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50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Like it or not, but we’re about to have more content than we can handle...

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021
Anticipated TV Shows of 2021
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While the film industry took a hard hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to empty theaters and a shaky transition to streaming for even the most expensive blockbusters, TV kept chugging along, keeping us sane in the craziness that was 2020.

Now, 2021 is upon us, with the prospect of a new political dawn and the (hopeful) end of the pandemic in sight by at least the middle of the year. We’ve still got a ways to go, but TV might just have to be our savior once again.

Luckily, there’s a mix of returning favorites and new potential classics on the horizon, whether it’s continuations of long-dormant series (Gossip Girl, Friends, Dexter) or the beginnings of Disney+’s burgeoning onslaught of Star Wars and Marvel content.

Even as movie studios rend their garments, figuring out when to release their biggest offerings, TV will be there for us, plugging new, exciting stories into our eyeballs right on schedule. Or, you know, if production permits (see: Stranger Things 4).

Like it or not, we’re about to have more TV than we know what to do with, even as we have more time at home to consume it. Still, we’re excited about a good deal of it, and we’ve got a murderer’s row of recommendations to guide your viewing habits.

–Clint Worthington
Senior Writer


Desus & Mero 

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Desus & Mero (Showtime)

Season: 3

Premieres: January 31st via Showtime

Desus Nice and The Kid Mero are back for another round of chats. After dominating the podcast medium, Desus and Mero are changing the face of late-night television with their eclectic medley of guests and their unique interviewing style that’s exploring uncharted territories. If you recall, last season concluded with a funny and introspective interview with former president Barack Obama, which sets the bar extremely high for the duo’s forthcoming third season. 2021 should be interesting. –Okla Jones


The Investigation

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

The Investigation (HBO Max)

Season: 1

Premieres: February 1st via HBO Max

The modern crime drama is in pretty good hands under the watch of Tobias Lindholm, at least if we’re going off the praise of his Danish works (including the Oscar-nominated A War) and his more recent direction on Mindhunter. Last September, his new six-part series The Investigation generated buzz overseas, and now HBO will bring the title to American doorsteps. With its focus on a police homicide unit tackling one of Denmark’s most infamous (and very real) murders, there’s little light to this subject matter. Instead, existing production details, including consultation with several real-life individuals integral to the plot’s events, promise a show with unwavering conviction and a disturbing descent into darkness. –Sam Mwakasisi


Firefly Lane

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Firefly Lane (Netflix)

Season: 1

Premieres: February 3rd via Netflix

Katherine Heigl returns to TV with this adaptation of the Kristin Hannah novel Firefly Lane, which follows the story of two young girls bonded as best friends by tragedy, and who spend the next thirty years attached to the hip through thick and thin. The teaser looks heartwarming, and the choice to split the narrative across three decades of their lives (Heigl and Scrubs’ Sarah Chalke as adults, Ali Skovbye and Roan Curtis as teens) gives us real This Is Us vibes. Ought to be good comfort-food viewing for when the world outside gets too hard (and really, when isn’t it these days?). –Clint Worthington


The Snoopy Show

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

The Snoopy Show (Apple TV)

Season: 1

Premieres: February 5th via Apple TV+

As Elton John once sang: “The beagle is back.” After fulfilling his dream of becoming a NASA astronaut in last year’s Snoopy in Space, America’s pooch has returned to Charles Schulz’s balmy Midwestern neighborhood for new adventures. Based on the spirited first trailer, these escapades include — but are certainly not limited to — deep-sea diving, trips to the sky, Western standoffs, misty mountain climbing, and high-wire Halloween stunts. Look, it’s no coincidence that both series have leaned on the Snoopy side of Peanuts. Apple knows what you want, and doggone it, you’re gonna get it. –Michael Roffman


Clarice

Silence of the Lambs sequel trailer Clarice teaser TV show series (CBS)

Clarice (CBS)

Season: 1

Premieres: February 11th via CBS

Thirty years after Jodie Foster won an Oscar for the role, Agent Clarice Starling returns to the screen in a new psychological drama for CBS. This time around, Rebecca Breeds steps into the cheap shoes of the titular FBI agent for a story set six months after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. Jonathan Demme’s Best Picture blockbuster is known for its subversion of the male gaze, and Clarice will continue this progressive tradition by examining feminism and the white gaze through fellow agent Ardelia Mapp (Devyn Tyler). Expect an examination of trauma as Buffalo Bill’s would-be victim Catherine Martin (Marnee Carpenter) and adopted dog Precious will also be featured. It’ll be a tricky needle to thread as the show cannot legally mention the name Hannibal Lecter, but if they can pull it off, we’ll find that the suave cannibal was right: the world is more interesting with Clarice in it. –Jenn Adams


Hip Hop Uncovered

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Hip Hop Uncovered (FX)

Season: 1

Premieres: February 12th via FX

Hip-hop’s influence on modern culture goes without saying. The genre’s growth from a drop of fuel to a hand on the steering wheel has centered many a documentary with attention-nabbing personalities, which makes the approach of this six-part docuseries so interesting. Led by current Falcon and the Winter Soldier showrunner Malcolm Spellman, Hip Hop Uncovered will focus on the genre through the untold stories of its roots by finding central figures for its narrative in “a dying breed of power brokers” instead of headline-magnet names. Provided the media of the hip-hop world gives it enough unturned stones and uncovered space, the series looks primed to take on that world’s weight with some serious commitment. –Sam Mwakasisi


The Walking Dead

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Season: 10

Premieres: February 25th via AMC

The show that just won’t die just keeps shambling on into 2021 with a second stretch of Season 10 episodes to lull us with more zombie-killing mayhem before its planned final season next year. Six new episodes are set to air following the group’s battle with the Whisperers, featuring new guest stars like Robert Patrick and Cobra Kai’s Okea Eme-Akwari. If you’re still ride or die for the series, you’ll want to check these out — especially if you want to keep up till the series’ end in Season 11. –Clint Worthington


The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Marvel)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Marvel)

Season: 1

Premieres: March 19th via Disney+

Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie reunite for what was originally designed to be the launch of the MCU’s Phase Four. Following a brief delay, it now arrives after WandaVision, but it’s still exciting to speculate how Mackie’s Sam Wilson will take on Capt’s mantel and how this six episode run will factor into future Avengers properties. Considering that Marvel President Kevin Feige has stated that the buddy comedy will tackle topical issues like race, it appears that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will be much more than a silly adventure series featuring two charismatic stars. Plus: Who’s not excited to see Daniel Brühl and Emily VanCamp reprise their MCU roles as Baron Helmut Zemo and Sharon Carter? –Joe Lipsett


Atlanta

Atlanta Season 3 4 FX 2021 donald glover release date

Atlanta (FX)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via FX

Believe it or not, but it’s been three years since the most recent episode of Atlanta. Since then, anticipation has certainly built up for its epic return, and Donald Glover has only stoked those flames. There have been comparisons to the prestige of The Sopranos, teases of European destinations, and assurances of more experimental episodes. Adding to that hype is how the show’s stacked cast continues to grow in their respective careers, a notion that Season 3 will no doubt capitalize on (see: more female-centric stories). Given those ingredients, Season 3 has all the reason to be the best yet for the series. –Ryan Larson


Barry

Bill Hader, Anthony Carrigan in Barry

Barry (HBO)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via HBO

The critically acclaimed HBO series about the Marine-turned-hitman-turned-actor trying to leave his violent past behind with little success was on the verge of starting production on its third season just as the pandemic hit last March. In a recent interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers, series creator and Emmy-winning star Bill Hader said both Season 3 and 4 of Barry are completely written and ready to shoot as soon as it’s safe in Los Angeles. When the dark comedy does finally resume, the big question will be how Barry will deal with the fallout from his bloody rampage against the Chechen and Burmese gangs AND also Cousineau learning the truth about him. Thank god we still have NoHo Hank to provide some much-needed levity to the proceedings. –Emmy Potter


Better Call Saul

Coronavirus Report

Better Call Saul (AMC)

Season: 6

Premieres: TBD via AMC

Here’s the rub about Season 6 of Better Call Saul: Not only is this the final season of the Breaking Bad spinoff series, but more than likely the final go-around in Vince Gilligan’s Albuquerque universe. So, yeah, the bar is pretty high for this last batch, and Gilligan and co-creator Peter Gould are well aware of the circumstances. Fortunately for them, the proverbial chess pieces are all in order: Jimmy Saul and Kim are curiously on the same page, Gus and Mike are ready to cook, Nacho is dangling over molten lava, and Lalo is ready to bring a sandstorm back to New Mexico. “We’re going to learn things about the fates of a lot of these characters that may surprise people or certainly throw them into a different light,” Gould recently teased to Deadline. With shooting slated to begin in a matter of months, here’s hoping we can break out the Zafiro Añejo before December. –Michael Roffman


Black Monday

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Black Monday (Showtime)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via Showtime

The last season of Black Monday dramatically altered the series’ status quo, with each big shift coming at a price. Mo gained his freedom, but it came without credit and, more importantly, sans Dawn. Dawn herself is locked up but finally gained the recognition she so richly deserved. Blair has the power he’s been after for so long, but at the cost of everything else in his life. Even Keith finally has a friend … who’s nuts. How these characters will bounce off one another once again, when so much of their landscape has shifted, is cause for plenty of excitement and anticipation for Season 3 of TV’s most underrated comedy. –Andrew Bloom


The Book of Boba Fett

Boba Fett Returns! The Mandalorian, Explained

The Mandalorian (Disney+)

Season: 1

Premieres: TBD via Disney+

The bajillionth new Star Wars show to hit Disney+ is also the only one we have real teaser footage for, as the end of the Mandalorian season 2 finale showed us. Temuera Morrison is back as the OG Mando, this time aided by reformed sniper Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), last seen killing Bib Fortuna and taking his place as the head of Jabba’s crime gang. What can we expect here? Odds are more bounty-hunting mayhem, but my money’s on a Sopranos-like crime drama where Boba grapples with the futility of his life of larceny and gets therapy from Salacious Crumb. –Clint Worthington


The Boondocks

adult swim pulls episodes cultural sensitivity offensive

The Boondocks (Cartoon Network)

Season: 5

Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

Season 4 of The Boondocks is mostly remembered for missing the show’s sharp, satirical drive and the input of creator Aaron McGruder. Now, it may be a footnote given this Sony-assisted reboot that offers a considerable amount of breathing room: a 55-minute special, two 12-episode seasons, and, yes, the return of McGruder’s direction. Of course, that’s not to discount the rich setup of material today’s culture has already accrued. After all, McGruder himself vowed to seize the opportunity, and considering the new series’ current logline — the Freemans’ new Maryland community being terrorized by Uncle Ruckus and his “bizarre neo-fascist regime” — it seems we’ll be able to take him up on that promise. –Sam Mwakasisi


The Boys

the boys amazon spin off college

The Boys (Amazon)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via Amazon Prime Video

Fans of Homelander, Starlight, and Billy Butcher rejoice because everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed superheroes will be returning for a third installment of Amazon Prime Video’s hit series, The Boys. Coming off one hell of a Season 2, The Boys has carved its own place in our superhero-fuelled culture thanks to its willingness to get as violent, obscene, or as vile as it chooses. It’s essentially the ideological antithesis to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And with Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles joining the cast as Homelander’s mentor Soldier Boy, The Boys is setting itself up to be bigger (and badder) than ever. –Lauren J. Coates


Creepshow

The Creepshow Halloween Special

Creepshow (Shudder)

Season: 2

Premieres: TBD via Shudder

Get ready for more Creepshow, kiddies. After being forced to shutdown production last year due to COVID-19  — to their credit, they still managed to eke out two holiday specials — Shudder’s series adaptation of George A. Romero and Stephen King’s iconic anthology horror film will return with a second bag of tricks and treats in 2021. Once again, the show is opening up the graveyard gates to a slew of genre legends and comics, most notably Keith David, Ashley Laurence, Barbara Crampton, C. Thomas Howell, Denise Crosby, Ted Raimi, and even rock ‘n’ roller Marilyn Manson. With a third seson already ordered by the horror network, it would be wise to find a plot to plant yourself in as there are plenty of scares to come. –Michael Roffman


Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David Icon

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Season: 11

Premieres: TBD via HBO

By the end of Season 10, Larry David was well prepared for the pandemic. Latte Larry’s was fully stocked of combustable hand sanitizer, the likes of which would certainly prove useful in the months ahead. We’ll never know, though, because Season 11 of Curb Your Enthusiasm will take place in a post-pandemic world. Showrunner Jeff Schaffer confirmed the news in a recent op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter, writing: “COVID definitely happened and we definitely talk about it…And Larry [the character] has opinions on all of it. I can’t tell you which characters got COVID, but I can definitely tell you that we do examine peoples’ behavior during the COVID era.” Start speculating now over a scone and some piping hot coffee, preferably not from Mocha Joe’s. –Michael Roffman


Cursed Films

CursedFilms horizontal 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Season: 2

Premieres: TBD via Shudder

Some curses are hard to shake, and such is the case for Cursed Films. Back in August, Shudder confirmed a second season of Jay Cheel’s docuseries on cursed productions. “Since its debut, the number one question we’ve been asked is: Will there be more, and how soon?” GM Craig Engler stated in a press release, adding that Season 2 “will be even bigger and better than the first.” No telling what titles he’s alluding to, but Cheel did tell us back in April 2020: “We had a list of movies that, off the top, we always knew had to be a part of the series, but there were some that we were juggling and I could always see us returning to some of those films and digging into them.” Well, looks like horror hounds have their homework cut out for them. –Michael Roffman


Dave

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Dave (FX)

Season: 2

Premieres: TBD via FX

Hi, I’m Dave. FX’s white-rapper dramedy starring Lil Dicky was one of 2020’s most surprising shows, so it’s great to see the aspiring rapper back for more self-deprecating, sophisticatedly raunchy adventures. Season 1 ended with a reenactment of Dicky’s famed appearance on The Breakfast Club, where he ended up charming Charlamagne tha God with his tight bars and talked his way into a place at the adult’s table of rap music. Now, in Season 2, we can’t wait to see what other ways Lil Dicky draws from his real-life climb to viral stardom — and the trainwrecks that will ensue. –Clint Worthington


Dexter

dexter revival details showtime second finale 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Dexter (Showtime)

Season: TBD

Premieres: TBD via Showtime

All good things come to an end, but not all endings are good. Write that down. Of course, nothing truly ever ends in Hollywood, a truth that will certainly benefit Dexter. The once-beloved crime drama is back for a new 10-episode miniseries, one that will (hopefully) right all the wrongs that went down in that godawful Season 8. Details are scarce, but here’s a logline: “Set 10 years after Dexter Morgan went missing in the eye of Hurricane Laura, the revival sees the character now living under an assumed name in a world away from Miami.” That world is a small upstate New York town called Iron Lake, where Dex is (probably) chopping more than wood. Here’s hoping the huggable serial killer finds the ending he deserves. “Deb…” –Michael Roffman


Documentary Now!

Documentary Now! (IFC)

Documentary Now! (IFC)

Season: 4

Premieres: TBD via IFC

Anything featuring comic masterminds like Seth Meyers, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, and Bill Hader is worth our attention. But the fourth season of Documentary Now! is truly a cause to rejoice over. The first three seasons of this incredibly specific and hilarious parody TV series have managed to lovingly skewer everything from Grey Gardens to The Thin Blue Line to the behind-the-scenes documentary of Stephen Sondheim’s iconic musical Company. Though it may help somewhat for the viewer to know their documentaries before watching the satires of Documentary Now!, it’s clear that the SNL alums behind the show are doing wonders with finding new documentary styles to mock week by week. We can only hope that the fourth season of this IFC show is equally intelligent as its predecessors. –Josh Spiegel


Doom Patrol

How HBO Max's Doom Patrol Mastered the Art of the Misfit Superhero Show

Doom Patrol (HBO Max)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

Doom Patrol has managed to do something that’s rarely been captured on camera: they have showcased just how damn weird comic books can be when given the chance. More importantly, the series continues to do so with heart and humor. Season 2 ended on a cliffhanger, so we’re sure to get our resolution before bounding into more oddities and found-family dynamics. From the get-go, the show has been a surreal thrill ride, and last season hinted at a bounty of exciting possibilities, such as Danny’s transformation from tire to ambulance and an introduction of The Brotherhood of Dada and Rebis. –Ryan Larson


Euphoria

Zendaya in Euphoria

Euphoria (HBO)

Season: 2

Premieres: TBD via HBO

Though fans will have two special episodes to tide them over between waiting for seasons, the second installment of HBO’s hit teen melodrama Euphoria should be at the top of everyone’s 2021 watchlist. With its trendsetting hair and makeup, decadent and often dizzying visuals, and penchant for exploring all sorts of controversial and attention-grabbing subject matter, Euphoria is the type of TV that blurs the lines of what is and isn’t ‘prestige’. Anchored by the Emmy-winning performance of Zendaya as teen addict Rue, Season 1’s massive musical cliffhanger makes tuning in for Season 2 a must. –Lauren J. Coates


Friends Reunion

Friends reunion special delayed hbo max coronavirus

Friends (HBO Max)

Season: N/A

Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

Could we be any more excited for this reunion special? Originally, the plan was simple: When the new streaming service HBO Max went live in the early summer of 2020, one of its launch-date offerings would be the first-ever official reunion of the six cast members of Friends, one of the biggest TV series ever. Of course, the best-laid plans were upended by the pandemic — the special hadn’t yet been filmed when quarantine kicked in around mid-March. For now, the Friends reunion remains TBD, and has yet to be filmed. (A couple months ago, Matthew Perry publicly said the plan was to film in mid-March 2021.) Though many of the cast members have appeared in someone else’s project, getting them all together after more than 15 years apart should be thrilling (even if the reunion isn’t going to portend a new story featuring the friends). Let’s just hope the pandemic doesn’t push this back any further. We’ve been on enough of a break. –Josh Spiegel


Gossip Girl Spinoff

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Gossip Girl (HBO Max)

Season: 1

Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

Attention Upper East-siders, everyone’s favorite muckraking fashionistas are back in business with the upcoming reboot of the seminal 2000s teen drama Gossip Girl. Though we don’t know much about what to expect from the Gossip Girl reboot, a number of tantalizing Instagram pictures featuring some truly impressive outfits should be enough to get any fashionista or fan of the original series excited. To some it may be sacrilege to replicate the singular magic of Blair, Serena, and the rest of the uber-rich gang, but with original creator Joshua Safran returning as showrunner, and Kristen Bell lending her voice once again, it could turn out to be an exciting new chapter of a beloved show. –Lauren J. Coates


The Handmaid’s Tale

the handmaid's tale season 4 renewal

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Season: 4

Premieres: TBD via Hulu

The great Elisabeth Moss returns as June Osborne for the fourth season of Hulu’s critically-acclaimed dystopian tragedy television series. To recap, Season 3 ended last year with June finally gaining her freedom, only to be seriously injured in the process. The story of her journey, and her subsequent decisions as a free woman, will certainly make for tantalizing television. What’s more, it should help shake things up as the series continues to live beyond the source material. –Okla Jones


His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials (HBO)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via HBO

HBO’s big-budget attempt to fill the Game of Thrones-shaped hole in its lineup has been a modest, if muted, success, at least enough for the BBC co-production to greenlight a third season. This time around, showrunner Jane Tranter is set to adapt the third book in Philip Pullman’s universe-hopping steampunk series, The Amber Spyglass, as Lyra Belacqua (Logan’s Dafne Keen) continues to explore the many worlds ruled by the Magesterium and avoid the grasp of the villainous Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson). Lin-Manuel Miranda is set to return as aeronaut Lee Scoresby, Andrew Scott as Col. John Parry, and James McAvoy as Lyra’s adoptive father Lord Asriel. –Clint Worthington


It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Season: 15

Premieres: TBD via FX

If there’s one takeaway to be had of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it’s that there’s really no stopping the Gang of Paddy’s Pub. That’s why FX is not even trying, having greenlit the veteran series for not one, not two, but three additional seasons. “We’re going to keep doing it forever if people keep watching,” creator/Ronald “Mac” McDonald Rob McElhenney joked to Deadline. Look, it’s not like they’re short on ideas. With Season 15, which will certify the series as the longest-running live-action comedy of all time, McElhenney plans on tackling all the “bullshit” under Trump’s America. And yes, that may include Philly’s latest historical landmark: the wonderful Four Seasons Total Landscaping. So, yeah, don’t be surprised to see Range Rover parked outside in the near future. –Michael Roffman


I Think You Should Leave

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)

Season: 2

Premieres: TBD via Netflix

Tim Robinson stole 2019 with I Think You Should Leave. Ever since it dropped on Netflix, his breakneck variety show has birthed countless memes, mostly from diehards who continue to mine every line from every character in each and every sketch. Revisit it enough and you find yourself quoting the most innocuous moments, it’s just that rich. Yet it also seems so singular, too, which is why a sophomore season runs the risk of being a total miss. After all, how the hell do you follow that up? Go weirder? Go wilder? Go whackier? Perhaps Robinson calls Jeff Chris in for the assist. We’ll hopefully (and finally) find out in 2021. –Michael Roffman


The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

image006 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via Shudder

By all accounts, Joe Bob Briggs won quarantine. At a time when nobody could go to the theaters — let alone host TV parties in our own living rooms — The Last Drive-In brought the Mutant Family all throughout 2020. With delectable wit and palpable heart, both Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl kept us entertained amidst the sleepy months of the year and later on for the holidays. They told jokes, they brought out guests, hell, they raised over 40 grand in charity. Rest assured, the gates to the drive-in will remain open in 2021 with another exciting season and a glutton’s worth of holiday specials (including a new Valentine’s Day soiree, as you can see above). So, stock up on the Lone Star, folks. –Michael Roffman


Lisey’s Story

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Lisey’s Story

Season: N/A

Premieres: TBD via Apple TV+

Everyone wants a piece of Stephen King, and Apple TV is no exception. To their credit, they picked one of his best novels in Lisey’s Story, and they even got the fucking guy to adapt it for them. Yes, King is writing every episode, which will no doubt be lensed to perfection by Jackie director Pablo Larraín. That not enough? Academy Award winner Julianne Moore is playing the titular role, topping a supporting cast that includes Clive Owen, Joan Allen, Dane DeHaan, and Sung Kaan. As for the story, well, there are technically two: Lisey’s tale in the present, and the other about her dead husband’s life, as remembered by Lisey during the course of the novel. So many arcs, no wonder J.J. Abrams got involved. –Michael Roffman


Loki

Loki, Marvel

Loki (Marvel)

Season: 1

Premieres: TBD via Disney+

Alternate timelines. Multiverse enforcers. Trickster gods. Loki promises to be one of the most appetizing limited series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not only because it puts a fan favorite villain in the title role for the first time, but because its dimension-hopping premise is one of the most comic book-y ideas for a superhero show on offer. With Owen Wilson joining Tom Hiddleston for the series, and the show’s creator Michael Waldron having honed his talents for writing timeline-scrambling stories on Rick and Morty, there’s plenty to look forward to when Thor’s (adopted) brother takes center stage. –Andrew Bloom


The Lord of the Rings

amazon lord of the rings synopsis second age summary

Season: 1

Premieres: TBD via Amazon Prime Video

Though no official premiere date has been set and nary a trailer or Tom Bombadil official single released (just kidding), anticipation remains high for Amazon Prime’s upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel series. The studio has remained pretty tight-lipped save for a handful of casting announcements and COVID-related production updates from New Zealand, but we DO know it will be set during the Second Age of Middle Earth, which chronicles Sauron’s first rise to power and subsequent downfall. Given the Second Age spans some 3441 years, there’s plenty of material and characters to work with. And with a reported $1 billion (!) budget, a 20-episode order, and a Tolkien scholar among its supervising crew, it’s safe to say this is going to be one fantasy series to rule them all. –Emmy Potter


The Mandalorian

Mandalorian Season Finale

The Mandalorian (Disney+)

Season: 3

Premieres: December via Disney+

Sky’s the limit for The Mandalorian. For Christ’s sake, they brought back Luke fucking Skywalker at the end of Season 2. So, at this point, Mando could run down the hallway with Lando, Han, Chewie, and, sure, even Watto, and none of us would bat an eye. After all, Disney just cracked open the universe in a big, big way, promising nearly a dozen new shows, most notably the aforementioned Book of Boba Fett. That one will take precedence over all, according to showrunner Jon Favreau, who confirmed the second spinoff will go into production before Season 3. Nevertheless, fans should still expect to see both before year’s end. –Michael Roffman


Master of None

master of none s02e09 43m56s5273f r e1493901637545 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Master of None (Netflix)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via Netflix

Master of None lives on. According to a new report, a third season of Aziz Ansari’s dramedy series is well on the way. They state that Ansari and co-creator Alan Yang began shooting last year, that the season will be set in London, and will also star Naomie Ackie. It’s a surprising move, to say the least, seeing how the show has been MIA for nearly four years and follows controversies surrounding the star. So, what can we expect? Well, as Collider points out, Ansari told Vulture way, way back in 2017: “I’ve got to become a different guy before I write a third season, is my personal thought, I’ve got to get married or have a kid or something. I don’t have anything else to say about being a young guy being single in New York eating food around town all the time.” Given those sentiments, Season 3 is likely to be ripe with soul searching — not a bad idea. –Michael Roffman


Midnight Mass

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Midnight Mass (Netflix)

Season: N/A

Premieres: TBD via Netflix

Riding high on the success of his Haunting series, Mike Flanagan is set to terrorize Netflix yet again with Midnight Mass. Written and directed by the filmmaker, the spooky new series focuses on a small island community that’s disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious priest. Expect all of his spooky and emotional trademarks, but don’t go seeking connections to Hill House or Bly Manor as the director recently confirmed via Twitter. Having said that, we will see familiar faces as Kate Siegel, Rahul Abburi, and Henry Thomas will star along with Flanagan newcomers Zach Gilford and Hamish Linklater. After an initial shutdown, filming tentatively resumed last summer and, thanks to diligent adherence to strict protocols, production concluded on target after 83 uninterrupted days. That this religious horror story will premiere in 2021 at all is nothing short of a miracle. –Jenn Adams


The Old Man

Jeff Bridges 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Jeff Bridges, photo by Audrey Hall

Season: N/A

Premieres: TBD via FX

Have a feelin’ 21 is gonna be a good year for Jeff Bridges. The Dude himself is not only kicking cancer in the ass, but he’s about to also bust some heads on television. Yes, the Oscar winner is making his small screen debut in FX’s series adaptation of Thomas Perry’s 2017 novel, The Old Man. Bridges will play the titular force, a former CIA officer whose off-the-grid lifestyle comes to a halt when he’s targeted for assassination. Jericho creator Jonathan E. Steinberg developed the series alongside Robert Levine with a supporting cast that includes fellow veteran John Lithgow, Judging Amy mastermind Amy Brenneman, and Search Party star Alia Shawkat. No word yet on whether Bridges’ puppy will also tag along. –Michael Roffman


Ozark

ozark 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Ozark (Netflix)

Season: 4

Premieres: TBD via Netflix

Jason Bateman’s award-winning crime drama Ozark will return for its fourth and final season this year. Without spoiling too much, Season 3 ended with a bang, leaving the Byrds (Bateman and Laura Linney) in deeper than ever with the Navarro Cartel and Ruth (Julia Garner, fresh off of her Emmy win for the role) considering a move to the Snell operation. Two key deaths set the stage for what should be an explosive conclusion, but one fans will have to wait a bit longer for as Season 4 will be split in two seven-episode halves. Production began in November, but given the current pandemic, delays are possible. The first half of 4 will likely hit Netflix late this year. When the second half will drop remains to be seen. –Jenn Adams


Pose

Pose Season 2

Pose (FX)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via FX

Like a lot of shows this year, FX’s Pose has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve filmed individual scenes with fewer characters, but the production halted in March and will have to wait until it’s safe to film the iconic balls around which the ‘80s-set queer show is centered. Still, if there’s one show that can heal this wounded nation, it might well be the Ryan Murphy-produced ode to found family and queer/trans pride. Season 2 ended with a time jump to 1991 with house mother Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) bringing in new members to the House of Evangelista; one wonders what fabulous directions Season 3 will take us, and what searing reads Billy Porter’s Pray Tell has in store. –Clint Worthington


Raised By Wolves

Raised by Wolves TV Review

Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)

Season: 2

Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

HBO Max’s high-concept sci-fi series was one of the weirdest, most fascinating shows of last year, and we can’t wait to find out just how much crazier it will all get. At the end of the first season of the Ridley Scott-produced show, the android Mother (Amanda Collin) had given birth to a floating alien snake baby and attempted to kill it by flying it into the core of the planet she and the remnants of humanity are stuck in. (Long story.) But the finale implies she and Father (Abubakar Salim) are alive on the other side of the planet, as is the rapidly-growing snake baby; meanwhile, their kids are left on their own, and the increasingly-fanatical Marcus (Travis Fimmel) has just rendezvoused with a new group of humans, ready to take his orders. The stakes seem to be ratcheting ever higher in Season 2, as these disparate groups battle for the fate of humanity — and maybe, their very literal souls. –Clint Worthington


The Righteous Gemstones

The Righteous Gemstones (HBO)

The Righteous Gemstones (HBO)

Season: 2

Premieres: TBD via HBO

The Righteous Gemstones is the perfect Sunday night companion to HBO’s Succession. Like Succession, it’s one of the funniest shows on television, it’s deeply uncomfortable, and, at times, it’s one of the darkest shows out there. The first season of Danny McBride’s religious comedy/satire started off a little offbeat, but its ensemble cast — including McBride, John Goodman, Edi Patterson, Adam DeVine, Skyler Gisondo, Walton Goggins, and Jennifer Nettles — bring it to life with the kind of chemistry and familiarity you only see between cast members on a show that’s several seasons into its run, which means the performances in Season 2 will be even stronger. Speaking personally (and selfishly), I look forward to Goggins clogging and, possibly, running around the house with a pickle in his mouth. –Carrie Wittmer


Russian Doll

russian doll netflix tv series natasha lyonne

Russian Doll (Netflix)

Season: 2

Premieres: TBD via Netflix

Gotta get up, gotta get down, gotta get home before the mornin’ comes… while Palm Springs captured the frustrating purgatory of the early months of COVID, along comes the second season of Netflix’s unconventional dark comedy Russian Doll to remind us that we’re still playing out the same day over and over. Season 1 ended on a fairly definitive note, with Natasha Lyonne’s Nadia finding Charlie Barnett’s Alan and potentially finding a way out of the loop together. With a second season coming, dollars to donuts their time loop shenanigans aren’t about to be over yet. Like a cockroach (sorry, cock-a-roach), this series just won’t die, and given how great the first season was, we’re not hoping for that any time soon. –Clint Worthington


South Park

South Park's Pandemic Special Is Surprisingly Damning and Earnest: Review

South Park Pandemic Special (Comedy Central)

Season: 24

Premieres: TBD via Comedy Central

We’re all asking the same question about South Park — for a show so centered on current events, has there really been enough news over the past year for Trey Parker and Matt Stone to comment on? All joking aside, the general insanity that’s permeated the world since the show last took the airwaves should provide plenty of fodder for the series’s trademark satirical takes. More to the point, Matt and Trey’s lone Pandemic Special since last season suggests a move toward more directness and earnestness within their usual comic antics, an intriguing development that bodes well for the new season. –Andrew Bloom


Stranger Things 4

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Stranger Things 4 (Netflix)

Season: 4

Premieres: TBD via Netflix

“We’re not in Hawkins anymore.” That tagline could mean many things for Stranger Things, as we previously outlined, but it mostly confirms that things are only getting bigger for the Netflix series. That’s not surprising. The Duffer brothers reached blockbuster levels of storytelling with Stranger Things 3, and there’s no stopping ’em now. As last year’s Valentine’s Day teaser confirms, the show is heading overseas with the would-be dead Hopper alive and well in Kamchatka, Russia. How he gets back to the Midwest is anyone’s guess, but we do know it’ll involve portals, time traveling, and the dream demon himself Robert Englund. Thanks to COVID-19, the wait has been excruciatingly long and filming has yet to wrap due to production delays, but we remain hopeful that the holidays this year will be spent with Hopper and the gang. Maybe a few demogorgons, too. –Michael Roffman


Succession

Kendall Roy in Succession (HBO)

Succession (HBO)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via HBO

It’s not fair to say Succession got better in its second season. It didn’t. The show simply maintained its balance, and both critics and viewers finally caught on. Having said that, it did up the stakes, what with Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) going full-on whistleblower by the end there. Where showrunner Jesse Armstrong takes that revelation for its third season is anyone’s guess, but Christ it’s been a shit show waiting. Bottom line: There is no better Sunday night series on television right now than Succession, which is to say, there is no better series on television right now. This is riveting drama, an unconscious escape from the fiscal obsolescence of Trump’s America, and not having it on is like running out of co-pays for your therapist. –Michael Roffman


Tokyo Vice

Michael Mann Gage Skidmore Tokyo Vice HBO Max

Michael Mann, photo by Gage Skidmore

Season: 1

Premieres: TBD via HBO

Michael Mann is taking his talents to Tokyo. Never one to shy away from a true crime story, the veteran filmmaker is turning Jake Adelstein’s 2009 memoir Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan into a 10-episode television series for HBOMax. Even better, he’s directing the pilot episode, which stars Ansel Elgort as Adelstein, an American journalist who attempts to uncover corruption in a Tokyo police squad. Joining him for the ride is Ken Watanabe, who deserves some prestige after cruelly being relegated to the sidelines in last year’s Detective Pikachu. Rest assured, he’ll have far more to do for this series, which will no doubt be a gritty experience fueled with realism. Mann fans will no doubt relish the opportunity to see their hero get back in the proverbial saddle, and one expects he’ll do for Tokyo what he did for Miami all those years ago. –Michael Roffman


The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy Season 2 1 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via Netflix

With Seasons 1 and 2 loosely mirroring the first two story arcs of Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy, Season 3 looks to skip ahead to a brand new story. After finally returning to 2019, the Hargreeves children realize they’ve been returned to an alternate version of their time and thus are met by the version of themselves from another reality. Bringing back fan favorite Ben as the leader of this Sparrow Academy, as well making Sir Reginald a central character, are both exciting roles but this brand new, equally strange team (also consisting of a green sentient box) promises adventure and intrigue. –Ryan Larson


Unrecorded Night

David Lynch youtube channel weather report series next project new movie

David Lynch

Season: 1

Premieres: TBD via Netflix

It’s official: David Lynch has a new project in the works. Naturally, that’s all we know. Well, that’s not entirely true. We know it’s 13 episodes, we know he’s written all of them, we know he’s directing all of them, and we know it’s dubbed Unrecorded Night (formerly Wisteria). ::breathes in, breathes out:: We also know that shooting is slated to begin in May 2021 at Calvert Studios, which is where Rancho Rosa shot parts for Twin Peaks: The Return. Now, before you brew the coffee, slice the pie, and toss up the red curtains, know that any ties to Twin Peaks is certainly theoretical and circumstantial. Mark Frost has already confirmed he’s not involved, and no casting has even been announced as of publishing. Still, if you want to have some fun, you could speculate that this has something to do with Sheryl Lee’s Carrie Page, who Lynch once said was “calling him.” Of course, if we learned anything from The Return, we really won’t know anything for sure until it’s available for us to stream. But hey, to paraphrase Petty, the waiting is the funnest part. –Michael Roffman


What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do In the Shadows Season 2

What We Do In the Shadows (FX)

Season: 3

Premieres: TBD via Hulu

Our hopes and wishes for a return of Tucson, Arizonia’s favorite barkeep and normal human Jackie Daytona may well be answered, as FX’s hit sitcom based on the Taika Waititi film is set for a third round of droll vampiric shenanigans. The stakes (eh?) have never been higher, either, as Nandor’s familiar Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén) finally outs himself as a master vampire hunter when he saves his friends from the Nouveau Théâtre des Vampires, who think they’re responsible for killing the Count last season. Regardless of the fallout, I’m sure we’re set for more nocturnal hijinks from our favorite cast of bloodsuckers. –Clint Worthington


Y: The Last Man

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Y: The Last Man

Season: 1

Premieres: TBD via FX

I think I speak for every enthusiastic fan of Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra’s acclaimed dystopian comic series when I say: fucking FINALLY. Y: the Last Man has had a long and bumpy road to onscreen adaptation, but after a few false starts and casting changes, the series will premiere on FX on Hulu later this year. Set in the wake of a global event where everything with a Y chromosome is killed except for one man, Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey, leaving women to run the planet, the show will also feature plenty of women running the show’s production too in various key roles. Oh and producers have confirmed women will also direct every episode of the first season. Let’s hope other shows follow suit. –Emmy Potter

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