Year in Review

2020 in Review: TV's Most Egregious Controversies, From AGT Flare-Up to Toobin's Zoom


In an average year, when TVLine looks back on the scandalous moments that rocked the TV world, there are about 10 or so. But 2020 has been anything but average. So of course, when it came to tallying this year’s number of big, controversial brouhahas, we had to narrow it down to 21.

The controversies you’ll see below run the gamut. Some are ongoing beefs that started in 2019 (or earlier! See also: Charmed) and spilled over into the current calendar year. Others involve behind-the-scenes behavior that’s just now coming to light (turns out, Hawaii Five-0 wasn’t all leis and sunshine), with the perpetrators being held accountable (oh hey, Glee‘s Lea Michele). And let’s not forget the usual array of sexual misconduct, which ran the gamut from gross/embarrassing to flat-out criminal.

This year also saw the Black Lives Matter movement have a larger voice in mainstream America, which led to a reckoning of sorts. All of a sudden, Hollywood came to stunning revelations like Blackface Is a Bad Thing and Maybe We Shouldn’t Have White Actors Voicing Animated Characters of Color. Still, the year’s social and political climate didn’t stop some small-screen personalities — from shows like The Flash, Siesta Key, Vanderpump Rules, Lost and Six Feet Under — from voicing their really-not-OK thoughts on race, COVID-19 and a host of other topics… often at the expense of their jobs.

Scroll through the list below to review the year’s biggest TV-related controversies, then hit the comments to share which stories surprised you and which ones you would add to the list.

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