2021 gave us plenty to binge. And while some of us took advantage of that brief moment when we thought we were safe from COVID and actually went outside, others (like myself) rarely ventured from the couch and continued to inhale as much content as possible. Here’s some of the TV I watched in 2021; the good, the bad and the in-between.
If it wasn’t for Jaskier the bard’s smash hit, ‘Burn, Butcher, Burn', I’d say toss this entire season. Simply put, I’m bored of ‘Daddy Geralt’. The show was far more entertaining when he was basically void of emotional attachment. I found myself pausing to check how long I had left in each episode far too often. Less magic ‘mumbo jumbo’ and baby-sitting, more monster ass kicking, please? They try very hard to keep you interested in their politics during this season, and it just isn’t captivating. This isn’t the show you’d normally go to for 'Lord of The Rings' level world building. So the fact that they spend episodes giving us the history of elf/sorcerer relations is disappointing. I don’t mind it in spurts, but it’s overdone in Season 2. I do love the introduction of Kaer Morhen, and the relationships between Witchers in their ancestral home, but would’ve liked more. They even managed to make Yennifer’s plot-line incredibly dull, after the straight heat she went out with in the previous season....literally FLAMES. This season was clearly necessary for plot development (they are based on books after all) but…long story short,
Burn, Witcher Season 2, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn, burn…
Watch me burn all the memories of you.
Our favorite lovestruck psychopath returned in 2021. What many were anticipating to be a story-line that would eventually grow stale, got a jolt of life with the introduction of Love Quinn - a character whose mental instability somehow manages to rival that of our protagonist. While I'd personally watch Joe Golberg be creepy and alone for 10 straight seasons, the ‘You’ writers, much like couples in a rut, had to do something to spice up the relationship. They understood the assignment - enter baby, Henry "Forty" Quinn-Goldberg. Chaos ensues as we watch these two maniacs attempt to be functioning members of society with a newborn. The product is an effective use of rinse and repeat; Joe falls into two deep obsessions, Quinn gets all murdery, and Joe cleans up the mess. The product wasn’t broken so the minds behind ‘You’ didn’t fix it, they simply added a new coat of paint with characters like Theo and Sherry/Cary Conrad (a cringe worthy couple who sorta…kinda…maybe had it all right?). Anyway, sign me up for Season 4. I’m here for watching Joe make ‘La Vie En Rose’ in Paree.
I’ve never been more turned off by drugs than I was whilst watching this show, and I’ve seen ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Requiem for a Dream’. Yes, obviously a story about the Opioid Crisis gets dark, but the power of this series is that when it’s over, you REALLY believe the warning, ‘This could happen to you’. You’re not watching the dangers of drug abuse from a place that feels distant, it’s in your face and for too many of us, it hits close to home. Michael Keaton hasn’t missed in years, and he continues to put on an acting clinic in this Hulu limited series. Will Poulter and Kaitlyn Dever also shine through in their roles, and make ‘Dopesick’ a cautionary must watch Mini Series.
Also, is it just me or does Michael Stuhlbarg as Richard Sackler give you Voldemort ‘Dark Lord of the pharmaceutical company’ vibes? It’s the voice…
No Mercy! As someone who isn’t a huge ‘Karate Kid’ fan, I have no business loving this show as much as I do. Barney from HIMYM was right, Johnny Lawrence of the Cobra Kai dojo is the true hero of this story. Kick rocks, Ralph Macchio! I watched this entire series in about a week, and was beyond entertained. In Season 2 Episode 10: ‘No Mercy’, you get to watch a bunch of high school kids beat the shit out of each other for 20 minutes straight. It’s quality television.
The show is a hit without being limited by the nostalgia that comes from the classic 80’s film. Revamps (if you can call this that) tend to rely heavily on that feeling to aid their success but, while ‘Cobra Kai’ clearly uses ‘Karate Kid’ to bolster its entertainment value, it doesn’t use it as a crutch. This show runs (not walks) on its own. Its star, William Zabka, turns Johnny Lawrence, who once was probably one of films most detested bad guys, into a lovable goofball who you can’t help but root for.
Season 4 is a testament to the strength of the show’s characters. Your loyalty for them switches, often episode to episode, depending on the decisions they make. Are you team Cobra Kai? Do you ride or die with Miyagi dojo? OR pledge allegiance to the wild card, Eagle Fang Karate? I think at the end of the day, we all just want Johnny to put down the Coors Banquet and be happy.
Also, LONG LIVE, Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz!
BMF: Black Mafia Family
I’ve never wanted to purchase an Adidas tracksuit more in my life. Right in the mix with ‘Snowfall’ and ‘Power’, the story of a neighborhood drug savant never gets old. Shows in this genre do a wonderful job at challenging your moral compass. Do you really want to watch a community being torn apart by crack? No, of course not. But, would you like to see Meech in a fur coat and unnecessary jewelry absolutely prospering? Yes, definitely. BMF is based on the life and times of the real-life Flenory brothers, Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory, and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory. The two eventually become two of the biggest narcotics traffickers in the country, and in Season 1 they're just getting started. You get the 80’s flair, the drama/violence of the drug game, and characters willing to risk it all for power and respect. 50 Cent can go ahead and add another hit to his production credits with this one.
Emily in Paris
I cannot believe I actually sat down and watched another season of this (and in less than a week). The ultimate guilty pleasure show. Little to no need for brain activity while watching, but just entertaining enough to spark your curiosity. Like not really caring who that cheerleader you went to high-school with married, but you’ll check out the wedding photos on Instagram if you see it. You’re not quite hoping for Emily’s downfall, but you don’t really want her to succeed either. This show absolutely reeks of white privilege. I mean, this is a girl doing the bare minimum, with mediocre talent and communication skills, who is thriving as a marketing executive in a city where she cannot speak the language! You cringe through the pain, almost as if to see if it could somehow get any worse, or (as delusional as it may seem) if it could get better! That being said, Seasons 3 & 4 have both been confirmed and, ‘You Son of a Bitch, I'm In!’ Do your worst, Lily Collins.
This cultural phenomenon is the genius level Korean version of 'Saw' we never knew we wanted. Like if Jigsaw was filthy rich and enjoyed entertaining guests. While there were a few questions about the show’s sub-par Korean-English translation, the Hwang Dong-hyuk series became a massive hit and thus an enormous Netflix WIN. When you can turn a forgotten childhood game like ‘Red Light, Green Light’ into a daily topic of conversation and a meme that doesn’t quit, you’ve got a content MONSTER on your hands. My opinion is watch it, just skip the last episode. Seriously, man, go home to your child!
Netflix tried and failed at doing their version of MTV’s 'The Real World'. How could you mess this up? The recipe is Top Ramen level simple; gather a group of toxic people, add booze, and SERVE! This had all the setup and no drama. They managed to find 8 people who all got along, ALL THE TIME! You can skip this one. Shoutout to Kamari though, he finessed that.
El Profesor and the gang were back in 2021 and they went all in for the gold in the Bank of Spain. I’d sign up to watch this group rob the world for several more seasons, but unfortunately their run has come to an end. Part 5 wrapped this up rather nicely; with perfect moments of chaos, and well executed criminal genius. They do a good job understanding that Berlin, played by Pedro Alonso, has a star factor that can’t be ignored and continue to sprinkle his character in from the grave whenever they can. I’ll be forever shocked that this show’s translations for English speakers never seemed to affect my ability to watch and enjoy, even though that was a complain for many. They also gave us public enemy #1, easily the most hated character of all time - Arturo Román. All in all, the whole thing is brilliant and you should binge immediately.
Bella ciao, ciao, ciao!
Showtime has a hit on their hands! Throw a bunch of teenage girls in the woods after an airplane crash and all hell breaks loose. I was sold on that plot alone, but then they give you the fast forward current day mess that the surviving girls are dealing with. This thing is like a coming of age drama, murder mystery, psychological horror all rolled up in one. The way Season 1 ended pretty much guarantees a fairly long run of shock value shenanigans from the ‘Yellowjackets’ creators. And I say, bring it on.
Quick thought: Jackie, just go inside, it’s freezing! WTF?
This was great. An overlooked nuisance in the Avenger’s franchise became one of my favorite characters in the Marvel universe. And Owen Wilson?..wow. Give Loki his own everything. Leave it to the ‘God of Mischief’ to fall in love with himself. The end got a bit tricky for me, and I’m still not entirely sure of what’s going on, but I’m sure as hell ready to find out!
Yikes, that got complicated and awesome! Excellent vision (see what I did there?) by the brains behind the stylistic approach of this series. A refreshing take on the 'superhero' genre which is normally like fast food; intense and filling but runs right through you. 'WandaVision', however, was fed to us with savory tiny morsels; bold with hints of flavor that linger on your tongue long after the meal is done. Wanda joins Loki as another amazing and powerful character who, in the films, manages to hide behind the enormous shadows of the sexier comic book icons.
That was fun! In order to make this one interesting they had to add as much personality as possible to an Avenger who is admittedly, and purposefully, boring. Hailee Steinfeld becomes the donkey to Jeremy Renner’s Shrek. The result is a mixture of great laughs and bow and arrow play that is challenged only by Legolas taking down Oliphaunt in 'Lord of the Rings' (well maybe not that good). Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova joining the mix was also a great addition. The two women do a great job adding life to Hawkeye’s naturally stoic presence. And it was a perfect viewing experience around Christmas time. Watch it!
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
I tried to get through this multiple times, and it never hit. They would have to do A LOT more here to get me invested in these characters to the level where I can sit through an entire series about them. There’s really not much to say here except….RIP Steve Rogers. You are most definitely missed. Yeah, you can probably give this one a big old SKIP!