As The Daily Show has said, 2021 was the best year of the last two years but at least we got some quality television…and some truly terrible series inflicted on us. Here’s our best and worst of 2021.
Why: Midnight Mass got and kept my attention. It was more than just a scary monster show. It had depth that didn’t rely on a simple love story. It questioned religion and humanity. It certainly scared me but on many levels. The writing and use of the actors was never wasted.
Why: I hate-watched Virgin River. It is trash. Every little thing about it is trash. Writing: trash. Acting: trash. Story: trash. I was rooting for them all to perish. Alas, they live and I hope they do not make a third season. The only good thing about it was the scenery.
Insecure & Ted Lasso
Why: Both have such amazing storytelling that is universal. Neither show is truly meant for me, as a white woman who doesn’t like sports, but I connected instantly with both. Each has humor and puts focus on mental health (male mental health at that, something not normally touched on), relationships, and just people living life and doing their best even when they falter and I love that. Specifically for Insecure, it’s so refreshing to watch a show that centers black individuals of all colors and sizes and focuses on joy instead of trauma.
Why: I really didn’t think a sequel 10 years after my comfort show could work but I’ll be damned if it didn’t. The majority of the cast returned and didn’t miss a beat while the show introduced new characters who fit in seamlessly. It’s like 10 years didn’t pass at all, this sequel felt like coming home again after a long trip.
Why: Another unnecessary remake of a popular UK show. The original does it better, from production to acting. The cinematography is so flat and it feels like it’s trying too hard to be wacky just for the sack of being wacky.
Why: That young woman made this jaded old man cry and she made me hope. That ain’t easy.
Why: Tucker, with his weird vocal intonations and almost constant look of a man at a bar who really can’t tell if that was just a fart, is actively killing people with his misinformation and propaganda. His tactics are right out of the 30’s and 40’s fascism handbook and his lies against science to further a political agenda should be criminal. Because the law in this country is a damn joke, it isn’t, and now people are being indoctrinated into a cult of lack of personality.
Why: WandaVision was so inventive and told a story of grief as we have never seen. I know Marvel plays a long game so I’m eager to see how the story truly resolves in 2022
Why: This show is so funny. Most of the characters are gay but they are sexy and allowed to be that unlike in most programs. This animated series has me in stitches every episode.
Why: Why they released one this year I have no idea. With the crap can that 2021 was, and the caliber of talent they had at their disposal this should have been 10 times better.
And Just Like That
Why: If this show was not connected to Sex and the City it would have died already. It would just cease to exist. The creators are over-correcting for the lack of diversity when the show originally ran and it’s driving me crazy. They could have made the updates without making the characters seem more out of touch than they were in 2001
Why: The writing, direction, acting, and cinematography all came together in this season to make a brilliant & gripping story – even for those of us who know the story. A perfect continuation after season 1.
Love, Death, & Robots
Why: I love this series. The first season drew me in with amazing animation & great writing, but season 2 really kicked it up. The animation of each story really went a long way to elicit a sense of unease that was specific to each vignette. I really hope this series continues.
Why: I really wanted to like this show. It looked like it had real promise, but I’ve gotta say… It was a slog. Nothing about the first episode really drew me in, and it just felt like it was going nowhere. Just blah all around.
The Disney + Marvel Shows
The entire Disney+ Marvel line-up; they all contributed to the world-building of the MCU and set events in motion with great casts and storytelling. Even Hawkeye, the weakest of the current series, was still a delight, bringing back the Netflix canon and introducing our first Deaf, disabled, indigenous lead character and actor!
Dave Chappelle and Netflix. Chappelle is proof that anyone, especially with money, can become so ignorant and privileged they become the villain they used to mock. In the meantime, Netflix is proof that they don’t really care about any of the progressive messages in the shows they host; they’ll put them on the same shelf as heinous, bigoted material, and sell to whoever regardless of the consequences.
Why: I’ve already talked about how much I loved Loki and Cowboy Bebop, and yes, I’m still pissed that Netflix chose to cancel one of the best new shows of the year, and one of the few that had an entirely BIPOC main cast, because of the joke that is Rotten Tomatoes reviews, so I won’t retread that ground and instead I’ll talk about this hidden gem of a series on Apple +.
Fronted by Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista and Alfre Woodward, this show is truly one of the best dramas on television and an unexpected pleasure. The premise, and remember the series started before COVID 19, is that after a plague hits the world most of the population is killed. Those that survive are left blind and every child born thereafter is as well.
Until the twins of legendary warrior Baba Voss (Momoa) are born.
Not only is the main cast made up of both sighted and blind actors but so are the writers, stunt choreographers and costume designers. This show delivers action, heartfelt and beautiful family dynamics and political intrigue in spades, and that’s just in season one. Season two takes everything up to eleven and Momoa’s performance as a father and husband who will do anything to protect his family, even if it means giving them up, is simply stunning and a reminder that there’s a reason he’s one of the most sought after leading men in the world.
As I said to a friend, I got Apple + for Ted Lasso, but I stayed for See.
Why: Oof, where to begin? Having the Holmes brothers, Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade behave wildly out of character and be flat out idiots just to pump up the younger characters? Check.
Homophobia and racism wrapped up in making Watson a gay black man who’s so jealous of his straight white best friend’s wife that he literally opened a rift between worlds to impress him? Check.
Fragile white woman tragedy being the driving force of everything that happens? Check.
The show was just utterly offensive on several levels, the least of which was the waste of the extremely talented cast.
These are our picks for the best and worst of television in 2021, what are yours?
Let us know in the comments!