TV Review of 2020: What were the most talked-about shows?

During 2020 the name Joe Exotic became one known to millions and Normal People propelled two young stars into headlines.

The year of television in 2020 will be defined and remembered as one that felt the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

But despite filming on productions coming to a halt, there was still some sterling TV released which kept the nation gripped and provided no shortage of water cooler moments – albeit over Zoom rather than in-person.

Here is a look at the TV moments, series and news that got us talking:

Glasgow Times:

Tiger King Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness arrived on Netflix in March and proved a huge hit for the streaming giant as viewers under lockdown flocked to its colourful cast of characters and shocking plot twists.

It tells the story of Exotic – whose real name is Joe Schreibvogel – a mulleted, gun-toting, polygamist who presides over an Oklahoma zoo.

He is serving a 22-year sentence in prison for plotting the murder of Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist who has been married to husband Howard since 2004.

She was previously married to millionaire businessman Don Lewis from 1991 to 2002, when he was declared legally dead. Lewis disappeared in 1997 and his fate was the source of speculation during Netflix’s hugely popular documentary series.

Baskin vehemently denies being involved. During the series, she was seen clashing with Exotic. The series will no doubt get a second lifespan following news that Nicolas Cage will play eccentric zoo owner Exotic in a new adaptation of Netflix’s series.

The Oscar-winning actor will also serve as an executive producer on the eight-episode project, which will be written by American Vandal showrunner Dan Lagana.

Glasgow Times:

Normal People The BBC adaption of Sally Rooney’s popular novel propelled its young stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal into instant stardom.

The series, which first aired on BBC Three in April, focuses on the on-again off-again relationship between Irish teenagers Marianne (played by Edgar-Jones) and Connell (played by Mescal), beginning in their school days through to their time at university.

The 12-part series was co-written by Alice Rooney, who wrote the original 2018 novel, and Alice Birch, and was directed by Lenny Abrahamson, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2015 for Room, and Hettie Macdonald, who directed the mini-series Howards End.

It was lauded by critics and in August this year the BBC said it had received 54.8 million iPlayer requests over the whole series. It also had two unexpected stars in the form of Edgar-Jones’ haircut, featuring a heavy fringe, and the chain worn by Mescal’s character Connell around his neck. Both developed a cult following to rival that of the stars’ success off-screen.

I May Destroy You British singer Adele and Hollywood star Jane Fonda both labelled it their best viewing of the year.

Glasgow Times:

And they weren’t the only ones heaping praise on Michaela Coel’s BBC series I May Destroy You.

Bafta-award winning Coel played London-based writer Arabella in the 12-part series which explored the question of sexual consent.

Coel created, co-directed and starred in the series.

Glasgow Times:

Schitt’s Creek The 2020 Emmy Awards ensured Canadian TV series Schitt’s Creek was given a proper send-off.

The comedy series, which came to an end this year after a six-series run, swept the comedy categories at the prestigious awards ceremony, including being named winner of the outstanding comedy series category.

The series, which first aired in 2017 and has also streamed on Netflix, was written and created by Daniel Levy and his father, Eugene Levy, of American Pie fame.

Described as a reversal of fortunes story, it follows the once-wealthy Rose family who are forced to move to the fictional town of Schitt’s Creek – which they once purchased as a joke – after they lose everything.

Daniel and Eugene play father and son duo David and Johnny Rose on screen, with sister Sarah also starring in the series as waitress Twyla Sands.

Actress Catherine O’Hara is Moira Rose, family matriarch and fallen actress, while Annie Murphy plays ditzy daughter Alexis Rose.

Glasgow Times:

The Great British Bake Off The popular baking tent welcomed a new face in the form of Matt Lucas, who took over from Sandi Toksvig, to co-host with Noel Fielding.

And comedy star Lucas did not disappoint fans and viewers, making a TV entrance that will not easily be forgotten.

He made his debut on the baking series in a skit mimicking Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s coronavirus briefings.

The Little Britain star appeared ahead of the show’s return to Channel 4 wearing a blonde wig and standing at a lectern featuring the slogan: “Stay Alert, Bake Cake, Save Loaves.”

Glasgow Times:

Love Is Blind The Netflix dating show became an internet phenomenon.

The series, in which couples got engaged without ever seeing each other after talking while in isolated pods, became the source of many memes, discussions and more.

The final episode of the reality show saw two couples tie the knot when they made it to the altar.

And the streaming service confirmed the news fans were eager to hear: that it will return for a second series.

Glasgow Times:

Strictly Come Dancing Not only did the nation’s favourite dancing show return to screens but it made history when it did.

Boxer Nicola Adams and professional dancer Katya Jones became the first same-sex pairing on the programme.

Unfortunately their journey was cut short when Jones tested positive for Covid-19 meaning the couple had to bow out of the BBC One series early.

Glasgow Times:

A Suitable Boy Based on the classic novel of the same name by Vikram Seth, the vibrant series was a hit. According to various reports it was also the BBC’s first historical drama with no white characters.

Set in India in 1951, when the country is on a journey towards its first national democratic election, it is a moving tale of life and love, following four interwoven families.

The series saw Tanya Maniktala in the role of Lata Mehra and also starred Bollywood leading man Ishaan Khatter and Indian screen legend Tabu.

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