The 10 Best TV Shows on Right Now: Jeopardy, The Outsider, and More

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The 10 Best TV Shows on Right Now: <i>Jeopardy</i>, <i>The Outsider</i>, and More

We’ll take “TV Ratings Surprise” for $500 Alex.

The answer is: The primetime version of this long-running and popular game show shocked the industry by averaging 15 million same-day viewers.

What is JEOPARDY!: The Greatest of All Time?

Don’t count network TV out, my friends. No show was bigger last week than the three most successful Jeopardy! winners facing off with the hopes of winning $1 million. The second power rankings of 2020 saw a lot of new and returning series joining the list. And what can we say about The Good Place being back in contention? Well, the decision is extremely Justified.

The rules for the power rankings are simple: Any series on TV qualifies, whether it’s a comedy, drama, news program, animated series, variety show or sports event. It can be on a network, basic cable, premium channel, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you can stream on your smart TV, as long as a new episode was made available the previous week—or, in the case of shows released all at once, it has to have been released within the previous four weeks.

The voting panel is composed of Paste editors and TV writers with a pretty broad range of tastes. We’re merciless: a bad episode can knock you right off this list. So much good TV is available right now.

Honorable Mentions:Evil(CBS), High School Musical:The Musical:The Series (Disney+), The Circle (Netflix), black-ish (ABC), and AJ and the Queen (Netflix)

10. The L Word: Generation Q
Network: Showtime
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Ranked

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Period sex and menopause. Yes my friends, The L Word is back and subtlety is not on the agenda. Bette (Jennifer Beals wearing pantsuits that are better than ever), Alice (Leisha Hailey) and Shane (Katherine Moening) are joined by, as the title suggests, a new cast of characters navigating their lives, loves and careers in Los Angeles. Bette is now running for mayor and mom to an adolescent Angie (Jordan Hull). Alice has her own talk show and Shane is, well, Shane-ing it up as only she can (of course she has sex with the flight attendant on her private plane, of course she does). The L Word, at its very best, was a juicy soap opera that put lesbian characters front and center and gave them plot lines, melodrama, romances, and love triangles that had been previously only been given to straight characters. Lots has changed in the world since the original series went off the air 10 years ago but, with the current administration, so much hasn’t. The L Word: Generation Q is poised to pick up where its elders left off with complex new characters and soapier than ever stories. —Amy Amatangelo

9. Party of Five
Network: Freeform
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible

Amy Lippman and Chris Keyser, creators of the original Party of Five, return to put a 2020 spin on their beloved series. Much like Norman Lear was able to bring One Day at a Time into the millennium, Lippman and Keyser set the new Party of Five in the midst of the current political climate.

Javier (Bruno Bichir) and Gloria (Fernanda Urrejola) Acosta are successful restaurant owners with five children ranging from 24-year-old Emilo (Brandon Larracuente) to the baby Rafa (who grows quite a bit from Episode 1 to Episode 2 but still exists mainly to need a diaper change no one wants to give). One evening ICE arrives at the restaurant and Javier and Gloria know the drill and quickly usher out all their undocumented workers. The problem is that this time ICE is here for them and the parents are torn away from their children with no warning.

The trick with a series like this is to educate and inform the viewer without seeming preachy. Party of Five does that with compelling teen angst, love triangles, rebellious adolescents, family intrigue and all the other things that make a good drama tick. In its heyday the original Party of Five wasn’t afraid to tackle thorny and at-the-time taboo subjects (teen alcoholism, abortion), and this new version is poised to do the same. I’m so happy to have the Party continue. —Amy Amatangelo

8. Anne with an E
Network:   Netflix  
Last Week’s Ranking: 6

Netflix’s excellent Anne with an E may have had a bit of a shaky start as an Anne of Green Gables adaptation, but the show has gotten better which each new season and truly come into its own. Tragically, this one (Season 3) is set to be its last. That’s a shame for a number of reasons, the foremost among them is that this is a show that understands teenagers so, so well, not just as the TV-trope of agents of camp and chaos, but as having heart and passion to set the world to rights. Each season of Anne has been increasingly triumphant as this core group of Canadian teens at the turn of the 20th century battle societal issues like racism, freedom of speech, and consent while navigating changing friendships, budding crushes, and studying for their college entrance exams. Anne is not always subtle—in fact, it almost never is—but it manages to meaningfully include the stories of people of color, LGBT narratives, and native peoples in a way that naturally extends the scope of its source material. At its core, Anne is a wonderfully optimistic and unique series that makes you feel better for having watched it, and we could certainly do with more of that. —Allison Keene

7. Howards End
Network: PBS
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible

If you missed the latest adaptation of E.M. Forester’s masterful Howards End when it aired in the UK in 2017 or on Starz in the US in 2018, you now have your chance on PBS Masterpiece in 2020. The gorgeous four-part miniseries stars Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel, the older sister (and de facto matriarch) of a progressive and independent family living in early 20th century London. Margaret and her siblings are on the forefront of changing social mores, sometimes controversially so, and it defines her relationship with an older, wealthy widower, Henry Wilcox (Matthew Macfadyen), whose conservative values clash with hers. The story feels timely in many ways, although the genuine curiosity and politeness with which these issues are broached can seem lamentably foreign. The series, stunningly directed by Hettie MacDonald and wonderfully adapted by Kenneth Lonergan, is in many ways an atypical and refreshing period piece. Anchored by outstanding performances, the series shines in its quiet moments of personal fortitude and in confronting one’s own biases in endlessly intriguing ways. It is truly a must-watch. —Allison Keene

6. Giri/Haji
Network:   Netflix  
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible

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BBC Two’s Giri / Haji, available in the U.S. via Netflix, is already one of the year’s best surprises. The international thriller starts when a Tokyo detective, Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira), is tasked by a prominent Yakuza crime family—in conjunction with the police force—to secretly go to London in search of his brother Yuto (Yosuke Kubozuka ), who he thought died a year ago. The hope is that bringing Yuto back will stop a sprawling war that he helped kickstart among the Yakuza factions. But like Kenzo’s investigation into Yuto’s disappearance and faked death, Giri /Haji is full of unexpected twists, not just in its narrative but in its form. It’s dark and violent at times, but also funny and full of heart. At the center of the story is the tale of two brothers, yet it’s also about forged family and discovering the truth about one’s self. The gang war is the framework for the story, which plays out in many ways like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (as far as a variety of different crime bosses all marching toward one another); and yet, one of its most moving scenes takes place during a quiet, makeshift Yom Kippur dinner regarding atonement.

The series is just frankly stunning. And crucially, funny. Though it would be wonderful to spend more time in this world with a second season, there is a palpable and beautiful sense of healing that has ended this one. —Allison Keene

5. The Outsider
Network:   HBO  
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible

Doppelgängers lock eyes with their mirrored protagonists as representations of suppression, whether that be of unbridled id or an unstable identity. Doubles, in Dostoyevsky stories and Jordan Peele projects, confront us with the uncanny proof that we are not unique and infuse us with doubt. If we’re not the only us, then what exactly are we supposed to believe? The Outsider—which sees writer Richard Price adapting Stephen King’s exciting novel (one of his recent best, in my eyes)—becomes another variation on this theme for HBO, presenting a procedural where alibis, accusations, and evidence enter the realm of unreality.

The first six episodes of the 10-episode HBO drama, which the company assured me is NOT a miniseries, concern a boy in a small southern town who is viciously murdered, his corpse mutilated and defiled. Only a monster could do such a thing. And a damning amount of evidence—witnesses, surveillance footage, physical residue—points to little league coach, teacher, and all-around nice guy Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). It’s like he wanted to get caught. But it’s impossible. He literally couldn’t have committed the crime, which Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) finds out only after making the arrest in the flashiest, most statement-making way possible. As the fallout from the case rains down upon the townspeople, drowning the family of the murdered boy and Terry’s wife Glory (Julianne Nicholson) under a torrent of sorrow and social stigma, Anderson’s new case is figuring out how one person could be in two places at once. —Jacob Oller

4. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Network: NBC
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a pure delight. A show that is 1000% guaranteed to put a smile on your face, get your feet tapping and leave you humming a happy tune. I defy you to not be in a good mood after watching it.

Jane Levy stars as the titular character who, after an MRI gone awry, can suddenly hear the soundtrack of people’s lives. Their innermost thoughts set to a Beatles song, a Whitney Houston ballad or a Katy Perry number. Because Zoey is privy to people’s innermost thoughts whether they are singing about sexual desire or loneliness or marital frustration, she tasks herself with solving their problems. But by adding the extra layer of full on, big musical numbers everything Zoey does seems natural. Musicals, by their very nature, require a huge willing suspension of disbelief.

The show also isn’t afraid to tackle big emotional problems from the sudden death of a parent to a husband who doesn’t respect you to being your true self to everyone. It’s NBC taking a risk. As far as musical TV series go, for every Glee or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend there’s a Cop Rock. For network television to be airing, promoting, financing a show like this is a sign that broadcast TV isn’t throwing in the towel to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or (heaven help us) Quibi. NBC has come to play, thank you very much. And that’s something to sing about. —Amy Amatangelo

3. The Good Place
Network: NBC
Last Week’s Ranking:Not Eligible

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All good things must come to an end, and so too must The Good Place. So here we are watching Michael, Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani trying to save humanity with the assistance of the ever-helpful Janet. Although the stakes are decidedly higher (no big deal but humanity may be eliminated) and the twists even more shocking (Phoebe is the only Friend worth saving ??), the humor remains razor sharp, the pop-culture references on-point, and the inherent sweetness of the series inspirational. Humans can get better, can learn from their mistakes and, against all odds, will try to do the right thing. Can a network comedy do all that? You better forking believe it. — Amy Amatangelo

2. Schitt’s Creek
Network: Pop TV
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible

“After an award-worthy trilogy of decades together,” Moira Rose (Catherine O’Hara) tells her daughter early in the final season of the exemplary Schitt’s Creek, “your father and I still astonish each other.” Of the many things Pop TV’s deeply empathetic comedy gets right—and make no mistake, Schitt’s Creek gets pretty much everything right—the rarest is that exact quality: astonishment. The denizens of this far-from-bustling town quietly astonish each other with great frequency; like most people, they are almost always more than they seem.

What’s most, yes, astonishing about that fact is that in its return, Dan Levy’s series remains as funny—sometimes acidly, sometimes daffily, never cheaply—as ever. It’s tempting to fold Schitt’s Creek in with excellent shows like Parks and Recreation or the rebooted One Day at a Time, warm-hearted stories about good people taking care of each other. Schitt’s is, at its heart, a story about care, and it is every bit as good as those two series. But it’s tender rather than warm, a gentle thing, as a fragile yet resilient as two beautiful wings pushing mightily to emerge from a chrysalis. Four wounded people were forced to set up camp in Schitt’s Creek, though perhaps none of them truly acknowledged their hurts. To say life in a small town healed them would be to turn Levy’s marvelous series into something much smaller and more shallow; the Rose’s found, stabilized, and even healed their wounds individually, as a family, and with the help of the people who crossed their paths. Of course, those people had wounds, too, which is something—sometimes the only thing—they all shared. —Allison Shoemaker

1. JEOPARDY!: The Greatest of All Time
Network: ABC
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible

It’s something so simple. Bring back Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer, the syndicated games show’s biggest money winners in its 36 year history and have them compete for $1 million dollars. The first to win three matches wins the million, the other two walk away with $250,000. The show is a mixture of pure joy, nostalgia, suspense (Brad and those daily doubles) and shocks (they know the most random things but miss a The Handmaid’s Tale question even I could answer). Host Alex Trebek, who will turn 80 this year, says, despite his cancer diagnosis, he has no plans of retiring. Whatever happens in Trebek’s future, this primetime tour-de-force is a celebration of Trebek’s long career of making a difficult job look easy. It’s paying homage to a man who helped define the genre and is the feel-good TV event we didn’t even know we wanted but totally need. —Amy Amatangelo

Bonus:
Our first dedicated appreciation video is for Netflix’s confusing, deliciously fun high-fantasy series, The Witcher:



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