With the holiday season in full swing, we are forced to acknowledge the passage of time. We reflect on where we are, where we have been, and where we shall go. And if that’s too much of a bummer to bother with, then we can reflect instead on the wonderful year of television we just had.
Many shows bear mentioning, and I’m sure they will, rearranged in every possible order. We all watched Invincible and memed out over Squid Game, but what about those programs whose praises have yet to be sung by the Christmas Choir? That’s what this list is for. Here are the best TV sleeper hits of 2021, presented in no particular order.
First on my list is Black Death, an animated collection of comedy shorts on Hulu. Episodes are a little longer than five minutes, so this is the perfect sort of show to watch with a quick lunch. It feels like a sketch show: any given episode is based on a silly premise taken quickly to an absurd extreme, and I quite like that. The style of the animation charmingly mimics medieval illustrations, which pairs well with the stories.
Black Death provides a hearty laugh for just a few minutes at a time, which can be all you need.
Moving on to Netflix animation, Centaurworld was an unexpected gem I found during my morning scrolling. I wrote about the show more extensively earlier in the year, but to sum it up in a paragraph, Centaurworld is a pleasant treat. It offers some offbeat humor and catchy quick burst songs. It’s bouncy, smooth and vibrantly expressive. The core of the story may be too silly or adolescent for some, but for anyone with a taste for this kind of thing, there’s a lot to like here.
Centaurworld season 2 is already streaming.
What We Do In the Shadows
Those who like their comedy shows on the spooky side have probably already been watching What We Do In the Shadows. Lord knows I have. I keep coming back to this show. It probably has to do with the same part of my brain that likes the Addams Family and compels me to wear fingerless gloves during the winter.
Season 2 was a bit hit or miss, but the most recent third season has been an improvement. The more attention Colin Robinson gets, the more I seem to enjoy the show. You too can enjoy it on Hulu.
Poorly Drawn Lines
This is something else you can enjoy on Hulu. Poorly Drawn Lines is based on the popular internet comics series of the same name you may have seen once or twice between depressing tweets. Thankfully, this show removes Twitter from the equation and delivers a great show.
I found Poorly Drawn Lines wonderfully entertaining. It’s a slice-of-life comedy with absurd plots and quickly escalating stakes. Fans of Regular Show or Aqua Teen Hunger Force would really dig it, I think. At just 11 minutes an episode, it’s worth a watch.
Finally we have Inside Job, which might just be my favorite new show of 2021. So much about this show really works for me. Part of it, I think, is that it combines elements I like from other series. With its scientist main character, there are definitely traces of Rick and Morty here. It takes that framework and applies it to the world of conspiracy theories: lizard people, flat-Earth, and much more all get their day in the sun. Plus the main character isn’t a God who’s never in danger.
Something else that the show does well is its very biting, almost cruel, social commentary. Maybe it’s a bit on the nose, but I think the cruelty is what makes it funny. These are not times for subtlety.
To top it off, Inside Job has Bojack Horseman-tier background jokes, as well as an incredibly fun intro. I can’t get enough of Inside Job, and I wait eagerly for a second season.
Well that’s my list, and I’ve checked it twice. Now I’m off to pour a Jack Daniels with ice.
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