The Top 10 TV Shows of 2021

HBO Max, Hulu, HBO

Runners-up: Disenchantment (Netflix); Mare of Easttown (HBO); WandaVision (Disney+); Y: The Last Man (FX on Hulu)

10. Invincible (Amazon Prime Video): Amazon’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley’s hyper-violent work effortlessly captures the thrill, hysteria, and suspense of a monthly superhero comic.

9. Loki (Disney+): Of Disney’s four live-action Marvel shows in 2021, Loki was the only one that didn’t end in an incomprehensible CGI fight or squander its source material. Loki had it all: time travel, an alligator in a crown, and the age-old question of whether it’s acceptable to court an alternate universe version of yourself. (It’s totally cool.) What more could you want?

8. Lupin (Netflix): The first two seasons of French crime thriller Lupin premiered in 2021. The titular character, portrayed by Omar Sy, is inspired by French literary icon and master thief Arsène Lupin. Sy’s modern Lupin uncovers corruption and steals from the rich while outwitting his foes and looking suave doing it.

7. Reservation Dogs (FX on Hulu): FX’s new Indian reservation-based comedy is still finding its footing. It’s raw and offbeat, but the whimsical ensemble cast has already produced a handful of unforgettable episodes.

6. I Think You Should Leave (Netflix): The second season of Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave doesn’t reach the heights of the first, but it remains exceptionally funny. Season two added unexpected emotional depth in sketches tinged with melancholy and existentialism.

5. Maid (Netflix): Almost every second of Maid’s 10-hour runtime is miserable; a single mother (Margaret Qualley) fights the cycle of abuse, poor mental health care, and unrelenting poverty. Even in one of the most liberal states in the country, the systems designed to help her fail at every turn. Maid is an impassioned plea to do better.

4. Only Murders in the Building (Hulu): As Saeed Jones succinctly put it, “Only Murders in the Building is **************MY************** Ted Lasso.”

3. Hacks (HBO Max): Famous comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and failed TV writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) are forced together to resuscitate Deborah’s Las Vegas residency. The pair trade barbs about wealth, the generational divide, and sexuality as they slowly learn to trust the other’s comedic instincts. The more things change, the more they stay the same for women in comedy.

2. Succession (HBO): Even in its weakest season to date, Succession continues building its case as one of the best TV shows of all time.

1. The White Lotus (HBO): Creator, director, and showrunner Mike White covered colonialism, performative liberalism, and the immorality of wealth in just six episodes. He also allowed us to escape to Hawaii in the middle of the pandemic. White wrote The White Lotus without a writers’ room. It’s one of the year’s standout creative accomplishments.