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 8/27/21

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A.P. Bio (CREDIT: Peacock/Screenshot)

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

Movies
Candyman (Theaters)
He’s All That (August 27 on Netflix) – I’ve actually never seen She’s All That! (Do I have to have my 90s Kid Citizenship revoked?)

TV
PEN15 Animated Special (August 27 on Hulu)
Only Murders in the Building (August 31 on Hulu) – Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez together at last!
Dug Days (September 1 on Disney+) – Shorts with Dug the Dog.
A.P. Bio Season 4 (September 2 on Peacock) – With Bruce Campbell as Jack’s dad!
What We Do in the Shadows Season 3 Premiere (September 2 on FX)

Music
-Chvrches, Screen Violence

Sports
-Little League World Series Championship (August 29 on ABC)
-2021 US Open (August 30-September 12 on ESPN and ESPN2) – Tennis in New York, baby!

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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That’s Auntertainment! Episode 19: What We Do in the Shadows

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What We Do in the Shadows (CREDIT: John P. Johnson/FX Networks)

Jeff and Aunt Beth have developed a taste for blood recently, so they decided to become friends with the vampire roommates of the mockumentary media franchise What We Do in the Shadows. Guest Patrick Cotnoir (The George Lucas Talk Show) joins them to bite into it all.

 

Jmunney’s 2020 Emmy Wish List, Part 2: Comedy

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

The 2020 Emmy nominations will be announced on July 28. As per annual tradition, I have assembled a Wish List for as many categories as I have something to say about. There is no minimum or maximum number per category, nor is there any strict adherence to official Emmy rules. And of course, there is the necessary caveat that I have not seen everything. Even with much of the country shut down for the past few months, that’s impossible.

Yesterday I kicked off my Emmy Wish List coverage with plenty of Drama. Today it’s time to laugh along with the Comedies, and boy, what a year for laughter it was! At the top of my list are those wacky vampires (Vacky vampires? Wacky wampires? Vacky wampires?) of What We Do in the Shadows, which in its second season staked itself permanently in my heart. It’s my winner for Comedy Series and all but one of the acting categories. Too bad it doesn’t have a Supporting Actress, otherwise it would’ve been a clean sweep.

Matt Berry is at the top of the Lead Actor heap thanks almost entirely to the Jackie Dayton episode (which ought to also earn Mark Hamill a Guest Actor trophy). Meanwhile, Mark Proksch slays the Supporting Actor Field thanks to Colin Robinson taking full advantage of his promotion. And Natasia Demetriou is the #1 Lead Actress because Nadja is awesome in every episode.

As for the Supporting ladies, I’ve got a little bit of everything, and ultimately it just felt right to go with the representative of the oldest show on my ballot as the winner.

Some other notables: Never Have I Ever and mixed-ish make the strongest showings of freshman series, Sex Education switches its category placement from Drama to Comedy (and remains worthy of praise), and I’m currently only on Season 2 of Schitt’s Creek, but I’m sure it’s just as good in its final season.

KEY:
Bold=My winner
!( )!=I haven’t caught up to the current season of this show, but I still wanted to recognize it.

Comedy Series
Atypical
Baskets
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Mixed-ish
Never Have I Ever
Sex Education
!(Schitt’s Creek)!
What We Do in the Shadows

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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.

The 53 Best TV Shows of 2019

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Amazon; Disney; Pamela Littky/FOX; Rhys Thomas/IFC

Under the known laws of physics, it is currently impossible to watch every TV show (or even just every good show) airing new episodes in a given year. But for those of us who treat televisual consumption as a transcendent pursuit, we do our best to fit in as many programs as possible, which means that there are more than ten or even twenty shows worth recognizing in an annual best-of list. So this year, I decided to rank as many shows as I thought were worthy of recognition and provide blurbs for the ones where I really needed to say something.

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Jmunney’s 2019 Emmy Wish List, Part 1: Comedy

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CREDIT: Scott Patrick Green/Netflix

The 2019 Emmy nominations will be announced on July 16, and as that annual occasion approaches, I typically put together my own list of which shows and performers I would like to see recognized. But I’ve had some mixed feelings about that this year, as I’ve grappled with the fact that in the era of Peak TV, it becomes more and more impossible to capture all my favorites in one place. Ultimately I decided I wouldn’t be too formal or too precious about it. If there are ten shows I really want to see nominated, then I’ll list ten on my wish list. But if there are just two I really like in another category, then I’ll just list two.

I’m kicking things off today with Comedy. Before I get to my selections, I’ve got some thoughts to share, mainly about the new entrants. Among freshman shows, The Other Two mixed affecting family dynamics with the silliness of fame, while What We Do in the Shadows was just so wonderfully goofy. But it’s a couple of sadly cancelled high school-set sophomore shows that have my most love: Netflix’s poopy mockumentary American Vandal and NBC’s sharp and lovable A.P. Bio.

Among the actors, Young Sheldon‘s ensemble has really been a welcome part of my weekly life, and with that in mind, it’s been a while since either the Academy or I have recognized Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory, and you know what? I’m going to recognize him for his final year. Among names that you may not recognize (yet), let’s all keep in mind What We Do in the Shadows‘ Kayvan Novak for our future comedy endeavors.

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. My top choices are in bold.

Outstanding Comedy
American Vandal
A.P. Bio
Barry
GLOW
The Goldbergs
The Good Place
Jane the Virgin
The Last O.G.
The Other Two
Speechless
What We Do in the Shadows

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