Despite the pandemic, 2020 saw the arrival of some great shows including HBO Primetime Emmy award winner I Know This Much Is True, and nominees The Outsider and The Plot Against America, all currently showing on Showmax.
On the home front, Africa Magic launched telenovelas Riona and Enakhe, both streaming on Showmax, which has kept fans buzzing on social media.
But that’s not all. Here are 10 series from 2020 and beyond currently streaming on Showmax you won’t find anywhere else.
Power Book II: Ghost picks up shortly after the earth-shattering events of Power (binge all six seasons on Showmax) as Tariq St Patrick (BET Award nominee Michael Rainey Jr.) grapples with a new world order: his father dead and his mother, Tasha (Naturi Naughton), facing charges for the murder her son committed.
Executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (who also produced Power and For Life), Power Book II: Ghost has already been renewed for a second season and introduces Mary J Blige and Method Man to the line-up of stars.
Imagine a world where 700 years prior several nations in West Africa combined to form the powerful African Empire, and went on to colonise Europe - basically colonialism in reverse. Now black “noughts” rule over white “crosses”. So sets the stage for Noughts + Crosses, a controversial six-part BBC One series.
South African Masali Baduza (Trackers) and BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Born To Kill, Peaky Blinders) play Sephy and Callum, two star-crossed lovers in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet. Sephy is the privileged daughter of the Home Secretary, Kamal Hadley, while Callum’s mother, Meggie, is the Hadleys’ housekeeper. While Sephy and Callum grew up together, they may as well have lived in different worlds.
Shot largely in Cape Town, the series stars several actors of Nigerian origin, including Jonathan Ajayi, who plays Lieutenant Lekan Baako, a military officer and Sephy's boyfriend; Rakie Ayola, who plays Prime Minister Opal Folami; and Eunice Olumide and Ore Oduba, who both play news anchors.
If you ever came across a Twitter thread on Insecure and wondered where you could watch it, or perhaps you’d just like to rewatch all four seasons, you’ve just found a plug.
Written by Rae, and partly based on her acclaimed web series Awkward Black Girl, Insecure centres on Issa (Rae in a Golden Globe, Emmy and Critics Choice nominated performance) and Molly (Nigerian-born Emmy awards nominee Yvonne Orji), two friends dealing with life, love and the everyday challenges of young adulthood, along with the complex and often uncomfortable racial experiences they encounter.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics consensus calls the show “an insightful, raunchy, and hilarious journey through the life of a twenty-something black woman that cuts through stereotypes with sharp wit and an effusive spirit.”
Filthy rich media tycoon Logan Roy (Brian Cox) is one of the most influential people in the world. But even he can’t escape nature – so when he discovers his time on Earth is running out, he has to appoint a family member to succeed him at the head of his mega-company, Waystar Royco.
The trouble is, all his family members and close associates are just about as terrible as he is – and they all want their cut. Logan might be ill but he’s not giving up anything without a fight.
Season 1 and 2 of Succession have a Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 88% and 97% respectively and the show has won numerous awards, including Best Drama at the 2020 Emmys and Golden Globes and TV Program of the Year from the 2020 American Film Institute Awards.
5. Godfather of Harlem
Forest Whitaker landed on our screens with a bang with his role as Bumpy Johnson in Godfather of Harlem.
Directed by John Ridley (12 Years A Slave, American Crime), Godfather of Harlem portrays a true-life story of the drug cartels that ran the streets of New York in the 1960s, and specifically Bumpy, a convicted criminal who clashed with the mob, but was also a powerful force for good in his neighbourhood, a skilled chess player and book lover.
Throughout his fascinating life, he crossed paths with historical figures including Malcolm X, Billie Holiday and Sugar Ray Robinson, all portrayed on the show.
A spin-off of The Good Wife, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski in an Emmy-nominated role) and Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo in a Critics’ Choice nominated role) return for a fast-paced, witty and politically charged show unlike anything else on television.
The show picks up a year after the finale of The Good Wife as a financial scam wipes out Diane’s life savings, and good reputation, forcing her to start from scratch at the historically black law firm, Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad.
Look out for a host of familiar faces from The Good Wife, including Kurt McVeigh (Emmy nominee Gary Steele), Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele) and Julius Cain (Michael Boatman), alongside the likes of Emmy winner Audra McDonald (Private Practice), Screen Actors Guild nominees Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) and Delroy Lindo (Get Shorty), and Golden Globe nominees Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) and Matthew Perry (aka Chandler from Friends).
Based on the James Grady novel Six Days of the Condor and the 1975 film adaptation Three Days of the Condor, Condor follows young CIA analyst Joe Turner, who is drawn into a deadly terrorist plot that threatens the lives of millions.
Joe is played by Max Irons (The Wife, and the son of Oscar winner Jeremy Irons), supported by Oscar winners William Hurt (A History of Violence, Damages) and Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite, Trade of Innocents), Oscar nominee Bob Balaban (The Politician) and, for Season 1, by Saturn Award, Kid’s Choice and Teen Choice nominee Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, Hair Brained).
Emmy nominee Constance Zimmer (UnReal, Boston Legal) joins the cast in season 2.
Condor has an 86% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which praises its “slick concept and propulsive pacing”, while Washington Post described it as “quite the little pulse-pounder – the sort of thing 24 fans can eat with a spoon.”
Perhaps one of the best shows out of 2020, Lovecraft Country is as genre-defying as they come, crossing the lines between sci-fi, fantasy, horror and period-drama all at once!
Based on the cult novel by Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country is set in the 1950s and tells the story of Atticus Freeman, a young African-American as he sets out on a road trip with his friend and uncle to find his missing father. This catapults the three into a struggle for survival against the dual terrors of Jim Crow-era America and terrifying monsters.
Lovecraft Country is a collaboration between Misha Green (creator of Underground) and Oscar-winner Jordan Peele (Us, Get Out), executive produced by JJ Abrams (Star Wars, Star Trek, Westworld). The show stars Black Reel nominee Jonathan Majors (Da 5 Bloods), Teen Choice nominee Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Birds of Prey, Friday Night Lights), four-time Emmy nominee Michael Kenneth Williams (When They See Us, The Night Of), Golden Globe nominee Courtney B Vance (The People Vs OJ Simpson, Law & Order), and Nigerian-born BAFTA winner Wunmi Mosaku (Luther, The End of the F*ing World, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).
Where Kerry Washington (Scandal, Django Unchained) and Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies, Legally Blonde) are gathered, you can expect some major drama.
The eight-part drama series is based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestselling book and follows the intertwined fates of the Richardsons – a picture-perfect, privileged white American family – and enigmatic African-American mother and daughter Mia and Pearl Warren.
Little Fires Everywhere has a 79% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while CNN says it’s “one of those rare multi-generational dramas where the arcs involving the kids are every bit as good as the adults’. The show also earned 2020 Emmy award nominations for Outstanding Limited series, Outstanding Lead Actress and Directing for a Limited Series.
Following his success with Power, 50 Cent is not done with television as he returned to the role of executive producer with For Life.
The series is loosely based on the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., who was imprisoned for a crime that he did not commit. While incarcerated, he became an attorney and helped to overturn the wrongful convictions of twenty of his fellow inmates, before finally proving his own innocence.
The show was nominated as Outstanding Drama at the 2020 Black Reel Awards, where star Nicholas Pinnock was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in the lead role. For Life has an 86% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “Guided by Nicholas Pinnock’s powerful performance, For Life eschews procedural pitfalls with a sturdy, empathetic script and an impressive ensemble to bring it to life.”
The cast includes Indira Varma (Game of Thrones, Rome), Black Reel nominee Joy Bryant (Antwone Fisher, Parenthood), and MTV Movie Award nominee Mary Stuart Masterson (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Blindspot).
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