September, at least as far as television is concerned, was a month of surprises. After Netflix all but dominated our list of best TV shows for the past few months, not only have other streamers stepped out of the pack, but the oft-maligned Apple TV+ has taken our number one spot.
That’s right: Ted Lasso, the sports comedy starring Jason Sudeikis based on a series of promos, has no right to be as good as it is. But like any great underdog story, it worked its way to the top to win our hearts and make us laugh (that is, if you have an Apple TV+ subscription). Beyond Ted Lassohowever, HBO/HBO Max performed well this month, with Raised by wolves, Lovecraft Country, and The wish. the PEN15 the girls have returned (awkwardly, of course) to Hulu. And The boys returned for an explosive second season that didn’t miss a beat from the first.
A word on the methodology of this list, before continuing. The Decider staff all submitted a list of their top five shows that aired at least one episode during the month. These were weighted, selected together, and used to form the list you see below. Which means, yes, some of your favorites probably didn’t make it. But too bad, they still exist, and you can still enjoy them! It’s pretty cool!
The new season of The boys is a rowdy, bloody delight. There’s no second slump in sight as fans of the show’s first season love the second round. Season 2 focuses on character development while providing fans with the needed humor and action that made Season 1 such a hit for Amazon. The addition of Aya Cash elevated the series to a whole new level as The boys continues to be one of the most entertaining shows on television. — Josh Sorokach
Lovecraft Country was exhilarating from the jump, but in September the show reached new creative heights. A trio of episodes — “Strange Case,” “Meet Me in Daegu” and “I Am” — pushed the show’s electric tracks to the side to focus on supporting characters. Each episode is a gripping look at the horrors and regrets that haunt women’s hearts. More importantly, each episode reimagines these characters not as sidekicks to Tic (Jonathan Majors) and Leti (Jurnee Smollett), but as heroes in their own right. — Meghan O’Keefe
“Challenger: The Final Flight”
As you can see from this list, there was way too much great TV in September, so much great TV than a gripping docuseries on Netflix like Challenger: the final flight can get lost in the crowd. All four episodes delve into the fascinating history of NASA’s space shuttle program, culminating in the horrific tragedy of the Challenger explosion. Extensive archival footage brings the seven heroes we lost back to life, providing an intimate and ultimately heartbreaking portrait. But this frenzy isn’t all dark, as the Challenger crew was a fun and uplifting bunch. If you missed Challenger: the final flight in September, then make this series a must-watch in October. — Bret Blanc
Comedian Katherine Ryan has crafted her stand-up act, inspired by her real life, into six half-hour episodes that prove to be heartfelt, entertaining and one of the best recent comedy series on Netflix. As an outspoken and ever-honest single mother, Katherine overturned the norms of romantic comedy and created a world where it’s the male who desperately wants to get married, and that’s the women who is sure of what she does and doesn’t want (including the most beautiful wardrobe possible). The Duchess is the most fun I’ve had to laugh and cheer with a show in a while and has something for (almost) everyone, even you former boyband members. — Lea Palmieri
Noah Hawley’s crime drama travels back in time, and in doing so, it examines all that is wrong with our present. Set in Kansas City in the 1950s, this new season follows two rival gangs who go through a bizarre ritual. To secure power, the leaders of the two gangs exchange sons, agreeing to raise their enemy’s child. Amidst these two entities on the brink of war unfolds a candid and chilling conversation about who is allowed to be American and who is not. Start watching to appreciate Chris Rock in a magnificent role he was born to play, but keep watching Jessie Buckley’s unhinged Midwestern nurse. — Kayla Cobb
AP Organic is a weird and wonderful gem of a sitcom. Now airing on Peacock, the third season of Mike O’Brien’s absurd series about a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar forced to return to his hometown of Toledo to work as a high school biology teacher continues to run on a different comic frequency. A fun mix of weird comedy and stealthy heart, the Glenn Howerton-directed sitcom has created a playful universe in which everything – like the brilliant season finale “Katie Holmes Day” – is possible. — Josh Sorokach
Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim’s deep dive into the world of NXIVM isn’t quite like the docuseries you’ve seen before. While other documentaries about cults and secret societies instantly delve into the most shocking and sordid details of these organizations, The wish takes its time. The resulting series doesn’t just expose DOS and its sex trafficking ring. It reflects the emotional and thought process that would lead a group of rational adults to come to terms with being branded. — Kayla Cobb
PEN15 Creators Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine dreamed up the ultimate gritty comedy with the first season of their Hulu series, but it’s the second installment that really balances the joys with the anxieties of growing up. In just seven episodes, Season 2 tackles nearly every tough topic of adolescence, from divorced parents and period shaming, to cruel nicknames and sexist double standards. And while Maya and Anna are the undoubted stars of the show, some of the most moving and authentic scenes are those with Maya’s boyfriend, Gabe (Dylan Gage), as he tries to grapple with his own sexuality on his own. It’s a convoluted, goofy, and bittersweet look at the ups and downs of aging, and it continues to be one of the most brilliant TV comedies of each season. — Greta Bjornson
“Raised by Wolves”
Raised by wolves might be the most polarizing show of 2020, and it’s one of the many reasons we love it so much. Created by Aaron Guzikowski and produced and directed by Sir Ridley Scott, the series is an exhilarating throwback to the cerebral sci-fi of yore. Raised by wolves begins as the story of two androids struggling to raise a new generation of human children in an alien world and immediately becomes a bizarre meditation on faith, politics, parenthood, and slimy robots. Boasting some of the most bizarre twists in television history, Raised by wolves is a gem of a genre show. — Meghan O’Keefe
Ted Lasso remains the only pleasant surprise of this year-long garbage fire. The Apple TV+ comedy got off to a slow start, but in September it aired one of the best TV episodes of the year, “Make Rebecca Great Again,” which sees coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) and the crew from AFC Richmond travel to Liverpool for a grudge game against Everton. Showcases “Make Rebecca Great Again” Ted LassoKeeley’s effervescent charm and sense of humor – Keeley’s ‘Visit Liverpool’ promo is amazing – but he also draws viewers deeper into the story with his immensely personal storylines. Find yourself a man who can switch between comedy and drama deftly and end a 60-game losing streak against a Premier League rival! — Claire Spellberg