BEST OF 2020 (Web series)
Here’s our list of what we consider to be the absolute best of Indian and International Web series. (Please note we are only considering series that have been officially released in India this year.)
TOP 5 INDIAN WEB SERIES
- Scam 1992 (Dir: Hansal Mehta, Jay Mehta) (ALT’s Choice)
Technically slick and riding on pure kinetic storytelling thanks to a razor sharp screenplay and bolstered by an extraordinary Pratik Gandhi, Scam 1992 tracks the meteoric rise and eventual fall of Harshad Mehta with compelling nuance. Director Hansal Mehta assembles the finest ensemble cast in years and stages a superbly riveting exploration of the price of ambition, refuses to dumb down financial jargon, and delivers a fascinating look at a man undone by his hubris.
Scam 1992 is now streaming on Sony Liv.
2. Pushpavalli Season 2 ( Dir: Debbie Rao)
Standup comic and creator, Sumukhi Suresh peerlessly plays a character that isn’t your average garden-variety sociopath. The show mirrors her mantra in how it uses humour whether it is cultural, situational or observational to camouflage a well-crafted dark tale. Though it may not be the perfect portrayal of an imperfect character, the performance by Sumukhi Suresh makes the journey of her messy character sumptuously unapologetic.
Pushpavalli Season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
3. Pataal Lok (Dir: Avinash Arun, Prosit Roy)
Disguised as a police procedural, Sudip Sharma’s show presents a bracing skewering of the many sociopolitical spheres and fault lines of the nation, cutting across class, power corridors, religious bigotry and racism, and the origin of violence. Front lined by a career defining performance from Jaideep Ahlawat, the show succinctly captures the current vitiated political moment in India.
4. Panchayat (Dir: Deepak Kumar Mishra )
Deepak Kumar Mishra’s miniseries starring an earnest Jitendra Kumar and a very fine Raghubir Yadav is full of simple, gentle delights. This tale about a fresh out of college guy who finds himself in rural UP with his govt job does gaze at some bitter issues but with a light-footedness, it’s more interested in the minute joys of everyday moments.
Panchayat is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
5. Special Ops ( Dir: Neeraj Pandey)
Director Neeraj Pandey’s debut web series is an edge-of-the-seat thriller that has the same amount of charm as his previous feature films, making this amazing series, too, a nail-biting one. Most of the action scenes are well-choreographed and the actors performing them are at the top of their game. However, it all wouldn’t have worked had it not been for the good writing by the trio(Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani, Benazir Ali Fida) that makes the series gripping.
Special Ops is now streaming on Hotstar.
TOP 5 INTERNATIONAL WEB SERIES
- The Crown Season 4 ( Creator : Peter Morgan) (ALT’s Favourite)
While the show occasionally underlines it’s symbolisms, it remains a triumphant, scintillating piece of storytelling, as it finally gets even more audacious in revealing the cruelties and coldness of the Royal Family. The new season’s charting of various events is almost seamlessly brilliant, and Emma Corrin’s impeccably agile performance as Diana takes the show to thrilling new heights.
The Crown is streaming on Netflix.
2.The Queen’s Gambit ( Creators- Scott Frank , Allan Scott)
Scott Frank’s miniseries is a perfect marriage of the cerebral associations of chess, sensual style and troubled emotional exigencies. Anya Taylor Joy is hypnotic, Marielle Heller as her mother is quietly heartbreaking, and the series is ultimately about the loneliness of genius, trauma, nurturing and finding a support system to cushion one’s growth.
The Queen’s Gambit is streaming on Netflix.
3. The Mandalorian Season 2 (Creator : Jon Favreau)
Creator Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian was always a breath of fresh air for star wars as it was everything that the much more hyped Rise of the Skywalker was too afraid to be. The Mandalorian made the most out of its format of episodic tales in season 2. Episodes took on a range of genres which brought about varied styles and helped to ensure that the episodes didn’t feel the same even though structurally they are. However, if season 1 was bringing in new fans to star wars, season 2 was much more about rewarding old fans which did mean a fair bit of homework for newer fans to truly appreciate what was being shown onscreen.
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+Hotstar.
4. The Boys Season 2 ( Developed by Eric Kripke)
Eric Kripke’s The Boys Season 2 continues its excellent form of balancing its comedy, over-the-top violence, and character development into a cohesive force of awesomeness. The second season fires on all cylinders right from the outset. Despite getting a lot bigger, the writers do a great job of keeping the writing streamlined and never losing focus of their true goal thereby ensuring that the story doesn’t get messy. Utterly preposterous, extremely violent and insanely fun- the boys does a great job of being one of the best shows out there at portraying satire.
You can read our full review of the series:
The Boys(Season 2):- Utterly preposterous, extremely violent and insanely fun- the second season…
The Boys Season 2 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
5. The Good Place Season 4 (Creator: Michael Schur)
In season 4, The Good Place goes back to its strengths. The return to familiar turf works beautifully as the show moves into its fourth and final season, setting up plenty of funny and sweet callbacks. It also shows how much the characters have grown, and how far they’ll still have to go to achieve their goals. Putting the characters back in their old neighborhood lets them revisit earlier plots and behaviours from a new perspective. The writers clearly thought through all the easy ways out of the problem of writing for the final season, building a conflict that explores the ethics of lying and the potential for redemption, while also leaving plenty of room for hilarious gags.
The Good Place is streaming on Netflix.
BEST CREATORS OF INDIAN WEB SERIES
- Sudip Sharma ( Pataal Lok) (ALT’s Favourite)
In the skillful hands of show runner Sudip Sharma and the directors Prosit Roy and Avinash Arun, Pataal Lok emerged as a scalding examination of the contemporary Indian sociopolitical reality. In many ways , Sudip coalesced his interests which had manifested in his former projects Sonchiriya, NH10 and Udta Punjab into a convergent whole in Pataal Lok.
2. Sumukhi Sukesh (Pushapavalli Season 2)
Known for her work as a stand-up comedian, Sumukhi Suresh goes out of her element in Pushpavalli season 2 whilst also retaining a familiar charm that makes you want to root for her character. She skillfully creates a dark tale that uses humour to portray the exploits of an imperfect character. She sticks to her strengths while writing for the second season and makes the wonderfully messy journey of her character deliciously obdurate.
3. The Viral Fever (Panchayat)
Over the past few years, TVF(The Viral Fever) have become synonymous with providing stories that people find relatable and entertaining. The writers at TVF make a perfect example that what you really need to make a series sing is a solid script. They ensure that the writing is punchy and the characters are relatable, thereby delivering a compelling village drama that is high on humour but also never shies away from social issues that are far quirkier than your average land disputes or child marriages.
4. Sandeep Modi, Ram Madhvani (Aarya)
In Aarya, creators Sandeep Modi and Ram Madhvani manage to conjure up a slickly designed drama, sucking us into the posh echelons of Rajasthan, and the world of narcotics. Modi and Madhvani explore power and family dynamics in compelling ways and there’s never a dull moment.
5. Hansal Mehta (Scam 1992)
Hansal Mehta triumphs in several capacities in his show Scam 1992. He captures a snapshot of a time in our history, with terrific writing, wholly persuasive production design and manages to somehow imbue his protagonist Harshad with just the right amount of humanness, never being swept by any impulse of adulation.
BEST CREATORS OF INTERNATIONAL WEB SERIES
- Scott Frank , Allan Scott ( The Queen’s Gambit ) (ALT’s Favourite)
Director and co writer Scott Frank brings in acute emotional intelligence and meticulous visual precision, and a seamless blend of a distinct visual language with nuanced writing into a consummate pinnacle in The Queen’s Gambit. Besides his much talked about thematic explorations, what Scott also scores highly and breaks new ground is his depiction of the mother daughter relationship between Beth and Alma, two intelligent, jaded women who accept each other’s flaws over their occasionally rough journey of knowing and ultimately loving each other.
2. Peter Morgan (The Crown)
In season 4, creator Peter Morgan finally evokes the most trenchant, abrasive portrait of deep blind spots running through the Royal family, the price of the formidable effect of the Queen, and casts a biting, sharp look at her relationship with her children, along with adeptly representing the implications of Diana’s entry into the fold.
3. Micheal Schur (The Good Place)
As the writer of the previously beloved series, The Office, Creator Michael Schur sets a new bar for what could be achieved with comedy series in the final season of The Good Place. He sets up plenty of sweet callbacks to previous seasons and also beautifully depicts how far each character has grown and their motivations have changed. Through comedy, he explores the concept of redemption and doing something worthwhile in your life whilst also giving providing immense time for hilarious gags.
4. Eric Kripke (The Boys)
Known as the creator of the hit fantasy drama series, Supernatural, Creator Eric Kripke proves that he has a flair for creating and adapting fictional series. In the second season of The Boys, even though the stakes are much more bigger than the first, he never gets carried away or too self-indulgent. He streamlines the writing and prevents it from getting messy which could have easily occurred with regards to the subject matter that the second season tackles. He is great at depicting satire and also takes some really funny jabs at the corporate world and the entertainment industry.
5. Daniel Levy, Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek)
The father-son duo of Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy (known for creating the American Pie series) took the world by storm in the final season of Schitt’s Creek, winning awards in all four major disciplines in a single year at the Primetime Emmys. Witty, warm, and with just the right blend of wisdom and wisecracks, in Schitt’s Creek’s final season, both Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy, give the perfect farewell to the Roses and the town that changed their lives.
Schitt’s Creek is now streaming on Netflix.
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