And the best TV shows of 2022 are…
Does the following statement sound familiar?
It was a fantastic year for television.
We’ve been saying this for the past decade or so, and with more and more streaming services entering the market, we are now inundated with too many great shows to watch— so many, in fact, that our staff can barely keep up.
2022 was no different, but this year feels special for its variety. Big-budget shows like Andor more than exceeded our expectations, while unexpected gems like Heartstopper left us in tears, and The Bear kept us glued to our screens.
The list below highlights the series our staff enjoyed most over the past 365 days.
So, without further ado, here are the best TV shows of 2022.
34. Queer as Folk
A revival of one of the most beloved queer series of the 2000s, the new Queer as Folk had big shoes to fill. Adding to this pressure, the creators decided to have the first episode feature a nightclub shooting, meaning that the bulk of the first season deals with the trauma and fallout of a violent hate crime that leaves several people dead. While the original series did not shy away from serious issues – in fact, one of its calling cards was its ability to balance comedy, slice-of-life stories, campy melodrama, and more serious real-life drama – starting the entire series with an episode that causes major trauma to the entire cast of characters is a daring choice that risks setting a strange tone for the rest of the season.
Luckily, Queer as Folk managed its setup expertly. The characters’ responses to trauma are realistic and nuanced; however, the show does not define these characters by their trauma and struggles alone, but manages to maintain nuance and avoid becoming simply trauma porn. The show demonstrates how, even after severe trauma, people still have lives; the characters still tell jokes, have fun, experience comic moments, love, and get caught up in soapy melodramatics even as they process serious trauma. It’s a fine line to walk: too far in one direction and you minimise the tragedy that they experienced by moving on too fast, but too far in the other direction and you dehumanise characters by reducing them to nothing but victims. Queer as Folk walks this line very well and manages to tell a very sensitive, human, often funny, and deeply complex and meaningful story about a group of queer friends recovering from a tragedy and continuing their lives. It is a beautiful and griping show, and one of the highlights of 2022. (Steven Greenwood)
33. Outer Range
Released in August on Prime Video, Outer Range is the brainchild of writer Brian Watkins, who, prior to this series, had predominantly dabbled in theatre. The concept is excellent. Two cattle ranch families are engaged in a long-standing dispute over the borders of the lands they believe they own. The Abbot family is co-led by Royal, played by Josh Brolin. A secret is hidden somewhere on their land, one that only Royal is privy to. A hole in the ground. A hole with…abilities. Thus begins a strange, deliberate arc spread over 8 episodes about hiding from the past, trying to control the future, and a chance to rid oneself of any problems that might stumble into one’s life. Fans of slower-paced sci-fi should find plenty to enjoy in Outer Range.
It plays like a great number of mid-to-low budget films and shows of the past few years for which sci-fi inspires the high concept, but the story very much plays out like a drama (Another Earth comes to mind). Mystery shrouds much of the story, with the writing content to provide explanations in droplets and as opaquely as possible. Patience is a virtue with Outer Range, but it’s rewarded with quality acting and drama. (Edgar Chaput)
32. Irma Vep
How meta can one get? Judging from Olivier Assayas’ filmmaking interests, the sky is the limit. In June, HBO released Irma Vep, a difficult concept to describe. Alicia Vikander plays a Hollywood starlet who arrives in Paris to shoot a project as the eponymous cat burglar. Now, the fictional character of Irma Vep is over a century old. She was a member of a criminal gang called Les Vampires in a serialized story of the same name produced in the 1910s. In 1996, Assayas made a film starring Maggie Cheung called Irma Vep, which was about remaking the 1910s show. This HBO project is…sort of a sequel to Assayas’ own 1996 movie? The meta qualities don’t stop with the real-world set-up (Assayas being obsessed with this character). The Assayas stand-in in the HBO show is also obsessed with the character and previously directed a Les Vampires film!
If the background explanations are too confusing, or if readers have never seen any prior iteration of Irma Vep or Les Vampires, fear not. The show is strong enough to stand on its own with a cacophony of behind-the-scenes shenanigans, exposing the trials and tribulations of making a big production when plenty of disparate personalities clash. Vikander is the biggest name on the billboard, but the show is replete with many talented, engaging actors, each infusing the series with spice, personality, and melodrama. (Edgar Chaput)
31. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Star Trek is back.
Many fans have been disappointed with the recent adventures into the final frontier. Somewhere along the line Star Trek forgot its optimism and hope. It replaced it with grim, dark tales full of cynicism. that offered a bleak look at the future and its people rather than a positive one. A far cry in the void from Roddenberry’s belief that humanity’s best days are not behind them, but ahead.
Strange New Worlds is exactly the cure-all that fans have been craving. Following Captain Pike in the time before Captain Kirk’s command, Strange New Worlds is both retro and boldly new, serious but fun, and thought provoking yet positive. Its debut season is the best in Star Trek history having no bad episodes in the set of ten. Each one slowly proves it can handle submarine-esque warfare, holodeck episodes, away missions, comedy, scientific study, horror, and solving diplomatic issues without firing a torpedo. All done with an impressive eye to canon and a well-rounded cast each with time to shine.
The best gift of Strange New Worlds is how it acts as a stellar companion piece to the original series. The two are making each other better in a dance through the gulf of decades. Pike’s friendship with a young Spock, and Spock’s with Nurse Chapel, for instance, add gravitas to conversations seen in the original series and more that should not be spoiled.
Fans of classic Trek should not hesitate to give this one a shot. (Geordi Ferguson)
30. The Dropout
Amanda Seyfried deserves every word of awards buzz and social media flurry surrounding her uncanny embodiment of Elizabeth Holmes, the ambitious woman who rose to fame as the face of successful start-ups and left her mark as a symbol of just how wrong they can go. Her performance gave legitimacy and an aura of stunned “is this really happening right now?” that nails the insanity of the Theranos story as it happened in real life. This show crafted facts already shared in countless documentaries into something creative, captivating, and compelling at every turn. The Dropout portrays Theranos’ journey from a wild idea to female-driven force of nature, shaping Elizabeth Holmes from desperate dreamer to an investor’s dream, right down to the nightmare of its legal battles and fatal consequences. It cleverly depicts both the awkwardness and cunning actions of its protagonist and casts a light on the despicable men that empowered her greed.
The show’s brilliance lies not only in how well it captured the mood and mystery behind this case of fraud, but in how it deepened our understanding of Holmes as a young woman without worrying about her likability or putting her into a box that made her relatable. It asked only for our reflection on an industry that lavished hype and praise without question. Affecting performances from a phenomenal slate of supporting actors, each infuriating and heartbreaking in their own ways, brought much-needed humanity to the story. And an honorable mention must be given to the terrific soundtrack that made so many scenes unforgettable! The Dropout absolutely delivered on showcasing the calculated madness of this very specific moment in history when healthcare, scammers, the girl boss movement, and Silicon Valley collided detrimentally. (Andrea Marks-Joseph)
29. Ms. Marvel
A teenage drama combined with a Marvel comic book adaptation that is targeting a younger audience on Disney+ sounds like a recipe for a critical disaster, but Ms. Marvel thrives under its environment to create one of the streaming service’s best shows. Ms. Marvel effectively mixes its genres together for a charming coming-of-age story. Despite some of its initial trailers, this is no Disney Channel-esque Marvel fill-in for the streaming platform’s slate of shows. Ms. Marvel manages to take itself more seriously than almost all of the studio’s recent Hollywood blockbusters as the series tackles both childish and complex topics with its leading superheroine.
Adapting the first Muslim Marvel hero, Kamla Khan, Ms. Marvel gives the young Jersey City girl a compact story that strays from entering any large Avengers-level ambitions. From its first episode to its final post-credits scene, Ms. Marvel remains focused on fleshing out a small-scale story that is given larger stakes thanks to its structure. As relatable fans of earth’s mightiest heroes, the audience is able to easily connect with Kamala Khan and her everyday life problems while she balances the responsibility of her newfound powers and upholding family interests. (Marc Kaliroff)
28. Derry Girls
Derry Girls’ three short seasons are nothing short of perfection. A brilliant coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the troubles in Ireland that follows a group of friends as they learn about life while getting into their own trouble. Its third and final season sees Erin, Clare, Michelle, Orla, and James growing up, whether they’re ready to or not. But, with each other, their wacky families, a jaded, eye-rolling nun, and a whole bunch of hilarious shenanigans, they do grow up, bringing the audience along on their journey as an honorary Derry Girl. (Erin Allen)
27. Moon Knight
Yet another piece of entertainment featuring a Marvel Comics character, Disney+’s six-episode Moon Knight – at least for now, while it has yet to be absorbed into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe – seems a wholly different animal: darker, more challenging in how it bleeds out the pieces to the identity puzzle at the center of the series, and ultimately, more sincerely heartbreaking.
Created by superhero veteran Jeremy Slater (Fantastic Four), Moon Knight presents us with the somewhat socially awkward Steven Grant…but then, not really. Steven Grant is really killing-machine mercenary Marc Spector…or maybe it’s the other way around, with both personalities jockeying for dominance. And if that’s not confusing enough, one of those identities is bound to the Egyptian god Khonshu who has his own agenda for which Spector/Grant is (are?) his agent(s).
This isn’t Spider-Man or Iron Man or any of the usual Marvel clans where evil-fighting identities are established and clearly defined early on. Slater craftily rolls out an episode-closing WTF cliffhanger with each installment. The key to that kind of chapter-by-chapter build is satisfying, culminating reveal, and Slater delivers, and perhaps more than any other trauma-driven Marvelite, the reason behind Spector/Grant’s shattered personalities is one of life-sized, all-too-credible poignancy.
With action and wit, laughs and tears, Moon Knight is the whole entertainment Crayola box and makes a lot of its big-screen siblings look monochromatic in comparison. It would be criminal if series lead Oscar Isaac is overlooked come Emmy time for his ability to give each personality a full, 3-D characterization to the point one forgets that’s the same actor playing both parts on the screen. (William Mesce)
26. The Baby
A little blend of comedy and horror came and went without a word’s notice during the summer. The brainchild, no pun intended, of a cornucopia of British female talent, this HBO show tells the oddball tale of Natasha (Michelle de Swarte) a woman in her 30s, single, who likes to have fun and wants nothing to do with upbringing offspring. That changes the night she rents a seaside cabin to get away from it all when a baby falls into her arms out of the sky. Perplexed, she tries to rid herself of the tiny, blubbery mass. Wherever she leaves it, the titular Baby always finds its way back. It needs her attention.
Hats off to writers Siân Robins-Grace, Sophie Goodhart, and company for offering something with a whiff of the outré without falling prey to tastelessness. A woman loathing the notion of motherhood isn’t something that many people talk about. Frankly, it doesn’t feel as if it’s a “socially acceptable” point of discussion. Yet here comes this lark, an eight-episode, very dark comedy about the unspoken, taboo tension that can arise (to be distinguished from does arise) in a mother when literally everything revolves around a screaming, demanding baby. (Edgar Chaput)
There are many wonderful things about Ramy, the Hulu show that wrapped up its third season this fall. It’s a show about a specific subculture of Muslim immigrants in Northern New Jersey. It’s a series that takes religious faith seriously in a way that few do. And creator and star Ramy Youssef is fantastic in the lead role, as a character who he’s not afraid to make look like a huge asshole.
The third season dives headfirst into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Ramy getting into business with some Israelis, and getting a front-row seat to abuse at checkpoints. Yousef is also willing to step aside for multi episodes in a row to showcase the ensemble. This includes the best scene of the new season, with Ramy’s sister Dena (May Calamawy) going to therapy, and having the rest of the therapy group act out her family drama, with one guy doing a half-assed Borat impression.
The new season is also a big showcase for Uncle Naseem (Laith Nakli), a boorish bigot who is also a closeted gay man and gets more and more depth.
There’s been no word yet on whether Hulu will renew Ramy, but the series certainly seems like it has a lot of stories left to tell.
24. Abbott Elementary
An unlikely phenomenon and awards collector, Abbott Elementary, has brought a seemingly dead format, the network sitcom, back to glorious life, through its first season and a half. most of which aired in 2022.
Created by and starring Quinta Brunson, the show applies the Office/Modern Family mockumentary format to Willard R. Abbott Elementary School, an urban elementary school in Philadelphia. It’s very funny, full of hilarious people, and the writing is consistently smart. The show has a lot to say about underfunded schools and the things teachers and administrators have to do to make do. But it never feels like a lecture or homework.
The cast is strong across the board, led by Brunson as the straight woman, and kindergarten teacher Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph, who gave one of the most memorable awards speeches ever earlier this year.) Lisa Ann Walter also shines as Melissa, a certain streetwise type that is as Philadelphia as can be.
Indeed, everybody in Philadelphia loves this show, which manages to find time for guest spots from the likes of Gritty (Senator-elect John Fetterman would seem a lock to show up at some point as well.) But its appeal is much wider than that. (Stephen Silver)
23. The Midnight Club
The Midnight Club, Mike Flanagan’s fourth Netflix adventure (co-adapting Christopher Pike’s novel with Leah Fong), follows a group of high school students who gather at midnight in an abandoned hospital to share scary stories. As they tell their tales, the stories begin to come to life, leading to a series of events that are both terrifying and thrilling. The ten-episode series features strong themes running throughout including the idea of facing your fears and overcoming them. As the characters tell their stories, they are forced to confront their insecurities, and it is through this process that they can grow and become stronger. Another theme that stands out is the importance of friendship. The Midnight Club is a tight-knit group of friends who support each other through thick and thin. They are there for each other when they need it most, and this sense of camaraderie adds a heartwarming element to the show.
Overall, The Midnight Club is a well-crafted horror series recommended for those who are looking for horror with heart. It is definitely worth a watch for fans of the horror genre and for anyone looking for a new show to sink their teeth into. (Ricky D)
Season 2 of Hacks takes the hilarious odd-couple hijinks of Deborah Vance and Ava on the road. The two continue to butt heads along the way, but their respect for each other shines through, showcasing the unique relationship they’ve built. The superb writing backs up the strong performances of the two leads as well as the supporting cast, creating comedy that delves deeper into issues of sexism, aging, and being a woman in show business and still manages to be outrageously funny. (Erin Allen)
21. Interview with the Vampire
This gorgeous adaption of Anne Rice’s vampire tale delighted audiences by leaning into its explicit queerness and not shying away from discussions of race. Jacob Anderson and Sam Reid’s performances were sensuous, heartbreaking, playful, and shocking —sometimes all at once. Interview with the Vampire brilliantly tackles notions around identity, class, family, the logistics of immortality, and the complexities around telling our own stories. Everything from its period-specific costuming to the show’s devastating and dramatic turns came to life on screen with the wild, magical richness that only New Orleans can bring; In its contemporary scenes, the eeriness of a minimalist Dubai apartment built for the undead left a chill that cut through any performative kindness. This first season was action-packed, bloody, emotional, and surprisingly fun. Refreshing moments of humor and frivolity rounded out the impeccably tailored tension to make Interview with the Vampire all-round can’t-look-away entertaining and particularly thrilling week-by-week viewing. For all its decadence and commitment to depicting a life that’s equally vicious, destructive, and romantic, I can’t wait to see how the show will level up in season two —especially with the staggering reveals we were left with at the end of this season. (Andrea Marks-Joseph)
The highly anticipated follow-up to the groundbreaking first season of HBO’s Euphoria picks up where the first left off, with main character Rue Bennett (Zendaya) struggling to maintain sobriety after a near-fatal overdose. As with the first season, Euphoria tackles themes of addiction, mental health, and trauma while diving deeper into the lives and struggles of the supporting characters, including Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi), who grapples with his toxic masculinity and troubled family life, and Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer), who is struggling with their gender identity and a tumultuous relationship with their estranged father.
One of the standout elements of Euphoria is its visually stunning and highly stylized aesthetic, which is on full display in the second season. The show’s vibrant colors and elaborate costume and makeup design add an otherworldly and dreamlike quality to the proceedings. The cinematography and direction are also top-notch, with several visually striking and memorable sequences throughout the season.
While the first season of Euphoria was praised for its unflinching and honest portrayal of difficult subjects, the second season faced criticism for handling certain storylines, particularly those involving assault and abuse. Some viewers felt that the show’s treatment of these issues was too graphic and exploitative, while others felt that the show did not go far enough in addressing the consequences of such actions.
Overall, however, the second season of Euphoria is a compelling and visually stunning continuation of the show’s unique and emotionally resonant portrayal of the lives of young people grappling with difficult issues. While it may not have reached the heights of the first season for some viewers, it remains a thought-provoking and important piece of television. (Ricky D)
19. Attack on Titan
While Attack on Titan has been known from the start of the series for continuously raising the stakes in new and exciting ways, the second part of the series’ final season saw things grow to a decidedly apocalyptic level as Eren turned his unbridled rage against the entire world. With the threat of total annihilation and genocide hovering permanently in the background for what remains of the final season, Attack on Titan has firmly thrown down the gauntlet in a way that the series can almost certainly never return from. While this might all sound very dire and dark, as a result, the series has never been more exciting or meaningful. With key characters dropping like flies and Eren’s friends and enemies all united against him, the final season of Attack on Titan has culminated in a shocking but somehow sensible conclusion with regard to its protagonist. With every element from music to animation to writing firing on all cylinders, fans will be awaiting the final batch of episodes with bated breath, even as their hope for a happy ending seems to be fading continuously into the distance. (Mike Worby)
18. Stranger Things
The Stranger Things creators warned viewers that things were going to get darker than ever in Season 4. Still, we don’t think anyone was quite prepared for what that actually meant. Likable new characters were killed off only an episode or two after being introduced as many other characters, including Eleven, Will, Max, and Lucas, seemed to grow increasingly lost in desperation as they sought out their identity and tried to figure out where they belong in an increasingly turbulent and divisive society.
Ultimately this rise of darkness and increasingly heavy tone made for the best season of Stranger Things yet, with a major culmination of thematic resonance and a real feeling that just about anything could happen from this point on. As the series sets up its final season, the Duffer Brothers are going to have to work extra hard to match or top the amazing and iconic moments that dominated social media and fan discussions of the series. Let’s hope, for our sake and theirs, that they’re up to the task. (Mike Worby)
17. Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
With Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers’ Dynasty, HBO has produced a massively-stylized, period-specific, and crowd-pleasing exploration of the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, who began their NBA dynasty in the early 1980s.
It’s a messy show, clearly heavily influenced by the habits and styles of its producer and director, Adam McKay, and the show often seems to be juggling more plots and people than it has time for. But while it’s certainly not perfect, Winning Time is a raucously entertaining series that’s a must for any fan of that era of basketball. (Stephen Silver)
16. Reservation Dogs
Reservation Dogs, the FX/Hulu series, was pretty damned great in its first season, but its went into another stratosphere in season 2, which ran in August and September.
Created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, Reservation Dogs is the story of four American Indian kids who live on a reservation in Oklahoma. The show is certainly a victory of recommendation for a particular demographic that has traditionally been treated especially poorly by movies and TV.
It is certainly valuable for representation purposes, but that’s merely the beginning of what makes the show special. (You could say the same thing about this year’s Prey, and that movie’s star Amber Midthunder has guest-starred on Reservation Dogs.
Through ten half-hour episodes, up from eight in the first season, Reservation Dogs follows the further adventures of the four “dogs”: Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Cheese (Lane Factor), Elora (Devery Jacobs), and Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis). But the show isn’t just about them, as there’s an extended cast of supporting characters, both human and mythical.
Highlights of the season include Bear trying out work on a construction crew, a look at youth influencers who may very well be a cult, and a singalong to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” and more fitful attempts to escape to California.
It’s poignant, often funny, and a glimpse of a world that TV rarely, if ever, shows us. (Stephen Silver)
15. The Kids In The Hall, Revival
In the 1990s, Kids In the Hall presented an irreverent alternative to SNL. A bunch of nerds from Canada, they merged the surreal with the satirical, that rare blend of distinct comic writers and performers who brought daring and crystalized bits to life that existed outside of the confines of momentary pop culture. You felt like if they could make each other laugh, you’d laugh, and they were always right. They delivered seemingly infinite and inspired iconic characters like The Chicken Lady and The Head Crusher at an unstoppable rate. Until they stopped. The original series stands on its own as Comedy Nerd-dom’s gold standard of sketch alongside the likes of the Pythons and Mr. Show. But what happens when you dust off their rickety corpses and parade them around for a revival in 2022? It turns out that they are as funny and inspired as ever. Moreso? Gasp. From full frontal to a screaming disemboweled Shakespeare torso, it’s incredible how fresh and smart the voices of the Kids in the Hall remain in this triumphant revival. It feels like a miracle that this group could remain not only so sharp but also so relevant. The new series draws perfectly from the original but has also adapted and shifted with times. They put on new topics as if they’re new wigs to wear, funnier and more necessary than ever. As Dave Foley’s divinely inspired Motormouth In The Morning reminds us of the dwindling days of the apocalypse, “Ready or not, here I rock.” The Kids In the Hall revival, like all KITH before it, rocks. (Marty Allen)
With its third season, Paramount+’s Evil remains one of TV’s best-kept secrets, a psychological procedural with a heavy dose of (very horny) angels and demons thrown in for good measure. And though its narrative shifts in season three were more than a little divisive among fans, the show’s foundations remained as sturdy as ever, a powerhouse of performance and creative plot that Evil makes look a hell of a lot easier than it is.
Like its first two seasons, Evil‘s Existential Horror of the Week stories are wildly hit and miss; one may find their mileage varies with stories like a store full of possibly possessed toys or a demon obsessed with the stock market. But no matter how sloppy or goofy the execution may be, Evil never treats its stories – or its characters, an ensemble that now includes a demon, a nun, and a Kristen’s horny mother – as punchlines, offering a little bit of something for everyone with its pastiche of stories, situations and unresolved tensions, the latter of which Evil leans on even heavier its third time around, with a number of choices that are bound to divide fans.
Regardless, Robert and Michelle King’s saga of dickhead demons and morally compromised holy figures remains a singular pleasure on television, a throwback to the kind of cult television networks thrived on in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Nostalgic vibes aside, television needs more shows like Evil, which remains a potent combination of terrific performances and fearless writing – Evil is as clear a creative vision as there is on the Big 4 today, and a shining beacon to remind us (and inspire others) that the 42-minute dramatic procedural is not dead, and is still a template for some of TV’s most interesting, daring television when it wants to be. (Randy Dankievitch)
13. House of the Dragon
Creating a follow-up series to Game of Thrones was a risky undertaking for two major reasons. One the one hand, Game of Thrones is one of HBO’s most beloved series, meaning that expectations were high. On the other hand, Game of Thrones also had a notoriously terrible final season, meaning that fans were as primed for disappointment as they were hopeful for something significant. Luckily, despite some rough spots, House of the Dragon managed to live up to expectations, providing a thoroughly impressive first season that was particularly notable for its stellar cast and memorable performances. Between
Emma D’Arcy, Milly Alcock, Olivia Cook, Matt Smith, Steve Toussaint, Paddy Considine and the rest of the stellar cast, House of the Dragon is worth a top spot for acting alone.
A big part of what made House of the Dragon special is that it didn’t simply try to be a Game of Thrones clone. The series worked to carve out its own identity, pushing for a more intimate and focused narrative in contrast to its predecessor’s wider scope. The season was definitely inconsistent; its best moments were absolutely stunning, but its worst moments were awkward, unclear and sometimes downright boring. On the whole, however, the good parts were more than good enough to make up for the bad, and the series is off to a strong start with a stellar first season. The season’s highlight episodes, including the absolutely breathtaking “Lord of the Tides,” featured stunning cinematography, beautiful design, and some of the most nuanced and compelling performances of the year. (Steven Greenwood)
12. The Boys
The third season of The Boys was, by far, the most inventive, playful, and provocative iteration of the pseudo-superhero show, but it was also the one that elevated its commentary on American polarization and the hypocrisy of super-heroism. From the delightfully lewd “Herogasm” to Black Noir’s oddly cute cartoon critters to Kimiko’s lavish musical number, each insane, bombastic, and unrelenting sequence is markedly grounded in character and thematic weight. That, above all else, is the show’s most potent superpower, underpinning the debauched spectacle with a strict adherence to its various character arcs.
This season also ushers in an era where “The Seven” as a concept is virtually dead, from the embers of which only comes Homelander’s vision of America. The endless possibilities make the wait for the next installment that much more gruelling. However, it’s Antony Starr’s virtuosic performance that supersedes everything. Unequivocally the show’s beating heart, his utter command of the screen single-handedly realizes and manifests the shows brazenly bold twists and turns. It’s simply the most satisfying thing on television. (Prabhjot Bains)
11. The Righteous Gemstones
When Danny McBride gave us Vice Principals, the only thing more surprising than its darkness was its heart, and Season 2 of The Righteous Gemstones reveals its dark heart.
At first glance, Gemstones looks like nothing more than a humorous satire of wealthy evangelists and the hypocrisy that often comes with it, but its characters are shown wrestling with sins and temptations with refreshing honesty. It’s not a family of con artists faking their beliefs to amass a following, but a family struggling with their human nature that is under pressure in such an upbringing and scrutiny in the public eye. Rage issues, past shame, sexual orientation, marriage struggles, and excess to fill a void; all the antithesis of who they are told to be.
As ambition and virtue clashes with crime and childhood trauma, the Gemstones find themselves battling their own demons in absurd yet real situations that are at times hilarious and other times, completely devastating.
The Righteous Gemstones is an incredibly unique ride that should not be overlooked. (Geordi Ferguson)
In a year chock full of underwhelming debuts, Apple TV+’s Severance first season stands (nearly) alone – the sheer confidence of its narrative and lead performances alone would it rank among the best new series of 2022. Where it finds its home on this list of the truly best series of the year, is in its execution: Severance deftly leaps between sardonic science fiction series and corporate dystopian nightmare, telling the stories of a group of office workers at Lumon, a corporation with a very interesting, sadistic take on the concept of “leaving your work at the office”.
Underneath its trippy existentialist mysteries and sharp, direct critique of capitalism, lies a show with a subtle, genuine curiosity about identity. And though its cynicism runs deep, the Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle-created series can be surprisingly curious and inquisitive when it isn’t indulging in the quirkiest, weirdest, cliffhanger-y aspects of itself – which is really what separates its from the droves of new shows, of any genre, to premiere in 2022. Did I mention it also has one of the best casts on TV? Adam Scott, Zach Cherry, John Turturro, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, Britt Lower… It is an embarrassment of riches few television shows enjoy – and even fewer utilize to the harmonic perfection Severance finds so consistently throughout its freshman season. (Randy Dankievitch)
Heartstopper deserves accolades for many, many reasons. As an adaptation of a webcomic, it managed to take Alice Oseman’s distinctive style and translate it perfectly to the screen in a way that works well in the medium of television while still stylistically drawing from comics. As a love story, the show has the perfect amount of depth, tension, warmth and nuance to keep audiences emotionally invested. As a teen story, it captures the emotional experience of high school in a grounded and realistic way. And as a queer story, it provides the tender, sweet gay love story that many audiences have been longing for from mainstream cinema.
Older gay men have discussed how life-changing a show like Hearstopper would have been to them if it had come out when they were younger, and it’s important to emphasize how important the show is for young people today. Having a caring, emotionally nuanced love story between two teenage boys is extremely important both for generations who never had those types of stories and for young people who need them as much as ever. The show is sweet, brilliantly executed, well-performed, and heartwarming. Whether you want a fun dive into genuinely-written teen characters in a well-developed high school universe or a meaningful love story between two compelling characters, Heartstopper is definitely worth the watch. (Steven Greenwood)
Two timelines featuring a fantastic young cast and veteran actors as their grown-up counterparts, sets Yellowjackets apart from similar fare. Dark subject matter like cannibalism and cults swirls mysteriously around a story of survival and survivor’s guilt that centers on a girls’ soccer team stranded in the wilderness following a plane crash. Captivating drama and outstanding performances make Yellowjackets a truly exciting and unique viewing experience. (Erin Allen)
7. The Rehearsal
Nathan Fielder has always been a master of cringe, using the non-fiction form to poke, prod, provoke others into situations that are both gut-busting hilarious and utterly wince-inducing. With The Rehearsal, Fielder takes the simple concept of “practicing” life events to explore the idea that you can never truly know how a life will unfold to the absolute extreme.
Fielder, constructs artificial paradigms of people and places where the joke of sustaining such scenarios is eventually superseded for something uncannily poignant, utterly delighting in the realms of meta-commentary. From stealthily swapping out a bevy of child actors to avoid running amiss of child labour laws to re-doing entire segments of life to perfect a flawed father-son dynamic, The Rehearsal morphs into a clever, contemplative commentary on documentary filmmaking itself. Completely enveloped by bizarre human subjects, Fielder’s six-episode opus perfectly captures the peculiar nightmare of living amongst other people, who no amount of planning can ever prepare you for. (Prabhjot Bains)
6. White Lotus
The first season of White Lotus was the kind of delightful and stylish surprise that leaves you thinking, “How could they possibly make a second season of that?” Season 2 defies expectation and delivers another tightly wound and sumptuously shot exploration into the trials, tribulations, and various murders and murderous impulses of the very rich and those who serve them. It turns out that several conceits in the first season are fertile ground to anthologize: it all takes place at a luxury hotel named “The White Lotus,” it follows the intermingling woes of the very rich who stay there and those who take care of their very rich needs, and the stage is set with (at least one) mysterious dead body. Where in the first season, we had an ensemble tear one another to shreds in Hawaii, exploring themes around class and power, in Season two, we are in Italy, exploring sex and power. Each episode pulls you forward to the next with dialogue that sparks, Mike White is at the top of his game, weaving nuanced commentary with a gripping plot. And he delights in his background of Italy, gorgeously, authentically portrayed in swirling vistas and elaborate facades that are enough to get you to book a ticket despite the threat of horrible people doing terrible things to one another. It’s another great season of a show that knows exactly what it is. (Marty Allen)
Atlanta has consistently pushed the boundaries of the medium since its inception. For the unfamiliar, the show, created by actor and musician Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino), follows the lives of a group of young black friends navigating the rap scene in Atlanta, Georgia.
Season four of Atlanta, also known as “Atlanta: Robbin’ Season,” continues to deliver on the show’s promise of tackling complex themes and delivering compelling storytelling. The season opens with the group reeling from the aftermath of an armed robbery, which serves as the central narrative thread throughout the season.
One of the standout elements of Atlanta is the way it manages to balance comedy and drama, often in the same scene. The show has a knack for finding humor in unexpected places, and this season is no exception. There are several laugh-out-loud moments throughout the season, but the show never shies away from tackling heavy themes like gentrification, racism, and the perils of fame.
One of the standout episodes of the season is “Teddy Perkins,” which features a standout performance by Glover as the titular character, a reclusive, eccentric musician. The episode is a masterclass in horror, with a creepy atmosphere and a disturbing twist that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Overall, Atlanta is a must-watch. The show continues to be a beacon of originality and excellence in a sea of formulaic television, and this season is no exception. With its sharp writing, compelling characters, and innovative storytelling, Atlanta is a show that should not be missed. (Ricky D)
Barry has been consistently a revelation and Season 3 is an incredible peak. Reminiscent of when it was impossible to convince anyone to watch Breaking Bad in its first three years, Barry is quietly unfolding a masterpiece.
Written and often directed by Bill Hader (who also portrays the titular character), Barry’s tale of a lonely veteran turned contract killer turned acting student walks a tight line between comedy and truly dark television as these worlds begin to blur, each affected by the other. The pathos of Barry and the lies he tells himself is done with incredible nuance. Barry’s acting coach, played by Henry Winkler, also gives that rare performance of a lifetime only possible with the wisdom and experience of such a long career.
The previous season left off in a dangerous time, and where the third takes this story is surprising, to say the least. It all leads to an incredible finale that gave a staff member a panic attack. The less information written here, the better. With one more season to come, do not miss this modern masterpiece. (Geordi Ferguson)
3. The Bear
At once a heartfelt drama about family legacy and a comedic ode to the city of Chicago (and its eclectic denizens), The Bear is a delectable treat that oozes with both catharsis and pathos while laced with technical bravura. What makes it even more impressive is just how lean it is: running just eight episodes, with only one of them extending much beyond thirty minutes.
Celebrated Manhattan chef, Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen, with a virtuoso’s tuft of hair), returns to Chicago to run the family restaurant after his brother’s suicide. It’s a sloppy, unglamorous, and utterly cozy establishment that Carmy attempts to organize and galvanize according to the Michelin-starred restaurants he’s accustomed to.
That dichotomy is the basis of much of the comedy, as the fluid, naturalistic dialogue continues to magnificently underpin the transition to forceful drama. The flavours of dark comedy and biting melancholy are so deftly balanced, Carmy’s struggle to cope with his brother’s death and the restaurant’s downward spiral will make you cry like you’re cutting onions. All the while awing you with its propulsive camerawork, reaching its apex in the penultimate episode, all filmed in one long, swelteringly intense take. The results are nothing short of transportive. (Prabhjot Bains)
Over the past two years, Disney+ has seen a concerning balance between Star Wars highs and lows. While Lucasfilm’s animated content has been met with critical praise, everyone’s favorite galaxy far far away has now had two highly anticipated live-action shows end with mixed receptions. Even though Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett had a handful of episodes to highlight, both shows did not meet expectations and missed utilizing a lot of their potential. With Star Wars making the same mistakes in film and television over and over again, it was not surprising that interest in Andor was getting even lower as its release date arrived. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) was a likable character, but why would Disney bank on a 24-episode series featuring this guy out of everyone they could make a standalone Star Wars series about? The answer is simple: there is a story worth telling here.
Andor is an utter delight as Disney’s post-Legends Star Wars canon dives into the creation of the Rebellion amidst the rise of the Galactic Empire. At first glance, Andor may seem like something catered directly to hardcore Star Wars fans, however, the series requires little to no knowledge of the franchise to enjoy it–like The Mandalorian, your knowledge of its background will only enhance it. Luna’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hero is at centerstage, but Andor isn’t afraid to let its complex cast of additional characters shine as they continually steal the spotlight from one another. Between its writing, acting, set pieces, and directing, Andor is Star Wars at its best. The series just goes to show all the franchise needs to be successful is the right people behind the scenes who can focus on crafting a coherent and compelling storytelling. The force is strong with this one–even if there are no Jedi here. (Marc Kaliroff)
1. Better Call Saul
With its forebearer glowing brighter and brighter in the past as time goes on, Better Call Saul had an exceptionally high bar to clear as it headed into its final batch of episodes. Lucky for fans, the crack team of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould came up with a masterclass in how to wrap up a series that had grown increasingly spread across three separate timelines as the end of the series loomed in the distance. As such, though the final episodes of Better Call Saul might have been a bit more quiet and somber than those of its parent series, the actual ending might have been even more perfect.
The fact that the series seemed to see almost no awards recognition goes to show how out of touch many critics and bigwigs in Hollywood really are. Better Call Saul Season 6 was firing on all cylinders and deserved to be recognized for its careful writing, impeccable editing, fantastic sound design, and incredible performances. Alas, it would seem that some will never appreciate this daring, brilliant and eloquent series, but if you’re reading this, we hope that you will if you don’t already. (Mike Worby)