Television in 2021 really had a “party or famine” mentality; with so many people looking to have fun and entertainment from the comfort of their couch, there was a plethora of content available. Competition was fierce among the behemoths of the streaming platform, each showing shows that captivated and thrilled audiences. It’s nearly impossible to pay attention to every big release this year, but there were certainly a few that just can’t be ignored.
Whether viewers are fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, awesome sets, historical dramas, or mysterious murders, 2021 has been a year in television that has offered a bit of everything. As some movies floundered at the box office, it seemed like television was releasing blockbuster series. Let’s take a look at some of the best TV shows of 2021.
The first Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series features Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their roles as Wanda Maximoff and Vision, an amazing couple. The show pays homage to past sitcoms, the duo living in a reality that takes them through the various decades of television and their respective tropes. With a talented supporting cast including Kathryn Hahn, Debra Jo Rupp, Kat Dennings and Evan Peters, WandaVision was groundbreaking for the MCU and took audiences by storm. The premise alone was a fun, unique concept that was powerfully executed. Critics have praised the series and it has received numerous accolades, including 23 massive Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
It’s no surprise that Kate Winslet once again delivered a memorable and powerful performance with her role in the limited series HBO Max. Easttown mare. The premise follows Winslet as Marianne “Mare” Sheehan, a detective sergeant in Easttown, Pa., Who is investigating a murder in the small town. The show was praised by critics and viewers alike, with Winslet’s portrayal as the main character announced. She has garnered 16 Primetime Emmy nominations and won four, including Winslet in the Best Leading Actress category. Of Easttown Mare, the BBC said: “Winslet is making an unglamorous return to television… and her fierce, ordinary heroine is gloriously real.”
The white lotus
Satirical drama The white lotus is an original HBO series that features a talented ensemble cast including Jennifer Coolidge, Steve Zahn, Murray Bartlett and Connie Britton. Set in the titular tropical resort in Hawaii, the show follows the lives of resort employees and guests as they interact over the course of a week. The picture-perfect paradise quickly loses its magic and beauty as their own struggles and personal issues come to light with each passing day. The white lotus earned rave reviews and an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Jennifer Coolidge being particularly praised for her role. Rolling Stone writer Alan Sepinwall captured the essence of the show perfectly in his review, saying it is “often uncomfortable, sometimes poetic, sometimes hilarious and deeply idiosyncratic throughout.”
Tom Hiddleston returns as everyone’s favorite mischief maker Loki in a series that finds an alternate version of the Norse god having created a new timeline. Occurred after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Loki introduces the character brought to the secret Temporal Variation Authority (TVA) where he meets agent Mobius M. Mobius. Owen Wilson joins the MCU as Mobius and together he and Loki develop a mentor / mentee relationship. Loki is tasked with setting the timeline or being erased from existence, setting off on a fun and wild journey through time. The show received positive reviews and was a hit with fans, with the first episode being the premiere of the most-watched series on Disney +.
Saturday Night Live Alum Jason Sudeikis portrays the main character of this AppleTV + original, who follows an American college football coach who is hired to supervise an English football team. Lasso’s healthy and upbeat demeanor is endearing and he uses it to his advantage when trying to gain acceptance in the English market. The show resonated with audiences all over the world, with many finding solace in the uplifting tone and charming premise. Ted lasso was nominated for 20 Primetime Emmy Awards in its first season, a record for a freshman comedy. Sudeikis has won an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe for her performance, and the series continues to receive nominations for its second season.
The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad is a fantasy historical drama that tells the story of people trying to escape slavery through magical realism; in the series, it is a real underground train. The show follows slave Cora, who wants to escape Georgia to freedom by taking the Underground Railroad. Although it is actually a network of shelters and secret roads, the show is based on the book of the same name, by Colson Whitehead. With a talented cast including Thuso Mbedu, Joel Edgerton, William Jackson Harper and Aaron Pierre, and created by Moonlight maestro Barry Jenkins, The Underground Railroad has been praised by critics and viewers. He won Emmy, Golden Globe and Independent Spirit nominations.
Nine Perfect Strangers
Hulu miniseries Nine Perfect Strangers presents nine strangers who come together for a 10-day retreat at Tranquillum House, founded by Nicole Kidman’s Masha Dmitrichenko. Like with The white lotus, nine perfect strangers features a set of talents such as Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Michael Shannon and Regina Hall, following the group of strangers as they uncover shocking secrets and truths about their fellow guests. The powerful performances of the A-list cast really elevate the intrigue, and the series became the most-watched Hulu original upon release.
Squid game is a South Korean survival phenomenon that has taken the world by storm, garnering international attention and critical acclaim. The drama series features a cast that includes Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, and HoYeon Jung as they enter a contest where 456 players risk their lives playing deadly children’s games. All the players are in financial debt and are fighting to win a huge prize, resulting in violence and brutality. At its output, Squid game became Netflix’s most-watched series, amassing over 1.65 billion viewing hours in its first month. Critics and audiences around the world agree that the show is a huge success; he was also nominated for four Golden Globe Awards.
Only the murders in the building
Comedic dream team Steve Martin and Martin Short team up in mystery comedy series Only the murders in the building, which follows three strangers obsessed with the same crime podcast. When a mysterious death occurs in their apartment building, the neighbors regroup and launch their own program to solve the case. Co-starring with Selena Gomez, Amy Ryan and Aaron Dominguez, the Hulu series earned a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. He has also received numerous accolades, including Satellite, Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Award nominations. A second season is currently in preparation.
The HBO Drama Series Hacks follows the professional relationship between a stand-up comedy legend and a young comedy writer, as they team up to pursue their respective careers. Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder portray the reluctant duo, as the show shines a light on the grim realities of the comedy world. Hacks was universally acclaimed upon its release, winning three Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Writing, Outstanding Directing, and Outstanding Lead Actress for Jean Smart. The show was also nominated for three Golden Globes and a second season was lit.
2021 has been an exceptional year for television. Let’s take a look at this year’s best performances, ranked.
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