There’s a lot of 2021 new shows and movies. I feel like I’m setting myself up early for hibernation mode. As I reflect on what I’m watching and what makes something good, I keep going back to one thing. And that is that these movies and shows make me critically think about scenarios and how I would react. Ultimately, the values in these shows and movies, push me to do better.
As a Chicago film and TV marketer, I’ve watched a lot of movies and TV shows. I also work with HBO and Amazon Prime Video and sometimes get a sneak peek at new shows and movies. Though I work with them, these are all my own opinions.
I’ve put together the best 2021 new shows and movies on Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Netflix, and Apple TV+. Hopefully, they will help you survive hibernation season and make you feel better about people, and push you to be a better person. Because in cancel culture, some of these shows argue that you need a second, third, and maybe a 10th chance.
The Sex Life of College Girls (HBO MAX)
Why I love it: Honesty and Comedy
This show is so good. Congrats to Mindy Kaling on this one. She’s been killing it in her Netflix high school series, Never Have I Ever, recently renewed for Season 3. But this one takes you to a new school, Essex, which feels like Harvard. It makes sense due to Kaling’s Boston area upbringing.
The Sex Life of College Girls really hits on how complicated sex is. It also does something that a lot of college-based shows don’t do, which is showing how being honest can benefit you even when you mess up in the worst possible way – and do that several times. I feel like that’s a common theme with Kaling’s shows, honesty. And while it’s cringe-worthy at times, I like that this show values honesty and relationships, while also adding humor in the most necessary ways. I will say, it makes me want to be more honest and be a better person.
Insecure (HBO, Weekly New episodes)
Why I love it: The struggle of finding what you’re good at and entrepreneurship; an honest look at relationships and dating
I will preface this by saying I started watching Insecure with my new sister-in-law during Thanksgiving about five years ago. It really helped us bond. I re-watched the whole series last year with my boyfriend (at the time). It helped us navigate our relationship and how we felt about certain things. I then re-watched Insecure with my current boyfriend this year and again, it helped up address relationship thoughts, as well.
We started watching Insecure Season 5 weekly, but discovered that we like it better when we can binge-watch atleast a few episodes at a time. We’ve watched about three episodes of the new series, and I think what’s changed the most is that I used to be able to relate to Issae in terms of dating, and I haven’t been able to in this series. But, I do relate to her now that she is an entrepreneur. Her answers at the Stanford entrepreneur panel, I feel, are how a lot of people feel when they start a business. I’ve interviewed a lot of entrepreneurs through organizations like Ms. Tech, She Says Chicago, 1871 and Tech Week, and supported Chicago female entrepreneurs, and I guess I am one myself by creating Windy City Cosmo in 2015 (Insecure came out in 2016).
Being the Ricardos (Amazon Prime Video, Dec 21st)
Why I love it: Really good storytelling about an icon
2021 new movies and shows seem to be getting longer. I didn’t know if I would make it through a two-hour movie on a Monday night, but I did. It was one of my first times back in the movie theaters, and it was good to hear people laugh again. That’s what Lucy was good at – entertaining. But she was also good at being a businesswoman.
Being the Ricardos, was a good movie. You can build a whole set, make him play your husband, but sometimes those who help us and cheer for us and show us love, just wind up breaking our hearts. And all the kindness and strings that you pull can’t make up for it. Unfortunately, you can’t write everyone’s script. And that’s the hardest part about love. Never knowing when it’s the end. The imagery, the tribute to the show itself. I did love Lucy.
I know there is so much debate on Nicole Kidman as Lucy, but the acting is phenomenal. And the storytelling and the passion on screen, just really made for a really good movie.
King Richard (HBO Max Until Dec 19)
Why I love it: Great story-telling and acting that helped me understand some of the greatest tennis players
King Richard is about 2 hrs and 25 mins long. I started it at 10 pm thinking I would just start it. But it amazed me in every single way. It wasn’t a complicated story. But it was a good story, that made you believe in persistence and dedication. And you may know the ending of Serena and Venus’s careers now, but you might be surprised at the ending of King Richard.
Emily in Paris (Netflix, Season 2, Dec 22nd)
Why I love it: Fashion and Feel-Good and Influencer Life
As much as I love honesty and being awkward, aka relatable content, I also love fashion and feel-good shows that just help you escape from everyday life and get sucked into the finer things in life. For me, that show is Emily in Paris. I binged the first season during the lockdown, and I am excited to see where season 2 takes Emily and her friendships and relationships, but I’m pretty sure she’ll still be in Paris.
And as the trailer reveals, no one will stop Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) in her new escapades around Paris and on the French Riviera. Emily enjoys the finer things in life and her good taste shows when she is enjoying this incredible Malartic Grand Cru Classé Blanc in front of the Louvre Museum pyramid. Très chic!
The Christmas Pitch (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, VUDU)
Why I love it: Feel-Good, Chicago
I’m kindof excited for this one, in particular. The Christmas Pitch was filmed right in Chicago, and I was able to see the Chicago production come to life. I also make a small cameo.
But the thing I really like about The Christmas Pitch is that I see myself in the main character, Becca. She’s a woman always focusing on goals and objectives and misses the message she’s trying to deliver in marketing copy. Marketing is about people, not just numbers or click-through rates. I learned this a lot through marketing surveys and influencer campaigns this year.
I love that this isn’t a Hallmark movie and the guy isn’t discovered in a small town. It’s about teamwork and family and caring about others.
Mare of Easttown (HBO Max)
Why I love it: Incredible acting and kept me guessing
I was blown away by Mare of Easttown. Kate Winslet outdid herself in this small-town tale of a series of events that led to one woman’s death. Yes, it had all of the components of a usual suspenseful mini-series, but the ending still gets me. Once you’re done watching it, NPR does a good job of answering all of the questions you have about Mare of Easttown.
White Lotus (HBO Max)
Why I love it: It shows satire at its best
If you’re looking for something ridiculous to watch, it’s White Lotus. I had so much fun watching this and getting to know each twisted character. The juxtaposition of the resort with the storyline makes it all the better. It also almost made me stay at a pineapple hotel in Boston.
Love Life (HBO MAX)
Why I love it: I like the flow of relationships. It’s unpredictable in real life and in this show so are the leads relationships.
Love Life was one of the most heavily promoted shows in 2020 when Anna Kendricks was starring in it, mainly because it was one of the shows launching HBO Max. I literally jailbroke my Fire TV to watch this show (it was 2020 and I was desperate and running out of things to do on FaceTime). Somehow painting my nails and watching the first season before a first date gave me all the confidence I needed to not go on a second date with the guy.
I watched the second season, which recently came out. I love that they changed the lead romantic character to Marcus (William Jackson Harper). It definitely has some negative reviews. For instance, IndieWire’s review of Love Life, which shared that the series has “a boxed-in outlook on love” through the eyes of a “mundane man” and ultimately that – all of Harper’s innate charms and nuanced deliveries can’t fully distract from his character’s innately selfish and shallow nature.
But, it also had positive reviews, and I appreciate Variety’s stance on Love Life Season 2 – “It’s tempting to say that it was only a matter of time before Harper landed a romantic comedy role worthy of his talents, if only because he so clearly deserved it. That assumption of inevitability would, however, be ignoring Hollywood’s long history of sidelining, flattening, or else entirely dismissing Black men in romances.” and later concluding, “Over 10 episodes, “Love Life” and Harper’s performance tell the compelling and believably frustrating story of a man trying to weave love into his life with intention.”
But I think that’s what I liked about it. We’re all pretty much mundane people with hangups and frustrations and selfish tendencies. And we mess up a lot. Something might not be good or the timing might not be right. And just because a relationship happened and ended, it doesn’t mean that it won’t affect you or be a muse to you in the future. Out of the 2021 new movies and shows, it’s worth the watch in my opinion.
Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Why I love it: Makes me feel better about people and work and their ability to change. Great example overall about leadership and community.
“Hope never goes out of style,” Jason Sudeikis shared in an Entertainment Weekly article about his feel-good show, Ted Lasso, “Hope and optimism and empathy have a good exchange rate.” I actually have that written on my desk. It’s something that stuck with me. Whenever I’m having a bad day at work, I want to turn on Ted Lasso. It shows the good in people. With so much drama and deceit on TV, this show pushes the narrative that thinking of others can make for a good game and a good series.
The Morning Show (Apple TV+)
Why I love it: Really good storytelling and acting that questions how you feel about character and people
You know there are different types of shows like the ones you try to save. Then, there are shows that you’re watching but you’re tired and have to go to bed? And then, there are shows that you have to keep watching till the end? Well, The Morning Show has so much drama that you need to only watch one episode at a time to digest what happened.
In Season 2, however, I felt that I had to keep watching till the end. Though not as good as Season 1 of The Morning Show, season 2 definitely had its curveballs. But as with everything in life, there’s an ending. Steve Carell’s character ran its course, and I felt that Jennifer Aniston’s character ran her course, too. But what really surprised me is that I liked Reese Witherspoon’s character more than in Season 1. However, her storyline was easily forgotten within the length of the episode, probably because that much drama unfolded. I also saw the parallels in my career in the storyline. like when they are launching a streaming service, UBA+, something I just did this year with Hipstr TV.
This show pushes you to think. One question, in particular, is – can we separate the crime from the person? Can Mitch (Steve Carell) still be a good guy that you root for even though he sexually assaulted multiple women? Can Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) be worthy of saving even though her tell-all written by a reporter shows otherwise? And that her selfish decisions impact everyone (which a lot of people are feeling more of during coronavirus – i.e. self-quarantining, wearing a mask, etc.).
So, that is my list of the best 2021 new shows and movies that have been holding me down.
I also want to specially mention that Paris Hilton has made an incredible comeback this year. Her Netflix cooking show, YouTube documentary and new episodes of Paris in Love on Peacock are all pretty eye-opening. Also, Selling Sunset had such a good few seasons, but their new season wasn’t as good as the others. I know, that’s been a common theme. There were also a lot of reboots. The Friends Reunion, the new launch of Sex and The City and Gossip Girl all made me want to watch some re-runs.
I hope these recommendations for 2021 new shows and movies will hopefully get you through hibernation season. Maybe, they might help you understand yourself better.