best tv shows of 2022
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The Best TV Shows of 2022 (That You May Have Overlooked)

The White Lotus, House of the Dragon, and Stranger Things picked up the hype, but there are more best TV shows to tick off before the new year.

It’s become nearly perfunctory to say, “this year has been a great one for televised program”. For generations now, television has been the primary medium for delivering premium visual narratives, with audience appetites for bigger, badder, and bolder stories growing as intensely as producers’ budgets and streaming service wars. In line with great expectations, 2022’s television delivered across genres, continuing the decade-long “golden age of TV” and giving us FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) with a relentless oversupply of stellar or, at the very minimum, compelling stories worth one’s time. 

As Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Disney+ crank budgets up to billions to entertain the cultured beast, it becomes all but impossible to name the biggest shows of the year alone from memory. The magnificent third season of Barry, the premieres of over-the-top-epics The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon, and the spectacular final season of Better Call Saul all aired in a matter of months. Then there is the terrific fourth season of Stranger Things, Andor’s somewhat unexpected critical success, the mystery and dread of Severance, or the mayhem (and the insane viewership) of the ethically dubious Dahmer. Not to mention that no sooner did the screw loose sophomore season of The White Lotus wrap up that Twitter was revving up the engines for the premiere of Wednesday.

What about the sophomore season of Euphoria, or the inaugural season of The Sandman, both of which were ranked among the ten most popular shows on IMDB? Virtually one week after another, we get torrents of turns ambitious and expensive content, of which the better part is well worth mulling over. No wonder dozens of great shows get slightly overlooked by the general public at any given point; after all, there’s only so much time to watch anything, with trending hashtags offering both the convenience of quick choice and the comfort of proven public interest.  

Nevertheless, with the cozy season in full swing, we are here to point to some of the finest television of 2022 that you may have missed. So dim the lights, prepare your favorite holiday beverages, and get ready for some more stellar shows to cherish this season and beyond.

The Responder

(BBC One)
US: Prime Video

BBC’s somewhat unlikely smash hit about a Liverpudlian beat cop(per) coming apart at the seams at work and home instantly proved to be six hours of the best television we could have hoped for on the other side of the pond. Written by a former Merseyside police officer, Tony Schumacher, who spent 11 years on night patrol in Liverpool before breaking down and quitting the force, and starring an utterly spectacular Martin Freeman (actually a southern Englander by native accent), The Responder‘s goes straight for the jugular by ringing a bit too true to life. The first episode pulled in a massive viewership of 7.6 million, stellar results for a UK audience.

Across nary a couple of days, we witness overwhelmed men on duty, ethically dubious professional feuds, pervasive criminal activity, and a community mucked up by a general lack of fairness and opportunity. In the midst of the existential conundrum is police officer Chris Carson (Freeman), whom we tail as he navigates a thankless, dead-end job, a marriage devoid of happiness, therapy sessions going nowhere, and his ailing mother in a nursing home. Set against a dreary backdrop of the poverty and dejectedness of everyday life in Liverpool, The Responder is a sordid tale of a decent man drowning in an indecent world, made wholly absorbing by the raw candor with which life’s destitute pageant is portrayed. 

If the above sounds too depressing for a holiday viewing, worry not – this is a thoroughly English affair, with side-splitting humor and offbeat vignettes guaranteed to leave you cackling. At one point, the coppers pull over a drunk vicar named – Liam Neeson. The time to catch up on this viewing is now because BBC renewed the series for a second season, hopefully coming out in 2023.

This Is Going to Hurt

(BBC One / AMC)

While we’re still at based-on-real-life British drama, This is Going to Hurt is a miniseries to both leave you convulsing with laughter and break your heart. Based on the memoir of a former medical doctor Adam Kay, it is an all-too-true story of young medical professionals fighting perpetual exhaustion and lack of resources while struggling to keep their hospitals afloat – and their patients alive. The television Adam, played with wonderfully English humane cynicism by Ben Wishaw, is a respectable gynecologist working with the National Health Service in London. Still, his life is respectable in name only; dilapidated hospitals, meager pay, and a continuous shortage of staff and resources leading to never-ending shifts and destroyed personal lives are all the hallmarks of the lives of doctors and medical staff worldwide. 

At turns hilarious and deeply distressing, Kay’s honest portrayal of the sacrifices doctors make in a society uninterested in the well-being of people does these unsung heroes justice while raising pertinent questions about the quality of the treatment people receive when they are most vulnerable and in jeopardy. Sure, European countries make healthcare a human right (as it should be), but the situation is anything but rosy. As This Is Going to Hurt‘s narrator, Wishaw’s Adam is grossly dejected and jittery, unceasingly breaking the fourth wall to cuss about his bosses, colleagues, friends, and even patients, but he is also earnestly human, if not exactly affable. The seven-part series will take you on a rollercoaster of grief and optimism. We hope the politicians in power everywhere have seen it already.

Little Women


One of the most intriguing Korean dramas of 2022, only very loosely based on Louisa May Alcott’s seminal novel, is bound to entice lovers of intrigue and mystery with a biting feminist twist. Written by Jeong Seo-kyung, a frequent collaborator of Park Chan-wook, with whom she made such gems as Lady Vengeance (2005), The Handmaiden (2016), and, most recently, The Decision to Leave (2022), Little Women is a novel glance at the fate of women caught up in the horrors of a caste system. Jeong, one of the most celebrated contemporary Korean screenwriters, misses no opportunity to draw attention to women’s challenges in a segregated, oppressive society. 

 Starring a superb all-around cast, lead by Kim Go-eun, Wi Ha-joon, Nam Ji-hyun, and Park Ji-hoo as the impoverished Oh sisters, Little Women swerves from start to finish in twists and turns. Rucksacks full of cash, dead bodies, secret societies, and a mysterious rare orchid popping up in unexpected places, directed to perfection by Kim Hee-won, will all keep you glued to your seat while never losing sight of the real source of tension – the undeserved, horrendous privilege of the rich who exploit the poor. 

The Bear


What happens when a young chef known for fine dining comes back to his hometown of Chicago to run his family’s Italian Beef sandwich shop after the suicide of his elder brother is the stuff of Anthony Bourdain’s stories. Thanks to the deft vision of Christopher Storer, who previously directed Bo Burnham, Ramy, and Dickinson, the chronicles of The Bear‘s culinary underbelly transcend genres and keep you wanting more. Starring Jeremy Allen White as a perpetually stressed, overworked chef Carmy Berzatto, who is forced to balance the grief for his brother with a borderline insane work environment, it’s a gritty tale of the intensity of work in the food service that pulls no stabbings (go figure). The tension between a James Beard Award-winning maestro and his gang of profane, stubborn staff is fervent, with the brilliant ensemble bringing these quirky, often aggressive characters to a richly imagined life. 

On top of everything, there is the absolute masterpiece of The Bear‘s soundtrack, featuring mostly 1980s-2000s (indie) rock classics; cue Radiohead, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and much more. The show was renewed for a second season last July. 



While not exactly a low-key show in any respect, this outstanding limited series based on Slate Plus’ podcast Slow Burn was released in April, meaning Gaslit had to vie for the viewers’ attention with the somewhat delayed hype of Severance and The Dropout, along with the relentless focus on the third season of Barry and the sixth season of Better Call Saul. In case it slipped under your radar, this intense political thriller about the Watergate scandal seen through the eyes of Martha Mitchell (a reliably excellent Julia Roberts), the wife of Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell (an unrecognizable and equally excellent Sean Penn). 

Combining, as so many dramas nowadays do, hilarious satire with disconcerting societal insights, the eight episodes deftly steer us through the real-life horror motormouth socialite Martha endured after finding out her conniving spouse had been planning to spy on the POTUS. Despite her ties to the Republican Party, Mitchell was the first to publicly implicate Nixon in the Watergate scandal, suffering immense consequences for speaking the truth and standing up to the male-only establishment. While Penn and Roberts command admiration with nuanced performances of a troubled couple, Dan Stevens and Shea Wigham steal the show as opportunistic Junior Counsel John Dean and deranged Gordon Liddy. It is a shame these actors have not received more nods in the current awards season.

The Tourist

(BBC One / Stan)

Another rare gem that impressed in its ability to weld hilarious vignettes with at times shocking and disturbing content, The Tourist, a thoroughly off-kilter thriller, takes us all the way Down Under, though we’re not exactly sure what we’re doing there. Jamie Dornan excels in a greatly subdued performance as a Northern Irish amnesiac suddenly waking up in an Australian hospital with long-term memory loss. Across six slow-burning yet tense episodes, we are taken on a tour of the Australian outskirts as The Man and an ever-growing palette of quirky sidekicks try to puzzle together the mystery of him being there – all while evading mysterious men trying to kill him. 

While the deliberately slow pacing and savoring of short side stories floating independently of the grand narrative aren’t to everyone’s liking, the overall result is tremendous. Though The Tourist‘s main story is wrapped up neatly by the end, BBC announced in March already that the show will be back for a second season.

Slow Horses, Season 1 (and 2!)

(Apple TV+) 

Yet another thriller, this time of more conventional ilk, but hear me out. Slow Horses has tightly-woven mystery, and institutional scheming. It has Jack Lowden, Olivia Cooke, Jonathan Pryce, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Gary Oldman. Based on the Slough House series of novels by Mick Herron, a rather run-of-the-mill spy plot follows a rather unusual squad of characters. Oldman is his usual astonishing self as the sardonic, self-deprecating drunkard Jackson Lamb, the head of MI5’s division reserved for “failed” agents. Looked down upon by his HQ peers and mostly resented or pitied by his subordinates, Lamb is a sardonic, bitter contrarian whose hilariously poisonous remarks clumsily hide a heart of gold. He also happens to be a damn fine intelligence officer whose insights will resolve the issues overlooked – or even concocted – by the MI5 stars.  

While Slow Horses’ story brings little new to the spy genre, the plotting is tight, the dialogues are exquisitely written, and the cast is uniformly superb. Lowden has his breakout role here as the insubordinate but smart River Cartwright, Lamb’s lickety-split sidekick, while Jonathan Pryce perfectly offsets him as his wise, steady grandfather, himself an experienced former agent. The first and the second seasons have been released this year (the second season’s finale will air on 30 December); the addictive quality has been evident from the get-go, and the series has been renewed for a third and fourth season last June.


(Movistar +)
US: none yet

Now for something completely different. Offworld (Spanish Apagón) is a speculative fiction tale imagining a world dealing with the aftermath of a global blackout caused by a solar flair. Through five standalone episodes, created by Fran Araújo and helmed by five of the most prominent Spanish directors (Alberto Rodríguez, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Raúl Arévalo, Isa Campo,  and Isaki Lacuesta), we encounter diverse characters struggling to keep afloat or even survive without electricity, often losing the most basic means of sustenance. Based on the popular post-apocalyptic podcast El gran apagón, Offworld stands out from much dystopian fiction insofar as it portrays a wholly possible, almost mundane situation that requires no uprooting of society.  

The show had a successful premiere in September at the 70th San Sebastián International Film Festival and has already swept the local awards circuit. Hopefully, it will serve as an excellent example of the enormous potential of continental television, which has, until recently, mostly lacked the budget and scope of American and UK television. 

We Own This City


For the many who remember possibly the first truly great, not to mention bleak, police drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, and the many more who still herald The Wire as one of televisions’s greatest shows, We Own This City will prove to be a toxic treat like no other. Developed and written by George Pelecanos and David Simon, the latter of whom wrote the nonfiction book that inspired Homicide and who created and ran The Wire during all five seasons of the show, We Own This City is another devastating insight into the machinations of Baltimore police. Ubiquitous corruption coupled with task force brutality toward people of color and the perpetual balancing acts of politicians trying to boost their election chances, make this miniseries a worthy complement to The Wire in a post-Black Lives Matter era. 

Jon Bernthal gives one of the year’s best performances as the problematic Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, the chief figure of the Gun Trace Task Force. His team’s tribulations, coupled with the deeply-rooted imperative of the politicians to do exactly nothing to change the status quo, are a stomach-churning watch. Nevertheless, it’s another essential viewing and a sobering reminder that not much has changed in the past 40 years. At least not for the better.

The Boys, Season 3

(Amazon Prime)

Yes, it was the first non-Netflix series to crack the Nielsen Top 10 weekly for streaming in the US, and it’s quite likely the most memed show of the year (thanks to Antony Starr’s otherworldly, uproarious facial expressions), but even after three solid seasons, Amazon Prime’s The Boys is still just shy of the spotlight it deserves. With the first two seasons serving as buildup for the satirical mayhem that exploded in the first 15 minutes of season three, the latest episodes of the “never meet your heroes” series proved to be even more visceral and scathing than the first two batches. 

With the stakes in the battle between morally bankrupt superheroes (“Supes”) and a small team of rogue officers of the law, civilians and supes with a conscience (“The Boys”, though there are a couple of women in the group, too) growing ever higher, the vast majority of those on both sides reveal themselves as despicable and self-serving. This petty bickering and clumsy scheming make for an unmissable viewing, not to mention another extraordinary turn by Starr as the demonic yet magnetic Homelander.