The 26 Most Anticipated New TV Shows of 2020
By Garin Pirnia
Last year, Apple TV+ and Disney+ entered the streaming wars, meaning that when it comes to deciding which new TV show to watch, there are now more choices than ever. Ryan Murphy’s Netflix deal includes a few new shows, and because Disney owns both Hulu and FX, so the streaming network is regularly airing FX series.
High-profile celebrities continue to gravitate toward prestige TV, too (welcome back, Bryan Cranston and Nicole Kidman), where this year we'll see them starring in book adaptation limited series and movies-turned-TV series. While there are dozens of new series we're eagerly looking forward to this year across all platforms—conventional and streaming—here are some of the most anticipated shows of 2020, including a few that have already started airing.
1. AJ and the Queen
Release date: January 10
Netflix’s new “Queen”-titled show has nothing to do with The Crown, but everything to do with working it. RuPaul stars as Ruby Red, a drag queen who travels across country with a 10-year-old stowaway named Amber Jasmine (AJ). RuPaul and Sex and the City’s Michael Patrick King created the show, executive-produced, and co-wrote several of the episodes. Throughout the 10 episodes, guest stars include Sex and the City’s Mario Cantone, Mary Kay Place, Jane Krakowski, and cameos from former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants.
2. Star Trek: Picard
Release date: January 23
Finally, Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard gets his own series, on CBS All Access. The show takes place in the 24th century, 20 years after the events of 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. Star Trek alums Jeri Ryan, Brent Spiner, and Jonathan Frakes reprise their roles, and Picard’s joined by new character Number One, an adorable pitbull.
Release date: February 3
Between 1989 and 2001, McDonald’s offered a Monopoly game in which customers could win prizes, ranging from free food to millions of dollars. However, HBO’s six-part true crime docuseries—from Mark Wahlberg’s production company—explores how an ex-cop committed “fast food fraud” and how no one legitimately won the money.
Release date: February 6
For the first time in her lengthy career, Rosario Dawson headlines a series. She plays Allegra Dill, a woman investigating the murder of her sister in a Texas town. Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail returns to USA network to produce the southern noir anthology, which is based on the eponymous novel.
5. High Fidelity
Release date: February 14
Twenty-five years after Nick Hornby’s titular book was published and 20 years after the John Cusack film adaptation, High Fidelity returns—on Valentine’s Day, no less—as a Hulu series. This time, Hi-Fi cast member Lisa Bonet’s daughter, Zoë Kravitz, takes over the lovesick, music-loving Rob character. Dolemite Is My Name’s Da’Vine Joy Randolph fills in for Jack Black as the friends navigate dating in Brooklyn instead of Chicago.
6. The Good Lord Bird
Release date: February 16
From Blumhouse Productions, this new Showtime series is based on James McBride’s 2013 award-winning fictional novel about real life abolitionist John Brown, who in 1859 raided an arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in order to initiate a slave revolt. Ethan Hawke produces and plays Brown; Daveed Diggs plays Frederick Douglass, and Wyatt Russell plays U.S. Army Officer J.E.B. Stuart.
7. Year of the Rabbit
Release date: February 19
Veep writers Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil created this dark comedy series that originally aired last year on England's Channel 4. This winter, the show hits America on IFC, and stars FX’s What We Do in the Shadows star Matt Berry as the drunken and bearded Detective Inspector Rabbit. He and his team comically investigate murders during Victorian England and satirize terms like patriarchy and how people shouldn’t call a dead body “beautiful.”
Release date: February 21
Hot off his Oscar-nominated Jimmy Hoffa role in The Irishman, Al Pacino stars as a Nazi hunter in 1977 New York City. Jordan Peele executive produced the Amazon Prime series, which also stars Logan Lerman, Carol Kane, Josh Radnor, Lena Olin, and Dylan Baker.
9. Amazing Stories
Release date: March 6
Steven Spielberg’s two-season 1980s anthology series gets reimagined for Apple TV+, with Spielberg returning as one of many executive producers. Each episode will be based on fictional stories of wonder and will feature actors like Ed Burns and the late Robert Forster.
10. The Plot Against America
Release date: March 16
The Wire’s David Simon returns to HBO and re-teams with frequent collaborator Ed Burns for this limited series. Based on the 2004 Philip Roth novel, The Plot Against America reimagines an America in which Charles Lindbergh beats FDR in the 1940 presidential election and American turns toward fascism. The timely six-part miniseries stars Winona Ryder, John Turturro, and Zoe Kazan.
11. Little Fires Everywhere
Release date: March 18
Celeste Ng’s 2017 award-winning novel, about two disparate families living in a Cleveland suburb, gets the Reese Witherspoon limited series treatment for Hulu. The actress and producer stars as affluent mother Elena Richardson, and Kerry Washington—who also produces—stars as struggling mother Mia Warren. The title refers to both literal and metaphorical fires.
12. Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
Release date: March 20
When Madam C.J. Walker died in 1919, she was known as the richest black woman and richest self-made businesswoman in America, having amassed almost $1 million. The Netflix limited series, based on A'Lelia Bundles's On Her Own Ground, follows Walker (played by Octavia Spencer), who made her money selling cosmetics and hair care products to black woman. Tiffany Haddish, Carmen Ejojo, Blair Underwood, Garrett Morris, and Bill Bellamy also star, and Spencer executive produces with Kasi Lemmons and LeBron James.
13. Mrs. America
Release date: April 15
The 1970s saw a rise in women’s lib, but not every woman was on board for progress, especially Phyllis Schlafly. In the FX on Hulu miniseries Mrs. America, Cate Blanchett plays the anti-feminist activist, who was against ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (it still hasn’t been ratified in every state). The rest of the all-star cast includes Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm (the first black woman elected to Congress and the first woman to run for president for the Democratic party), Tracey Ullman as The Feminine Mystique writer Betty Friedan, John Slattery as Schlafly’s husband, and Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug, one of the founders of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Captain Marvel’s Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden co-executive produce with Blanchett.
14. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
Release date: April 26
Showtime’s Penny Dreadful creator John Logan and producers Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris spin off their macabre show and set it 40 years later in 1930s Los Angeles. Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer plays a demon, Nathan Lane plays a LAPD officer, and Daniel Zovatto plays the LAPD’s first Mexican American detective, which taps into the era’s racism and supernatural theme.
Release date: May 31
Based on the 2013 sci-fi film co-written and directed by newly-minted triple-Oscar winner Boon Joon Ho and based on a French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, Snowpiecer the series, which will air on TNT, is set seven years after Earth has become a frozen post-apocalyptic wasteland. Wealthy and poor people are stuck on a perpetually moving train. Instead of Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, the show stars a large cast that includes Daveed Diggs, Jennifer Connelly, The Americans’s Alison Wright and Sean Bean.
16. The Undoing
Release date: May
In this six-part dramatic HBO miniseries—based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz—Nicole Kidman re-teams with Big Little Lies creator David E. Kelley and stars as a successful New York therapist whose life unravels when she discovers her husband (Hugh Grant) might have been responsible for a murder. Emmy-winning director Susanne Bier directs and executive produces with Kidman and Kelley.
17. Genius: Aretha
Release date: May
Tony Award winner and Oscar-nominated actress Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, The Outsider) steps into the Queen of Soul’s shoes in the latest eight-episode installment of National Geographic’s ongoing Genius series. This marks the first time the program will feature a woman—the other two seasons focused on Picasso and Einstein—and the first time Aretha Franklin’s estate has authorized a scripted series about the late icon's life.
Release date: May
Ryan Murphy’s first produced and distributed Netflix show will focus on Hollywood in the 1940s; Murphy has called it his “love letter to the Golden Age of Tinseltown.” The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Emmy winner Darren Criss executive produced the series and stars alongside Patti LuPone, Jim Parsons, Mira Sorvino, Samara Weaving, Rob Reiner, The Politician’s David Corenswet, Dylan McDermott, and Holland Taylor.
19. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Release date: August
Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie reprise their Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson/Falcon roles, respectively, in this six-episode Disney+ series. The show picks up after Avengers: Endgame and is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain America: Civil War’s Helmut Zemo (played by Daniel Brühl), Emily VanCamp, and Wyatt Russell round out the cast.
Release date: September
In 1976, Louise Fletcher won an Oscar for portraying the evil Nurse Ratched in the film adaption of Ken Kesey’s 1962 book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. (The film won in all five major Oscar categories.) The medical-pro-of-nightmares returns via Netflix in the form of an origin story, with Sarah Paulson playing the murderous Nurse Ratched. Ryan Murphy and Michael Douglas (who won an Oscar for producing the original film) executive produce, while Sharon Stone, Finn Wittrock, Cynthia Nixon, Don Cheadle, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rosanna Arquette, and Judy Davis also star.
21. Impeachment: American Crime Story
Release date: TBD
Not that impeachment. Ryan Murphy explores the more than 20-year-old Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, with Sarah Paulson starring as Linda Tripp, Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, and Clive Owen as the impeached President Clinton.
22. Space Force
Release date: TBD
In 2019, Donalf Trump signed into existence the sixth branch of the military: Space Force. Greg Daniels, creator of The Office and co-creator of Parks and Recreation, saw an opportunity to form a Netflix comedy around the idea. Daniels enlists The Office’s Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Parks and Rec’s Ben Schwartz, Fred Willard, and Noah Emmerich; Carell will also produce.
23. The Haunting of Bly Manor
Release date: TBD
In 2018, Mike Flanagan had a hit with his Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House, based on Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel. This year, Flanagan continues his literary ghost story anthology. The Haunting of Bly Manor, based on Henry James’s 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw, sees a few Hill House cast members return: Henry Thomas, Victoria Pedretti, Kate Siegel, Katie Parker, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. Pendretti plays a governess who looks after two children at Bly manor. She, of course, begins to see ghastly things.
24. Central Park
Release date: TBD
This summer Loren Bouchard, creator of Bob’s Burgers, brings a star-studded animated musical comedy to Apple TV+. The show’s about a group of workers who attempt to save New York’s Central Park. Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, Tituss Burgess, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, and Kathryn Hahn supply the voices.
Release date: TBD
Fresh off her many, many award wins for Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge returns with a new comedic show, this time for HBO. Emmy-winner Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie, Unbelievable) plays Ruby, a woman who starts an adventure with old flame Domhnall Gleeson. Instead of starring, Waller-Bridge plays a supporting role and executive produces with longtime collaborator Vicky Jones.
26. Your Honor
Release date: TBD
Based on Israeli series Kvodo, Showtime’s Your Honor follows a New Orleans judge (played by Bryan Cranston), whose son gets involved in a tricky hit-and-run. Cranston executive produced the 10-episode legal thriller alongside The Good Wife and The Good Fight’s Robert and Michelle King. Michael Stuhlbarg, Hope Davis, Carmen Ejogo, and Margo Martindale co-star.