Normally, August is the doldrums for television. Everyone wants to go outside, relax in the blazing hot sun, and let the last of summer wash over them before returning to school/work/relaxing in the blazing hot sun in the fall. But not this August, baby!
This August, everyone (well, mostly everyone) was stuck inside, and with movie theaters closed for most of the duration, streaming continued to be the dominant entertainment option. That meant plenty of new series, season finales, weird reality shows, laugh-out-loud funny comedies, and more.
But it also meant some innovative shows that are already taking our breath away, from HBO’s Lovecraft Country, the Netflix debut of Cobra Kai, and a season of Below Deck Med that changed everything.
As usual, Decider’s choices were put together by the expert staff, who watched hundreds of hours TV just to prepare for this list. Kidding, we always watch a lot of TV. Anyway, Everyone sent in their top five of the month (as long as the show aired at least one episode), those were ranked, culled together, and then used to form the list you see below.
You can check out the full list below, and if you’re still getting caught up, be sure to check out our lists for the best of January, February, March, April, May, June, July and the best of 2020 so far.
DC Universe/HBO Max
Though the DC Universe/HBO Max airing Doom Patrol only aired one episode in August, it was a doozy. “Wax Patrol,” the Season 2 finale of the sad-sack superheroes series, was supposed to be the ninth episode out of a planned ten, until coronavirus shut down productions all over. However, finishing on “Wax Patrol” ended up being true to form, with our main characters screwing up the world — and their lives — again, and finishing with the biggest, weirdest downer of a cliffhanger ever.
Unlike any other comics based show on air, Doom Patrol takes big, bizarre swings that are often hilarious and bittersweet, and is frequently triumphantly insane. However, with DC Universe originals seemingly moving permanently to HBO Max, whether we’ll watch the team get out of their waxy deaths remain to be seen. But not picking up the show for Season 3 would be a fate even these reluctant heroes don’t deserve. Let’s get this trending, folks: #RenewPatrol. — Alex Zalben
‘The Real Housewives of Potomac’
After Season 5 of The Real Housewives of Potomac was pushed back from a May to an August premiere, Bravo viewers were more than ready for this franchise to return — and it’s already delivering in every way. It’s easily the Housewives show I look forward to most each week because the women of Potomac are as surprising and silly as ever. While the season is building towards the Monique/Candiace “incident” we also have Robyn’s re-engagement to look forward to, and hopefully lots of tea from Gizelle, brilliance from new addition Wendy, even more of Ashley’s son Baby Dean, and just a few more encounters between Karen and new Housebird this season, T’Challa. — Lea Palmieri
‘Teenage Bounty Hunters’
How can anyone sleep on Teenage Bounty Hunters? This show is the messiest, rowdiest, and loudest teen action/dramedy to hit Netflix in a hot minute—and everyone needs to get into it! The title says is also show’s best sales pitch: it’s about teenage bounty hunters. Those titular twins, played by the perfectly in sync Maddie Phillips Anjelica Bette Fellini, take on bail-jumpers, low-level criminals, and—most terrifying of all—the mean girls of their Christian academy. But don’t let the irreverent title fool you; Teenage Bounty Hunters actually has a lot to say about the South, teen life, Christian hypocrisy… and Chick-Fil-A. — Brett White
‘I May Destroy You’
Michaela Coel’s follow up to Chewing Gum is as much a creative rebirth as a seminal work of art about this moment in time. I May Destroy You starts off as a meditation on consent and trauma in the post #MeToo world, but by series’s end, it’s so much more. It’s a masterpiece about the struggles of young Black artists, the omnipresence of exploitation in our culture, and an ode to the humanity in us all. Most of all, it is a tour de force from Coel, one of the brightest talents working today. — Meghan O’Keefe
Cobra Kai is just about as close to television perfection as it gets. Premiering in May of 2018 on YouTube and making its Netflix debut last week, Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg’s modern Karate Kid revival continues the never-ending rivalry between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). A joyous celebration of the iconic franchise, Cobra Kai is a deft blend of shrewd writing and superb acting that fans of the original franchise will devour. — Josh Sorokach
High Score is a nostalgia-infused hug of a TV series. Similar to The Toys That Made Us and The Movies That Made Us, the Netflix talking head docuseries is a fun, informative, look at the golden age of video games. From Space Invaders to Sonic the Hedgehog, the six-part series details the ups and downs of a multi-billion dollar industry while also celebrating the diverse trailblazers who made video game history. — Josh Sorokach
‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’
When you’re talking about a docuseries as immediately masterful as Liz Garbus’ I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, there’s a fear that it may fail to stick the landing. That’s not the case for this chilling story. The series’ final moments are distinctly, painfully human as they explore how Michelle McNamara’s death affected her family and friends while also weaving through how the survivors’ felt after Joseph James DeAngelo Jr.’s arrest. True crime has a lot to learn from this compassionate and emotional tapestry that never fails to consider the victims first. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is truly a docuseries that will go down as revolutionary. — Kayla Cobb
The Vow tells the rise and fall of NXIVM, a self-help group that spiraled into a controlling, manipulative sex cult under the leadership of founder Keith Raniere. The docuseries starts from the very beginning, introducing NXIVM in the way its members first saw it: as an idyllic space for growth and self discovery. But something much more sinister lay beneath the group’s sunny, supportive exterior. What makes The Vow work is its approach; the series doesn’t dismiss former members or focus only on the sensationalistic aspects of the cult. Instead, it frames the story so that we sympathize with the NXIVM members and understand why they were pulled in from the start. — Greta Bjornson
‘Below Deck Mediterranean’
Will Below Deck Med be the same without Hannah Ferrier? In August, Bravo viewers said goodbye to the longtime chief stew, who was unceremoniously fired for having unregistered Valium and a weed pen onboard. The drama spanned the course of multiple episodes, but when all was said and done, Hannah made the best decision for herself — even if it wasn’t the best for us. Getting self-proclaimed “bushpig” Aesha Scott back as second stew is a solid consolation, but no one can ever truly fill Hannah’s shoes. — Claire Spellberg
How do you kick a reality show like Selling Sunset up a few notches? You inject some real reality into it. That’s exactly what happened in the scandalous Season 3, with its batch of episodes completely devoted to Chrishell Stause and Justin Hartley’s shocking and surprising split. When faced with drama that definitely was not cooked up by producers, Selling Sunset became legit must-watch TV as lines were drawn and truly upsetting accusations were made. And to top it all off, Christine had a million dollar gothic fairytale wedding complete with artificial snow and a bleeding cake. Season 3 was a spectacle. — Brett White
Apple TV+ continues to add to its brilliant comedy library with this month’s release of Ted Lasso from creators Bill Lawrence and Jason Sudeikis. Sudeikis stars as the titular Ted Lasso, a charismatic and perpetually pleasant small-college football coach who is hired to manage a British Premier League soccer team. As Lasso navigates the politics around the sport and starts to learn the game himself, he remains endlessly positive and gradually begins to win the team and its town over with his humor, good-nature and steady mentorship despite the many, many obstacles thrown in his path. Already renewed for a second season, Ted Lasso is heartfelt, hilarious and oh so watchable. — Karen Kemmerle
Lovecraft Country is a thrilling journey through the pages of classic pulp fiction and the sins of Jim Crow America. Set in the 1950s, the show follows a Black Korean War vet named Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he sets off in search of his missing father. What he finds is that his family is connected to a mystical cult religion lorded over by white supremacists. Taking its cues from pop culture and its narrative style from the Matt Ruff book it’s based on, every episode of Lovecraft Country plays with different genre conventions. This makes Lovecraft Country the most exciting show on TV right now. Moreover, the scariest monsters in Lovecraft Country aren’t the Lovecraftian shoggoths, but the everyday racists. And that’s the point. — Meghan O’Keefe