Best Television of the Year

If there was one artistic medium that I engaged with the most this year, it was television. 2022 was a year with a huge amount of excellent programs. There is far too much good television for any person to see, so there are likely things that I missed. But here are a list of things that I enjoyed, arranged alphabetically:


Being a Star Wars fan has long involved expecting to be disappointed. For those of us who grew up with the original trilogy and its toys and then encountered the first new canon with the prequels during high school or college are inured to disappointment with any new Star Wars filmed product. Under Disney’s stewardship, nothing has been quite as bad as The Phantom Menace, but the Star Wars brand has not been a guarantee of quality. Rogue One, depicting events that moved right into the main action of Star Wars is perhaps the best of the films. In Andor, Tony Gilroy examines how an oppressive galactic regime can dehumanize (and the equivalent for other galactic species) people and how and why a resistance can form. The human reasons and costs for how the rebellion came to be has never really been explored in Star Wars, and Andor does it with a level of sophistication, nuance, and filmmaking that has never before been seen in this galaxy far, far away. 

(Disney Plus)

Bad Sisters

Somehow, Bad Sisters didn’t seem to have a lot of buzz and aired somewhat under the radar. It’s a murder mystery family dark comedy that invited speculation and conversation. Bad Sisters was funny and tragic and sad and weird all at the same time. 

(Apple TV+)


Each of the main characters in Barry occupies a very distinct world. Sally’s world overlaps with, but is very different from Gene’s. They occupy a very different reality from Noho Hank. Barry intersects with all of these, and the relationships across these different realities creates humor and drama and tragedy. I have no idea where the show goes after the season finale, which is exciting. 


The Bear

Restaurant kitchens have drama. Anthony Bourdain captured some of that in Kitchen Confidential, but the TV adaption of Kitchen Confidential didn’t translate. The Bear bottles that and also adds in family drama, loss, and emotion. Episode 7 (“Review”), done as a single shot, is one of the tensest and dramatic episodes of television this entire year. 


The Dropout 

The Dropout TV series may only be the third best telling of the Theranos story, after The Dropout podcast and Bad Blood. It was also by far the best of the business fraud limited series of early 2022 (Uber, WeWork, Anna Delvey), with great performances from Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews. Who knew that 2022 would be the year of the Ebon Moss-Bachrach-aissance? As John Carreyrou in The Dropout, Cousin Richie on The Bear, and Arvel Skeen on Andor, he played distinctive roles in great series.


Fleischman is in Trouble

When I started putting this list together, I had Fleischman as incomplete — potentially among the best, but wasn’t sure if it would hold together. It has an impeccable cast (including Claire Danes, Jesse Eisenberg, and Lizzy Caplan), and it is narrowcasted to me, telling stories of Jewish New Yorkers (and exiles to suburbia) in their early forties struggling with relationships, class anxiety, and mental health. Until episode 7, we didn’t get any of Rachel’s perspective. I’m not sure if making the last episode almost entirely from Libby’s perspective work, so that Rachel’s story didn’t have further development. 


For All Mankind

Season 3 of For All Mankind featured some of the most thrilling action sequences of the year, which were tense and stressful because of the life and death stakes. Unlike, say, Glass Onion, FAM created a billionaire space mogul who wasn’t obviously based on any particular real-life billionaire. And yet, this was an uneven season. The Stevens boys were two of the worst characters on television, with motivations that felt more forced than natural. 

(Apple TV+)


Jean Smart deserves every accolade she’s earned for playing Deborah Vance.  

(HBO Max)

The Patient

The Patient starts from a ridiculous concept that shouldn’t work, yet it’s taken seriously and realistically. Produced by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg from The Americans, The Patient uses methodical multi-episode storytelling like Breaking Bad and the Americans to spend a lot of time seeing how the two main characters interact with each other. This is also one of the more interesting Jewish stories that I’ve seen on television on how a divide between Orthodox and liberal family members’ practice can affect their relationships. 


The Rehearsal

I don’t know if I ultimately liked the Rehearsal after the last episode, but I admire the ridiculousness and audacity of the concept and spending HBO’s money on building an exact replica of the Alligator Lounge. I’m not sure if there’s been anything else that’s asked as directly whether child acting is ethical.


Reservation Dogs

At or near the top of every critic’s best of list this year, Reservation Dogs is a wonderful and distinctive show. It is entirely unique by telling stories of people who television has simply ignored. Simultaneously funny, melancholy, sad, joyful, and cathartic, Reservation Dogs opens up a whole world of storytelling. 



If there’s one show that occupied the most space in my brain this year, it is Severance. The production design alone is good enough, even without the ethical questions and the great performances. I’m hoping to get a Music Dance Experience or Waffle Party this quarter. 

(Apple TV+)

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks

Lower Decks has been the best Star Trek show in a long time, because it simply recognizes the ridiculousness in Star Trek and embraces it. Lower Decks starts from appreciating and loving Star Trek, taking its storytelling seriously, and finding the humor in it. Strange New Worlds is the best live action Trek in a long time. Unlike the other current Trek shows (Discovery and Picard), SNW remembers that at its best, Star Trek should tell episodic stories about exploration and inclusion, while being fun. Strange New Worlds, while being an unnecessary retread, is so good that it doesn’t matter that it just goes back to Captain Pike’s Enterprise. Anson Mount is a great space dad and Ethan Peck manages to play one of television’s most beloved characters in a way that feels connected to Nimoy, but without feeling like an impression or bad imitation. 

(Paramount Plus)

White Lotus

Television in 2022 is much less of a communal experience than in before today’s Peak TV era of streaming, and many great shows don’t feel like they have as much buzz as they should. The White Lotus, like Succession, is both critically acclaimed and buzzy. This second season had beautiful scenery, great acting, spectacular filmmaking, and plenty of drama. 


What We Do in the Shadows 

Baby Colin Robinson. This show continues to be funny, inventive, and delightful.



These are two shows that I’d expect to be on my list if I’d watched the episodes that aired this year. 

Better Call Saul

Early on in the pandemic, I got behind on watching season 5 of Better Call Saul because it was heavier and more weighty than I had the mental energy to deal with, and am still just catching up, slowly. 



When Atlanta came back for a third and fourth seasons this year, I started rewatching the series from the beginning and am still just in season 2. 


 I don’t regret watching, but wanted these to be better:

House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon should be Succession with dragons, and it isn’t. It’s not as much fun as it should be. Yes, the Targaryens were terrible and brutal to each other and everyone else in the Seven Kingdoms, but Game of Thrones had a lot of fun. Bouncing the characters who were fun (Tyrion, Bronn) against the self-serious characters was a huge part of what made Game of Thrones work, when it did. While House of the Dragon did a better job of filling out Martin’s textbook summary into stories than Game of Thrones did with its last couple of season, House of the Dragon didn’t have enough light to balance the dark — and it had that one episode that was entirely dark and looked flat. Where Game of Thrones did it, there was a justifiable story reason. Here, it just felt aggressively unnecessary. 


With this cast and creative talent, Reboot was very watchable. But it also never quite clicked. 


I want to like She-Hulk. Tatiana Maslany is great, the supporting cast is excellent. The concept of law in the Marvel universe should be super-fun. And yet, She-Hulk has a lot of good elements, but they don’t come together into a coherent stew. I don’t know how much of it is the Marvel-ness, but it just needs to be more fun. 

Andrew Raff @andrewraff