A dose of normalcy may be returning to Hollywood following a year of set shutdowns and production challenges. And while ongoing Covid concerns make it tough to confirm long-term filming plans, HBO has announced a comprehensive 2021 television lineup that includes offerings for every preference. Some series have wrapped, others are still shooting, and a few hope to finish later in the year. We take a look at some of the most anticipated new and upcoming releases.

Fantasy Viewing for Fantastical Times
Set in Victorian London, The Nevers centers on a group of “Touched” people—mainly women—who find themselves suddenly bestowed with supernatural powers, which they must use to fight dark forces hell-bent on earth’s destruction. The show was developed by Joss Whedon, whose previous fantasy hits (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly) earned him the distinction of top genre-show creator. In an interesting twist, Whedon left this production after it wrapped in November. HBO promises six additional episodes to premiere at a later date, which leaves some critics wondering how different part two will be in look and style from the original six-episode series that debuted in April.

Still more critics and fans are eagerly anticipating House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel from writer George R.R. Martin, which is currently in production and set to launch in 2022. HBO had initially announced plans to do a spin-off in 2017 starring Naomi Watts as the lead character, but ultimately passed on that series, before this iteration was finally greenlit. Set 300 years before the well-known GoT events, it tells the story of House Targaryen in 10 episodes. What’s more, HBO has teased the possibility of yet another spin-off show called Tales of Dunk and Egg, which is still in early development without writers or talent attached to the project.

Leading Ladies Return
Julian Fellowes, famed creator of the hit British drama Downton Abbey, is back in the spotlight, this time with a historical piece set on the other side of the pond. The Gilded Age kicks off in 1882 with the orphaned daughter of a Union general who moves to New York City to live with two rich aunts. Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City fame makes her HBO return in this show that was challenged by Covid protocols and shutdowns. The 10-episode series hopes to complete shooting by end of spring, which could mean a 2022 release date.

Mare of Eastown, on the other hand, premiered earlier this year with Kate Winslet in the title role of Mare Sheehan, a Pennsylvania police officer investigating a local murder while her own life crumbles around her. This marks Winslet’s debut as a producer, as well as her return to HBO. The first time, for her portrayal of Mildred Pierce, won Winslet both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. New episodes air Sunday nights on HBO and can be streamed on HBO Max.

Returning Favorites
Succession will return for an eagerly anticipated third season following a long filming break, though the premiere date has yet to be set. In the meantime, fans of the feuding Roy family can look forward to two new A-list cast additions. Alexander Skarsgård will take on the role of CEO Lukas Matsson, following his stint on HBO’s Little Big Lies, while Oscar-winner Adrien Brody plans to play billionaire investor Josh Aaronson.

From arguing media moguls to America’s favorite misanthrope, Curb Your Enthusiasm is in production for a confirmed 11th season set to air this year. (The show ran from 2000 to 2011, then took a hiatus until 2018 before returning for more inimitable Larry David antics.) The latest installment will occur in a place most of us long for: a post-Covid world, where the characters have come through the other side of the pandemic and are putting the past behind them. As optimism returns and we ease into a return to “normal,” HBO is making life a little sweeter with programming that’s easy to get excited about.

Caitlin Armstrong
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