Between primetime, cable and premium networks on top of dominating streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+, content creation is at an all time high. it’s hard to keep up with the hundreds of new comedies, dramas and limited series that premiere every year, plus all of our favorite series returning with new seasons. So with 2021 behind us, here are my Top 10 TV Shows of 2021.
Full disclosure, given the amount of content out there, there are several shows I did not watch in 2021. This includes some pretty big shows like Squid Game, Ted Lasso and Nine Perfect Strangers, to name a few…
Spoiler Alert… ACTIVATE!
- Acapulco, Apple TV+
This new bilingual comedy series is probably the most charming series of the year. A spin-off of the 2017 film How To Be A Latin Lover, it centers on 20-something Maximo who gets a job at the iconic Las Colinas resort with his best friend Memo. He soon finds that the “sinful and corrupt” resort, as his hilarious and overly religious mother calls it, is actually in need of more of his help than he realized. Seeing a mostly Latin cast in a bilingual show, shot in Mexico, created and run by Latines, and putting us in a non-drug or violence related light is truly amazing. Yes, shows like Narcos are incredibly popular because they’re entertaining, but I, like many other people, long for positive and meaningful representation. Acapulco does just that.
- Foundation, Apple TV+
This new sci-fi series is EPIC in every sense of the word. Based on Isaac Asimov’s seven novels, Foundation centers on a colony in the far reaches of the galaxy that are assigned to build a ‘foundation’ after a brilliant mathematician predicts the Empire will fall. The series ensemble is incredible, led by Jared Harris, Lee Pace and Leah Harvey. The visual effects, action and world-building are out of this world (lol) and this show was a true standout for me. In a recent interview I had with star Leah Harvey, they shared that it was about a two-year journey from the start of production to the show finally premiering. You can see the care and attention to detail that went into this epic series at the time.
- Kim’s Convenience (season 5) Netflix
This show is a vastly under-appreciated Canadian sitcom about a Korean-Canadian family who own a convenience store in Toronto. The series is based on a play of the same name by showrunner Ins Choi, and sees Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon reprising their role as ‘Appa’ and ‘Umma’, respectively meaning ‘dad’ and ‘mom’ in Korean; college student Janet, played by Andrea Bang in her TV debut; and her older brother Jung, played by Simu Liu aka SHANG CHI from the MCU. Since doing time in juvie as a rebellious teenager, Jung has had a tense relationship with his father but still talks with Janet and Umma, the two of whom are constantly butting heads too. I have noticed that pretty much any conservative or religion-based culture, whether it be Hispanic, Italian, Greek, Korean or Filipino, among others, there is always something to relate to in shows like Kim’s Convenience. It was unexpectedly cancelled after season 5 even though it had been renewed for a 6th season the year before. I will dearly miss this wonderful show but I am excited for what else is in store for this cast.
- Marvel’s What If…?, Disney+
This new animated series from the MCU canon explores some storylines that have been seen in the comics over the years, like superhero zombies and the multiverse going into chaos. The series introduces some new storylines in ways that probably could not be pulled off in a live-action setting because it would cost $100 million. We see the return of some beloved characters we’ve lost in the MCU and some supporting characters come into the forefront. Every episode is a new, creative ‘what if…’ scenario with some familiar voices returning to voice their characters, not a single episode feels flat.
- Only Murders In The Building, Hulu
I was late to the party with this series, by the time I started watching the entire season had been released. I am astounded at how sharp, witty and well-directed this new comedy-slash-murder mystery was. Steve Martin and Martin Short are absolutely stellar in these roles and Selena Gomez gives a career best performance. The twists and turns this show takes you on feels never-ending in the best way possible, you almost don’t want it to end. Speaking of the end… when is season 2 is coming out because that cliffhanger was WILD.
- Ghosts, CBS
Besides standouts in the last twenty years like The Office, Modern Family and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, network comedies have remained formulaic. But Ghosts stands out as one of the few single-camera comedies out there, meaning there is no laugh track, no massive studio audience type of set and no done-to-death sitcom tropes. Instead, we get this fresh new series, based on a UK series of the same name, that follows a young couple from the city that inherits an old but beautiful estate and decides to renovate it into a bed & breakfast, only to learn that it’s filled with ghosts of those who’ve died on the grounds over the centuries. With a brilliant cast of comedy veterans and some newcomers, Ghosts proves that, when left in the right hands, sitcoms still have a place on primetime networks. Shout out to some of the standout performances, Brandon Scott Jones, Richie Moriarty, Danielle Pinnock, Roman Zaragoza and Asher Grodman among the stellar cast.
- Love, Victor (season 2), Hulu
Anyone who knows me understands my love of this series. What started as a sweet but heartfelt dramedy about a teen Latino balancing a cross-country move and his parents troubled marriage while exploring his sexuality and identity, has truly evolved in its second season. The series was originally supposed to be on Disney+, but after they wrapped production on season one, the streaming service decided it was a bit too mature compared to other light-hearted, teen-centered series like High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and Diary of a Future President, so it was moved to Hulu. So for season two, they really pulled out all the stops and were able to explore more mature storylines that impact young audiences as they grow up just as much as they do the characters. What is particularly admirable is how they portray LGBTQ+ acceptance within the Latine community, whether from a religious or cultural standpoint. It’s funny, charming, and a real tear-jerker.
- Reservation Dogs, FX on Hulu
From Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi and award-winning filmmaker Sterlin Harjo comes this new comedy centered on a group of Indigenous teens in rural Oklahoma. While it sounds very specific, there is something for everyone to relate to in this hilarious new slice-of-life series. Anyone who’s lived in an urban or small-town environment will relate to someone. I find there is such a cultural similarity between Latines and Indigenous people, from the cadence we speak in, culture, music, clothing, so many of us have Indigenous roots, it’s really wonderful to see this series shine and get the recognition it deserves, especially with an all-Indigenous main cast, directors and writers.
- Midnight Mass, Netflix
The third Netflix horror series from The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan, Midnight Mass centers on a small New England island community that experiences mysterious miracles when a young priest arrives to replace their former Monsignor. Hill House is among my favorite series of all time, and Mike Flanagan does not disappoint, nor does his brilliant group of actors. There isn’t a weak link among the cast or a single filler episode in this 7-episode horror drama, that’s not just terrifying and mysterious but also makes us think about our own mortality and faith.
- WandaVision, Disney+
The first of five MCU-based series to come out on Disney+ in 2021, WandaVision perfectly set up how the Marvel universe we’ve come to know and love would be opening up by centering on previously underutilized characters from the MCU canon with genre-bending new series. WandaVision was just as much a Twilight Zone-esque mystery as it was a superhero drama with at times hilarious and other times tear-jerking performances from Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda and Paul Bettany as Vision, with standout performances from MCU newcomers Kathryn Hahn as Agnes/Agatha, and Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. The week-to-week release kept you at the edge of your seat, wondering “what the f***?!” or “oh sh**… at the end of every episode.
What were your favorite shows of 2021?? Leave them in the comments below!