My top TV shows of 2021

It’s been a mixed bag this year. Streaming continues to grow with the mighty Disney+ banging out show after show, and Apple TV+ is on the rise. And yet we’re still in a pandemic. Lots of shows have suffered delays, stacking up like buses or planes low on fuel and landing one by one on the runway (like in Die Hard 2).

That said, there’s been some great stuff. It’s just been hard to keep up. Here’s what I liked. (Predictably, there’s a lot of superhero and fantasy stuff on the list.)


Cobra Kai: season 3

Cr. Curtis Bonds Baker/NETFLIX © 2020

This season was a mixed bag and got by on its charm, wit and love of the characters. Plus there was still lots to explore with this group, from the older two: Danny LaRusso (Ralph Maccio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), to the teens: Miguel (Xolo Mariduena), Samantha (Mary Mouser), Robby (Tanner Buchanan), Eli/Hawk (Jacob Bertrand), Tory (Peyton List), and Demitri (Gianna DeCenzo).

News: Season 4 is due to come out on New Year’s Eve 2021.

Wandavision

No one knew quite what to expect from Marvel’s first TV show out of the gate, and yet we shouldn’t have been surprised, because Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are such interesting characters. Digging into their relationship was a perfect way to kick off the MCU on the small screen.

News: There are no plans for a second season as this was a limited mini-series. Although Wanda (and likely Vision) will appear in future MCU movies – most likely Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2022). There is, however, a spin-off show coming with ancient witch Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), called House Of Harkness. No release date yet, but it’s likely to be 2023 or possibly 2024.

Sex Education: season 3

Cr. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX © 2020

Ah, that dreaded third season. Much like Cobra Kai in this list, the third season of Sex Education was a bit of a meandering mixed bag, and yet it still managed to pull off (no pun intended) a compelling story across the season, juggling multiple characters as they explored what matters to young people these days.

News: Season 4 has been confirmed. Should arrive late 2022.

Loki

People love Loki, and Tom Hiddleston. This show picked him up following his escape in Avengers Endgame. We get introduced to the Time Variance Authority (TVA), meet Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) and Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), and Loki slightly manages to break the flow of time resulting in the multiverse.

News: Season 2 has been confirmed. No release date yet.

We Are Lady Parts

This show was on my list for quite some time. It’s a music comedy about a Muslim female punk band called Lady Parts. The story initially follows geeky biochemical engineering PHD student, Amina, who becomes their lead guitarist. We slowly get to know the other band members too. It’s a brilliant show.

News: it’s been renewed for a second season. No release date yet, but you can watch the first season on All 4 (in the UK).

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Coming after Wandavision the pressure was on this show to be just as good, which kind of put it on the back foot from the get-go. Yet it didn’t shy away from the challenge, and quickly delved into what it means to be Captain America, with Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, taking up the mantle.

News: This was a limited mini-series, so a single season was always the plan. There are plenty of story threads they could pick up if they wanted to do a second season though.

Invincible

I’d heard one or two things about this animated show, so I thought I’d give it a go, and stick with it. And I’m glad I did, because by the end of the season it was a satisfying story. It had a great voice cast: Steven Yuen, JK Simmons, Gillian Jacobs, Walton Goggins, Zazie Beetz, Sanda Oh and many more.

News: Season 2 and 3 have been confirmed, with season 2 likely to arrive early 2022.

Squid Game

Cr. YOUNGKYU PARK/Netflix

Believe the hype. When shows are hyped I tend to go into them a little sceptical. After maybe four episodes I understood what everyone was raving about. Some of the episodes hit particularly hard (episode 6, Gganbu, with the marbles comes to mind). I expect some of the cast to go onto big things after this, especially the likes of HoYeon Jung (Player 067) and Wi Ha-joon (the police officer).

News: There is talk of a potential sequel. Although I think this might be a mistake and it’ll lose impact, and possibly water down the impact of the original as well. But time will tell.

Hawkeye

I admit, I wasn’t expecting too much from this show. Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye isn’t one of my favourite heroes. Yet from the off, this show put Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop front and centre, with Clint her weary mentor. I’m halfway through the season, but I like the dynamic between Kate and Clint, and it’s obviously setting things up for Kate to take over as Hawkeye. I’m enjoying how it’s playing out.

News: It’s unlikely there will be a season 2 as this was a limited mini-series. Although I expect we’ll see Kate Bishop in MCU movies.

The Wheel Of Time

Cr: Jan Thijs/Amazon Prime © 2021

This show struggled under the weight of expectation, and yet it’s not as bad as some critics have made out. Granted, it had a slightly choppy start, but got going after an episode or two. It also introduced me to types of relationships within fantasy that I’d not seen before. Most notably, the intriguing connection between the magical Aes Sedai and their wards/protectors.

News: Season 2 has been confirmed and has begun filming. No release date yet.

The Witcher: season 2

After the well received first season of the adaptation of this critically acclaimed series of books and hugely popular video games, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) returns. This season has him spend more time with Ciri (Freya Allan). It takes a little bit of time to get going, this season, but heats up in the last few episodes.

News: Season 3 is confirmed. No release date just yet.


Shows I need to start and/or finish

Midnight Mass, Brand New Cherry Flavor, It’s A Sin, Dopesick, The Underground Railroad, The Book of Boba Fett…


Shows I’d love to watch but don’t subscribe to the service

Ted Lasso, Mare of Easttown, The White Lotus, Succession, Foundation, Reservation Dogs…

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