The best TV shows of 2021

See what caught audiences’ attention this year


Courtesy of the “Midnight Mass” official IMDB page

By Ashviny Kaur, Collegian Correspondent


Courtesy of the “Dopesick” official IMDB page

Released exclusively on Hulu, “Dopesick” is a miniseries centered around the opioid epidemic in the United States. The series is based on the nonfiction novel titled “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America” by Beth Macy. From the offices of Purdue Pharma, to a windswept Virginia mining community, to the DEA, ‘Dopesick’ is a holistic look at how the opioid epidemic affects people on all levels of the crisis. The series follows the Sacklers, the family owners of the fictional Purdue Pharma and their mission to boost OxyContin sales throughout the country, not realizing the effect on poorer rural communities which are highly susceptible to hard drugs. With a stellar cast (including Michael Keaton, Kaitlyn Dever, Will Poulter and Michael Stuhlbarg), to bolster an almost-perfect script, the show is a raw and real account of the difficulties that haunt those creating and consuming opioids.


“Only Murders in the Building”

“Only Murders in the Building” follows three strangers, all avid true crime fans, who soon find that they themselves are caught up in a twisted crime. After a murder takes place in their swanky Upper West Side apartment, an all-star trio made up of Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short, attempt to investigate the crime. “Only Murders in the Building” cautiously walks the line between taking itself seriously and being funny and does so successfully. With an interesting premise, a mysterious plot filled with clues and red herrings and enough quips to keep its audience entertained, this show is a masterful work of comedy and mystery alike.


“The White Lotus”

Arguably the best show on this, “The White Lotus” is a treat from start to finish. Set in Hawaii over the span of six weeks, the series opens with death. It is a perfectly imperfect tale of several individual stories woven together in unison. Exploring different relationships, familial issues, loss, betrayal, drug use and socioeconomic disparities, the show encompasses a wide variety of themes. There are comedic elements as well, yet they do not overshadow or downplay the show’s central plot. Even with a cast that doesn’t boast many household names, ‘The White Lotus’ have you at the edge of your seat.


“Squid Game”

Courtesy of the “Squid Game” official IMDB page

The most talked-about TV show of this year, ‘Squid Game,’ is a glaring look at the lengths people will go to for money. It follows a fairly simple premise: a chosen group of underprivileged people battle to the death in a simulated game, with one remaining individual to win a lump sum of money for themself. Each episode follows a different game, each with deadly consequences. From the beginning, the audience is immersed in a world that seems distant at first glance yet grounded in reality. The 1% watches in awe as lower class people battle it out, following a “The Hunger Games”-esque set-up. At its essence, the show puts a magnifying glass on class inequality as it takes childish games and turns them into deadly competitions. With stellar performances from its predominantly-Korean cast, ‘Squid Game’ explores class issues through character interactions and development and superb script and directing choices.


“Midnight Mass”

From the creator of “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Midnight Mass” is a tale of a newcomer priest in the town of Crockett Island. His arrival leads to a plethora of mysteries to this small community that is currently dealing with other issues. The slow-burn plot employed throughout this show only emphasizes the horrors that start to come to light. Director Mike Flanagan employs gorgeous cinematic techniques, creating an aesthetic that is fitting for the religious-horror tale he has spun. The story is honest, with its horror elements deriving from religion and how it affects people from all backgrounds within this town. Flanagan’s skepticism of God shines through the entirety of this miniseries, yet he does not beg for his audience to agree with his opinion. He simply wants to bring his personal beliefs and fears to light. With horrifying performances that make one’s toes curl, “Midnight Mass” encompasses elements of psychological horror and religious turmoil and guilt to leave its audience with a sense of uneasiness, one that can’t be shaken so easily even after the final episode.


Ashviny Kaur can be reached at [email protected]