Thanks to the rising prominence of streaming services, I’ve witnessed a few milestones while compiling this list. Most years Netflix and HBO are the two places with the highest quantity of great shows. Netflix is still number one as usual. Their strategy of giving everyone creative freedom, throwing it at the wall and seeing what sticks has always been an effective way to shine a light on some amazing shows, with this year including excellent series likes Squid Game, City of Ghosts, Sweet Tooth and Arcane while preexisting shows like Cobra Kai, Castlevania, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson and The Witcher continued to deliver. What’s different is that HBO is not in second place anymore. HBO Max is. Which goes to show how committed WarnerMedia is to streaming. Even though HBO’s cable network had plenty of gems in 2021 like Mare of Easttown and The White Lotus, HBO Max impressed a lot of people with Hacks and The Sex Lives of College Girls, both of which I thought were smart and funny. In fact HBO Max has an impressive lineup of drama, comedy and animation, which makes them a clear rival to Netflix.

But HBO Max isn’t the only one who beat HBO this year. Hulu and Disney+ have upped their game too. Disney+ in particular had their most impressive year since they launched in 2019. Even broadcast television network The CW has done well thanks to imports like New Zealand’s Wellington Paranormal and Britain’s Dead Pixels combined with their many impressive superhero dramas. Prime Video, Apple TV+, Peacock, Paramount+, Adult Swim and Showtime also had a lot of good shows this year. FX has had a surprisingly lackluster year in terms of new cable programming, although that’s likely because FX is going through the same thing with Hulu that HBO is going through with HBO Max (shows like Reservation Dogs are being branded weirdly as “FX on Hulu” shows), but combined with sister network FXX (the comedy-oriented network behind Archer and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), FX still had a good year, especially with The Choe Show being one of the most original new shows of the year.

Finally I loved the amount of great late night talk shows we got this year. While NBC’s A Little Late with Lilly Singh and TBS’s Conan sadly ended in 2021 (one a promising young millennial talk show host and the other the longest lasting talk show host still on the air at the time), we got amazing newcomers like Charlamagne tha God on Comedy Central and Sam Jay on HBO, while Jon Stewart made a strong comeback on Apple TV+.

Here are my choices for the best scripted (mostly) TV series of 2021, separated by network with new shows typed in bold. At the end I will reveal which one is my favorite show of the year.


Young Rock; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; Superstore; The Blacklist; Brooklyn Nine-Nine; A Little Late with Lilly Singh; Saturday Night Live

Young Rock
Saturday Night Live


CSI: Vegas; Ghosts; Blue Bloods; Young Sheldon; Seal Team (moved to Paramount+ mid-season); B Positive

B Positive


Home Economics; The Wonder Years; Queens; Abbott Elementary; The Conners; The Goldbergs

The Wonder Years


The Great North; The Big Leap; Last Man Standing; The Simpsons; Bob’s Burgers; Family Guy; Duncanville

The Big Leap
Family Guy

The CW

Trickster; Superman & Lois; Kung Fu; Wellington Paranormal; Batwoman; All American; Riverdale; Nancy Drew; Black Lightning; The Flash; Supergirl; Legends of Tomorrow; The Outpost; Dead Pixels; Roswell, New Mexico; Burden of Truth; Stargirl; Coroner

Superman & Lois
Kung Fu
Wellington Paranormal
Dead Pixels


Chad; American Dad!; Full Frontal with Samantha Bee; Conan



Snowpiercer; Claws


Chucky (also Syfy); Queen of the South



Resident Alien; Chucky (also USA); Wynonna Earp; Van Helsing

Resident Alien

Comedy Central

Tha God’s Honest Truth with Charlamagne tha God; Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens; The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Tha God’s Honest Truth with Charlamagne tha God





Cruel Summer; Grown-ish; Good Trouble; Everything’s Gonna Be Okay; The Bold Type; Motherland: Fort Salem

Cruel Summer
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay


The Choe Show; Snowfall; Mayans M.C.; Breeders; Pose; Mr. Inbetween; American Horror Story: Double Feature; What We Do in the Shadows

The Choe Show
What We Do in the Shadows


Cake; Dave; Archer; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia


Kevin Can F**k Himself; The Walking Dead; Fear the Walking Dead

Kevin Can F**k Himself

BBC America

Doctor Who


Baroness Von Sketch Show; Back


Queen Sugar; David Makes Man


The Loud House; The Casagrandes; Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows; It’s Pony; SpongeBob SquarePants

Disney Channel

The Ghost and Molly McGee; Big City Greens; Amphibia; The Owl House

The Ghost and Molly McGee

Disney XD


Cartoon Network

Craig of the Creek; Teen Titans Go!; Apple & Onion; DC Super Hero Girls; Victor and Valentino

Adult Swim

Birdgirl; Fena: Pirate Princess; Teenage Euthanasia; Blade Runner: Black Lotus; Momma Named Me Sheriff; Tuca & Bertie; Rick and Morty; Robot Chicken; Squidbillies; Joe Pera Talks with You

Tuca & Bertie


The Investigation; Beartown; Mare of Easttown; Pause with Sam Jay; The White Lotus; Laetitia; Scenes from a Marriage; Landsliders; In Treatment; Betty; Succession; Curb Your Enthusiasm; Insecure; Real Time with Bill Maher; Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; A Black Lady Sketch Show

Mare of Easttown
Pause with Sam Jay
The White Lotus
In Treatment
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
A Black Lady Sketch Show


Cinema Toast; Flatbush Misdemeanors; Wakefield; Yellowjackets; City on a Hill; The Chi; The L-Word: Generation Q; Work in Progress; Billions; Back to Life; Desus & Mero



The Gloaming; Run the World; Blindspotting; Power Book III: Raising Kanan; Heels; BMF; American Gods; The Girlfriend Experience; Hightown

Run the World


Domina; Godfather of Harlem; Condor

Prime Video

The Boarding School: Las Cumbres; Invincible; The Underground Railroad; Panic; September Mornings; The Pursuit of Love; Mumbai Diaries 26/11; Harlem; With Love; The Family Man; Bosch; El Cid; Goliath; Hanna; The Expanse

The Underground Railroad
With Love
The Expanse


Lupin; Daughter from Another Mother; Kid Cosmic; Invisible City; Capitani; Tribes of Europa; High-Rise Invasion; Pacific Rim: The Black; City of Ghosts; Bombay Begums; Sky Rojo; Navillera; Who Killed Sara?; DOTA: Dragon’s Blood; The Irregulars; The Way of the Househusband; Zero; Shadow and Bone; Sexify; The Innocent; Mine; Move to Heaven; Black Space; Creator’s File: Gold; Sweet Tooth; Trese; Katla; Record of Ragnarok; So Not Worth It; Nevertheless; Godzilla Singular Point; Jiva!; Ray; Sonos.; Generation 56k; Young Royals; We the People; You Are My Spring; The War Next Door; Masters of the Universe: Revelations; Alrawabi School for Girls; Gone for Good; The Defeated; Everything Will Be Fine; The Chair; Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes; Eden’s Zero; I Heart Arlo; D.P.; He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; Squid Game; Jaguar; Midnight Mass; The Chestnut Man; Luna Park; Maid; The Five Juanas; The Billion Dollar Code; Blue Period; The King’s Affection; My Name; Komi Can’t Communicate; Adventure Beast; Maya and the Three; More than Blues: The Series; Sintonia; Colin in Black & White; The Time it Takes; The Club; The Unlikely Murderer; Glória; Arcane; Tear Along the Dotted Line; Hellbound; Super Crooks; Light the Night; Our Beloved Summer; Saturday Morning All Star Hits!; Bulgasal: Immortal Souls; The Silent Sea; Anxious People; Stay Close; Cobra Kai; Monarca; Carmen Sandiego; Call My Agent!; Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous; Love Alarm; B: The Beginning – Succession; Girl from Nowhere; Castlevania; Love, Death + Robots; Special; The Neighbor; Master of None; Ragnarok; The Kominsky Method; Kim’s Convenience; Feel Good; Black Summer; Hospital Playlist; Elite; The Naked Director; The Seven Deadly Sins: Dragon’s Judgment; Mortel; I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson; The More; Atypical; Biohackers; Never Have I Ever; Beastars; How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast); Transformers: War for Cybertron: Kingdom; Grace and Frankie; Money Heist; Into the Night; Lucifer; Sex Education; Dear White People; Scissor Seven; On My Block; The Baby-Sitters Club; Family Business; Reflection of You; You; Little Things; Locke & Key; Mythomaniac; Big Mouth; Narcos: Mexico; Gentefied; The Queen of Flow; F Is for Family; Lost in Space; JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean; How to Ruin Christmas; Bonus Family; Aggretsuko; The Witcher

High-Rise Invasion
City of Ghosts
Shadow and Bone
Sweet Tooth
Masters of the Universe: Revelations
The Chair
Edens Zero
Squid Game
Midnight Mass
Maya and the Three
Tear Along the Dotted Line
Saturday Morning All Star Hits!
The Silent Sea
Cobra Kai
Call My Agent!
Girl from Nowhere
Master of None
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson
Never Have I Ever
Sex Education
F Is for Family
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean
The Witcher


M.O.D.O.K.; Reservation Dogs; Only Murders in the Building; Dopesick; Hit-Monkey; Bloods; Creamerie; Staged; Solar Opposites; Younger (also Paramount+); Shrill; Love, Victor; The Mighty Ones (also Peacock); This Way Up; PEN15; Wu-Tang: An American Saga; Animaniacs; In My Skin; The Great; Letterkenny

Reservation Dogs
Only Murders in the Building
Solar Opposites
The Great


Timewasters; Leverage: Redemption; Pretty Hard Cases; Alex Rider


Apple TV+

The Snoopy Show; Calls; Schmigadoon!; Wolfboy and the Everything Factory; The Problem with Jon Stewart; Acapulco; Dickinson; For All Mankind; Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet; Trying; Home Before Dark; Central Park; Ted Lasso; Snoopy in Space

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet


WandaVision; The Falcon and the Winter Soldier; The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers; Star Wars: The Bad Batch; Loki; Monsters at Work; Chip ‘n’ Dale: Park Life; What If…?; Dug Days; Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.; Star Wars: Visions; Olaf Presents; Hawkeye; The Book of Boba Fett; Earth to Ned; The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse; Short Circuit; Diary of a Future President

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Monsters at Work
Star Wars: Visions
The Book of Boba Fett
The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse


30 Coins; Arthur’s Law; The Head; It’s a Sin; Isabel; Made for Love; On the Spectrum; Uri and Ella; Hacks; Starstruck; Jellystone!; Ten-Year-Old Tom; Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs; Welcome to Utmark; Aquaman: King of Atlantis; Papa: We Are King; Kamikaze; The Sex Lives of College Girls; Sort Of; Perfect Life (Vida perfecta); Beforeigners; Station Eleven; Search Party; Gomorrah (also Sundance Now); Looney Tunes Cartoons; Close Enough; Tig n’ Seek; Infinity Train; Adventure Time: Distant Lands; The Fungies!; Titans; Hard; The Other Two; Doom Patrol; Love Life; Frayed; gen:LOCK; South Side; Stath Lets Flats; Summer Camp Island

It’s a Sin
Made for Love
Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs
The Sex Lives of College Girls
Sort of
Station Eleven
Looney Tunes Cartoons
The Other Two
Love Life


Rutherford Falls; Girls5eva; We Are Lady Parts; Dr. Death; Hart to Heart; MacGruber; Vigil; Cleopatra in Space; The Mighty Heroes (also Hulu); A.P. Bio; Saved by the Bell; The Amber Ruffin Show

Rutherford Falls
We Are Lady Parts


Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years; Rugrats; Star Trek: Prodigy; 1883; No Activity; Younger (also Hulu); Why Women Kill; Evil; The Good Fight; Star Trek: Lower Decks; Seal Team; Star Trek: Discovery

No Activity
Star Trek: Lower Decks

Sundance Now

The Bad Seed; The Drowning; The Hunt for a Killer; Cheyenne & Lola; Good Grief; The Pact; A Discovery of Witches (also Shudder); Gomorrah (also HBO Max); Motherland


The Beast Must Die; The North Water; Ultra City Smiths; Kin; Ragdoll; Anna; Firebite

Ultra City Smiths


A Discovery of Witches (also Sundance Now); Creepshow

Eli’s Favorite Show of 2021

Only Murders in the Building

Steve Martin and John Hoffman’s mystery comedy on Hulu about three true crime podcasters played by Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez who get tangled up in a murder that occured in their Upper West Side apartment building was full of twists that always kept you guessing and it also might be the most addictive show I ever watched. Even after the central mystery is solved in the first season, there are MORE plot twists revealed! But one of the greatest things about the show is that Martin, Short and Gomez all play three-dimensional characters who each have their own secrets which sometimes made it hard for them to trust each other even as they were teaming up to solve the same crime. Another bonus thing I loved about the show: it’s great to see Steve Martin and Martin Short are still in their prime after all the years they have been in show business. This might be their best work.