We awarded Best TV Show, Best Comedy Series, Best Miniseries, and Best Docuseries.
Best TV Show: High Fidelity
Where to watch: Hulu
Nearly twenty years after the release of High Fidelity, an eccentric 2000s rom-com starring John Cusack, Jack Black, and Lisa Bonet, Hulu released a limited series adaptation of the cult favorite. The 10-episode series, starring none other than Zoe Kravitz, completely reset the script—incorporating cultural, societal, and narrative changes within every character. Viewers followed Kravitz as she navigated her hapless luck as a 21st century NYC record store owner doubling as a master in reciting the tales of her greatest heartbreaks. Kravitz effortlessly steps into her mother Lisa Bonet’s shoes, further validating her unwavering success as an actor. Despite the immediate character attachment and the unforgiving levels of relatability, High Fidelity takes this award home for their soundtrack. The central theme of the film always came back to music and its relationship with the characters. The music supervisors of this short-lived series were unafraid to mesh OutKast, Blondie, Grateful Dead, and Frank Ocean in a single episode—making it one of the most reckless and memorable television soundtracks of all time. After all was said and done... I laughed, I cried, I received free therapy, built four new playlists, and eventually was told there would be no season two. - Deja Williams
Best Comedy Series: Dave
Where to watch: Hulu
In a bizarre year where quality comedies were few and far between, Lil Dicky’s FX sitcom Dave was one of the genre’s brightest highlights—especially on network television.
The show follows Lil Dicky (Dave Burd) as a fictionalized version of himself attempting to launch his rap career, and he is accompanied by his DJ/best friend Elz (Taco Bennett), roommate/manager Mike (Andrew Santino), hypeman GaTa (himself), girlfriend Ally (Taylor Misiak), and graphic designer Emma (Christine Ko). These six main characters have a strong on-screen chemistry together, adding an addictive dimension to the show. Dave is also rich in cameos, featuring the likes of Young Thug, Justin Bieber, Kourtney Kardashian, YG, Trippie Redd, Marshmello, Benny Blanco, Tierra Whack, and various others throughout the 10-episode first season.
Dave debuted as the most popular comedy in FX history, instantly securing a second season. The show has received praise from critics for its writing and subject matter, and it’s worth noting that Lil Dicky himself serves as the show’s creator and executive producer. If you’re interested in reading more about Dave, check out our Dave Final Digest from last summer. - Evan Linden
Best Miniseries: The Queen's Gambit
Where to watch: Netflix
Before most people even had time to watch it, the outpouring of praise for The Queen’s Gambit was profound. “It makes chess sexy,” “The best show of the year!” and “Anya Taylor-Joy is phenomenal!” were just some of many praises lofted upon the show. All of this praise—and more—is true and well deserved.
On paper, The Queen’s Gambit did everything a limited series should. It combined the high-impact storytelling of a movie and the extended, in-depth character exposition of extended TV series to deliver us Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), a character who felt more multifaceted and real than any other this year. On top of the building blocks that make a great show, like character and plot, The Queen’s Gambit had multiple X-factors that took it above and beyond.
The decadent sets and costumes capture the 50s and 60s in glittering resplendence. Their ability to turn chess into a nail-biting, addicting spectacle is incredible. The way the show focused on dark themes without ever stepping over the line in gratuitous, unnecessary, cheap scenes for shock value is refreshing. And of course—last but not least—there’s Anya Taylor-Joy, who has the astounding ability to turn the many dialogue-free scenes of staring at a chessboard into intense, enveloping moments. I don’t think anyone expected a Netflix series about chess to be the greatest miniseries of the year, but through excellent directing and performing, The Queen’s Gambit easily earned that title. - Evan Northrup
Best Docuseries: The Last Dance
Where to watch: Netflix
For the vast majority of the planet, the onset of COVID-19 was nothing but disruptive. If there was one person who benefitted from the timing of it, it was Michael Jordan. He was able to seize a sports-less schedule (and subsequently thirsty media) to put on one of the most exciting television events of our time. For five weeks last spring, people around the world glued themselves to their TVs for two hours each Sunday night and witnessed greatness—in basketball and in television.
Whether or not you believe MJ is the GOAT, there’s no denying that The Last Dance is one of the greatest sports documentaries of all-time. From its interviews to its roll-out, The Last Dance epitomizes quality entertainment. Some have described it as the greatest “sports propaganda” ever, while others feel that it’s an uncut case study of Jordan’s illustrious career. Ultimately, it’s 10 episodes filled with raw perspectives of legendary/pivotal moments in MJ’s storied career, featuring interviews from a plethora of MJ’s teammates, associates, and friends/family, Phil Jackson, Jerry Reinsdorf, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Ahmad Rashad, Bob Costas, David Stern, and nearly a hundred others—including celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Carmen Electra, Barack Obama, and Nas.
While The Last Dance excels at the basketball history angle, the docuseries also manages to effectively capture Michael Jordan’s impact on all arenas of pop culture—then and now. But after all, it’s not surprising that a documentary about one of the greatest pop culture phenomena of all-time became one itself. - Evan Linden