Top 10 Best TV Shows of 2021 (So Far)



Top 10 Best TV Shows of 2021 (So Far)

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
2021 has been another great year for TV shows so far. Our countdown includes "Loki," "Cobra Kai," "Mare of Easttown," and more!
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Best TV Shows of 2021 (So Far)

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best TV Shows of 2021 (So Far).

For this list, we’ll be looking at both freshmen and returning TV programs that have aired new episodes this year.

What show has been getting you through 2021? Let us know in the comments.

#10: “Pose” - Season 3

Bowing out after three seasons, “Pose” made the most of its final eight episodes. The farewell season delivered no shortage of uplifting moments, complete with weddings, reconciliations, and little victories that made all the difference. Of course, some goodbyes were more devastating than others, which is to be expected given the era and subject matter. The heartbreaking moments all feel earned and every character arc is wrapped up in a dramatically satisfying fashion. Each performer got their moment to shine with Billy Porter and MJ Rodriguez both scoring Emmy nominations. Rodriguez’s nomination proved especially historic, being the first transgender woman to get into the lead acting field. The creators have left House of Evangelista on a beautiful note, although we’d love an Elektra spinoff.

#9: “It’s a Sin” (2021)

Many shows have dealt with the rise of HIV and AIDS, but few have been as effective as this miniseries. This is largely thanks to the charming central characters, who all win us over within a matter of minutes. We would’ve gladly followed this lively group over the course of several seasons, which makes it all the more gut-wrenching when one of them dies. Although the cast includes established stars like Neil Patrick Harris, the series belongs to up-and-comers such as Olly Alexander, Lydia West, and Callum Scott Howells. Spanning a decade, “It’s a Sin” doesn’t shy away from the ignorance and suffering that plagued this epidemic. At its core, though, this inspiring series is about the dedicated friendships that helped a community to endure.

#8: “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” - Season 2

Whether you label it as “cringe comedy” or “surreal comedy,” there isn’t another sketch series quite like “I Think You Should Leave.” The show deals with the issues we’re all familiar with. You know, like trying to sneak a hotdog into a meeting, dealing with a foul-mouthed guest on a ghost tour, and “giving” to a fake website for urine drop pants. In all seriousness, we don’t know where Tim Robinson and company come up with this stuff. All we know is that we can’t stop laughing. All six episodes of Season 2 feature at least one sketch that’ll have you rewinding to watch it again. The short runtime only adds to the rewatchability, but we want to see “Detective Crashmore” in its entirety.

#7: “Hacks” - Season 1

For over forty years, Jean Smart has been delivering strong comedic and dramatic performances across multiple mediums. Time will only tell if “Hacks” will go down as her career-defining work, but she was born to play Deborah Vance. With echoes of Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller, and others, Deborah is a legendary comedian who still never quite got her due. “Hacks” follows Deborah as she faces the challenges of being a woman in comedy, staying relevant after decades in the game, and being funny. She does so with the unlikely assistance of a young writer named Ava, played by Hannah Einbinder in a breakout performance. Their dynamic provides insight into how comedy has changed, how it’s remained the same, and how it can continue to mature.

#6: “Cobra Kai” - Season 3

Making the leap from YouTube Premium to Netflix, more audiences were able to catch up with “Cobra Kai” in time for its third season. “The Karate Kid” sequel series continued to deliver its unique mix of teen drama, self-aware comedy, and expertly choreographed martial arts. While longtime fans will appreciate the callbacks to “The Karate Kid II” and the Terry Silver tease, “Cobra Kai” works as a standalone entity for newcomers. This series is all about finding balance, be it between nature vs. nurture, nostalgia vs. new ideas, or mercy vs. no mercy. Sometimes it takes two polar opposites to build a bridge to something better, which is precisely what makes the rivalry between Daniel and Johnny so compelling and unpredictable.

#5: “Loki” - Season 1

Channeling the offbeat style of Terry Gilliam, the thrills of David Fincher, and the bizarre world-building of “Rick and Morty,” “Loki” is a Marvel outing unlike any other. The series continues to evolve Loki as a character while taking the MCU to bold new places. We’re not just talking about the multiverse. Thematically, “Loki” is a more complex series than some might’ve anticipated, particularly when it comes to free will vs. fate. Season One is full of surprises, but it should come as no shock that Tom Hiddlestone once again shines as the god of mischief. Owen Wilson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw turn in some of his best work, but the star-making turns come from Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie and Alligator Loki as Alligator Loki.

#4: “Mare of Easttown” (2021)

Going through her filmography, you’d be hard-pressed to find a performance from Kate Winslet that’s not - at the very least - great. Mare Sheehan ranks among her most transformative performances to date. Winslet even went as far as to compare this miniseries’ popularity to her “Titanic” days. For several weeks, the show’s overarching murder mystery drew in more and more viewers. Mystery aside, “Mare of Easttown” also works as a family drama and character study. Winslet can’t take all the credit either, as the show delivers equally riveting supporting performances from Julianne Nicholson, Evan Peters, and Jean Smart, who’s really been on a roll lately. While we wouldn’t say no to a second season, the finale was a harrowing yet hopeful way to close this case.

#3: “Invincible” - Season 1

2021 is far from over, but we’re willing to wager that “Invincible” has given us the meme of the year. This adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic series touches upon concepts we’ve seen before: an adult superhero series with a satirical edge, a teen developing extraordinary powers, an evil Superman-esque figure. Yet, “Invincible” never comes off as overly familiar, which is a testament to the writing and performances. The series tosses as many curveballs as it throws punches. Even when you see a twist coming, it’s far more brutal than you could’ve imagined and there’s always something more shocking on the horizon. The hard-hitting moments are balanced by character-based humor and an animation style that’ll take you back to the early days of Saturday morning cartoons.

#2: “The Underground Railroad” (2021)

If you haven’t read Colson Whitehead’s alternate history novel, this limited series might not be exactly what you expect. “The Underground Railroad” catches audiences off guard with its elements of fantasy, but that doesn’t mean it sugarcoats the harsh reality of slavery. That said, we wouldn’t recommend watching the series in one sitting. The experience can be so emotionally draining that you’ll likely need to collect yourself after each episode. Those who can handle the painful moments, though, will be consistently captivated by Barry Jenkins’ masterful direction and a stellar ensemble, most notably Thuso Mbedu as Cora. While we won’t say if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, getting to the final destination will leave the audience with a sense of relief.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” - Season 4
After Being Stuck in Gilead For So Long, This Emmy-Winning Drama Is Breaking Free

“Mythic Quest” - Season 2
Quite Possibly the Most Underrated Comedy on Television

“Girls5Eva” - Season 1
The Main Reason You Should Give Peacock a Chance

“In Treatment” - Season 4
Further Proof That Uzo Aduba Can Do No Wrong

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” - Season 13
We’re Still Crying Over the Chi Chi DeVayne Tribute

#1: “WandaVision” (2021)

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” offered the fun that we’ve come to expect from the MCU, but “WandaVision” broke new ground and the fourth wall. For weeks, you couldn’t go on social media without coming across theories, recaps, and in-jokes regarding this ambitious miniseries. Although the mystery hooked us in, the sitcom homages, layered performances, and commentary on grief made “WandaVision” a landmark show for Disney+. Even if you never jumped on the Marvel bandwagon, this isn’t merely a show for superhero fans. It’s a love letter to television, whether you grew up in the early 2000s, 90s, or the black and white era. “WandaVision” juggles all of these tones while remaining faithful to its MCU roots. Also, we’re still singing “Agatha All Along.”