(Photo by Freeform)
The Best TV of 2021 (So Far)
For a year that’s only a few months old, 2021 has already given us a wealth of quality television. For starters, the year’s first three 100% Certified Fresh seasons premiered just weeks into the new year — HBO docuseries The Lady and the Dale and the second seasons of Apple TV+’s Dickinson in January and For All Mankind in February. We’re betting there will be a few more additions to Rotten Tomatoes’ 100% Club before the year is through.
On top of those stellar showings, the first two (of many) Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series in the works for Disney+ made an impressive splash when WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finally premiered.
Looking for more critic-approved TV series to add to your viewing queue? This list should help. We’ve rounded up all of the Certified Fresh TV and streaming series that have premiered in 2021 so far — that means seasons that scored at least 75% Fresh on the Tomatometer, with at least 20 critic reviews (five of those from Top Critics). Note: Shows retain their Certified Fresh status even if they fall below that threshold, as long as the scores stay at 70% or above.
To break any ties, seasons that have the same score are then ranked by the overall number of reviews (season only or season and episodic scores together where episodic reviews can be counted). Ties between seasons with the same score and the same number of reviews are broken by the average rating out of 10 found under “See Score Details” link beneath their Tomatometer scores on each season’s page.
Need more suggestions? Check out our comprehensive list of the best TV and streaming shows of 2020 — there are a whopping 129 Certified Fresh TV seasons on last year’s list.
Have your favorite shows of 2021 made our list of the best-reviewed TV of the year? Tell us about your picks in the comments!
Adjusted Score: 80.786%
Critics Consensus: It taps into some fairly regular plot points, but when it dares to defy expectations and focus on its charming young cast, The Irregulars hints at something truly special lingering beneath the surface.
Set in Victorian London, the series follows a gang of troubled street teens who are manipulated into solving crimes for... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.889%
Critics Consensus: Allen v. Farrow unearths new evidence in a well-known case to craft a compelling - if one-sided - indictment of society's complicity in upholding powerful people over seeking justice for those they've wronged.
HBO Documentary Film's ALLEN v. FARROW, from award-winning investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy, is a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.419%
Critics Consensus: Though not all of its innovations pay off, The Investigation's deliberate focus on the aftermath of a heinous crime successfully eschews sensationalism while offering sobering insights into the harsh realities of seeking justice.
Based on the internationally followed "submarine case," THE INVESTIGATION closely follows Jens Møller (Søren Malling), the Head of Homicide, and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.629%
Critics Consensus: While Exterminate All the Brutes perhaps packs a little too much into its limited runtime, it remains a powerful, necessary examination of the horrors of historical colonialism and its lingering impact on the world today.
An expansive exploration of the exploitative and genocidal aspects of European colonialism, from America to Africa and its impact on... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.47%
Critics Consensus: Harrowing and heartfelt, Dancing with the Devil at times trips over itself, but there's no denying the power of Demi Lovato's candid courage in facing her demons.
The YouTube Originals four-part docuseries explores every aspect that led to Lovato's nearly fatal overdose in 2018, and her awakenings... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.625%
Critics Consensus: From gorgeous costumes to impressive -- if intimidating -- world-building, Shadow and Bone is certainly as meticulous as its source material, but by folding in unexpected stories it expands the novel's scope to craft an exciting new adventure for fans and newcomers alike.
Based on Leigh Bardugo's worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone finds us in a war-torn world where lowly soldier... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.208%
Critics Consensus: Bloodlands at times threatens to buckle under the weight of its heavy load, but thrilling twists and incredible performances hold steady to create an engaging, challenging viewing experience.
Northern Irish police detective Tom Brannick discovers a suicide note that appears to be connected to an infamous cold case.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.996%
Critics Consensus: Though it may be a bit too grounded for some viewers, Superman & Lois draws strength from unexpected places - without skimping on the action -- to carve its own path in a crowded superhero universe.
The world's most famous superhero and the world's most famous journalist deal with the challenges of being working parents in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.155%
Critics Consensus: Servant's second season serves up a solid - if not always convincing - set of thrills with a better grasp on its dark humor.
Following a tragedy that has caused a rift in their marriage, the Turners hire a nanny, who soon finds that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.944%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by a winsome ensemble, Young Rock is an endearing peek behind the curtain of both Dwayne Johnson's childhood and the wild world of wrestling.
A look at the formative years of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He will appear in every episode, bookending flashbacks to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.786%
Critics Consensus: Game Changers doesn't quite flip the puck, but it has enough heart and good humor to make The Mighty Ducks proud.
Set in present day Minnesota, the Mighty Ducks have evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.383%
Critics Consensus: Packed with blockbuster action and deft character beats, Falcon and the Winter Soldier proves itself worthy of Captain America's legacy with its globetrotting intrigue, mature social commentary, and the sparky rapport between stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan.
Sam Wilson allies himself with Bucky Barnes to embark on a series of international adventures, the duo drawn together by... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.208%
Critics Consensus: Though it may have a bit too much going on, Cruel Summer's delicious twists and delightful turns from its young stars are never less than entertaining.
The unconventional drama takes place over three summers in the 90s when a beautiful and popular teen goes missing, and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.155%
Critics Consensus: If Pretend It's a City can't quite live up to its central duo's creative clout, it's still a delight to see their love for their city - and one another -- in full bloom.
Wander the New York City streets and fascinating mind of wry writer, humorist and raconteur Fran Lebowitz as she sits... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.069%
Critics Consensus: By pairing its emotional punches with stronger humor, Cobra Kai's third season finds itself in fine fighting form.
With a new sensei at the helm of the Cobra Kai dojo, a three-way feud takes center stage. Old grudges... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.872%
Critics Consensus: Thorough and thoughtful, Hemingway's honest approach to its complicated subject avoids hagiography without diminishing the impact of his words.
The visionary work and turbulent life of writer Ernest Hemingway, including his influence on literature and culture. ... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.887%
Critics Consensus: Grounded by a career-best Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown's ambitions at times exceed its reach, but its central mystery is supported by such strong sense of place and character it hardly matters.
MARE OF EASTTOWN stars Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan, a small-town Pennsylvania detective who investigates a local murder as life... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.26%
Critics Consensus: As enigmatic as the cryptic itself, Sasquatch spins an intoxicatingly elusive yarn that will keep viewers searching even after the series ends.
Journalist David Holthouse returns to California to pursue the truth behind a grisly scene of dismembered corpses uncovered in the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109.823%
Critics Consensus: Part loving homage to TV history, part off-kilter mystery, WandaVision is a wonderfully weird and strikingly bold step into the small screen for the MCU - and a perfect showcase for Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany.
Marvel Studios presents "WandaVision," a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.604%
Critics Consensus: Though it takes a few episodes to find its footing, a winsome ensemble, witty writing, and a willingness to engage with complex issues facing Indigenous peoples in modern America make Rutherford Falls a place worth visiting.
RUTHERFORD FALLS is a comedy about two lifelong best friends, Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) and Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding), who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.155%
Critics Consensus: Resident Alien takes a minute to settle into its skin, but once it does it finds fresh humor in a familiar framework and proves a perfect showcase for Alan Tudyk's singular comedic skills.
Based on the Dark Horse comic, Resident Alien follows Harry, an alien that crash lands on Earth and passes himself... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.153%
Critics Consensus: Made for Love's satirical riffs on technology are undeniably clever, but the most valuable special effects in this twisty odyssey are Cristin Milioti's charisma and comedic timing.
A dark comedy following a thirtysomething woman on the run after 10 years in a suffocating marriage to a controlling... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.103%
Critics Consensus: A deliciously silly serving of edutainment, Waffles + Mochi is a delightful treat.
Curious puppet pals Waffles and Mochi travel the world exploring the wonders of food and culture while learning how to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.279%
Critics Consensus: With a winsome cast, picturesque setting, and plenty of heart, All Creatures Great and Smallis a gentle reminder that good drama can be as soothing as it is entertaining.
Series about the staff at a country veterinarian practice in 1930s to 1940s Yorkshire. Reboot of 1970s series.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.889%
Critics Consensus: With bold animation, bloody action, and an all-star cast led by the charming Steven Yeun, Invincible smartly adapts its source material without sacrificing its nuanced perspective on the price of superpowers.
Invincible is an adult animated superhero show that revolves around seventeen-year-old Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), who's just like every other... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.417%
Critics Consensus: Omar Sy effortlessly hits every mark in Lupin, an engrossing espionage thriller that lives up to its source material and then some.
Inspired by the adventures of Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief Assane Diop sets out to avenge his father for an injustice... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.573%
Critics Consensus: Propelled by an exquisite cast, empathetic writing, and a distinct visual style, It's a Sin is an incredible feat of small-screen magic.
It's a Sin follows the story of the 1980s, the story of AIDS, and charts the joy and heartbreak of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.628%
Critics Consensus: For All Mankind's sophomore flight isn't without its hiccups, but compelling character work and a renewed sense of wonder make for thrilling viewing.
Season two of the space drama picks up a decade later in 1983. It's the height of the Cold War... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.208%
Critics Consensus: An intoxicating blend of historical footage, candid interviews, and animation that deftly captures Liz Carmichael's incredible life, The Lady and the Dale is a wild ride.
The saga of 1970s entrepreneur Elizabeth Carmichael, who rose to fame with her promotion of The Dale, a three-wheeled, fuel-efficient... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.953%
Critics Consensus: With stronger writing and a never-better Hailee Steinfeld, Dickinson finds surer footing in its second season without losing any of its strange delights.
Poet, daughter, and rebel Emily Dickinson embarks on a mission to become the world's greatest poet.... [More]
Looking for more TV and movies to watch? Check out our guide to the best in streaming and TV, Binge Central.