Best TV Shows 2021 – 29 Most Anticipated New TV Series

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TV is in a weird place. While 2020 got us through the first 9+ months of the COVID-19 era with the plethora of TV shows that had been filmed prior to the pandemic (many of which were excellent brand new series), it’s been 2021 that’s been tasked with getting us through what should be the home stretch. And while there haven’t been any captive audience smash-hits, there have certainly been a lot of good shows, with plenty more on the way.

Still, a lot is up in the air. There are a number of shows that we think should and could be released in 2021 that sound extremely exciting—comedies from legends, star-studded thrillers/horror/mysteries, and some seriously exciting blockbuster nerd stuff from our Marvel/Star Wars overlords at Disney. But so far there have only been a handful of shows that really captivated us—but we’re hopeful there are more on the way.

We may not know when many of these shows are coming out, but we can feel pretty good about the fact that TV continues to be in good hands. Even aside from the shows we’ve highlighted at the start of the year, there’s always going to be shows that pop up and get us all to buy in. Who could’ve seen Ted Lasso coming last year? Or The Queen’s Gambit? Hell, who saw The Tiger King becoming as unbelievably massive as it was for a few weeks? Yes, that kind of took some once-in-a-lifetime circumstances for that to happen, but, look, it’s 2021. We don’t know what the hell is going to happen.

But we do know we’re going to have a lot more quality time with our televisions.

WandaVision (Disney+)

After a loooong layover—the MCU’s last entry prior Spider-Man: Far From Home, which came out way back in July 2019—WandaVision began its 9-episode run on Disney+on January 15. And while the trailers told us that WandaVision was going to be unlike anything the MCU had done before, the show 100% delivered.

Each week was a mystery, and between Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany’s incredible performances and chemistry, the week-to-week tributes to sitcoms, those perplexing fake commercials, and some catchy ass theme songs, WandaVision was a resounding success. We can’t wait to see what happens when Olsen shows up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness next year, but it’s hard to imagine it feels as singularly unique as WandaVision did at its peak.

Stream It Here

It’s A Sin

Russell T. Davies’ drama It’s a Sin tells the story of those impacted most by the AIDS crisis in the ’80s England, but it does so with a remarkable tact. While the show certainly focuses in on the terrors and pains inflicted by the disease’s horrible epidemic, it also makes sure to paint its characters in a joyfully human light, coming in ways both good and bad. These are characters you grow close to, even if you know by the end of the first episode that things are not going to end well here. The soundtrack, we may add, is marvelous.

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Mare of Easttown (HBO)

HBO seems to have a murder mystery up their sleeve at minimum a couple times a year at this point, but Mare of Easttown (so far) is one of the better ones. Anchored by a ridiculously-specific and committed performance by Kate Winslet as the titular Mare, this is a murder mystery that succeeds, yes, in the mystery itself, but more importantly in its numerous city-suburb characters that just feel like real people; a drunk, post-high school reunion Evan Peters in episode 3 is…honestly, just iconic stuff.

The writing and directing is solid, and this just feels like a miniseries that people will be recommending for anyone looking for a good, engaging thrill for years to come. Outside of Winslet and Peters, the cast also includes the likes of Julianne Nicholson, David Denman, and Guy Pearce, among others.

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was originally planned for a Spring/Summer 2020 release, but COVID had other plans; production was delayed, and eventually plans changed, and WandaVision became the first scheduled for release.

And while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier didn’t reach the creative highs of WandaVision, it also succeeded in exactly what it set out to do: provide an MCU feature film-quality miniseries, transitioning Captain America’s best friends Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) to whatever’s next. Any dancing from Zemo (Daniel Brühl) or moral gray area from John Walker (Wyatt Russell) is a much-welcomed bonus. Now we just need to hope that Captain America 4 is even better.

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Shadow and Bone (Netflix)

Look: Shadow and Bone is hardly reinventing the wheel, but if you know you want to dive head-first into a brand new fantasy world, Shadow and Bone is doing it right. With plenty of source material in the books and some compelling on-screen depictions, this feels like a worthy investment for fans of the genre to make.

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Murder Among the Mormons (Netflix)

Yes, it’s another true crime docuseries. But this one feels a little different from some others you may have seen. And, honestly, you’re probably best off going into this knowing as little as possible. The big thing here? Murder Among the Mormons has an ending; when you’ve got that, like HBO’s The Jinx or I’ll Be Gone In the Dark, it can be a huge advantage when closing a series out.

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Invincible (Amazon Prime Video)

For a non Marvel or DC superhero thing to stand out these days, it can be hard. It needs to be really special; The Boys popped, and, yes, Amazon Prime’s animated adaptation of Invincible landed in a big way. With an absolutely amazing voice cast (including Steven Yeun, JK Simmons, and Sandra Oh), along with jarring action and big twists, Invincible is not only the best animated show of the year so far, but one of the best overall. We can’t wait to see Season 2 (and 3, and 4…).

Stream It Here

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video, 5/14)

Loki (Disney+, 6/9)

MCU fans next foray into big-deal TV will be a six-episode limited series finding their favorite villain (once again played by Tom Hiddleston) jumping through space and time following his time-travel escape in Avengers: Endgame. It looks like an absolute blast, and has a chance to be creative in form in much of the same way that WandaVision was. Kind of gives us some Umbrella Academy vibes, which is far from a bad thing.

Loki will also star—and stick with us on this one—a grey-haired, mustachioed, Owen Wilson. As if there wasn’t already enough reason to watch.

Nine Perfect Strangers (Hulu, TBA)

Think of Nine Perfect Strangers in the same way you’d think of a lot of similar mystery series of the last few years: Big Little Lies, The Undoing, Little Fires Everywhere, etc. This one, which is also being written by Lies and Undoing‘s David E. Kelley (a busy man the last few years) is also based on another novel by Lies book author Liane Moriarty. The set-up is simple: nine people are at a health resort—and then things go wrong, and the mystery abounds. The very stacked cast includes Nicole Kidman (of course), along with Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Shannon, Tiffany Boone, Regina Hall, and Luke Evans (among others).

The Old Man (FX on Hulu, TBA)

Based on a 2017 novel by Thomas Perry, The Old Man is an FX on Hulu thriller that will mark the legendary Jeff Bridges’ first TV series in 5 decades. The premise is simple enough—Bridges plays a former intelligence agent living off the grid who finds himself a target, and pulled back into his old life. Sweet, simple, and to the point, this could be one of the year’s most fun action series. John Lithgow, The Leftovers star Amy Brenneman, and Arrested Development/Search Party standout Alia Shawkat are among others in the cast.

Foundation (Apple TV+, TBA)

Midnight Mass (Netflix, TBA)

Mike Flanagan has a nice winning streak going with Netflix. The writer-director has been behind both series under The Haunting banner, including The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. In 2021, he’s bringing some of his favorite players back—including Kate Siegel and Rahul Kohli—for a new horror series, titled Midnight Mass. The show will, of course, stick with the horror theme, this time following a community that finds horrifying events occurring after a mysterious priest arrives in town.

Just a guess, but we think we could probably pencil this one in for a November or December release based on the title alone, right?

Cowboy Bebop (Netflix, TBA)

It’s been a long road for John Cho, who’s been “Milf Guy” in the American Pie movies, Harold in Harold and Kumar, Sulu in the Star Trek movies, and the lead in the wildly underrated 2018 movie Searching. But now he’s finally starring as the lead in a large-scale, big-budget project: Netlfix’s live-action adaptation of the beloved animated series Cowboy Bebop. Cho plays lead character Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter who fakes his death to escape from a criminal syndicate. We don’t know when the show will be released, but it should be one of the year’s most exciting when it does come out.

Only Murders In This Building (Hulu, TBA)

There’s not much known yet about Only Murders in This Building, but Steve Martin co-created the series to star in it with his longtime friend and collaborator Martin Short and also Selena Gomez. Sold!

Scenes From a Marriage (HBO, TBA)

HBO’s update of Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 film (or series, depending on who you talk to) of the same name will be headlined by wonderful duo: Jessica Chastain and a suddenly-very-busy Oscar Isaac. The show, which will show various points of a deteriorating relationship over the course of a decade, is currently in production and should be released at some point in 2021.

Inventing Anna (Netflix, TBA)

Shonda Rhimes’ first foray at Netflix, Bridgerton, is already a massive hit. But her next series, Inventing Anna, has the potential to be even bigger. The show will find Julia Garner (Ozark) as notorious New York City scammer Anna Delvey, who scammed her was financially and socially into some of the world’s highest class institutions. Based on Jessica Pressler’s story from The Cut.

Dopesick (Hulu, TBA)

Michael Keaton is the star and executive producer of Hulu’s Dopesick, which focuses on the opioid epidemic that the United States has been struggling with for years. Keaton plays a compassionate, old-school doctor who nonetheless finds himself tied up with the dirty secrets and truths of Big Pharma. The show is based on a non-fiction book by Beth Macy and will be run by Danny Strong, who has been behind HBO’s based-on-real-life movie Recount and is the creator of FOX’s Empire.

A League of Their Own (Amazon Prime Video, TBA)

Broad City star Abbi Jacobson is the star and co-creator of Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming TV adaptation of Penny Marshall’s classic baseball film A League of Their Own, which is a great start in and of itself. D’Arcy Carden, who also appeared on Broad City and Barry in addition to a starring role on The Good Place is one of many talented co-stars for Jacobson in the series.

We don’t know too much about this one just yet, but given how good Hulu’s High Fidelity series was last year—uncancel it you cowards!—we’ve got a renewed sense of optimism around streaming networks doing TV spins on beloved movies.

Brand New Cherry Flavor (Netflix, TBA)

Alita: Battle Angel star Rosa Salazar is leading Brand New Cherry Flavor, a horror/revenge thriller set in the world of the 1990 movie industry. Based on the novel of the same name, this show comes from a pair of co-creators who are behind SyFy’s underrated horror series Channel Zero and also involved with the sharp writing of Showtime’s Billions. An impressive cast also includes Catherine Keener and The Good Place‘s Manny Jacinto.

Pieces of Her (Netflix, TBA)

Another one based on a novel of the same name, the main draw of Pieces of Her is a big one: Ms. Toni Collette. After impressing over the last few years with wildly different turns in Hereditary, Knives Out, and Netflix’s Unbelievable, she returns to the streaming giant to play a mother with a violent past that no one in her orbit knows about—until a trip to the mall turns violent and exposes everything.

Station Eleven (HBO Max, TBA)

So, uh, a series about a pandemic that wipes out most of society might not be on the top of your must-watch list, but stick with us on this HBO Max original. It’s (yes, another) based on Emily St. John Mandel’s widely-acclaimed novel of the same name, and will be showrun by Maniac‘s Patrick Somerville and directed by one of the very best TV directors in the game in Hiro Murai (who has helmed some of the best episodes of recent years with his episodes of Atlanta and Barry; he frequently collaborates with Donald Glover, also directing his “This Is America” video and short film Guava Island).

Additionally, the cast will be led by Mackenzie Davis, who added “Future Holiday Classic Movie” (in Hulu’s Happiest Season) to her impressive Sci-Fi resume that also included Blade Runner 2049, The Martian, and one of the best episodes of Black Mirror in “San Junipero.” We can’t wait to see how this one turns out.

What If…? (Disney+, Mid 2021)

This animated MCU series has been on our radar for quite a while, and it’s finally scheduled to be released this year. The show, featuring the actual voices of your favorite heroes and villains, imagines what could be if major Marvel moments went a little bit differently. Some scenarios that have been teased? A zombie Captain America, for one. All of this will be bound together and observed by a character called “The Watcher,” voiced by Westworld star Jeffrey Wright.

Hawkeye (Disney+, Late 2021)

Jeremy Renner will return to the role of Clint Barton/Hawkeye in this Disney+ series which will find him training a young woman named Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld!) looking to eventually take over the Hawkeye mantle. Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring, The Departed) will play Kate’s mother in this action series that’s currently filming in New York City.

The Lord of the RIngs (Amazon Prime Video, TBA)

We’ve been hearing about Amazon Prime Video’s massively-budgeted Lord of the Rings series for a few years now, and it might be nearing a mid or late 2021 release date. We don’t know much, but we do know that it won’t be retelling the same story of Peter Jackson’s early-2000s trilogy; instead, it will tell a different epic stories from before the events of Lord of the Rings.

Ms. Marvel (Disney+, Late 2021)

Due late in 2021, Ms. Marvel will star newcomer Iman Vellani as a superfan of Captain Marvel who eventually becomes her apprentice of sorts; this series will explore her roots in Jersey City, New Jersey, and her aquiring and learning to use superhero shape-shifting powers. (Vellani is expected to reprise the role in the upcoming Captain Marvel 2)

Alien (FX, TBA)

So, we don’t know much about this upcoming Alien series, other than the fact that it is going to exist, and it’s going to be on FX (and FX on Hulu). But one thing we can feel really good about? The show is going to be run by Noah Hawley. And as Hawley has proved with the Fargo show, he is an absolute master of taking the idea of a beloved, distinct movie from a legendary director, and turning it into something similar thematically yet still 100% it’s own thing. Let’s hope he can do with Ridley Scott what he’s already done with The Coen Brothers.

The Book of Boba Fett (December 2021)

We’re going to have to wait a little longer than usual for The Mandalorian Season 3, because, well, as anyone who saw that show’s Season 2 finale knows, Boba Fett is finally getting his moment with The Book of Boba Fett. Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, and the Mandalorian team are going to work on this Boba Fett spin-off series first, which will star Temuera Morrison as the legendary bounty hunter, and Ming-Na Wen as his new partner in crime, Fennec Shand. We’d imagine the show will give us insight into everything that happened before Fett’s Mandalorian appearance, and probably a good bit of stuff after. Our blood is still pumping from that post-credits scene during the Mandalorian finale, so we’ll be waiting with baited breath for this one.

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