5 Best TV Surprises of 2021

·3 min read

If 2020 was the darkest timeline, 2021 was the weirdest. On television, everywhere we looked there were new trends and shocking announcements. Yes, there were the usual cancellations and deaths, but some of those weren’t exactly surprises.

The uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic led studios to make hard choices and focus on new ideas. With everyone staying home, the industry was forced to evolve. We’re not claiming things have drastically changed, but some exciting new things are happening. These are 5 of our favorite TV surprises of 2021.

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Cast Reunions

Even superstars get bored in quarantine. This led to a wave of virtual and in person cast reunions. Some of the most high profile include Community, Parks & Recreation and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Fresh Prince was particularly emotional, as it featured the long-awaited reconciliation of Will Smith and Janet Hubert. As actors get back to work, the trend seems to have died down, but as the Friends reunion taught us, money always talks, so never say never.

Theatrical Releases at Home

If people can’t go to movie theaters and your studio owns a major streaming network, it just seems like common sense to air the movies there. We understand there’s contracts and money involved, but if we can watch Black Widow or Dune without risking a trip to the movies we’re going to take it. In fact, when we factor in the price of movie tickets, concessions and gas, we prefer staying home for big theatrical releases—something the box office is slowly reflecting.

Phase 4 of the Marvel Comic Universe

Through 26 movies, Marvel has conditioned us to expect each movie to be connected and part of a greater story. However, the start of Phase 4 signaled a new direction for the franchise. TV series on Disney+ are now considered central to the ongoing story and must be watched to understand the full scope of things. Loki featured the official arrival of Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror and the multiverse, rumored to be the next big bad and major arc respectively. We thought the TV shows would be companion pieces, not just as important as the movies. With several movies and TV shows planned for 2022, it seems like nerds will have to get the timelines straight and subscriptions renewed.

NBC Brings Back Law & Order

Back in 2010, NBC shockingly canceled its flagship series Law & Order. The long-running crime show abruptly ended after 20 seasons, depriving fans of any real closure. Imagine our surprise when the network announced it was reviving the procedural, and picking up where it left off with season 21. Anthony Anderson is set to return as Det. Kevin Bernard, but let’s be honest, we won’t truly be ready for a courtroom showdown without Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy.

All Rise Season 3 Picked Up at OWN

As much as we enjoyed CBS legal drama All Rise, behind the scenes problems led to its cancellation. OWN wasn’t about to let its loyal following and decent ratings go to waste, so it picked up the series for a third season. It’s not uncommon for shows to move to a new network after cancellation (see Lucifer and Manifest), however, the announcement came long after we had given up hope for All Rise, so this is a cool comeback story. Even better, original stars Simone Missick, Wilson Bethel, Jessica Camacho, J. Alex Brinson, Ruthie Ann Miles and Lindsay Mendez are all returning.