A Year In Review: How Hit TV Reflected 2020

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As pubs and theatres closed, social events cancelled, and millions of workers furloughed this year, many of us turned to our trusty small screens for entertainment. BBC News viewing figures shot up, as Brits sought out the comforting familiarity of Huw Edward’s dulcet Welsh tones. Streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ saw their membership and share price surge.

There was a huge range of television hitting our screens last year, from the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People to the completely bonkers documentary mini-series that was Netflix’s Tiger King. But if they have one thing in common, it’s the pure escapism they provided, which we needed this year more than ever. So here it is: 2020, re-told through the good, the bad and the ugly of TV.

Tiger King

In March, lockdown hit – and with it, Netflix’s Tiger King. If there’s one show that sums up the madness that was 2020, it’s this documentary miniseries about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, otherwise known as Joe Exotic, self-described ‘Tiger King’ who breeds and keeps big cats in rural Oklahoma.

Tiger King introduced us to some of the most memorable characters of 2020: Joe Exotic, outrageous and straight talking, and his arch-rival Carole Baskin, who runs nearby Big Cat Rescue, both stole the show. In case its basic premise wasn’t wild enough, the show tells the story of a murder-for-hire plot which sees Joe Exotic sentenced to 22 years in prison.

The chaos of the show even spilled out into real life, with fans speculating online about the disappearance of Carole Baskin’s first husband. Basically, it was the healthy dose of escapism we all needed during the first lockdown.

Quiz

ITV’s Quiz tells the real-life story of Charles and Diana Ingram, the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? winners later found guilty of fraud. The show leaves it up to the viewer to decide whether or not they did it, while exploring the peculiarly British phenomenon that is the pub quiz.

Why do people in the UK get so excited about a quiz? There’s something so exciting about knowing a perfectly random nugget of trivia. At least there was, until we were all sick to the back teeth of them after weeks of Zoom quizzes (I once did five in a single week). If enough time has passed since then for you to stomach it, Quiz is well worth a watch.

Read our review of Quiz here.

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