11 TV Shows That Saved 2021 And 8 That Massively Disappointed Everyone

·9 min read

1.Loved: Cruel Summer

Jamie and Kate in the pilot

Logline: "Dueling points of view surround a small town mystery."

Verdict: A highlight of the teen drama catalogue of 2021, this mystery threw out lots of twists and turns to keep fans guessing every week. Season 1 holds a 93% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Bill Matlock / Freeform / Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Loved: WandaVision

Halloween Wanda

Logline: "Two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems."

Verdict: What's not to love about this superhero miniseries? Elizabeth Olsen killed it as Wanda, and the story was such an emotional roller coaster. A highlight of 2021 for sure!

Disney+/Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Fell flat: Tiger King, Season 2

Jeff and Lauren Lowe

Logline: "A zoo owner spirals out of control amid a cast of eccentric characters in this true murder-for-hire story from the underworld of big cat breeding."

Verdict: Season 1 arrived in March 2020 and was the perfect binge for a time when everyone desperately needed a weird escape from reality. However, this season just didn't live up to its predecessor. It holds a bleak 20% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus reading, "With nothing substantive to add save for a salacious celebration of its first season's success, this kitty has no claws."

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.Loved: Squid Game

Heo Sung-Tae in episode 4

Logline: "Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children's games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits — with deadly high stakes."

Verdict: The Korean horror-drama series took the world by storm and quickly found its way to the very top of Netflix's most-watched shows of all time, dethroning even Bridgerton. It was met with universal acclaim and holds a 94% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

No Juhan / ©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Loved: Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet and Evan Peters

Logline: "As her life crumbles around her, a small-town Pennsylvania detective investigates a local murder."

Verdict: Kate Winslet simply rocked this role as a small-town detective struggling to regain her momentum after the death of her son. Although the ending had viewers somewhat divided, the show was still a massive success amongst critics and audiences alike.


6.Fell flat: Gossip Girl (2021)

popular kids sitting on the steps

Logline: "Eight years after the original website went dark, a new generation of New York private school teenagers are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl."

Verdict: One of the most anticipated shows of the year, this reboot just hasn't lived up to the hype for many viewers so far. The Season 1 critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads: "An ambitious misfire, Gossip Girl stutters more than it struts, stranding a stacked cast in a sumptuous sea of rudderless drama." However, it does hold a contrasting 68% audience score against the 36% approval rating from critics. A divisive one for sure! 👀


7.Loved: You, Season 3

Joe and Love with baby Henry

Logline: Serial killers Joe and Love move to an idyllic suburb with their newborn son in hopes of a fresh start — but old habits die hard.

Verdict: The third season was met with rave reviews, with the critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reading, "You takes its thrilling saga to the suburbs with superb results, made all the more delicious by Penn Badgley and Victoria Pedretti's committed performances." Season 3 sits at a 94% approval rating from critics, the highest of the series. Personally, it was my favorite season so far!

John P. Fleenor / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

8.Fell flat: Elite, Season 4

Patrick and Ander

Logline: New students arrive at the exclusive private school Las Encinas and clash with existing relationships, culminating in yet another bloody mystery.

Verdict: OK, going personal for this one — as a HUGE Elite fan, I was so massively disappointed by this season. It had a few small highlights like Cayetana's growth, but for the most part, it was a mess. The new characters took up way too much spotlight, Guzmán's character development and relationship with Nadia was completely destroyed to prop up a lackluster love triangle, Ander and Omar's storyline was somehow worse than the previous season's, it was overly focused on sex, and the central mystery was deeply uninteresting. At this rate, I don't know if I'll even tune into Season 5, and I'm not the only one.

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.Loved: Ginny & Georgia

MANG friend group in matching shirts

Logline: "Free-spirited Georgia and her two kids, Ginny and Austin, move north in search of a fresh start but find that the road to new beginnings can be bumpy."

Verdict: The show definitely wasn't without its fair share of controversy and criticism, but there's no denying it made waves. It remained the #1 title on Netflix for 28 days straight, breaking Tiger King's previous record. Personally, I really enjoyed it — especially the performances of Sara Waisglass and Antonia Gentry — and can't wait for Season 2.

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Loved: The White Lotus

Olivia and Paula

Logline: "The exploits and misadventures of various guests and employees at a tropical resort over the course of one week."

Verdict: The limited series was largely well received for its performances and blend of drama and comedy. It holds an 88% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.


11.Fell flat: Jupiter's Legacy

Grrace Sheldon and Ben

Logline: "They're the first generation of superheroes. But as they pass the torch to their children, tensions are rising — and the old rules no longer apply."

Verdict: This comic book adaptation was highly anticipated, but ultimately ended up falling flat. It holds a 40% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus reading, "Despite some truly epic fights, Jupiter's Legacy is simply too overstuffed and slow-moving to land many narrative punches." It was canceled after one season.

Steve Wilkie / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

12.Loved: Midnight Mass

priest in church

Logline: "The arrival of a charismatic young priest brings glorious miracles, ominous mysteries, and renewed religious fervor to a dying town desperate to believe."

Verdict: The limited series was largely well received for its story and complex themes. Its critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads: "An ambitious meditation on grief and faith that is as gorgeous as it is unsettling, Midnight Mass's slow boil is a triumph of terror that will leave viewers shaking — and thinking — long after the credits roll." It holds an 88% approval rating from critics.

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

13.Fell flat: Nine Perfect Strangers

Alyla Browne and Nicole Kidman

Logline: "A boutique health-and-wellness resort promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living."

Verdict: The show garnered mixed reactions. The cast performances earned some praise, but the characters and storylines were criticized for being wooden and formulaic. BuzzFeed News wrote, "Nine Perfect Strangers has everything going for it, which makes its failures even more striking."

Vince Valitutti / Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

14.Loved: Shadow and Bone

Jessie Mei Li and Ben Barnes

Logline: "Dark forces conspire against orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov when she unleashes an extraordinary power that could change the fate of her war-torn world."

Verdict: Season 1 of this book adaptation received mostly positive reviews. Its critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads: "From gorgeous costumes to impressive — if intimidating — world-building, Shadow and Bone is certainly as meticulous as its source material, but by folding in unexpected stories it expands the novel's scope to craft an exciting new adventure for fans and newcomers alike." The first season holds an 88% approval rating from critics.

David Appleby / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

15.Fell flat: Sex/Life

Adam Demos and Sarah Shahi

Logline: "A woman's daring sexual past collides with her married-with-kids present when the bad-boy ex she can't stop fantasizing about crashes back into her life."

Verdict: Although it garnered plenty of Netflix views, the series was largely panned. It has a dismal approval rating of just 23% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. BuzzFeed News wrote, "Sex/Life is the most boring and meager of sexual fantasies for straight women stuck in mundane marriages who wish they had something better to cling to." For what it's worth though, I watched a few episodes and found it relatively entertaining — it's certainly not groundbreaking storytelling or anything, but I didn't totally hate it like I expected to *shrugs*.

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collectionn

16.Loved: Who Killed Sara?

Alex standing over Sara's grave

Logline: "Hell-bent on exacting revenge and proving he was framed for his sister's murder, Álex sets out to unearth much more than the crime's real culprit."

Verdict: Two seasons of this Mexican mystery thriller were released this year, both to positive reception. It holds an 86% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and it's been renewed for another season.

Netflix / Courtesy Netflix Media Center

17.Fell flat: The Lost Symbol

Robert on the phone

Logline: "A young Harvard symbologist must solve a series of deadly puzzles to save his kidnapped mentor and thwart a chilling global conspiracy."

Verdict: Unlike Shadow and Bone, this book adaptation was met with mostly lukewarm reception. Its critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads, "With a promising premise, handsome locations, and a well-known character, The Lost Symbol has all the pieces necessary to be an addictive addition to Robert Langdon's story — if only the show's flat writing and strange pace didn't undermine all that potential." Season 1 sits at an approval rating of 50% from critics and 57% from audiences.


18.Loved: Maid

Alex and Maddy in the pilot

Logline: "After fleeing an abusive relationship, a young mother finds a job cleaning houses as she fights to provide for her child and build them a better future."

Verdict: Maid is a tough watch, but it's one that clearly resonated with viewers. It received nearly universal acclaim and was praised for its performances, story, and handling of sensitive subject matter. It holds a 93% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ricardo Hubbs / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

19.And finally, fell flat: I Know What You Did Last Summer

Madison Iseman looking in mirror seeing "I know what you did last summer" written across

Logline: "In a town full of secrets, a group of teenagers are stalked by a mysterious killer a year after a fatal accident on their graduation night."

Verdict: The TV series, loosely based on the 1973 novel and 1997 film adaptation, just hasn't lived up to the high hopes. Its critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads, "A bloodless slasher that fails to congeal, I Know What You Did Last Summer hacks at its killer cast with plot holes and unsatisfying twists." Season 1 currently sits at a 40% approval rating from both critics and audiences.

Michael Desmond / Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection

We couldn't cover every show from this year in one article, so tell us — what were your favorites? What shows were you disappointed by? Let us know in the comments!