The Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy TV Shows of 2021 (So Far)
Alien doctors! Renegade superheroes! Women on the moon!
These days, we're all looking for an escape from reality, at least for a couple hours a day, and what better way to do that than to binge-watch the best genre television series this year has to offer? It's only April, but we're already off to a great start, and with many productions starting back up again or finally kicking off after lengthy delays, there is even more great science fiction and fantasy TV coming in the next months to tide us all over while we wait until we're allowed outside again. From cold wars fought on the moon to superheroes running wild, here is the best sci-fi and fantasy TV of the year.
If you missed last year's roundup and want to catch up, check out the Best Fantasy & Sci-Fi TV Shows of 2020, and if you're in the mood for good stuff no matter the genre, check out the Best TV Shows of 2021.
30 Coins (HBO)
Season 1. 8 episodes.
If you're one of the recent converts to CBS's Evil after the first season dropped on Netflix and have been craving more ever since, turn on HBO's Spanish-language horror series about disgraced exorcist Padre Vergara (Eduard Fernández), who teams up with a small town's mayor Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre, whom you may recognize from Netflix's Sense8) and veterinarian Elena (Megan Montaner) to solve supernatural mysteries related to the legendary 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus, seemingly possessed by demonic energy. Their investigations into hauntings, ouija boards, and one absolutely monstrous giant spider-baby reveal a devilish conspiracy 2,000 years in the making.
Miniseries. 9 episodes.
The first of Marvel's Disney+ miniseries started Phase 4 off with a bang, trapping Wanda Maximoff and a mysteriously resurrected Vision in a small-town sitcom universe, riffing on classic family comedies like Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, and Malcolm in the Middle. When a grief-stricken Wanda attempts to create her own idyllic family life, her creation goes nuclear in more ways than one, and reveals a new facet to her chaotic superpowers. The show is both fun and emotionally affecting, and will have lasting implications for the next stage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Resident Alien (Syfy)
Season 1. 10 episodes.
When an extraterrestrial crash-lands on Earth after his spaceship is struck by lightning, he disguises himself as a vacationer in a small town, Dr. Harry Vanderspiegle (Alan Tudyk), in order to blend in. There's just one problem: When the town's local doctor is mysteriously murdered, the other residents, unaware of his disguise, elect Harry to be their new medical professional, and Harry has no choice but to agree. Based on the comic by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, the show is an absolute delight, following Harry as he ingratiates himself with the townspeople (save for one terrified little boy who can see through his disguise), while also searching for the alien superweapon he dropped in the crash, meant to wipe humanity from the face of the planet.
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Season 2. 10 episodes.
Ten years after the events of Season 1, the year is 1983 and the American Space Program in this alternate timeline is in full swing, with more and more astronauts serving on missions to the palatial Jamestown moon base, carrying out scientific research projects, fielding talk show interviews, and trying to keep one step ahead of those dastardly Soviets. Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) is now Chief of the Astronaut Office, Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger) is ambitious to a fault, and Gordo (Michael Dorman) wants nothing more than to get back into a spacesuit. The second season of the show ups the ante, playing around with Cold War politics in a new technological era, where the dreams of the erstwhile Space Age—cell phones, electric cars, lady astronauts (gasp)—have become an easily attainable reality.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
Miniseries. 6 episodes.
After Steve Rogers gave up the Captain America shield at the end of Avengers: Endgame, the question became which of his buddies would take up the mantle next: Sam Wilson, also known as winged Avenger the Falcon, or Bucky Barnes, Rogers' friend from the forties with a vibranium arm, who up until recently was a brainwashed HYDRA assassin. The two frenemies are forced to work together with a fan-favorite villain to defeat a new threat, the anarchist Flag-Smashers, who want to return the world to the way it was during the Blip, and in the process they unearth the darker parts of Captain America's legacy.
Made for Love (HBO Max)
Miniseries. 8 episodes.
When Hazel (Cristin Milioti) runs away from her megalomaniacal tech bro husband Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen) after being trapped for 10 years inside the simulated-nature campus of his company, she learns, to her terror and chagrin, that Byron has implanted her brain with his newest prototype, a chip that allows him to read her thoughts and see through her eyes as she tries to free herself from him. The darkly comedic show was adapted from Alissa Nutting's 2017 novel, and hilariously and irreverently examines the nature of love, human relationships, and the personhood of sex dolls.