Netflix’s Best & Worst of 2021

  • 25 Dec - 31 Dec, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly

With new series available to watch very frequently, it can be hard figuring out what to watch without getting lost in Netflix’s algorithm. We’ve handpicked some of the best series to stream in order to help you find binge worthy shows. And, with so many available shows on the platform, it comes as no surprise that some of them are actually quite bad and not a hit with the audiences which you might want to skip the next time you are on the lookout for a show. Read on to find out more about the most hyped up shows of 2021 and also, the ones which weren’t just up to the mark.

Best (Straight Out of their Vault)

Squid Game

Let's start with the obvious: Squid Game was the show of 2021. In fact, the internet is still in its Squid Game era. The nihilistic, record-breaking series from South Korea has reportedly been viewed by a staggering 142 million households, making it Netflix's biggest hit to date. Deeply rooted in Korean history, Squid Game's brutal critique of capitalism and how it erodes humanity resonated with audiences around the world. And its ubiquitous popularity has catapulted its stars into the global spotlight. It's done what few shows can do in the streaming era: hold our ever-waning attention.

Sweet Tooth

In the midst of an apocalyptic pandemic, children suddenly are born as hybrids, somewhere between human and animal. A little boy known as Sweet Tooth or Gus (Christian Convery) is the focus of this show, detailing the discrimination and evil of humankind as one of the most astonishing events in human history takes place. The performances and pace of events are what make this show, besides being a great and new concept that comes from the DC Comics series.


In an original Netflix drama series, Clickbait maneuvers themes of crime and conspiracy contrasted by the most modern sense of a broken society. Nick Brewer (Adrian Grenier) is suddenly abducted and used in a twisted online experiment, causing his family unending trauma and the critically crippling gaze of the entire online community invading their everyday activities.


You simply can't go wrong with a good heist. It's a genre of narrative fiction that is inherently thrilling to watch, but put a charismatic actor like Omar Sy at the helm and it's decidedly a can't-miss. The French series Lupin follows Assane Diop (Sy), a debonair man who sets off on a mission to expose the aristocratic corruption that led to his father's death. In doing so, he takes his cues from a book about the gentleman thief Arsene Lupin. The thriller opens with an elaborate heist at the Louvre, and the stakes only get higher from there as Assane cons his way through the Parisian elite.

Money Heist

A bit of a sleeper hit, the Spanish-language drama Money Heist, or La Casa de Papel, is now one of Netflix's most watched foreign-language series. The show itself is a high-octane thriller that moves at a breathless pace, following a group of criminal masterminds as they pull off a series of ambitious heists throughout Madrid. This raucous family of cons is led by The Professor (Alvaro Morte), and while this is the kind of action-packed drama that will spike your blood pressure, the series reaches an emotional crescendo in its fifth and final season. It's occasionally tense and anxiety-inducing, sure, but it's the kind of daffy adrenaline rush that will keep you hooked.

Midnight Mass

Midnight Mass isn't necessarily a good time. It's actually pretty grim. Yet, it's beautiful and devastating in a way that pierces your heart so viscerally it's hard to forget. Midnight Mass is a mystery that unfolds like an anxiety attack over the course of its seven episodes. Haunted by a fatal drunk-driving accident, Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) returns to his hometown on Crockett Island to find some kind of purpose in his life. Enter an enigmatic priest (Hamish Linklater) and his diatribes on faith. It's not a ‘good’ time pass, but it's a deeply fascinating one.

Shadow and Bone

It's easy to lose yourself in the labyrinth of fantasy storytelling. Such is the case with Netflix's Shadow and Bone, the live-action adaptation of Leigh Bardugo's series. It follows the familiar beats of a typical adventure, focusing on Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), a young cartographer who discovers she harbours extraordinary power at her fingertips. There are, of course, men who try to manipulate her, kidnap her, and own her power for themselves as Alina learns to control her newfound abilities in order to save a wartorn Ravka. While Alina's coming-of-age is the heart of the show, it's the colourful cast of secondary characters that keep the blood flowing.


Was this the season where you went from bad-good schlock to just plain good? In hindsight, no, probably not. But You still found clever ways to break from the formula established in its first two seasons. It's by going totally off the rails that You kept us glued to the screen, incorporating a measles outbreak and a "fem-gen" neighbour boy for Love (Victoria Pedretti) to spent time with. But it also surprised us with its relatively apt, if ham-fisted, satire of Bay Area tech wealth, influencer communities, and missing-white-woman syndrome, all while Joe plays defense for Love's mistakes. By the season finale, Joe's given something of a blank slate, setting up a fourth season with endless possibilities.

Worst (Better to Skip Them)

Jupiter's Legacy

Based on the comics by Mark Millar, Jupiter's Legacy centres on superhero Sheldon Sampson (Josh Duhamel) as he attempts to guide the next generation of heroes. With a wealth of source material, the show got too muddied in the intricacies of world-building, according to critics. For a series about superheroes, the Jupiter's Legacy moves in what feels like slow motion.

Fate: The Winx Saga

At a magical boarding school in the Otherworld, a group of young fairies gets a handle on their powers as they fall in love and fight monsters. The live-action adaptation of the Winx cartoon series was picked apart by the critics. In a review for The Beat, it was written that it "ends up being just another teen show that failed so miserably and it's only worth a hate-watch.

The One

CEO Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware) oversees MatchDNA, a company that claims to pair up soulmates base on DNA samples. Critics felt that The One relied on recycled ideas and squandered what could have been a very gripping show. According to the audiences, The One is a show that needs focus to be an interesting one, and it just can’t figure out what kind of show or what aspect of its story – it wants to focus on.

Behind Her Eyes

A single mother named Louise (Simona Brown) welcomes trouble when she falls for her boss David (Tom Bateman) while befriending his wife Adele (Eve Hewson). Behind Her Eyes had plenty of surprises up its sleeve, but some critics questioned whether it had the character, plot, and writing to back up its intriguing twists. You might love the exceptionally audacious ending or you might hate it, but you'll certainly talk about it either way.


This Netflix show stars Oscar winner Hilary Swank as an astronaut who is struggling with leaving her husband and child behind for a mission with an international space crew. Swank had said that she decided to star and produce the show upon reading the pilot and the article it was based on. Unfortunately, the series only received a lukewarm reception and it didn’t actually hold up to the mark for the viewers. Hence, Netflix later decided to cancel the show.


Futuristic concepts have always been a hit among viewers, which may explain the success behind the technology-focused Netflix series Black Mirror. Perhaps, the streaming giant was planning to mirror its success with Snowpiercer. The show is set seven years after our world has already become a frozen wasteland and conflicts arise due to politics and social injustice. The show is headlined by A Beautiful Mind’s Jennifer Connelly and Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs. But even they weren’t enough for the show to become an instant favourite.

Roman Empire

As the title suggests, Roman Empire is set during the period of the Roman civilisation. Part documentary and part drama, the show delves into the lives of people such as Julius Caesar, Spartacus, Cleopatra, Pompey, and Mark Antony. And although the show features some incredibly period costumes and fight scenes, it can still feel dragging at times, which may explain the relatively low rating it received. Perhaps, Netflix subscribers don’t really appreciate the history lesson, especially when there are so many other shows available.


Ultraman is a fictional superhero that was introduced in Japan way back in the 60s. Several decades later, Ultraman’s popularity waned, so much so that it was even classified as among the most obscure TV superheroes. But then, Netflix thought it can bring this superhero back to life with its own show, Ultraman. Unfortunately, the series is not as good as the fans may have expected. With that being said, there seems to be a renewed interest in the character. In fact, it was even announced that Ultraman is coming to Marvel Comics.