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    The Best TV Shows We Watched In 2021

    This year we treated ourselves to a cursed Pineapple Suite, nine hours of Beatles footage, pandemic anxiety, and Kate Winslet's Philly accent.

    We hope you love the shows and movies we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of revenue or other compensation from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI: Platform, prices, and other availability details are accurate as of time of posting.

    1. Baking It

    Utopia / Courtesy Everett Collection
    Utopia / Courtesy Everett Collection

    From the oversaturated sea of baking (and cooking) shows rises one program to rule them all: Baking it. Produced by Amy Poehler of Making It (among other things), Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg host this holiday spin-off that perfectly blends all the best aspects of the cooking show genre and adds its own magical twists. Eight pairs of home bakers hop on over to a winter wonderland-type cabin to compete in the art of festive culinary traditions for the approval of four real-life grandmothers who do not hold back their opinions — oh, and $50,000. There’s beautiful decorations, hilarious musical breaks, and plenty of heartwarming (and hunger-inducing) moments to go around. If you’re looking for your next comfort cooking show, Baking it is it. —Danica Creahan 

    Watch it on Peacock for free. 

    2. The Beatles: Get Back

    Walt Disney Studios

    The Beatles broke up over a half-century ago, so why is a nine-hour docu-series about one of their least-loved albums one of the most beloved pieces of pop culture from the last year? It’s partially because the Beatles remain one of the more interesting and influential artists of the last century but it’s also because this feels like one of the most honest and unfiltered looks at a band as they are simultaneously at the height of their powers and clearly reaching the end. For every moment of triumph, there’s a moment of frustration between the band members. And rather than play into the narratives we’ve all been told about the Beatles’ breakup, director Peter Jackson is more interested in busting the myths and showing Paul, John, George, and Ringo as talented but flawed individuals who managed to make fantastic music until the very end. —Blake Harper

    Watch it on Disney+.

    3. Big Mouth (Season 5)

    BIG MOUTH, from left: Missy Foreman-Greenwald (voice: Ayo Edebiri), Nick Birch (voice: Nick Kroll), Walter (voice: Brandon Kyle Goodman), Rochelle (voice: Keke Palmer), (Season 5, ep. 507, aired Nov. 5, 2021
    Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Despite not quite living up to the brilliance of its past offerings, Season 5 of the Nick Kroll-led Big Mouth is still jam-packed with big laughs thanks to its dream team cast (featuring Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Ayo Edebiri, Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas, Fred Armisen, and Jordan Peele just to name a few!), sharp writing, and ingenious animation. Its unlikely balance of puerile gross-out humor with mature insight and emotional depth still holds strong as we continue to follow this cast of puberty-ridden pre-teens through their struggles with hormone monsters, shame wizards, and their newest affliction — love bugs and hate worms. But as always with Big Mouth, prepare for the unexpected: fourth wall breaks, a hilariously faithful recreation of The Contest episode of Seinfeld, everything that tumbles out of Coach Steve’s (Kroll) mouth, and a shocking moment involving Andrew (Mulaney) and a couch that no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot unsee. The voice-recording for this season was mostly done remotely due to the, uh, current circumstances we find ourselves in, but thankfully the distance is imperceptible onscreen. It feels like the gang’s back together again, and there’s definitely some comfort in that. —Jonathan Mazzei 

    Watch it on Netflix.

    4. Bo Burnham: Inside

    Courtesy of Netflix 2021

    As someone who has loved Bo since my middle school days watching the questionable "I'm Bo Yo", has watched Make Happy a dozen times, and listed his directorial debut Eighth Grade as my favorite film of 2018, I was in the tank for Burnham's latest Netflix special. That being said, I was still blown away at the quality, ingenuity, and vulnerability of this musical. Shot and created entirely in one room solely by Burnham during quarantine, it details his thoughts on his career, mental health, the pandemic, global warming, Jeff Bezos, Instagram, loneliness, and Aladdin halloween costumes. Watching it is a constant ping pong match of being punched in the gut by his rawness and being awed by the incredible technical feats he pulls off.  Also the songs are as catchy as hell. Bo Burnham was dangerously close to being my #1 artist of the year on Spotify Wrapped. —Matthew Huff

    Watch it on Netflix.

    5. Clickbait

    CLICKBAIT, from left: Betty Gabriel, Adrian Grenier, ‘The Wife', (Season 1, ep. 103, aired Aug. 25, 2021)
    Ben King / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Social media: a blessing and a curse. While it’s great to be able to see how people are doing, the land of cyberlife can also be a malicious place. All your online sins are easily accessible to anyone willing to look for it. When Nick Brewer (Adrian Grenier) is abducted, his case quickly becomes all the rage when his online conduct is placed on full display. His family is thrown into confusion and disbelief as more and more about Nick is revealed. This disbelief drives those closest to him to find out what really happened. But, the closer they get to Nick’s truth, the more their own is exposed. A whodunit of sorts, the series instantly grabs your attention with each episode unlocking a new piece of the puzzle that’ll have you convinced that you’ve figured out who's behind it all only to be proved that you know nothing, Jon Snow. —Kit Stone

    Watch it on Netflix

    6. Dickinson (Season 2 & 3)

    DICKINSON, from left: Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson, Jane Krakowski as Mrs. Dickinson, Split the Lark', (Season 2, ep. 206, aired Jan. 29, 2021)
    Apple TV+ / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Dickinson aired two seasons during 2021, which gives me just double the reasons to discuss how incredible this underrated series is. Created by Alena Smith, Dickinson has been able to re-write Emily's story for a modern-day audience. Between her romance with Sue to just the incredible use of music, the show excels on every single level. Hailee Steinfeld gave one of my favorite performances of the year in both seasons and it's a crime that she hasn't gotten more awards recognition for all she's accomplished in this show. Dickinson finished in 2021 with three pretty perfect seasons of TV that I hope people discover for years to come. —Nora Dominick

    Watch it on Apple TV+.

    7. Hacks

    Hannah Einbinder, Jean Smart in "Hacks"
    Anne Marie Fox / HBO Max

    A young comedy writer gets ~canceled~ after some old tweets resurface and is out of work. A tale as old as time. But when her manager pairs her with another one of his clients — an aging comedian struggling to remain relevant — then we're cooking with gas! Newcomer Hannah Einbinder stars as Ava alongside Jean Smart as comedy veteran Deborah Vance, and they're a perfect pair with the give-and-take and chemistry you'd expect from long-time comedy partners right off the bat in Season 1. Sharp writing, unexpected turns, and a shining supporting cast — personal favorites being Kaitlin Olson as Deborah's aimless daughter, Poppy Liu as her in-house blackjack dealer, and Megan Stalter as her manager's hapless assistant — make Hacks a fresh and exciting watch. I thought it was a good show, and then there was a scene in which Jean Smart changes a CO2 canister in her Las Vegas megamansion, and I knew it was a spectacular show. You'll see what I mean. —Rachel Dunkel

    Watch it on HBO Max

    8. Hawkeye

    HAWKEYE, from left: Jeremy Renner (as Hawkeye/Clint Barton), Hailee Steinfeld (as Kate Bishop), 'Hide and Seek', (Season 1, ep. 1002, aired Nov. 24, 2021)
    Chuck Zlotnick / Disney+/ Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Hawkeye answers the question my oldest sister often asks when watching an Avengers film, “Who is that?” This is the fourth Marvel mini-series and with each one, we get an opportunity to learn more about a character that has been overshadowed in the ensemble films. It’s some time after Endgame, where everyone who disappeared during the blip is back. Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is in New York enjoying a holiday vacation with his kids. Unfortunately, the retired Avenger is called to duty after superfan Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) finds his old Ronin suit which acts as a calling card for a gang of Clint’s old enemies — the Tracksuit Mafia.  The six-episode series is spent with Clint trying to resolve the situation in time to make it home for Christmas. It’s not only a dear, possible farewell to our sharp-shooting Avenger (and I say possible because naturally Marvel is cagey on the details), but a charming introduction to his successor. —Kit Stone

    Watch it on Disney+.

    9. I Think You Should Leave (Season 2)

    I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE with TIM ROBINSON, Season 2 - TIM ROBINSON in I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE with TIM ROBINSON, Season 2.
    Kevin Estrada / Netflix

    After the first season of I Think You Should Leave became an unexpected hit, there was a lot of pressure on Tim Robinson (who created and stars in the show) to meet expectations for the second season. Thankfully, he proved to be more than up to the task, as the highly absurd sketch show was every bit as funny in its latest season. Whether it’s a prank show host having an existential crisis in costume or a foul-mouthed loner ruining a haunted house tour by asking increasingly gross questions, Robinson remains the master of finding laughs in every situation. —Blake Harper

    Watch it on Netflix

    10. Made For Love

    Cristin Milioti, Ray Romano in "Made For Love"
    John P. Johnson / HBO Max

    At long last, Cristin Milioti is getting the attention she so rightfully deserves. The underrated actor who basically carried the final season of How I Met Your Mother on her back stars as Hazel, the wife of tech billionaire Byron, played by Billy Magnussen (Game Night, No Time To Die) in Made For Love. For the duration of their marriage, Byron has kept the pair inside a virtual reality paradise of his own making that can monitor everyone’s every move. But when he starts to sense some tension with Hazel alongside some concerns about his newest tech product, he determines the best course of action (naturally) is to, in Stepford wife-style, implant a chip into his wife's brain that will allow him to track her, see through her eyes, and study her emotional data. Hazel escapes from her VR prison (don't worry, it's really not a spoiler) and heads off to find her estranged father (Ray Romano) who has picked up some interesting romantic habits in the wake of his wife’s death. As Palm Springs taught us, nobody does trapped-in-some-scary-sci-fi-scenario quite like Milioti, and she definitely doesn't disappoint in this horrifyingly hilarious series, which (thankfully) is slated to see a Season 2. —Danica Creahan

    Watch it on HBO Max

    11. Mare of Easttown

    Kate Winslet in "Mare of Easttown"
    Michele K. Short / HBO

    Who among us didn’t watch Mare of Easttown, one of many of HBO Max’s must-watch weekly releases in 2021? Despite her many mistakes, it’s hard not to root for Mare, a detective in a small Pennsylvania town who finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery that quickly turns into a tangled web of friends, lovers, and, since everyone in this town in apparently family, cousins. Though thoroughly dark, I’d say this is one of the best in the long string of detective miniseries of its kind we’ve collectively become reliant on over the last five years or so, especially with Kate Winslet — sporting a most excellent Philly accent which is borderline hypnotic — at the helm and Julianne Nicholson absolutely killing it in the role of Mare’s best friend Lori. I didn’t think I needed another show of this genre in my life, but Mare of Easttown’s treatment of grief, both individual and collective, feels more thoughtful than its counterparts, in which a twist or reveal often takes precedence over pathos. It also turns out I *did* need a show in which a detective’s daughter is in a band whose “original music” is actually songs by real-life Philly-based band Mannequin Pussy. Come for the drama, stay for the MP singles constantly playing in the background. —Rachel Dunkel

    Watch it on HBO Max.

    12. McCartney 3, 2, 1

    MCCARTNEY 3, 2, 1, (aka MCCARTNEY 3,2,1), from left: Rick Rubin, Paul McCartney, (Season 1, aired July 16, 2021)
    Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

    What a year it’s been for Beatles devotees. Despite being potentially overshadowed by the revelation that is Peter Jackson’s Get Back, fans should not overlook this brilliantly intimate look into the Fab Four’s recording process courtesy of Paul McCartney himself and iconic producer Rick Rubin. Most of the miniseries takes place in a moodily-lit recording studio control room, with McCartney and Rubin hovering over the mixing desk, deconstructing an array of Beatles, Wings, and solo-era classics, playing back isolated tracks, and often kicking away their rolling chairs and leaping to their feet in excitement when something particularly magical comes bursting through the speakers. Both of them look like there’s nowhere they’d rather be in the world. Sometimes McCartney will move to an upright piano to talk Rubin through the thought process behind one of his compositions, his eyes gleaming with pride and wonder while Rubin — who has shared the studio with countless legends himself — looks like the happiest fan in the world. There are some old stories that Beatles obsessives have surely heard numerous times before, but they’re mixed with enough revelatory new details to make this essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in the work of one of music’s most influential living songwriters. I know this was a limited series, but personally, I’m fully prepared to campaign for a season two. —Jonathan Mazzei

    Watch it on Hulu

    13. Midnight Mass

    MIDNIGHT MASS, center: Zach Gilford, (Season 1, ep. 101, aired Sept. 24, 2021)
    Eike Schroter / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The less you know about this series before watching, the better you’ll enjoy it. So in an effort not to ruin the twists (for people who haven’t already looked it up) I’ll be a little vague. Four years after a fatal drunk driving accident, Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) returns home to Crockett Island, a rundown fishing community an hour away from the mainland. Around the same time, after their priest falls ill, Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) comes to “The Crock Pot” and with him comes miraculous healing and other mysteries that breathe new life into the dying town. From Hill House and Bly Manor’s Mike Flannigan, comes a horror story that illustrates how haunting unforgiveness can be. It’s a slow burn with the story barely unraveling at times. But, when those threads begin to pull and the twist arrives, you’ll be happy you stuck it out. —Kit Stone

    Watch it on Netflix

    14. Only Murders in the Building

    ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING, from left: Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez, ‘True Crime', (Season 1, ep. 101, aired Aug. 31, 2021)
    Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

    After a tenant is found dead in their building, Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) reluctantly team up to investigate after they begin to suspect it may be foul play. It’s no surprise that Martin and Short are a phenomenal duo who play off each other perfectly but what may surprise you is how effortlessly Gomez holds her own with these two comedy legends. And the show delicately walks the line between a loving send-up and sharp takedown of our cultural obsession with all things true crime, as the trio end up making their own podcast about their amateur sleuthing which causes them all sorts of problems. —Blake Harper

    Watch it on Hulu.

    15. The Other Two (Season 2)

    Molly Shannon, Ken Marino, Heléne Yorke , Drew Tarver in "The Other Two"
    Greg Endries / HBO Max

    If you've ever asked yourself "I wonder what Justin Bieber's older siblings are up to," then I've got a show for you (although Biebs doesn't actually have any older siblings). This comedy from former-SNL head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider follows the rise of ChaseDreams, an overnight YouTube sensation-turned-pop star, as he skyrockets to fame and drags his siblings along with him. While the first season saw aimless party girl Brooke (Helene Yorke) and GAY aspiring actor Cary (Drew Tarver) attempting to get their bearings in thew new landscape, Season 2 finds them scraping together their own successes (off their brother's coattails of course). Gut-bustingly funny and yet somehow slightly sweet, the show especially shines in its treatment of messy gay culture (something most shows with gay characters seem to avoid). Cary's romances, gay Instagram influencers, and of course douching all factor into the plots. And there is not enough praise in the world for our homosexual-loving queen Brooke, who knows the exact location of every bar in NYC. —Matthew Huff

    Watch it on HBO Max

    16. PEN15 (Season 2; Part 2)

    PEN15, from left: Anna Konkle, Maya Erskine, Runaway', (Season 2 (Part 2), ep. 214, aired Dec. 3, 2021)
    Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Sorry to be corny but I need to confess that while watching PEN15's latest and final season installment I found myself getting misty out of sheer GRATITUDE for the existence of this short-lived series, which, for the last three years, has functioned as a time capsule, documenting what life felt like for the millennial generation in the early aughts with poignant and, at times, alarming specificity. As I age (lol) and my fear of memory loss grows, it is a relief to know that I can turn back to this show — specifically its last season — which details things like spoiled kid bar mitzvah culture, "ugly shoes," pet hamsters, and 24-hour cancer walks better than I ever could. In less capable hands this show could have easily become a surface exploration of an overly-satirized generation with hacky punchlines mined from listicles (not BuzzFeed's, of course! ;) ) Instead, it remains, in my estimation, our best encapsulation of the teen '00s experience. I might be revealing more about myself than the show itself here, but I will bravely share that nearly ever episode in the latest run had me, at minimum sniffling, and at most — I'm thinking of one particular scene involving Maya (Maya Erskine), Sam (Taj Cross), and Rob Thomas's "Smooth," here — absolutely inconsolable. Farewell PEN15! (Never change! HAGS! HAKAS!, etc.) —Colin Gorenstein

    Watch it on Hulu

    17. The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

    "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City: Chilly Reception"
    Fred Hayes / Bravo

    I will begin by saying that I am not a Real Housewives head. Prior to this year, I'd never watched an episode. However, when the clip of housewife Jen Shah fleeing a ski shuttle pursued by the feds in the season premiere dropped, I thought the drama looked far too juicy to pass up. While the show's first season is a mini masterpiece of petty grievances in and of itself ("you smell like hospital"), the second, revolving around Shah's money laundering lawsuit, is the Sistine Chapel equivalent in reality TV. But the alleged Shah isn't the only interesting cast member. There's married-to-her-grandfather, designer clothes hoarder Mary Cosby. There's Whitney Rose's beauty line destined for bankruptcy. There's Lisa Barlow's unbridled self-adulation, Meredith Marks's monotoned mumbling, and Jennie Nguyen brazenly cursing just to get some airtime. And then of course there is my beloved soulmate Heather Gay, delicately poking bears, stirring up drama, and sipping on vodka waters while providing unparalleled commentary in her Givenchy blouse. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the whole show is set with the backdrop of Mormonism. Come for Jen. Stay for Heather. —Matthew Huff 

    Watch it on Peacock.

    18. Reservation Dogs

    RESERVATION DOGS, from left: Paulina Alexis, Devery Jacobs, D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Lane Factor, 'F*ckin' Rez Dogs', (Season 1, ep. 101, aired Aug. 9, 2021).
    Shane Brown / FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi's (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok) poignant, perspective-shifting comedy series follows four Indigenous teenagers, played by D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (Creeped Out), Devery Jacobs (American Gods), Paulina Alexis (Ghostbusters: Afterlife) and newcomer Lane Factor. They call their friend group the Reservation Dogs, and their mission is to escape their rural Oklahoma town and honor their late friend's dream of moving to California. To make the former fifth Reservation Dog’s dream come true, they embark on a life of thievery. But these Reservation Dogs first have to face some challenges to their crime-laden plans, including a rival gang and some pesky locals. This Critics Choice-nominated coming-of-age story, created by a team of predominantly Indigenous directors, writers, and actors, feels fresh and new in a way that will keep you guessing with your eyes glued to the screen. Reservation Dogs can induce many types of tears in the span of just a few moments, making it a must-watch (seriously watch this so it doesn't get canned, please). —Danica Creahan

    Watch it on Hulu.

    19. Scenes From a Marriage

    Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain in "Scenes From a Marriage"
    Jojo Whilden / HBO

    I certainly did not anticipate that I would be referencing Ingmar Bergman twice in 2021 year-end lists (the other being Bergman Island), but life is full of surprises. And for me, HBO's prestige-y limited series adapted from the 1973 Bergman classic, was one of them. While I largely found myself gravitating to earnest, feel-good material this year and running as fast as I could from anything that I expected would make me feel more burnt out than I already was, I made an exception for Scenes From a Marriage after reading about its set design and seeing Oscar Isaac's "viral fits" (listen, I also hate myself!). I am glad I did, because, even though it didn't, uh, put a pep in my step, it did give me my one big "aha, so this is acting!" moment in TV this year. And, If watching two classically trained Actors acting their heads off is your kind of thing you really can't do much better than this two-hander. On a more personal note, I just want to share that this was a big year of growth for me, as someone who has historically found Jessica Chastain to be, let's say, challenging as an actor. Here? I'm willing to wipe the slate clean and call this, without a doubt, one of the best performances of the year. —Colin Gorenstein

    Watch it on HBO Max

    20. Search Party (Season 4)

    John Reynolds, Jeff Goldblum, John Early, Meredith Hagner, Alia Shawkat in "Search Party"
    Jon Pack / Netflix

    There is no piece of art that does a better job of mercilessly mocking millennials than Search Party. While lesser shows and movies rely on hacky jokes about avocado toast and selfies, Search Party strikes at the heart of a generation defined by its vanity, anxiety, and lack of meaning or purpose. And at the heart of the show’s critique is Dory (Alia Shawkat), who spends most of the fourth season as a prisoner to her stalker-turned-kidnapper. Even as the show gets darker, it remains as goofy as ever, never passing up the opportunity to make a dumb joke. With the fifth and final season set to hit HBO Max in the first week of 2022, there’s just enough time for you to binge through all four seasons before January 7. —Blake Harper 

    Watch it on HBO Max.

    21. Squid Game

    SQUID GAME, from left: PARK Hae-soo , LEE Jung-jae, ‘Stick to the Team', (Season 1, ep. 104, aired in the US on Sept. 17, 2021).
    Noh Juhan / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Netflix’s most-watched series to date deserves every bit of the hype and acclaim it’s generated since first appearing on the streaming service in September. This South Korean parable makes powerful comments about capitalism, financial struggles, and class disparity through deeply engaging and immersive storytelling and filmmaking. Its vividly colored visual language and complex, openhearted characters make the moments of intensely visceral violence and despair even more resonant. And creator-writer-director-producer Hwang Dong-hyuk’s masterful vision is matched by top notch acting from the outstanding cast featuring Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, HoYeon Jung, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, and Kim Joo-ryoung — many of whom were already well-known in South Korea before Squid Game propelled them to international fame. Critics were quick to compare the show’s success to that of 2019’s Parasite, but aside from addressing similar themes and sharing composer Jung Jae-il (whose incredible Squid Game score also became instantly iconic), these are two vastly different works equally deserving of your attention. Hwang’s story follows a divorced father and indebted gambler (Lee) who encounters an opportunity to win a huge cash prize by playing a series of children’s games. But it’s only after he and hundreds of other cash strapped players begin playing that they realize the stakes of the games are far more dangerous than they expected.  If you have somehow managed to not watch this phenomenal series yet, you still have plenty of time to catch up before season two — which was presumably approved faster than you can say red light, green light. —Jonathan Mazzei

    Watch it on Netflix

    22. Starstruck

    Nikesh Patel, Rose Matafeo in "Starstruck"
    Mark Johnson / HBO Max

    I think I’ve read this fan-fiction before…Jessie (Rose Matafeo) is just an average New Zealander millennial living in London and juggling two jobs she doesn’t care for, until she has what’s intended to be a one-night stand with Tom (Nikesh Patel, Four Weddings and a Funeral), who turns out to be a very famous movie star. What unfolds is very much a Y/N insert-style fan-fiction plot, only our Y/N is Jessie, hilariously bold and charming, she defies every expectation you might have of the girl who unknowingly beds a big movie star. Jessie is well-rounded and ready to critique Tom any time his ego enters the chat, and despite Tom’s upfront nice guy facade, there’s definitely some ego to be found. If you’ve ever watched the Disney Channel original movie of the same name, and longed for a more realistic plot, better characters and cool accents, then Starstruck is the series for you. —Danica Creahan

    Watch it on HBO Max.

    23. Succession (Season 3)

    Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Brian Cox in "Succession"
    Graeme Hunter / HBO

    I saw their show, but dad's show was better. And by dad's show I mean Succession because let's be honest this is Logan Roy's (Brian Cox) show from beginning to end, and by "better" I mean "best" because there isn't a show on the air that's as good. After an incredible Emmy-gobbling second season (BOAR ON THE FLOOR), critics were ready for a Season 3 dip, but the show came back swinging harder than ever. Kendall (Jeremy Strong taking his role VERY SERIOUSLY) is trying to torpedo his father's reputation in the media. Shiv (Sarah Snook) is using feminism to earn a seat at the table, even if she's got to drag another woman out of it first. Roman (Kieran Culkin) is discussing penises with the entire cast. Oh, and Connor (Alan Ruck) is still running for president. The season chugs along reliably for the first half until the world's most chaotic shareholder meeting cuts the breaks, sending Waystar RoyCo. on an all gas, high octane, hot mess express that comes crashing down in a season finale. You'll sit for 10 minutes on your couch in stunned silence marveling over what you just witnessed and then start hounding the writers on Twitter for Season 4. —Matthew Huff

    Watch it on HBO Max

    24. Survivor (Season 41)

    Do or Die On the 11th Episode of Season 41, another big twist threatens to send someone home, and castaways must formulate a plan whether to vote out the big threat or keep playing the game with people they trust, on the CBS Original series SURVIVOR
    CBS Photo Archive / CBS via Getty Images

    As a fan who watched as a kid but largely caught up on the past 15 years of the show’s catalog during the pandemic, I was eager to watch Survivor as it aired for the first time since 2005. The season begins with the world’s greatest host Jeff Probst, rocking some longer quarantine hair, assuring us that Season 41 — the first without a subtitle since Season 1 — would be the most unique yet. And do you know what? He wasn’t wrong. The first episodes drag a bit, with constant gameplay replaced with cast members’ backstories inserted — a choice that hadn’t been made in the edit since Survivor’s early days. But this early work eventually pays off post-merge when the game picks up and you feel deeply connected to the players. While Season 41 could simply and cringe-fully be described as Survivor’s “woke” season, the new (or at least newly being shown to viewers) conversations the players are having about the intersection of strategy with things like race, gender, and sexuality are fruitful both for potentially educational viewing for anyone watching network television and for an added layer of strategy consideration. Survivor heads will tell you that what keeps the show great is the constant evolution of the game as players innovate, producers meddle, and politics shift, and I’m happy that they continue to change with the times, even if there are some growing pains along the way. “Come on in,” Season 42! —Rachel Dunkel

    Watch it on Paramount+.

    25. Ted Lasso (Season 2)

    TED LASSO, from left: Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, (Season 2, ep. 201, aired July 23, 2021).
    Apple TV+ / Courtesy Everett Collection

    It can be easy to dismiss earnestness as corny and in many cases, that criticism is fair. But Ted Lasso’s positive outlook on life is hard-earned by the difficult trials and tribulations he has endured. And that is why the show remains a phenomenon in its second season. Ted is not blind to the harsh realities of life or the shortcomings of his bright-eyed philosophy. In fact, much of the second season centered around the mustachioed coach confronting his repressed emotions and unwillingness to confront his disappointments, including his failed marriage and father’s suicide. This nuanced approach helped Ted Lasso, the man and the show, avoid a sophomore slump and make fans more excited than ever about the third and (reported) final season. —Blake Harper

    Watch it on Apple TV+.

    26. WandaVision

    WANDAVISION, from left: Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn, 'Previously On', (Season 1, ep. 108, aired Feb. 26, 2021)
    Disney+/ Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

    This was my personal favorite TV series of the year and I'm so glad it became one of the best Marvel moments of 2021. Elizabeth Olsen's work as Wanda broke my heart into a million pieces and it was so gratifying to see her finally take ownership of a character she has been playing for so many years. Alongside Elizabeth, Paul Bettany, and Kathryn Hahn are simply iconic as Vision and Agatha in this mini-series and I loved seeing their dynamics with each other onscreen. WandaVision proved you can do so much with the comic book genre and it even broke the mold by earning some much-deserved awards season love. I could talk about this show for hours. —Nora Dominick

    Watch it on Disney+.

    27. What We Do In The Shadows (Season 3)

    WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, Natasia Demetriou, ‘The Escape', (Season 3, ep. 306, aired Sept. 30, 2021).
    Russ Martin / FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Oftentimes, TV shows based on movies feel like little more than shameless and lazy cash grabs but What We Do in the Shadows is the rare adaptation that has managed to be every bit as successful as its inspiration. And in its third season, the series shows no signs of slowing down. While the writing and storytelling are among the best in all of TV, Shadows’ true strength lies in its insanely talented cast. Each of them are hysterical on their own but together, they form the funniest ensembles of the last decade. Seriously, just watch the episode where they head to Atlantic City and prepare to be amazed at some of the best comedic acting you will ever have the pleasure of seeing. —Blake Harper

    Watch it on Hulu

    28. The White Lotus

    Sydney Sweeney, Brittany O'Grady, Alexandra Daddario
    Mario Perez/HBO

    You won't find a bigger Mike White fan than me, so I'll be honest and say this was probably going to land a spot on my year-end list even if it turned out to be half the show that it is. But fortunately for all of us, it's a masterpiece, and unlike previous "hidden gems" like Enlightened, I barely need to convince anyone of it. This was not only, in my opinion, the TV event of the summer, but also set the tone for an ill-timed family vacation to Hawaii I embarked on mere weeks after the finale. (Full disclosure: There were no Palm Suites or Pineapple Suites on this trip, however my parents did often reference that suitcase shitting scene [IYKYK], so it was basically like we were in the show.) This Hawaii-set ensemble series is perfection from every angle — a meticulously observed indictment of white privilege and a showcase for some of the best comedic performances of the year. Jennifer Coolidge's instantly iconic Tanya McQuoid has received the most attention in these conversations, but depending on the day, I'd be able to argue for just about any single one of these ensemble actors as the strongest link. —Colin Gorenstein

    Watch it on HBO Max

    29. Yellowjackets

    YELLOWJACKETS, from left: Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, 'Heart-Shaped Black Box', (Season 1, ep. 102, aired Nov. 21, 2021)
    Kailey Schwerman / Showtime / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Don’t let anyone dismiss Yellowjackets by saying it’s just like The Lord of the Flies. No disrespect to 10th grade English teachers everywhere, but it's far superior. In one timeline, 1996, Yellowjackets tells the story of a high school girls’ soccer state champion team (their team name is Yellowjackets). While traveling to nationals on a private plane, the plane crashes, and they are stuck in the middle of the forest for what we know will be 19 months, presumably hundreds of miles away from civilization. In another timeline (present-day), the girls, now women, each receive a mysterious postcard with a symbol from their time in the woods. They begin to slowly and apprehensively reconnect. When one of the members dies by suicide, the symbol pattern is left on the ground below him. The women are convinced it wasn’t suicide and that someone is out to find out the truth about what really happened in the woods, something the public doesn’t know, and that the audience is only getting in pieces. Possibly cannibalism? Possibly killing each other? We know from the first minute that they don’t all make it out alive. But what the symbol means, who’s alive, and how that’s for us to find out. The series stars Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci, Tawny Cypress, and Ella Purnell. —Dana Elle Salzberg

    Watch it on Showtime.

    30. You (Season 3)

    YOU, Penn Badgley, (Season 3, ep. 301, aired Oct. 15, 2021)
    John P. Fleenor / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    By the time you get to the third season of a super hyped show like You — known for its smart and quick writing, intentionally campy and ridiculous, with a relatively similar formula each season — you expect it to start going downhill. And you would be wrong. After a seemingly unbeatably wild, exhilarating, you-couldn't-stop-thinking-about-it-for-days Season 2 almost two years ago, this loose cannon of a show somehow got...even better? The new season maintains its predecessors' deep-cut literature and pop culture references, satirical take on millennial culture, twists that have even the most seasoned of campy-murder-show watchers shrieking at their TVs, and, of course, the Penn Badgley of it all. But there are several new additions this season that take it to a new level. Like Marienne, the first actually likeable target of Joe's obsessions (RUN!!!). An extremely cathartic moment showing what we would all like to do to anti-vaxxers after the year we've had (Love, this time I get it). And, lastly, the masterful use of Taylor Swift and Bon Iver (when "Exile" was released, didn't we all immediately think "This would be a great soundtrack for Lonely Boy to cut his toes off to"?). You writers, you never gave a warning sign and I never learned to read your mind. (Also, we can't forget about Theo eating that fucking cupcake — nor would we want to.) —Katy Herman

    Watch it on Netflix