Intro: Best TV Shows of 2022 So Far
We’re more than halfway through the year at the time of publication, so I thought it would be best to include my ranking for the best tv shows of 2022 so far.
There are still a number of highly anticipated series coming up later this year, including House of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. We’ll see how these shake-up my 2022 rankings come December.
I’ll also admit that I have not managed to watch everything on my list so far this year. Thus, if a show is missing from my ranking (I’m looking at you, Our Flag Means Death), it could be because I have not watched it in its entirety.
Here are my top seven shows of 2022.
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7. The First Lady (Showtime)
There was a lot of buzz around this show before it aired. Some positive and some… not so much. The series follows the lives of three First Ladies of the United States: Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Michelle Obama (Viola Davis).
As someone who read Michelle Obama's Becoming from cover to cover, I had high hopes for the show. The final product wasn’t exactly what I hoped. The overall quality was uneven and the split between three stories in each episode didn't give the narratives enough room to breath.
Despite that, the show has some strong performances, particularly from Pfeiffer. Come awards season, it would be an absolute breach of justice should she not get an Emmy nomination for playing Betty Ford.
6. The Dropout (Hulu)
A recent television trend has been to give controversial figures in business the limited series treatment. Apple TV+ had WeWork, Showtime had Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber. And Hulu (or Disney+/Star if you’re outside the U.S.) had The Dropout.
The Dropout stands out from the pack with a brilliantly crafted story that unravels like a crime novel.
The show is about Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of a health tech company that was later convicted of criminal fraud. Amanda Seyfried plays Holmes, in a role that highlights how far she has come since playing the ditzy sidekick in Mean Girls.
For anyone that listened to any of the assorted podcasts and documentaries about Holmes, the show may seem anticlimactic. Which is a shame, because on its own the show holds up as a gold standard for limited series based on true events.
5. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+)
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, there was much backlash against the Star Wars prequels. Critics hated them. Long-time Star Wars fans felt like they weren’t real Star Wars films (sound familiar?).
Now thanks to years of Star Wars spin-offs, including the beloved animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the prequels have seen a bit of a renaissance. These added materials provide extra depth and context to the prequel stories. That helps explain why so many fans now want to see familiar characters from those movies on screen again.
Enter Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ewan McGregor returns in the title role he played for all three Star Wars prequels. The show provides a bridge between the prequel trilogy and the original films. This sheds new light on the conflict between Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
People who haven’t seen all the Star Wars films may feel lost diving into the show. But for long-term Star Wars fans like myself, this show was a real treat. Plus it has one of the best portrayals of the menacing Lord Vader on screen in any Star Wars media.
4. Stranger Things (Netflix)
The gang from Hawkins, Indiana is back again. They’re entering the Upside Down. They’re running up that hill. And they are fighting evil forces.
It’s hard to think of another show shy of Game of Thrones that has created such as cultural frenzy. The fourth installment broke records and for a brief period, even broke Netflix itself.
The Duffer Brothers are creative geniuses, even if their work is largely derivative. Many shows lose steam after the second or third season, but they have proven that Stranger Things can carry itself beyond that timeframe.
Stranger Things 4 has a very large cast of characters and long run-times for its episodes. There’s a lot of story to tell here, and at times it can feel a bit bloated. With that said, this season was spectacular.
The show managed to raise the stakes even further and provide new backstory to the Stranger Things mythology. As for me, I’ve already marked my calendar for the final installment in 2024.
3. Yellowjackets (Showtime)
(This show premiered at the end of 2021, but I'm including it here because it was so damn good.)
Rewind to the mid-2000s and you’d find me glued to the TV, completing infatuated with the show Lost. There was something about the survival genre mixed with a sci-fi mystery that captivated me. Not since then have I seen a show about survival in the wild that was as much of a thrill as Yellowjackets.
The series follows a girl’s soccer team whose plane crash-lands in the wilderness in the ‘90s. Yellowjackets explores two timelines: when they were teenagers in the wild and as present-day adults adjusting to normal lives decades after their rescue. The show drops a bombshell in the pilot episode that the characters delved into some dark activities while in the woods.
This unique story structure shows you a point A and a point B, and then drops breadcrumbs about what happened in-between. Unlocking the mystery is part of the fun. I’ve enjoyed keeping up with fan theories online and trying to guess what happened.
Future seasons will show if the answers to these mysteries will be as satisfying as the premise.
When it comes to LGBTQ+ media, there’s no shortage of R-rated independent dramas.
That isn’t to say movies like Brokeback Mountain or Moonlight aren’t fantastic- they are! What’s missing, though, is a space for something lighter, wholesome, and appropriate for younger audiences.
That’s what makes Heartstopper so necessary. It’s a teen comedy-drama series that tackles some tough subject matter (bullying, homophobia, toxic exes) but does it in a way that’s complimented by a story of innocent teenage crushes.
It’s a romantic story, but a romantic story that’s more about the butterflies-in-your-stomach feelings a young gay kid gets around cute boys than anything explicitly sexual. The show is fun, adorable, and will perhaps make you cry tears of joy by the end.
As a gay man, I’m so glad that younger generations of queer folks will get stories like Heartstopper. The show is an utter delight and I hope it’s one of many more to come.
1. Severance (Apple TV+)
Blame it on the marketing, but I had zero excitement for Severance when I first heard about it. All I knew was that it was a sci-fi series that had something to do with work-life balance. Only after hearing some positive word-of-mouth did I check it out, and I’m so glad I did.
I was hooked in from the first moments of the first episode and intrigued by all parts of the Severance mythology. The show is about a corporation with a technology that can “sever” parts of their workers brains. The employees never remember what happened at work when they go home.
On the flip side, their work persona do not remember anything about what happens outside of the office or even who they are. They feel trapped in a world they didn’t choose and try to unravel the mystery of how they got there and how to get out.
Severance is a sleek and stylistic psychological thriller about a workplace dystopia. It takes some of the best elements of shows like Black Mirror and blends it with the visual flair you only find in a production from cinematic greats like Wes Anderson or Stanley Kubrick.
Finally Apple’s streaming service has a show that can be to the drama category what Ted Lasso was to comedy. Severance is the best drama series of 2022 and a must-watch.
Final Thoughts: Best TV Shows of 2022 So Far
What are your thoughts about my list? Did you like it? Hate it? Let me know in the comment section below!