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75 TV shows to help you get through 2020, according to our readers

Illustration of a man trying to decide which of 11 television sets he should watch
(Loris Lora / For The Times)

Ahead of TV’s biggest night on Sunday, we asked readers which show has helped them get through this year.

Schitt’s Creek,” up for 15 Emmy Awards, received by far the most praise, with 38 readers vouching for Dan and Eugene Levy‘s hit comedy.

Looking for more recommendations? We have you covered. Here are the 51 best TV shows to binge in quarantine and seven shows you should catch up on before the Emmys.

The following responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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What series has helped you through 2020 and why?

‘The Office.’ Comic relief at its finest, office dynamics when we can’t go to our own offices.” — Naisha Zuniga, 31, Alhambra, Calif.

‘Schitt’s Creek.’ I’m living alone and experiencing this pandemic alone. But watching the Rose family become better people made me feel hopeful. Also finding my new favorite TV couple to root for (David and Patrick) gave me such hope and comfort during these scary times.” — Laura Merchant, 32, Los Angeles

‘Friends.’ I was a freshman in high school when the show started. Immediately it became my favorite. Year after year, through my teens, 20s, 30s and now the start of my 40s, ‘Friends’ has been a constant source of laughter and comfort. During life’s ups and downs, this show melts my stress away and allows me to laugh when it’s most difficult, especially in the uncertain times of 2020.” — Krista Gutzman, 40, Buffalo, N.Y.

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I’m a new widow under quarantine who can’t go to movies. ... TV is all the company I have.

Suzanne Shirley

‘Wynonna Earp.’ Funny and quick-paced dialogue meets tender effective moments in a sci-fi monster world. It also showcases the most honest portrayal of two women in love that my closeted 21-year-old self would have killed for.” — Kathy Shearer, 54, Phoenix

‘Fleabag.’ She projects a kind of ‘false front’ that many people rely on in these strange times, but then reassures the audience/us that she thinks she knows what she’s doing.” — Peter W. Parsons, 76, Gloucester, Mass.

“Netflix’s ‘Dead to Me’ is a work of art. Finally a show that accurately portrays the intimacy and dynamism of female friendship! This show allows its audience to process grief while laughing their a— off. ‘Dead to Me’ is the catharsis we needed in 2020.” — Nicole Efseaff, 25, Chico, Calif.

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‘What We Do in the Shadows’ gave me a genuine laugh when most everything happening in the world wasn’t funny at all.” — Kelly Wahl, 54, Los Angeles

'Dead to Me' stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini
“Dead to Me,” starring Christina Applegate, left, and Linda Cardellini, is nominated for four Emmy Awards this year.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

“Started ‘Woke’ and love it. Real funny and in the moment.” — Lisa Markidis, 54, Los Angeles

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ The ridiculousness helps remove daily anxiety with laughter, and Larry David’s aversion to people in general is extremely relatable in 2020.” — Claire Medsker, 30, Los Angeles

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“I escape reality completely with ‘Rick and Morty,’ while the original ‘Perry Mason’ show takes me into the past.” — Carol Housman, 65, Gaithersburg, Md.

“Netflix’s ‘Ozark.’ I never thought I would be addicted to this show. As dark as it is, I can’t stop watching and waiting [for] who’s gonna get killed or live.” — Stephanie Chaisson, 50, Malibu

‘Glee.’ When I am sad, they will sing me a song. I love them.” — Isobel Dickson, 21, Los Angeles

‘The Mandalorian,’ ‘30 Rock,’ ‘Parks and Rec,’ ‘West Wing,’ ‘Kingdom,’ ‘Rick and Morty,’ ‘Watchmen,’ ‘Umbrella Academy,’ ‘The Boys.’ Good solid stories, character development, good entertainment that momentarily suspends me from everyday life of 2020.” — Erin W., 44, Los Angeles

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“Wynonna Earp” showcases the most honest portrayal of two women in love that my closeted 21-year-old self would have killed for.

Kathy Shearer

‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.’ [The Season 1 finale] completely broke me, and this episode made me realize that I was finally coming to terms with the pandemic. ... Through this episode and through those choked-up tears, I finally was able to mourn the friends, the apartment and the life I left behind. I needed that cry — it was the most cathartic and honest I had been with myself in months.” — Candice Lim, 23, Fullerton, Calif.

‘The Great.’ Smart, funny, sad. Entertaining. Every episode.” — Patti Podesta, 50, California

“My big find for this year was ‘Lodge 49.’ It’s ponderous but unpredictable, mysterious and mundane. A place that seems so much better than the real world.” — Ross Amador, 55, Irvine, Calif.

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‘Breaking Bad.’ I hadn’t ever watched it because I thought I would find it offensive, but a good friend whose taste I trusted suggested I try it. Got hooked by the great acting and intriguing storylines.” — Elena Schilt, 64, Los Angeles

‘The West Wing.’ Rob Lowe as a member of a president’s senior staff? Can you imagine? HAYOOO!” — Sophie G., 28, Los Angeles

'Watchmen' star Regina King laughs
Regina King is Emmy-nominated for lead actress in a limited series for her performance in “Watchmen.”
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

‘Naruto!’ The anime. Binge-watching this show has let me live out a childhood fantasy. The immersive fantasy world it takes place in easily lets me forget about the coronavirus and wildfires.” — Kevin Kohn, 21, Whittier, Calif.

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“Wife and I had never watched ‘Big Bang Theory’ before and discovered the show — and love it.” — Eric Sabroff, 57, Torrance, Calif.

‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.’ Being required to stay home eliminated all distractions and allowed me to truly appreciate how gorgeous everything about that series is.” — Javier Robles, 44, Los Angeles

‘Succession,’ just smart, intriguing, beautifully produced. ‘Tiger King,’ do I have to say why? It represents the mess we are living in. ‘Euphoria,’ just beautiful storytelling through a very honest POV. ‘Mrs. America,’ loved the acting and learning about history. ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ amazing, smart, interesting, lovely, unifying comedy.” — Leon Bedolla, 41, Torrance, Calif.

‘Cobra Kai.’ Love the redemption story. Sweet story and love the characters. Love the nostalgia of the original movie.” — Sarah Flanagan, 60, Allenstown, N.H.

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‘The Repair Shop.’ Whenever I have felt just too stressed out with virus concerns to watch an intense drama, I have relished an hour curled up with my husband watching these amazing artisans bring the past back to life.” — Ellen Aragon, 65, Paris

There are many reasons to praise “Fleabag,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sweetly savage excavation of family and fury, guilt and desire.

‘Holey Moley.’ It made me laugh out loud every week. It was the best distraction of the summer.” — David Thornton, 42, Long Beach, Calif.

‘The Witcher.’ Definitely need some good old-fashioned escapism right now.” — Joanne DeCaro, 34, Los Angeles

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‘The Dress Up Gang.’ It combines a goofy, absurdist, alternative-comedy sensibility with some warm sincerity. Shows like this remind me that there are others out there who have similar tastes and sensibilities as me, even if I am currently unable to do much in-person socializing.” — Shawn Van Valkenburgh, 35, Los Angeles

‘Love and Redemption.’ It’s really thrilling and captivating, with new storylines and good acting skills by all the casts.” — Tan Jia Min, 16, Singapore

‘Gilmore Girls.’ Comedy and laughs to take your mind away. Beautiful small-town setting and quirky characters to make you wish the entire show was reality.” — Karen Edmonds, 61, Red Lion, Pa.

‘Jeopardy!’ I like the contestants and love the host, the ever-classy Alex Trebek.” — Regina Hackett, 73, Seattle

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Trevor Noah of 'The Daily Show' poses in a sweatshirt in a park.
“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” is Emmy-nominated for variety talk series.
(KIrk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

‘Midnight Diner’ on Netflix. Great cast of characters, both regulars and one-episode-only characters. Well written and produced. It made me laugh and cry. It shows how important food is in our lives and memories of our past.” — Michael Letourneau, 62, California

‘Desus and Mero’! Greatest find of the entire quarantine! Laughter helps you get through all 2020 has to offer.” — Shannon Hale, 58, Venice, Calif.

“Reruns of ‘The Golden Girls’ have saved my sanity! It is 25 minutes of side-splitting, desperately needed pure laughter before bed each night. Forget everything and just laugh yourself silly for sweet dreams.” — Judith Skartvedt, 77, Cambria, Calif.

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‘Hannibal’ because of the impeccable acting of Mads Mikkelsen and the outstanding visual qualities of the series. ‘Longmire,’ an old-timey western with modern themes like drug addiction and life on the reservation. Finally, ‘Bosch’ because of the excellent writing; nothing seemed to go to waste. All three awakened my creativity and curiosity.” — Jeannine Thompson, 60, Land O’Lakes, Fla.

‘Normal People.’ Exquisite, poetic, emotional.” — Carole Kravetz, 62, Los Angeles

‘America Says’ and really all the game shows on Game Show Network. It has helped our family spend time together and learn more through trivia shows and simply have fun!” — Lillian Rafael, 46, Los Angeles

‘Nurse Jackie.’ I worked in health care and always loved hospital shows.” — Suzanne Shirley, 67, Henderson, Nev.

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‘American Pickers.’ The folks in the show are kind, upbeat, and the show just flows throughout the day. Quite binge-worthy.” — Deb Culbertson, 60, Glendale, Ariz.

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” made me realize that I was finally coming to terms with the pandemic. I needed that cry.

Candice Lim

‘Selling Sunset.’ I was never a huge reality TV watcher, but the cheesy music, over-the-top outfits and suspiciously unscripted drama made me feel like there was a part of the world still living in normalcy, and I really attached to it.” — Candice Lim, 23, Fullerton, Calif.

‘ER.’ The first few seasons really exemplify the difficulties medical practitioners face and the beauty of the human condition.” — Mary Chocas, 29, San Diego

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‘Kim’s Convenience.’ The family dynamic won me over. 2020 has been filled with dark. I needed light.” — Holly Joseph, 44, Atherton, Calif.

‘Love It or List It.’ Nothing dramatic or sad or hilarious, just comfort and great design. Dreaming about the home I will buy as soon as this thing is over. It’s a comfort to see David and Hillary every day instead of my co-workers.” — Hayley Miller, 30, Washington, D.C.

‘Lucifer!’ A great show full of relatable characters, humor and a search for good.” — Chris Kielich, 69, Alexandria, Va.

“1st place: ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.’ 2nd place: ‘The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. 3rd place: ‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.’ Why?!? Stephen, Trevor and John were rocks of sanity while our world turned upside down!” — James M. Weatherall, 63, Los Angeles

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Eugene and Dan Levy, cocreators and costars of 'Schitt's Creek'
Father and son Eugene and Dan Levy are cocreators and costars of the sitcom “Schitt’s Creek.”
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

“The new ‘War of the Worlds.’ I guess I’ve always wanted to escape reality into a sci-fi world.” — Gary Foehrenbach, 66, Indiana City, Pa.

‘My Brilliant Friend’ on HBO. A dramatic Italian TV series that follows the friendship of two young girls into adulthood. It sweeps you away into another time and place. That is exactly what I needed.” — Leslie Sackheim, 60, Los Angeles

‘Itaewon Class.’ It’s about class struggle, murder and changing one’s approach while maintaining integrity and focus to win. Superb cast. Kim Da-mi is a superstar actress.” — William Brulé, 45, Grouard, Alberta, Canada

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‘American Experience.’ Factual history of what Americans have accomplished and/or overcome. I enjoy learning, especially history, and it puts things in perspective.” — Jeanie Kropog, 48, Hammond, La.

‘The Last Kingdom.’ Extremely well-made series about a time long ago in a place far away where just about every person struggled with issues greater than a COVID-19 quarantine.” — Kirk Duncan, 64, New York

‘Love Life’ on HBO Max. Thankful for the sweet tales about adventures in finding and building love in many different types of relationships.” — Rebecca Ruben, 36, Silver Lake

“Selling Sunset” star Chrishell Stause opens up about filming the Netflix reality series, which returns Friday, at a moment of private heartbreak.

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‘Better Things.’ It’s so cozy but also sometimes kind of brutal and raw.” — Molly Youker, 37, Glendale, Calif.

‘The Great British Baking Show.’ Beautiful countryside ... calm, peaceful atmosphere unlike any U.S. reality show; and the biggest stakes are whether someone’s bread rises or not.” — Karen Axelton, 57, Lakewood, Calif.

“I rediscovered a number of British series from the ’80s. ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ (Acorn), ‘Inspector Morse’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes’ with Jeremy Brett (Britbox). I really think they just don’t make ’em like that anymore.” — Reilly Rix, 67, Fresno

“I became completely obsessed with ‘Letterkenny’ (Hulu). It’s both comforting in its rhythmic repetition of catchphrases ... and surprising in its subversion of rural tropes and wildly creative wordplay.” — Claire O’Hanlon, 33, Los Angeles

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‘Aerial America.’ Provides new areas of exploration and knowledge.” — Chris Hanson, 67, Meridian, Idaho

‘Leverage.’ I love the series and am excited about the reboot. Lots of my friends and I take comfort in watching old favorites now.” — Mary Shaffer, 56, San Francisco

Season 4 of Syfy’s “Wynonna Earp” has been nearly two years in the making — thanks to financial woes, its passionate fan base and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Watched all 17 seasons of ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ a show I believed was silly and unsophisticated before the pandemic. My wife and I enjoyed cheering on favorite characters and admired the great work of medical professionals. Thank you Shonda Rhimes!” — How Wright, 68, Temecula, Calif.

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‘Somebody Feed Phil’ was entertaining and positive. Phil is so kind and funny.” — Dianne Swanson, 63, Long Beach, Calif.

‘My Greek Odyssey’ and other Greek travel shows. Since I cannot travel this year, I love watching Peter Maneas travel in the Greek islands on a yacht and enjoying all that Greece has to offer.” — Anne Sirota, 75, Northridge, Calif.

Will you be watching the Emmys this year? Why or why not?

“To take a line from Issa Rae. ‘I’m rooting for everybody Black.’ But it’s not must-see TV for me as there are more important issues than winning awards today.” — Rodney Shepherd, 58, Inglewood, Calif.

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“I am a huge awards show freak. I will absolutely be watching the Emmys and live-texting my friends during every snub, win and acceptance speech.” — Candice Lim, 23, Fullerton, Calif.

“I will not. The Emmys, like the Oscars, are basically a popularity contest for people who are already very popular. Why should I care who gets a celebrity trophy?” — Shawn Van Valkenburgh, 35, Los Angeles

“Will watch because I want to see Regina King win.’ Her work in ‘Watchmen’ is one of the most remarkable performances EVER.” — Javier Robles, 44, Los Angeles

“Awards shows are valid in less catastrophic times; they are nonsensical during this time.” — Christina Mociler, 37, La Mirada, Calif.

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Do you appreciate TV more this year? Why or why not?

“I have always been an enormous TV fan, but now I’m a new widow under quarantine who can’t go to movies, so television and sports on TV is all the company I have. Television characters have had to replace family and friends for company, because I only see delivery guys, store clerks, handymen and waitresses who hand me my takeout meals! TV fills the void like nothing else.” — Suzanne Shirley, 67, Henderson, Nev.
“TV has been one of my best friends for all of my life, but man, she has been a comfort this year.” — Jillian Gomez, 33, Monrovia, Calif.

“Not really. So much programming after the pandemic hit was junk — reality shows, game shows.” — Lee Kucera, 72, Laguna Beach, Calif.

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“Yes, what the hell else do we have left?” — Patrick Quinn, 73, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

The top honor of 2020 — the award for Keeping Us Occupied During the Worst Year Ever — belongs to television itself. Why shouldn’t the Emmys celebrate that?


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