While 2021 was a bit of disaster in the real world, TV world has been making it a whole lot easier to endure. Here are five of the year’s best series, a selection of critically-acclaimed and award-winning shows available on Showmax


Succession is currently leading MetaCritic’s round-up of the TV shows mentioned on the most Top 10 lists for 2021, having been named Show of the Year by everyone from Adweek to Complex to Vanity Fair. It’s also the most nominated series overall going into both the 2022 Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe awards.

Succession follows four very rich siblings behaving very badly while trying to win their father’s approval – and control of his company, a global media and entertainment empire.

As Vanity Fair says, “There’s no other show that’s as dramatically compelling or twistedly funny as HBO’s big hit Succession… the best showcase of performances on television… It’s hard not to reach for hyperbole when talking about how Succession makes the viewer feel, because the show utilizes its interpersonal drama—almost always, the relationship between a child and their father—to dig into the reach and power of big money, embodied in the show by the titanic and offensive personality of patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox). The stranglehold that extreme wealth has on everything—on all of our lives—is demonstrated by how the Succession cast dances like puppets to his tune, battered by his indifference but easily manipulated by his charm… Succession has become an indispensable fixture of the landscape—a balm that makes the widening wealth gap humorous instead of, you know, a harbinger of the end of days.”

The White Lotus

The White Lotus is currently in second place on MetaCritic’s round-up of the TV shows mentioned on the most Top 10 lists for 2021, having been named Show of the Year by The Globe and MailThe RingerSlant and more. 

Set over the course of a week, the HBO series gradually peels back the glossy veneer of picture-perfect travellers, cheerful hotel employees, and the idyllic island locale itself to reveal something far uglier beneath.​ 

As The New Yorker says, “Who is the standout in Mike White’s fable of the maladjusted élite? Is it Jake Lacy as Shane, the fratty, entitled honeymooner? Murray Bartlett as Armond, the hotel manager on a drug bender? Natasha Rothwell as Belinda, the resort’s spa manager who has the last dredges of her optimism drained? Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya, the woo-woo loner who drains Belinda of that optimism? This series gave us some of the best performances of the year.”


Hacks is currently in second place on Rotten Tomatoes’ roundup of the Best TV of 2021 and in sixth place on MetaCritic’s round-up of the TV shows mentioned on the most Top 10 lists for 2021, having been named Show of the Year by Decider and Paste

The comedy-drama series centres on legendary Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart in an Emmy-winning performance), who takes on an entitled, down-on-her-luck Gen Z comedy writer (Hannah Einbinder in an Emmy-nominated performance) in a bid to find fresh material and remain relevant as her performance dates start to dwindle.

Decider calls it “as good as it gets… expertly penned… a deft blend of brilliant observational humor and relatable hilarity.”

Mare of Eastown

Mare of Easttown is currently in fifth place on MetaCritic’s round-up of the TV shows mentioned on the most Top 10 lists for 2021, having been named Show of the Year by TVLine

HBO’s Mare of Easttown dominated the Limited Series acting categories at the Emmys, with Kate Winslet winning Best Actress as small-town detective Mare Sheehan, who must investigate a murder while trying to keep her life from falling apart, and Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson taking home the Supporting Actor and Actress categories as her colleague and friend respectively. 

“HBO reliably serves up a twist-laden murder mystery for us to solve every year, it seems — but even without the murder, Mare still would have been must-see TV,” says TVLine. “Yes, it gave us plenty of clues, but it also took its sweet time painting a deeply intimate portrait of a tight-knit small town where everyone knows everyone else’s darkest secrets. Kate Winslet shone, of course, in a complicated role that’s like nothing we’ve ever seen from her, but the excellent work from Jean Smart, Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson just added more detail and texture to a masterfully observed human drama.”

What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do In The Shadows features prominently on multiple Top 10 lists for 2021, including top five placements from Decider and Paste. It’s also at number 11 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the best-reviewed TV shows of 2021, with a 100% critics’ rating, and was just nominated as Best Comedy, among other honours, at the 2022 Critics’ Choice Awards. 

Based on the 2014 cult movie from the batty brains of nine-time Emmy nominee Jemaine Clement (Flight Of The Conchords) and Oscar winner Taika Waititi (Jojo RabbitThor: Ragnarok), What We Do in the Shadows follows four vampires who’ve “lived” together for hundreds of years – plenty of time to get on each other’s nerves. 

As Decider says, “FX’s mockumentary series featuring the world’s dumbest vampires, What We Do In the Shadows, has been one of the best comedies on TV since it premiered in 2019. But Season 3 felt like the show’s breakout year, in part because of the internet’s affinity for the brilliant slow-burn relationship between Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak)—formerly a bloodthirsty leader, now a somewhat reluctant vampire going through a midlife crisis—and his human familiar, Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén), formerly a soft-spoken servant, now a badass vampire slayer. It’s a season full of priceless, quotable moments.”