Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own risk…
Last year I watched 11 shows from 2020. This year I watched 12 shows from 2021–doing well! I technically didn’t finish all of Dickinson because they put out two seasons this year, but since I watched the bulk of it I am keeping it on my 2021 list. Last year I also watched 7 seasons from previous years, including one that I watched twice (with two different people), plus a PBS doc. This year I watched 11–back to previous year’s numbers.
1. Saved by the Bell
The second season started off a little slowly but then really picked up steam with the spirit competition. I definitely did not see those twists coming! By the penultimate and final episode I was in tears from the emotional rollercoaster. There was more focus on the adults this season but it was still a pretty even split with the kids, which is good because I care about both the kids and the adults equally at this point.
2. The Babysitters Club
The most comforting comfort show, and I definitely sobbed through more than one of these episodes as well, especially when Claudia’s grandmother died. I was sad that they didn’t have as many episodes this second season–I wish there were as many episodes as there are books and more.
Okay, so I’m not done with season 3 yet, as I said above, but I watched all of season 2 this year and a few episodes of season 3 so Dickinson is still going on the list. I just couldn’t rush this show. Every time I think I have a favorite character I suddenly have a new favorite character, and the third season is already going in different directions from the second. I’m sad this last season is all we’ll get–I was hoping it would go all the way through her death and posthumous fame.
I was sad to see this show end this year after only its second season, but was sort of okay with it since the focus of the episode had shifted a bit from Rainbow to her parents and aunt. I love those characters, too, so it wasn’t a bad shift, but it seemed like the writers felt Rainbow’s story of transitioning from cult child to confident young adult poised to become the Dr. Rainbow Johnson we know from Blackish had sufficiently been told. Still, I’ll miss this TV family and their friends. It had a great cast of characters and I of course loved the 80s setting.
5. The Wonder Years
But as soon as Mixed-ish ended, the new The Wonder Years began, and the family sitcom from another era hole was filled. This show really grew on me–it started out a bit simplistic, but as the season went on, the storylines grew more and more unexpected while still in the show’s accessible style. I’m looking forward to more from this TV family.
6. What We Do in the Shadows
At first I was worried about this season because the first episode was not my favorite, but then things really got going and I enjoyed the build to the last few episodes–Laszlo and Colin Robinson paired together, Nandor’s arc, the housemates splitting up. I knew the season couldn’t end as happily as it seemed to be ending, but I was still sad at the last moments of the finale. Now I can’t wait for the resolution in season 4.
7. Pretend it’s a City
I think this show came at a time when I really needed to love New York City again, and it really helped. I had never really seen much of Fran Lebowitz before so was’t watching for her specifically, but I enjoyed her humor and rapport with Martin Scorsese. Winter is a hard time in a pandemic NYC, but I hope I can channel the spirit of this series to get through it again.
This show remained solid as it finished up its penultimate season, and it was nice that it focused on Junior finally getting out of the house and moving in with his girlfriend–I actually thought their apartment search was pretty realistic, though I don’t know LA. I’m glad they’re taking the time to wrap up the show next season, however, as I don’t think that this is a show that could go on forever… at least not until the toddler Devonte comes into his own.
9. And Just Like That
This show definitely has some cringey moments and I’m not really sure why a sequel series to Sex and the City exists but I can’t help it, it’s fun to watch. I guess I’ve just always liked Carrie, and now that Big is gone I can enjoy her again. Not sure what is going on with some of these storylines, but, whatever, it has me watching and looking forward to the next episode.
I really wish this show had ended better because while it wasn’t my favorite show, I did enjoy a lot about it. I liked the themes they were dealing with this season but there were just too many cringey moments, and ending it with so much sadness up in the air just didn’t do anything for me. Still a decent series though.
11. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
I’m not sure this show needed a second season, as it became more about the love triangle (snore) than anything else, but at least it got the Christmas movie to tie everything up and leave me thinking, “I guess that wasn’t so bad.” The cast was so great, but I couldn’t get past many of the writing choices (Max and Mo’s restaurant endeavor, constantly using the term “coder”). At least Bernadette Peters came back.
The final season of this long-running show was the worst of them, unfortunately. I wish Younger could have had a better farewell season, but at least it was a good show for a while, and Diana came back for a momentary cameo. I still don’t think this show every really reckoned with the agism in its premise, but it came closer than a lot of shows do to addressing this topic, so I’ll leave it at that. Also I’m turning 40 next year so if I want to get a job I may need to learn the Gen Z ways…
Compare to Last Year’s Rankings
Older Shows/Seasons I watched this year:
Great News Season 2
Fuller House Season 4
Dickinson Season 1
New Girl Season 2
New Girl season 3
Moonlighting Season 1
Brooklyn 99 Season 2
Anything But Love Season 1
All’s Fair (except last ep, not available)
Enlightened Season 1 (Rewatch)
Grace and Frankie Season 2