The Mandalorian honored by American Film Institute as a top show of 2020

The Mandalorian knees in the snow next to Grogu with his ship in the background
Pedro Pascal plays the title character in the Star Wars spin-off series, The Mandalorian. Pic credit: Disney Plus

In addition to capturing the hearts of Star Wars fans across the world, Disney Plus’ streaming juggernaut The Mandalorian has also attracted the notice of the American Film Institute, which today released its list of AFI Awards for America’s top ten television programs.

Starring Pedro Pascal in the title role, The Mandalorian also features Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Omid Abtahi, as well as a rotating series of guest stars, including Nick Nolte and Werner Herzog.

A changing industry

Within the Star Wars timeline, the series is set a few years after Return of the Jedi, as the New Republic struggles to maintain control of the galaxy while eliminating the remnants of the Imperial Empire.

In a nod to how much the entertainment industry is changing, joining The Mandalorian on the list were mostly other shows which appeared on a streaming service rather than a traditional television network. In fact, the small handful of non-streaming TV shows which were singled out appeared on cable or premium network outlets.

A tale of identity

The Mandalorian follows the adventures of an orphaned bounty hunter who adopts one of his former bounties, who is himself without a family. The title character is a member of the Mandalorians, a warrior creed that experienced periods of religious splintering, forced neutrality, and near-elimination.

One of the main aspects of the series’ overarching plot is the main character– whose name is Din Djarin– learning more about his background and how other Mandalorians express their identity.

This journey is paralleled with his increasing understanding and knowledge of his foster son, the Force-sensitive Grogu, who is of an unknown species, but looks like legendary Jedi Master Yoda.

First known as “Baby Yoda” until his name became known in the middle of Season 2 in 2020, the little green puppet has been a social media phenomenon since his first appearance at the end of the premiere episode.

Following in the film’s footsteps

Showrunners Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have demonstrated a flair for capturing the original appeal of the far-away galaxy, and the show is popular with new fans as well as those who have loved the original Star Wars trilogy for decades.

Filoni, who also spearheaded the critically acclaimed Clone Wars animated series, crossed over several characters from that prequel-era Star Wars show into the live-action Mandalorian. Filoni will also oversee future Star Wars/Disney Plus series currently in production, including Ahsoka, which will follow a major Clone Wars character who made her “real world” bow in The Mandalorian’s Season 2.

The American Film Institute has also named the origin of The Mandalorian, Star Wars, as one of the 100 greatest American films ever made.

All Star Wars media is currently streaming on Disney Plus. 

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