It’s been almost three years since the onset of the COVID pandemic, which completely upended nearly every part of human life, including television. Still, networks have not stopped or even slowed down, with an ever-increasing amount of new streaming services and shows trickling out.
One thing that is certain about the television of 2022 is how resilient TV is, and how it’s going to take more than a worldwide pandemic to slow down the golden age of television.
10. What We Do In The Shadows
The mockumentary about a group of vampires aiming for world domination in Staten Island has only gotten better each year, with its fourth season showing the strongest consolidation of the show’s comedy and narrative yet. Picking up from where it left off, the vampire comedy saw their group find jealousy and love while starting the hottest vampire nightclub in the world.
Shadows continued to build on its momentum with its outrageously stellar cast, including Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Kayvan Novak, Harvey Guillén, and Mark Proksch as “baby Colin.”
9. Station Eleven
Based on the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel about the survivors of a pandemic, Station Eleven premiered during an age that probably wasn’t fully ready to watch something about a pandemic, much less a world-ravaged one. Set in a world decimated by a killer flu, the show tells the story of Kirsten (Mackenzie Davis) who meets a dangerous cult while traveling in a production of Hamlet. Haunting, scarily prescient, and some of the most touching television of the year.
Star Wars is one of those franchises that just won’t quit, even when it probably should have quite some time ago. After the year’s lackluster debuts of The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi, there wasn’t much faith going into Andor, a prequel to 2015’s Rogue One. What no one expected was for Andor to be the franchise’s best television show yet. Dark and gritty in a way fans have been dreaming of for decades, it scaled back the setting for a smaller story about the individuals affected by the Empire’s authoritative hold on the galaxy.
7. A League of Their Own
Choosing to focus on the true-to-life LGBTQ roots that inspired the original story about a group of women starting their own baseball league during World War 2, the Amazon Prime series took everything that made the 1992 film lovable and expanded upon it. D’Arcy Carden, Abbi Jacobson, and Chanté Adams play wonderfully off of each other facing the hardships and discrimination of the times. The story remained familiar to fans of the original film, but there was so much more about the reboot that made you fall in love.
6. Abbott Elementary
Quinta Brunson’s comedy about an elementary school in Philadelphia quietly stunned everyone when it bowed last year, and returned fresh with an Emmy win to prove the show was only getting started. Still aiming to try to help her students, Brunson’s Janine, along with the rest of her coworkers, including the exceptional Sheryl Lee Ralph, season two saw Abbott Elementary face teacher shortages, improv groups, and Shark Tank meetings for grant money, with all of the sweetly chaotic humor returning from season one.
5. The White Lotus
Few shows manage to hold their breath like The White Lotus, which saw the second season of the hotel anthology head to Sicily, with a new group of rich tourists and a fresh, mysterious dead body waiting for the fun to begin. While all the aspects that made people fall in love with the first season returned, the second had an unsettling shine to it, keeping you from really getting to know the story showrunner Mike White wanted to tell just long enough to keep you hooked.
4. Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire
As far as reboots go, this year’s theme seemed to be “bring it back but make it gayer,” which so far is a working strategy. Almost 40 years after the 1976 novel was published, Interview with the Vampire returned to the screen once again, doubling down on the queerness left out of the ’90s film. The story of Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and the vampire Lestat (Sam Reid), the small screen adaptation chose to go all in on their love, while using amazing visuals and standout acting to tell one of the year’s best stories.
Few shows manage to ascend into stardom while telling a relatively simple story. Heartstopper isn’t a high drama or lithe comedy, but a high school romance that may be one of the best LGBTQ shows of all time. Based on Alice Oseman’s webcomic, Charlie, a recently out/very bullied teen at an all-boys school, meets Nick, the handsome and charming rugby boy who quickly becomes his friend and, ultimately, crush. Heartstopper is that rare love story that transcended its intended demographic to become a worldwide phenomenon, showing the beauty that can come from young queer love.
2. The Sandman
Neil Gaiman’s seminal comic has long been considered one of the best books of all time, making its transition to the screen one of the most exciting of the year. The tale of Morpheus, the lord of dreams, captured by humans seeking his power while his kingdom and belongings are ransacked, The Sandman is the type of odyssey that has been yearning for the screen. From serial killer conventions to the power of a cat’s dreams, Gaiman’s comic about literally everything had every opportunity to stumble, making its success an even sweeter triumph.
How far will you go to feel okay? In Severance, the answer to solving grief came in the form of the office job, and the year’s best television show followed. Mark, played by the amazing Adam Scott, works at a company that revolutionized the work-life balance by creating a “severance program,” allowing its workers to separate their work and personal lives, unable to recall one from the other. When Helly (Britt Lower) finds herself trapped in her job with no way out, she inspires her coworkers to fight their managers to find the truth about why they are there. Severance has more than enough mystery to keep us intrigued, but it’s every other detail that ends up excelling, with every piece of its puzzle clicking in place to create the year’s finest season of television.
Mark Young is Metro Weekly’s television critic. Read his columns online or in the weekly magazine. Subscribe for free.
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