The Best TV Episodes of 2021

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CREDIT: HBO

I probably watched somewhere between 1000 and 2000 episodes of TV in the past year. I don’t keep track of this information too specifically, so it’s hard to say for sure, but going by an estimate of at least 3 episodes per day, it must be somewhere within that range (if not higher). Anyway, these are the episodes out of that bunch that made enough of an impression on me to make me go, “Yeah, they nailed it.”

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The 77 Best TV Shows of 2021

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Screenshot, Netflix, Screenshot, Screenshot

For the Year of Our Screens 2021, my list includes all the shows that I would recommend to my fellow viewers as “worth watching.” So that’s 77 shows! There’s a lot of TV nowadays, and a lot of it’s also pretty good.

I utilized a self-imposed rule in which I had to watch at least 50% of a show’s 2021 output for it to be eligible. However, there were some noteworthy shows that I watched less than 50% of, so I’ve spotlighted those in an honorable mention section:

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 1/21/22

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Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock (CREDIT: Apple TV+)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock Series Premiere (January 21 on Apple TV+)
American Dad! Season 19 Premiere (January 24 on TBS)
Astrid & Lilly Save the World Series Premiere (January 26 on Syfy) – This looks a little kooky, but I’m gonna give it a shot.
Resident Alien Season 2 Premiere (January 26 on Syfy) – One of the best new shows of 2021 is back!
grown-ish Season 4 Part 2 Premiere (January 27 on Freeform)

Music
-Aurora, The Gods We Can Touch – I’ve become interested in this Norwegian singer after she teamed up with the Chemical Brothers.
-Years & Years, Night Call

Jmunney’s 2021 Emmy Wish List, Part 1: Comedy

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot

It’s that time again! The 2021 Emmy nominations will be announced on July 13, which means I’ve got a Wish List for the nommy noms I’d most like to see! In case you’re wondering, I haven’t held myself to any minimum or maximum number of entrants per category, nor do I strictly adhere to official Emmy rules. (I’ve included explanations for my deviations.) And of course, I must mention that I haven’t seen everything, so there are probably some worthy considerations I may have missed. First up: Comedy and Animation.

Almost every single one of my Comedy Series preferences from last year is not eligible this year, whether because of series finales or longer-than-average breaks in between successive seasons. Luckily we have a plethora of streaming services to fill the gaps, and plenty of them are represented here. We’ve got Hulu! We’ve got Peacock! We’ve got Apple TV+! We’ve even got that dang HBO Max. There’s also some room for basic cable in the form of Syfy’s Resident Alien. And it looks like for the first time since I’ve been making Emmy Wish Lists, there is no broadcast network series making my cut (although one of my choices began as an NBC show and another is a reboot of an NBC show).

In the acting categories, it’s an absolute embarrassment of riches in the Lead Actress category, with every one of the ladies I’ve selected giving the performances they were born to play. That’s also true of Alan Tudyk, who’s my easy winner in the Lead Actor field. (He’s an alien … pretending to be a human! Can you imagine?!) Over in Supporting, it’s a mix of newbies and usual suspects, with plenty of sitcoms really making full use of their deep ensembles these days.

KEY:
Bold=My winner
*=I have placed this nominee in a different category than the Emmy ballot.

Comedy Series
A.P. Bio
Dickinson
Pen15
Resident Alien
Saved by the Bell
Search Party

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 4/16/21

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Big Shot (CREDIT: Disney Plus/YouTube Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
Big Shot Series Premiere (April 16 on Disney+) – John Stamos coaches girls basketball.
American Dad! Season 18 Premiere (April 19 on TBS)
Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World (April 22 on PBS)
-36th Independent Spirit Awards (April 22 on IFC) – Hosted by funny lady Melissa Villaseñor!

Music
-Greta Van Fleet, The Battle at Garden’s Gate
-The Offspring, Let the Bad Times Roll

The Best TV Episodes of 2020

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(CREDIT: FX/YouTube Screenshot)

When making Best Episode lists, some TV critics limit themselves to one entry per show, but I never operate by that self-imposition, as certain shows are just masterful when crafting a single hour or half-hour (or whatever runtime they feel like using), and that ought to be reflected in the ledger. So you’ll find that several shows have wound up more than once in this list, and those tended to be the ones that also fared the best on my Best Shows of 2020 list. You’ll also find at least one program that didn’t make my Best Shows list, as it’s possible to have one excellent outing within an otherwise disappointing season. So forthwith, if someone who missed all TV in 2020 asked me for a refresher, here is where I would direct them:

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The 67 Best TV Shows of 2020

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Clockwise from Top Left: What We Do in the Shadows, Never Have I Ever, Better Call Saul, How To with John Wilson (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots)

Last year, I decided to rank as many TV shows as I felt like recognizing in my year-end list, and that worked out so well that I decided to do it again for 2020. So welcome to my ranking of the 67 Best TV Shows of 2020! Not every show is accompanied by a blurb, just the ones that I felt like I really needed to say something about.

I worked with a self-imposed rule that I had to have watched at least 50% of a show’s 2020 output for it to be eligible, but there were some shows that I’ve only just begun to watch that I wanted to recognize as well, so they’ve got their own Honorable Mention section. And there were also some shows that aired relatively few episodes in 2020 to the point that I didn’t think they should be eligible either, so they’ve also got an Honorable Mention section. And then there’s one more show that’s managed to establish its very own Honorable Mention section, and that’s where we start.

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Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 12/18/20

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Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (December 18 on Netflix) – Viola Davis plays the title role alongside Chadwick in his final role.

TV
American Dad! Holiday Episode (December 21 on TBS)
Jeopardy!: “Around the World with Alex” (December 21-January 1, check local listings) – 2 weeks of classic episodes of Alex presenting clues from across the globe.

Music
-Paul McCartney, McCartney III – Macca making more music.
-Taylor Swift, Evermore – This came out last week. Taylor keeps sneaking up on us with surprise releases.

Music Documentary
Excuse Me, I Love You (December 21 on Netflix) – Ariana Grande in concert, hurray!

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/11/20

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Archer Season 11 (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
Jeopardy! Season 37 Premiere (September 14, check local listings)
American Dad! 300th Episode (September 14 on TBS)
The Drew Barrymore Show Series Premiere – Everybody loves Drew!
Archer Season 11 Premiere (September 16 on FXX) – Returning to the core premise after several seasons afield.
-Creative Arts Emmys Days 1-4 (Streaming September 14-17 on Emmys.com)

Music
-The Flaming Lips, American Head

 

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 4/10/20

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CREDIT: FX/YouTube Screenshot

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

TV
SNL at Home (April 11 on NBC) – A remotely produced new episode of Saturday Night Live.
Insecure Season 4 Premiere (April 12 on HBO)
Killing Eve Season 3 Premiere (April on AMC and BBC America)
-NBA HORSE Challenge (April 12 on ESPN)
American Dad! Season 17 Premiere (April 13 on TBS) – Still one of the most consistent shows on the air!
Mrs. America Series Premiere (April 15 on Hulu) – Starring Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 Premiere (April 15 on FX)

Music
-The Strokes, The New Abnormal

Podcasts
A couple of great-so-far podcasts have recently launched:
The Darkest TimelineCommunity co-stars Joel McHale and Ken Jeong answer your questions.
Oh, Hello: the P’dcast – Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland have discovered a new medium in which to deliver their tuna.

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