TL;DR: There’s a lot of good TV to watch! In 2021, I watched 44 shows. Here are some of my favorites.
I watch a lot of television. In 2021, I watched 353 hours of television across 44 shows. But I also have a bad memory. Which means if someone asks me what I’ve been enjoying, I’ll probably only think of whatever I’ve been watching in the past few weeks. So I recently started tracking what I watch so I can write these end-of-the-year posts with the shows I enjoyed the most. That makes it easier for me to share with others, but also helps me remember what I liked the best. So, in alphabetical order, here’s what I most enjoyed in 2021:
If you’re not familiar with the classic Asimov book series, the basic premise is that in the far future, a mathematician named Hari Selden predicts the fall of the Galactic Empire, and a 30,000 year dark age that follows. He creates the Foundation to preserve knowledge and shorten the dark age, but comes into conflict with the Emperor. The books actually take place over a span of 1000 years, and were widely considered to be unfilmable.
I’m happy to say that this adaptation is fantastic. Hari Selden is excellently played as an insufferable know-it-all by Jared Harris, and is well contrasted by Lou Llobell’s Gaal Dornick, who is constantly struggling to figure out if Hari knows what he’s talking about. Lee Pace has great fun chewing the scenery as several cloned versions of Emperor Cleon, and Leah Harvey plays Salvor Hardin, who gives a needed outsider’s view of events. Characters have been shifted around and some clever changes have been made so they can jump forward in time without having to come up with an entire new cast every season.
I hesitated to include any Marvel stuff in this list. You don’t need me to recommend Marvel movies and shows. You’re either already watching them, or you already avoid them. That said, if you like Marvel stuff and somehow missed Loki, you missed one of the best things Marvel has ever produced. In a nutshell, the Loki we know from the movies is dead. This series follows a “variant” of Loki, who is collected by the Time Variance Authority, who are in charge of maintaining the sacred timeline. Tom Hiddleston is finally given room to breathe and allow Loki to grow as a character, alongside Owen Wilson’s character Moebus, giving the entire show an odd couple vibe. I can’t say much without spoiling things, but they do some incredible things with this show, and it’s left me really excited for the eventual second season.
This is an excellent French show inspired by the Arsène Lupin stories, about a gentleman thief who outsmarts everyone around him in a Sherlock Holmes style. This series is set in the present day, and follows Assane Diop (played by the extremely likable Omar Sy), who has based his life around the Lupin novels his father gave him, and is seeking revenge for his father’s death. If you dug Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, you’ll enjoy this.
A Korean science fiction show about a group of astronauts sent to retrieve samples from an abandoned Lunar outpost. The mystery of what happened and why is delicious and I won’t spoil it at all, other than to say that I loved every minute of this.
Again, I hesitate to include this, because freaking everyone watched this during the early days of the pandemic, but if you somehow missed it, this show is a goddamn delight. It’s hopeful and inspiring and just nice, which is a weird word to choose for a show, but it’s great. The whole premise of a clueless American running a soccer team was something that Jason Sudeikis had been working on for awhile (starting in a series of TV commercials for NBC Sports!), and was deliberately steering against the rising tide of conflict in our culture. Here’s how Sudeikis described it in an interview:
It was the culture we were living in. I'm not terribly active online and it even affected me. Then you have Donald Trump coming down the escalator. I was like, “OK, this is silly,” and then what he unlocked in people...I hated how people weren't listening to one another. Things became very binary and I don't think that's the way the world works. And, as a new parent – we had our son Otis in 2014 – it was like, “Boy, I don't want to add to this.” Yeah, I just didn't want to portray it.