tyler golden/nbc

 Edited by alexis wilson

halfway through the year, here are a few of the shows that have wowed ew critics kristen baldwin and darren franich in 2021. 

10 best tv shows of 2021...so far

Apple tv+

kristen's #6 pick

servant (Apple Tv+)

While the M. Night Shyamalan-produced thriller is technically a drama, season 2 was
surprisingly funny.

jessica kourkounis/apple tv+

Servant season 2 includes an adorable Reborn Doll dressed in a tiny astronaut costume, a fake pizza place named Cheesus Crust, a bone-chilling hypnosis scene and much, much more.


kristen's #4 pick

pose (fx)

This year, Pose cranked up the romance and humor, but stayed true to its nature of celebrating the '80s and '90s ballroom scene without downplaying the hate faced by the LGBTQ community.

eric liebowitz/fx

In its final season, Pose went deeper into the AIDS crisis, exploring the traumatic pasts of Pray Tell (Billy Porter) and Elektra (Dominique Jackson), while also showing the House of Evangelista's moments of triumph, acceptance and pure joy.

anne marie fox/hbo max

kristen's #1 pick

hacks (hbo max)

After 2,500 shows, legendary Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance is losing her edge and is forced to pair up with recently-canceled writer Ava.

hbo max

Starring Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder, Hacks features one of the best performances of Smart's career. She even stood in as a Deborah Vance wax figure in episode 6, and pulled it off perfectly. "It just gets harder," Deborah tells Ava of the struggle to stay relevant. Perhaps, but Smart is a master at making it look easy.

byron cohen/fx

darren's #5 pick

dave (fxx)

Dave Burd (sort of) plays himself in season 2 of the semi-autobiographical rapcom, Dave.

byron cohen/fx

Season 2 centers Dave's struggles with writer's block, an unexpected journey around LA, and even finds a way to reintegrate Dave's ex, Ally (Taylor Misiak). With Kendall Jenner and Kareem Abdul-Jabar making appearances, the show is filled with artistic confidence and cultural button-pushing.

trae patton/nbc

darren's #3 pick

superstore (nbc)

Frontline workers during COVID-19 and brick-and-mortar employees in an online era both signal end times, and Superstore tells the story of both in its final season.

greg gayne/nbc

Superstore went down swinging, which was possibly foreshadowed by Amy (America Ferrera) telling her colleagues "We're not going down without a fight." With a dreamy flash-forward post-COVID BBQ, a last chance at love and a raw conversation about racism, the show's finale was bighearted and bittersweet.

elizabeth fisher/cbs

darren's #1 pick

evil (paramount+)

On Evil, characters are smart enough to graciously address the divide between Christianity and Islam, but crazy enough to probe supernatural mysteries about scary elevators.

elizabeth fisher/cbs

In season 2, Kristen (Katja Herbers) addresses the psychological fallout from her actions in season 1 by considering adultery, while priest-in-training David (Mike Colter) endures a crisis of faith after being referred to as "the great Black hope of the Catholic Church." Agnostic Ben (Aasif Mandvi) still isn't buying any of it, yet has to confront the monsters that keep appearing in his nightmares. 

read more

read the rest of our 2021 picks!

nino muñoz for ew