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The Best TV Shows of 2021

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50 Best TV Shows of 2021 (Part 1)

50 Best TV Show of 2021

Are you tired of people recommending shows to watch? Do you feel that the market is oversaturated? Are you overwhelmed by the number of shows and do you feel that you just can’t keep up? Well, whatever your answer is, we have plenty of more recommendations to send your way. What follows is our list of the 50 best TV shows of 2021! That’s right folks; as the year comes to an end, we have plenty of shows to recommend in case you are looking for something new to watch during the holiday break. Here are our 50 favourite television shows of 2021. Enjoy!

Editor’s Note: It’s worth noting that our staff nominated over 100 shows this year but in order to qualify, a show needed a certain amount of votes and points. All that to say, there are plenty of great shows that didn’t make the cut simply because not enough of our writers have seen those shows.

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Best Shows of 2021

50. Cowboy Bebop (Season 1) | Netflix

More than a decade after a big-screen adaptation was announced, a live-action take on the popular Japanese sci-fi neo-noir Cowboy Bebop finally arrived! Unfortunately, fans of the original were extremely disappointed, leading Netflix to cancel the show soon after it hit the streaming service. But, let’s be honest, a live-action version of the beloved anime was always going to be a tough sell for die-hard fans, but if you have little-to-no expectations and are simply seeking a good time, Cowboy Bebop isn’t as bad as many would like you to believe. In fact, it boasts an abundance of offbeat humor, exciting set pieces, gorgeous cinematography, inventive camerawork, and a killer soundtrack which just so happens to be composed by Cowboy Bebop’s original composer Yoko Kanno and her band The Seatbelts.

There’s just no denying the passion and enthusiasm of everyone involved in making Cowboy Bebop. It’s obvious the creative team have a ton of respect for its predecessor and it looks like they had a blast making the show. This live-action remake is full of charm too, thanks to its leading cast and most episodes are painfully stylish due to the stunning cinematography. And did I mention the hard-hitting hand-to-hand combat and John Woo-style gun battles? But what I like most about Cowboy Bebop (both the original and this Netflix remake) is how it incorporates a wide variety of genres, from science fiction, to westerns to Hong Kong action and film noir. At times you’re watching a space opera and in the next episode, it’s a black and white detective story complete with seedy settings, shadowy lighting, skewed camera angles, cynical heroes, corrupt cops, femmes fatales, and a fatalistic tone. All in all, there’s honestly a lot to like here, but I’ll leave it to you to form your own opinion. (Ricky D)

Odd Taxi

49. Odd Taxi (Season 1) | Crunchyroll

Don’t let the cute animal aesthetic fool you, Odd Taxi is as gripping as it is deceptively dark. It immediately grounds you in a mystery that, unlike our walrus cab driver, never lets off the gas for a moment and relentlessly barrels forward. Film noir fans will find much to love in this mafia story that embroils characters in an intense conflict that continuously escalates in shocking ways. Unhealthy co-dependence, desperation, and the invisible pressures of society are just a handful of themes this hectic joyride will take you through as it charges through to one of the most satisfying conclusions anime has seen in recent times. Just take a seat, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. (Matthew Ponthier)

Night Stalker

True crime as a genre is having it’s second coming at the moment with a newfound popularity fueled by podcasts and deep dives that provide more skin-crawling details and horrifying perspective than ever on the real-life monsters that keep us awake at night.

Night Stalker takes advantage of this fervor with an in-depth limited series focusing on the crimes of Richard Ramirez, a vile killer, and rapist in 1980s Los Angeles. Dialing in more on the police officers who tracked him and the victims or survivors of his brutal attacks, Night Stalker side-steps the glorifying of a killer in order to explore his impact on a terrified city that didn’t know where he might strike next.

This fresh perspective and fascinating tone allow Night Stalker to be a prescient and brilliant depiction of the terror serial killers inflict on a population and how that mark can still be felt over 30 years later by those who brushed against such an evil force.
Image: Netflix

48. Night Stalker (mini-series) | Netflix

True crime as a genre is having a second coming at the moment with newfound popularity fueled by podcasts and deep dives that provide more skin-crawling details and horrifying perspective than ever on the real-life monsters that keep us awake at night.

Night Stalker takes advantage of this fervor with an in-depth limited series focusing on the crimes of Richard Ramirez, a vile killer, and rapist in 1980s Los Angeles. Dialing in more on the police officers who tracked him and the victims or survivors of his brutal attacks, Night Stalker side-steps the glorifying of a killer in order to explore his impact on a terrified city that didn’t know where he might strike next.

This fresh perspective and fascinating tone allow Night Stalker to be a prescient and brilliant depiction of the terror serial killers inflict on a population and how that mark can still be felt over 30 years later by those who brushed against such an evil force. (Mike Worby)

Cruel Summer
Image: Freeform

47. Cruel Summer (Season 1) | Freeform

Teen drama with a dark mystery set in the 90s is a concept brimming with potential, but with that, the potential to fail in the execution is also high. With three timelines, each only a year apart, and told through two opposing points of view, Cruel Summer realizes its full potential and delivers a psychological thriller that one can’t help but try and solve.

The audience becomes the role of the jury, tasked with examining evidence and witness statements and making an unbiased judgment of what the truth is. But what’s the fun in that? Cruel Summer allows one to have biased opinions on the characters and events, and it is proficient in making the viewer constantly unsure of those opinions. Just like the timelines, one can ping-pong back and forth between believing one girl’s story over the other’s. Red herrings and clues are scattered throughout, along with artfully placed reveals or cliffhangers.

The shock value is of value on Cruel Summer and it makes for a very entertaining watch. (Erin Allen)

Superman & Lois |
Image: The CW

46. Superman & Lois (Season 1) | The CW

With Superman & Lois, the CW brings the familiar tale of Clark Kent and Lois Lane back to Smallville, this time with a focus on raising their teenage sons and acclimating to life away from the big city of Metropolis. The show delivers spectacular visual effects and supernatural battles, but the close-knit young family is its beating heart.

This sixteen-episode journey sees Superman (played by an almost-impossibly endearing Tyler Hoechlin) commit to being there for his family while they navigate new school blues, brotherhood, and the tension when only one of the boys inherits powers. The writers skillfully incorporated storylines that confront social anxiety, military occupation, alcoholism, and unemployment. Superman’s home planet, Krypton, and the multiverse both play important roles in developing the show’s villains; as does Smallville’s failing economy. Overall, Superman & Lois is a family-focused, superpowered, highly-weaponized but wholesome adventure. (Andrea Marks-Joseph)

Never Have I Ever
Image: Netflix

45. Never Have I Ever (Season 2) | Netflix

This Netflix comedy-drama from Mindy Kaling encompasses the agonizing, awkward humour of teen angst through the eyes of its grieving protagonist. There is something incredibly refreshing about Devi’s problematic nature and her self-sabotaging behaviour. She speaks to the authentic all-consuming nature of the teen experience and navigates the life of a first-generation Indian-American teenager with eye-rolling hilarity.

Her determination to have the high-school experience ignites a smorgasbord of selfish shenanigans and captivating drama. Never Have I Ever clings to the immaturity of love triangles and all-consuming crushes but explores its bubbly comedy through the lens of unexpected narrators like tennis legend John McEnroe. The second season keeps the same winning formula, pushing Devi’s chaotic high-school dynamics to new heights of disastrous with secret boyfriends and rival transfer students. Yet, the series never loses sight of its young naive nature. (Alicia Gilstorf)

Generation
Image: HBO Max

44. Generation (Season 1) | HBO Max

Chaotic, effervescent, and spirited, Generation is the story of a Gen-Z high school community connected by their queerness. Remarkable in its centering of so many queer teens of colour, the diverse ensemble cast portrays a palpable teenage yearning for freedom and acceptance. The HBO Max show’s playful scriptwriting transcends a linear timeline, often switching back and forth in the school year, constantly alternating between shared scenes from various perspectives.

The soundtrack, costumes, and unscripted sensibilities come together perfectly to capture a truly authentic feel of what it’s like to be a teenager in America right now –complete with the experience of a school-shooter lockdown, going to prom with a throuple, deported immigrant parents, and finding your guidance counsellor on Grindr.

Heartfelt, radiant, sometimes so sharp it feels satirical, Generation is a gift to the queer community, and to anyone interested in a fast-paced, youthful, intimate, joyous, television experience that celebrates life at a very particular moment in time. (Andrea Marks-Joseph)

Shadow and Bone
Image: Netflix

43. Shadow and Bone (Season 1) | Netflix

Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse comes to life in Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, an ambitious, sprawling fantasy that follows the Sun Summoner and the all-consuming dark fold she must one day vanquish. The series features a unique new world brimming with magical beings and intoxicating social hierarchies. However, it’s the gaggle of scrappy, sinister, and loveable characters that give light to a concept shrouded in darkness.

The first season brilliantly splices together the events of the Shadow and Bone novel with a gang of clever criminals from the Six of Crows duology. The Crows are certainly a stand out of this series thanks to Jesper’s reckless gambling habits, Inej’s sharp edges and even sharper knives, and Kaz’s strict but caring leadership. This show’s motley crew of mourners, saints, and thieves are matched by the intensity of Ben Barnes’ General Kirigan, an antagonist so captivating it is difficult not to root for him. This fantasy’s premise is elevated not by its modest word-building but by its characters’ clashing personalities. (Alicia Gilstorf)

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
The second in Marvel’s line of Disney Plus shows, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier opts for a political thriller genre that feels far removed from the mysticism of WandaVision and the time jumping adventuring of Loki.
More akin to the Captain America movies which- whilst still very much superhero flicks- are at least a little more grounded, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier sees Sam Wilson- aka Captain America’s airborne sidekick The Falcon- and Bucky Barnes- ex Hydra assassin The Winter Soldier and Steve’s best friend from childhood- teaming up to take down a terrorist organization. They also find themselves in a difficult position when the government essentially recasts Captain America, handing Steve’s shield to a newcomer who both Sam and Bucky consider unfit for the task following Steve’s retirement after Avengers: Endgame.
The show is at its best with its simpler moments, such as the developing friendship between Sam and Bucky and the return of Baron Zemo, who is strangely likeable thanks to his newly written personality. There are even some emotional and moving moments too, particularly the discussion on race that comes about when Sam and Bucky speak with Isaiah Bradley, an African American man who was once a super soldier like Steve Rogers but- due the colour of his skin- was treated very differently, his heroism being kept a secret. Sam struggling with the thought of his country accepting him- a black man -as Captain America is highly topical in our society and- despite all the heroics, the action sequences and twists and turns of the mini-series-, its these themes that stand out in the show, offering some depth and commentary on timely socio-political matters whilst still being an entertaining comic book show.
Image: Marvel

42. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (Season 1) | Disney+

The second in Marvel’s line of Disney Plus shows, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier opts for a political thriller genre that feels far removed from the mysticism of WandaVision and the time jumping adventuring of Loki.

More akin to the Captain America movies which- whilst still very much superhero flicks- are at least a little more grounded, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier sees Sam Wilson- aka Captain America’s airborne sidekick The Falcon- and Bucky Barnes- ex Hydra assassin The Winter Soldier and Steve’s best friend from childhood- teaming up to take down a terrorist organization. They also find themselves in a difficult position when the government essentially recasts Captain America, handing Steve’s shield to a newcomer who both Sam and Bucky consider unfit for the task following Steve’s retirement after Avengers: Endgame.

The show is at its best with its simpler moments, such as the developing friendship between Sam and Bucky and the return of Baron Zemo, who is strangely likeable thanks to his newly written personality. There are even some emotional and moving moments too, particularly the discussion on race that comes about when Sam and Bucky speak with Isaiah Bradley, an African American man who was once a super soldier like Steve Rogers but- due to the colour of his skin- was treated very differently, his heroism being kept a secret. Sam struggling with the thought of his country accepting him- a black man -as Captain America is highly topical in our society and- despite all the heroics, the action sequences and twists and turns of the mini-series-, it is these themes that stand out in the show, offering some depth and commentary on timely socio-political matters whilst still being an entertaining comic book show. (Antonia Haynes)

Hawkeye best tv shows of 2021
Image: Disney Plus

41. Hawkeye (Season 1) | Disney Plus

The last Disney+ Marvel series of 2021, Hawkeye, has the same type of vibe as a Netflix series, but with a bit more cheer and less grit. The show limits the supernatural and science fiction of Hawkeye’s trick arrows and unlike the previous Marvel shows, this one is far more grounded as it focuses on Clint Barton and Kate Bishop’s partnership rather than say, androids, aliens, and wizards.

The show does not try and explore the multiverse or alternate timelines, either. There is no hint of global threats or government conspiracies. The closest it gets to being an uncontained show is with the introduction of a character from Black Widow, but overall Hawkeye is a very grounded show about a super-spy trying to take down a local gang without the help of a super-suit or super serum. It is easy enough to watch that anyone who hasn’t seen previous Marvel movies or television shows can enjoy the action and characters. Unlike WandaVision and Loki, which are chock-full of easter eggs, foreshadowing, and red herrings, Hawkeye is instead akin to Die Hard, a Christmas action series the entire family can enjoy. (David Harris)

Blindspotting
Image: Starz

40. Blindspotting (Season 1) | STARZ

The STARZ spinoff of Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal‘s poignant rap-musical film of the same name is by far one of the most inventive and unique television offerings of the year. Equally contemplative and comedic, the show examines and celebrates Black culture in Oakland’s vibrant Bay Area community. Blindspotting’s eight episodes explore code-switching, hustle culture, and single parenting, as well as the reality of blended families, job searches, and life post-incarceration.

The most striking aspect of this show is its multifaceted presentation: Expressive dancing blossoms alongside evocative, emotional spoken word and rap performances; music-video-like skits are incorporated into the storytelling. Blindspotting consistently surprises the audience with its depth and creativity, allowing our connection to these characters and the relationships between them to evolve. Featuring a phenomenal soundtrack, tumultuous family relationships, and surprising turns of adventure, the first season concluded with sweeping romantic gestures, inspiring character growth, and a final scene that left audiences breathless. (Andrea Marks-Joseph)

Dave
Image: FXX

39. Dave (Season 2) | FXX

The first season of Dave, which debuted back in 2019, was a fictionalized version of the life of rapper Dave “Lil Dicky” Burd. The show depicted Burd as an insecure young guy who struggled both professionally and personally, and about 60 percent of the show’s jokes seemed to directly reference his penis.

The second season, this summer, may not have had as much buzz as the first, but it was considerably better. Not only was it funnier, but it took some inventive risks, playing with the structure of episodes and borrowing a lot from that other FXX show about an aspiring rapper, Atlanta.

The new season had Burd enjoying some trappings of success, including a rented house in Hollywood, while he struggled with writer’s block during the production of his long-awaited debut album, “Penith.”

Highlights of the season included the premiere, with Dave causing an international incident in Korea, a long set piece set at a Bar Mitzvah, and the episode in which Dave angles for a date with rapper Doja Cat, with most of the “courtship” taking place over text, with Dave’s parents (David Paymer and Gina Hecht) asking if Doja is Jewish (turns out, on her mother’s side, she is.) Also appearing was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in one of the better TV guest appearances by a top athlete.

There’s no word yet on whether there will be a third season of Dave, but the show certainly grew by leaps and bounds in season 2, while still having room to grow in season 3. (Stephen Silver)

Good Girls
Image: NBC

38. Good Girls (Season 4) | NBC

Good Girls never had the air of a typical network property. A show about a group of women who commit crimes, eventually even embracing the criminal lifestyle, to take care of their families in suburban Detroit that’s funny, sexy, smart, and also, weirdly realistic about what experiences and knowledge women could use to commit fraud feels like it belongs on a streaming service. Unfortunately, Good Girls no longer has a home anywhere. It was cancelled a few months ago.

The fourth and final season was meant to be the penultimate season and that’s apparent in the finale so it did have a frustratingly bittersweet ending. The steps that occur to get to the final scene on a park bench are well-crafted with a couple of shocking reveals. It’s a show that deserved more attention from fans and critics and now sadly, the cast and crew don’t have the opportunity to finish the story on their own terms. (Leah Wersebe)

Pose
Image: FX

37. Pose (Season 3) | FX

“Ballroom is home. Ballroom is family. Ballroom is love.”

In a final season that was much too short, Pose exited gracefully, leaving a lasting impression on its audience and a call to action, to look out for one’s community. Pose is great at giving us joyous celebrations of life, but it’s also pretty damn good at breaking our hearts. There are happy endings and proper payoffs, difficult goodbyes and tragic loss all culminating in a fierce and beautiful send-off of something that was much more than a TV show.

Groundbreaking with its inclusivity and representation, Pose honors not only its characters and their community but the incredible cast as well as the queer communities and found families that exist in reality. Although it’s hard to say goodbye, it is reassuring to know that the spirit of Ballroom continues to live on. (Erin Allen)

Filled with rich supporting characters and plenty of laughs, Reservation Dogs is a fresh slice from the comedy pie and will help to give a voice and hope to many of the struggling indigenous teens coming of age the world over. (Mike Worby)

Girls5eva
Image; Peacock

36. Girls5eva (Season 1) | Peacock

Beloved by critics and the (few) viewers who took the plunge and got Peacock, Girls5eva was a pleasant surprise during the pandemic. The premier season followed a group of women who were in a 1990s girl group. When a hit rap artist samples their one hit song 20-odd years later, the women try and use the momentum to re-launch their music career.

Part-spoof, part-meta-commentary, the show has delightfully acerbic songs and poignantly charming jokes about only children becoming New York Lonely Boys. Sara Bareilles and Renée Elise Goldberry have great chemistry and it’s their characters’ relationship that ends up being the beating heart of the show. A second season has been ordered and hopefully, more people will have jumped on the Peacock train by then so this show can get the attention it deserves. (Leah Wersebe)

Love, Death + Robots 
Image: Netflix

35. Love, Death + Robots (Season 2) | Netflix

Netflix’s Love, Death + Robots dropped a first season that emerged as a surprise, sleeper hit when it premiered back in 2019. An animated celebration of everything we love about science fiction, the series adapts beloved stories old and new from stalwarts of the genre to new voices and ideas unique to the medium.

The second season, while considerably shorter than the first, was still able to recreate the magic once again. A dead giant washes ashore near an English town only to decay before everyone’s eyes. Two kids are horrified and bewildered to catch Santa Claus at work on Christmas Eve. A child-murdering cop finds his faith in the system shaken to its core.

These are the troubling, morally complex tales of Love, Death + Robots, and hopefully, there’s more of them to come as their disparate tones and animation styles are just the palate cleanser we need in the age of constant streaming wars and melting polar ice caps. (Mike Worby)

Castlevania Season 4
Image: Netflix

34. Castlevania (Season 4) | Netflix

It‘s fitting that the year Arcane releases and becomes a phenomenon that Castlevania, the first truly great video game adaption, would come to an end – and oh what an ending it is.

From its short, pilot season through to the finale, Castlevania engages and surprises, never shying away from difficult questions nor finding easy answers in bloodshed. That isn’t to say the show doesn’t revel in demon killing, it most certainly does, but these bouts are always used in the service of story and, especially, character. In particular, Issac, a necromancer who once served Dracula, and fan-favorite Alucard wrestle throughout the series with the failings of man, struggling to see goodness in the world and within themselves. This final season puts a major emphasis on these two characters and it culminates in spectacular fashion with equal parts philosophy and bloodletting.

Much like Arcane, Castlevania takes the lore of an established franchise and turns it into something not just compelling but meaningful. In the games, Dracula and his followers are just monsters, but here, they are motivated by conviction. Believing the world to be fundamentally broken, they see humankind as only worthy of annihilation or digestion. And it’s up to the protagonists, especially Issac and Alucard, to reckon with this declaration, and it’s a difficult task. Castlevania is not easy on humanity. Depicting brutality and genocide, it puts the onus entirely on the protagonists to prove Dracula wrong. And the way the series goes about this is both moving and thoughtful, delving into questions of choice, fate, and the sanctity of one’s own morality.

Arcane may be getting all the attention, seen as a herald of a new era of video game adaptations, but this era didn’t begin with it. It began with Castlevania. (Nicholas Straub)

Kevin Can F*** Himself  | Best TV Shows of 2021
Image: AMC+

33. Kevin Can F*** Himself (Season 1) | AMC+

The best show you’re not watching right now is almost certainly Kevin Can F*** Himself. You’re not watching it because it’s buried in AMC+. Anyone that’s had the opportunity to watch knows that it’s a show like no other. The show blends two television production styles: the cinematic single camera (think 30 Rock, Ted Lasso) and the laugh-track-fueled multi-camera (think Friends, Modern Family). The hybrid aesthetic is more than just a gimmick, with duality at the core of Kevin Can F** Himself, it thematically employs each style with aplomb.

Allison (Annie Murphy) tries to keep her house and life in order despite her scheming husband Kevin (Eric Petersen) in the working-class town of Worcester, Mass. Kevin’s life is always presented in the multi-camera format complete with high-key lighting, laugh track, and half-baked hijinks. Flanked by his father Pete (Brian Howe) and hapless neighbor Neil (Alex Bonifer), Kevin’s havoc always leaves a mess for Allison, the TV housewife archetype, to clean up.

Allison’s half of the show poses an intriguing question. How far can you push a woman subjected to her sophomoric husband’s buffoonery? The scenes from Allison’s point of view are presented dark and dramatically in the less heightened single-camera style. She’s a woman pushed to her edge, deprived of agency, and desperate to reclaim it. Even Worcester is presented in dual prisms: as a Red Sox, Patriots, Good Will Hunting loving town as well as a gray, economically depressed suburb.

Having a northeast native and comedic genius like Sean Clements as actor, writer, and executive producer helps give the show its nuance and character. Murphy excels in both dramatic and silly performances in her follow-up to the triumphant Schitt’s Creek. Allison’s unexpected ally Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) is a captivating standout, pulling the same double duty as Murphy.

The show was picked up for a second season so there’s plenty of time to catch up on this spectacular first season. (Kent M. Wilhelm)

Lupin | Best TV Shows of 2021
Image: Netflix

32. Lupin (Season 1 & 2) | Netflix

The master thief-turned-detective Arsène Lupin may be unknown to the average American, but the “gentleman burglar” is a well-known character in French pop culture and perhaps the most famous thief in the world of literature, responsible for daring heists and even more daring escapes from the law. Created in 1905 by the French writer Maurice Leblanc, Lupin has been the subject of several novels, comics, stage plays, video games, films, and TV adaptations over the years. He’s crossed paths several times with the great detective Sherlock Holmes; appeared in Hayao Miyazaki’s The Castle of Cagliostro and even starred in the 2016 hit video game Persona 5. Chances are, the average American has seen some iteration of the character at one point in time, even if unaware of his legendary status.

His latest iteration, a Netflix series aptly titled Lupin, takes its inspiration from the popular fictional character and gives it a contemporary twist. Created by George Kay (Criminal, Killing Eve), in collaboration with François Uzan, the show stars Omar Sy (The Intouchables) as Assane Diop, a reimagined version of the titular thief. It’s not at the level of the French masterpiece Rififi, but Lupin is still a crackerjack crime series worth the price of your Netflix monthly subscription. I highly recommend it! (Ricky D)

Brand New Cherry Flavor | Best TV Shows of 2021
Image: Netflix

31. Brand New Cherry Flavor (Season 1) | Netflix

Brand New Cherry Flavor more than lives up to its lofty title expectations. Despite feeling like an amalgamation of an indelible David Lynch project and a David Cronenberg mood piece, Brand New Cherry Flavor still does enough in terms of its own focus to feel like a completely new beast.

Centered around an ambitious film student trying to sell her project and the greedy, predatory producer who immediately attempts to take advantage of her, Brand New Cherry Flavor pivots into a revenge tale with the young filmmaker consulting a local priestess in hopes of getting sweet vengeance.

Naturally, this plot has some significant blowback. The crazy genre trappings take viewers through subplots that include voodoo zombies, mystical spiritual planes, and Catherine Keener gobbling up the scenery at every available opportunity. Brand New Cherry Flavor probably isn’t for everyone, but if this synopsis intrigues you, then I encourage you to give it a go. (Mike Worby)

Heels  | Best TV Shows of 2021
Image: Starz

30. Heels (Season 1) | Starz

You don’t have to be a professional wrestling fan to fall head over heels in love with the new STARZ series starring Stephen Amell. Created by Michael Waldron (Loki) with Mike O’Malley serving as showrunner, Heels centers on a family-owned wrestling promotion (the Duffy Wrestling League) and follows brothers Jack (Amell) and Ace (Alexander Ludwig) Spade as they navigate their way through the world of independent professional wrestling in their small, fictional Georgia hometown of Duffy. And much like sports entertainment, the most compelling storylines are often the ones that develop outside of the squared circle as the brothers wrestle to keep the family business alive while navigating family life in the wake of their father’s death.

Following eight stoic years as Oliver Queen, Amell is perfectly cast here given his long-time love affair with wrestling. In addition, his multiple appearances in several real-life wrestling promotions including the WWE and Ring of Honor, help bring far more nuance to his role. And speaking of the cast, Heels is also blessed with a star-studded supporting cast including Allen Maldonaldo, character actor treasure Chris Bauer and even the ‘Best in the World,’ CM Punk who is unforgettable in his brief appearance as local wrestling legend Ricky Rabies.

By now, you’ve most likely heard someone compare Heels to Friday Night Lights. Well, that’s not a bad comparison since Heels does a superb job in keeping viewers interested even if they are not familiar with the world of professional wrestling, not unlike how Friday Night Lights reached a wide audience including those with no interest in football. And like FNLHeels is first and foremost a family drama— it just so happens to use professional wrestling as the framing device. Ultimately, Heels is funny, dramatic, often moving, and a well-written love letter to independent wrestling. (Ricky D)

Evil season 2 | Best TV Shows of 2021
Image: CBS

29. Evil (Season 2) | CBS

Moving from network to streaming is not always a mark of death for a series; for Evil, it was perhaps the best thing that could’ve happened to Robert and Michelle King’s quirky, supremely underrated series about wannabe priests and creepy demons. Season two of Evil is everything great about its first season, but free from the restraints of airing on CBS: it is bloodier, louder, more ambitious… and perhaps most importantly, hornier, in ways that supercharge the show’s ability to unsettle and confront its viewers.

It also helps that it has one of the best ensembles on television, and indulges them with some wonderfully weird material in its sophomore effort. Ben’s succubus, Lexi’s… transformation(?), and Sheryl’s descent into Townsend’s insane life are all given equal weight alongside Kristen and David’s righteous battles to save humanity – a balancing act that cannot go unnoticed, in a landscape of television packed with poor plot construction and middling character development. 

Even in its few disappointing moments (the silent episode, unfortunately, is the season’s weak spot), Evil remains profoundly more interesting than most of television, in its willingness to experiment and build. It would be easy for the point of all to get lost amongst the demon therapists, possessed fertility clinics, and (of course) the IRS investigating the Church of Satan – but Evil is able to pull it off, a focused, rewarding series that is as amusing as it is thoughtful and as disturbing as it is fearless. (Randy Dankievitch)

The Wheel of Time | Best TV Shows of 2021
Image: Amazon Prime

28. The Wheel of Time (Season 1) | Amazon Prime

The Wheel of Time is Amazon’s second-biggest TV bet ever, and so far, it looks like it’s paying off.

Amazon’s ambitious fantasy adaptation has often been compared to HBO’s Game of Thrones, but don’t be fooled, this new series might be bursting with magic and magical creatures, but it looks and feels like a completely different beast. In fact, I’d argue The Wheel of Time works best when it doesn’t try to follow in HBO’s footsteps because as it stands, the first season of the show is fantastic and will surely please fans of Robert Jordan’s behemoth of a book series. The only problem is if you haven’t read any of the 14 novels, I would recommend putting in a bit of work and reading about every episode in order to better understand what is going on. The original books weigh in at over 10,000 pages (over twice as long as the completed A Song of Ice and Fire books) and were published over a span of 30 years by two authors (with Brandon Sanderson stepping in to finish the saga after Jordan’s death in 2007). There are no fewer than 2,782 named characters mentioned over the course of the series, 148 of which are point of view characters at one point or another. Again, it’s not an easy watch but it will surely satisfy both new viewers and superfans alike. This is easily one of the best shows of 2021! (Ricky D)

Reservation Dogs | Best TV Shows of 2021
Image: Disney Plus

27. Reservation Dogs (Season 1) | Disney Plus

Few markets are as underserved in television as indigenous people are, particularly indigenous youths. Reservation Dogs sets out to correct this oversight, providing a nuanced and intriguing portrait of life on an indigenous reservation for four young teens.

The quartet of characters chases their fleeting dreams after pulling off a spicy Doritos heist in hopes of escaping rez life once and for all. Along the way, they fight over their conflicting views for their futures while striving to make life in the present as bearable as they possibly can.

Filled with rich supporting characters and plenty of laughs, Reservation Dogs is a fresh slice from the comedy pie and will help to give a voice and hope to many of the struggling indigenous teens coming of age the world over. (Mike Worby)

Starstruck | Best TV Shows of 2021
Image: HBO Max

26. Starstruck (Season 1) | HBO Max

It’s time to pay attention to Rose Matafeo. As the creator, writer, and star of Starstruck, Matafeo reminded everyone why rom-coms were King for so long. The show is about Jessie (Matafeo), a Kiwi living in London, who sleeps with Tom (Nikesh Patel), a film star. Their journey is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming as they realize they can’t stay away from each other.

The show is incredibly lean at only six episodes, but every step in Jessie and Tom’s relationship is earned. Season two is in the works and viewers are excited to see what happens next for Jessie and Tom considering when they were last seen, Jessie was about to make a big change in her life. It’s a great time to jump on the Matafeo train, because after the success of Starstruck, her life will surely be changing as well. (Leah Wersebe)

PART 2 | TOP 25

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