Hey all you boomer shows, get bent! This here is all about NEW shows. Specifically, the best new shows of the year (so far). And 2021 is off to a great start even in the face of a pandemic that ground the entire world to a halt. There were 10 shows in January alone that were good enough to make this list, and if things keep up even close to that pace, this best new shows of the year list will be even longer than last year’s.
Whether it’s on Netflix, Hulu, or even a dinosaur-like CBS, as long as it’s good and new, you’ll find it on the list below. We’ll also tell you where to watch it, link up a TV Guide review (if there is one), and show off a trailer so you can get a taste for yourself. Enjoy!
Check back often, as this story will be updated throughout the year.
Murder Among the Mormons
Your next true crime obsession is this three-part series detailing murders that shook the Mormon community in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1985. Following a pair of pipe bombs that killed two people, a third victim was found with a trunk full of rare documents that include the notorious White Salamander Letter, which had the potential to destroy the very foundation of Mormonism.
Ginny & Georgia
“We’re like the Gilmore girls but with bigger boobs,” Georgia (Brianne Howey) says in the first episode of this high-energy series, and that about sums it up. The mother-daughter dramedy follows Georgia as she hauls her 15-year-old daughter Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and 9-year-old son Austin from Texas to a small town in Massachusetts for two reasons: to start over after Georgia’s husband suddenly dies, and to run away from a closet full of skeletons.
It’s part teen drama as Ginny explores a new high school and part mystery thriller as Georgia’s dangerous secrets come to chase her down.
Superman & Lois
Superman & Lois is the first new superhero show to premiere on The CW since Arrow ended, and it begins an important new chapter for the network. Helmed by former Flash showrunner Todd Helbing, Superman & Lois doesn’t look anything like any of the Arrowverse shows, despite its titular characters being introduced on Supergirl years ago.
It’s a more grounded take on the Man of Steel (Tyler Hoechlin), as he and Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) move with their teenage twin boys to Smallville to give their family a chance to be closer. While there’s still plenty of superhero action to keep Superman busy, the new series is just as much a family drama as it is an action show, and that’s to its benefit.
There’s plenty of Krypton lore to keep Superman fans satiated, but this is also a great chance for non-superhero fans to jump in and get invested in the Kent family dynamics, which are the real heart of this ambitious drama.
Fredrik Backman’s best-selling 2016 novel about the pressures faced by a small-town Swedish hockey team gets adapted into a five-episode series as HBO continues to go back to the beautifully gloomy atmosphere of Scandinavian noir.
A former NHL player returns to his hometown to coach the youth hockey team and build around its bright star, but things quickly go south when scandal hits the community.
Seeing as it is Scandi-noir, of course it opens up with two figures chasing each other through the snow and a gunshot. Things move fast in the five episodes – maybe even too fast, as characters’ actions aren’t always given the time to breathe – but underneath the hockey and crime is a damning story about the pressures parents put on their children.
It’s a Sin
Russell T Davies follows up his dystopian future family drama Years and Years (available on HBO Max; I loved it) by going in the opposite direction on the timeline in this visit to early-’80s London. In the five-episode miniseries, a group of young gay friends find strength in each other at the advent of a movement, not knowing they’re about to be thrust into the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
In true Davies fashion, It’s a Sin – a smash hit in its native England – is alternately funny, powerful, and incredibly devastating. You will be reduced to a blubbering mess.
A lot of Hannibal fans seem pretty disappointed that Clarice is not actually Hannibal Season 4 in a trench coat, but listen: Hannibal ended perfectly. It’s Clarice Starling’s turn in the spotlight. This new CBS procedural, set a year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs, legally can’t mention Hannibal Lecter at all due to some confusing rights issues with Thomas Harris’ books, which leaves the show with no choice but to put its focus where it should be anyway: on one of the coolest heroines of all time.
Australian actress Rebecca Breeds makes it look easy to take over a role made famous by Jodie Foster, slipping into Clarice’s West Virginia accent as she gets to work chasing new creeps while unpacking her own trauma. The show doesn’t match the horror of the film, but it isn’t trying to; it’s just a sharp, well-executed procedural about a very cool woman. Pairs great with a nice Chianti.
I am going to be very upfront about this: I watched the whole first season on an embarrassing binge. I couldn’t stop myself. Is it good? No. But between the multiple timelines, soapy storylines, peculiar fashion choices, and aging makeup, I couldn’t get enough.
Sarah Chalke and Katherine Heigl star as lifelong friends who go through myriad professional and romantic entanglements, (almost) always by each other’s sides to lend love and support. It’s gal pal time that’s as addictive for its questionable choices as it is its delicious drama.
The comic book series Resident Alien comes to the screen as an incredibly fun combination of the alien invasion miniseries V and misanthropic medical drama House, but with a lot more laughs. Sci-fi mainstay Alan Tudyk plays an alien who crashes lands on Earth and disguises himself as a small-town doctor in snowy Patience, Colorado, taking on medical oddities and solving murders, all while executing his grand plan of learning about human behavior and plotting how to destroy them all.
Tudyk is wonderful in the role, as is scene-stealer Corey Reynolds as the no-nonsense sheriff who sniffs something suspicious is going on.
This is classic light-hearted sci-fi.
This Israeli psychological drama is lathered up in an erotically charged mystery that takes cues from the greats of the film world. Writer-director Sigal Avin leans on Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, and more for influences in her story about an aging female director (Ayelet Zurer) who becomes obsessed with a young, seductive screenwriter (Lihi Kornowski) and the film that might save her career but destroy her marriage. It’s wonderfully shot and loaded with beautiful people if that’s your thing.
Miss Scarlet and the Duke
Peaky Blinders’ Kate Phillips provides the necessary fire behind London’s first female private investigator in PBS’s Miss Scarlet and the Duke, the latest Masterpiece series to wash up on American shores. Following the death of her P.I. father, a penniless Eliza Scarlet (Phillips) opts to continue her father’s services rather than go the traditional route of marrying for financial security, and as you can imagine, her headstrong move has Londoners dropping their monocles into their tea.
Her new line of work also sees her frequently cross paths with a fellow inspector nicknamed The Duke (Stuart Martin), and, yep, you got it, their clashes bubble with romantic tension. Will she solve the case of… love?
Better late than never, WandaVision is the first television show from the MCU, and represents the future of Disney+, which is kind of a big deal. For fans of Marvel, it’s a must-see, soft-launching Phase 4 of the MCU and affecting the events of the upcoming movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
As for the show itself, it adds comedic dimension to stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany while a slowly unfolding mystery keeps things captivating.
The supernatural coming-of-age story takes the tried-and-true formula that so many YA shows use, but filters it through the eyes of Indigenous people, following a teen from a broken family who slings drugs part-time working the drive-thru window of a fast-food joint. But things start to get more complicated when the young man begins to experience strange things, like seeing his doppleganger at parties and encountering talking crows.
On the surface, it seems like something that would fit right at home on The CW, but it has the vibe of a supernatural indie film from an up-and-coming first-time director — there’s some clumsiness, but that’s far outweighed by the positives — as it explores Indigenous folklore via a teen show.
Disclaimer: The series was renewed for a second season but was later canceled when creator Michelle Latimer, who had previously maintained that she had Indigenous ancestry, was found to not be of Indigenous descent.
All Creatures Great and Small
The popular novels were written by James Harriot/”Alf” Wright get a loving adaptation that stays true to the source material while also forging its own path.
The six-episode first season follows Harriot as he joins a veterinary practice in 1930s Yorkshire, England, fixing animals with warmth and sensitivity… and doctor stuff. It’s a comfort show for those in need of positivity.
The story of Tiger Woods has always been ripe for documentation, but there’s never been a better time for it than now. HBO’s two-part, three-hour look at Woods’ phenomenal rise, incredible fall, uncertain future, and recent comeback is more than just about an athlete, it’s about the machine that makes heroes and sets up traps for them to fall into.
It’s all here: a Black man crashing a white-dominated sport, a company (Nike) building a brand around race, a father pushing his child too far, and the inevitable scandal of extra-marital affairs and substance abuse.
Featuring never-before-seen footage of Woods and interviews with those closest to him (but none with Tiger himself), Tiger – more general public-friendly and unbiased than ESPN’s sporty and fawning The Last Dance – will be loved by golfers and appreciated by anyone fascinated with the life of a groundbreaking icon.
Omar Sy stars as Assans Diop, a man who is essentially a French Bruce Wayne if Batman was more of a cat burglar than a dark knight. Inspired by the classic French character Arsène Lupin, known as the “gentleman burglar,” Diop starts the series off trying to steal a valuable necklace from the Louvre with a grand heist as part of a revenge plot against the wealthy family responsible for the death of father several years prior.
Sy is a charming dude, and the heists and trickery are fun, complicated acts, performed under the guise of being the good guy. It isn’t the greatest show Netflix ever put out, but it is a very entertaining distraction that’s easy to get through. Five episodes air in this run, with more to come later.
History of Swear Words
Nicolas Cage hosting a docuseries about the roots of the most famous swear words? Well gosh, golly dagnabbit gee willikers, pardon my French, but this sounds flippin’ wonderful! Seriously, listening to Cage unleash the F-word through reciting famous movie lines or just running the F-bomb gamut with different inflexions to demonstrate its myriad meanings is great. In each 20-minute episode that’s focused around one swear word, Cage is joined by comedian talking heads discussing what they love about each curse, as well as lexicon experts who break down the etymology of the words we don’t say around our mothers.
This Spanish horror series starts off with a bank robber somehow surviving a wave of bullets to snatch a mysterious coin and continues with a small Spanish town witnessing a baby being born out of a cow. Then things get weird. The town’s mayor (Sense8’s Miguel Angel Silvestre) and local vet (Megan Montenar) team up to figure out what the heck is going on, and whether a local priest (Eduard Fernández), who spends his free time delivering haymakers on a punching bag and hiding guns, has anything to do with the unusual activity.
It’s freaky, gory horror centered on biblical roots that cribs from the classics like The Omen and The Exorcist with just a touch of camp to keep things a wee bit fun.