Best TV shows of 2021, so far – and how to watch them all


It is already an exceptional year for television, with many more months to go. It’s time to catch up.

With unbearable humidity and unexpected heat waves, July also brings with it the abrupt realization that we are closer to the end of the year than the beginning. And when you apply the same thought to the state of television, it tends to mean that we’ve already had access to a good chunk of the best shows of the year – be it basic math (12 months ago in a year and we’re in the middle of month # 7, so …) or the rather complicated Emmy cycle (a lot of big shows always fall in the spring, so they’re fresh in the minds of voters in June), fanatics television tend to have a good grip on what the year on television will look like now.

Fortunately, 2021 has given us a plethora of exceptional TV series. Some are revolutionary programs that challenge typical descriptors. Others give old formulas a new twist, creating new favorites with familiar comfort. Even more are using established structures and stars to their advantage, concocting irresistible entertainment that everyone can enjoy.

The best TV of the year so far stretches far more than I can fit in this brief preamble, so let me just say: there are no boundaries here. Whether it’s a comedy, a drama, a limited series, a docu-series, a talk show, a series of sketches or a strange amalgamation of these genres or others, if it was on TV (or could be), we considered it. Hopefully, this resulted in a list with at least one or two options that you haven’t looked at yet, and you, dear reader, are about to be immersed in your next favorite series.

So dive in, share your thoughts, and let’s start celebrating the year on TV. With so many great shows already, you’re going to want to get started right away.

For even more IndieWire TV recommendations, check out our 2021 TV Reviews list – most of the best picks are featured in this list, but additional gems and additional reading can be found here as well. For more recent choices, listen to IndieWire’s television podcast, “Millions of Screens,” which is available on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. You can subscribe here or via RSS.

Kristen Lopez and Tyler Hersko also contributed to this list.

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