TL;DR: 2020 sucked, but at least there were some good shows to distract us, from the Mandalorian, to Letterkenny, to What We Do In The Shadows
Someone asked for some television recommendations recently, and this is the list I gave them.
- The Mandalorian: “Hey, Mando!” My favorite Star Wars story ever, including the original trilogy movies. It’s Lone Wolf and Cub but as a space western, and every bit as good as you’ve heard. My entire family loves this show.
- The Expanse: Easily the best science fiction show in the last two decades. Yes, it’s better than Battlestar Galactica. Where Star Wars is science fiction with a strong fantasy/western flavor, this is more “hard” sci-fi. I love everything about it and will absolutely talk your ear off about it. I wrote about it here (no spoilers)
- Star Trek Discovery: I know Trek isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this has a very different flavor to the usual Trek stuff. It focuses on the career of a single officer, her fall from grace, and her rise back to a bridge officer. It starts out in the same time period as the original series, but then things get weird in a really good way. Highly recommended.
- Altered Carbon: Based on a series of novels following Takeshi Kovach, who’s a kind of sci-fi ninja in a future where technology has made people practically immortal, and made societal problems much worse. Season 1 is good, season 2 is amazing.
- Star Trek: Lower Decks: Okay, I hear you… two Trek shows in one list? Just trust me. This is an animated series about the crew who don’t get to work on the bridge. The people who actually keep the ship running, and their frustrations with the showboating bridge crew. Tawny Newsome is hilarious and this manages to feel like both a loving tribute to The Next Generation and also the most biting satire of Star Trek ever made. This is the show that The Orville wishes it was.
- The Umbrella Academy: Based on a comic by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance (yes, really). It’s a story about a group of unusual children all born on the same day, and their lives being raised as costumed crime fighters by an eccentric old man. It’s a sarcastic, fun, and earnest exploration of an extremely dysfunctional family and how they kinda maybe destroy the world.
- My Hero Academia: Anime set in a world where almost everyone has superpowers called “quirks”. Follows a boy with no quirk who grows up to be the greatest superhero of all time. Mostly about superhero high school drama and adventures.
Gory but Fun:
- Preacher: Based on a phenomenal comic book series about a preacher who gains a holy power, his criminal girlfriend, and their vampire best friend. It’s gross and hilarious and loads of fun. Seth Rogan is a producer.
- Kingdom: Zombies in ancient Korea. Fantastic costumes, political intrigue, drama, and the walking dead. What’s not to love?
Car Repair Shows
- Rust Valley Restorers: A Canadian car buff with an absurdly large collection of vintage cars rusting in a field starts a shop with his son and best friend to restore and sell the cars. However, he’s always unwilling to actually sell the cars because he loves them, so the shop is always on the verge of closing due to lack of money.
- Car Masters: Rust to Riches: This whole show is based around the story of a guy who started with one red paper clip, and through a series of trades, eventually got a house. These guys start with a cheap car, fix it up to trade for a nicer car, fix that up to trade for an even nicer car, all in the hopes of eventually getting a car they can sell for over $100,000.
Hilarious Shows About Awful People:
- Letterkenny: Set in a small Canadian town, follows a group of hicks, a group of meth-heads, and a group of jocks. It’s easily the funniest thing I’ve watched recently. Annie and I are devouring this.
- Schitt’s Creek: Starts out painfully awkward but really hits its stride in the second season. Every bit as good as you’ve heard.
- The Good Place: Arguably the best comedy show in the last decade. It’s just really really really good.
- Derry Girls: Follow a group of teen girls in the town of Derry in Ireland during the troubles. Teen drama with a backdrop of civil war shouldn’t be funny, but it’s incredible.
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Start with season two, when Danny Devito joins the show, and revel in the lives of a group of absolutely garbage human beings who own a bar in Philly.
- Wynonna Earp: This show is great in the tradition of Buffy, in that it’s a show about Wyatt Earp’s great-great-something granddaughter fighting demons with his gun, alongside her sister and Wyatt’s best friend, the now-immortal Doc Holliday. It’s fun and silly and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
- The Witcher: Based on a series of Polish novels and a wildly popular video game. Henry Cavill is great, but the rest of the cast is what will suck you in.
- Castlevania: Despite being an animated series based on a video game, this show has a fantastic storyline and great dialogue. Like all good stories starring Dracula, it’s hard not to root for the bad guy.
- What We Do In The Shadows: Mocumentary following a group of vampires. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll love this. If you haven’t seen the movie, then put that at the top of your list and then watch this series also.
- Killing Eve: Sandra Oh is an MI5 analyst tracking an assassin who, in turn, becomes obsessed with her. It gets complicated. Very very very good.
- One-Punch Man: This is such a silly and fun show. This guy has trained so hard he can beat everyone he fights with one punch and as a result, he’s bored and no one believes how good he is.
- Grand Designs: Wonderful, long-running British show following people who build their own homes. It usually looks like it will be a disaster, and it’s always fun seeing what happens. I often watch this to fall asleep.
Japanese Food Shows based on Manga
- Samurai Gourmet: A retired salaryman can’t handle retired life and spends his days trying to figure out where to have lunch. Also, he’s afraid to stand up for himself and imagines what a samurai would do. It’s hard to describe, but it’s delightful.
- Kantaro, the Sweet-Tooth Salaryman: Kantaro runs a dessert review blog and sneaks away during the workday to visit fancy dessert places. A woman he works with is always just about to discover his secret. Silly and fun.
- Midnight Diner: Slice-of-life stories about the people who eat at a late-night diner in Tokyo. Relaxing, sweet, and melancholy.