Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Best TV of 2021

December 30th, 2021

It’s never occurred to me write a list of my favourite TV before. But I do watch more TV than is good for me and I’ve looked at loads of other lists and they’re all wrong. So, I’ve got a bit of time on my hands and a need to organise things into lists.

Looking back on the last year I think the main thing that has struck me is quite how bad UK TV has become. The quality of drama writing has been a challenge for many years but 2021 has been a year where the UK has struggled to make anything of note.

Also a thing I’ve noticed about other lists is that they have tended to ignore series that have just finished. I assume this is linked to media deadlines. But it means that many of the really good series of 2021 have not appeared in many “best of” lists.

And in reverse order this is 2021:

Sweet Tooth (Netflix) Sweet Tooth appeared on Netflix back in June and joined the long list of post apocalypse series that seem to be endemic this year. I’m surprised that this is my only Netflix series of 2021. The quantity of Netflix content is largely overwhelming but, on the whole, also pretty good quality. But clearly not quite good enough for my list. Sweet Tooth is an endearing story of what happens when a pandemic appears to lead to children being born as animal human hybrids. It’s based on a graphic novel and is fantastically colourful. My only gripe with it is that it ends on the most blatant pitch for a second season that I’ve seen in a while. Almost ending mid sentence.

Startstruck (BBC) Starstruck is the only series made by the BBC on my list for this year. Although the BBC have lost the ability to make drama they can still do comedy. Rose Matafeo wrote and stars in this story about a woman from New Zealand living in London. Which proves that writing about what you know often works. It’s on the iPlayer so give it a watch.

The Investigation (SVT) – The Investigation tells the story of the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall. It’s a really unusual series in that it tells the story of the case and the investigation without any real reference to the murderer. It’s really good to see something that doesn’t graphically exaggerate a crime but tells the story of the victim and the family. It also features many scenes of angry frogmen. I’ve no idea where you can watch this. I think I saw it on iPlayer months ago but having just looked I think they’ve only got the last episode now. Which isn’t much use.

Bosh (Amazon Prime) – This was the seventh and final season of Bosch. Amazon don’t make as much content as Netflix but there ae number of things they’ve made where their limitless money has helped quality to shine through. Bosch is probably the best police procedural in the last ten years and this final season was a great end. We’ll miss Titus Welliver’s understated lead. Back when this started he was a surprise pick for a lead, to me at least, but he has proven he can carry a series.

Only Murders in the Building (Hulu/Disney+) – Steve Martin’s Only Murders in the Building is an excellent comedy murder investigation about podcasts. It’s an all star cast with Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez and Sting. Sting playing himself and being surprisingly good at it. Originally on Hulu it’s available in the UK through Disney+. Disney has turned out to be the most consistent quality streaming platform this year. I’m surprised because it started off pretty badly. I think the addition of Starz has helped to dramatically increase the content beyond the stuff you’d expect from Disney.

Mr Inbetween (FX Australia)Mr Inbetween has been a massively underappreciated fixture of the last few years. Scott Ryan wrote and stars in this story of an Australian hitman who is also a really nice bloke. It’s got many ridiculously funny and extremely violent stories but at the heart of it it’s a man just getting on with the job of killing people. This was the final season and had an ending that was equally surprising and banal. I’ve no idea where you can watch this in the UK.

Landscapers (Sky)Landscapers appeared on Sky in the last couple of weeks and is an example of the sort of drama that the UK used to make. Darkly funny it tells the story of a couple murdered in Nottinghamshire in 1998, a crime that wasn’t discovered for a decade. It’s helped along by Olivier Colman and David Thewlis but it is the writing that makes it work. There are only four episodes. You could watch it in an afternoon.

Hacks (HBO Max)Hacks is easily the comedy series of the year. It’s no accident that it hoovered up Emmys. Telling the story of a disgraced comedy writer trying to write stand up for an established stand up legend. Everything about this works. It’s absurd and in places disgusting. Both Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder work amazingly well together creating a relationship that is compelling event though they are both horrible people. Again, I’ve no idea where you can watch this in the UK.

Swagger (Apple TV) – Apple TV have been a bit of a joke in terms of streaming TV. They seem to make TV by the numbers but never really making anything worth watching. With Swagger they have, at last, made something great. Made by the people who made Friday Night Lights (the greatest TV series ever made) Swagger follows a youth basketball team trying to win the nationals. The thing it does better than any other series is capture the mood of 2020. From the pandemic through to the public recognition of Black Lives Matter. I’ve not seen any other series that has deliberately embraced the last few years in the way Swagger has.

Dopesick (Hulu/Disney+) – I’m not really sure why this hasn’t got as much attention as it deserves but it has been the best series of 2021. Dopesick tells the story of the creation of Oxycontin and how Purdue Pharma used it to wreck communities. Michael Keaton being in it is an obvious big name, but this tells a complex story over many years and he only contributes to one part. Even though the story itself is complex the series tells it simply and more importantly entertainingly. It’s only eight episodes so pretty easy to watch quickly.

Well there you go. These are the series that I think you should have watched or make the effort to watch. They were the best of 2021.


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments (0)