TV and streaming: my 5 favorite things of 2021

It has been a great year for television. We have “Squid Game” and “WandaVision”, “Mare of Eastown” and “Only Murders in the Building” – all great shows that make many end-of-year 2021 lists. But, for me, one show that going from pleasant to favorite must be original, intelligent and surprising at the same time. Here are five shows that achieved that goal:

“Schmigadoon! “

A romantic comedy that parodies the musicals of the 40’s and 50’s – it’s such a niche I can’t believe it actually exists. Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong play a couple who get lost in an old-fashioned village where people randomly start singing. Although this is a parody, “Schmigadoon” treats musical theater with reverence and respect, gracing shows like “Carousel” and “Oklahoma” while emphasizing and poking fun at their outdated ideas. Because the show was released in July, when theaters were still closed, any type of musical would have been welcome. But “Schmigadoon!” went above and beyond, delivering Broadway-level song and dance numbers through a cast that also includes favorites Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Ariana DeBose and Alan Cumming.

Where to watch: All six episodes are streamed on Apple TV +.


Anna (Anna Konkle) and Maya (Maya Erskine) attend the local “March Against Cancer”. Opportunities for socialization evolve into suspicion of mortality.

(Courtesy of Hulu)

When this show first came out in 2019, it was considered a squeaky comedy – so uncomfortable it was almost unbearable to watch. This is because “Pen15” is set in college in the year 2000, and it encompasses all the terrible things about that period of life. The show is written by true friends Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who also play college versions of themselves alongside a cast of actual children. The first season captured the messy side of college: friendships that break, what it’s like when your parents are fighting all the time, smoking your first cigarette. The second season, released in two parts on 2021, transcended comedy. He explored deeper issues about identity and what friendship really means through fantastic elements (“Vendy Wiccany”) and new perspectives (“Yuki”) that were breathtakingly beautiful, c was almost unbearable to watch.

Where to watch: Both seasons, along with special animation, are available to stream on Hulu.

“We are lady parties”

A group of Muslim women, some with their hair covered, in a punk rock band

(LR) Lucie Shorthouse as Momtaz, Faith Omole as Bisma, Anjana Vasan as Amina, Juliette Motamed as Ayesha, Sarah Kameela Impey as Saira.

(Laura Radford / Peacock)

I walked into this six-episode comedy expecting an NBC-style sitcom about a group of Muslim women trying to form a punk band. This is basically the subject of “We Are Lady Parts”, created by Nida Manzoor. But rather than just seeing history from one perspective, you see what music and independence mean to five different London women, each with varying degrees of faith and observance. He follows Amina, an aspiring scientist who feels pressure – but not from her parents – to get married. Thanks to her talents as a guitarist, Amina was recruited to join the group Lady Parts despite a paralyzing stage fright. With advice from her band mates, Amina – and viewers – discover that there isn’t just one way to be a Muslim. All of this is done in a way that is not judgmental or sickening. Instead, it’s funny and irreverent, exemplified by the title of one of the band’s songs: “Ain’t No One Gonna Honor Kill My Sister But Me.”

Where to watch: All episodes are streaming on Peacock.

“The Beatles: Come Back”

The Beatles perform in public for the last time

The Beatles perform in public for the last time

(Getty Images / Courtesy Walt Disney Studios)

Does this three-part documentary about the Beatles working on the album “Let It Be” count as a TV show? Anyway, I walked into the Peter Jackson series thinking I would just have it in the background over Thanksgiving weekend. I mean, I love The Beatles, my parents were both super fans and the music was the soundtrack of my childhood. But I didn’t think I loved The Beatles, although it turns out I have to because I gave “Get Back” my full attention (even pausing when people tried to me. speak). In addition to spending eight seemingly intimate hours with John, Paul, George and Ringo, we were able to witness (in a beautifully restored film) the creative process of The Beatles, the dynamics of the group and the bond that unites the musicians even in the moments. difficult. Yes, there’s a lot of time spent just watching the band make up songs, but look at everything else: the fabulous outfits, the toast and the tea tray, the music equipment. I watched it all in 24 hours and am now in the middle of my own Beatlemania 60 years later.

Where to watch: Disney +

“The white lotus”

An image from HBO "The White Lotus."

An image from “The White Lotus” by HBO.

(Mario Perez / HBO)

Sometimes there are shows that are so weird that it takes a while to figure out whether you like them or not, which is the case with “The White Lotus” by Mike White. The six-part comedy-drama is about different people vacationing at a very exclusive resort in Hawaii. Everything is beautiful and perfect, but is it really? The music and set design of “The White Lotus” has an underlying uneasy stream, and as the week progresses the show becomes a harsh commentary on class, privilege, and the working class. Led by a stellar cast that includes Connie Britton as the Empress of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle and Jennifer Coolidge as the distraught heiress mourning her mother, this show takes a while to settle in. But once it does, the characters (and that crazy finale) will occupy a place in your brain for much longer than you might expect.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Corina C. Butler