As 2022 looms ever closer (yes, we're very much counting the days till 2021 is over), the countdown of's top 50 TV shows of the year continues.


Over five days, we're revealing our top picks as selected by our editorial team. Today (28th December), we continue with 30-21 – featuring some stunning drama, gripping thrillers, the best in reality TV and some fabulous queens.

Be sure to join us again tomorrow and throughout the week as we disclose our full list, including the show that's landed this year's much-coveted no. 1 spot.

30. The Flight Attendant

The Flight Attendant

Available on Sky Go, NOW and to buy on Amazon

How do you move on from a show as big – and lucrative – as The Big Bang Theory? Well, for Kaley Cuoco (who starred as the US sitcom’s girl-next-door Penny for 12 seasons) it was The Flight Attendant, a darkly comic murder mystery that cemented her as a star to watch.

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Essentially, The Flight Attendant takes the structure of a classic conspiracy thriller or murder mystery, with shadowy forces uniting against one ordinary person caught in a web of crime and danger – though in this case, the lead/victim is a self-destructive, alcoholic flight attendant called Cassie who just goes on a date in Bangkok with the wrong man.

The next morning, she wakes up next to his bloodied corpse and in the frame for his murder. Now, as she hallucinates conversations with her lover (played by Michael Huisman) she has to find the real killer, unwravel a complex tapestry of shady deals and missing money and mend the relationships she’s broken with her friends and family.

The end result is gripping good fun – and it’s no surprise that it’s one-off run has been extended, with season two already in the works. – Huw Fullerton, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Editor

29. Ru Paul's Drag Race UK

Available on BBC iPlayer and Sky Go

It's not up for debate that the UK version of RuPaul's Drag Race puts the US series' recent seasons somewhat to shame. The original peaking with seasons five and six (we’re eternally grateful for the existence of Bianca Del Rio), relative baby of the franchise Drag Race UK has picked up the crown and sceptre to take its place atop the pile of editions which now exist worldwide. Still, nothing could've prepared us for the greatness of its sophomore season.

Brightening a particularly bleak January in lockdown, the cast of queens burst onto screens to deliver looks, lip-syncs and, most importantly, laughs in abundance. If A'Whora's villain-to-favourite journey, flirtation with supermodel-in-the-making Tayce and eye-popping aesthetic level-up weren’t enough, season two also played host to the real-life drama of a COVID lockdown. Filming was forced to halt in the middle of the series and when the familiar (and a couple of not-so-familiar) faces returned to the Werkroom, Veronica Green was missing due to testing positive for the coronavirus.

Topped off with a stunning finale, few shows brought us as much unadulterated entertainment in 2021 as season two of Drag Race UK. – Minnie Wright, News Editor

28. Dopesick

Michael Keaton stars in Dopesick

Available on Disney Plus

Writer Danny Strong was behind this gripping eight-part miniseries, which tells the shocking true story of how addictive opioid Oxycontin was aggressively marketed as a safe treatment for moderate pain by the now-bankrupt Purdue Pharma. The series skilfully juggles several different perspectives, taking us from the highest levels of the company to the offices of federal investigators, but most crucially to the ordinary communities that were ravaged by this tale of corporate greed.

While the characters of injured miner Betsy Mallum and smalltown doctor Samuel Finnix are fictional, their experiences have been carefully composited from a number of very real accounts, many of which were provided by Beth Macy’s acclaimed book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company That Addicted America. Kaitlyn Dever and Michael Keaton give heart-wrenching performances, emphasising addiction as a nightmarish disease that never truly leaves you – and making a powerful plea for society to view it as such. – David Craig, Writer

27. The Serpent

The Serpent

Available on BBC iPlayer, Netflix and to buy on Amazon

The New Year kicked off in style with Jenna Coleman and Tahar Rahim taking centre stage in true crime drama, The Serpent. The slick and suave BBC/Netflix series told the real life story of Charles Sobhraj, a master conman and killer who prayed on vulnerable tourists in South Asia back in the '70s. It's thought he took the lives of up to 20 holidaymakers, and was known as The Serpent to those trying to hunt him down due to his ability to hide in plain sight.

The series looked particularly at the twisting and turning dynamic between Sobhraj (played by Rahim) and his girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Coleman). Leclerc had her suspicions about her lover, but loved the infamy and excitement that came with the terrible crimes he was committing. Coleman, for her part, played the torn woman well, constantly shifting between being disgusted and in love with her fiancé with ease and a haunting flair. Her French accent? Not bad at all.

The series itself, which ran for eight episodes, was deliberately paced enough to keep you hooked, but never got too bogged down in the details - which in this real case, were at times very dense. Gripping performances and a haunting story made for an interesting watch, but the real devil was in the details - this very much looked and felt like the '70s due to an outstanding effort from the costume department. – Helen Daly, Associate Editor

26. Selling Sunset

Selling Sunset star Chrishell

Available on Netflix

After much anticipation, the guys and girls at The Oppenheim Group returned for season four of Netflix’s Selling Sunset, and it wasn’t just the luxury mansions in the Hollywood Hills that were bigger… so was the drama.

Now pregnant, Christine Quinn was about to take her maternity leave, so Jason needed to hire two more agents – one of whom just so happened to have dated one of Quinn’s exes. You cannot make this up! Nevertheless, the women welcomed new girls Emma (Quinn’s new nemesis) and Vanessa, but upon Christine’s return, things turned awkward.

Elsewhere, Chrishell was really on her A-game, following her divorce from Justin Hartley, as she put in an offer for her very, first home, and things at the brokerage were booming, with the return of a former cast member. And it was only about to get better, as Jason announced a new brokerage in The OC, which will be filmed for a spin off show, and the season five trailer teased his and Chrishell’s romance… talk about piping hot tea! – Grace Henry, Entertainment and Factual Editor

25. The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad
Amazon Studios

Available on Amazon Prime Video

Barry Jenkins had already proven himself as one of the finest filmmakers working today with his Oscar-winning drama Moonlight and his superb James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk – and the American director proved he’s just as adept at crafting masterworks for the small screen with this superb series, based on the novel of the same name by Colson Whitehead.

The series unfolds in the Southern United States in the 1800s, when young slave named Cora (Thuso Mbedu) escapes her plantation and embarks on a long journey to freedom via a network of underground rail routes and safe houses. She encounters various obstacles on her harrowing trip, and is pursued all the while by vile slave catcher Arnold Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), who will stop at nothing to prevent her escape.

Naturally, the tough subject matter ensures that this is not always an easy watch, but the series is made with real lyricism by Jenkins, and there are moments of deep profundity and staggering beauty along the way, while it never tips into exploitation or bad taste. The cast are also universally terrific – with supporting players including William Jackson Harper and Lily Rabe – while Nicholas Britell provides a typically brilliant score. – Patrick Cremona, Writer

24. Love Island

Love Island

Available on ITV Hub, Sky Go and BritBox

ITV's Love Island returned for a seventh series this summer, and despite a slow start, the show really heated up by the time Casa Amor came around, with the return of the explosive postcard and many contestants (mainly Toby) jumping ship. Things took another turn following the show’s movie night, which exposed some of the cheeky things contestants had said behind one another’s back – awkward!

Nevertheless, the villa shenanigans continued, with more head turning, twists, raunchy games, and some romance for several of the contestants – although some of them have now called it quits…

Anyway, if it’s escapism that you’re after, then Love Island is the perfect fix. Not short of shady moments, the series is sure to have you in fits of laughter. – Grace Henry, Entertainment and Factual Editor

23. Back to Life

Daisy Haggard and Adeel Akhtar in Back to Life

Available on BBC iPlayer and to buy on Amazon

The first season of Daisy Haggard and Laura Solon’s Back to Life was lapped up by critics and viewers, such was its brilliance. The story centres Haggard as Miri, a woman who is released back into the wilds of Kent after serving an 18-year prison sentence for a crime which rocked the local community. On her return home, Miri’s bedroom is exactly as she left it, but every other aspect of her life has shifted, and we watch as she scrambles to adapt to a world which she doesn’t recognise.

The second season continues on that road but Haggard and Solon have woven in a new thread, which not only carries the dark comedy forwards, but creates fresh tension which you associate more with a thriller. It’s unexpected, but it works seamlessly. To be able to retain all of the elements that people loved so much about the first chapter while ensuring that the story continues to evolve is no small feat, but Haggard and Solon, being the pros they are, succeed.– Abby Robinson, Drama Editor

22. Midnight Mass

Hamish Linklater as Father Paul in Midnight Mass

Available on Netflix

After finding critical acclaim for his work on horror series such as The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, plus winning plaudits for his films Oculus and The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, Mike Flanagan returned with arguably his best offering yet.

Netflix limited series Midnight Mass offered an eerie examination of an isolated island community that racked up the tension by slowly introducing a classic creature of the horror genre in a manner that felt original and disturbing. Hamish Linklater and Samantha Sloyan are the highlights of a powerful ensemble of performers, with Sloyan’s overbearing and ruthless Bev Keane proving a villain of the ages.

Moving, shocking and wholly terrifying, Midnight Mass is the type of series that binge-watching was made for. – Lewis Knight, Trends Editor

21. Feel Good

Feel Good season 2 – Mae Martin and Charlotte Ritchie

Available on Netflix

Co-created and co-written by Mae Martin and Joe Hampson, this is the semi-autobiographical story of stand-up comedian and recovering addict Mae and their tumultuous relationship with George. Following on from their breakup at the end of season one, which premiered on Channel 4 last year, in the second season – picked up by Netflix – they try again. And it’s not just their relationship that Mae is forced to reckon with in season two. The episodes also track Mae’s recovery in rehab, where a trauma from their teenage years resurfaces and forces them to realise they might be dealing with PTSD.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The series makes its points – about trauma, memory, gender identity and addiction - through humour and, in the end, hope prevails. With its tender storytelling and nuanced characters, Feel Good draws us into something we see surprisingly little of on mainstream television – a funny and uplifting queer love story. – Molly Moss, Trends Writer


Find something to watch now with our TV Guide.