10 Great Shows You Probably Didn't Know Were Returning Soon
Considering that there's more TV now than literally ever, it might be hard to figure out what you need to catch up on before new seasons start. And it would be irresponsible of me to just say "Pick at random and hope it doesn't suck, losers!" That's why I've cultivated a list of 10 series you can easily binge-watch before they return in 2020. And the best part? They're all pretty damn good.
Kidding Is Jim Carrey's Best Work In Years
Despite the fact that they're, ya know, actors and it's their job, any time a comedy star branches out into a slightly dramatic role, we treat them like they're a dog who wins Jeopardy. That's why it was a little weird that Kidding, a Showtime series starring Jim Carrey and produced by Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry, didn't get more press. It's about a children's TV show host who faces deep tragedy and begins to lose his grip on reality.
And while this sounds pretty standard for an actor-turned-more-serious-actor, it's truly Carrey's best role in some time. The dude's either been trapped in lukewarm comedies (Mr. Popper's Penguins, Dumb And Dumber To) or generic thrillers (Dark Crimes), and he brings a real sense of weary anxiety and bubbling torment to the surreal Kidding. He finally capitalizes on that "Hey, this dude's actually pretty empathetic when he's not talking out his asshole" feeling that he built up back in the late '90s. So catch up on the first season of Kidding (which is on the Showtime App) before the second debuts on February 9.
Better Call Saul Is Just As Good As Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad managed to hit that elusive Venn diagram of prestige TV whereby it was nearly universally beloved by critics AND a shit-ton of people watched it. Usually you only get one or the other. However, when Better Call Saul was announced, I was cautiously optimistic. A prequel show about the goofy lawyer? That seems like a gamble. But then again, creator Vince Gilligan built up so much goodwill with Breaking Bad that he could say "Walter White vs. Jason?" and AMC would greenlight it for six seasons
Luckily Better Call Saul is really good, and potentially a match for Breaking Bad. Saul Goodman is such a perfect mix of pitiable underdog and sleazy conman that you can't help but be constantly pleased by him. However, the last season ended back in October 2018, which was only a year and a half ago, but a decade in prestige TV years, leaving fans lost in Odenkirk-less purgatory. But with a February 23 premiere for Season 5, you should have enough time to catch up on a series (the first three seasons are on Netflix) that is infinitely better than anyone expected.
Fargo Continuously Brings Together The Best Ensembles On TV
Due to its nature as an anthology series, you wouldn't be left out to dry if FX's Fargo vanished off the face of the Earth. I mean, there would obviously be a hole in your heart where the best crime show since Justified once dwelt, but there would be no pesky cliffhangers to nag at the inside of your skull for all eternity. And with the previous season airing all the way back in spring 2017, you may have gotten used to a reality without Fargo.
Well rejoice, because Fargo returns for a fourth season this April. And you should definitely watch the first three seasons on Hulu (none of them are bad, though if you put a gun to my head, I'd say 1>2>3) in preparation for its continuous ability to put together a supernaturally good ensemble. This year we have Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw, and the god king of shows about small towns that are just neck-deep in crime stuff, Timothy Olyphant.
Good Girls Has Only Gotten Gooder
It's hard not to feel a little jaded by the premise of Good Girls, which initially seems like such an obvious elevator pitch of "What if Breaking Bad, but with housewives?" And the first season definitely stumbled around a little as it tried to grasp at different tones. But the second season is phenomenal, taking any feeling that this is an all-too-familiar plot and chucking it off a roof. And it does that with extremely solid character work -- work you should catch up on through Netflix before the third season debuts February 16.
You have Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, who literally can't turn in a bad performance, and comedic powerhouses like Mae Whitman and Parks & Rec's Retta. Helping to round out the leads is Matthew Lillard, who takes what could easily be a one-note dumbass role and actually imbues it with pathos. There's not a weak link in the bunch, with even David Hornsby (Rickety Cricket from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia) continuing his trend of being a perfectly sickening piece of shit.
One Of The Most Underrated Horror Series Ever Is Getting A Spinoff
Penny Dreadful combined League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen with a Tim-Burton-esque love for lonely monsters and pale people. And it was beautiful -- so beautiful that I nearly put my foot through my laptop when the third season abruptly ended and series creator John Logan was like "Oh yeah, that's the end. Surprise. It was always meant to be the end, too. Was that not clear when I told absolutely no one that that was the case?" I miss it every day, and I'd be lying if my Netflix account wasn't mostly just a memorial to it.
Luckily, though, we're getting a spinoff with Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels late this year, giving you plenty of time to watch the first three seasons. However, this is a whole new show set in 1938 Los Angeles rather than Victorian London, and it's based on Mexican folklore while dealing with racial issues of the time. So you'd have to be pretty blinkered to not see how it could be timely in an age when some people actually think building a giant wall between two countries is a good idea. But if it's anything like the first series, 2020 will be the year that I start crying about Frankensteins again.
One Day At A Time Was Quietly Revived
When it was cancelled by Netflix for not being Stranger Things, the acclaimed sitcom One Day At A Time seemed doomed. But lo, like an angel in the night came Pop TV, which currently airs shows like the perennially underrated Schitt's Creek. (Currently in its final season, so catch up on that, too!) And so One Day At A Time got new life breathed into it, and it returns for a fourth season in March.
Now, a sitcom about a Cuban-American family doesn't seem all that revolutionary. Every major network's line-up has at least one image of some wild teenagers and a dad grimacing near them. But One Day At A Time's approach is pretty thoughtful, tackling issues like sexism and mental illness. The main character, Penelope, has PTSD from her time in the army, which is a pretty weighty personality trait for a show with a laugh track.
American Crime Story Returns With A Timely Plot
Please don't let its relation to American Horror Story scare you away. See, American Crime Story is actually, um, good and consistent. And like Fargo, it's a show that knows the strength of a good ensemble. And after seasons dealing with the O.J. Simpson trial and the murder of Gianni Versace (which are available on Netflix,) its third season will be based around the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal, and is co-produced by Monica Lewinsky herself. That seems like a bit of a big deal.
Coming out in September, this is a story that's been used as a constant reference over the past few years, as numerous political pundits have tried to nail down how it relates to Donald Trump's weird, sad existence. But more importantly than that, it stars Clive Owen as Bill Clinton in the most "duh" bit of casting ever. It doesn't seem right at first, but then you mentally put Owen's face over Clinton's inescapable jawline like you're in a police procedural, and oh my god, it makes so much fucking sense.
Castlevania Is A Video Game Adaptation That's Actually Good
Depending on who you are, "'90s video game series that's been turned into an anime for Netflix" either sounds awesome or like the trumpet of the streaming service apocalypse. I'm in the former category, as I heard "anime" and "Dracula" and burst through the wall to see what was going on. But Castlevania is more than that, chronicling the violent journey of Trevor Belmont with lovely animation and a great cast.
That said, I forgive you if you're reading this and thinking "That's still a thing?" The first season was only four episodes and felt like an abridged version of itself. But the second season got a sweet eight-episode order. and the third is getting 10 when it debuts later this year. And since the first two seasons essentially adapted Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, that would mean the next deals with ... Super Castlevania IV? The one where Simon Belmont whips an entire castle full of goblins to death? If the third season is half as good as that game, I'm absolutely sure it'll have a lock on every Emmy imaginable.
The Haunting Of ... Is Getting A Well-Deserved Round 2
The biggest problem with Netflix shows is that the seasons are often way too long, meaning that Daredevil will spend 25% of his gritty crime story fighting ubiquitous ninjas, and every season of Stranger Things is legally required to include an episode's worth of hallway walking. So when Mike Flanagan's adaptation of Shirley Jackson's Haunting Of Hill House was announced, I feared for it. That's a story built on carefully orchestrated atmosphere and character-driven anxieties. One episode too much, and all of that would be driven into the ground.
But with a near-perfect 10 episodes, Flanagan (who also directed great Stephen King adaptations like Gerald's Game and Dr. Sleep) gave us the best reworking of the source material yet. And later this year, he's turning in an adaptation of Henry James' The Turn Of The Screw, a novella that hasn't gotten a decent translation into film since 1961's The Innocents. It's also a novella that relies heavily on tone and paranoia, so make sure that you catch up on feeling weird and uncomfortable with Hill House before you start feeling even weirder and more uncomfortable with The Haunting Of Bly Manor.
There's Only One Season Left Of GLOW
Aside from Stranger Things, few shows have made Netflix seem as important in the streaming world as GLOW. The story of a campy women's professional wrestling promotion turned into a heartfelt ode to theatrics and performing, and when the third season ended, I thought, "Wow, this show just keeps on picking up steam." And then they announced that the fourth season will be its last, so oh well. Sucks to be me at that particular moment.
But I'll be rewatching the series before that day of reckoning comes later in 2020. It's not only a great gateway into getting other people to watch pro wrestling, but also one of the only TV shows set in the '80s that actually feels naturally in the '80s. I hate to keep bringing up Stranger Things, but holy shit. I get it. Ghostbusters came out. The phones were huge. Mullets were a thing. Just tell your fuckin' story.
Daniel Dockery is a writer and editor for Cracked. Follow him on Twitter!
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