The 20 Most Anticipated Shows Coming To Sling TV in 2020

There’s a case to be made that over the past 10 years or so, TV has surpassed film as the preeminent medium for visual storytelling. For skilled filmmakers and movie stars, the hindrances that were once in place — shallow characters and themes, lower budgets and cheaper production values — have fallen away, making television an appealing alternative to the intense grind of a film shoot. 

As we head into a new decade, there are many reasons to believe this trend will continue. We may be living through the era of “Peak TV,” but it doesn’t feel like we’re anywhere near the summit. Listed alphabetically, here’s a look at 20 shows coming to Sling TV in 2020 that we can’t wait to see.

30 For 30

The upcoming 10-part miniseries on the Chicago Bulls (see below) is just the start of what ESPN has on deck for their genre-defining sports documentaries in 2020. Back in January of last year, ESPN released a 30 For 30 teaser trailer featuring clips from what would become Rodman: For Better or Worse, 42 to 1, Deion’s Double Play and Chuck & Tito. Fittingly, that teaser promised “the best was yet to come,” and spotlighted docs on Lance Armstrong, Michael Vick and Florence Griffith Joyner. Assuming all of those make it to air this year, there will be enough scandals to give Shonda Rhimes a run for her money. (Premiere date TBD on ESPN) – Ben Macaluso

68 Whiskey

From producers Ron Howard and Brian Glazer comes this adaptation of the Israeli TV show Charlie Golf One, about a group of medics stationed in Afghanistan at a base known as “The Orphanage.” Howard has acknowledged that the show is reminiscent of an updated M*A*S*H, with an ensemble cast of characters — Sam Keeley, Jeremy Tardy, Gage Golightly, Cristina Rodlo, Beth Riesgraf, Lamont Thompson, Nicholas Coombe and Derek Theler — relying on humor, friendship, and the occasional vice to stay sane in a crazy war. (Premieres January 15 at 10pm ET on Paramount) – Scott Ross

Animal Kingdom

Secretly one of cable TV’s most compelling and enjoyable series for three seasons running, John Wells’ adaptation of the 2010 Australian crime thriller has, as its name suggests, been about adaptation from season to season. First as orphaned teenager Joshua “J” Cody (Finn Cole) is forced to move in with his OD’d mother’s estranged family of criminals, then as he fights for his place in the family, and then as the gang’s second-in-command (Scott Speedman) was murdered in the midst of a power struggle with matriarch and ringleader Smurf (Ellen Barkin). Season 3 closed with the death of Smurf — the show’s central character and highest-profile actor in Barkin — so the remaining Codys (Cole, Ben Robson, Jake Weary, and Denis Leary) will once again have to make sense of their new reality while staying ahead of the LAPD and coming up with a creative new robbery every other episode or so. (Premiere date TBD on TNT) Alex Castle

Awkwafina is Nora From Queens

With a historic Best Actress Golden Globe win fresh under her belt for a gripping and dramatic turn in The Farewell, rapper/comedian-turned-actress Awkwafina returns to the screwball antics that made her such a delight in Crazy Rich Asians with a semi-autobiographical half-hour sitcom on Comedy Central. Playing a fictionalized version of herself, Awkwafina (real name: Nora Lum) traverses through her early 20s with a scattered aimlessness that defies her (eventual) real-life success. Accompanying her on this 10-episode coming-of-age journey are her father, played by BD Wong of Mr. Robot; her sweet grandmother who swears like a drunken sailor, played by Orange Is the New Black’s Lori Tan Chinn; and her successful cousin, played by Bowen Yang of Saturday Night Live. (Premieres Jan. 22 on Comedy Central) – Janine Schaults

Better Call Saul

Now that talented (if troubled) attorney James McGill (Bob Odenkirk) has finally filed the paperwork to practice law under a certain clever, reassuring pseudonym, and co-creator Peter Gould has indicated that the show is closer to the end than the beginning, it’s time for Better Call Saul’s unusually patient mode of storytelling to start paying off like a slot machine. We still have some character distance to cover to get Saul to a place where he’s casually suggesting that inconvenient colleagues be “sent to Belize.” However, the single most compelling question in a show that has little right to be compelling at all, given that we know the fates of nearly every character, is still live: WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO KIM? (Premieres Feb. 23 on AMC) – AC

Briarpatch

From Executive Producer Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot), Briarpatch stars Rosario Dawson as Allegra Dill, an investigator searching for answers in her hometown after her sister is murdered. The show’s tone is an odd one, something like the quirky noir of Veronica Mars spiked with the unsettling surrealism of David Lynch. Based on the first couple of episodes, there’s a loose, meandering quality to Briarpatch, which creates a nice contrast with the tension of its central mystery. (Premieres Feb. 6 on USA Network) – Mark Schiff

Dispatches From Elsewhere

We’re definitely into shows that are weird and unclassifiable and, from its title on down, it sounds like Dispatches From Elsewhere fits the bill. Created by and starring Jason Segal, the show is about “a group of ordinary people who stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life,” according to AMC. Will this mystery go “far deeper than they ever imagined?” Of course it will. Are we nevertheless intrigued? With a cast that also includes Sally Field and Andre “3000” Benjamin, of course we are. (Premieres March 1 on AMC) – MS

Fargo

Perhaps the only IP-revival success story unlikelier than Better Call Saul, Noah Hawley’s anthology crime dramedy series pays homage not just to the Coen Brothers’ 1995 classic of the same name, but to the Coens’ entire oeuvre, tone, and approach. Amazingly enough, over three impeccably cast seasons — headlined by the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Ted Danson, Kirsten Dunst, and Ewan McGregor to name just a few — it’s all worked. Though the seasons have all tangentially tied into each other and the movie, the only constant going into each season has been a lack of advance information on the plot and story. However, possibly owing to the long gap between seasons 3 and 4, we have a little more to go on this year: The story concerns a pair of crime families, one Italian and one African-American, in 1950s Kansas City. Chris Rock, Timothy Olyphant, and Jason Schwartzman lead the cast. (Premieres April 19 on FX) – AC

Impeachment: American Crime Story

In what seems like ever-changing times, 2019 made political history as the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump. In season three of American Crime Story, the show will take us back to a time when another president came under fire and was impeached. Clive Owen will star as former U.S. president Bill Clinton, Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart) plays Monica Lewinsky, and Sarah Paulson plays Linda Tripp in the story about the scandal that nearly brought down the White House. Based on a book by Jeffrey Toobin, Impeachment: American Crime Story is set to debut on FX in late September, right in the thick of the 2020 presidential election. – Johnathon Mendoza

Kidding

The first season of this Showtime standout featured a compelling mix of whimsy and tragedy, as Jim Carrey’s Mr. Rodgers-esque kids show host attempted to keep it together in the face of difficult personal circumstances. With his home-spun style, Michel Gondry was the ideal director to bring the show to life and the cast (Carrey, Frank Langella, Judy Greer and Catherine Keener) is second-to-none. The first season was a little up-and-down but we’re optimistic Kidding will find its footing in season 2. (Premieres Feb. 2 on Showtime) – MS

Outlander

Our favorite colonial family returns for season five of Outlander, one of the most anticipated shows of the 2020 slate. The massively successful Starz franchise picks up where season 4 left off, as we continue to follow the Frasers’ journey in the New World. Man-hunts, marriage engagements, and the attempted expansion of their North Carolina establishment will continue to test the family who, quite literally, has withstood the test of time. (Premieres Feb. 16 on Starz) – JM

Party of Five

Ripped from the headlines, but not in a salacious Law & Order way, Freeform’s reboot of beloved ‘90s drama Party of Five finds the quintet of Acosta siblings fending for themselves in Los Angeles when their undocumented parents are deported to Mexico by unsympathetic ICE agents. Despite the underpinnings of immigration reform in Trump’s America, the hallmarks of the original series remain – the family-owned restaurant, the weekly dinners, the teenage rebellion. While the Salinger clan lost their parents in a car crash more than 25 years ago, the physical separation the Acostas confront is no less harrowing and offers a window into the plight undocumented families currently face. But only one question:  Where’s the theme song? (Premieres Jan. 8 on Freeform) – JS

Seven Worlds, One Planet

The team behind Planet Earth (including narrator Sir David Attenborough) is back with this seven-part documentary series. Where each episode of their previous series focused on a single climate zone or geographic feature, this show spotlights the seven continents and the range of wildlife on each (the first episode takes a look at North America and follows everything from arctic hares to Florida manatees to Tennessee fish). As always, the crew goes to extreme lengths to get the footage, including the first-ever look at a new hunting technique adopted by polar bears dealing with climate change. Beautiful, illuminating, and haunting in equal measure, Seven Worlds, One Planet again demonstrates why the BBC Nature team is the alpha of animal documentarians. (Premieres Jan. 18 on BBC America, AMC, IFC, and SundanceTV) – MS

Snowpiercer

This adaptation of Bong Joon-Ho’s outstanding 2013 film (itself based on a 1982 graphic novel) has been in development for years, and following a series of false starts, it appears we’ll finally see the Snowpiercer TV show in 2020. Starring Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly, the show follows the last handful of humans who survived a world-ending freeze, and are now forced to live on a train that’s in perpetual motion. Like the film, the show will lean into its classism allegory, with the passengers at the front of the train living in luxury while those in the back are subjected to all manner of abuse. Despite the show’s rough roll-out, TNT has already ordered a second season, so the network is clearly confident that Snowpiercer can join the ranks of Fargo and The Purge in making the transition from the big screen to television. (Premieres this Spring on TNT) – MS

Spy Games

Does life as a spy resemble anything remotely close to what we’ve seen in umpteen movies in the James Bond franchise? Probably not, but it’s fun to pretend. Inspired by a World War II spy training program dubbed “Station S,” Bravo’s reality competition series “Spy Games” ships ten folks from the around the country off to a remote estate where they get a crash course in espionage from three former spies with CIA, Secret Service and FBI credentials and compete in elaborate challenges (submerging in an ice-water bath, etc.) for a $100,000 prize. Martinis – shaken or stirred – not included. (Premieres Jan. 20 on Bravo) – JS

The Circus

I always describe this show as Inside the NFL for politics. Showtime’s weekly highlights and analysis show recaps last week’s games, but with a twist: They have their own cameras on the sidelines, they’re picking up in-game dialogue from the players, and all the show’s analysts are former players, which gives you a more on-the-ground feel than you can get from broadcast network highlights. The Circus similarly deploys a trio of political analysts — conservative strategist Mark McKinnon and journalists John Heilemann and Alex Wagner — to the halls of Congress, campaign events, or wherever political news is being made, and gets real-time reactions from key players to bombshell events, which seem to be coming daily these days. With impeachment, the 2020 election, and whatever is happening in Iran looming, The Circus is an easy recommend to the politics junkie in your life. (Premieres Jan. 26 on Showtime) – AC

The Good Lord Bird

A miniseries adapted from James McBride’s 2013 National Book Award-winner of the same name, it’s the story of Onion (Joshua Johnson-Lionel), a young slave in the 1850s who joins John Brown’s abolitionist army. The cast includes Ethan Hawke as Brown, Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) as Frederick Douglas, and Wyatt Russell (Lot 49) as U.S. Army Officer J. E. B. Stuart. Hawke is also creator/executive producer, and he adapted the book along with horror master Jason Blum, who’s also producing. (Premieres February 16 on Showtime) – SR

The Last Dance

What were you doing back in June 1998? Considering I wasn’t even 10-years-old, I was probably balling hard in a Chuck-E-Cheese. Meanwhile, Michael Jordan was hitting the game-winning shot against to defeat the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals and polish off the Chicago Bulls’ second three-peat of the ’90s. No matter how old you are, reliving the best and most iconic dynasty in all of sports is appointment television. Not to mention that everybody’s on board for this doc: MJ, Scottie, Obama, Rodman, and Steve Kerr, just to name a few. With its epic 10-part scope, expect this to go toe-to-toe with the excellent, Oscar-winning OJ: Made in America and ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. (Premieres in June on ESPN) – BM

The Sinner

Just when you thought the dark crime drama The Sinner couldn’t top enlisting Emmy-nominated tour de force Carrie Coon for its creepy, cult-centered second season, the Jessica Biel-produced series returns with two scenery chewers to keep Bill Pullman’s detective Harry Ambrose on his toes. A routine investigation into a fatal car crash involving Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Chris Messina (Sharp Objects) uncovers something more sinister. Even if the final payoff doesn’t hit, the delicious twists and turns should make for quite a journey.  (Premieres Feb. 6 on USA Network) – JS

Tokyo Olympics

This year’s edition of the Summer games will take place in Tokyo, Japan, the second time the Olympics will be held here, and the first since 1964. The biggest reason to tune in is the introduction of several new competitions. These include, but aren’t limited, to three-on-three basketball, (thank you Ice Cube for popularizing this) BMX, karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding. In 2008, the Olympics removed baseball and softball from the games; thankfully and rightly, they are also bringing both back this year to restore sanity to the sports world. Game on. (The Summer Olympics will be broadcast on the NBC family of networks from July 24 to Aug. 9) – BM

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