TV’s Best in 2021
And my picks for the SAG Awards
As my 4-month membership to the SAG Awards nominating committee comes to a close, all I can say is, “Thank God!” I tried to take my duties seriously. Watch as much as I could. Make notes. Keep an open mind. SAG provides us with every possible tool to see the over 400 entries that go into For Your Consideration. Frankly, my eyes and my butt are exhausted.
Current TV better than sleeping pills
Scheduled for broadcast February 27, 2022, the SAG awards themselves are in danger of being postponed due to the ongoing rise in cases from the Omicron variant. The Critics Choice and Grammys have already announced rescheduling of their events causing a massive altering of Botox injections. As a result, LA’s plastic surgeons are not the current busy gurus they’re used to being during this time of year. Instead, that position is still held by the local CVS pharmacist.
Favorite new show
I’m a huge sports fan. All sports. Tearing myself away from “the game” to watch some boring pilot for consideration has been challenging. I’ve found some exceptions. Abbott Elementary, a new show on ABC about teachers, is hilarious and well-written. Having only aired 2 episodes, it won’t be up for nominations this season, but, I expect success next year if they continue going this strong. Great casting. Abbott Elementary trailer.
A Sure Thing
I took a survey and asked around 50 people to name their favorite TV shows of 2021. Hands down Succession, the HBO/Max drama loosely based on the Rupert Murdoch family dynasty, the overwhelming favorite. Brian Cox heads an all-star cast that has produced the most explosive third season of on-the-edge-of-your-seat television I’ve seen in years. Look for them to be the Belle of the Ball in all categories this year. A can’t miss. Available for streaming on HBO/Max. Succession trailer
In July, I wrote the blog, Watchable Television in 2021-So far. In it, I wrote about my affinity for the HBO/Max comedy, Hacks, starring Emmy winner Jean Smart, who, I predict will also win the SAG Award. Smart, a classically trained actress and graduate of the University of Washington, is at the top of her game. Hacks trailer. I also promoted the Jason Sudekis starrer and my favorite show of 2021, Ted Lasso (available at Apple TV+). Top picks on the survey, I also predict Jason will win the SAG (already an Emmy winner) and the show will win Best Comedy. Ted Lasso trailer. 2 guarantees.
The Other two is a new discovery for me. A delightful one at that. First on Comedy Central and now HBO/Max, this comedy about a Justin Bieber-like YouTube sensation and the effects on his family, is hilarious and well-crafted. Written by 2 former Saturday Night Live staffers, actress Molly Shannon shines as the Kris Jenner-like mother. The Other two trailer.
Going out in style
A perennial awards season bridesmaid with 8 nominations and only 1 win (best editing last year), Insecure, in its fifth and final season on HBO/Max, may finally score. Only mentioned 62% of the time in my survey, its popularity lies firmly in the BiPOC community. Creator and star Issa Rae, one of my picks in Black Women Dominance-It’s here, finishes her run in style, putting South Central Los Angeles on the map as a central character throughout her enormously successful run. Insecure the end trailer.
Now streaming its second season on Netflix, Gentefied, a show about a Latinx family in Boyle Heights, excels in the heart-warming department. Scoring less than 10% on my survey means that I need to write about it more to spread the word. The first season centering around gentrification, the characters lives are more expanded in the second as they search for joy and success in the midst of uncertainty. A topical theme. The casting is top notch. Gentefied trailer.
Like Fine Wine
I’m so glad I found this show. Another low scorer on my survey (less than 5%), this Ava DuVernay production, in its sixth season, has hit full-stride. Tackling subjects like police harassment, political ambition and fraught family and intimate relationships, it’s also handled dealing with the current Covid-19 situation better than any I’ve seen on TV. Available on the OWN network and Hulu. An absorbing family drama. Well worth it. Queen Sugar season 6 trailer.
Oscar and Emmy winner Kevin Costner (“hmm, he looks familiar”) heads up Paramount Plus biggest hit since their inception. Yet another family drama, this un-woke western-style show is engaging and class A. The cinematography is unmatched for television. Set against a Montana backdrop, although mostly filmed in Utah, Mr. Costner is certain to garner many nominations this season and well deserved. It scored well over 75%.Yellowstone trailer.
When surveying “favorite reality show”, there was no clear winner. The Real Housewives, America’s Got Talent and Survivor were the most often mentioned ( yuck!), although all three tied with only 2 votes each. I decided to again promote Netflix’ High on the Hog, the delicious culinary journey on African-American cuisine impacting food around the world. The most talked about when released in May 2021. Netflix has ordered a second season and I am here for it. Brilliant show. high on the hog trailer.
Coming of Age
Just when you thought another show about teenage horniness would exhaust itself of stories to tell, Netflix Sex Education is here to stay and impress. I’ve loved the show since the beginning. The ultra-talented Gillian Anderson sets an amazing tone in this the third season. As a result, new characters keep getting introduced, breathing new life into this John Hughes-like throwback. Sex education trailer.
Other shows worth mentioning include:
Cobra Kai (Netflix) Cobra Kai trailer
Pen15 (Hulu) Pen15 trailer
Colin in Black and White (Netflix) Colin trailer
The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video) Underground trailer.
Squid Game (Netflix) Squid Game trailer
Voting closes January 9, so, if you, my reader, have any suggestions, I would appreciate your putting it in the comments. There was no way I could watch everything, there’s too much and most is too boring. My preference has always been reruns of old shows, like, I Love Lucy, The Golden Girls and Roseanne (pre-crazy). I’ll do movies soon as the nominations come out as then union members will get access to the films. I saw West Side Story (Brilliant) in the theatre a while back and have no desire to return any time soon. The older I get, the more I lose trust in humankind. Or, humans being kind. Digesting my entertainment in the same position as my food, on the couch at home, is fine with me. I have hope for change, but, until it’s palpable, move over and pass the popcorn. Or, rather, Bomb Caramel Corn and March Madness and #stopasianhate
Any TV favorites in 2021?
Great reading Birt as always. May I suggest “Snowfall”!!!!!
Snowfall! What a great suggestion. Thanks Mac!👍🏾
Oh thank you so much Chris for this blog. I’m TV-unaware since streaming movies is so accessible. I’ve already gone through anything of joy or intelligence so I am truly grateful for the suggestions. But what..no popcorn recipe!:)
The Bomb Caramel corn recipe is right there for you to enjoy. Thanks Miche!