The Best and Worst New Dramas of 2021

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2021 was an excellent year for TV.

There were some great offerings on broadcast and streaming, keeping us engrossed in a tough year.

TV Fanatic staff compiled a list of some of the year's best and worst new dramas.

Best-Worst Dramas 2021 Season

Did your favorite show make the cut?

Scroll down to find out.

Producing King -tall  - The Big Leap Season 1 Episode 11

The Big Leap - Best

Definitely falling into the "guilty pleasure" category, The Big Leap somehow creates empathetic, quirky yet relatable characters, led by dreamy Scott Foley and sprinkled with some great dancing.

But it might be the behind-the-scenes-of-a-reality-contest-show aspect that most allures. A lot of it is ridiculous, but a lot of it is really fun, and also heartfelt.

Arcade Playing - Power Book III: Raising Kanan Season 1 Episode 1

Power Book III: Raising Kanan - Best

Of all the Power spinoffs, the one centered around the number one Power villain felt like a risky endeavor. At best, Kanan was a polarizing figure, and centering an entire series around his origin story could have gone badly if not done correctly.

Lucky for us, it was a captivating and ambitious achievement that introduced us to a whole new side of a character we thought we had all figured out.

Headlined by future superstar MeKai Curtis and the formidable Patina Miller, the series was superb on every level and added a whole new dimension to the Power Universe.

First Meeting - Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 1

Cruel Summer - Best

This was one of the best teen mysteries ever. It was my summer "guilty pleasure."

Each week, twists and turns made the audience wonder if Jeanette knew about the kidnapping if Kate had a hand in her own disappearance, and just how messed up both these girls were.

The B stories, especially Vince and Ben's relationship, were just as exciting.

Joe sings at the funeral - Ordinary Joe Season 1 Episode 8

Ordinary Joe - Best

NBC created a unique series showing Joe and his family in three different timelines.

While it took some time to adjust to each one, we're invested in what happens to each Joe and if he'll find happiness with Amy or Jenny.

Will he connect with his biological son that Amy gave up for adoption? Ordinary Joe tackles every day tough issues in heartfelt ways.

Mare on the Job Single - Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1

Mare of Easttown - Best

Mare of Easttown deserves all the award recognition it's getting and some.

Kate Winslet is incredible as a hardened mom and cop in a Pennsylvanian town who investigates a death that rocks her community.

It's an engrossing murder mystery that had you on the edge of your seat, and the premium channel series tapped into that water cooler phenomenon that, outside of other high-caliber series, has been missing since the binge era.

Maid on Netflix

Maid - Best

Maid is a heart-aching drama and gripping look into the life of a domestic abuse survivor, and it's one of the richest, most human work of fiction of the year.

It taps into motherhood and the resilience and determination of a single mother who strives to get her feet on the ground and be the best woman and mother she can be after fleeing an abusive situation.

A powerful tale of womanhood and survival, this buzzed-about series sticks with you well after you've finished the 10-episode binge.

Cristina Ricci on Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets - Best

With the debut season continuing into 2022, Yellowjackets sports an awesome all-star cast (Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, etc), automatically categorizing it as essential, but the dark secretive, and utterly bloody narrative keeps us coming back for more.

The 90s rock tunes are cool, too.

Brad & Billie make out

Sex/Life - Worst

You know those times you cringe in embarrassment for other people? That's how we should all feel watching Sarah Shahi and Mike Vogel as a ridiculously good-looking married couple struggling to get on the same page sexually. Family and compatibility be damned!

Where's the exciting public sex? And other types of sex, but they've got sex on the mind to the point they're willing to throw it all away. Shallow isn't even the half of it.

Avoid unless you're playing a drinking and giggling game, which might make its production worthwhile.

Paradise City on Amazon

Paradise City - Best

This one is for the metalheads. Ash Avildsen's series sequel to the feature film American Satan casts various rock stars (like Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides) along with veteran actors (like Drea de Matteo, Bella Thorne, and the taken-way-too-soon Cameron Boyce) into a metal soap opera.

Some mysticism and occult interlace with relationship drama, greed, and drugs to construct a cheesily amusing stew, with a killer soundtrack and some great rock cameos (hello, Nita Strauss!). We look forward to a hopefully even wilder season 2!

Speaking at a Function - tall - Our Kind of People Season 1 Episode 1

Our Kind of People - Worst

On paper, Our Kind of People should be a hit. It's the brainchild of Lee Daniels, the man behind FOX's hit Empire.

It has an impressively stacked cast with Yaya DaCosta, Morris Chestnut, and Joe Morton, and the concept was interesting. But the writing and execution do not match the show's potential for greatness.

They chew through plots at a breakneck pace, never giving anything room to breathe or develop before they jump into something else. The plot twists are predictable and so frequent, they lose any appeal.

They kill any suspense and have too much momentum, and all of the commentary they attempt to drive at in their attempts to embody and celebrate Blackness feel shallow, like they're doing the Best of Hits they're reading off of cue cards.

Not to mention, it's not the most authentic portrayal of the very real Black version of Martha's Vineyard.

Ginny & Georgia Mom

Ginny & Georgia - Best

While certainly not perfect, Netflix struck gold with Ginny & Georgia as a comical, engrossing, in-depth exploration of a mother/daughter dynamic.

Some of the younger portions of the show via Ginny's arcs with her romantic love interests or her friends tend to be the show at its weakest, but everything else is top-notch.

Brianne Howey is a tour-de-force as the brash, bold, slick Georgia Miller who is a true-bred survivor who will do anything to protect her kids whether her self-absorbed daughter whose identity issues are only compounded by her near-constant racial confusion and her mother's breadth of secrets, believes her or not.

The more the series reveals the richer and more intriguing the characters are, right up until the final scene that leaves you wanting more.

Landscapers on HBO Max

Landscapers - Best

Olivia Colman and David Thewlis as a sweet, yet awkward, older English couple investigated for the bodies of her parents buried in their yard 15 years prior was the holiday gift we didn't know we needed.

The ironic innuendo in the portrayals is nothing short of delightful, and the story itself is a crazy true one from 2014.

The slightly seriocomic/surrealist direction charms, while the rude police banter amuses. Sadly, it's only a four-episode miniseries, but it's such a delicious little treat!

Amanda at the Scene Tall - Kin Season 1 Episode 2

Kin - Best

This Dublin-set AMC+ original series was Irish drama at its finest.

The expansive cast included Aidan Gillen, Charlie Cox, Clare Dunne, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Emmett J. Scanlan, and Sam Keeley as one of the most prominent crime families in Dublin.

It was a cleverly plotted drama series that built to a wild conclusion, leaving fans wanting more seasons.

What about you, TV Fanatics?

Which shows were your best and worst of the year?

Paul Dailly was an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic.Follow him on X.

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