As just about every other facet of life ground to a halt, television somehow made it through 2020 intact. With enough shows already shot and millions of people stuck at home, TV provided something of an escape at a time when many of us needed it most. Sure, some shows did try to catch up to the ongoing pandemic by incorporating it into storylines and mixing up their usual formats, for better and (mostly) for worse. For the most part, though, TV kept a window open to a world that existed outside the novel coronavirus. Even when it felt jarring to see people share drinks, get lost in thrumming crowds and grocery shop without fear (what a concept!), it was also undeniably a bit of a relief to live in that removed reality, even if just for a few minutes.
When tallying up my favorite TV shows of the year, I couldn’t disentangle them from the time periods in which I first encountered them. That wasn’t the case when I looked back on my favorite TV moments, which jumped offscreen no matter what with undeniable force. The following 15 scenes grabbed me from places both expected (see: “The Good Place” and Michaela Coel’s masterpiece “I May Destroy You”) and surprising (see: a comedy based on a character created to sell NBC Sports subscriptions). It might have been an extremely unusual year, but TV’s ability to take me somewhere else thankfully remained completely intact.
Here are some of my favorite TV moments of the year (in alphabetical order, before you get mad about X drama beating Y comedy, etc).
(This list contains spoilers.)