Audiences love to escape through content — new TV shows sweep up viewers into captivating worlds, leaving their Earthly lives behind for new exciting realms. Sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery stories are longtime successes because they allow us to disconnect from our world and address issues we face through an alternative lens.
New TV shows pile up by the truckload each month, and over the past decade, many work to provide a cohesive realm to draw in curious viewers. We’ve gathered up some of our favorite new TV shows which provide a world quite different than our own, but ravaged with the same problems. Check out what we’ve found below.
Shadow and Bone
Shadow and Bone dropped on Netflix last April after an extended period of hype. The hype came from the Grisha novel trilogy from which the show is based, and the first novel of which bears the show’s title.
Shadow and Bone introduces inexperienced viewers to the Grishaverse, a detailed realm from the mind of creator Leigh Bardugo. The Grishaverse shows fans the world of Ravka, inspired by early twentieth century Russia, presenting the time period’s aesthetic in costume & set design.
Furthermore, Shadow and Bone brings audiences into a world of magic light-summoners, along with a raging war between dark & light forces competing for control of the cold, magical fantasy realm. Of all the new TV shows of 2021, Shadow and Bone sucks viewers into its distinct far away world most easily.
The Twilight Zone
Between CBS’s confusing streaming runaround with CBS All Access & Paramount Plus, many fans missed out on The Twilight Zone reboot. The second season of The Twilight Zone came with 2020’s new TV shows, and brought viewers back to the reimagined classic’s perceptibly creepy realm.
What’s a more distinct realm than The Twilight Zone, where anything can happen in the most ironic lesson-learning way? The Twilight Zone gives off major Black Mirror vibes (it should, as it’s the OG Black Mirror), but certain episodes like the pilot with Kumail Nanjiani & Tracy Morgan feel like perfectly updated versions of classic episodes. When the people behind the show don’t try to reinvent the wheel, the episodes really succeed.
As the reboot continues through the second season, the episodes feel less like classic Twilight Zone episodes and harp more on contemporary grittiness, but the series still presents one of the most distinct worlds of all the past few years’ new TV shows.
The Queen’s Gambit
Okay, so Queen’s Gambit doesn’t exactly present a world far away, but the show certainly presents what feels like its own universe — a world in which 1950s chess competitions are a worldwide sensation with a following comparable to Beatlemania.
The (literal) darkness of The Queen’s Gambit, along with its meticulous costume & set design envelops audiences in a distinct world which seems to transcend a simple showcase of two decades in American history. Beth Harmon and her competition feel like superheroes, with all the trimmings of snazzy costumes, alpha confidence, and Lex Luthor-level mad geniusness.
Furthermore, Harmon certainly has her kryptonite in one of the most beloved new TV shows of 2020. We won’t be surprised if the Gambitverse becomes a thing in the next few years.
Finally, the second season of Servant got lost in the hailstorm of new TV shows in 2021, but the show presents audiences with one of the creepiest realms on TV today.
From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan, Servant brings fans an uncanny world in which baby dolls come to life and unexplained splinters can pop up in our unexpecting bodies (smdh). Shyamalan’s trademark city of Philadelphia lays the backdrop for the eerie realm of Servant, but anyone who’s been to the city of brotherly love can tell you Servant takes place in another dimension.