All the Must-Watch Netflix Original Series of 2020 (So Far)
Fun fact: Netflix released more original programming in 2019 than the entire TV industry did in 2005 (including broadcast networks, cable networks, and premium cable networks), according to Variety. To be fair, when a streaming service releases 371 new movies and series in only 12 months, it would kind of be a miracle if they were all good. Just like in 2019, the TV series released by Netflix in 2020 have ranged from totally unwatchable to really, really incredible – and it’s those latter series we want to draw your attention to. Check out the gallery for all the best Netflix original shows of 2020.
In this bilingual comedy-drama, three Mexican-American cousins attempt to work together (despite their differences) on their shared dream: keeping their immigrant grandfather’s family taco shop open in their rapidly gentrifying LA neighborhood, Boyle Heights. It’s poignant, funny, and sharp AF, and it explores gentrification in a way that is never too heavy-handed.
Canadian comedian Mae Martin stars as herself in this wildly underrated rom-com series, following her life in London as she fights to overcome her addiction to narcotics and pursues a relationship with a woman named George, who has never dated another woman before. That may not sound like a “feel good” premise, but Martin managed to make this series both heartbreakingly personal and totally charming (while also delivering a ship-worthy romance).
I Am Not Okay With This
Based on the Charles Forsman graphic novel of the same name, this offbeat coming-of-age series follows a teen as she deals with high school, family drama, her budding sexuality, and – oh, yeah – the mysterious telekinetic powers that she’s unexpectedly developing. Sophia Lillis is a bonafide star, and the fact that her character’s sexuality is never defined or limited is amazingly refreshing.
Netflix’s first original South African series stars Quantico‘s Pearl Thusi as the titular Queen Sono, a kickass female field operative still reeling from the mysterious death of her mother, who was an anti-apartheid revolutionary leader and freedom fighter. This espionage drama offers as much insight about modern-day Africa as it does action (but believe us when we say there are still plenty of thrills).
Set in Mexico City, this teen drama series follows three restless 20-somethings as they embark on a road trip, never expecting to pick up Marcela – a girl with a dark past and a huge debt to pay – along the way. With all its drugs, partying, and mayhem, this one is likely to give you Spring Breakers vibes, but at its core, Unstoppable is really about friendship and female empowerment.
Based on a memoir of the same name by Deborah Feldman, this part-Yiddish series follows a young Hasidic Jewish woman who decides to leave her arranged marriage and strict religious sect behind in Brooklyn escape on her own to Berlin. Israeli actress Shira Haas gives an absolutely stunning performance as the fierce Esty, and perhaps the only bad thing about this series is that we’re only given four episodes.
Blood & Water
Netflix’s second original series from South Africa revolves around Puleng Khumalo, a whip-smart 16-year-old on a mission to find her older sister, who was abducted at birth 17 years before. This series may contain the same tropes as other teen-centric series, such as Gossip Girl and Elite, but the fact that human trafficking (which is a huge issue in South Africa) is at the center of this drama gives it a depth that other teen shows lack.
This YA drama is set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, following four Pogues (aka the have-nots of the Outer Banks) as they attempt to find the father of their ringleader – who went missing while trying to salvage a sunken ship – and instead find a mysterious treasure map. Is the drama in this series just a tad over-the-top? Perhaps. Does the incredibly good-looking and charismatic cast make up for that? You betcha.
Written by Álex Pina, who’s also the producer of Money Heist, this drama series follows a woman’s attempts to solve the death of her brother, a legendary DJ who went missing one Summer in Ibiza and whose body is discovered there 20 years later. We’ll admit that White Lines is far from perfect, but this guilty pleasure is too lurid and compelling not to love.
Created by Ryan Murphy and starring several actors from Ryan Murphy-directed projects (including Darren Criss, David Corenswet, Patti LuPone, and Dylan McDermott), this series revolves around a group of up-and-coming performers and creators in 1940s Hollywood who collaborate on a daring new film. The costuming is gorgeous, the cast is stacked, and though the ending is admittedly dissatisfying, Jim Parsons’ dance scene alone makes this one worth watching.
Never Have I Ever
Produced by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, this comedy series tells the story and struggles of a modern first-generation Indian-American teen, played by newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishna. Not only does it feature a feisty, fearless South Asian lead – it’s also laugh-out-loud funny (but seriously, what else would you expect from Kaling?).