The Most Anticipated TV Shows Of 2020
It's gonna be a big year for watching things!
Don’t get lost in the maze of TV in 2020.
With more streaming services than ever and new ones threatening to launch at any moment — you’ve got to have a plan. Oh, and free-to-air TV, remember that? They make shows, too.
In 2020 we’ll see the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrive on Disney+, Apple are going to throw their weight around with exciting new additions; and there’s a huge list of books being adapted for the small screen. Also, expect to see lots of Stephen King adaptions (even his son has a show), as well as new shows from Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes.
Here’s an exhaustive list of the shows to look forward to this year.
Star Trek: Picard (Prime Video)
Prepare to boldly go where we’ve been … quite a few times before.
Set 20 years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, Patrick Stewart returns as the legendary Jean-Luc Picard. Picking up in the Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) timeline, Picard has seen some shit but seems to be enjoying retirement making space wine, until he’s asked to assist a mysterious lady who’s in trouble.
Picard looks epic in scope with plenty of Star Trek deep cuts for TNG fans.
Shadow and Bone (Netflix)
Author Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series is coming to Netflix.
In the Grishaverse, magic exists in a fantasy world inspired by Imperial Russia. The folks who use magic are called Grisha, and wars have been fought to control their power. The first season will adapt the books Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows with the latter focusing on heist involving a gang of thieves and Grisha business.
There’s lots of magic, action and gangland politics. Think Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s 11.
Better Call Saul (AMC/Stan)
At the close of season 4, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) committed to becoming the crooked lawyer Saul Goodman, and Mike (Jonathan Banks) kept Gus Fring’s (Giancarlo Esposito) plans to build a super meth lab on track.
The stage is set to bridge the gap between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad with questions lingering like what happens to Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn)? How does Saul/Jimmy end up working at a Cinnabon? Guys, I am worried about Kim.
Welcome to the age of Phoebe Waller-Bridge! After creating Fleabag and Killing Eve, Waller-Bridge is back with her long-time collaborator Vicky Jones (Fleabag, Crashing), and stars Merrit Weaver (Unbelievable) and Domhnall Gleeson (Force Awakens, About Time).
Run centres on Ruby (Weaver), who one day gets a text inviting her to fulfil a youthful pact with an old flame (Gleeson). Details are being kept top secret for now, but we do know Waller-Bridge has recurring role in the series.
Little America (Apple+)
An anthology series from Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (The Big Sick), Lee Eisenberg (The Office) and Alan Yang (Master of None, Parks and Recreation).
Those names alone mean you should be watching this as soon as it drops. Little America will go beyond the headlines to bring to life the funny, romantic, heartfelt and surprising stories of immigrants in America.
The series has been so well received by Apple they’ve already given the go-ahead for season 2.
Katy Keene (CW)
There wasn’t enough room for more singing on Riverdale so they decided to make a spinoff!
Katy Keene will focus on the titular Keene (Lucy Hale) trying to make it in New York City as a fashion designer. She’s joined by characters from Riverdale and the expanded Archie Comics universe who are all trying to make it in the Big Apple (in these shows who isn’t trying to make it?).
Katy Keene will crossover with Riverdale in early February 2020 before she goes solo.
The Roys will return to tell 2020 to fuck off!
Season two ended on a hell of a mic drop from Kendall Roy (minus DJ Squiggle though) and I am DYING to know what happens next behind the scenes at Waystar Royco. Also, will the boats get bigger? Will there be a film adaptation of Willa Ferreyra’s Sands? Will Cousin Greg get more than a measly $5 million?
This Con-Head needs to know.
Hunters (Prime Video)
Nazi Hunters. Sold!
Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) is an executive producer on this series that focuses on a diverse group of Nazi hunters living in New York in the 1970s. The team set out on a bloody quest to bring the Nazis hiding in plain sight to justice.
TV newcomer Al Pacino (The Irishman) headlines the series that’s set to be a bloody affair.
Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) pivots to TV.
Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will reprise their roles as Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War) will cause headaches for the duo as the villainous Baron Helmut Zemo, Emily VanCamp is back as Sharon Carter and Wyatt Russell (Kurt Russell’s son) will play Captain America’s successor.
Marvel will go all out to make a good first impression with their first Disney+ series that’s part of the MCU.
Ryan Murphy’s (The Politician) output for Netflix continues with a 1940s period drama that’s a love letter to the golden age of tinseltown.
Darren Criss (Glee, The Assassination of Gianni Versace) leads a cast of frequent Murphy collaborators and a bunch of new to his world (hello: Samara Weaving) who are probably deep into singing and dancing lessons as I write these words.
BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
The end is near, and I’ve been crying so much I’ve become a little hoarse. Netflix made the final season into a two-parter because sometimes you need space to emotionally prepare for the end and I respect that. BoJack Horseman was Netflix’s first animated original series so it’s not only the end of a great show, but the end of an era.
Lovecraft Country (HBO)
Matt Ruff’s novel caught the attention of J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele, who are teaming up to executive produce this horror series.
Lovecraft Country focuses on a road trip through the U.S.A under Jim Crow laws in the 1950 where the racist terrors of white America rule and Lovecraftian monsters lurk.
Hungry Ghosts (SBS)
A ghost story that explores the lives of three generations of Vietnamese Australian families, all haunted by the traumatic events of war. The four-part SBS original series will set a vengeful spirit on the loose. Prepare for a few sleepless nights.
Normal People (BBC)
Sally Rooney’s novel (that you keep meaning to read) is now a TV series (phew).
Set in the early 2000s, the series follows Connell (Paul Mescal) and Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) from high school to uni and the complications of their relationship. Rooney helped co-write the adaptation and Hettie Macdonald (Doctor Who) and Lenny Abrahamson (Room) are on directing duties.
Killing Eve (ABC)
Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is still on the loose and Eve (Sandra Oh) took a bullet at the end of season two. The greatest, stabbiest game of cat and mouse on TV returns for its third season. Higher stakes, bigger hair; I can’t wait.
Mythic Quest (Apple+)
Rob McElhenney is taking a break from the gang and teaming up with Megan Ganz (Community, Modern Family) for this comedy series about a video game studio. Let’s face it: the gaming industry had it coming! Look out for Charlotte Nicdao (Content), Dani Pudi (Community) and the legendary F. Murray Abraham (most of the greatest films ever made).
The adaption of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s comic book will finally see the light of day.
The show has been in development since 2015 and has been stalled due to everything from script issues to creative differences. Y is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event has killed every male mammal save for one dude (Barry Keoghan) and his capuchin monkey (played by the monkey from Friends).
Invincible (Prime Video)
We’re starting to see more of Robert Kirkman’s comic books adapted for the small screen that aren’t related to The Walking Dead.
Invincible is a superhero story that centres on Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), a normal teenager whose dad (J. K. Simmons) is the most powerful being on the planet. Does Grayson also have powers? You bet.
The animated series boasts an impressive voice cast that includes Sandra Oh, Mark Hamill, Seth Rogen, Gillian Jacobs, Andrew Rannells, Zazie Beetz, Walton Goggins, Jason Mantzoukas and Mae Whitman.
Locke and Key (Netflix)
Another comic book series that has been stuck in development hell for years, but is finally getting a shot at the big time.
Created by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son), the series will focus on three siblings who move into their ancestral home after their father is murdered. The house contains magical keys that unlock special abilities and supernatural forces want the power for themselves.
TV wiz Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) and Meredith Averill (The Haunting of Hill House) are the brains behind this adaptation.
Lizzie Maguire (Disney+)
Hillary Duff and the whole family are back for this revival. Heck, they even got Gordo back! Sweet, sweet Gordo.
Lizzie is now in her 30s, living in New York and working as the assistant to fancy interior designer. It seems she has the perfect life, but this is the year 2020, which means it’s all going to fall apart. Can Lizzie Maguire and her animated alter ego survive the hellfire of modern life? We’ll see.
Search Party (HBO Max)
The amateur sleuths from New York City have been missing since 2017 but they’re back thanks to HBO Max, which gave the series and third and fourth season. Season two ended with Dory (Alia Shawkat) under arrest for murder and we’re finally going to get answers.
Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington go head-to-head in this adaptation of Celeste Ng’s fantastic book about an upper-class family who rent one of their properties to an artist and her teenage daughter. A fire starts but you’re going to have to watch to see where.
American Crime Story: Impeachment (FX)
Ryan Murphy is back on his true crime bullshit, which has an excellent track record.
The third season of the anthology series will focus on the Bill Clinton presidency scandal and one of the central figures, Monica Lewinsky, is on board as a producer. Sarah Paulson (see: most of Murphy’s shows) will play Linda Tripp; Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) is Lewinsky; and Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex) is Paula Jones.
The series is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.
Australia’s dark nuclear past will dramatised in Fallout (working title).
The six-part drama series is based on the true story of British nuclear testing that took place in the outback South Australia in the 1950s. The series will examine the impact the testing had on ingenious communities and how the Australian and British government justified the experimentation.
Welcome back to Talkin’ Traz. Annie (Aidy Bryant) confronted her internet troll at the end of the brilliant first season but things get tricky in season two.
We pick up with Annie shortly after she quits her job and starts having regrets. Ryan (Luka Jones) the podcaster is still on the scene and Lolly Adefope returns as the dream BFF/housemate/life coach.
A TV series that’s a prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, set in the 1940s, that follows the journey of Nurse Ratched (Sarah Paulson) from a mild mannered health care professional to monster.
With Paulson involved guess who else is coming to play? Old mate Ryan Murphy — the king of TV.
Ratched sounds like something I never wanted but with Paulson involved it’s immediately on the radar. Plus, Netflix have ordered two seasons already, which is always a promising sign.
Amazing Stories (Apple+)
Steven Spielberg ain’t too proud for TV.
The director with a fondness for hats is reviving his 1985 anthology TV series that was like The Twilight Zone but for Spielberg and his mates to show off their skills. Hopefully, the new Amazing Stories will be a showcase for the next generation of filmmakers.
The Outsider (HBO)
Stephen King plus Ben Mendelsohn — the perfect match.
Based on King’s novel, Mendo plays a detective investigating a murder case that seems straightforward until a series of strange occurrences force them to question everything they believe. The cast is outstanding, the whole thing looks creepy and Mendo looks stressed. We may get Full Mendo.
Russian Doll (Netflix)
A second season, what a concept! Seriously though, how the hell are they going to do another season? Russian Doll is perfect as it is but I can’t deny another round of loops with Natasha Lyonne.
Station Eleven (Prime Video)
As you can tell this year is already huge for adaptations of popular books and one of the biggest is Station Eleven.
In Emily St. John Mandel’s book, most of the world’s population is wiped out by a deadly flu. The story follows different groups of survivors including a travelling group of Shakespeare performers and the inhabitants of an airport.
One of the best directors working in TV right now, Hiro Murai (Barry, Atlanta, Childish Gambino’s This is America) is on-board to direct. Make this your new go-to post-apocalyptic show.
The Luminaries (BBC)
Okay, I lied, the book adaptations get bigger this year.
Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker prize-winning novel is going to be a six-part series with one of the greatest actors of her generation, Eva Green. The series is set in New Zealand during the gold rush of the 1860s and it was shot on location so expect stunning scenery.
The Luminaries promises an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travel across the world to make their fortunes.
For two seasons Westworld has been a mind trip and it’s stepping outside the park in season three!
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Vincent Cassel (Black Swan) and Lena Waithe (Master of None) are joining the cast and will inhabit a futuristic Los Angeles where the robotic hosts will meet their makers.
Grease: Rydell High (HBO Max)
Well, because it’s the law that everything must be a shared universe now so we’re getting the GSU: Grease Shared Universe.
Grease: Rydell High will be a musical TV spinoff of the iconic film that will tie into the prequel film being made, Summer Loving, that will focus on how Sandy and Danny met. Since TV musicals are rare, I’m keen.
The Stand (CBS All Access)
Where the King-Heads at? More good news for you.
Stephen King’s epic novel caused headaches when a new film adaptation was proposed and infighting over the length put the whole thing on pause. TV emerged as a saviour with a 10-part series on the way.
The Stand is a post-apocalyptic story about a bioweapon that causes a pandemic that kills 99 per cent of the world’s population. The survivors are split into factions that leads to a battle between good and evil. James Marsden, Amber Heard, Whoopi Goldberg and Greg Kinnear lead a cast of people with strong immune systems.
Perry Mason (HBO)
Ask your grandparents about Perry Mason.
In the 1950s it was the first hour-long legal drama on TV that set the standard for all the court-room dramas that followed. The iconic series is getting revived with Matthew Rhys (The Americans) as Mason. The revival is a prequel, set in the 1930s, that will tell the origin story of one of the greatest criminal defence lawyers on TV.
Nine Perfect Strangers (Hulu)
After the success of Big Little Lies, Nicole Kidman is calling dibs on Liane Moriarty’s novels.
The show will be set at a boutique wellness resort, where nine stressed city dwellers arrive hoping to change their lives. During their 10-day retreat, the resort’s director (Kidman) is on mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies, and her methods are interesting.
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai (HBO Max)
A prequel to Gremlins? Sure. Set in 1920s Shanghai, the animated series will tell the story of how a 10-year-old Sam Wing met the young Mogwai called Gizmo.
Ryan Murphy ain’t the only one banking a gigantic cheque from Netflix.
Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal) will begin to roll out her shows for the streaming service as a part of a mega deal. The first show is Bridgerton. The series is based on a popular series of historical romance novels written by Julia Quinn. Getting big Downton Abbey vibes from this one so it could be huge.
In 2001, a guy in the UK cheated his way to winning Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
He did it with his wife, who was sitting in the crowd, using a sophisticated system of coughs. Matthew MacFadyen (Succession) and Sian Clifford (the sister from Fleabag) will play the couple in a dramatisation of their scam and the investigation that followed. 2020 could be the year of the scammer.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (Stan)
Josh Thomas is back with his first US series.
Thomas is credited as the creator, writer, executive producer and star of the comedy series where he plays Nicholas (Josh Thomas), a neurotic twenty-something-year-old visiting his dad and teenage half-sisters — one of whom is on the autism spectrum. When tragedy strikes, Nicolas has to keep the family together.
Space Force (Netflix)
The bossman of The Office (US), Greg Daniels, is back with a new workplace comedy that focuses on a group of people tasked with establishing the sixth branch of the armed services: Space Force. The cast awesome with Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Jessica St. Clair and Fred Willard all ready to launch.
The Undoing (HBO)
Nicole Kidman continues to build her TV empire with The Undoing. Based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, Kidman plays successful therapist on the brink of publishing her first book when her life begins to fall apart. A bulk of the team who worked on Big Little Lies are joining Kidman for this wild ride.
The Dark Tower (Prime Video)
That Stephen King sure is popular.
Okay, forget the film adaptation with Idris Elba — we are starting from scratch. The series is a prequel that tells the story about how Roland Deschain, known as The Gunslinger, met the villainous Man in Black. The Dark Tower is a fantasy western set across an expansive multiverse and Amazon a hoping this will be the next big fantasy series to dominate TV.
The Third Day (HBO)
Jude Law alert! Let’s face it, he can still get it. Law will be joined by Katherine Waterson (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and they play a couple who journey to a mysterious island off the British coast.
Avenue 5 (HBO)
Armando Iannucci wrapped up Veep, took a short break and then got back to work! The comedy series follows space captain Ryan Clark (Hugh Laurie) who navigates the politics of the space tourism industry. This had me at: space captain.
Cameron Williams is a writer and film critic based in Melbourne who occasionally blabs about movies on ABC radio. He has a slight Twitter addiction: @MrCamW.