I listened to a lot of podcasts in 2020, but I DID watch a bunch of TV, too. Obviously, we all Tiger King’d in the spring, when quarantining was new, but that’s not a show I revisited, or one that was at all comforting. I will even go so far to say Tiger King aged badly over the course of the year, especially as Joe Exotic is now hitting up Kim Kardashian for help getting a presidential pardon, something just crazy enough to happen in 2020. But hey, at least that big cat protection bill passed the House. Television, unlike film, was largely unaffected by the pandemic, at least in the first half of the year. We watched a lot of TV this year, because TV was all we had to watch. Here are a few shows that kept me afloat in 2020.
The Queen’s Gambit
I re-watched The Queen’s Gambit over Thanksgiving, and you know what? It’s just as good as the second time around. Even though you know the outcomes of Beth’s chess matches, on a second watch, you can better appreciate the details that go into the show. The clothes! The coats! The matching patterns! Beth wears some truly amazing outfits, and it’s easier to appreciate them the second time, when you’re not trying to decode how the chess match is going based on facial expressions (although it IS impressive how easily you can follow the matches based on reactions). Also, I somehow missed the fact that Beth didn’t have good sex until she was with Benny in my first watch. Not that I thought the stoned college guy or Harry Beltik were throwing it down, but the show specifically singles out Benny as the good time guy. Maybe the chess pirate thing worked for some people, but I can’t get over Benny being the kid from Love Actually. It’s all I can see when I look at him (it was the same when he was Jojen Reed. He’s a forever child with a famous face). If you’re just now getting into The Queen’s Gambit, welcome to the party, but if you’ve already seen it, you’re not wasting your time with a re-watch. There is so much detail to enjoy, I guarantee you’ll find something new the second time around.
The McMillions coffee order was THIS YEAR. This is the real guilt-free true crime of 2020, and I think bingeing the whole show together works better than the initial weekly episodic roll out. You can appreciate how bonkers Agent Doug Bazooka is when all his hijinks are piled up together instead of doled out piecemeal. Forget the Snyder Cut, HBO should give us the “Doug cut” of McMillions.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
The coziest of cozy crime shows, Miss Fisher is an Australian series about Phyrne Fisher, a thoroughly modern woman in the 1920s who becomes a lady detective. It used to be on Netflix, now you have to get it through Acorn (you can subscribe through Amazon), but it remains my go-to comfort watch. Essie Davis is spectacular as Miss Fisher, and the series has one of the best, most deliciously slow-burn will-they-won’t-they romances in the genre. This show is so cozy it will practically knit you a pair of woolen socks. Perfect for winter couch surfing.
The Repair Shop
Is the gentle rivalry of The Great British Bake Off too much competition for you? Then let me introduce you to The Repair Shop (streaming on Netflix), a British show about a group of master craftsmen—and women—who gently, lovingly repair beloved but broken treasures. There is no competition, just a group of highly skilled workers carefully fixing everything from old teddy bears to antique Louis Vuitton trunks. Some of the items brought in are genuinely precious antiques, but most are just well-loved sentimental items in need of refurbishment. The Repair Shop is like a hug from your TV, it’s the absolute softest thing you could possibly watch.