Television of the Year 2022

Bad Sisters

Bad Sisters. Apple TV.

Bad Sisters just might be the the most under appreciated show of 2022. It packs a hilarious punch with its cast of five sisters and a truly thrilling murder mystery whodunnit. It also paired very well with The Banshees of Inisherin to close out the year, two deeply funny but heartfelt stories set in Ireland. Bad Sisters’ biggest star is Eve Hewson, who long time tv watchers will remember for breaking out in The Knick nearly a decade ago. All things considered, Bad Sisters was among the most purely entertaining watches of the year, and one whose excitement episode to episode was practically unmatched. Despite its story coming to a full resolution, it was great to hear Apple has renewed it for a second season. We cannot wait to hangout with our Irish sisters some more. — Tyler Harford

The Bear

The Bear. FX.

Over the summer FX put out The Bear, which quickly became a sensation and the surprise hit of the year. Clocking in under 4 hours in total, the brisk and compelling series was just what its customers ordered. The series, which follows an Italian beef restaurant and its workers on the north side of Chicago, gained virtually unanimous acclaim both for its representation of the city in a very dedicated and stylized manor, as well as the life of a restaurant worker and the chaotic experience behind the scenes. Jeremy Allen White, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Ayo Edibiri almost immediately became household names, and the series was swiftly picked up for a second season. A return to the kitchen cannot come soon enough. — Tyler Harford

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul. AMC.

In its final season, the stakes were high for Better Call Saul to deliver a satisfying conclusion, and one that would adequately level itself against its predecessor, Breaking Bad. The season not only was able to end in a graceful way for viewers who had been living in this New Mexico universe for over a decade, but it was able to do so in unprecedented fashion. By splitting the season in two distinct halves for AMC, the show was actually able to bake in storytelling that made this make sense. in the first half of the season we saw the pre-Breaking Bad timeline we have been following the entirety of the series come to a close, and in the second half the show delivered on the foretold promise of Saul Goodman’s fate in a post-Breaking Bad world. On top of that, the much mulled over path of Kim Wexler was brought to a poetic and rewarding finality, one that longtime viewers could only have dreamed up. Showrunner Vince Gilligan has already announced Rhea Seehorn will lead his next project, and we could not be more thrilled. — Tyler Harford


Industry. HBO.

In season 2 of Industry, creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay upped the ante at Pierpoint & Co, infusing the series with more personal drama for its characters, as well as throwing a new all star performer into the mix in Jay Duplass. With his character, Jesse Bloom, Harper truly met her match, both intellectually and in his manipulating manner. As the series moves forward, what started as a very niche British import seems will continue to blossom in popularity, considering the assured rise of its star actresses Myha’la Herrold and Marisa Abela. The season went out with a hell of a bang in its closing minutes, continuing the comparison of being “Gen Z Succession.” With any luck, the show’s third season will continue to warrant such acclaim, too. — Tyler Harford

Irma Vep

Imra Vep. HBO.

In recent years we have been seeing more and more aging filmmakers wrestle with their careers and their lives in grandiose ways on the theatrical screen. Just in 2022, Steven Spielberg, James Gray, and Sam Mendes all released sprawling films interrogating aspects of their childhoods, both in relation to film and otherwise. For French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, he took to HBO Max to deliver perhaps the boldest and most inventive reflection of them all. With Irma Vep, Assayas reimagines his 1996 cult classic in the most meta way possible, now making the the director in his story an aging filmmaker (played brilliantly by Vincent Macaigne) also revisiting his past work in the same way. This all takes clearer shape as the narrative unfolds, and for fear of spoiling anything, will just say there are moments in the back half of this series that had my hands on my head as I could not believe the 4th wall breaking happening on screen. In that respect, this hews closer to The Matrix: Resurrections than the previously referenced films. Most importantly, Alicia Vikander replaces Maggie Cheung here and she is equally as astounding, a remarkable feat and career-best work for her. With her the story takes a very millennial look around Hollywood, fame, and its isolating existence. This series was wholly unexpected and is arguably the crowning achievement of Assayas’ storied career. — Tyler Harford

The Rehearsal

The Rehearsal. HBO.

The Rehearsal is a brilliant act of deconstruction. By rehearsing difficult life events, perhaps we can get through them without much pain. But in the realm of television, viewed through a reality lens, the line begins to blur. The rehearsals become more acutely real than the events which follow them. By enacting roles in life, we become these roles, we are what we practice. The Rehearsal is a singular work in it’s probing examination on the intersection of fact and fiction, of what we can prepare for and what we can’t, of how every experience shapes us and determines something about our sense of self. It is a revelatory and wholly new approach that can likely only be done this way once. Perhaps no amount of preparation can help us imagine what Nathan Fielder will do in the planned second season. — Calvin Kemph

Reservation Dogs

Reservation Dogs. FX.

What is ideal cultural representation? Firstly, not for me to decide. But if I had ideas, it would be about cultural specificity. It would be Reservation Dogs, a comedy that addresses the truth of stereotypes directly, but in doing so, also directly dissects and reaffirms the culture. Each of the short comedic episodes have something to tell us about generational trauma. It uses televisual technique to tell the branching stories of the people on a reservation, and the coming of age stories of the children of the reservation, who choose to stay or leave it behind. The second season is a building block stacked on top of the remarkable original run, the show emerging even stronger and more meaningful than it was before. — Calvin Kemph

Star Wars: Andor

Star Wars: Andor. Disney Plus.

Why put limits on properties? It’s rare but sometimes a work like Andor comes through. You’ll recognize the difference from the jump — Nicolas Britell’s new score falls on the other side of the universe from the usual John Williams fanfare. And then, as the episodes go on, the score develops and morphs, it continues to become something distinctly new, distinctly un-Star Wars until it eventually frames a brilliant moment nearing the end of the show. That is an encapsulation of Andor’s differences, which has broad and identifiable arcs within the space of one season and moves the context of the property from a bounty hunting space opera to an intergalactic spy thriller wherein the development of Cassian Andor is a device for social messaging, embracing selflessness and a sense of collectivism. — Calvin Kemph

We Own This City

We Own This City. HBO.

David Simon is the preeminent voice of inner-city Baltimore. Since his time on the Baltimore Sun City Desk, he has written with sparing accuracy the character of the city and the characters that reside inside it. Here, alongside frequent collaborator George P. Pelecanos, the show runners source a book from Baltimore Sun writer Justin Fenton. Think of it as a long continuation of the same project; a coda to The Wire, fifteen years later in the same spaces. Here, the plot revolves around the Gun Trace Task Force and is a systematic dissection of the police force, the use of power, and how the systems in place become as fraught with social conflict as they are. It’s an essential and self-complete work, running six episodes with no filler. — Calvin Kemph

The White Lotus

The White Lotus. HBO.

What is the mystery? In The White Lotus, that is the mystery itself. Transported from Hawaii to Sicily, we encounter yet another posh hotel in a sun-soaked setting where the only guarantee is someone will be murdered. It’s rare in television for any show to hold its cards so close to its pinstriped Sicilian mafioso vest. Given the setting, the show is very cineliterate, with shades of The Godfather trilogy intrinsically cast over the sun-bleached Palermo. Underneath the setting and aesthetics are branching and intertwining character dramas that unfold like a puzzle meant to spur us to a variety of different outcomes. Follow the red herrings closely and you have the most involving watch of the last year. — Calvin Kemph

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