This past year in entertainment has been a patchwork quilt of oddities, cobbled together with ingenuity, impressive wit and grim determination. While it was tempting to retreat into the old and familiar (I can’t tell you how many times I watched “Sex and the City” all the way through — literally, I lost count), some new shows did manage to break through the dour monotony of pandemic life. Some reinvented themselves to fit the times, finding ways to work from remote corners and collaborate with people they may never have otherwise gotten to work with, making the creative best of a terrible situation. Others accidentally proved more prescient and/or comforting than they could’ve ever known with stories about time loops, grieving widows and people muddling through with as much kindness as they could muster. Some creatives reunited over lively Zoom livereads, staged shows on new digital platforms, and found truly inventive ways to virtually bring their talent and insight to the world; others sang “Imagine” at us from inside their palatial manses one (1) week into the pandemic. From the terrible to the sublime, 2021 was, at the very least, a year we will never forget.
With any luck, there won’t be another quite like it anytime soon. So before we look ahead to (hopefully) sunnier days that might set the entertainment industry back to something like “normal,” let’s look back at the year that was by looking at the strange, comforting, disorienting and occasionally revelatory entertainment that got us through it.