9 Shows and Movies We Hated in 2021

A digital collage of a thin, hunched young white man looking into the camera, a white woman with bold white and black hair and red lipstick smirking, and a Black woman with a white flower in her hair singing with her eyes closed.

From left to right: Ben Platt as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen, Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil in Cruella, and Andra Day as Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. (Photo credits: Universal Pictures; Laurie Sparham/Disney; Takashi Seida)

Out of everything we watched this year, here were some of the biggest disappointments. Our Bitch writers got brutally honest about the failures of Brooklyn Nine-Nine (sticking to its copaganda), Cruella (Disney’s own white feminist girlbossification), and more.
 
Read about the shows and movies we loved watching this year here.
{ Amazon Prime Video }
Release Date: December 2, 2021
Harlem’s predecessor and clear muse, Sex and the City, often discussed class, sexuality, and religion—often badly and offensively, just as Harlem does. But whereas in comedy shows of old that writing feels careless, in Harlem it feels manipulative, designed to draw people in for rage streams and curiosity generated on Twitter.” -Nylah Burton

(Photo credit: Sarah Shatz / Prime Video)
{ Universal Pictures }
Release Date: September 24, 2021

“[In the] transition from stage to screen, the film does little to update the play’s cliché depictions of teens struggling with depression and anxiety. In recycling played out tropes, Dear Evan Hansen delivers surface-level and ableist representations of mental health challenges.” -Gloria Oladipo

(Photo credit: Universal Pictures)

{ Netflix }
Release Date: December 25, 2020
“Though the show has been hailed as a “sparkly period piece with a difference” (the New York Times) whose “colorblind casting com[es] as a welcome surprise,” (ABC News), those same distinguishing features can come across as dissonance and erasure. The deployment of Black and Brown bodies to lay a melanated veneer over the continuing public obsession with oppressive, imperialist stories is nothing short of colorbaiting.” -Aditi Natasha Kini

(Photo credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix)
{ Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures }
Release Date: May 28, 2021
“The Disney villain cinematic universe seems to characterize feminism thusly: When men are abusive, it’s the patriarchy; when (white) women are abusive, it’s empowerment. But no matter how you slice it, girlbosses are just…bosses. It’s fine to allow some antagonists, including women, to be irredeemable.” -Rebecca Long
 
(Photo credit: Laurie Sparham/Disney)
{ Hulu }
Release Date: February 26, 2021
“Billie Holiday was a legend, an activist, and a rare talent—but she was also a queer Black woman… I believe that aspect of her life should be seen. With extensive proof of her bisexual history existing and readily available, why would it be so hard to blend that into the story that [Lee] Daniels wanted to tell?”
-Shelli Nicole
 
(Photo Credit: Takashi Seida)
{ HBO }
Release Date: April 11, 2021

The Nevers was supposed to be [Joss] Whedon’s next smash hit, but since he stepped down as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner, the show’s marketing has conspicuously avoided mentioning his involvement. However, his creative input—and all its problematic baggage—unmistakably weighs down the show’s potential.” -Nicole Froio

(Photo credit: Keith Bernstein/HBO)

Ad for Hand in Hand: Domestic Employers Network
{ Netflix }
Release Date: February 12, 2021

“The two-hour film is best consumed like an assortment of treats: handsomely crafted montages, fun pop culture references, saccharine snippets of dialogue, and, of course, the core chemistry of the film’s two charismatic leads. These components of Always and Forever are easy to indulge in while you’re watching, but the film ultimately lacks the essential nutrients of a satisfying conclusion.” -Kyndall Cunningham

(Photo credit: Katie Yu/Netflix)

{ NBCUniversal Television Distribution }
Release Date: September 16, 2021

“The resistance to any meaningful systemic analysis is a reflection of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s ethos—one that’s deeply rooted in the norms of episodic TV comedy, which make room only for superficial references to real-world happenings even in shows meant for progressive audiences. The Nine-Nine has always, after all, been about a precinct that’s better than the others, filled with ‘good’ cops who don’t shoot unarmed civilians or racially profile people.” -s.e. smith

(Photo credit: NBC)

{ Warner Bros. Pictures }
Release Date: June 9, 2021

In the Heights would have been the perfect opportunity to showcase the nuances and complexities of Black Dominicans, including Haitians. Instead, an entire team of people of color allowed Black folks to be erased from their own story…[the film] is anxiously concerned about the white gaze; it’s begging to be seen, recognized, acknowledged by everything outside of it. In this way, it’s not telling a story of the Heights or Dominican Yorks; it’s telling the story of a Latinidad that white folks will consider authentic.” -Lorraine Avila

(Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

 

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