The best TV shows of 2021 so far.

2021 has been a bloody good year for TV. 

While we haven't been inundated with new releases, the shows that have been released so far this year have been standout hits. 

From the murder mystery millions of people tuned into week after week, to the Stan Original Series that made us fall in love with Aussie TV again, there's been something for everyone. 

Here are the best TV shows of 2021 so far (in no particular order):  

The White Lotus 

Image: Binge.  

The White Lotus has (almost) filled the Mare of Easttown-shaped hole in my life. 

The series, which follows the guests and staff at a luxury resort in Hawaii, is a dark comedy with a dead body mystery at its centre. 

It's wickedly funny, anxiety inducing, and incredibly intriguing. 

You can watch the first five episodes of The White Lotus on Binge and Foxtel now. 

Cruel Summer

Image: Amazon Prime Video.  


Cruel Summer is a dirty little teen thriller that's like Pretty Little Liars meets The Sinner

The series follows 'cool girl' Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) and nerd Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) over the summers of 1993, 1994, and 1995. 

In 1993, Jeanette is admiring Kate's life from afar. By 1994, Kate has disappeared and Jeanette has stepped into her life. And by the summer of 1995, Kate is back, and she has accused Jeanette of being complicit in her disappearance.

You can watch the entire first season of Cruel Summer on Amazon Prime Video Australia now. 


Image: Stan.  

If you loved Jean Smart playing Mare's mum in Mare of Easttown, you're going to love Hacks

Smart plays veteran comedian Deborah Vance in the 10-episode comedy-drama. 


Deborah has been at the top of her game for years, but when her regular Las Vegas show is in danger of being cancelled, she hires a 'woke' millennial to help write her jokes. 

What follows in a story about generational differences, female friendship and what happens after failure. 

You can watch the entire first season of Hacks on Stan now. 


Image: ABC iview.  

Starstruck was created by New Zealand comedian and actor, Rose Matafeo. 

She plays Jessie in the series, a millennial ex-pat living in London and trying to make ends meet with a handful of casual, dead-end jobs. 

After meeting him in the bathroom at the nightclub, Jessie goes home with Tom (Nikesh Patel). The next morning, she realises she's accidentally slept with a massive film star. Think waking up and realising you've a little bit slept with Liam Hemsworth and said all sorts of things to him. 

Each episode of the six-episode first season takes place in a different season - Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring - as Jessie and Tom deal with the aftermath of their one-night stand and attempt to fit into each other's worlds. 

The entire first season of Starstruck is streaming on ABC iview now. 

Mare of Easttown

Image: Binge.  


When Mare of Easttown premiered on Binge in April, a lot of people quickly wrote it off as just another dead girl murder mystery. 

But it soon became the most talked about TV series of 2021.

There are several reasons Mare of Easttown has been such a standout hit. First of all, the star power. The cast includes a greasy pony-tailed Kate Winslet as Detective Mare Sheehan, a strangely attractive drunken slurring Evan Peters as her partner Detective Colin Zabel, and Guy Pearce as her mysterious silver fox love interest.

Then there's the loveable and relatable family dynamics. Mare's mum Helen (Jean Smart) is living with her to help her take care of her grandson, but she's also going to Mare's ex husband's engagement party next door. 

But most of all, millions of people kept tuning in each week because the mystery was sooooo good. There were so many potential dirtbags in Easttown who could have been the killer. And so many twists and turns along the way. 

You can watch the first season of Mare of Easttown on Binge now. 

It's A Sin

Image: Stan.  


It's A Sin is the kind of TV series you'll think about every day for months after you've watched it. 

The mini-series was created by critically-acclaimed screenwriter and television producer Russell T Davies, whose previous works include Queer as Folk, and Years and Years

Set in London in the 1980s and 1990s, the series focuses on London's vibrant gay scene and a group of friends who are left devastated by the AIDS crisis. 

It's not an easy watch, but it's an important one. One of the most brilliant and beautiful series of the year, It's A Sin will make you laugh out loud in one scene, and bawl your eyes out in the next. 

It's A Sin is streaming only on Stan now. 

Behind Her Eyes

Image: Netflix.  

When Sarah Pinborough's thriller Behind Her Eyes was published in 2017, the book was marketed with an ominous warning.


"Don't trust this book. Don't trust this story."

The same can be said for the six-part mini-series that dropped onto Netflix in February of this year. 

The psychological thriller follows the story of single mother Louise (Simona Brown) who gets caught up in an affair with her psychiatrist boss David (Tom Bateman), while forming an unlikely friendship with his mysterious wife, Adele (Eve Hewson). 

It's an enthralling series with a bizarre twist that will blow ya socks off. 

You can watch the first season of Behind Her Eyes on Netflix now.


Image: Stan.  

Stan Original Series Bump follows the story of Olympia 'Oly' Chalmers (Nathalie Morris), a high-achieving 16-year-old who has her entire life mapped out in front of her when she suddenly has a surprise baby. 

Not a surprise pregnancy. A surprise baby

After feeling unwell at school, Oly has a baby in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital, and immediately becomes a mother, and her parents Angie (Claudia Karvan) and Dom (Angus Sampson) become instant grandparents. 

Angie and Dom, who were on the brink of separation before the baby arrived, are forced to come together to help an uninterested Oly bond with her daughter, and Oly must face the fact her life has changed forever. 


Read: Stan's Bump is a return to the classic Australian TV series we all fell in love with.

Throughout the 10-episode first season, the kids and the parents of the Bump world learn how to adjust to their new normal, and figure who they really are and what they really want in life. 

Bump is a series about embracing the unexpected, and learning to love the messy, unplanned parts of your life. 

And it will make you fall in love with Australian TV all over again. 

The first season of Bump is streaming on Stan now. 


Image: Netflix 

Lupin (the first season dropped on Netflix in January) follows the story of Assane Diop (Omar Sy) a ridiculously good looking tall man who wears great coats and does a sneaky sneak. 

When Assane was young, his father worked as a chauffer and butler for a wealthy white family. When the family patriarch accused Assane's father of stealing a diamond necklace that was once associated with Marie Antionette, he was thrown in jail. He later signed a confession and then ended his own life. 

Read: A diamond necklace scandal and a master thief: The story behind Netflix's Lupin.

Assane was placed in care and spent his days becoming increasingly obsessed with a book his father gave him and the fictional character of Arsene Lupin, a "gentleman thief" and a master of disguise, first created by Maurice Leblanc in 1905. 

At the start of the series Assane, now an adult, plots to steal the necklace which has since been found and is about to go up for auction at the Louvre, to avenge his father's death. 


He soon learns there's a lot more to the story than he originally thought. 

The first and second season of Lupin are streaming on Netflix now. 


Image: DisneyPlus.  

WandaVision is unlike anything else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The new series, which follows on from the events of Avengers: Endgame, features Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) — two superhero-ish characters living perfect suburban lives. 

Described as part mystery, part homage to old-school sitcoms, the series follows Wanda and Vision as they attempt to navigate suburban life while battling with their fear that everything is not quite as it seems.

You can watch WandaVision on Disney Plus now.

A Teacher

Image: Binge.  


"I've never felt this way before," Eric tells Claire.

"It's new."

If you saw a scene from A Teacher without context, you'd probably assume that it was just another typical romantic drama series.

But once you know the full story, the new miniseries becomes deeply disturbing.

Created by Hannah Fidell and based on her film of the same name, A Teacher delves into an illegal sexual relationship between English teacher Claire Wilson (Kate Mara) and her 17-year-old student, Eric Walker (Nick Robinson).

It's unsettling watch that will make you question everything you thought you knew about power and consent. 

A Teacher is available to watch on Binge and Foxtel now.


Image: ABC iview.  


In the opening minutes of Wakefield, Dan Wyllie's character James is dressed in a crisp business shirt, a tie, and a blazer. 

He's speaking to his colleagues over Zoom, throwing around words like 'market' and 'bounce' and 'equity'. He appears to be a high-functioning businessman about to close on a multi-million dollar deal. 

It's only moments later we find out James is actually wearing his pyjama pants, he's making the deal from the common room of a psychiatric ward, and he's one of the patients. 

Read: Should I Watch It? ABC iview's slow burning psychological thriller, Wakefield.

This scene encapsulates the show's running theme and its tagline - there's a fine line between sanity and madness. 

James could be any of us, and under the right circumstances (or wrong circumstances), any of us could find ourselves in James' shoes. 

Wakefield is at once a riveting psychological thriller, a study of the human condition, and a light Aussie comedy. 

All eight episodes of Wakefield are streaming on ABC iview now. 

Keryn Donnelly is Mamamia's Pop Culture Editor. For more of her TV, film and book recommendations and to see photos of her dog, follow her on Instagram 

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