Country mixes supernatural beings and the Jim Crow-era south for a story that’s unique and ripe for a screen adaptation. J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele apparently thought so, too, as they’re executive producing HBO’s take on the novel, which will be directed by True Detective‘s Daniel Sackheim, among others. All-time great actors including Michael Kenneth Williams and Courtney B. Vance are included in a cast that’s led by Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco). In adapting a book that’s fairly well-known but not overhyped, mixing complex topics with entertaining genre fare, and giving the spotlight to a cast of talented, often under-appreciated actors, Lovecraft Country has the potential to become one of the best new shows of the year.

Where to watch: HBO
When to watch: TBA

13. Better Call Saul season 5

Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Breaking Bad spinoff has always had a much more low-key reception than the series from which it came, but as it approaches the season count of its predecessor, Better Call Saul has more than established itself as one of the best series on TV. Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is a slippery dude by nature, and when put into the pressure cooker of the Albuquerque crime world, he begins to evolve into his amoral final form — the Saul Goodman of the title. Gould says the fifth season will see Jimmy trying to make a name for himself as “not just a criminal lawyer but a criminal lawyer,” while Mike (Jonathan Banks) gets further embroiled in bloody business with Gus (Giancarlo Esposito).

Where to watch: AMC
When to watch: February 23rd

12. The Good Place Season 4b

“There is no answer, but Eleanor is the answer,” Chidi (William Jackson Harper) learned right before The Good Place‘s midseason finale cliffhanger — a moment of suspense that’s killing us all the more because the series only has a few more episodes left to air. Mike Schur’s eccentric afterlife ensemble comedy has evolved into a dozen different brilliant things across its short runtime, and its curtain call will likely be no different. When we left off, Eleanor (Kristen Bell) had just given Chidi his memories back and asked him to design a whole new afterlife, a task that will likely surprise and delight us when the series airs its final four episodes this month — including a super-sized series finale on January 30th.

Where to watch: NBC
When to watch: January 9th

11. GLOW Season 4

I, for one, would watch at least five more seasons of Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch’s ’80s female wrestling dramedy, but I know sometimes it’s good to quit while ahead. The fourth and final season will examine that idea, too, as Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin), best friends again, are on different pages about the future of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Meanwhile, Bash (Chris Lowell) is going uber-straight to please the new conservative business partners, Sam (Marc Maron) is grappling with his mortality in the face of his secret heart attack, and Cherry (Sydelle Noel) is considering adoption. By this point, GLOW  is a well-oiled machine and one of the best portrayals of female camaraderie on television. Whatever it has in store for its grand finale, we’ll be there to watch.

Where to watch: Netflix
When to watch: TBA

10. Sam Esmail’s Untitled Battlestar Galactica Spinoff

One of the most beloved sci-fi series of all time plus the voice of one of the boldest visual storytellers of the past five years equals can’t miss TV. Little is known about this highly anticipated spinoff (or reboot? Based on Sam Esmail’s tweet, it sounds like a spinoff), but it’s set to debut on NBC’s new streaming service sometime in 2020.

Where to watch: Peacock
When to watch: TBA, although Peacock is set to launch in April

9. Atlanta Season 3

Any year that brings us more of the most surreal and ambitious show on television is bound to be a good year. There’s really no way to predict what’s next for Donald and Stephen Glover’s genre and reality-bending series about the Atlanta rap scene, as each episode of the show’s first two seasons has felt completely distinct and unpredictable. Last we checked, Earn (Donald Glover) narrowly avoided being on the outs with Al (Brian Tyree Henry) by planting a gun on their tour-mates while in the airport TSA line. It was a selfish move and a ruthless one, but it demonstrated to Al that maybe Earn does have what it takes to manage him. Though the season was delayed, cast member Zazie Beetz said last year that the show would begin filming in September 2019, so a 2020 release is likely.

Where to watch: FX
When to watch: TBA

8. Avatar: The Last Airbender

The beloved Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender was the defining “chosen one” narrative for a specific generation, and its fanbase has only grown since the 2008 finale. A failed (and white-washed) big-screen adaptation is better off forgotten, but the promise of a new live-action series — with original showrunners Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko on board — has had fans buzzing for over a year now. Few details have emerged about the reboot, but Konietzko noted upon the announcement that the new series is committed to being “culturally appropriate,” an important element as the show followed the sacred philosophies of several specific Eastern-inspired cultures. Most recently, Jessie Flower (Toph in the original series) let slip some intel, stating that the new series is on track to begin filming in February.

Where to watch: Netflix
When to watch: TBA

7. Run

Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s next project. Need we say more? Okay, we’ll say a little more. The HBO romantic comedy thriller will star Waller-Bridge alongside Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson, with Waller-Bridge’s frequent collaborator Vicky Jones serving as showrunner. The series will follow creature of habit Ruby (Wever) as she chooses to go on an adventure with “her oldest flame” (Gleeson). There’s no release date yet, but as soon as we get one, we’ll be counting down the hours until the next love story in the vein of Fleabag.

Where to watch: HBO
When to watch: TBA

6. Hunters

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Nazi-fighting stories will continue to be popular in 2020, for reasons that should be obvious. Hunters, which is produced by Jordan Peele and stars none other than Al Pacino, is an exciting entry into the “fuck Nazis” subgenre for several reasons. For one, there’s the aforementioned Peele and Pacino, plus Logan Lerman in the lead role. For another, the series about a diverse group of 1970s New Yorkers who take it upon themselves to track down former Nazis who evaded justice and moved to the US is a wild plot that’s based on a true story. Vigilante sagas are always interesting, and with Pacino taking on the role of a Holocaust survivor, this one is bound to be more interesting than most.

Where to watch: Amazon Video
When to watch: February 21st

5. American Crime Story: Impeachment

If there’s one true story that deserves to be re-evaluated in the context of the #MeToo era, it’s that of Monica Lewinsky. The podcast Slow Burn has already presented new angles to the story of Bill Clinton‘s impeachment, but it was only a matter of time before the case got the Ryan Murphy touch. Based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book on the subject and produced by Lewinsky herself — now an anti-bullying activist — there’s no doubt American Crime Story will be a must-watch series of 2020. Murphy’s previous installments of American Crime Story have been some of his best work ever, and Impeachment will likely take a self-reflexive approach similar to that of The People vs. OJ Simpson, examining the weight of public scrutiny and the 24-hour news cycle, alongside the so-called “crimes” themselves. Oh, and did we mention Beanie Feldstein is playing Lewinsky and Clive Owen is playing President Clinton? Yeah, that’s happening.

Where to watch: FX
When to watch: September 27th

4. Bojack Horseman Season 6b

I don’t think we need to go over the fact that Bojack Horseman is one of the best gifts the 2010s gave us again, or talk about how it’s one of the best shows on TV year after year after year. We’ve done all that, and if you still aren’t convinced after clicking those links, the beautiful, brilliant endcap trailer above does a damn good job of proving it as well. Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s deeply humane, endlessly surprising, consistently brilliant series will bow out on January 31st. We’re lucky to have witnessed it, and we will miss it dearly.

Where to watch: Netflix
When to watch: January 31st

3. Y

Fans of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Eisner-winning graphic novel series Y: The Last Man have watched countless plans for an adaptation come together and fall apart since the rights were first acquired in 2007. Finally, there’s some footage that seems as if it’s going to reach our TV sets. The popular graphic novels follow the titular last man on earth, the only male survivor of a plague that wiped out everyone with a Y chromosome. Diane Lane, Barry Keoghan, Imogen Poots, Lashana Lynch, Marin Ireland, Juliana Canfield, Amber Tamblyn, and Timothy Hutton make up a stellar cast. If all goes well with this one, let’s delete the word “unfilmable” from our vocabularies once and for all.

Where to watch: FX
When to watch: TBA

2. Star Trek: Picard

Patrick Stewart‘s Captain Jean-Luc Picard! On our TV screens in 2020! I rest my case.

Where to watch: CBS All Access
When to watch: January 23rd

1. The Stand

When IT: Chapter One (2017) broke records and ushered in a boom period of Stephen King adaptations, you could almost hear the sound of millions of fans holding their breath in anticipation of the big, obvious thing we were all hoping for. Well, we can finally exhale, because it’s happening. It’s really happening! A modern version of The Stand (sorry, 1994 miniseries) is about to exist and be taken in by our eyeballs! King’s most beloved, epic, doorstop of a book will be directed by Josh Boone, with King himself as an executive producer and his son Owen producing. The cast list alone is a lengthy read and includes the likes of James Marsden, Amber Heard, Greg Kinnear, Whoopi Goldberg, Marilyn Manson, Nat Wolff, Heather Graham, and more. Alexander Skarsgård will play the big bad man himself, Randall Flagg. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if this version of The Stand is great, legions of King fans will be happier than ever, and if it’s disappointing, the world will never hear the end of it. No pressure!

Where to watch: CBS All Access
When to watch: TBA

Even more new and returning shows to keep an eye out for in 2020: AJ and the Queen, Avenue 5, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens, Briarpatch, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Doctor Who, High Fidelity, Kidding, Lizzie McGuire, Mrs. America, Outlander, Shrill, The Sinner, and Snowpiercer.

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Valerie Ettenhofer is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, TV-lover, and mac and cheese enthusiast. As a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects, she covers television through regular reviews and her recurring column, Episodes. She is also a voting member of the Critics Choice Association's television and documentary branches. Twitter: @aandeandval (She/her)