TV Talk: limited series and comedies topped the 2021 TV Top 10

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Trib Total Media TV editor Rob Owen offers viewing tips from 2021.

WWhile there are still plenty of new TV shows this month – the ‘Sex and the City’ sequel series ‘And Just Like That …’ airs on HBO Max on Thursday but was not available for review before. the deadline – December also provides an opportunity to take stock of the TV / streaming year that has been.

We’ve come out on the other side of covid-impacted production delays, and the programming pipeline is now spewing out new shows faster than a human can watch. May this remind you that the following is a top 10 of the best shows I watched This year.

Going through the list, what is remarkable is the rise of limited series. At least four of my Top 10 (including a tie for 10th because I just couldn’t put on another good show) fall into this category which didn’t exist ten years ago until ” FX’s American Horror Story ”is coming (sure there were miniseries, but it was mostly a dormant genre circa 2011).

Limited editions offer the possibility of telling a finished story. Yes, HBO has ordered another season of “White Lotus,” but like “AHS,” the next season will take place at another White Lotus complex with much of it being new characters.

You can check out all of these series at your leisure on their various streaming / on-demand platforms:

1. “Succession” (HBO): Television’s best black comedy masquerading as a drama, “Succession” benefits from HBO’s intellectual imprint through incredible dialogue and well-defined characterizations, but at its core it’s “Dallas “with deeper psychological foundations as to why his characters behave the way they do.

2. “Cleaning lady” (Netflix): What struck me the most after watching this limited series based on the memories of Stephanie Land is its pro-social value, offering a roadmap for women in situations of violence. Of course, it was also an entertaining underdog story, with a captivating performance by star Margaret Qualley and a great turn by her real mother, Andie MacDowell, but more importantly, “Maid” was a potentially impactful series that has the opportunity to help women in distress improve their lives.

3. “Hacks” (HBO Max): As a comedy legend and his millennial protege, Jean Smart and newcomer Hannah Einbinder make this comedy the best two-handed comedy today. Often caustically funny, but never heartless, “Hacks” was anything but bogus.

4. “Schmigadoon” (Apple TV +): A cheerfully subversive musical series that shows its love for movie musicals and Broadway shows, while also criticizing the gender of the characters who take to the song.

5. “It is a sin” (HBO Max): Truly moving without being manipulative, this mini-series about young Londoners during the AIDS crisis focuses on the homophobia of the time that made treatment for the disease so much more painful than it should be. ‘to be.

6. “The white lotus” (HBO): Initially a slowly unraveling social satire, this comedy of the rich and the ill-bred goes where a TV show has never gone before as a stressed-out character becomes completely unbalanced to a scatological degree.

7. “Reservation dogs” (FX on Hulu): An at times melancholy comedy-drama about four Native American Indian teens from Oklahoma, “Reservation Dogs” features finely drawn characters, but has never been too serious, breaking up for silly asides, especially when involved Bear (star-in-creator D’Pharaon Woon-A-Tai) communing with his vision of a buffoonish spirit guide.

8. “Midnight Mass” (Netflix): Writer Mike Flanagan (“The Haunting of Hill House”) explores questions of faith and religious fanaticism with depth and complexity in this sometimes-telling (but rightly!) Horror miniseries.

9. “The other two” (HBO Max): Absurd Hollywood / gay culture shenanigans intermingle with a tale of sometimes strained family ties in this winning niche of two siblings trying to prove they can succeed in the shadow of their pop little brother star without talent.

10. “WandaVision” (Disney +): So the ending was more uniquely Marvel than the beginning, but what a beautiful and mysterious start as “WandaVision” mimicked the vanities of classic television.

10. “Ghosts” (CBS): Who said a broadcast network comedy couldn’t increase its audience? When the fall TV season started in September, “Ghosts” (9 p.m. Thursday, KDKA-TV) looked like a weird spectacle, a single-camera comedy on a network filled with multi-camera sitcoms with laughter tracks. . But “Ghosts” started off with decent ratings that have since increased, almost unheard of as prime-time TV audiences continue to decline. Largely comical without being stupid and smart enough to show intelligence, “Ghosts” evolves into a complete delight.

Honorable mentions: “Abbott Elementary” (ABC), “All Creatures Great and Small” (PBS), “American Rust” (Showtime), “Bridgerton” (Netflix), “The Chair” (Netflix), “Cruel Summer” (Freeform), “Cowboy Bebop” (Netflix), “Dopesick” (Hulu), “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay” (Freeform), “Evil” (Paramount +), “For All Mankind” (Apple TV +), “Genera + ion” (HBO Max ), “Girls5eva” (Peacock), “The Good Fight” (Paramount +), “Mare of Easttown” (HBO), “Mr. Mayor” (NBC), “The Morning Show” (Apple TV +), “The Nevers” (HBO), “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu), “Pose” (FX), “Superstore” (NBC), “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV +), “Resident Alien” (Syfy), “Rutherford Falls” (Peacock), “Squid Game” (Netflix), “This is Us” (NBC), “The Underground Railroad” (Amazon), “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX), “Yellow Vests” (Showtime ).

You can reach TV editor Rob Owen at [email protected] or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask questions about TV by email or phone. Please include your first name and location.



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