WGTC’s best TV shows of 2022

Marvel / Amazon / Lucasfilm / HBO

If it hasn’t already, binge-watching the best TV content beamed directly into the living room during the holidays must be close to overtaking turkey dinners and gift-giving as a favorite festive pastime. What’s a holiday without staggering to bed after swearing to yourself for the third time that this is the last episode?

As luck would have it, one hell of a back catalog has been mounting throughout 2022. A veritable marathon of indulgence awaits any would-be watcher, whatever their tastes: Tony Gilroy’s gratifying success with a grittier take on Star Wars in Andor, Euros Lyn’s effortlessly charming Heartstopper and Jon Bernthal’s moody miniseries, We Own This City, represent just some of the year’s highlights.

Whether it be the latest addition to Marvel’s seemingly scopeless cinematic universe or a down-to-earth family drama about an Italian sandwich shop, there’s a raft of excellent content to wade through. As far as picking a runaway winner is concerned, far be it from us to rob you of some quality dinner table debate.

What else has earned our must-watch moniker? Read on below…

House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon had one of the most difficult briefs of the year: to make Game of Thrones fans put aside the latter’s infamous final season and embrace an older version of Westeros while introducing a world of new characters. The HBO series easily pulled off what felt like one of the better seasons of Game of Thrones, by giving us more characters to love and hate, and more dragons to obsess over. House of the Dragon featured some of the tensest and most complex scenes of the year, and the only disappointing thing about the show is how long the wait will be until season two rolls around. — Tristyn Akbas

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s spectacular works were graced with a lengthy venture into Middle-earth with 2022’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The show isn’t perfect, by any means, but its first season laid the groundwork for what could develop into a truly spectacular series. It’s missing a few vital elements in its current form and remains mired in ceaseless debates between its fans and innumerable detractors, but the show has absolutely massive potential. Its first season was enjoyable — particularly for those viewers willing to accept its departures from established lore and reliance on Amazon Prime’s obsession with “mystery boxes” — and with any luck, the only way is up from here on out.

Now that we’ve left the season-long mysteries behind, the show can truly dig into the details already scattered across its sprawling world. Rife with magic, utterly stunning visuals, and flawed characters poised to grow, change, and evolve over its run, Rings of Power might not be the best show on television quite yet, but it has all the makings to surpass its competition and conquer the fantasy genre in a truly spectacular way. — Nahila Bonfiglio

Severance

Created by Dan Erickson, executive produced by Ben Stiller, and starring Adam Scott — Severance is the must-see Apple original of 2022.  

Featuring Christopher Walken, John Turturro, and Patricia Arquette in support, this office-based drama takes the idea of work-life balance to another level. In this universe, the idea of taking work home with you is an impossibility — as medical science has intervened 

What that means is that Mark (Scott) and everyone else at his place of work are oblivious to the outside world. They only exist in the office, trawling through data for reasons no one can explain. Conversations go nowhere, corridors stretch off in all directions, and no one uses the lift. 

Severance is a complex character piece with slabs of social satire, aimed at anyone who ever went to work. For the desk jockeys, remote workers, and anyone else in between — this is an essential series. — Martin Carr

We Own This City

If you’re a fan of Jon Bernthal or the acclaimed HBO series The Wire, We Own This City is absolutely mandatory viewing. The David Simon-produced HBO miniseries follows the true story of a cabal of corrupt cops as part of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force. Over the course of multiple decades, we see how Bernthal’s Wayne Jenkins transforms from an idyllic rookie to a high-ranking sergeant who moonlights as a drug dealer himself.

King Richard director Reinaldo Marcus Green directs every episode with a masterful balance of tension and pacing in the non-linear story that has the kinds of twists and turns you would expect from a novel, even though it’s based on a non-fiction book. Bernthal’s character may be a familiar archetype compared to his past roles, but his nuanced performance and perfected Maryland accent make it perhaps his best achievement as an actor to date. Plus, Wunmi Mosaku’s riveting performance as Department of Justice attorney Nicole Steele somehow makes the legal minutiae of how a “consent decree” is formed seem fascinating. — Danny Peterson

Yellowjackets

Take Lord of the Flies, but make it about teenage girls. Then add in a plane crash in the middle of multiple timelines. If that still doesn’t grab your attention, perhaps a hint of cannibalism and religious cults might do the trick. Yellowjackets is an unbelievably fun, gory, and unique take on the 1959 classic, adding a bit of modernity and teenage drama to the mix and all set against the backdrop of a remote island.

As the audience sees the survival instincts of this group of teenagers, we are also met with some of the survivors in the present time as they evade providing any information surrounding their time on the island. After all, who would like to be known for possible cannibalization? — Francisca Santos

Rilakkuma’s Theme Park Adventure

Arriving on Netflix in August 2022, this stop-motion adventure is by far the year’s cutest show. The show follows over-worked office lady Kaoru as she takes her unusual roommates, the large lazy bear Rilakkuma, the little bear Korilakkuma, and the hard-working bird Kiiroitori, to a nearly bankrupt theme park.

While at the park, this unlikely group embarks on a series of fun adventures, making friends and helping people as they go. Featuring loads of stunningly animated set pieces wrapped up in a warm and whimsical atmosphere. This show’s message about never stopping trying, even when it seems hopeless, and appreciating the little things in life is a message we all need to hear right now. And Rilakkuma’s Theme Park Adventure delivers both with heart. — Jonathon Greenall

Industry

When Industry premiered in the fall of 2020, it was enthusiastically received by a small minority as a fun, oftentimes chaotic, and always debaucherous ride. But even the show’s strongest fans would have admitted that the show had a clear ceiling; it probably could never be an all-around favorite. 

But with the arrival of season two in 2022, it blew every preconceived notion out of the water. It came out of the gate fully formed as almost an entirely new show, and by the time the second episode rolled around — an hour of TV that I personally believe is one of the best of the year — you quickly realize that this season is a lot more confident and assured in its storytelling than anything that came before it. Somehow managing to make intricate financial jargon simultaneously accessible as well as sounding like a different language while also strengthening the emotional bonds between all our favorite (and new) characters, season two of Industry is a triumph across the board. It’s no wonder that by the time the season wrapped up, it had already received comparisons to juggernauts Succession and Mad Men (two shows that it was brazen enough to reference during its season). — Bankole Imoukhuede

Better Call Saul

I’ll be hard-pressed to think of a more herculean task in TV than what Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan sought to do with Better Call Saul. Even foregoing the rocky success rates of prequels, to try to tell the ‘origin’ story of a side character from one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed television shows of all time is as risky a move as they come. 

However, over six seasons and 63 episodes (one more than Breaking Bad), they were able to make Better Call Saul its own thing. While it clearly shared DNA with Breaking Bad, it was so distinctly its own thing, and before long, fans were more worried about the fate of Kim Wexler than when Jesse Pinkman would show up. For this alone, Better Call Saul deserves to be on this list. But in addition to all of this, its final season – which aired in two batches over the course of the year – was the show at its brilliant writing, acting, and directing best. Told over the course of three timelines (pre-Breaking Bad, during Breaking Bad, and post-Breaking Bad), it was able to tell a story of change, regret, and redemption, while sticking to what made it its own show and going out on its own terms and no one else’s. — Bankole Imoukhuede

The Sandman

After 20 years, Neil Gaiman’s arguable magnum opus, once believed to be unfilmable, shattered those beliefs with the help of Netflix, who finally brought The Sandman to live-action glory, much to the uproarious delight of fans new and old.

Perhaps what makes The Sandman such a deftly entertaining watch is its ability to present some of the most far-out ideas in the realm of human comprehension (A convention for serial killers? Who thinks of that?), and not only draw us in with such premises, but ultimately execute them with a creative brilliance that not many can claim they’ve flirted with. Everything and more has been said about the likes of Tom Sturridge, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Gwendoline Christie, and countless other performances that left us drooling for a (now-confirmed!) second season on their own, but we also can’t talk about The Sandman without giving an extra-special nod to “24/7,” the fifth episode in the first season, which I have no shame in declaring was the greatest piece of media to come out of this entire year. The palpable, depraved tension of the intimate-turned-liminal space of an old diner absolutely dripped with intrigue, and the final peeling apart of the impossibly hopeful lesson by Dream brought it all home in the best way possible. — Charlotte Simmons

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Suck it, haters – She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is great TV. Despite the myriad MCU projects that are out there, you could argue that few of them actually feel like authentic adaptations of the Marvel Comics world. And yet that’s definitely not the case with this delightfully smart, satirical superhero sitcom that successfully captures the spirit of the classic Marvel sense of humor that Stan Lee established all those years ago. Tatiana Maslany is terrific in the lead, the Daredevil episode is a crossover for the ages, and that jaw-dropping finale ensures we’ll never look at Kevin Feige quite the same way again. More, please. — Christian Bone

Outer Range

By far, one of the best shows on streaming (or anywhere else for that matter) has been Outer Range.

With a premise that is the most sci-fi of any this side of Lost, Outer Range has a mystery that will draw you in from the first episode and refuse to let you go. The cliffhanger ending to season one (because of course there’s a cliffhanger finale; it’s sci-fi) will have you desperate for the next chapter.

Without spoiling anything, the best way to describe Outer Range is to say it’s a modern-day Western mixed with time travel. Still, there’s a deeper story unfolding with far more questions than answers by the season one finale. Hopefully, the series will learn from its predecessors and not have more loose ends than it can tie up properly.

As intriguing as the plot was over the first eight episodes, the driving force is the ensemble cast. Josh Brolin delivers in one of his best roles as Royal Abbott. While he is simply captivating, the rest of the cast is superb, particularly Imogen Poots. Playing the part of Royal’s mysterious antagonist, Autumn, Poots embodies the role of an aspiring cult leader mixed with a realistic portrayal of mental illness. There’s also both a toughness and an underlying vulnerability that fleshes out the character and showcases her acting prowess.

Although Brolin and Poots are the standouts, practically every actor here deserves commendations for their work. Even for viewers who typically shy away from science fiction, trust me, you’ll want to give Outer Range a try if only for the dramatic and moving performances. — Matt Tuck

Heartstopper

From fantasy fascinations to superhero antics, 2022 undoubtedly presented a slew of memorable television series, but one particular series certainly stopped our hearts. This is precisely the case for Netflix’s Heartstopper, which quickly became one of the most popular and influential shows on the entire platform.

In a brilliant coming-of-age story, Heartstopper perfectly conveys the message of queer adolescence, with its ensemble cast navigating through the pitfalls of high school — along with the struggles of sexuality, gender conformity, individuality, and self-acceptance. The journey eventually focuses on two teenage boys, Charlie and Nick, who eventually develop romantic feelings for each other and battle the troubles of homophobia and judgment from peers and fellow students.

For those reasons alone, the show’s ultimate message boils down to the significance of queer representation, inclusivity, and the celebration of love, gender, sexuality, and the importance of being an individual. — Taylor Mansfield

The White Lotus

The first season of ‘The White Lotus’ brought us revelations, uplifting storylines, and terribly unfortunate choices for some of the characters, and it brought Jennifer Coolidge an Emmy. This season is seemingly nothing like the first, other than the reveal at the beginning of a dead body. This forces the viewer to speculate as we flash back a week and meet the guests as they arrive at the titular resort. Also different in this season is the revelation of multiple dead bodies.

As Valentina, the resort manager arrives, the concierge informs her of the deceased guest and sheepishly admits that there are more. How many? “A few.” Now, this thing has been red-herring-palooza the whole time, as we first see the guests repeatedly place themselves in dangerous situations. This is all part of the fun, and at the time of writing this, one episode remains and I am on pins and needles waiting to find out who and how many of the guests perish. How can I even put my finger on which part of this series is the most entertaining?

The scenery, the beautiful clothes, the fascinating characters, the mystery? How about sweet Mia, whose only desire is to be a successful singer. And given her debut, we root for her and only want to see her happy and successful. No matter what the outcome, we had a blast living vicariously through the unrelatable characters and their impossibly complicated entanglements. — Misty Contreras

Andor

It’s certainly no surprise that one of Disney Plus’ Star Wars TV series is making our best of 2022 list. After all, Disney has barely missed a trick with its ever-increasing portfolio of entertaining new takes on that Galaxy far far away. But Andor has proven to be an incredible game-changer for the series, capturing the imaginations of fans and critics alike. There are no lightsabers and very little in the way of Han Solo-Esque derring-do in the show but somehow you still can’t quite take your eyes off the action cerebral or otherwise. Framing the rise of fascism in a galaxy run by a literal evil empire may seem like a no-brainer but Andor has pulled it off in such a thoughtful and perhaps depressingly timely manner that it may just change the way we’ve looked at Star Wars for the first time since the prequels were announced. — Beau Paul

The Bear

When you think “family drama series”, the kitchen of an Italian sandwich shop is definitely not the first setting that comes to mind. Nevertheless, Christopher Storer managed to create the single most hypnotizing television show of the year, with a little help from Jeremy Allen-White in what might be the best performance of his career so far. The Bear uses the most effective object of affection there is — food — to tell a story of deep grief, identity struggle, and aspiration within an Italian American family, and their decrepit neighborhood diner. The characters are too maddening to love but too human to hate, and the visuals are as arresting as the narrative, with the seventh episode’s 18-minute single take serving as the literal and figurative icing on the cake. The Bear is truly a “chef’s kiss,” as they say. — Francisca Tinoco

Wednesday

With Wednesday, Jenna Ortega has successfully shattered one of my long-held, rather ironclad, perceptions, i.e., actresses who get labeled as “Scream Queen” don’t really manage to shine in something outside the genre.

Also, I have to admit, even at the risk of attracting significant ire, none of the reboots or sequels since the 1964 The Addams Family have succeeded in renewing the macabre magic of the eccentric family, at least not until Tim Burton’s Netflix series left me wanting an instantly greenlit season two. A good chunk of the credit, undoubtedly, goes to Ortega. Beware, I am ready with lengthy debates on making this the official truth if anyone is planning to contradict me on this.

I don’t know which one is true — whether Ortega was made for the role or Wednesday Addams’ was conceptualized so one day the You star could prove that no one could have played the mind-boggling yet strangely relatable teenager better than her. — Apeksha Bagchi

Los Espookys

Los Espookys did not survive the great HBO slaughter, but it’s a wonder a show as strange and wholly unique made it to air at all. The primarily Spanish-language comedy follows a group of friends who go into business scrappily creating spooky situations for hire, like creating chaos on set for an actor who’s desperate to get his sitcom canceled. Oh, and sometimes, real supernatural beings pop in to mix things up.

Season two amplifies the show’s telenovela qualities after some scheming results in Tati marrying Andrés’ jilted lover, played by Ana Fabrega and Julio Torres, who created the series alongside series regular Fred Armisen. Visually, there’s nothing like it on TV. with no attention to detail spared on the delightful, gothic costumes and sets whether it be a decadent mansion or the crew’s own handmade objects of terror. May Martine Gutierrez haunt the halls of Discovery Plus. — Tricia Gilbride

Yellowstone

It’s impossible to look back at this year in television (or any year since 2018) without thinking of one emotional and gritty series: Yellowstone. The record-breaking series was the number-one show on television last year, and with good reason — it’s intoxicating. The Dutton family saga spans several timelines, chapters, and storylines across three shows; fans are lucky to know that there are even more in the works. Taylor Sheridan knows the magic he’s created within this universe and continues to build upon it.

While 1883 already aired in its entirety and 1923 is just starting to tell its emotional story, Yellowstone is at the heart of it all. We’ve seen a family survive everything from life-altering loss to lawlessness and devastation, and they’ve managed to come out standing. There have been times that the fight made them want to drop to their knees, but they’ve never abandoned one thing that they cling to, shielding it from the outside world — hope. Of course, it’s not all heartache and pain at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch; a healthy dose of romance and sensuality also makes viewers stop in their tracks with each episode.

Everyone wants their own Rip Wheeler or Kayce Dutton. Viewers want to channel their inner Beth or John Dutton. We wish to know, learn from, and become these power players. We all want to live out those cowboy or ranch hand fantasies — and Yellowstone knows how to deliver them; plus, it doesn’t hurt that nearly everyone on the cast is absolutely stunning. With each twist and turn of Sheridan’s multifaceted story of love and loss, we fall more in love with these characters and their ideas as we examine our own, and that’s what good television should do — right? — Ashley Marie

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

From Discovery to PicardStar Trek fans have had to face up to the fact that the franchise’s TV renaissance would be forever plagued by uneven quality. But that all changed with this year’s Strange New Worlds, which proved to be as perfect as 21st century Trek has ever gotten.

Not only is it a winning marriage of ’60s-style optimistic, episodic storytelling and contemporary character dynamics and season arcs, SNW also sports one of the finest, most charismatic crews in all Trek, as led by Anson Mount’s Christopher Pike – the Trek universe’s own answer to Captain America – who might just give Kirk and Jean-Luc a run for their money. Season two had better not disappoint. — Christian Bone