THE 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2022

THE 50 BEST TV SHOWS OF 2022

Well another year has come to an end and you know what that means…it’s time for me to breakdown the best shows of 2022. And what a year it has been for the small screen. The sheer magnitude of great shows has at times been overwhelming. 


With new streaming services entering the playing field at the same rate as new British Prime Ministers yours truly has had a hard time keeping up. The entertainment sphere may be growing at an exponential rate but the viewer pool is lagging behind - if anything certainly in the United Kingdom it’s starting to contract. Which means the mega-streaming corporations are left with no choice but to justify their existence in this crowded landscape. And there’s only a few ways they can do. By releasing more shows, with bigger budgets and bigger stars. So don’t expect the onslaught of shows to slow down anytime soon. But hey it may be unsustainable in the longterm but let’s enjoy the exceptional selection of television while we can. 


This year has been the hardest year since I started doing these lists to pick my final 50. With so many great shows landing in 2022 it’s unsurprising that a number of solid series are going to miss out. So to make sure they get their moment in the sun here are some other great shows outside of the list you should checkout when you get the chance. The Lincoln Lawyer (Netflix), The Resort (Peacock), Derry Girls (Channel 4), The Responder (BBC), Everything I Know About Love (BBC), The Sex lives of College Girls (ITVX), Heartstopper (Netflix), The Crown (Netflix), The Devils Hour (Amazon), SAS Rogue Heroes (BBC) and A League of Their Own (Amazon). There are so many others but sadly I can’t pick them all. 


Two notable omissions from both the above list and my final 50 are former TV juggernauts The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld who both returned for their fourth series. Both have frequently appeared in my lists since their first series aired but sadly this year that isn’t the case. With the latter having a particularly eventful 2022. Going from very good to unforgivably bad to brutally cancelled and then entirely wiped from HBO’s streaming catalogue. Not bad for 5-months. While The Handmaid’s Tale, although renewed for a fifth and final series has completely lost it’s way. When it’s not spinning its wheels the series is busy trying to provide the repulsive character of Serena an unjusitfied redemption arch. 


But enough about what didn’t make the list. With the streaming arms-race in full flow let’s see what shows did make it into this years top 50. 



Honourable Mention, The Sandman - (Netflix)



Often described as “unadaptable” Neil Gaimans crazy world of The Sandman finally got its much-deserved on-screen adaptation in the form of Netflix’s latest attempt at franchise building. Taking place in the world of immortals, wizards and everything in between, the series focuses on Dream (Tom Sturridge). An all-powerful deity who controls the world of you guessed it...dreams. After escaping from decades of imprisonment Dream attempts to reclaim his crown and rebuild the previously prosperous world of dreams that has fallen into destitution during his absence. 


This, however, isn’t the only story contained in The Sandmans first series. The series is split in half to cover Gaimans first two novels. And that decision is why the series doesn’t feature within this years main list. The first five episodes that cover Dreams escape from imprisonment are magnificent. The cinematography, world build and writing are some of the best Netflix has produced within its ever-growing fantasy collection. With Dreams journey to hell, which sees him battle Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie) in an inspiringly original sequence being the standout episode. This story is then bookended with a brilliant standalone episode that explores Dreams relationship with his siblings, primarily his sister Death played expertly by Kirby Howell-Baptiste, before entering a final act that left me with a sour taste in my mouth. All in all The Sandman is still a superb series - there’s a reason it’s taken the honourable mention spot - but I can’t help but feel it could have been so much more. 



50) A Friend of the Family - (Peacock)


 

Jan Broberg’s story is one that has been told before. The 2017 documentary Abducted in Plain Sight took Netflix by storm when the public appetite for true crime was at its peak. And it should be no surprise. The saying “truth is stranger than fiction” is thrown around far too often. But in this case, that statement may even undersell the implausibility of this very real true story. 


Taking place in a small Mormon community the naive, kind and welcoming Broberg family gain the attention of serial manipulator Robert Berchtold (Jake Lacy). Setting his sights on the family's eldest daughter Jan Broberg - played brilliantly by both Hendrix Yancey and Mckenna Grace - Robert inserts himself into the unsuspecting familys affairs in order to abduct the twelve-year-old girl. But this is just the start of what turns out to be one of the most outlandish and preposterous true stories. Featuring truly awful, borderline unforgivable parenting, Multiple abductions, stories of Aliens and multiple affairs that help protect the cowardly evil, Robert. Even after watching the series myself I still find the events that unfolded unfathomably. Jake Lacey is magnificent as the predatory family friend. He has really perfected the slimy entitled persona that he showcased last year in The White Lotus. Mckenna Grace has also received an abundance of praise for her performance as the older (still only fourteen bear in mind) Jan, even acting opposite the real Jan Broberg in one of her final scenes. But it’s the young star Hendrix Yancey who really stands out. This is an extremely challenging role and she smashed it out of the park. 



49) All of Us Are Dead - (Netflix) 


 

Netflix’s Korean offering in 2022 may not have lived up to the meteoric standards of 2021 which brought us an abundance of shows, including let’s not forget their most viewed series of all time Squid Game. But what we did get was a scintillating addition to the zombie universe in the form of All of Us Are Dead. When a zombie virus breaks out around the city of Hyosan a group of high schoolers trapped in their school must fight to survive the outbreak. 


Korean cinema has an envious record when it comes to creating zombie epics. From Train to Busan to Netflix’s other zombie series Kingdom, there is a plethora of examples of their success, with All of Us Are Dead being their latest. What makes the show so compelling is twofold. Firstly the zombies are terrifying, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill Walking Dead zombies that lumber around like sacks of potatoes. They’re quick, strong, vicious and a lot smarter than would initially meet the eye. That makes them a real threat, and with the series not being afraid to kill off major characters at every turn provides a real sense of dread and peril that you don't get with other, safer zombie shows. The second, and likely most important aspect behind the series' success, is that the creators understand every story needs relatable characters. Each survivor of the initial outbreak that we spend our time with is fleshed out. They have their own individual goals and personalities. And this is ultimately what makes us care about them. You can have the scariest zombies in the world - and believe me, they do - but that means nothing if you don’t get the characters right. Thankfully this is a trap creator Seong-il Cheon has masterfully avoided. 



48) The Gilded Age -  (Sky/HBO)


 

Julian Fellowes loves himself a prestige drama focusing on the wealthiest people in history. With Downton Abbey very much now in his rearview mirror - bar the odd film - the showrunner has now turned his attention to the other side of the Atlantic. With the affluence and splendour of 1880’s New York society receiving the magnifying glass treatment. The Gilded Age pits new money against old money as families battle for status and power within the carefully orchestrated landscape of Post Civil War New York. 


It should be no surprise that Fellowes has decided to take this project to HBO. Their level of attention to detail and production design is second to none in the TV landscape. And this is a gorgeous addition to this library. With towering mansions and gliding ballrooms the budget for The Gilded Age must be off the charts. Never being a fan of Downton Abbey myself I was apprehensive going in. But Fellow's dedication to the world he has crafted quickly won me over. Along with his magnificently assembled cast featuring the likes of Christine Baranski, Michael Cerveris, Cynthia Nixon and HBO royalty herself Carrie Coon. My only complaint about the show would be its instance of using the term luncheon, which even now writing this review is making my bones shiver. This nauseating term has thankfully become a relic of history, at least to us common folk.



47) Ten Percent - (Amazon)


 

One of Hollywood's favourite past times is turning great foreign media into depressingly forgettable Americanised fluff. Thankfully in the case of Amazons Ten Percent, based on the french series Call My Agent, they have managed to avoid this curse, maybe in no small part due to the series London setting. Taking place in a talent agency each episode explores the various pitfalls of being an agent. From runaway starts to high-strung grifters. 


Ten Percent appears to have been a series that has passed a lot of people by. The critical reception was rather muted and it was quickly overshadowed by Amazon's larger projects released around the same time. But I for one loved this little comedy-drama that features so much heart. The characters are all fantastic, with each one being fully developed and on their own journey as the series progresses. Each episode brings in a new guest star for the narrative to build around. With some of the best talent from the U.K being included. From Dominic West and Kelly Macdonald to David Harewood and Helena Bonham Carter. But the real standout from the show is Tim Mclnnerny who plays washed-up actor Simon Gould. His story of trying to get back on the acting horse is exquisitely written and endlessly heartwarming. 



46) Only Murders in the Building - (Disney+)


 

Unlike seemingly the rest of the tv watching world - especially critics which I’m shamelessly going to class myself as - I wasn’t particularly enamoured with Only Murders in the Building's first series. Now don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the show, after all, it made it into my best of the year list - although admittedly in a poor year for Television - but I was left rather baffled by the incandescent praise that was being thrown at its feet. 


So it should be no surprise that I went into the show's second series with rather muted expectations. But this time around I found the previously deafening critical response to be rather more justified. With the series' second outing being a much-improved version of its original premise. The lovable gang of misfit investigators are back together and this time attempting to solve a crime they have been framed for. The series is strongest when it allows its unwitting heroes to bounce off one another. Martin Short and Steve Martin are veterans of the comedy scene. But the more the series progresses I find myself increasingly impressed by the acting range of their partner in crime-solving Selena Gomez. Being the only one of the trio to miss out on an Emmy nomination seems to have put the fire into her. She should feel very short-changed if she misses out next time around as her character Mabel was the standout of the trio this turn.  



45) Peacemaker - (Sky/HBOmax) 


 

DC…what a mess. In their attempts to fast-track themselves to Marvel levels of glory, they have instead turned their brand into a laughing stock. While Marvels universe may be starting to lose its shine at least it had its time in the sun. DC on the other hand has been a prime example of throwing good money after bad. But all is not lost. And with Peacemaker, and more importantly, James Gunn at the helm the formerly berated studio may have found their very own Kevin Feige. 


Gunn who is best known for his work within the MCU by bringing The Guardians of The Galaxy to life has skyrocketed to head honcho at DC. And it should be no surprise why the studio in disarray has taken this decision off the back of his series Peacemaker. Building on the success of his Suicide Squad reboot last year Gunn has taken one of the films standout anti-heroes Peacemaker (John Cena) and giving him his own series. Much like the aforementioned film, Peacemaker takes a no holds barred approach to its story. Frankly it’s ludicrous, gross and effortlessly funny. Everything DC has been missing while attempting to build a serious and brooding universe. Cena is a bubble of charisma and with this new role has slotted himself into second place in the wrestlers to actors tier list - unlucky Rock. If you need a window into the insane and goofy world of Cena’s anti-hero look no further than the series' captivating opening title sequence. Truly perfection. 



44) The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey - (Apple TV+)


 

Apple has been working hard to attract the biggest stars to its bustling platform. And it should be no surprise why they have had so much success in doing so. Whereas its competitors have become transfixed with the concept of viewer numbers being the only worthwhile variable when it comes to if a show should exist Apple - maybe partially due to its limitless financial position - isn’t taking the same approach. And that’s why shows like The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey are finding a home on their platform. 


He may have starred in some truly awful films during his career *cough* *cough* Snakes on a Plane, but there is no denying that securing Samuel L. Jackson for a leading role in a six-episode drama series is anything but a major coup for Apple. Jackson is unsurprisingly magnetic as the dementia-ridden Ptolemy Grey. Left with little to no memory of his life Ptolemy is entered into an experimental drug trial by his teenage carer Robyn (Dominique Fishbank). Quickly upon leaving the trial Ptolemy’s memories come flooding back and we are invited into the most extraordinary life. Fishbank previously had a supporting role in the HBO series The Deuce, and while she was fantastic in that series she really comes into her own here while playing off against Jackson. The future is certainly bright for this young star. 



43) Shining Vale - (Lionsgate+) 


 

Anyone who knows me will know I’m a dedicated Friends super-fan. And while It has become fashionable to hate the series I will forever unashamedly fight its corner. Many an afternoon was spent waiting for Friends to materialise on E4 at 5 pm, and once the series arrived on Netflix only my dad and sister, who at times watched the series religiously, could outdo me when it came to jumping back into the sitcom. So you’re probably wondering why I’m going on about a series that last aired 18 years ago. Well it’s because Courtney Cox (Monica from Friends if you didn’t know) has found a new comedic home fitting of the legendary series. 


Shining Vale, although a horror series is a comedy first and foremost and a hilarious one at that. With their marriage on the ropes, Patricia (Courtney cox) and Terry (Greg Kinnear) move to a fixer-upper house in a small town with their two children. Now, of course, you guessed it, this creepy house turns out to be haunted. Evoking classic horror films like The Shinning, The Exorcist, and The Conjuring Shining Vale excels at both comedy and creating a brilliant horror-enthused atmosphere. The hilarious family dynamic provides bucketloads of fun, with the dazzling - but yes very haunted house - providing some of the strongest house envy since Servant. 



42) Yellowstone - (Paramount+)


 

With the arrival of Paramount+ to our shores, the gargantuan hit Yellowstone is finally available in all its glory for us U.K based fans. Now an admission from me here, before this year I’d never watched Yellowstone. So I have found it rather difficult to place the series on this list. After all, officially only the series fourth and fifth series launched this year. With the previous series being available to buy…just not stream. So we have landed her on the list. Because despite how ingrained I have become in the politics of Montana the last two series of the behemoth leave much to be desired. 


Co-creator Taylor Sheridan is a busy man after all. With multiple new series launching every year he is turning into the rust-belt version of Ryan Murphy. And similarly to Murphy, this has meant his powers have started to become stretched, visibly so in his long-running series. At its peak (series 1-3) Yellowstone could easily make a claim to being the best show on television. But it’s all starting to feel like the wheels are spinning but the cars going nowhere. That being said I don’t want to jump on the back of the show too much. After all, it’s still brilliant and engaging television and made me more interested in ranching than I ever thought I would be. The Dutton family have become renowned in the United States and it should be no surprise why. Dubbed by some as the republican answer to Succession, Yellowstone has something for every demographic. Kevin Costner as the cold unmaternal father and ranch leader John Dutton seems to have found himself a home on the small screen and Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton is a bonafide scene stealer of the highest order.



41) Five Days at Memorial - (Apple TV+)


 

Although the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is well documented, with the name comfortably being the most recognisable this side of Pompei when it comes to natural disasters, the actual stories that unfolded in the ravaged city during those days of little power and intense flooding, for the most part, have remained a mystery. Why? It’s simple really it’s all about the shame of those who could have done more and the apathetic reaction of those who don’t particularly care. 


Set in Memorial hospital which saw a staggering death count for patients during the disaster the series methodically dissects the five days in which hospital staff were left without power, supplies or adequate help from those outside New Orleans. Apple has shown time and time again this year that they aren’t afraid to put their money where their mouths are. And with their continued quest for quality over quantity, they are producing some of the best-looking television the medium has ever seen. The fully reconstructed wave of destruction which engulfed the coastal city of Louisianna is both breathtaking and terrifying. As houses are swept away as if they were made of cards you are hit with this overwhelming sense that mother nature is an untamable beast. What follows after the initial disaster is a clear failure at every level of government to take the disaster seriously. Hospitals are left without evacuation plans and ordered to mark the most seriously ill patients with a death tag, giving up on them all together. What's most terrifying about this show is that on the back of a pandemic it’s clear no one in power has learnt anything from this disaster. 



40) Wednesday - (Netflix)


 

Talk about a bolt from the blue. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would have predicted Wednesday would skyrocket to Netflix’s most viewed English language series, especially in a Stranger Things year. But so is the blistering success of Wednesday that it has gone from just another IP reimagining to the jewel in Netflix’s crown. Starring Jenna Ortega - who has had an absolutely tremendous breakout year between Wednesday, the latest Scream film and the fantastic X by Ti West - as Wednesday Addams of the infamous Addams Family the series charts her frenzied and always eventful time at Nevermore Academy for outcasts, freaks and monsters. 


The series' primary narrative sees the embroiled teen Wednesday attempting to solve a string of brutal murders that are plaguing the town around Nevermore. And although this in itself is brilliant to watch Its Wednesday's integration into the school that provides the series' best moments. Jena Ortega's performance is one well beyond her years and even manages to overshadow the former exploits of Christina Ricci - who of course pops up in the series - in the role. Ortega’s even goes as far as not blinking in her scenes to ensure Wednesdays standoffish persona is perfectly realised. But that being said the odd-couple friendship between Wednesday and her flamboyant roommate Enid produces excellent moments of growth for the character. Wednesday's child may be full of woe this brilliant series will leave you filled with anything but. 



39) Night Sky - (Amazon)




2022 has proven a prosperous year for Science Fiction with Night Sky being the first in a long line of Sci-Fi shows to make this year's list. The atmospheric series by showrunner Holden Miller takes a meditative approach to the genre. This is slow-burn storytelling and although that may put some viewers off it makes for a beautifully developed story. Elderly couple Franklin (J.K Simmons) and Irene (Sissy Spacek) are thrown into a galaxy-spanning mystery after their decades-old discovery of a portal in their backyard is visited by the wounded Jude (Chai Hansen). 


When praising a story's world-building it can sometimes be taken as a slight on the rest of the series' attributes. Thankfully when it comes to the Night Sky this isn’t the case. In the current crowded world of television, it’s becoming harder for stories to bring anything new to the table. Uniqueness has been replaced by mimicry. And although not every theme in the Night Sky is unique the world they have created is, and that in itself is refreshing. With gorgeous cinematography and a riveting score, Miller’s series is everything good Science fiction should be. J.K Simmons and Spacek are unsurprisingly brilliant in their roles. With Simmons takes on the role of the discontented husband expertly, while he struggles to come to terms with Jude's arrival into their previously quiet lives. 



38) WeCrashed - (Apple TV+)




The world of multi-million startups can be a precarious one. So what about multi-billion? Well, the stakes get even higher. And when it comes to WeWork those high stakes and chaotic mismanagement resulted in the company losing billions. The story of WeWorks collapse is a very recent one. With the firm appearing and almost disappearing in the previous decade. Yet for many including myself, it’s a story not many people know about. 


Created by Adam Neumann (Jared Leto) WeWork started out as a simple work-sharing space in America. But after its early success and the inclusion of Neumann’s wife Rebekah (Anne Hathaway) the two narcissistic billionaires unwittingly destroyed the company from the inside out with their reckless spending, idiotic ideas and failure to take responsibility. Apple structures the drama perfectly. Allowing us to revel in the company's meteoric rise before peeling back the curtain into its disaster mismanagement. It’s always surprising how easily manipulated the big money men in business can be. Thrown them a weirdo with an exciting sounding idea and they fall head over foot to throw as much money as they can at it. Leto may have spent most of the year receiving frankly warranted grief for his performance in the maligned Morbious but he is on fine form in WeCrashed. It’s sometimes easy to forget that Leto was once a respected actor in the industry and in playing the enigmatic, strange Adam Neumann he seems to have recovered some of his lost vigour. Which frankly might not be a good thing…



37) 1883 - (Paramount+)


 

It’s that man Taylor Sheridan again…I told you he was a busy guy. While the present-day Yellowstone story is still ongoing Sheridan has been busy fleshing out the Dutton family's past and what lead to them becoming such a powerhouse in the state of Montana. Next year we will be treated to Harrison Fords first small-screen appearance for the better part of half a century in the prohibition era series 1923. But this year Sheridan took us right back to the start of the Duton family journey with 1883. 


With western America still very much the wild-west James Dutton (Tim McGraw) and his family, including his boisterous daughter Elsa (Isabel May), join up with European settlers led by lawman Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) as they attempt to navigate the perilous open plains of America in search of a new home. Yellowstone is no prude when it comes to violence but 1883 really takes the cake when it comes to its unfiltered view into the horrors of 1800’s America. With most of the country very much lawless our travelling heroes must traverse both the unforgiving terrain and the dangerous inhabitants of the west. From bandits to snakes everything is out for blood. Isabel May shines in the role of Elsa, which quickly cements herself as the series' primary protagonist. Her character's personal growth encapsulates the ways in which such hardship can shape a person. The score is also magnificent and Sheridans team have once again showcased they are the leaders in capturing the visual beauty that can be found in America's wilderness. 




36) Tokyo Vice - (BBC/HBOmax)


 

Set on the cusp of the new millennium Tokyo Vice sees aspiring Western Journalist Jake (Ansel Elgort) handed the role of a rookie report for the renowned Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. Eager to make his mark on the newspaper and prove his doubters wrong Jake soon becomes embroiled in the world of organised crime, most notably that of the Yakuza. 


Unlike their western counterparts the Mafia, the Yakuza are notorious for keeping their criminal exploits as quiet as possible. This hidden criminal underworld is what has allowed them to exploit systems and become prolific in Tokyo even in todays world. But in 1999 that quiet life of crime is brewing and threatening to teeter into all-out war. Based on the true-to-life story of Jake Adelstein Tokyo Vice has all the hallmarks you come to expect from one of HBO’s big-budget drama series. Legendary director Michael Mann helms the first episode and the series only improves from there on ought. Tokyo as a city is an intoxicating place and the biggest compliment I can pay the series is that its characters don’t become lost in the extraordinary environment they are inhabiting. Ansel Elgort has turned into a poison chalice as of late. His personal life has taken a major hit after numerous allegations were levelled against him. At times this can make the series difficult to watch but with a supporting cast of actors featuring the iconic Ken Watanabe and future star Rachel Keller there is much to love about this gorgeously constructed series. 



35) Winning Time - (Sky/HBO)


 

Adam McKay fresh off the back of his disappointing film Don’t Look Up has returned to doing what he does best. Setting up the next generation of great shows for HBO. His previous exploits in television production do include the marvellous Succession after all. With Winning Time we are focusing on a very different dynasty to the Roy’s, however. This time around we are running it all the way back to the inception of the Los Angeles Lakers as we know them today. For those unaware, The LA Lakers are the most successful basketball team in the history of the NBA alongside their old rivals The Boston Celtics - think basketballs equivalent to Manchester United and Liverpool. 


The Directing and cinematography for each episode may take some getting used to, with out-of-focused cameras, grainy footage and intrusive camerawork used throughout the series sometimes making for hard viewing. But after a while the charm of Creators Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht vision will win you over - at least it won me over. Recreating the iconic stars of the 1980’s LA Lakers team is no mean feat in itself. But yet with ease, the producers have managed to reimagine the sporting heroes who captivated so many during the franchise's prolific rise to fame. Quincy Isaiah in his first role is magnetic as the young Magic Johnson while John C. Reilly devours his role as the franchise's new larger-than-life owner Jerry Bush.



34) Servant - (Apple TV+)


 

After a turbulent sophomore season Servant returned in embattled fashion to once again find itself featured among the best shows of the year. Whereas last year the series felt very much like it was spinning its wheels the collective genius of Tony Basgallop and M. Night Shyamalan has revived the series. Leanne is back living with the turner family after escaping her cultish upbringing. But all is not well with the family as they start to be followed by a mysterious group of youths camped out in the park behind their house. 


I could wax lyrical about the spectacular Turner family home for hours. In fact, I probably have. But who can blame me? The house is nothing short of a marvel and I honestly think I’m in love with it. Every series being set almost entirely in the confines of the Philadelphia townhouse creates an intoxicatingly brooding atmosphere of dread around its inhabitants. But to avoid the setting becoming stale - not that it ever could - each series unlocks new sections of the house, like a video game. Lauren Ambrose as Dorothy Turner once again steals the show with her manic over-bearing nature. I’m over the moon that she has secured the role as the adult version of Van in the next series of Yellowjackets. 


33) The Lazarus Project - (Sky)


 

Paapa Essiedu continued his rapid rise this year as his acting exploits seemed to be featured in almost every big-budget British show of the year. But it’s in The Lazarus Project where he really shined. Taking on the role of George who unwittingly becomes embroiled in a top-secret organisation responsible for ensuring the world isn’t destroyed in mass extinction events. It’s a terrific premise with a truly inspired time travel element to it. Every time the world is at risk of being destroyed a fail-safe will allow time to be transported back to the last checkpoint. Very much like a video game. 


Joe Barton, who created the series is quietly building an envious CV for himself. Between the surprise hit of 2019 Giri/Haji and his exploits on The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself - both series of which were unceremoniously cancelled by Netflix after a single outing - he is really starting to find his footing in the television landscape. Where he excels with The Lazarus Project is not just in his brilliantly executed premise but also in his writing of George. There is a turning point in the series where George becomes embroiled in the idea of altering the lives of millions for his own selfish, some would say justified reasons. A lesser showrunner would have played this situation safe but instead, Barton opens George up to criticism. Giving the audience the choice to decide if his mission is justified or not. 



32) Atlanta - (Disney+/FX)


 

After four years Donald glover’s beloved series returned for its final two series filmed back to back. And although in the U.K. we have so far only been treated to part one of the final chapter for Atlanta what a part one it has been (the final series will arrive on the 28th of December) Although Atlanta's third series has received some criticism from certain quarters for its frequent deviations from the main narrative in favour of one-off stories I think this is where the show has always excelled. After all, when anyone thinks of Atlanta the first thing that comes to mind is that Freddie Perkins episode. 


This time around we have everything from mass child abduction, an alternative reality in which reparations must be paid by all white people for the crimes of their ancestors, the attempted burning down of a school with a flamethrower, an explanation from Liam Neason for his wild comments in the Independent about his desire to hunt and kill a black man after his friend was raped and potentially the most hilarious instant of tone death corporate marketing put to screen. Atlanta is the gold standard for satire and it never fails to disappoint. It’s only sad that beyond 2022 the busy schedules of its starts won’t allow us to bask in its glory any longer. 



31) Reacher - (Amazon)


 

When Tom Cruise took on the role of the iconic character Jack Reacher in the 2012 film of the same name it was met with a mixed reaction. Cruise was, as always, brilliant in the role, the man does, after all, bleed charisma. But the main complaint laid at his feet was that Cruise's stature didn’t live up to Lee Child’s description of the military policeman. So when  Amazon decided they wanted to revive the famous character for their own multi-series spanning story they made sure not to make the same mistake. Introducing the imposing figure of Alan Ritchson. 


Richson comes in at a commanding 6ft 3 inches compared to Cruises modest 5ft 7-inch ceiling. And that in itself was enough for critics of the Cruise films to get on board. And for their faith, they were rewarded with a fantastic crime drama. I for one didn’t expect the series to be as brutal as it was. But if you’re going to bring in the big guns you may as well use them. Ritchson’s charming persona behind his granite exterior helps turn Reacher into more than just a walking killing machine. Paired up with the excellent Willa Fitzgerald as local police officer Roscoe the crime-fighting duo’s chemistry is irresistible. What’s so refreshing about reacher (and spoiler another Amazon action series later on this list) is how unfiltered its action is. Too many series and films are scared to be proper explosive action epics in todays cinematic landscape and when you see the quality of Reacher I will never know why that’s the case. 



30) The Afterparty - (Apple TV+)


 

On the back of Knives Out success, everyone seems to be trying to re-create that mouthwatering combination of mystery and comedy. Disney has theirs in Only Murders in the Building, Netflix parted company with the monetary equivalent of a small country's GDP in order to secure the sequel to the aforementioned Knives out. And now Apple has decided they want to get in on the mix with their very own crime-comedy series The Afterparty. 


Following a high school reunion, a number of former classmates take the afterparty to the home of their rich counterpart singer Xavier (Dave Franco) But when tragedy strikes and one of their number turns up dead it’s in the hands of Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) to figure out who the culprit is. What makes The Afterparty so effortlessly enjoyable is its structure. Each episode is dedicated to a particular subject among the group of classmates. They are then able to tell their relocation of the events. Of course, each classmate's recollection is different, especially when it comes to themselves. But the truly unique aspect of this is that each story is told in a different film genre. From animation to action films each suspect picks the medium that best reflects their personality and it makes for hilarious viewing. The overzealous Yasper (Ben Schwartz) and his musical-based episode is a particular standout.



29) From - (Sky/Epix)


 

Let’s start by talking about Lost. A lot of people see the series as marmite…either you love it, or you hate it. I would class myself as resoundingly in the love camp. I think the series is a work of genius and really who cares if they made it up as they went along. They did the same with Breaking Bad and that’s the greatest show of all time. With this in mind it should be no surprise to anyone that the moment I head Harold Perrineau of Lost fame was staring in a brand new series from the producers behind Lost, about a small town in which everyone who enters finds themselves trapped within its boundaries I was resoundingly onboard. And I can say emphatically that the premise did not disappoint. 


This new mystery series - which also boasts a bold new take on vampires - which feels as if it fell out of the mind of horror aficionado Stephen King makes for intoxicating viewing. Created on a small budget the acting can at times leave a little to be desired. But Perrineau’s performance as the towns self appointed sherif Boyd anchors the series with a sense of realism. The plot may be outlandish but the characters imprisonment feels very real. It’s always exciting to unravel these complex worlds and rules created by the showrunners, which is why the series really shines in its early episodes. But whats more impressive is that 



28) Ozark - (Netflix)


 

Two years since that astonishing cliffhanger Ozark returned to Netflix for its fourth and final series. And although the Byrde family's final outing may not have lived up to the loft expectations set by that gut-clenching finale it was still a fantastic ending to one of Netflix's must underrated shows. Very much in the lions den Wendy (Laura Linney) and Marty (Jason Bateman) must navigate an escape from the cartels stranglehold. All while their children, in particular Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) become more embroiled in their criminal exploits. Oh and Ruth (Julia Garner), left grief stricken by the death of her boyfriend Ben (Tom Pelphrey) isn’t going to let his death go unanswered. 


Garner’s performance as the resilient Ruth Langmore has landed her a plethora of praise and awards, which have been fully deserved. She has been the standout for the series first three outings. But in this final chapter it’s Laura Linney who really steals the show. Wendys down-ward spiral into the criminal underworld has been a slow but steady decent. Corrupted by the actions of her husband Wendy has now taken the reigns and gone full late Walter White. Leaving devastation and destruction in her path as she searches for a way out of this now self inflicted horror. Marty, who at this point has lost what remaining vigour he had is treading on eggshells as he attempts to stop his family's life from imploding. The final episode, may not wrap up the previous five years of storytelling in a way we like, or expected. But what it does do is stay true to the show. It’s the perfect ending for Ozark and thats all the show really needed…But seriously whoever came up with that car crash plot-line in the first episode can fuck off. 



27) The Time Traveler's Wife - (Sky/HBO) 


 

I may never forgive HBO for this cancelling this one. From the mind of Steven Moffat and based on the best selling book by Aubrey Niffenegger The Time Traveler's Wife is a story about love. But not any normal concept of love. This is love that transcends time. Has no clear beginning or end and is powerful enough to prove deadly. 


Admittedly it’s best not to dig too far into the structure of the story or you may be left feeling dumfounded. A potential explanation for why the series ratings proved to be such a downer. Ultimately resulting in not just it’s cancellation but also it’s complete removal from HBO’s monstrous US streaming service HBOmax. Nevertheless, and although this series may only cover the first part of its book counterpart I can’t help but sing its praises. The chemistry between its leads Clare (Rose Leslie) and Henry (Theo James) is electric. They bounce of each other perfectly and their affection for each-other is exhilarating. These are two actors who are very much on the top of their game. Peter Menzies cinematography - he also worked as the DP for Die Hard: With a Vengeance…classic - is luscious and at times ethereal as it captures the world building around our protagonists. All in all it’s a beautifully realised adaptation that has been unceremoniously cut short. 



26) For All Mankind - (Apple TV+) 


 

Hot off the back of last years third place finish For All Mankind cemented itself as one of the best Science fiction shows on television. However, it wasn’t all clean sailing as developments within this epic third series left worrying signs for the shows longterm future. Catapulting us ten years into the future since the world almost collapsed in the face of impending nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union we find the world in a much healthier state. Technology has advanced to such a level in this alternate time-line that in the early 1990’s the first space hotels are being opened. Elon would be proud. But in true Musk fashion where there’s fast tracked technological advancement disasters lay wait around the corner. 


With exploration of the moon all but exhausted in this timeline Nasa, Roscosmos and the newly founded private entity Heleos are in a three way race for Mars. And as we have learnt from the shows previous series races almost always end in unforeseen circumstances. For All Mankind may have failed to replicate the blistering consistency of its predecessor. But when it comes to big moments nothing can compare to the grandeur of this space epic. The series finale will hit you like a gut punch. And features an astronaut who as amusingly put by fans online “Is just too angry to die”. My aforementioned worry for the series comes in its second generation cast. With each series wedded to a near decade time jump its inevitable that the core cast who have seen us through up until now will have to depart. After all we can’t realistically have 80 year olds going to space. And the second generation really doesn’t fill me with much hope, they have for the most part - excluding Kelly Baldwin (Cynthy Wu) and Aleida Rosales (Coral Pena) - failed to integrate, with the two Stevens brothers actually prove to be a menace to the show. Seriously Danny Stevens (Casey W. Johnson) really boils my piss. 



25) I Hate Suzie Too - (Sky)


 

Lucy Prebble and Billie Pipers comedy-drama returned for a second shortened series this year. But while the run-time may have been condensed to just three episodes the series didn’t lose any of it’s bite. With an un-wanted pregnancy and a messy divorce looming over her celebrity Suzie Pickles (Billie Piper) is attempting to re-build her career. Let in ruins after the multiple scandals of last series, the media frenzy is showing no signs of slowing down, as Suzie is hounded left and right while trying to compete in the reality TV show ‘Dance Crazee’. 


Piper is one again dazzling in the leading role as she juggles all of Suzies hardships. It’s hard to think of a better role for the former Doctor Who companion. It’s certainly put her back on the map when it comes to British television. For its second outing the series has also picked up a brand new Director in the form of Dawn Shadforth. Still very much a newcomer when it comes to directing TV shows Shadforth’s direction is awe-inspiring. The extraordinary long-takes that are littered within the series - particularly it’s final episode - help to underscore just how oppressive Suzies life has become. Between her narcissistic husband and the intrusive press everything has become overwhelming and Shadforth’s keen eye helps to hammer that point home. 



24) The Bear - (Disney+/FX) 


 

Has a TV show ever left you perspiring? If the answers no you have obviously missed out on exhilarating stress-infused experience of The Bear. After the death of his older brother Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) gives up his career as a Michelin Star chef in order to take over the day to day running of his late brothers flailing sandwich shop. With uncooperative staff and bills out the wazoo Carmy must turn this debt ridden business around or face financial ruin and the desecration of his brothers legacy. 


The series which took an age to arrive in the U.K. after its original US release has garnered a reputation for bring the most stressful show on television. And after sitting down to watch the series it’s no surprise why, the tension was palpable. The Kitchen is an unforgiving work place at the best of times. But an unorganised one is a nightmare and thats where Carmy finds himself. Each episodes presents new challenges for our talented chef but none can reach the magnitude of the problems thrown at him in the heart-pounding penultimate episode. Conceived as a 20 minute one take the episode is enough to make Ned Flanders reach boiling point - Boiling Point funnily enough the name of Stephen Grahams own kitchen nightmare esque film that was also shot in one long take. If The Bear doesn’t leave you reaching for the anti-anxiety pills it will at least have you bellowing YES CHEF the next time you’re in the kitchen. 



23) The Boys - (Amazon) 


 

The most outrageous show returned in explosive fashion as we witnessed what would happen if a man crawled into another mans penis and then expanded back to normal size…yes seriously that happened in the shows opening ten minutes. Despite its best attempts with the Herogasm episode this still remains and probably always will be the most disgusting moment in the shows library of scandalous moments. With the second series big bad Stormfront (Aya Cash) all but banished the time has arrived for Homelander (Anthony Starr) to reclaim his place as the series primary antagonist. 


Antony Starr's performance as the narcissistic sycophant Homelander has so far gone under the radar for awards buzz. But with this third outing as the titular villain he surely must now be the the cusp of major awards contention. The unhinged performance, which can swivel on just the slightest facial expression is magnificent. Starr whose performance has left the evil man-child looking more haggard as the series progresses has began to border on the uncanny valley. There are numerous sequences where his skin looks like rubber as opposed to anything human. I’m not sure how the make-up team are producing this look but it makes Homelander even more menacing as you start to question how human this man actually is. The new addition to The Boys plethora of so called super heroes Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) is a welcome addition to the already stellar cast. His gruff no nonsense veteran may be the first real challenge Homelander has faced. 



22) The Terminal List - (Amazon)


 

As touched upon in my Reacher review Amazon have really treated us when it comes to epic action series this year. And The Terminal List is the pinnacle of that selection. After a routine mission ends in disaster Navy seal officer James Reece (Chris Pratt) is thrown into a world of political conspiracy with life altering results. For along time now I have found myself disenfranchised with the action genre. Since the glory days of the 80’s and 90’s the genre has lost its identity. I’ve always felt that modern takes on the genre have been pulling their punches. That can’t be said for The Terminal list.


As the first episode reaches its conclusion there is an earth shattering twist that left me a-gasp at the boldness of the storytelling. It’s safe to say that the extreme brutality that comes out during certain episodes won’t be for everyone, especially those with a squeamish disposition. But for fans of the genre, especially what it was this is the perfect series. Episode five stand out among the rest as Reece comes up against the foreboding figure of Steve Horn (Jai Courtney) in dramatic fashion. Chris Pratt should really stick to projects like this instead of attempting to put an American spin on Mario. 



21) Slow Horses - (Apple TV+) 


 

Mick Herron’s comedic crime novels may not command the same esteem as his more dramatic counterparts, but what they lack in notoriety they make up for in quality. Working as a spoof against the normally highly stylish spy genre Slow Horses focuses on the misfits of MI5. The agents who through incompetence and moments of madness end up at the in famous Slough House. 


After a routine training exercise goes terribly wrong River Cartwright (Jack Lowden) is shipped off to the desolate Slough House building to see out his time working for MI5 in exile. But once the Slough House team of misfits - lead by the aloof Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman) - find themselves embroiled in a major criminal conspiracy they must work together in order to solve the case. Gary Oldmans jagged Jackson Lamb may be the star of the show with his deadpan line delivery. But the real selling point for the series is the side-splittingly hilarious dialogue conceived by the writing team. Apple obviously know they are onto a gem here. They finalised film of the second series before the first had even aired, and with two more series already confirmed it’s safe to say this won’t be the last time Jackson Lamb and his team of misfits make it onto our list. 



20) The Staircase - (Sky/HBOmax)


 

Originally a famous documentary that found a home on Netflix, this true crime story has been awarded the prestige drama treatment. What’s so compelling about the true-to-life murder that makes up the plot of The Staircase is that to this day no one is quite sure what ultimately happened to Kathleen Peterson (Toni Collette). And this new series by Antonio Campos doesn’t attempt to shy away from that fact. 


Modest crime Novelist Michael Peterson (Colin Firth) has long claimed that he found his wife dying at the bottom of their stairwell having fallen. But is this the truth? The Staircase explores all of the various ways in which Kathleen may have met her end. From a tragic accident to a vicious murder to even the intervention of a feathered foe. The way the series incorporates the documentary team who microscopically investigated the case in real time is inspired. And the twist and turns will leave you stretching your head begging for the answers. The series boasts an illustrious cast. With Michael Stuhlbarg, Sophie Turner, Dane DeHaan and Olivia DeJonge all featuring in support roles alongside the shows main leads, but whats most impressive is the way they re-create the scenarios in which Kathleen may have met her end. This visual representation of how the events may have unfolded bringing new found credulity to even the most outlandish claims made by Petersons defence team. 



19) My Brilliant Friend - (Sky/HBO) 


 

The penultimate series of Elena Ferrantes delightful story arrived this year, and unsurprisingly it arrived in exquisite fashion. Elena Greco (Margherita Mazzucco) has officially escape the solitude of her small town in which she grew up and is now making waves as a young novelist with an exciting new voice. Settled down with her budding academic, but exceptionally dry, husband Pietro (Matteo Cecchi) and their young children everything seems to be ticking along perfectly for Elena. But upon the arrival of her former childhood crush Nino (Matteo Cecchi) and the revived interest in her oldest friend and confidant Lial (Gaia Girace) her life is once again thrown into a tail spin. 


My Brilliant Friend has always struggled to find it’s audience here in the U.K. with the language barrier often bring enough to put of waves of potential viewers. But I simply can’t recommend the series enough. From the glorious Italian setting to the exquisite costumes and production design this is truly HBO at their exuberant best. Both Mazzucco and Girace are still in their late teens/early 20’s so to be able to juggle such complex roles at a young age shows that they both posses and exceptional acting range. From episode to episode they will be thrown new challenges, going from college students to mother’s at the click of a finger. It’s remarkable work and they both deserve all of the plaudits they are receiving. 



18) Euphoria - (Sky/HBO) 


 

The intoxicating drama that rose to fame in 2019 made its long awaited return this year and did so in dramatic, drug-fuled fashion - we should have expected no less. Picking up after those two standalone episodes released in 2020 Rue (Zendaya) has returned home but is struggling to control her addiction. Isolated from Jules (Hunter Schafer) after their fallout she is a walking disaster for most of the series as she further ingrains herself into the dangerous world of narcotics. 


Euphoria is the home for emerging talent and this time around characters who feel by the way side in its debut series are given more space to spread their wings. Lexi (Maude Apatow) and Fezco (Angus Cloud) are given major roles in the series arch this time around, with Lexi’s cumulating in one of the most outlandish school plays ever put to camera. When it’s at its best Euphoria is almost untouchable. The fifth episode in this years series, which deals with the extreme nature of Rues drug clouded recklessness may just be the best hour of television all year. But sadly it’s placing on this list is a reflection of how the series can sometimes become lost within all the clits and glamour of its filmmaking. Sam Levinson should be commended for his construction of this world. But he also needs to realise that he can’t just do everything himself. Currently on a one man writing, directing and producing mission the series is frequently thrown off track while Levinson seemingly explores his own fantasies. His dictatorship is also why former main characters like Kat (Barbie Ferreira) are thrown to the way side in response to the actors much publicised fallout with Levinson. That being said the series is still spectacular. But please Sam open the doors to the writers room before it’s too late. 



17) Pachinko - (Apple TV+) 


 

A sweeping saga of a immigrant family across four generations Pachinko was one of the surprise hits on Apple this year. Appearing from seemingly nowhere the series captivated viewers worldwide with its intensely emotional depiction of generational trauma across the back drop of Japanese Korean relations. Focusing on the Sunja family the story effortless flows from early 1920’s Korea to late 1980’s Japan. The history of Japan and Korea is tragic one. Japan colonised the country in the 1900’s to grow their influence across Asia, with the Korean people treated horrendously by their colonisers. 


But this repulsion held by certain quarters of Japan towards Korea has still yet to dissipate in todays world, with it being rife in the 1980’s. The clash of cultures that amalgamated in many Koreas having to adopt Japanese as their main language is delicately explored in this drama. I have never seen a television show that uses its subtitles to further explore these ideas like Pachinko. Korean and Japanese words are both assigned their own colour scheme for the subtitles. With Korean being in yellow and Japanese being in blue. This suitable devise allows us english speakers to grasp a better understand for the way language is used to both empower and punish people in story. You will often seen entire sentences in Japanese that quickly turn to Korean for dramatic effect. It’s truly inspiring and i hope this is a device that is deployed more frequently in future series. 



16) Barry - (Sky/HBO) 


 

Everyones favourite hit-man turned actor returned in 2022 for his penultimate series. Barry (Bill Hader) has been on a turbulent journey so far and with the series third outing it’s only getting worse for the mild mannered assassin. Trying to leave behind his former life of crime is proving a lot harder than Barry first expected. Particularly due to the efforts of his former handler Fuches (Stephen Root) to draw him back in. 


Barry’s pitch black comedy has always been fantastic at skimming the line between humour and barbarism. But this time around they have got exceptionally close to crossing that line. Barry’s crimes are starting to catch up with him and he’s starting to feel more and more lost within his identity. And although this may make for some heartbreaking moments it also always the filmmakers to be as bold as possible when it comes to the challenges the character faces. Bill Hader while being the main star has also started to spend more and more time behind the camera as the series has progressed. And with this his directing skills have come on leaps and bounds. After directing the stand out bottle episode of last series ronny/lily Hader has now produced one of the best shot action sequences of the year. As Barry becomes embroiled in a city spanning motorbike chase Hader breaks traditional conventions to produce a truly unique chase sequence…with of course hilarious results. After the dramatic ending it’s unclear what fate will befall this trouble anti-hero. But I for one can’t wait to find out. 



15) The English - (BBC/Amazon) 


 

Hugo Blicks awe-inspiring western has breathed new life into the genre. After her life befalls into tragedy Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) makes the perilous journey from England to the wild plains of the United States of America in search of revenge. Her quest for justice, however, isn’t a simple one as she must contend with the very worst villainy that the wild west has to offer. Aided by Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer) a Native American formally drafted into the US army Cornelia endures the harsh landscape to fulfil her mission. 


Arnau Valls Colomer’s gorgeous cinematography alongside Blicks expert level of direction makes The English one of the best looking shows on television this year. The chemistry between Blunt and Spencer is palpable while the selection of foes they face feel straight out of a Tarantino film. Rafe Spall’s David Melmont is a level of immorality I didn’t think the actor possessed. I’m not sure I will be able to watch his clumsy dad in Trying the same again. But the real standout in this series in the score by composure Federico Jusid. From bombastic western action music to melancholy melodies his score is divine in every sense of the word. Just the title sequence score alone is enough to get the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. 



14) Stranger Things - (Netflix) 


 

Although it may have been passed by Wednesday in the overly complex frankly ridiculous Netflix viewer count machine there’s no denying Stranger Things fourth series was the blockbuster television event of the year. With episode lengths ranging from 1 hour 40 minutes all the way to 2 hours 20 minutes the Duffer Brothers penultimate series was epic in every sense of the word. On the cusp of adulthood (I’m sorry but no one is buying these kids are anything but adults now) Hawkins is once again threatened by the monstrous inhabitants of the upside down. But with the gang split up across America - and Russia of course - will they be able to save the town from disaster this time around. 


The most miraculous thing about Stranger Things is how it makes me nostalgic for a time I never lived in. After watching the series I long to travel back to the 80’s before realising my earliest memories are plagued by seeing Terminator Salvation in cinemas instead of the original. That nostalgia buz the series carries is showing no signs of slowing down either. With this years outing leaning into the mass 80’s hysteria around the fabricated links between DND players and the a-cult. With an ever growing cast and showrunners who seem too scared to kill off any of their biggest players it’s becoming more and more impressive how the Duffer Brothers are able to juggle all of the different factions among our heroes. Although this intense juggling may explain the extraordinary episode lengths. 



13) The Dropout - (Disney+/Hulu)


 

2022 really has been the year of the ridiculous billionaires. Between Elon Musks' hilariously tragic purchase of Twitter, Mark Zuckerbergs unfathomably awful - the guy has spent billions to re-make Wii Sports resort BUT WORSE - Metaverse experiment and the plethora of serialised takedowns of tech hacks it’s not been a pretty year for America's would-be supervillains. The Dropout, taking aim at the con-woman Elizabeth Holmes and her fabricated company Theranos was however the jewel in the crown for billionaire takedowns. 


Amanda Seyfried in her now Emmy-winning, career-best, performance as the former Forbes darling Holmes is box office. Seyfried has always had this kind of performance in her locker she was just waiting for the perfect time to release it. For those unaware of the shocking Elisabeth Holmes story, the former Billionaire founded Theranos which promised to change the future of healthcare. But instead ended up costing a lot of rich people an awful lot of money and putting the lives of thousands of innocent people at risk. The word stranger than fiction is thrown around a lot but The Dropout really does live up to this statement. The twists and turns throughout Holmes professional career are at times too ridiculously and outlandish to believe. But believe you should. From her fake voice to her conning of America's formally most savvy business minds. I adore shows like these because not only do they make for dynamite television but they are also extremely important for understanding the world we live in. Con artists are everywhere. Don’t be mistaken by their seemingly virtuous personas.



12) We Own This City - (Sky/HBO)


 

Esteemed showrunner David Simon returned to Baltimore this year with his new limited series We Own This City. The Wire creator is no stranger to the world of police corruption and drugs. The aforementioned series he expertly explored the consequences of the War on Drugs against the backdrop of his home city. But this this new venture into the criminal underbelly of one of Americas most dangerous city’s he is tackling a real life case of organised police corruption. 


Telling the story of the dramatic rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Departments Gun Trade Task Force Simon peels back the curtain to further reveal how police in America play the system to both enhance their careers and line their pockets doing it. Police corruption should be no surprise by now. It’s wildly publicised and rampant in the American justice system. But that doesn’t stop you being shocked when actually confronted with it. The levels the officers will go too for money and power is astonishing. Jon Bernthal is riveting as the lead conspirator Wayne Jenkins, but as if any of Simons work the entire cast hold their own. When the teetering house of cards finally does come crashing down the cops turned criminals aren’t filled with the regret, instead they are indifferent to the crimes they have committed. As the late great Michael Kenneth put it perfectly in The Wire “The game is the game”. 



11) Archive 81 - (Netflix) 


 

Archive 81 proved to be Netflix’s surprise hit of the year. Which makes it even more jarring that the infuriating streamer decided to axe the show after just one series. Between the unceremonious cancellation and the mind-bending final scene Archive 81 mirrors the fate be-throned to The OA. A series to richly conceived for Netflix to understand. When he’s hired to restore a collection of video tapes curious archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) is transported into the mysterious world of the Visser apartments and the cult that wondered its corridors. 


This is atmospheric television at its best. Between the brooding sense of dread that lingers within the shows creepy early 2000’s setting to the futuristic compound Dan must traverse in order to restore the video tapes Archive 81 is truly exceptional. Dina Shihabi who plays Melody the director behind the janky 2000’s video tapes is exceptional in the role. Her exploration of the Visser apartments makes for riveting and terrifying viewing as she get’s closer to uncovering the insidious intensions of the cult. Netflix has long had a reputation for cancelling shows well before their natural end. This year has been no different with countless fan favourites being unceremoniously hurled onto the streaming fire. They can explain away their actions but it’s unclear how the streaming behemoth expects to survive in this crowded world if they intend to continue this business model. You can only cancel so many shows before viewers decide to stop coming back. 



10) House of the Dragon - (Sky/HBO)


 

How many of us are ready to get hurt again? Well as the viewing figures for House of the Dragons opening series show almost all of us. Game of Thrones may have ended in disgrace but the simple fact is the critically acclaimed series was and always will be the biggest television phenomenon of all time. Never has a series grasped the worlds attention like House of the Dragons bigger brother. But does this Targaryen based prequel live up to the hype? It’s a resounding yes. 


And it should be no surprise. With George R.R. Martin back at the helm his illustrious pantheon of characters are once again producing captivating television. Airing weekly the series quickly became appointment viewing for many around the world. With each eosidoe further exploring the rich history of the Targaryn Dynasty. And while it may not have always been as globetrotting as its predecessor House of the Dragon understands what made so many people fall in love with Game of Thrones in the first place. It’s rich and complex characters. Emma D’Arcy and Milly Alcock shone as different incarnations of Rhaenyra Targaryen with the formed becoming famous for their pronouncing of the word negroni. Matt Smith is also in fine form as the creepy uncle with a taste for incest Daemon. But the real MVP for the series - apart from its many many dragons - is the ailing King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine). Considine produces a memorable performance as the apathetic king. One that is sure to leave the well traveled character actor besieged with awards nominations. 



9) This is Going to Hurt - (BBC) 


 

Ben Whishaw may most well know for his role as the titular bear in Paddington but 2022 saw him taken on a very different role as the real life NHS doctor Adam Kay. The pitch black comedy series explores the outrageous work load forced upon workers in the NHS and the eventual disconnect this can breed between doctors and patients. 


Although it may veer on the comedic side for the most part This is Going to Hurt has no qualms when it comes to showcasing the honest truth of working in the NHS. From dwindling supplies, unruly patients and collapsing hospitals this is an unfiltered view into a world this countries government would rather keep hidden. Whishaw is fantastic in what may end up being his magnum-opus, although good luck getting Paddington out of your head when he’s rushing around the hospital in frantic manor. With HNS workers currently striking for better pay this is the a must watch for anyone doubters towards their cause. The unsustainable turnover of nurses is addressed in the series in heart breaking fashion and will leave you wondering how have we allowed the government of let the NHS fall into such a state of disrepair. 



8) Hacks - (Amazon/HBOmax)


 

Jean Smart has really found a home for herself at HBO. After starting in a support role in two of the best series of 2019 and 2021 respectfully (Watchmen and Mare of Easttown) she has finally be awarded the lead in her very own comedy series. Playing the role of legendary comedian Deborah Vance, who after finding herself trapped in a repetitive career cycle calls for the help of the formerly cancelled young comedy writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder). The pairing are polar opposites, with Ava struggling to adapt to the luxurious lifestyle Vances career has afforded her. 


An Emmy darling it took an age for Hacks to arrive on our shores. First released in May last year by the time the first series arrived the second was already on the way. But I wasn’t complaining, so is the quality of this comedy series. If you know me well you’ll know out and out comedies don’t usually jive with me. But I absolutely loved this one. Jean Smart is a real master of her craft, while Hannah Einbinder is an exciting new voice in the world of television. With a perfect finale to the shows second series. I can't help but feel the renewal by HBOmax may not be the smartest move. But I won’t complain too much as anymore time we get to spend with this dynamic duo will be well worth the admission. 



7) Andor - (Disney+)


 

Star Wars love a prequel, sadly not many of the Star Wars fanbase feel the same way. Then along came Andor. The origin story for one of Rouge Ones major players Andor explores how its namesake Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) joined the rebellion against the Empire. The Empire has never been examined to this degree before. The galaxy wide fascism employed by their rule is dissected and laid bear in a way Star Wars has never done before. Andor isn’t an easy watch as it explores how civilisations can fall under the spell of fascism and the dangerous this presents for ordinary citizens. Whereas the Disney Star Wars shows have so far always looked a little cheap in production values, Andor’s visuals are awe-inspiring. From gargantuan futuristic prison complexes to extravagant space battles the series has everything. 


On multiple occasions during Andors epic twelve episode run I had to pause the television to make sure what I was watching was actually Star Wars. Seriously where has this show come from. The Disney Star Wars universe was in a state of disarray after the disastrous Obi-Wan series and yet they have ended the year in the strongest position they have ever been in. Andor has reinvigorated an entire franchise and for that Disney should award Tony Gilroy and his team all the money in the world. Since Disney took purchased Lucas Film the question has always been what if they decided to make a Star Wars show for adults - after all the original films following will now all be adults. With Andor they have their answer, it would mean the best Star Wars media since The Empire Strikes Back. 



6) Station Eleven - (Lionsgate+/HBOmax)


 

A limited series about a worldwide pandemic that forever changes the landscape of the world. Is this really what we need in 2022 I hear you asking. Well, the answer is yes, absolutely yes! Based on the post-apocalyptic book by Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven arrived at the very start of the year and has been on my mind throughout it. 


There hasn’t been a more spiritual or beautifully emotional show all year. I can’t recall the number of times the show had a tear rolling down my cheek, all I do remember is that my eyes were red and sore once it ended. Station Eleven is unlike any other post-apocalyptic show that has come before it. Whereas the genre normally focuses on the barbaric nature of what we believe would happen if the world as we know it collapsed the limited series chooses to take a different approach. Instead focusing on the hope that is born from tragedy. Split over multiple timelines we get to explore the different stages of humanity post-apocalypse, including the famous travelling orchestra that traverses the new world spreading joy to the small communities that inhabit it. Of course, there is still heartache throughout the series and the loveable characters mean it can be excruciating, but it’s how this heartache is resolved that makes the show so special. Himesh Patel who started his career as Tamwar in EastEnders is a revelation in the role of Jeevan Chaudhary. Deservedly being acknowledged with an Emmy nomination for his efforts. Matilda Lawler is also magnificent as the young Kirsten Raymonde in one of the best child performances of the year. A final mention to Dan Romer's atmospheric score, which I simply can't spot listening to. 



5) Bad Sisters - (Apple TV+) 


 

The word-of-mouth event of the year, or at least my mouth as I've been telling everyone who will listen to watch Sharon Horgan's phenomenal dark comedy, Bad Sisters has been a triumph for Apple and further cemented its standing as the most exciting home for new and ambitious television. The series follows the Garvey sisters and their frequent tumultuous attempts to murder their absolutely loathsome, evil, endlessly punchable brother-in-law John Paul (Claes Bang). 


It’s quickly revealed in the first episode that someone has been successful in snuffing out maybe the most annoying character in TV history - honestly What Claes Bang has done with this character deserves so many plaudits, he has managed to transform into a man who makes Joffery seem like a good time in comparison - but who has done the world the favour? Well, that's the mystery and a mystery that is played out perfectly for the entire ten-episode run. Each sister has their own motive, as should everyone in their small Irish town, based on the ever-growing insidious actions of John Paul. Every member of the Garvey family is also perfectly cast. With Eve Hewson, Sarah Greene, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle and the aforementioned showrunner Sharon Horgan breathing life into each of their characters. The sisterly dynamics between them are perfectly realised. Splitting the show into two separate timelines, one taking place before John Paul's murder and one after could have been a mistake but ultimately it’s what has made the show so memorable. Each timeline presents its own challenges for the sisters and perfectly splits each episode half being dedicated to the murder plot and half to the attempts to cover up the prick's death. Oh and keep an eye out for the stellar opening title sequence and song. Apple take all my money! 



4) Shining Girls - (Apple TV+) 


 

Can 2023 be the year that someone gives Elisabeth Moss a break? Between her never-ending lead role in The Handmaid's Tale, being terrorised in the film The Invisible Man and now Apples Shining Girls I don’t know hows she's still going. Maybe a nice frothy comedy for 2023? Or maybe not. Because the reality is Moss excels in these tough roles. Shining Girls sees Moss taking on the role of Kirby, a survivor of a brutal attempted murder by Jamie Bells' slimy serial killer Harper. 


A prolific killer of women Harper always seems to be one step ahead of his victims, sometimes so far ahead it leaves them questioning the very fabric of their reality. Kirby after learning of his most recent murder decides to track Harper down alongside Investigative reporter Dan (Wagner Moura) in order to end his rampage. It’s difficult to explain what makes Katrina Albright and Silk Luisa's show based on the hit novel by Australian author Lauren Beukes so engrossing without crossing into the land of spoilers. The often bewildering narrative may be a turn-off for some viewers, but this is a series that rewards those who are willing to sit back and wait to understand what's really going on. With gorgeous cinematography that leans into the works of David Fincher Shining Girls was always going to win me over. But I never expected it to be as compelling as it is. It’s difficult to bring anything original to the serial killer genre today - Ryan Murphy learnt that the hard way, although sadly, and testament to today's viewing standards Dahmer has gained a much larger audience than this masterpiece - but Shining Girls is just that. Authentically original to its core. 



3) Severance - (Apple TV+) 




Apple's astounding year peaked with the release of Severance. A mind-bending - pun intended - Science Fiction series in which people's minds are split in two. One exists purely in the dystopian basement workplace of Lumon and the other takes charge outside of the underground office. The split personalities who share none of each other's memories are amusingly nicknamed Innies and Outties. But for the most part that is where the humour ends - obligatory waffle parties and deranged dancing sessions aside of course - because this is an extremely dark show, that deals with themes of suicide, depression and deep-lying trauma. 


It’s refreshing to see such an emotionally complex Science Fiction show. Often the genre can be plagued by overly complex plots that forget about the characters that inhabit those plots, cough Westworld series 4 cough. But with Big Screen icon turned formidable director Ben Stiller and newcomer Dan Erickson helming the show it never falls into this trope. The star-studded cast (Adam Scott, John Turturro, Patricia Arquette and Christopher Walken to name a few) is fantastic but it’s the latest member of the Lumon team Britt Lower who really steals the show as Helly. A character whose constant attempts to escape the hell of none-stop work repeatedly result in increasingly dire consequences. Apple has really flourished this year when it comes to both allowing creators complete freedom with their shows, with seemingly no fear of cancellation, and mastering the act of breathtaking series finales. The final episode of Severance series one is a tension-ridden rollercoaster ride of emotion, you’d struggle to find a better episode of television all year - outside of our number one pick that is. And for that reason alone I can’t wait for the show's second series. 



2) The White Lotus - (Sky/HBO) 


 

Mike White you little star you have done it again. Returning to the luxury of The White Lotus resort we are this time transported to gorgeous Sicily. A brand new clamouring of rich and entitled guests are about to embark on journeys of personal exploration during their week stay at the resort. But once again their trip is shrouded by an impending murder or murders…


If one good thing came out of lockdown it was the creation of this gem of a series. Mike White was tasked with creating a show that could be filmed in the claustrophobic world of lockdown bubbles. He never really expected the show to take on such a life of its own after the pandemic, but here we. White’s ability to write compelling complex characters is second to none. And with The White Lotus sophomore series he has outdone himself. The guest this time around include the illustrious Aubrey Plaza as the unsettled wife Harper to Will Sharpes newly crowned millionaire Ethan, Sopranos royalty Michael Imperioli as unfaithful sex-addict Dominic on holiday with his father and son and let’s not forget the returning etherial queen Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya. Coolidge has been enjoying a renaissance period in her career and with her latest outing as Tanya has entered herself into meme infamy. I mean if you haven’t seen the phrase “Please, these gay’s they're trying to murder me” where have you been hiding? You clearly haven’t been looking at our POD card selection. Away from Coolidge, who will undoubtedly win her second Emmy for the show, rising star Meghann Fahy has really stood out as the MVP of series two. Her character Daphne’s commanding presence is exquisitely realised bu Fahy, while her acting in the final episode takes the series to a whole other level. 



1) Better Call Saul - (Netflix/AMC) 


 

Was it ever really in doubt? Well, actually yes it was. Better Call Saul has always been a show renowned for its slow pacing, often taking multiple episodes to explore plot lines that would be glossed over by other shows, and that's what has made it so special. But with the first part of Better Call Sauls's final series, they took slow pacing to another level. A level that left me and many other loyal viewers a little worried that they may be stalling for time. Had the illustrious pairing of Gould and Gilligan finally succumbed to their daring “playing it by ear” style of writing? 


The question was quickly answered with the phenomenal mid-series finale. A shocking finale that catapulted the show into a whole new class of television. What followed next was simply astonishing, episode after episode that can only be defined as pure perfection right up to the final hour. Turning a prequel that had no right being good, about a character whose appearances in Breaking Bad were for simple comedic relief, into one of the all-time small screen greats is unprecedented. Between them, Gilligan and Gould have created the most extraordinary cinematic world of all time. The Breaking Bad-Better Call Saul universe is home to so many complex, brilliantly written, and endlessly watchable characters. It is with a heavy heart that after 14 years we have to say goodbye to them. From Bob Odenkirk's hilarious and soulful performance as Jimmy to Rhea Seehorns's career-defining role as Kim Wexler. Nothing sums up the brilliance of creators Gilligan and Gould more than the idea that in the first series they didn’t have a plan for what Kim would become. She ended up becoming one of the most Iconic characters in TV history. With the end of Better Call Saul and the greater Breaking Bad Universe, the golden era of television may finally be over. 

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