The Best TV Episodes of 2021 (Part One)

by thethreepennyguignol

It’s drawing to the end of another year, and I would like to take this chance to celebrate some of my favourite episodes of television. In another batshit insane twelve months, TV has been what kept me sane (ish), and I love taking a little time to come on here and talk to you all about that. So this week, I’m sharing my favourite episodes of 2021, and I would love to hear about the TV spectaculars that kept you going (or drove you over the edge entirely, either works) this year!

10. WandaVision – All-New Halloween Spooktacular!

Look, I’m as sick of Marvel’s omnipresence in pop culture as anyone, but credit where credit is due – WandaVision really has its moments, especially for those TV nerds amongst us. I really loved almost everything about this initial run of episodes (right up until it got into the actual Marvel stuff, really), but my favourite has to be their love letter to early noughties sitcommery. It’s a really great balance of style and substance, a slick and loving parody of the tropes I grew up with, and Evan Peters rolling in to brighten things up with a chaotic and enormously fun performance I really feel like this was made for me. Make enough shit and eventually some of it’s going to stick, Marvel, and that’s exactly what we got with this episode.

9. Riverdale – Rivervale

I don’t review Riverdale anymore, because I love myself and want to thrive emotionally and mentally, but I do tap in to catch up with it every now and then – and, even though it’s peak Riverdale stupidity, I can’t say I didn’t love the phenomenally silly and over-the-top alt-universe Riverdale pilot, Rivervale. Archie’s death, as he pleads his non-virginity to insane preacher Cheryl Blossom, is an iconic moment in the series’ run, and also just clever enough and just dumb enough to make me think I need to start reviewing this show again. I love Riverdale most when it’s foolish but unpredictable, and this is exactly what I mean when I say that.

8. Brassic – Episode Two

I could have put any episode of Brassic on here, honestly – it’s still one of my favourite shows of the last decade or so by a long shot – but this is the episode that I found myself thinking about most after I finished the season earlier this year. It’s that beautifully typical blend of brilliant Brassic dramedy, a take on grief, love, loss, sadness, little boats, and at-sea burials, wrapped up in this catastrophically funny caper that never stops escalating. The cast is firing on all cylinders, and that balance of humour and real emotion is about the best any show on TV is pulling off right now.

7. Hellbound – Episode Four

Hellbound is a great little high-concept horror show, and I was sure I had the measure of it until this episode. A time-jump and a new lead character throw us in the deep end with a whole new world, and honestly, I just have to respect this episode as a really great show of skill from the writers and director; the ability to deliver essentially an entirely new storyline filled with new characters and make us care as much about it as we did about what came before is a feat of engineering. Add to that the pitch-black turn the horror takes this episode, and you’ve got something that stands up as a wickedly dark and technically confident entry into the show’s run.

6. Inside No. 9 – Hurry Up and Wait

Inside No. 9 is one of those rare shows that I actually loved more after writing about a whole season of it, and this episode is the one that I know I’ll be thinking about forever. I love Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton most when they’re dealing with small communities and dark secrets, and Hurry Up and Wait was a near-perfect example of that. Witty, sharp, delightfully misleading, and with the kind of twist in the tale that makes you want to hurl yourself into the sun in the best way possible, it’s peak black British comedy and I love it with all my rotten little heart.

If you liked this article and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or checking out my other blog, No But Listen, which covers all things movie!

(header image via The London Horror Society)