Behind Her Eyes to Nine Perfect Strangers: TV Hadewatches in 2021 | Television

Nine Perfect Strangers (Amazon Prime)

When a glowing Nicole Kidman first slipped into a shot, with a Russian accent that an offensive uncle could pull off after a couple of shandies, it was clear that Nine Perfect Strangers was actually not that perfect. But I persevered, for this was yet another glossy adaptation of Lianne Moriarty – the novelist behind Big Little Lies – and it boasted a cast of Regina Hall, Michael Shannon and Melissa McCarthy. Why could the enigmatic Masha (Kidman) have invited this motley team to her Tranquillum wellness resort? Was there a supernatural twist ahead? Was she evil? Two episodes inside, it tried to reveal a big revelation – that she had given the guests a daily LSD cocktail – and no one hit an eyelid because hey, YOLO. A mindless finale was definitely on the way.

But it did not come; it was ultimately about a woman who chased hallucinogenic trips to “see” her dead son – and took another bereaved family on the trip. That’s fine, but why pretend to be something more creepy or exciting all the time? Without even knowing it, it was a wellness culture satire, and a proof that we are all too easily sucked into wanting to know what’s going on with silly, wealthy people with non-problems. Shame on us. Hollie Richardson

The morning show (Apple TV+)

'Like a terrible piece of The Newsroom cosplay': season two of Apple TV +'s The Morning Show
Like a terrible piece of The Newsroom cosplay … The Morning Show. Photo: Erin Simkin / Apple TV +

The first season of The Morning Show had a dizzying allure. A bunch of very famous people, some of them doing their best work for years, were unleashed on #MeToo and the results were cross-border operational. But then they had to make another season. The list of everything wrong with The Morning Show this year can fill the entire internet, so I will try to stick to the worst offenses. Make Billy Crudup an authority figure, and automatically deprive him of all his charm. Puts it in the beginning of Covid, as a terrible piece of The Newsroom cosplay. The whole Italian episode, which was by far the most baroque misjudged hour of television made all year. The lack of direction. And the end. My God, an end shocker who is a nonsense, logic-defying, brain-destroying. Congratulations, The Morning Show. You were the only series this year that made me physically yell at the television. Stuart Inheritance

Dig (Netflix)

One of those rare moments when Netflix's You remembered that Penn Badgley's character had a baby.
An intoxicating cocktail of stalking, murder and bibliophilia … You. Photo: John P Fleenor / Netflix

You are one of the most unlikely bizarre dramas ever made, an intoxicating cocktail of stalking, murder and bibliophilia that makes your average daytime soap look plausible in comparison. And yet, for all these reasons, it’s also undeniably compelling, with literary snob and murder enthusiast Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) capturing viewers with every sub-American psychomonologist. If its first two seasons seemed problematic – guy kills girl, repeatedly – season three was a less controversial bingewatch. Both Joe and his wife, Love (Victoria Pedretti), trudged against the fourth wall as they left the camp for the California suburbs to fight mother bloggers and technology barons… as well as kill the strange neighbor with an ax. I almost forgot – they’ve got a baby too (Joe and Love seemed to forget it too: he wasn’t into it much). From dubious stalker drama to dubious family stalker drama – have you ever heard anything more heartwarming? Hannah J Davies

L Word Generation Q (Sky Atlantic)

I came of age with the original L Word, as it felt so revolutionary to see queer women on screen – so of course I had to watch the restart, Generation Q. The first season was quite decent, soapy and trashy in just the right measure, but by series two the gloss was worn off. It managed to turn the magnificent Bette Porter into a caricature that was only a current caricature, much of it involved a lawsuit about marketing opiates that were ill-suited to the tone elsewhere, which was a bizarre patchwork of moods at first. The rest of the characters seemed to be stuck on a treadmill of circular stories that had no suspense because they would have been so easily solved by a single rational action. I understand that there is no drama in it, but a whole season of people doing stupid things for no good reason, in an increasingly confusing mess of plots, is not very gripping. So obviously I saw every episode. Rebecca Nicholson

The Crew (Netflix)

'This half-hearted Netflix project struggled to get out of first gear': Sarah Stiles and Kevin James star in Netflix 'The Crew.
Struggled to get out of first gear … The crew. Photo: Netflix

What made me go far with a sitcom with multiple cameras in the deeply macho male environment of a Nascar garage? In the dark days of February, maybe all you really want is some low-effort and easily digestible. The crew’s plot of a veteran garage manager (Kevin James) bumping heads with a fresh new owner (Jillian Mueller) seemed to promise generational and gender clashes. But despite an episode in which James unexpectedly shook an eye patch, this half-hearted Netflix project struggled to get out of first gear. The first 10 episodes were characterized by the mechanical delivery of potential zingers, unnoticed side characters that were put unsettlingly through the wringer and two suspiciously out of the blue romantic cliffhangers to end the season. Of course, I drove through it all, and five months later – when it was quietly canceled – I hated myself even more. Graeme Virtue

Buffer (ITV2)

Iain Stirling's tireless sitcom character and the rest of the Buffering team.
Less empathetic than a lump of felt … Buffer. Photo: Mark Johnson / ITV

While the intensely insane screening went on in 2021, the sitcom writer debut of the Love Island narrator and cartoonist Iain Stirling was almost unsurpassed. Apparently, Stirling was playing himself, and Stirling’s trip as a children’s TV host was so scary and annoying that his scenes with a puppet partner saw him turn out to be less empathetic than a lump of felt with ping pong balls in front of his eyes. And yet it was captivating in a way of shouting-to-TV, praying-for-disaster. It’s not uncommon to get hooked on a show by rooting for its lead. But in this case, you were messing with the fact that he was going to fail. Alexi Duggins

Behind Her Eyes (Netflix)

For the most part, Behind Her Eyes was a cheeky good psychological thriller – the perfect blend of horror, wealth, secrets and lies, based on a book by Sarah Pinborough that you can imagine tearing through at the airport. It follows Louise (Simona Brown), a receptionist who begins having an affair with her psychiatrist David (Tom Bateman) and then becomes friends with his wife Adele (Eve Hewson). Soon, the true story of this outwardly perfect but damaged couple begins to unravel, with Hewson giving a gruesome performance as a woman who has died behind her eyes. But just when we thought we would get a well-considered conclusion, the series decided to change genre and become a supernatural story of astral projection. Of course, it was a shocking finale that no one saw coming, and we could not stop tweeting about it – but that’s exactly why it was so damn annoying. Where was the logic? Why get out of a decent ending with a junk twist? That said, the final scene where Adele’s son realized another soul lived in his mother’s body made me want another season. SIR

Married at first sight (Channel 4)

The participants in season six of the British version of Married at First Sight - which you ended up feeling genuinely worried about.
Clear drama factory … Married at first sight. Photo: Simon Webb / Channel 4

When the UK version of Married at First Sight was launched in 2015, I immediately fell flat on my face. Despite the gimmicky premise, the show had all the sociological pleasures of the best reality TV and none of the annoying cynicism: participants really worked in it for the promise of eternal love, not a career on the influencer circuit. Unfortunately, that was not the case with this year’s edition, renewed to mimic the hugely popular Australian format. With as many as eight couples, forced to interact regularly during mass dinner parties and joint “commitment ceremonies”, what had once been a real social experiment became just another tacky drama factory: performative quarrels, fake friendships, games, cheating across couples. , dinner table showdown. Still, like previous series, I looked to the end, desperate to know if the participants went far – not because I was messing with them, but because I was worried about their welfare. Most of these conditions were disturbingly dysfunctional: were they extended solely for the transmission time? When one goes for the final series of separations (and continued tabloid coverage) the answer was – mercifully – yes. Rachel Aroesti

Kim’s Convenience (Netflix)

The first four seasons of Kim’s Convenience were perfect lockdown views: a hot, occasionally biting comedy about a Korean-Canadian family and their grocery store. A rare western show with a majority of Asian cast, it took immigrant stories without ever becoming preachy. Until things took a turn last season, with all the emotional investment lost to a string of dead-end stories. Would the parents close the store? Would the long-suffering daughter Janet (Andrea Bang) get a job? Would the eldest son Jung (Simu Liu) get a… better job? (There was some irony here: over the summer, Liu starred in the Marvel blockbuster Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings.) But even though everyone seemed to have given up, I had to know what happened to my lockdown buddies. We were eventually rewarded with a league final, most memorable for having introduced a break-up within the last five minutes. After it ended, Liu shouted out of a lack of diversity in the author’s room, making this hadwatch from one last season something more sad: a missed opportunity. Henry Wong

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