FARANDULANOTICIAS

‘Hacks’, ‘White Lotus’, ‘Squid Game’ & More


TV changed dramatically in 2021. While 2020 was all about repeat comfort watches and newer shows dealing (with varying results) with the pandemic, television came roaring back this year. Yes, there were still production struggles, and yes many shows dealt with our current reality (with again, varying results). But there were also some shows that rose — and vaulted over — the challenge.

To look back over the year is to be pleasantly reminded that wonderful series debuted nearly every month. Good news, we here at Decider covered it all (you can check out our best of lists for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and the Best TV Shows of 2021… So Far for comparison); but some shows were clearly the best of those best. From an old comic pairing with a new one, to a high-end vacation gone horribly wrong, to some terrible vampires, and trapped superheroes, there were so many different stories told this year in wonderful and exciting ways.

A note, though, on process. The members of the Decider staff were asked to submit their choices for the top 10 series that broadcast at least one episode between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021. Those lists were weighted, culled together, and result in the list you see below. Does that mean some more heavily watched series got the advantage? For sure. But they were watched by more of the staff for a reason: they’re really, really good.

With that in mind, let’s get to it: here are the 19 best TV shows that aired in 2021:


19

‘Sweet Tooth’

Netflix

sweet-tooth-gus
Photo: Kristy Griffin/Netflix

It’s a tricky thing to do a show about a pandemic in 2021, as we’ve seen time and time again. Some takes feel too raw, others don’t capture the intensity we’re all feeling hard enough. But Netflix’s Sweet Tooth, based on the DC comic by Jeff Lemire, struck the balance perfectly. Part of that is how the show used a mysterious pandemic that killed off most of the world while leaving strange, hybrid animal children alive mostly as a backdrop. But more is the epic, adventurous and storybook nature of the series, which followed Christian Convery’s deer-boy Gus as he journeys from the national park where he lived most of his life, to discover — and change — the world outside. It’s a gorgeously filmed, fun tale that will stick with you long after you watch the first season (and thankfully it’s been picked up for a second). Bobby forever. — Alex Zalben

Watch Sweet Tooth on Netflix


18

‘For All Mankind’

Apple TV+

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Photo: Apple TV+

I’m just going to say this: Apple TV+’s For All Mankind is the most underrated drama on television today. The show’s second season found a way to improve upon itself week after week, delivering shocking twists, heartbreaking character deaths, and an irrepressible commitment to the idea of discovery. Set in an alternate timeline where the space race between the USA and USSR continued well past the 1960s, For All Mankind is the rare show that mixes science and fiction with equal intensity. For All Mankind Season 2 is utterly phenomenal and deserves all the accolades. — Meghan O’Keefe

Watch For All Mankind on Apple TV+


17

‘Cobra Kai’

Netflix

cobra-kai
Netflix

2021 started with a bang — well, more like with a karate chop — as the third season of Cobra Kai debuted New Year’s Day on Netflix. The entire season was predictably sensational as Daniel travels to Okinawa, Karate Kid II antagonist Chozen returns, the elusive Ali Mills makes her Cobra Kai debut, and the students throw down in a truly epic holiday brawl. But one of the most memorable streaming moments of the year, the scene that still gives us goosebumps, was the last two minutes of the Season 3 finale when longtime rivals Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence finally decided to team up to take down Cobra Kai once and for all. After a year of patience, Season 4 premieres December 31, 2021 on Netflix. — Josh Sorokach

Watch Cobra Kai on Netflix


16

‘Yellowstone’

Paramount Network

yellowstone-s4
Photo: Paramount Network

Yee-haw! Yellowstone fans started Season 4 off with a sigh of relief as all of our beloved Duttons somehow survived the brutal attacks against them in the Season 3 finale. As John Dutton (Kevin Costner) fights against developers, enemies, and former allies to protect his family’s land and legacy, he moves Yellowstone forward by getting into the horse business to build the Dutton reputation and prestige. When family loyalty is tested and the outside odds are stacked against them, the Duttons do what they want they do best: cowboy the fuck up. With the prequel series, 1883, premiering on December 19 on Paramount +, and the other prequel series, 6666, in the works, Taylor Sheridan and John Linson’s multi-layered saga explores the timeless themes of family, duty, honor, and birthright set against the backdrop of the American West. — Karen Kemmerle

Where to watch Yellowstone


15

‘The Mosquito Coast’

Apple TV+

THE MOSQUITO COAST WHAT TO WATCH
Photo: Apple TV+

Who’s better than Justin Theroux to star in an adaptation of his uncle Paul Theroux’s seminal work, The Mosquito Coast? In the searing Apple TV+ series, Theroux plays Allie Fox, a brilliant inventor, anarchist and narcissist, who lives off-the-grid with his wife, Margot (a fierce Melissa George) and their two teen children, rebellious Dina (Logan Polish) and dutiful Charlie (Gabriel Bateman). When the government catches wind of their location, the Fox family flees to Mexico where they run afoul of a cartel and must use all their cunning to make it to safety. With its ambitious scope, The Mosquito Coast is a gripping, visually striking, and sometimes shockingly violent family odyssey that is worth a watch. — Karen Kemmerle

Watch The Mosquito Coast on Apple TV+


14

‘Mare of Easttown’

HBO

mare-of-easttown-finale
Photo: HBO Max

Just when you thought the gritty murder drama couldn’t surprise you again, HBO’s Mare of Easttown came around. Kate Winslet stars as Mare Sheehan, a grieving detective with a dogged determination to get to the truth. When teen mom Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny) is found dead in a local park, Mare has to figure out if the murder is connected to a past cold case and if someone she knows is the culprit. Boasting gorgeous ensemble acting work and a thrilling murder mystery, Mare of Easttown was the murder mystery show we couldn’t help obsessing over in 2021. — Meghan O’Keefe

Watch Mare of Easttown on HBO Max


13

‘Dickinson’

Apple TV+

dickinson-hailee-steinfeld
Photo: Apple TV+

If you were a fan of Apple TV+’s phenomenal comedy/drama Dickinson, this was your year. Season 2 kicked off in January with a roller-coaster ride of a thriller that found fan-favorite couple Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) and Sue (Ella Hunt) dancing around their love for each other, leading to an explosive finish. And then Season 3 — the final season — began in November, and has finally thrust the semi-fictionalized events of Emily Dickinson’s life into the middle of the Civil War. Showrunner Alena Smith’s series soars thanks to its devotion to the intricacies of language, poetry, and the human heart, as well as laugh-out-loud funny jokes and a perfect ensemble cast that is game for anything (I’m never getting over Toby Huss saying “I’m in a hole”). Though Dickinson scholars may have been initially surprised by the mash-up of historical fact and anachronistic slang and music, after three seasons it’s clear the series will be remembered as a fitting tribute to one of America’s greatest poets, thanks to a stand-out performance by Steinfeld, a searing central romance, and some of the more gorgeously surreal fantasy sequences ever filmed for TV. — Alex Zalben

Watch Dickinson on Apple TV+


12

‘Squid Game’

Netflix

squid-game-1
Photo: Netflix

Netflix’s Squid Game took the world by fire and with good reason. The Korean drama breathed new technicolor life into the survival genre by mixing real world angst with a sadistically simple set up. The kooky children’s games aside, the cruelest part of the show comes in Episode 2, when we watch the surviving players go back to the real world only to realize it’s no better than the deadly games within. Wildly charismatic characters, heartbreaking twists, and spectacular production design made Squid Game the show the whole world couldn’t stop binging in 2021. — Meghan O’Keefe

Stream Squid Game on Netflix


11

‘Starstruck’

HBO Max

starstruck-nikesh-patel-rose-matafeo
Photo: HBO Max

Starstruck was the TV rom-com of the year, if you ask me. Rose Matafeo is a perfect, funny FORCE as showcased here. The on/off relationship, the millennial struggles, the London backdrop, it all added up to a show that reveres friendships as much as f-buddies, and isn’t that what life is all about? Starstuck specifically made me laugh, made me swoon, and made me so, so happy while I was watching it (and hey, even for a while afterward too!). We are so #blessed another season of this show is on the way, just as Rose’s star, and therefore our moods, continue to rise. — Lea Palmieri

Stream Starstruck on HBO Max


10

‘It’s a Sin’

HBO Max

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Photo: HBO/Ben Blackall

More so than ever before, queer storytellers have been afforded the far-reaching platforms to tell untold stories of our history—stories that audiences desperately need. With It’s a Sin, Russell T. Davies depicted the AIDS epidemic with horrifying precision, televising the inciting incidents that created the internalized trauma that’s still felt in the queer community generations later. But what made It’s a Sin hit is so hard is how alive this show felt while dealing with so much death. The radiant performances from this brilliant young cast—Olly Alexander, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, Lydia West, Nathaniel Curtis—gave viewers equal amounts of joy and sadness. But no amount of joy can stop the sadness from lingering. — Brett White

Watch It’s a Sin on HBO Max


9

‘WandaVision’

Disney+

25-wandavision
Photo: Disney+

After spending 2020 in quarantine, the Marvel Cinematic Universe reemerged in 2021 with something completely new and wonderfully weird: WandaVision, the first Marvel Studios television show. Spinning out of the impossibly massive and borderline incomprehensible two-part Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame came this little TV show—a throwback sitcom that was reverent of TV history and Marvel lore, but with just a tinge of darkness, of trauma. Like Wanda Maximoff, WandaVision rewrote the reality of what a superhero property could do. A town square magic show could be a high stakes event and a supervillain could unleash the bop of the summer in February. But most of all, WandaVision showed the world what Marvel fans have known all along: this franchise is about characters well-acted and stories well-told above anything else. — Brett White

Watch WandaVision on Disney+


8

‘Only Murders in the Building’

Hulu

True Crime
Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

Only Murders in the Building was such a legendary TV journey this year. Sure, we all wanted to know who killed Tim Kono, but the road to discovering that answer sure was fun as hell. Feels weird to say that about a fictional murder, yes, but you know what? This show is a prime example of something that sounds strange at first and ends up being a bigger delight than ever imagined. What the heck are Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez doing in a show together on Hulu? Entertaining us for hours, that’s what! With the perfect amount of humor, a dash of horror, and friendship goals for days (or maybe neighbor goals?) Only Murders in the Building will make you want to put on a tie-dye hoodie, move to the Upper West Side…and then just stay inside for days watching this show over and over. — Lea Palmieri

Watch Only Murders in the Building on Hulu


7

‘I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson’

Netflix

ITYSL S2 NETFLIX REVIEW
Photo: Kevin Estrada/NETFLIX

It’s impossible to understate the brilliance of Tim Robinson and his giddy wolfpack of fools. In just two seasons, I Think You Should Leave has become one of the most influential sketch comedy shows ever made. Season 1 was great; Season 2 was genius. Robinson and his band of fools — including Sam Richardson, Patti Harrison, Connor O’Malley, and guest stars like Bob Odenkirk — tackle the existential awkwardness of being alive in their manic sketches. The best I Think You Should Leave sketches, aka all of the I Think You Should Leave sketches, manage to crack us up and send us psychologically reeling. I Think You Should Leave is a wild masterpiece. — Meghan O’Keefe

Watch I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson on Netflix


6

‘Ted Lasso’

Apple TV+

ted-lasso-finale
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso did the unthinkable in Season 2: it f*cked with its own uber-popular, award-winning formula. Instead of serving up a non-stop feel good parade of high fives, Ted Lasso challenged both its viewers and its characters with trials, tribulations, and love triangles. The ironic thing was this made Ted Lasso even better. The series remained hilarious. The show continued to tug at our heart-strings. Ted Lasso averted the sophomore slump and set up what could be its greatest season yet: a year with actual villains. — Meghan O’Keefe

Watch Ted Lasso on Apple TV+


5

‘What We Do In The Shadows’

FX

wwdits-1
Photo: FX

FX’s mockumentary series featuring the world’s dumbest vampires, What We Do In the Shadows, has been one of the best comedies on TV since it premiered in 2019. But Season 3 felt like the show’s breakout year, in part because of the internet’s affinity for the brilliant slow-burn relationship between Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak)—formerly a bloodthirsty leader, now a somewhat reluctant vampire going through a midlife crisis—and his human familiar, Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén), formerly a soft-spoken servant, now a badass vampire slayer. It’s a season full of priceless, quotable moments, from Laszlo (Matt Berry) getting sucked into the Best Buy membership card to Novak’s back-to-back Emmy-worthy impressions of his co-stars. And, no spoilers, but the finale comes with a game-changer moment that will leave you dying to sink your teeth into Season 4. — Anna Menta

Where to watch What We Do In The Shadows


4

‘Mythic Quest’

Apple TV+

mythic-quest-1
Photo: Apple TV+

For a second season in a row, Mythic Quest hasn’t just stood as a shining example of what comedy can be. It stood as an example of what great television should be. Poppy Li’s (Charlotte Nicdao) season-long battle with her newly earned role as a leader was as vulnerable as it was hilarious, all purses full of candy wrappers and explosive rants at yes men. Through her battle with her own ego, Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, and Megan Ganz’s series elaborated on the idea this series has had from the beginning: No one, no matter how seemingly powerful, knows what they’re doing, and we all owe each other the grace to be messy. That’s an impressive accomplishment without even touching on McElhenney and Ashly Burch’s brutally honest conversation about what it means to have a seat at the table or Josh Brener’s devastating turn as a young C.W. Longbottom. It feels unfair for one show to be so poignant and profoundly in tune with the human condition while still being laugh-out-loud funny. And yet Mythic Quest is there to once again defy all odds. — Kayla Cobb

Watch Mythic Quest on Apple TV+


3

‘Succession’

HBO

SUCCESSION SEASON 3 EPISODE 5 RECAP
Photo: Macall Polay

Thank god — Logan Roy himself — for Succession’s big return this year. After a yearlong hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic, one of the best shows on TV came back for a stellar third season that continues to bring the smartest humor, chair-gripping tension, and brittle family dynamic to our screens every week. Season 3 has given us the Roy Family Civil War, in which back-stabbing and insults have been taken to a new level. From a shareholder’s meeting that felt like a horror film to threatening donuts, Succession has turned “high stakes” into a roller coaster of ups and downs. We can’t wait to see what the rest of Season 3 (and beyond) brings for Waystar Royco. — Fletcher Peters

Watch Succession on HBO Max


2

‘The White Lotus’

HBO

white-lotus-finale-armond
Photo: HBO

Watching The White Lotus this past summer was simultaneously a dream and a nightmare. Sure, Mike White’s scathing satire may have been a blissful way to spend Sunday evenings settled into the A/C. But it also seemed to put a curse on vacations in general, introducing us to a nightmarish group of hotel guests checking in to stay at a Hawaiian resort. Featuring a round of performers that will drown the competition out in future awards shows — we’re talking Steve Zahn, Jennifer Coolidge, Jake Lacy, the list goes on — The White Lotus gave us mystery, characters we love-to-hate, nightmares, laughs, and some of the best scenes involving derrières in TV history. Clean up in the Pineapple Suite! — Fletcher Peters

Watch The White Lotus on HBO Max


1

‘Hacks’

HBO Max

hacks-8
Photo: HBO Max

Back in June, Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky’s brilliant HBO Max dramedy Hacks was Decider’s number one TV show of 2021 (so far). Well kick that “so far” to the curb because after six more months of reflection, Hacks is still as good as it gets. The razor-sharp series follows the unique mentorship/friendship between an iconic Las Vegas comedian (Jean Smart) and a recently-canceled 25-year-old writer (Hannah Einbinder). Picking up well-deserved Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress (Smart), Directing (Aniello), and Writing (Aniello, Downs, and Statsky), the expertly-penned series is a deft blend of brilliant observational humor and relatable hilarity. — Josh Sorokach

Watch Hacks on HBO Max



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