2021 is dead! Long live 2022! Yes, somehow, the sequel to 2020 that no one asked for is over, and it’s been quite a year. Here at The Digital Fix, we’ve relaunched our website, hired a whole new team, and watched a worrying amount of movies and TV series. So to commiserate all the 2021 calendars making their way to landfill, we thought it would be good fun to look back on the year and pick… or pix… our favourite TV series of the year.
Every member of The Digital Fix team has chosen their top five TV shows of the year and explained why they loved them. And if you thought our Movie Pix were diverse their nothing compared to the shows we’ve picked for this list. There are prestige classics like Succession (you knew it would make the list) and Squid Game to the world’s best panel show.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty and the list (which is why you’re here), I want to thank you, dear reader, for coming with us on this new adventure this year, and I can’t wait to show you what we’ve done planned for 2022. Anyway, here’s our TV Pix of the year…
Emma’s TV Pix
Squid Game – Like the rest of the world, I was obsessed with the South Korean Netflix TV series Squid Game, and (like the rest of the world) was obsessed for a good reason. It’s tense, easy to binge and a fresh take on the ‘last man standing’ concept that we’ve seen time and time again in media since Kinji Fukasaku’s 2000 thriller movie Battle Royale.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 2 – The season where H&M was officially banned from the runways of reality TV. As an avid watcher of Drag Race, let me just say I haven’t been as entertained or laughed so much during a season as I did here in a long time. Every UK drag queen we met you couldn’t help but fall in love with, every episode had a new gag, and above all else, there wasn’t a moment in this season that didn’t feel fun and drama-filled.
The Underground Railroad – Magical realism intertwined with a very real and hard to watch moment in history, The Underground Railroad is breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time. Based on Colson Whitehead’s novel, it tells the story of a young woman making a miraculous discovery while trying to escape the bonds of slavery in the deep south. Directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), it looks terrific, is suffocatingly emotive, and is a must-watch.
Midnight Mass – I’m a fan of creepy things in general, so it makes sense that I absolutely love Mike Flanagan’s latest limited series Midnight Mass. There are dark omens, a mysterious yet charismatic priest, a strange phenomenon every episode, some gnarly shots (cat lovers be warned), and the series is set on a spooky, isolated island in the middle of nowhere. I mean, come on, what more could a horror fan ask for?
Hemmingway – Ken Burns hits it out of the park again with another killer documentary series, this time all about the famed writer Ernest Hemmingway. Investigating the life of the complex and fascinating artist, this series unpacks both the public and private personas of Hemmingway and offers a very human look at a writer that has become a mysterious literary legend over the years.
Anto’s TV Pix
Squid Game – Pulpy sadism wrapped in prestige drama where every twist is an inevitability of who each character is and what they’ll do to survive. Cruel, yes, but with a point. The Saw sequel I always wanted.
Succession Season 3 – Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox are doing things here that make it hard to sit through a full episode without rewinding over and over. Jesse Armstrong is a master of tension and cringe.
MODOK – Creatively written and executed to such a level of technical mastery, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse comes to mind. The C-tier anti-villain trying to find his place in an uncaring world provides a tonic to the MCU’s grandeur, dishearteningly short-lived because of corporate politics.
Dexter: New Blood – An entire sequel dedicated to justifying Dexter’s awful first ending. It turns out Clyde Phillips and Clancy Brown were all it needed, and the rest works itself out.
Brand New Cherry Flavor – Nick Antosca, creator of desperately under-appreciated horror anthology Channel Zero, brings a dreary, ’90s-tinged spiral through Hollywood. Zombies, witchcraft, and other oddities crawl forth in one of Antosca’s most intoxicating projects, and that’s saying something.
Fiona’s TV Pix
Starstruck – A brilliant rom-com starring New Zealander Rose Matafeo as Jessie, a young woman who lives in London. She has a one-night stand with Tom (Nikesh Patel), not realizing that he’s a huge movie star.
Staged Season 2 – Michael Sheen and David Tennant continued their zoom-based lockdown comedy, in which they play versions of themselves. The best thing to come out of the situation we’ve all found ourselves in over the last two years.
Shrill Season 3 – This fantastic TV show starring Aidy Bryant as a young journalist navigating her love life, while living with her roommate Fran (Lolly Adefope) deserves a lot more, well, love!
Blindspotting – This TV continuation of the film focuses on Ashely (Jasmine Cephas-Jones) coping with life after Miles (Rafael Casal) goes to prison. The best thing about it is that the use of music, dance, spoken-word and theatricality is carried over from the film. Benjamin Earl Turner is also a great addition.
The North Water – Colin Farrell, Stephen Graham and Jack O’Connell star in this tale of a whale-hunting ship getting into trouble in the Arctic, less because of outside forces and more because of internal sabotage, murder and betrayal.
Tom’s TV Pix
Taskmaster – The greatest panel show ever conceived, this year’s two full series were full of delightfully silly and memorable moments that more than lived up to my incredibly high expectations. Extra points as well for Mike Wozniak popping a haemorrhoid while trying to force a fart and admitting his posterior now resembled a casserole.
WandaVision– Few shows prompted as much speculation as WandaVision and it was fun guessing all the twists and turns. There’s more to this delightfully fiendish puzzle box show through which managed to flesh out Vision and Wanda who previously had been rather thinly sketched.
Succession Season 3 – Cliches are cliches for a reason, but Succession is far and away from the best thing on TV right now. While some may argue the show’s stretching its core concept at this point (will anyone ever succeed, Logan?), we’re still entranced by the Roy family’s internal politics and constantly shifting loyalties.
Squid Game – The subtitled sensation that swept the nation, Squid Game is both a tense thriller, a great piece of social commentary, plus it’s wickedly gory. Does it need a second season? Probably not. Will we be watching? Definitely.
What We Do In The Shadows Season 3 – Break out the “creepy paper” because the Staten Island vampires third season was probably its best yet. Long-running plot lines paid off, Lazlo, Nadja, and Nandor were finally elevated to the Vampire Council, and Guillermo came so close to achieving his dream of becoming a vampire. It’s just a shame Colin Robinson had to die…