If you look up “raging dumpster fire” in the dictionary, undoubtedly the year 2020 will be emblazoned in massive text next to it. Merriam-Webster, you know what to do. That being said, this year hasn’t been short on entertainment. For me personally, I’ve discovered new shows and bore witness to some truly great television episodes in 2020. What else is there to do but find solace in entertainment while the world burns?
So, we at Geek Girl Authority have pooled together our highlights from this year to prove that not all of it was a putrid mess. Only most of it was. Below, you’ll find our favorite TV episodes, shows, pop culture moments, books, podcasts and more. Peruse at your peril. Here are GGA’s favorite things from 2020!
One of 2020’s shining stars for me came with just six days left in the year. Netflix’s newest series from Shonda Rhimes, Bridgerton, was everything I needed. It follows the eight children of the widowed Dowager Viscountess Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) and their journey to find themselves, love and a happy ever after. The Netflix series is based on one of my favorite book series from Julia Quinn. While the first season focuses heavily on Simon (Regé-Jean Page) and Daphne’s (Phoebe Dynevor) love story and everything that comes with it, it also dives into the lives of a plethora of supporting characters. If you make it through the entire season without absolutely loving Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie), then we need to sit down and have a really long chat. — Julia Roth
Hulu’s The Great is a resplendent period piece that follows Catherine (Elle Fanning), a rural girl who marries Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult). When she learns that her new husband is the worst person to lead Russia, she plans a coup d’état to overthrow him. The Great isn’t your average period show — it’s cheeky, clever and boisterously in-your-face. Fanning shines as the future Catherine the Great and Hoult plays the polar opposite from his usual roles, but he does it with panache. You loathe Peter for his hubris and the way he treats his people, but Hoult’s portrayal ultimately makes you sympathize with him. Well, somewhat. The Great is vividly colorful with lavish costumes and beautiful scenery. It may not be an accurate depiction of the real-life events that led to Catherine the Great’s ruling, but boy is it fun. And fun is just what we need in the dumpster fire year that is 2020. — Melody McCune
“On the Run,” What We Do in the Shadows
When Jim the Vampire (Mark Hamill) shows up on Staten Island to kill Laszlo (Matt Berry), the latter flees for a new life in Pennsylvania. Laszlo disguises himself under the alias “Jackie Daytona,” a toothpick chewing, jeans-wearing bar owner and avid supporter of the town’s girls’ volleyball team. “Jackie” claims to be from Tuscon, Arizona, something no one questions in spite of the fact that he does nothing to hide his British accent. Nothing in 2020 made me laugh as hard as this episode. It was silly and smart and a perfect example of what makes What We Do in the Shadows great. — Alex Faccibene
Time to bust out your multicolored gel pens, your plastic chokers and your boy band tees! Wait — is it still 2020? PEN15, created by Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, stars two girls wending their way through junior high in the early aughts. Even better? Erskine and Konkle, two thirty-somethings in real-life, portray their younger counterparts while surrounded by actual teens. PEN15 (if you don’t know what that says, then you obviously didn’t try to spell out dirty words on your calculator) is a hilariously touching, blast-from-the-past romp. At face value, it may only appeal to folks in my generation, but I think its reach goes beyond that. Anyone can relate to being socially awkward, pubescent teens who obsess over crushes and rising through the ranks of the middle school hierarchy. Erskine and Konkle are comedic geniuses, and you almost forget that they’re adults playing teenagers. They do it so well! — Melody McCune
Taika Waititi winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (Jojo Rabbit)
My best of 2020 has to be Taika Waititi winning an Oscar. He’s the 8th Indigenous creative to be nominated and the second one to win. Buffy Sainte-Marie won for Best Song in 1982. It was a proud moment for me and all of my Native friends. So many of us were crying when he won. — Noetta Harjo
I’m incredibly picky when it comes to my comic book series. As much as I love superheroes and superpowers, sometimes the shows coming down the pipeline can be too formulaic for my tastes. Enter Doom Patrol. Doom Patrol isn’t your momma’s caped heroes and one-note baddies show. It centers on a slew of “freaks” that reside in Doom Manor. When their beloved leader, Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), goes missing, the team strikes out into the real world to track him down. A world that incessantly belittles them for their differences. Brendan Fraser plays a foul-mouthed robot! Alan Tudyk portrays a maniacal villain who’s obsessed with telling a good story!
There’s a farting albino donkey whose mouth is the portal to another world. A talking cockroach that’s a religious zealot. A non-binary, teleporting street named Danny. Highlight: Diane Guerrero is a joy to watch as Crazy Jane, a woman that possesses 64 unique, superpowered personalities. It’s a darkly comedic tale interwoven with the peculiar and the strange. A well-acted story that celebrates the outcasts. It’s a salve for the sting of 2020. If you like weird sh*t, you’ll love Doom Patrol. — Melody McCune
Games and films and podcasts, oh my!
I never thought I’d like any iteration of Harley Quinn, but DC’s animated foray Harley Quinn manages to reinvent Joker’s former sidekick. Harley (voiced by Kaley Cuoco) dumps the white dude with green hair and decides to strike out on her own in Gotham. Her objective? To carve out a crime-riddled path for herself as the city’s sole criminal queenpin alongside her BFF Poison Ivy (voiced by Lake Bell). She brings together a band of felons for her crew, including a clay shapeshifter named Clayface (voiced by Alan Tudyk), a massive half-man, half-shark called King Shark (voiced by Ron Funches) and a psychic supervillain known as Dr. Psycho (voiced by Tony Hale). Together, they bring Gotham’s notable, major players down to size, including Joker (voiced by Tudyk) himself. Oh, and Harley finds love in the most unexpected of places, but I won’t spoil it for you here. Just know that Harley Quinn is a fun, innovative take on a well-known character. It’s witty, laugh-out-loud funny and laden with animated violence. Like 2020! — Melody McCune
The Flash Barry Allen meeting Justice League Barry Allen
“The Crisis on Infinite Earths” not only brought all of the DC/CW superheroes together (finally), but it also linked the Arrowverse to multiple beloved DC TV shows and films. From Smallville to Batman & Robin to Titans, this was the crossover of all crossovers. In part four of the Crisis, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen/The Flash came face-to-face with another version of Barry Allen from the DCEU. Ezra Miller made a special cameo that blew everyone’s minds! Some key things to note. Number one, Miller’s Barry didn’t use the name the Flash. Number two, Miller’s appearance was the best-kept secret in the Arrowverse. And number three, at the time in the story, the multiverse no longer existed. So where did the DCEU Barry come from? We’ll probably never know. This was such an epic scene and a great crossover. I’m not sure anything can top this! — Noetta Harjo
“Whenever You’re Ready,” The Good Place series finale
I partially blame The Good Place ending for 2020’s drastic downward spiral. “Whenever You’re Ready,” the show’s series finale, aired on January 30. Right before all the chaos ensued. Anyway, it was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best series finales I’ve ever seen. Not many shows end on a high note, but The Good Place managed to tie everything together in a way that didn’t leave me feeling empty. Yes, tears were shed. A lot. This show spent four years cultivating a relationship between us and these wonderful characters. Episodic highlights: Chidi’s (William Jackson Harper) beautiful monologue to Eleanor (Kristen Bell) before he leaves. Harper delivered a show-best performance there. Michael (Ted Danson) finally becoming human and “taking it sleazy” on Earth. Mary Steenburgen, Danson’s real-life wife, plays his beau in this episode. It’s a punch to the gut in the best way possible. 2020 may be the very definition of The Bad Place, but The Good Place series finale is proof that heaven exists. — Melody McCune
Audiobooks: they literarily got me through 2020. Why did I use to hate on them? I used to read all the time — till #adulting got in the way. But when time stopped this year, I suddenly had a lot more of it on my hands. I needed something to do that didn’t involve more screen time, since my job is nothing but. So … I thought maybe audiobooks might not be as awful as I’d once thought? With apps like Hoopla, Overdrive and Scribd, I suddenly had access to more books than I could ever possibly get through. Going to sleep via audiobook is listening to a bedtime story from a professional. Just like Mom and Baba used to do, but better (shhh … don’t tell). — Melis Amber
How’re ya now? Good, ‘n you? Letterkenny Season Nine came about at the close of 2020, and what a way to end this tumultuous, poison-filled year. Letterkenny follows a small town in Canada populated by Hicks, Jocks and Skids. Shenanigans ensue. Created by Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney, this fast-paced comedy is just what the doctor ordered. Jokes, running gags and creative wordplay churn out at breakneck speed. Full disclosure: you may need to watch with closed captioning so as not to miss some zingers. Aaron Sorkin would be jealous of Keeso and Tierney’s ability to craft truly brilliant dialogue. It’s Shakespeare if, you know, his plays were set in rural Canada and boasted seriously dirty language. As someone from a small town, I can definitely relate to the stereotypes presented, especially from the Hick side of things. Can confirm — this is a show you need to watch. So get at’er! — Melody McCune
“Guagamela,” The Expanse
“Guagamela” isn’t just one of the best TV episodes of 2020 — it’s easily one of the best outings of all time. The Expanse is known the universe over for its high-intensity, on-the-edge-of-your-seat storytelling. “Guagamela” put the pedal to the metal with a rapidly unfurling plot that had my jaw on the floor for a solid 45 minutes. I audibly gasped several times throughout the episode, which is a rarity for me. Now, perhaps my surprised state is due in part to not having read the books on which The Expanse is based. But even avid readers of the series claim that “Guagamela” is a pure masterpiece from start to finish, with everything executed to perfection. Brilliant performances, out-of-this-world effects and a pulsating, riveting story make “Guagamela” a joy to watch. — Melody McCune
What are your highlights from 2020? Sound off in the comments below!
This article was originally published on 12/31/20