August is around the corner and a majority of 2021’s content is already out. If the Emmy Award nominations have taught us anything, it is that there is no shortage of critically acclaimed shows. From Pose to The Underground Railroad, it is a highly competitive year.
Silverscreen India combs through a range of genres- thrillers, superhero shows, drama, and comedies to handpick seven shows based on one factor alone: entertainment. While not all the shows on this list have necessarily impressed the critics or awards shows, they are certainly addictive, and yes, some of them will make you wish for HBO Max to get to India already.
- WandaVision (Disney+Hotstar)
WandaVision picks up right after the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019) and officially opens the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Delving into themes of grief, loss, and self-discovery, the show encompasses a whole lot of elements to throw the audience off. It emulates and has multiple references to popular American sitcoms like Modern Family, The Office, The Brady Bunch, The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy. However, the strength of the show lies in its central mystery surrounding superheroes Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision’s (Paul Bettany) seemingly idyllic suburban life in Westview, New Jersey. When it becomes apparent that everything is not what it seems, the show goes back to familiar Marvel territory with action, fight sequences, and a truly memorable villain (whose theme song is still stuck in our heads).
WandaVision boasts of good writing and complex themes proving that superhero stories no longer need to follow a good-versus-evil template to be appealing.
2. Mare of Easttown (Disney+Hotstar and HBO Max)
This HBO miniseries starring Kate Winslet is a mystery drama that revolves around the murder of a teenage mother near a creek. Mare (Winslet) is a police detective sergeant in Easttown, a small town in Pennsylvania. Having previously failed to solve a case where another teenage girl goes missing, Mare is determined to get to the bottom of this murder. However, she also has to deal with her son’s suicide and a nasty custody battle for her grandson. In a town as small and connected as Easttown, she begins to find it hard to separate her personal and professional life.
The show’s strength lies not only in its writing and premise but also in the cast’s performance. Veteran actor Jean Smart’s portrayal of Mare’s no-nonsense mother Helen and Evan Peters’ depiction of the young and eager detective Colin Zabel elevate an already interesting show. Rather than being a straightforward whodunnit, Mare of Easttown is a complex and well-rounded story that keeps the audience hooked until the end.
3. Lucifer Season 5 Part 2 (Netflix)
The second part of Season 5 of Lucifer dropped on Netflix in May. The show follows Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), the Devil, who abandons Hell to become a club owner in Los Angeles. After a run-in with police detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), he joins the Los Angeles Police Department as a consultant. In the fifth season, Lucifer has returned to Hell and his twin brother Michael comes down to Earth to stir chaos in the lives of Lucifer’s close ones.
This season of Lucifer sticks to its strengths- it has tons of mythological and Biblical references, grisly murders, hilarious banter between Lucifer and Chloe, and a special appearance from God himself. While the show may not offer anything new in terms of its plotlines, Tom Ellis’ charming and cheeky portrayal of the Devil and his romantic relationship with Chloe provides some much-needed entertainment.
4. Hacks Season 1 (HBO Max)
This is the second show with actor Jean Smart to feature on this list. Hacks is about an old by-gone standup comic Deborah (Smart) who forges a begrudging and reluctant partnership with an ostracized writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder), who has been cancelled over an offensive joke. What follows is an original, funny, and heartwarming story about the two women trying to respect each other’s differences and work together to make Deborah relevant again.
The 10-episode series even emerged as a favourite at the Emmys with Smart and Einbinder getting nominated for their performances.
5. Loki Season 1 (Disney+Hotstar)
Few shows have managed to get as much hype as Disney and Marvel’s Loki did. A part of the reason for the hype is probably because of the eagerness to learn about Loki’s fate after he disappears with the tesseract in Avengers: Endgame. However, it is mostly about British actor Tom Hiddleston’s captivating performance as the titular God of Mischief. Garnering both critical and commercial acclaim, Loki is a wild ride. It has a mind-boggling plot about timelines and their disruptions and it also introduces multiple variants (versions) of everyone’s favourite anti-hero Loki. Plus, with Owen Wilson’s fantastic portrayal as the Time Variance Authority’s (a fictional bureaucratic organisation) trusted employee Mobius, it does not take long for us to become invested in the show. There is a twist at every turn and with season one ending on a cliffhanger, the second season could not get here any sooner.
6. Ginny & Georgia Season 1 (Netflix)
Now, we know what you are thinking- Ginny & Georgia has its problematic moments with an overdose of cringey dialogues (Who can forget the “Oppression Olympics” dialogue where Ginny and her boyfriend Hunter argue about which of them has been more oppressed?) However, there is never a dull moment. Mother-daughter duo Georgia (Brianne Howey) and Virginia ‘Ginny’ Miller (Antonia Gentry) move to a town in New England to get a fresh start after the death of Georgia’s husband. While Ginny struggles with her identity and relationships, her mother is hiding a big secret and is dealing with her traumatic past.
Marketed as a darker and more dramatic Gilmore Girls, its ridiculous plotlines, baffling supporting characters, and questionable dialogues, ironically make it an amusing show. Howey’s convincing portrayal of Georgia as a thirty-year-old social climbing and no-nonsense mother is perhaps the only reason for this show to feature on our list.
7. Never Have I Ever Season 2 (Netflix)
High school does not get funnier than on Never Have I Ever, where protagonist Devi’s (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) antics and self-destructive tendencies cause unnecessary drama. The show revolves around 15-year-old Devi, who is struggling to cope with the unexpected demise of her father. Surrounded by her mother and eccentric group of friends, Devi’s experiences at high school, her identity as an Indian, and her romantic relationships form the plot.
The second season begins with Devi’s decision to simultaneously date her frenemy Ben (Jaren Lewison) and the popular jock Paxton (Darren Barnet) after she is unable to choose between them. Creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher know what they are doing; there are laughs, oodles of drama, and genuine, relatable teenage issues. They have managed to achieve this without including too many South Asian stereotypes this time. Never Have I Ever may not be topping every critic’s list but there is no denying that the show is full of heart and fun.