Along with unbearable humidity and unexpected heatwaves, July also brings the stark realization that we’re closer to the end of the year than the beginning. And when you apply that same thought to the state of television, it tends to mean we’ve already been given access to a good chunk of the year’s best shows — be it basic math (there are 12 months in a year and we’re in the middle of month No. 7, so…) or the rather complicated Emmy cycle (lots of great shows always drop in the spring, so they’re fresh in voters’ minds come June), TV fanatics tend to have a decent grip on what the year in TV will look like by now.
Thankfully, 2021 has given us a bevy of outstanding television series. Some are groundbreaking programs that defy typical descriptors. Others put a fresh spin on old formulas, creating new favorites with familiar comforts. Still more use established structures and stars to their advantage, concocting irresistible entertainment everyone can enjoy.
The best TV of the year so far spans far wider than I can fit into this brief preamble, so let me just say: There are no boundaries here. Be it a comedy, drama, limited series, docuseries, talk show, sketch series, or some odd amalgamation of these or other genres, if it was on TV (or could be), we considered it. Hopefully, that’s resulted in a list with at least one or two options you’ve yet to watch, and you, dear reader, are about to be immersed in your next favorite series.
So dive in, share your thoughts, and let’s start celebrating the year in television. With this many great shows already, you’re going to want to get started right away.
For even more TV recommendations from IndieWire, check out our list of 2021 TV reviews — most of the top selections are featured in this list, but additional gems and further reading can be found here, as well. For more recent picks, listen to IndieWire’s TV Podcast, “Millions of Screens,” which is available on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. You can subscribe here or via RSS.
Kristen Lopez and Tyler Hersko also contributed to this list.