in Top Ten

There were great shows this year. Seems like there are great shows every year. Did the Golden Age of TV ever end? Are we forever doomed to be subjected to too much good TV? Why god?! WHY? Anyways, I spent a good chunk of this year only watching The Sopranos. So by the time October rolled around, I had to haul ass and catch up. That being said I’m happy with my list. Though there are definitely shows I wish I’d caught up with.

Shows I didn’t watch cuz ya know? Let’s blame the Pandemic
Hacks
How to with Jon Wilson (even though I loved the first season. Just forgot to finish it.)
Landscapers
Station Eleven

And here’s the real list!

10. Loki

I’m surprised how much I liked most of Marvel’s TV output in 2021. I almost contemplated making this spot WandaVision/Loki/Hawkeye. Weird that Loki was my favorite right? WandaVision had a better concept, Hawkeye had more relatable characters. Loki was the show I was always most excited to tune into because I had no idea where it was going. The show disguised itself as a procedural before pulling a 360 and becoming a weirdo dimension-defying adventure. We weren’t sure who was bad and who was good. Or who was a robot or whatever.

WandaVision had a lot of the same pro’s but I found the ending anti-climactic. Agatha Harkness is fun but it wasn’t as exciting a reveal as I’d hoped for. I was more compelled by Jonathan Majors bizzaro turn as Kang or He Who Remains. Also, I didn’t care for the cutaways in WandaVision outisde of the Hex with Kat Dennings and Randall Park. They’re both great but I always found myself counting the minutes for them to return to the Hex.

I prefer the Douglas Adam’s-esque oddball world of the “Time Variance Authority”. It was an amazing piece of spectacle and even though it has continued to taint the Marvel Universe by doubling down on all this multiple timelines bulshit, I like the amibtion. Also, Richard E. Grant has a great hat.

9. Joe Pera Talks with You

This show is my comfort food. It’s short and sweet but always filling. Not much has changed in season 3. Joe Pera continues to despense folksy wisdom while going about his routine as a humble choir teacher in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula. Joe’s fellow music teacher/survival specialist girlfriend Sarah (Jo Firestone) has become a bigger part of the show and I love their quirky dynamic. I like to watch this show with my morning cup of Joe.

8. Ted Lasso

Fuck dude, I don’t know. He’s a nice guy.

7. What We Do in the Shadows

I love that this show always plays around the spooky season. As a horror fan, its a pleasure to tune into all these vampires, and werewolves, and sirens, and Donal Logue every week. I haven’t retained much from this season but the show continues to raise the bar conceptually and visually.

6. I Think You Should Leave

I just wanna take this opportunity to tell you to go to the: Calico Cut Pants website

You gotta give…

5. The Beatles: Get Back

Dude, how frustrating is it when they’re playing a song but they haven’t cracked it yet? And I’m all like “That’s not how it goes idiot!” But then when they do crack it? That’s the best feeling.

4. Yellowjackets

If this was on Netflix we’d already have the shelves of every FYE and Gamestop overflowing with Yellowjackets Funko Pop Figures. I don’t know why Showtime has fallen so far off the radar. Is it Ray Donovan related? I don’t know anyone that has it. I resubscribed last November to watch the A24 film “The Humans” when I stumbled across this show and fell for it immediately.

The show follows a girl’s soccer team in 1996 who get stranded in the Canadian Wilderness after their plane crashes on its way to Seattle. They spend 14 months living on their own and resort to cannibalism to survive. What’s great about the format is we constantly cut back and forth between the girls in the ’90s and four of the survivors in modern day. Information is parceled out so that you know for the most part who died and who lived but not how or when. There’s also hints of the supernatural. Which gives the show a Lost vibe.

I’m not sure about the decision to make this a multi-season show as opposed to a miniseries but if it can retain this quality then sure, I’ll have seconds… Maybe even thirds. You know, like eating people?

3. Midnight Mass

I don’t know how Mike Flanagan manages to a get a movie or an entire show out seemingly every year. But I’m glad he does because Midnight Mass might be my favorite of his projects yet. It’s no surprise to Flanagan fans “Flana-fans?” that Midnight Mass oozes Stephen King. The mini-series bares a strong resemblance to ‘Salems Lot–both involving small communities dealing with pesky vampires. What surprised me is I think I like this better than ‘Salems Lot. Is that sacrilege?

What makes Midnight Mass so inticing is telling a vampire story that’s also about blind faith. Here, that blind faith is embodied in the shape of Father Paul (Hamish Linklater in his best role to date) as a charismatic priest who intentionally or unintentionally leads the town down a dark path. It’s thematically rich with great performances. I’m glad it got a good amount of viewers when it first popped up but I still feel like more people need to be turned on to this show. More need to be… converted

2. Succession

My three favorite lines from this season of Succession:

Cousin Gregg: “Fermented yogurt? Well, yeah, I’ve had that! It’s really good. Uh, it’s a gut-cleansing treat”

Roman: “Are you trying to have a baby with my Dad? Because that’s an incredibly stupid idea. It’ll be born old, attached to a walker.”

Logan: “Let’s go see Hans Christian Anderfuck and see if he’s been telling us fucking fairy tales.”

Great show. Now fuck off.

1. Squid Game

Just this week Squid Game became the first foreign-language TV show to receive a SAG nomination. Last week, O Yeong-su (the old man character) won a Golden Globe (if those still exist). Awards don’t really mean anything but I can’t remember the last time I saw a show that was just as celebrated by stuffy old award judges as with the youngins. It’s one of the most popular shows of the year but with good reason. People come for the depth-defying stunts but stay for the characters.

These characters struggle. Some are in debt, some are in trouble with the law, some have nothing left to live for. In comes the Squid Games, a chance to solve all of their problems with more money than they’ve ever seen. The only cost? Playing a game.

This show is dark. Violent too. Oh boy! The games in question are borderline Saw-level sadistic. But you don’t want to see people die. You wanna see ’em beat these fucked up games. It’s real white-knuckle storytelling. And those kinds of stories are universal, regardless of language. I don’t know how I feel about Netflix requesting more seasons from creator Hwang Dong-hyuk (who wrote and directed every episode himself) but if this leads to more attention towards South Korean TV or just foreign language TV in general, then I’m willing to play along. 😉

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