Reportedly, Netflix earmarked more than $17 billion to produce its original content in 2020. That’s certainly been on full display, with spared-no-expense ingredients—from celebrity executive producers to filming on-location in Paris—all adding up to hundreds of stories so wild they almost made us forget we spent much of last year trapped in our homes. No matter your favourite actor, showrunner, or genre, there’s been a new show for every kind of audience member on Netflix.
But with the multitude of titles dropped in 2020, it’s possible you missed a few. After all, if you were preoccupied with binging a heartwarming show like Julie and the Phantoms, maybe you forgot to catch Feel Good. Maybe Dash & Lily, Unorthodox, or Challenger: The Final Flight slipped off your radar while you burned through the content at the front of your queue. From Lee Min-Ho’s long-awaited comeback series to the show that inspired one of our most abidingly popular stories this year, Netflix has given us hundreds of reasons to laugh, cry, and feel in 2020.
So heat up some popcorn, wrap yourself up in a blanket, and let us take you through just a few of our favourite shows of 2020—that you can most definitely still watch in 2021.
1 / 10
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
The ballad of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin was released on Netflix in all of its eight-part glory when we needed it most, in mid-March. As we holed up in our homes, bunkering down to ride out the first wave of the pandemic, we were comforted by the absolutely bonkers story of one redneck in Oklahoma and his quest to preserve his animal park. His feud with Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue, is the subject of the the docuseries, and makes for stupidly fun viewing. Exotic sings, runs for president, and suggests multiple times that his rival fed her missing husband to her rescued tigers. Before Nicolas Cage steps into the role for Tiger King‘s television series adaptation, go back to the guy who did it first—and remember that truth is always stranger than fiction.
Watch Tiger King now
2 / 10
The King: Eternal Monarch
When a young king is transported to a parallel universe where his monarchy doesn’t exist, he must find a way to navigate our modern-day Korea while closing the mythical doorway that brought him there. The King: Eternal Monarch has Lee Min-ho in the title role, traversing two realities, making for an enthralling viewing experience that is all the more captivating for its status as Lee’s first screen role since being discharged from the South Korean military in 2019. Kim Go-Eun stars alongside him as the feisty, sweet police detective who helps him defeat the forces of evil that threaten their worlds. The King: Eternal Monarch nabbed the top spot for streamed K-drama in India, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore—and it’s well worth going back to see what the hype was all about.
Watch The King: Eternal Monarch now
3 / 10
Never Have I Ever
Partially based on its creator Mindy Kaling’s upbringing in Boston, Never Have I Ever stars newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrisnan as a plucky Indian-American teenager. Dealing with the struggles of high school as well as the emotions brought on by the recent death of her father, Ramakrisnan’s Devi leans on her two best friends and her family for support. A landmark achievement in onscreen Western representation of South Asian characters, Never Have I Ever portrays the flushes of first love, rivalry, and grief in a mature, heartfelt way. And it’s narrated by professional tennis player John McEnroe! You’ll laugh, tear up, and experience a lot of secondhand embarrassment watching this one.
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4 / 10
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
An unusual romance blossoms when a jaded caretaker in a psychiatric ward meets a selfish children’s book author in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. Together with the caretaker’s autistic older brother, the trio bond and slowly begin to break down each others’ emotional walls. Yes, it’s worth tuning in just to glimpse Ko Mun-yeong’s outfits, but the show has also been praised for its depiction of mental health and the importance of self-love. And It’s Okay to Not Be Okay was Singapore’s most enduring K-drama title, snagging a spot on the platform’s Top 10 Most-Watched list for nearly a third of the year—all the more impressive when you consider its June release.
Watch It’s Okay to Not Be Okay now
5 / 10
Elite matchmaker Sima Taparia guides her clients (and their parents!) to what she calculates to be their love matches in Indian Matchmaking, a fascinating look at family and culture. Going back and forth between India and the United States, the series takes a hard look at the tradition of arranged marriage and its place in a twenty-first century world. Brutally honest and slightly cringeworthy, the show guides us through gorgeous homes and mountains of biodata to pull back the curtain on issues like misogyny, casteism, and colourism. An insightful twist on the dating game genre, Indian Matchmaking has shock, glamour, and quippy one-liners for days.
Watch Indian Matchmaking now
6 / 10
Record of Youth
If you loved Parasite, you’ll want to check out breakout star Park So-dam’s latest project, Record of Youth. Park is An Jeong-Ha, a makeup artist traversing the complexities and absurdities of the fashion industry alongside her friends Sa Hye-Jun and Won Hae-hyo. A restrained slice-of-life drama with a light touch, Record of Youth is heartfelt in its delicacy. Diving into storylines that tackle privacy, social media toxicity, and professional rivalries, the show always returns to its strongest idea—that of family, and how sacrifice and forgiveness affects each generation accordingly.
Watch Record of Youth now
7 / 10
Emily in Paris
What’s to be said about this show that hasn’t already been said? Emily in Paris absolutely dominated Netflix throughout the year, topping the Singaporean list as the country’s favourite comedy in 2020. Whether that was for genuine or ironic reasons is not for us to say—but Lily Collins’ clueless fish-out-of-water character is equal parts adorable and frustrating. That said, watching her fail upwards is hysterical; the show absolutely nails the perception of Americans by the rest of the world. And, if Emily’s not your cup of tea, there’s always the compelling Camille and suave Gabriel to sink your teeth into.
Watch Emily in Paris now
8 / 10
Former member of K-pop girl group Miss A, Bae Suzy plays a wannabe Steve Jobs in Start-Up. Her character, Seo Dal-mi, is impossible not to love. From a humble family, Seo has grand plans and a fiery resolve to succeed at all costs. She forges ahead in South Korea’s fictional Silicon Valley, alongside investors and would-be company founders. With all the trappings of your favourite rom-com, the show sets up a love triangle, a case of mistaken identity, and catfishing in its pilot and blasts off from there. We dare you not to get addicted to this one.
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9 / 10
The Queen’s Gambit
If you haven’t seen The Queen’s Gambit, go watch it right now. If you have, go watch it again—or, even better, pick up your very own chess set and join the international frenzy. Watching offbeat chess whiz-kid Beth Harmon use only her wits to rise to the top, it’s hard not to cheer for her as she runs circles around the boys who dismiss and disdain her. Of course, she has plenty of help along the way, from fellow players and parental figures alike, but it’s ultimately Beth’s game to win or lose. Silently analysing the world around her with eyes so large and expressive they threaten to swallow the viewer whole, Anya Taylor-Joy is absolutely riveting in the lead role. She’s messy, intense, and charming in turn, instantly grabbing you by the hand to whisk you along with her on Beth’s rocky road to stardom.
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10 / 10
Shondaland truly blessed us with Bridgerton in the last few days of 2020. A sexy, silly scandal of a show, Bridgerton shakes up the world of Regency-era England by giving audiences a look under the covers of high society’s rituals. After the diamond of the season, Daphne, falls from grace through no fault of her own, she teams up with a haughty duke who wants nothing to do with courtship of any kind. Hijinks naturally ensue. Gossip Girl and Austen collide, but what’s truly so great about Bridgerton is that the show is shrewd in its craftsmanship. It takes the conventions of the genre sandbox in which it cavorts and flips them smoothly on their heads. This applies to tropes both old and new, from an old chestnut like the quintessential hand-brush, to a gasp-inducing moment involving a very lucky spoon. Start your year on a high note by watching this one—we promise you’ll swoon for it.
Watch Bridgerton now