Small screen stars – the 20 best TV shows of 2021


The small screen continues to amaze. Indeed, 2021 will be another year where we have relied on the best newsworthy dramas, affirmative documentaries and heartfelt comedies to distract us from real world issues. Luckily, there were more than a few gems to the mix, and as the year draws to a close, we’ve been thinking about some of TV’s biggest moments. In no particular order, here are the shows that have stuck us to our screens this year – and, in case you missed them, where you’ll find them now.

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Television’s most despicable family turned completely on each other in the third series of “Succession”

Television’s most despicable family turned completely on each other in the third series of “Succession”

Succession (now television)
East Succession the best show on the box? It is certainly up there. After a two-year wait, Jesse Armstrong’s scorching, satirical comedy-drama has turned hellish beast with a phenomenal third season in which television’s most despicable family has turned completely on each other. Funny, cruel, and terribly mean, with a magnificent central round from Brian Cox, the series continues to play by its own rules, and a fourth season has the green light. We cannot wait.

Keelin Shanley: far, always near (RTÉ reader)
A noble tribute to the broadcaster, who died of cancer in February last year, this magnificent documentary – co-directed by Judy Kelly and Shanley’s husband Conor Ferguson – was both a respectful eulogy and a retrospective of sincere and lovingly assembled career. It also featured Shanley’s final interview, in which she bravely discussed what it was like to live with a terminal illness. Viewing essential.

Maid (Netflix)
Inspired by the acclaimed memoir of American author Stephanie Land, Housekeeper: hard work, low wages and a mother’s will to survive, this calm yet seductive miniseries tells the story of a young mother desperate to escape an abusive relationship and build a better life for her young daughter. An intelligent, sensitive and brilliantly plotted examination of life below the American poverty line, Maid also saw the formidable Margaret Qualley deliver a career-leading performance. In a word? Unavoidable.

Scenes from a wedding (now television)
It doesn’t matter what silly gimmick at the start of each episode (you know, the moment the actors set up their scenes with each other). What’s important is that Hagai Levi’s exquisite and contemporary coverage of Ingmar Bergman’s seminal divorce drama hits us where it hurts. Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac take the reins like a falling apart couple.

Squid game (Netflix)
Who would have thought that the biggest show of the year would be a blood-soaked satirical mix of Takeshi Castle and Royal battle? Same Squid gameThe creator of, Hwang Dong-hyuk, seems genuinely surprised by the success of the South Korean show, which portrays a deadly – and insane – game of survival in which poor contestants risk their lives for a sum of money that will change their life. It’s ridiculously entertaining, and a second season is in development.

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WandaVision (Disney +)
Could have been good if WandaVision – an inventive superhero show with a twist – was allowed to stay out of the lines for its entire duration. Despite a shady finale, the series – which played quickly and freely with familiar sitcom styles from the 1950s – gave us something that the Marvel Cinematic Universe often lacks: originality. Plus, Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen are wonderful together.

The Great British Cake (All 4)
Eleven years old and Pastry shop It shouldn’t always look and sound so fresh and funny and endearing, but we’re there – still amazed, still watching, still begging for a handshake from Paul Hollywood. One of the best things about this show is that the contestants are always – always – rooted to each other. You don’t see that anywhere else. Oh, and just for the record, Jurgen got robbed.

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Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn in


Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn in “Sex Education”

Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn in “Sex Education”

Sex education (Netflix)
The most scandalous show on Netflix is ​​also one of the most beautiful. Three seasons in, and Sex education managed to transcend its original concept (the son of a famous sex therapist starts a teenage version in school) into something quite another: a smart, diverse and tender comedy-drama about coming of age. Season four is on its way.

Easttown Mare (now television)
Kate Winslet won an Emmy for her surprising turn – the best of her career, we would say – in this gripping crime drama set in Philadelphia. Although it was originally designed as a limited mini-series, there are rumors that a second season is in the works.

McCartney 3,2,1 (Disney +)
We probably shouldn’t learn any new things about The Beatles in 2021 yet. But that’s exactly what happens in this simple yet remarkable series. Basically, Paul McCartney sits in a room for a few hours and shoots the breeze with super-producer Rick Rubin. Guys talk about songwriting, recording, touring, friendships – all the shebang. It’s, essentially, like listening to a couple of old friends discussing the best songs ever produced.

Mr. Corman (Apple TV +)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s expansive and expensive character study may have divided audiences, but we were quite impressed with this bizarre but rewarding series about a California teacher struggling with anxiety. Granted, it’s a little depressing, but it’s also one of the most relevant shows on TV, and Gordon-Levitt shines at multitasking as a leading writer, producer, director, and man.

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'The White Lotus' served a murder mystery like no other


‘The White Lotus’ served a murder mystery like no other

‘The White Lotus’ served a murder mystery like no other

The White Lotus (now television)
Our second favorite show about the horrible rich whites (you can probably guess the first one), The white lotus turns your head. Not only did this provide the brilliant Jennifer Coolidge with a role she could sink her teeth into, but it also served a murder mystery like no other. Think Fawlty towers meets Death in paradise, with a little Succession to throw.

Ted Lasso (Apple TV +)
Everyone needs a little Ted lasso in their lives, and it’s no exaggeration when you are told that Jason Sudeikis’ gorgeous, mustached angel remains one of TV’s most beloved goodies. You know the story (American football coach accepts a managerial position for a struggling UK football team). Season two pushed things right. The comedy of well-being at its most irresistible.

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Aisling Bea stars as a young Irishwoman struggling with life in London


Aisling Bea stars as a young Irishwoman struggling with life in London

Aisling Bea stars as a young Irishwoman struggling with life in London

This way up to (All 4)
Can the folks at Channel 4 hurry up and give Aisling Bea’s comedy-drama a third season? Her wonderful series – a cleverly crafted story of a young Irish woman struggling to stay together in London – tackled larger themes and bigger issues in her quick second round. Still, she’s managed to keep her head above water thanks to a wonderful cast (Bea continues to shine in front of her onscreen sister, Sharon Horgan). More please.

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'Friends: The Reunion' was as perfect a TV event as we could have hoped


‘Friends: the Reunion’ was as perfect a TV event as we could have hoped

‘Friends: The Reunion’ was as perfect a TV event as we could have hoped

Friends: Reunion (now television)
Apart from the presence of the ubiquitous James Corden, Friends: Reunion was about as perfect – and as healthy – a televised event as we could have hoped for. It also allowed us to experience something we had never seen before, highlighting the real friendships behind the scenes and giving audiences a personal and sometimes emotional testament to what it was like to be a part of a appropriate pop culture. phenomenon. Happy stuff.

Wellington Paranormal (now television)
A great spin-off from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi What we do in the shadows, this cult New Zealand comedy deserves a wider audience. Basically, this is a mock documentary about two Kiwi policemen who discover their town is overrun with scary activity and their post has its own paranormal unit. Take care of it.

Course of action (BBC iPlayer)
Did you correctly identify the “fourth man”? Because we certainly didn’t. Besides letting us guess until the end, season six of Jed Mercurio’s acclaimed police procedure showed us that traditional and land-based TV habits (one episode a week, same time, same night) are beautiful. and very much alive. Kelly Macdonald proved to be a good choice for the lead.

I am Victoria (All 4)
Dominic Savage’s I am… A female-led anthology series exploring the themes of relationships, mental health and empowerment has returned for a second edition this year. The first and best installment starred Suranne Jones (who also co-developed the story) as a married mother of two whose agitated mental state begins to affect her most personal relationships. We’d be surprised if she didn’t win an award for her terribly intimate turn in this gripping and honest drama.

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Aidan Gillen and Keith McErlean in RTÉ crime drama


Aidan Gillen and Keith McErlean in RTÉ crime drama “Kin”

Aidan Gillen and Keith McErlean in RTÉ crime drama “Kin”

Close (RTÉ reader)
Peter McKenna and Ciaran Donnelly’s unusual crime drama hasn’t always hit the back of the net. Corn Close – a slow-burning romance depiction of a Dublin crime family and their gang warfare with a bigger, more powerful business – had just about enough twists and turns to keep us invested. It was a real Irish moment on TV – and we haven’t had a lot of it lately.

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