By Jessica Taylor Yates
Iso is weird, right? It started off as an opportunity:
Week 1: I'll write more! Eat less! Exercise daily! Clean the bathroom!
Week 10: I'll put on deodorant cos someone's coming round. La-de-da!
My new 'To Do' list to make me feel accomplished now consists of watcingh all the shows I've wanted to watch for ages, find new shows, watch those, then recommended shows, watch those - basically, I'm flat. OUT. My husband (hehe, husband - it's still so new and weird...) is working late and keeps apologising, which is great, because 1) I am the good guy who deserves rewards and 2) I get to watch all my stories with no guilt! I mean, for YOU. So, if you're again fighting over what to watch or scrolling endlessly, I present my personalised take on the Top 10 Shows of 2020 so far!
Everyone else: Ozark, The Last Dance, Money Heist.
1. Best Under The Radar: On Becoming A God In Central Florida (SBS)
I can't even remember how I heard about this, but it's such a shame that it hasn't been talked about more. On Becoming A God In Central Florida stars Kirsten Dunst in her trailer trash best, as the deliciously acid-tongued Krystal Stubbs, a wife and mother in the 90's whose husband has succumbed emotionally and financially to a pyramid scheme known as 'FAM'. After his death by crocodile (!), Krystal vows for revenge and needs to find a way to financially support herself through FAM - while taking them down from the inside. Sometimes funny, sometimes dark. the refreshingly different story-line combined with three dimensional side characters such as Cody, a FAM devout who falls for Krystal's less-than-desirable-charms; her good-hearted but saddened water park colleague Ernie; and the crazy fanatics who are all just looking to cash in on the elusive American Dream.
Watch if you like: Drop Dead Gorgeous, Desperate Housewives, Erin Brockovich
2. Best Documentary Series: Tiger King: Murder, Madness and Mayhem (Netflix)
I touch on this batshit show in my post on the Top 10 Crime Mysteries To Get Into Cos You Seedy AF: "I mean, let's be real - who seriously has not watched this yet? Perhaps the Amish? The only thing getting us through isolation, Tiger King states it is about 'murder, madness and mayhem' which pretty much sums it up, because, well - how can you sum this up? Are there tigers? Sure. but is there also a gay throuple, a gun-toting, bleached mullet-having, silk-shirt wearing singer slash tiger park owner? A woman whose millionaire husband mysteriously disappeared? A bona-fide sex cult, drug kingpin and a one armed tiger tamer? Friends, that's only the half of it. Get ready for the ride of your life".
Watch if you like: The Jinx, Fyre Festival, or my Top 10 Crime Cos You Seedy AF
3. Best (kind of) True Story: Unorthodox (Netflix)
I'm not crying, you're crying! I tend to stay away from shows/movies that pull at the heartstrings too much. I get too involved, I feel for the characters as if they are me or my family, and I think about it while my heart wallows in sadness for days after. My husband (!) cannot comprehend how my heart mourns for television characters that aren't real, but HOW CAN YOU NOT FEEL FOR ESTIE? For the uninitiated, Unorthodox is a four-part series that is based on American woman Deb Feldman's real account of leaving the Hasidic community in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up not knowing any other way, Estie professes that she is 'different' when she is married off to man she has only has a five minute conversation with. She flees in search of a new life in Berlin, opening herself up to new experiences in friendship, music, family, love and life; although the Hasidic community are never far behind in getting her to return to where they feel she belongs. Gut-wrenchingly beautiful, supremely well-acted and with a crescendo of an ending that will leave you sobbing happy tears, my vote is for new star Shira Haas for this year's Emmy and Golden Globes - even if she has to accept them over Zoom.
Watch if you like: Big Love, Room, My Scientology Movie
4. Best New Comedy: Fleabag (Amazon Prime)
To be honest, I didn't really know what shows to compare Fleabag to. I didn't want to put other shows she has appeared in or written for, or shows I've never watched and can't vouch for. I wrote Girls, but she's more likeable, Sex and The City, but she's more feminist and clever, and Sex Education, but she's not in high school. Fleabag is a show unto itself, and is, in one word, unmissable. Creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge won everything you possibly can for this, and you can see why. She stars as Fleabag, a seemingly down-on-her-luck Bridget-Jones style heroine with a bad-ass edge who'll sleep with anyone, say what she wants and does what she wants without much luck. But as we progress, we note that the show is not without tragedy, and through her interactions with us and those around her, find who she is, why she is, and if she can, and deserves to, be redeemed. Through clever breaking of the fourth wall to religious Easter eggs, British banter and an acerbic sexually-charged wit; Fleabag is funny, tragic, layered, and wickedly clever. This year's must-see for women, men and everyone in-between (even if it was technically last year's and I just didn't get around to it cos I was too tight to pay for Prime).
Watch if you like: Girls, Sex and The City, Sex Education, Bridget Jones...I guess? Just watch it, okay?
5. Best Old-School Comedy: 30 Rock (Stan)
So it finished in 2013. I don't care, yo, cos Liz Lemon is ONE OF THE GREATEST TV CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME- ALL TIME! I could watch this start to finish every year. I finally managed to get my...husband...into this show, five years into our relationship. Now he has the audacity to quote Jack Donaghy to ME! No. This is my story! I am the protagonist! Just a little 30 Rock quip there, if you will. Starring Tina Fey in an art-imitates-life comedy series about the happenings of the writers, stars, and everyone around a live sketch show at NBC, its sharp, fun, clever and just, well, great, with three dimensional characters that provide one liners you'll be using for years. Get out the night cheese and if not a re-visit, welcome to your new favourite show.
Watch if you like: Brooklyn 99, The Good Place, Parks and Recreation, good television
6. Best Drama: Morning Wars (Apple TV)
Um, talk about the ROLE OF JENNIFER ANISTON'S CAREER. Holy shit! So, I wasn't sure if I was going to give this air time, I thought that it was going to throw issues too obviously in my face, or be too two-dimensional about the whole #metoo thing. But wow, what a ride. Interweaving some real-world events with fictional characters, Morning Wars stars Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell as co-anchors on the biggest breakfast news program in America; before Carrell gets what is referred to as *metoo'd*. Following his fall from grace and how this affects everyone associated with the show - his family, costar, the crew, the owners, the women, the newcomer who takes his place (Reese Witherspoon, looking hot af as a brunette, I must say), and Carrell himself, the show looks to reconcile itself in a time where no character or action is solely black or white, where everyone has their foibles, and how it all comes crashing in one blast of a finale. You go girls.
Watch if you like: The Newsroom, Bombshell, The Good Wife
7. Best Reality Competition: Making The Cut (Amazon Prime)
The above is one I was just going to give a go for an ep while scrolling my feed, and instead, did my thing where I got deeply involved with all the contestants, started following them all on Instagram, wondering if as my friends I should slide into their DMs and invite them to my housewarming, etc. It's pretty much a rip from Project Runway - a bunch of fashion designers competing for a prize - but what I liked was it didn't seem as mean-spirited as some other formations of the show. Don't get me wrong, everyone loves a good bitchfest, but only when warranted. The contestants seem to really like each other, but not to fear, the bitchiness can be provided by you and your mate on the couch critiquing their designs in your Best n Less tracksuit. Plus, they got some serious coin for this show - Heidi Klum and everyone's favourite TV uncle Tim Gunn are there, the ageless Naomi Campbell is WEIRDLY a voice of reason, empathy and compassion (?) and other big name designers come along the way for a grand prize of a million dollars and a capsule collection on Amazon. Also I like typing capsule, it makes me feel FASHUN. Anyway. I like a show where the prize actually will help their career. Don't google too much, it will reveal the winner - Just Make The Cut!
Watch if you like: Project Runway, RuPaul, Queer Eye
8. Best Concert: One World Together At Home (Various Streaming Channels)
Guys, this was nice. Would I sit down to watch and do nothing else? No. But was it lovely to have in the background while making the wrong amount of pasta (always too much, imagine the horror of not having enough), scrolling your phone, and having a Zoom brunch? Fo sho! Apparently organised by Lady Gaga, this concert has a song or two with everyone from The Killers to J Lo, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Chris Martin, Billie Eilish, and of course, the Kween, Taylor Swift. You name it, like Woodstock, everybody was there (full list here).
Watch if you like: music, basically.
9. Best Time-Warp: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime)
As a Jewish woman who loves laughing, fashion, stage, has the name Meisels and loves anything 60s, HOW DID I JUST FIND YOU? Like, I have had serious thoughts about just becoming the Marvellous Ms. Meisels Down Under. I can't be sued if it's my actual name, right? Now, I will say with this show - it's a slow burn. It took me a while to get into the characters, the pacing, and if I was prepared to get invested enough in the title character who has amazing clothes but can be super annoying. But if you have the time (which, let's face it, we all do) it's worth the wait. My namesake is the pinnacle of Upper West Side 1950s socialite - married, rich husband, two kids, fancy life (basically, fomo). This all comes tumbling down when her husband announces he is leaving her for his dim-witted secretary the night before a congregation of Jews are coming round for Yom Kippur. This action sets off a chain of events over the next year, including Mrs. Maisel pursuing an unlikely career in stand-up comedy, and how these decisions affect everyone around them - their parents, colleagues, friends, businesses and future love interests - against a backdrop of social revolution from the late 50s into the early 60s in New York's budding comedy scene. With hilarious portrayals of complaining Jewish parents, fabulous 60s costuming that would make any woman want to whip out the AmEx on Modcloth and the swinging blues scene of the 60s in full force; love her or hate her, Mrs Maisel certainly is marvellous.
Watch if you like: Hairspray, American Dreams, Down With Love, The Nanny
10. Best crappy reality show you can text with others about: House Hunters (9NOW), House Rules (Ch 7), The Block (Ch 9)
Now, I must say - I'm not huge on reality TV. As in, I like competitions, or shows with purpose, but I can't sit at home and watch other people sitting at home. FILM ME INSTEAD. So, the reality I watch is either crime, fashion, or houses (why do people on House Hunters always INSIST on his and hers sinks and marble counter tops? YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT CHOOSE THE RANCH!) House Hunters is one that's easy, I can stream while I'm doing other things, like putting dishes away or clipping my toenails, but can also scream at the TV when they make stupid decisions, like not buying the turn-key farm house cos they didn't like the microwave. JUST BUY A NEW MICROWAVE COOPER THEY ARE LIKE $30 AT KMART. Plus, for those not into yoga, it's a way for us to let our stress out on American couples making bad investment and design decisions. Also fun to do with Australians on House Rules whilst texting your much more credible opinions with mates, or sneaking in an ep of The Block while your husband is busy looking at footy stats so he can't complain about the ads.
Watch if you like: Anything with house make-overs!
Honourable mentions: Master of None (Netflix), Taylor Swift's Reputation (Netflix),
Next up: Search Party, Feud, The Stranger, Quiz, Upload, Normal People. I'm keeping busy in iso for YOU, peeps.
Second half of the year, hanging out for: Younger, Good Girls, How To Sell Drugs Online s2, City on a Hill s2. If you're wanting more, check out my list of Top 10 Shows You Missed in 2019. And if I missed a must-see, add it below!