Tuesday 21 December 2021

2021 in Review: Top 10 TV Shows

There was definitely plenty to watch on TV and the various streaming platforms in 2021, from new seasons of long-running shows, to the new ones that came out of nowhere and set the internet on fire. It has become almost routine even to hear Netflix announce yet another show as its biggest one ever. But it wasn't the only streamer to churn out the mega hits this past year.

Disney+ continued the momentum it had built with the first two seasons of The Mandalorian by following up with a number of MCU shows, while HBO proved it was still the de facto network for topnotch entertainment. And while I didn't get around to seeing every single show that was on offer on every service and network, I am still able to cobble together a Top 10 from the small pool I was able to see.

10. Money Heist Season 5

I don't believe I'd ever rolled my eyes as much as I did while watching season 5 of Money Heist. So why is it on my list of favorite shows for 2021 then? Well, for all its frustrations and flaws, the two-part final season of the popular Netflix series still managed to offer plenty of intrigue and spectacle, as well as some much-needed closure to the ridiculousness of it all, which is worth something in my opinion.

9. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Billed as the precursor to the next Captain America film, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier showed us a side of the MCU we don't typically see on the big screen, tackling the social, economic and political ramifications of the Blip, as well as real world topics like racial profiling. In particular, it managed to offer a level of insight into its two main characters that simply surpassed all the character development they'd received in their various film appearances.

8. The Witcher Season 2

After a somewhat shaky first season that was almost as muddled as it was exhilarating, The Witcher seems to have finally found its footing in its sophomore outing, delivering more of the high production values and deep wells of lore viewers have come to expect from the show. Henry Cavill returns to play the eponymous Witcher, a mysterious monster hunter that forms an unlikely bond with a young girl that could very well grow to determine the fate of their troubled kingdom.

7. WandaVision

WandaVision had kickstarted the MCUs foray into the realm of television way back in January, with an unconventional style that was half paranormal mystery and half homage to the different eras of classic sitcoms. But the fact that it was able to weave all that into the overall narrative while serving as a springboard for future MCU films sets it apart as one of the year's best shows.

6. Mare of Easttown

Over on HBO Max, the show that had viewers buzzing the most this past year was undoubtedly Mare of Easttown. Anchored by a standout performance by Kate Winslet, the limited series would grow over the course of its seven-episode run, peaking at more than 2.2 million viewers by the time its series finale aired back in the tail end of May.

5. Loki

Of all the MCU shows that were first announced as part of Phase 4, Loki was the one I had the least amount of interest in. I mean, we all knew the God of Mischief couldn't stay dead for long, having cheated death several times already. But all that changed when the show started and it introduced us to its so-called Sacred Timeline and the concept of branching paths and multiverses, signaling the direction the MCU would be heading in going forward. 

4. Squid Game

If there was one show that came out of nowhere and took the entire world by storm in 2021, then that show is definitely Squid Game. The South Korean survival drama had captivated viewers with its take on the Battle Royale genre, juxtaposing the children's games central to its story with all the bloodletting. Leave it to Netflix to craft yet another cultural phenomenon that once again haunts viewers' dreams and social media timelines with equal measure.

3. Invincible

The Boys might have taken the year off on Amazon Prime, but that doesn't mean subscribers still weren't able to get their bloody superhero fix. This came in the form of Invincible, a new animated series based on a comic book by Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead fame. The show would prove so successful that a second and third season were greenlit even before the first one wrapped up.

2. Midnight Mass

Mike Flanagan continued to carve a name for himself in the supernatural horror realm with his latest Netflix limited series, Midnight Mass. And much like he'd managed to do with both The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, he'd given fans of the genre yet another captivating story populated with an interesting cast of characters.

1. Arcane

Video game adaptations might routinely get bashed for their perceived lack of quality in the movie realm, but the same doesn't always hold true for series. And with shows like Netflix's very own Castlevania already showing what can be done within the less-restricted boundaries of the medium, the streamer had sought to adapt yet another video game. Only this time around, it is the immensely popular MOBA, League of Legends, that got adapted.

I confess that I have never played League of Legends before, nor am I remotely interested in MOBAs as a whole. But after watching Arcane and seeing just how rich and deep its lore and characterization go, I am very much glad that it exists to serve as source material. The show is leagues above everything else that came out this year, and the fact that it effectively functions as a prequel to the events of the game make it a must-see for fans and the uninitiated alike.


  1. Arcane is excellent although a bit depressing. So was Squid Game but it was totally fascinating in a morbid way. Watching Witcher right now and saw most of the others.

    1. Nice. And yeah, both Arcane and Squid Game were a bit on the darker side.