TV

2021: The Year of TV

For many, many years I’ve been saying I’m terrible at watching TV shows and generally speaking I am but that did change in 2021. I still haven’t watched many of the “big” shows like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Succession, The Boys, Outlander – you name it, I probably haven’t seen it.

But in 2021 I watched more TV shows in their entirety than I have ever before in one year. In fact, I watched 31 different shows. Only two of them were continuations of shows I’d starter before 2021; Cobra Kai and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and one was a rewatch; W.I.T.C.H.

Here’s a list of all the shows I watched last year. they’re sort of in order of when I watched them though if there’s been a gap between when I watched various seasons of the same show, I’ve included it on the original listing. Like Cobra Kai I watched on 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021 – started and ended the year with my new favourite disaster man Johnny Lawrence.

– Cobra Kai season 3 and 4
– Derry Girls series 1 and 2
– Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 6 and 7
– Superstore season 1-6
– WandaVision
– The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
– Loki
– 9-1-1 season 1-4
– 9-1-1: Lone Star season 1-2
– Shadow and Bone S1
– Batwoman season 1-2 and first half of S3
– The Gifted S1-2
– Ted Lasso S1-2
– Mare of Easttown
– W.I.T.C.H. S1-2
– Chernobyl
– Turner & Hooch
– Big Shot
– What If…?
– Only Murders in the Building
– Doctor Who: Flux
– The Equalizer S1
– Jessica Jones S2-3
– Luke Cage S2
– Iron Fist S2
– Daredevil S3
– The Punisher S2
– Hawkeye
– Superman & Lois S1
– The Wheel of Time
– Alex Rider S1-2

My favourites that I watched this year were Chernobyl, Superstore, 9-1-1, Ted Lasso, Superman & Lois and, of course, Hawkeye (which I reviewed over on JumpCut Online). But really, I enjoyed pretty much everything I watched this year. I will say I found the first series of Alex Rider a bit of a slog but the second series was great and more than made up for the first.

I also finally caught up with and watched all the seasons of the various Marvel Netflix shows I’d just left by the wayside. That was something I’d definitely been talking about catching up on for years and I’m pleased I’ve finally done it. It was nice to revisit those characters and stories again after so long.

I think in 2021 the pandemic sort of caught up with and it was in 2021 when I found it difficult to concentrate on things like a two+ hour film or a 400-page book. So that’s why I turned to TV. A lot of the stuff I watched is around the 45-minute mark per episode if not shorter and I just found it easier to watch a few episodes in an evening than have to focus on a film. Plus, as I was working from home for the vast majority of the year, I would also watch an episode (or two depending when I got up) before work or during my lunch hour. So that definitely helped me watch more TV than normal.

As for what my TV-watching will be like in 2022? Well, I do want to make reading more of a priority this year so naturally films and TV may take a bit of a backseat which I’m fine with. I want to carry on with the shows that I’ve started, when the next series starts here in the UK so that’s Batwoman, Ted Lasso, 9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star, Derry Girls, The Equalizer and whatever else might have a new series air at some point in 2022. I’m still kind of annoyed that the final season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine still hasn’t been aired here yet but at least that’s something to look forward to.

I’m not sure how many new-to-me shows I’ll end up watching in 2022. The thing is with the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and the bog-standard TV channels, there’s so many shows out there that it is overwhelming. One new show I do have my eye on (and will maybe renew my subscription to Apple TV+ for it) is The Afterparty, that looks like fun and it has a lot of people I like in it.

Looking at what I’ve watched and enjoyed this year, if there’s any shows you’d recommend whether they’re new for 2022 or not, please do let me know. I won’t make any promises that I’ll watch them – especially if they’re in their fifth season with 20ish episodes a season (that’s super intimidating) – but as there’s so much out there it’s hard to know what’s good or not or where to begin. And who knows, I might like a show to fill my lunchbreaks again.

X is for Xtras

I’m sure like many people who do the A-Z in April Challenge, I often really struggle with the letter X. I’ve previously had Charles Xavier when I wrote about favourite characters before but as I don’t want any repeats, I’m cheating and just sharing a few favourite characters that didn’t quite make the cut for their own post.

Steve Harrington
My all-out favourite from Stranger Things. I love his growth as a character and even when he was a bit of a bully towards Jonathan in the first season, he realised his mistakes and went to apologise and became a great monster hunter. I love how protective Steve is of the kids, how he’ll always put himself in harms way to stop others getting hurt (he really needs to be checked for any brain injuries) and that while he’s not academically smart, he picks on things up others don’t.

Jaylah
Star Trek Beyond is my favourite Star Trek film and is generally one of my favourite films. Jaylah is a brilliant character and I love how she fits in with the crew of the Enterprise. She’s a fierce fighter, she’s a smart engineer, and though she’s scared of what they have to face thanks to her traumatic childhood, she is brave enough to stare down her demons and finds a new family with the crew.

Jesper Fahey
Jesper was already one of my favourite characters from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom but having finished (and loved) the Shadow and Bone TV show, I love him even more. He is funny and charming and brave, and he is such a good friend. There’s a moment when a friend asks him to kill someone for her and his response is “Ugh why me? But OK.” because that’s just how he is. He has a gambling problem which often leads him to get into scrapes so it’s a good job his such a fantastic shot – honestly how they showed his guns skills in the show was so cool.

Elizabeth Swann
I still believe the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy are brilliant and The Curse of the Black Pearl is a fantastic film. I love how Elizabeth evolves as a person over the course of the films though still stays the same adventurous and quick-witted person she always was. She’s brave but sometimes reckless, caring but sometimes harsh – she’s one of the most interesting characters in that franchise. I also love how she becomes such a great sword fighter, pirate, and the Pirate King.

T is for Terri Coverley

The Thick of It is a show that demonstrates how farcical British politics is and, to be honest, British politics have gotten even worse since the show finished.

Terri Coverley is a Civil Servant and is the Director of Communications at the fictional Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship. She is very proud and one could say she has delusions of grandeur. She often thinks she is better at her job and more liked than she actually is. While she’s certainly not the meanest person in the office, she does belittle her secretary and treats her poorly.

I love Terri’s attitude to everything that goes on in the office. It might be because she’s often oblivious to what’s actually happening, or she really is that useless, but she sticks to her guns when she says she wont do something and she really is quite blasé about the whole thing.

While I wouldn’t say Terri is an inspiration when it comes to work, I do like how she does her best to only do what is in her job description and gets very annoyed if she has to work late. I think knowing what’s inside your remit and not getting a load of things piled on top of you is admirable. Especially as Terri does it when anyone asks her, she knows what she’s supposed to do and will do it though whether it’s to the best of her ability is debatable.

S is for Sara Howard

For living and working in late 1800s New York City, Sara Howard is quite the modern woman. She starts out as the secretary for the Chief of Police but after getting involved in some mysterious murders she strikes out on her own and opens her own private detective agency, staffed entirely by women.

I love how genuine a character Sara feels. She is resourceful and stands up for herself, but she is always aware of how society may view someone like her. A young woman who investigates murders and other gruesome crimes, who is seen galivanting around town with an Alienist and a reporter – both unattached men – is not really someone that is seen to be suitable for high society. Sara does a good job of hiding how she feels when men belittle her intelligence or her standing but it’s clear she takes great delight in showing them up when she can work through a problem quicker than they can.

Sara is smart and resourceful and caring. The fact that she can talk to people makes her a good investigator as she can sympathise with them and get them to open up to her. She’s a good and kind boss who is fair and teaches the other women in her agency the tricks of the trade.

I love how resilient Sara is. She has to deal with a lot of sexist attitudes, both when she worked in the police department and just generally in life, as she takes it and uses it to her advantage when others underestimate her. The fact she’s pretty handy and comfortable with a gun helps too.

R is for Rose Tyler

My introduction to Doctor Who was way back in 2005, when the first episode, titled “Rose”, of the new, rebooted series aired. Instantly I loved the whole concept, the Doctor and, of course Rose Tyler. My love of Doctor Who has faded a bit over time but series one-four aka the Eccleston and Tennant eras, still hold a place in my heart.

Rose Tyler is still my favourite companion. I love how normal she was. She was just a teenager, working in a shop with very few qualifications, and living with her mum but when given the opportunity she was incredibly brave and resourceful.

Rose is good for the Doctor because she questions things – including him – and she is also very observant, sometimes even noticing the little things the Doctor might’ve missed. Those things were often to do with the people (humans or aliens) that they were helping, Rose was often a lot more caring and more personable than the Doctor, getting people to open up and would really listen to them.

I loved Rose’s wit and how she could stand up for herself and the people she cares for. Her relationship with her mum is one of my favourite things because they feel like a proper mother and daughter. They bicker but they also protect one another and it’s clear they love one another so much.

The end of “Doomsday” never fails to make me cry. I was a wreck when I first saw that episode and while now I’m older I can see that Donna Noble’s fate is so much worse/sadder, as a Doctor/Rose shipper (before I even really knew what shipping was) I was devastated they were parted like that. That being said, I do like how Rose took on a role as protector of the Earth in her parallel universe, and used all the things she learnt from her adventures with the Doctor to make the world a safer place.

P is for John Proudstar

I’m still watching the second (and last) series of The Gifted but John Proudstar aka Thunderbird was pretty much instantly my favourite character in the show – and this show has a lot of interesting and layered characters.

The word “nice” is often used when you can’t think of anything else to say to describe someone, but John is just so nice and decent in the best way. He is kind and caring and the way he’s so tactile with people just works and is never too much. He seems like the kind of guy who would give great hugs.

John is a mutant. His powers include super strength, invulnerability, and heightened senses and foresight, meaning he can track people and see a short time into the future. The fact that he’s this big, strong guy just makes his caring nature even more pronounced. John frequently uses his own body as a shield to protect others from bullets or debris without a second thought.

His background in the military along with his abilities help make John an incredibly capable and natural leader. Though sometimes John doubts his abilities due to having so many people relying on him and he’d do anything to keep them safe. In my opinion, this insecurity over his leadership makes him a better leader. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and the way he can turn to his best friend and co-leader Marcos for support.

John is a fighter in every sense. He is great in combat and he’s emotionally and mentally resilient. I love how in tune he is with others, especially those he cares about, and he always tries to do the right thing even if that means making difficult choices.

N is for Nancy Wheeler

Generally speaking, the teens in Stranger Things are my favourites – though really the kids are getting so old now they could also be teens now. Anyway! While I could wax lyrically about Steve Harrington, Jonathan Byres and Robin Buckley (and they may make an appearance later on this month), today is all about Nancy Wheeler.

I love how much confidence she gets over the course of the series and how she keeps a level-head when dealing with monsters. She’s always questioning things and running her own investigations and it’s clear she’d be a great reporter when she’s older – and if she wasn’t dealing with the sexist attitudes of her bosses.

It’s kind of a small thing but I love how she’s the one who’s naturally good with a gun. She practices a bit and then in any situation where monsters are attacking and there’s a gun lying around, whether it’s a handgun or a shotgun, she’ll just pick it up and start shooting, and hitting, the target.

I often feel like Nancy gets an unreasonable amount of hate and that makes me want to defend her even more. I think some of it is from season one where she wanted to spend time with her boyfriend Steve and her best friend Barb was kinda being a bit clinging/they were growing a part a bit and a lot of people related to Barb and therefore where on her side. Personally, I never saw the fuss about Barb, she was nice but I easily liked Nancy more. Then there’s how she treated Steve during season two which I do agree was not great and she should’ve at least properly apologised because he wasn’t a terrible boyfriend, she just wasn’t great at telling him what she was feeling.

I really like how Nancy’s relationship with her mum and younger brother develop. There’s a really nice scene where she tells her mum about all the stuff she has to put up with at work and they commiserate together. With her brother Mike, they are typically siblings who always argue and annoy one another but they also work together really well, and she does her best to protect him when they’re dealing with monsters.

Nancy is smart and studious and kind and brave. She’s incredibly loyal and determined, and she’ll always do what she can to seek out justice and reveal the truth of what’s going on in this town. I love both her relationship with Steve and Jonathan and if there was any justice the three of them would’ve ended up in a polyamorous relationship as they all balance each other out really well.

K is for Kaz Brekker

I’m currently reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, the sequel to Six of Crows, and it’s just affirming the fact that Kaz Brekker is a great character.

Kaz isn’t a nice person. No, honestly, this isn’t one of those loveable rogue kind of characters, he is actually ruthless, cold-hearted, and conniving. He values money and power and is known for doing any job no matter how dangerous if it gets him either of those two things. Kaz is great at figuring people out and exploiting both their weaknesses and their talents in order to achieve his aims. He is a master manipulator.

Kaz is a part of The Dregs, one of the gangs in in the city of Ketterdam, and he quickly rose through the ranks to be an influential figure. He inspires loyalty through fear but also through his honesty. For a thief and a liar Kaz and does tell the truth but really only when it’ll get him something. I love Kaz’s intelligence. He’s had to learn the hard way how to survive in this seedy city and he’s learnt how to make shrewd investments in both people and property. He makes plans within plans and often only tells people the bare minimum of what they need to know to get the job done. Kaz does not trust easily and he’s always considering his and any opponents moves three steps ahead.

The fascinating thing about Kaz is that slowly he does start to care for other people – or maybe just one person in particular. Actually, care about them, not just what they can do for him. To what extent this may change him as a person I’ve yet to find out.

I’m really looking forward to the Shadow and Bone Netflix show which is released next week. Kaz and his fellow Crows are going to be in it so I’m looking forward to seeing how they bring this character to screen – because Kaz Brekker can be a nasty piece of work at times.

J is for Johnny Lawrence

I have not fallen so hard and fast for a character as I did with Johnny Lawrence for a long, long time.

I never watched the Karate Kid films growing up. In fact, I watched the Jackie Chan/Jaden Smith remake long before seeing any of the originals. Because I’m a completist, when there was a lot of talk on my Twitter feed about Cobra Kai after it arrived on Netflix last autumn, I went and watched all the films (even the Hilary Swank one), before starting the series – a series that immediately became one of my favourites and a lot of that was to do with one Johnny Lawrence.

Johnny Lawrence is not typically a character I’d love due to his drinking and often self-destructive behaviour but because of the writing and William Zabka’s performance I couldn’t help but root for him. He’s a disaster but he tries. He’s caught up in his past a lot – his teenage glory days – and doesn’t know how to be a father to his son, but what he does find is that he can be a good sensei.

I love his relationship with Miguel and how it’s so unfortunate that he can be such an unusual but good father figure to him but not to his own son as there’s no history between them or expectations.

I love how Johnny appears to be an insensitive caveman when it comes to things like equality but with the help of Miguel and Aisha, he soon realises that in his dojo it doesn’t matter if you’re small, nerdy, a loser, or even *gasp* a girl – as long as you’re badass. He’s a surprisingly great teacher. He has to unlearn some of the bad things he was taught as a teen but as he does that, he becomes a better person and a better teacher. He wants his kids to be strong and capable, but he also wants them to fight with honour and not become bullies like he used to be.

Johnny is such a complex character and one that definitely needs a lot of therapy because there’s definitely a load of trauma tied to his father figures there. He’s blunt and tough and is useless with modern technology, but he’s also caring and he becomes so soft around his old school friends like Bobby. Sure, he has a bit of a short temper whenever he’s around Daniel LaRusso (they sure know how to push each other’s buttons and they’re both as bad as each other) but Johnny tries to do better. He often makes a load of mistakes or goes about it completely the wrong way, but most of the time his heart is in the right place.

I just love Johnny Lawrence a lot and will always be rotting for him – even when I want to smack him over the head for how he forgets about his son.

I is for Isabelle “Izzy” Lightwood

I’ve already talked about one Lightwood sibling in this A-Z in April Challenge and now it’s time for another one!

Izzy is a character that I always liked but as the show progressed and you got to see different sides to her, she became one of my favourites. She’s comfortable in her own skin and is more than happy to wear tight and revealing clothes (in part to annoy her parents) and to use her looks to get what she wants – whether that’s acting as bait for a demon or charming someone for information.

Like her brother, Izzy is very loyal to her friends and will fight for what she believes in. she’s not afraid to stand up to authority, even if it’ll get her in trouble. That being said, she’s often the more level-headed one out of her friends and siblings. She works through a problem and keeps calm under pressure.

I love how compassionate and caring Izzy is. She has a big heart and is always ready to make new friends. She doesn’t differentiate between Shadowhunters and Downworlders and she can see both friends and foes in all of them. She’s supportive and protective of her friends too, and always encourages her brothers to go after what will make them happy. That protectiveness can get a little much for her baby brother Max as she worries about whether he’s ready to fight, even though she was the one to train him.

Izzy balances out her friends and family so well. She’s smart, a brilliant fighter and teacher, and she’s a great person to go to for advice. She goes through a lot over the course of the show but even though she may falter at times, Izzy shows everyone, and herself, how strong she truly is.