The Best of 2022: A year stacked with great television.

by | Dec 11, 2022 | All, Opinions

When it came time to compile our Best of the Year piece two things struck me. The first was that wasn’t one BIG show that resonated with people in the same way Normal People and I May Destroy You did in 2020 or It’s a Sin and Mare of Easttown last year. The second was the sheer amount of shows that had come out across the year and how so many of them were worthy of a place here. Apple TV+ had a remarkable year with shows like Pachinko, Shining Girls, Bad Sisters, and the completely engrossing Severance which was unlike anything I’d seen before. Disney+ also shone with The Bear and The Dropout with the BBC continuing to thrive with hits like The Tourist, This is Going Hurt, The Responder and Sherwood. Netflix was more uneven but we loved the final season of Better Call Saul, the strange and magnificent return of Russian Doll and another incredible series of Top Boy. I hope your favourite show made the cut. What was your favourite show of the year? There were tons of hits. Here are our picks.

The Tourist (January 2022, BBC One) I’ll admit to pre-judging The Tourist before seeing it. Writers Harry and Jack Williams have established themselves as adept thriller writers. The Missing and Liar being standouts. It’s too unkind to say their thrillers often lack humour and take themselves very seriously, often prioritising shocking twists over character development. I had assumed The Tourist, which launched on New Year’s Day as the BBC’s first BIG drama, would fall, victim, to the same problems. I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong and The Tourist still stands out as one of the most original dramas in a year full of fresh ideas. On paper at least, you can forgive my initial assumptions. An unknown man (Jamie Dornan) is driving down a deserted road in the Australian outback when he’s deliberately and viscously ran off the road. When he wakes up in the hospital he can’t remember who he is, why he’s there or the accident that has put him there. Don’t get me wrong, The Tourist is still chocked full of the William’s Brother’s signature twists and turns but it is elevated by its brilliant characters and genuinely funny moments. There’s a quirkiness here that hasn’t been part of their other BIG dramas.  The eager Probationary Constable Helen Chambers (Danielle Macdonald) is such an utterly charming creation that I’m wishing she gets a Baptiste-style spin-off of her own. She’s someone who really wants to get to the bottom of ‘The Man’s’ story and uses it as an excuse to escape her controlling fiancee Ethan (a great comic turn from Greg Larsen). Shalom Brune-Franklin is brilliant as the woman The Man meets in a coffee shop but whose link to him is a true surprise even to an audience conditioned to expect a twist. Everything about The Tourist works.  Even its strange penultimate episode which plays with time and ‘The Man’s’ reality was exciting and unpredictable rather than frustrating and self-indulgent. Everything from the setting to the side characters stands out here. The Tourist, is THE best Williams Brothers drama because it remembers that humour and fully formed characters are more important than impressive twists in the story. Danielle MacDonald’s Helen Chambers is genuinely one of my favourite new characters of the year. She’s so brilliantly drawn and performed. The BBC have ordered a second series, though I imagine it’ll about a different ‘Tourist’ who finds themselves stranded in another exotic location so I think it’s unlikely we’ll see Chambers again. I can but hope though. Written by Luke Knowles.

Four Lives (January 2022, BBC One) In the first few days of 2022, BBC aired Jeff Pope’s three-part drama Four Lives, a show that has stuck with me for almost a year. The series tells the true story of four young gay men who were murdered by Stephen Port between 2014 and 2015, and the work of their families to fight for justice. This was a shocking piece of television; even though the case was well-reported at the time, it was uncomfortable to watch the police show such little compassion towards those simply trying to find out who killed their loved ones. Stephen Merchant is chilling as Port, it’s understated and a striking departure from his previous work. There are also some stunning performances from Sheridan Smith and Rufus Jones who lead an outstanding ensemble cast, where even small roles are utterly captivating. The ending of the show is one of the most poignant scenes I can remember ever seeing on TV: real footage of victim Anthony Walgate’s mother picking up his degree at his graduation ceremony, followed by a moving tribute to all four victims. Four Lives is an important and necessary piece of television, both a powerful expose and a beautifully made drama, and is something that everyone involved should be incredibly proud of. Written by Erin Zammitt.

Euphoria (January 2022, HBO/Sky Atlantic) Euphoria returned in January for its long-awaited sophomore season, after those stunning specials that bridged the gap during the pandemic. It was as bold and as brash as ever, with Sam Levinson continuing to push boundaries in his storytelling. Season 2 perhaps received more mixed reviews than the first, and it did lose focus at times, evoking too much sympathy for its villains and side-lining previously key characters such as Kat (Barbie Ferreira has since announced that she won’t be returning for season 3). But Euphoria’s strengths are stronger than anything else around, and Zendaya is still phenomenal as central character Rue. In the visceral and gut-wrenching episode 5, her performance of a vulnerable and unstable young girl is masterful and thoroughly deserves another round of awards. The subplot of Lexi (Maude Apatow) writing and performing a play about her family and friends was divisive, but I personally loved how wonderfully meta it was. I never know what to expect with Euphoria, but it’s always exciting and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Written by Erin Zammitt.

As We See It (January 2022, Prime Video) In his long-running NBC series Parenthood (it never aired in the UK as far as I’m aware) Creator, Jason Katims put autism front and centre. The series focused on branches of the Braverman family. Over the course of its first season, 8-year-old Max Braverman (Max Burkholder) was diagnosed with Aspergers. It told his story and that of his wider family as he grew older and is credited with helping spread word of the condition. Katims wrote the story in tribute to his own son who had been diagnosed with the condition. As We See It, allowed Katims (and a team of writers who were all on the spectrum) to tell a story about living with autism as a young adult away from the safety of parents and the comforts of home. Series stars Rick Glassman, Sue Ann Pien, and Albert Rutecki were also all on the spectrum and they brought their experiences to life giving their characters an authenticity not seen before.  The story revolves around the three as they end up unlikely roommates when each of their parents agrees to fund an apartment for them. They are assisted by behavioural aide Mandy (Sosie Bacon), who helps coach them through the various obstacles created by their ASD. She is there to help them navigate the things they don’t understand. She fights their corner when neighbours or members of the community are intolerant and she wants to help them succeed in a world that isn’t designed for them. The show never belittles its central trio and you’re always on the side. Jack (Rick Glassman) is the most high functioning but runs into trouble with people mistaking his blunt nature for rudeness. His reaction to his father’s cancer diagnosis (a tender performance from Joe Mantegna) is difficult to watch as it forces him to contemplate life without his biggest protector and champion and he realises he’s not ready for life in the real world. Sue Ann Pien’s Violet may be a grown woman but she’s been sheltered by her older brother Van (Chris Pang) and is desperate for her first proper relationship. Violet is vulnerable and rebels against Van who sees her as much younger than she is. Harrison (Albert Rutecki) is the most severely affected by his condition. His goals and achievements are smaller than the others but no less impressive. His friendship with another young boy in the apartment is one of the most heartwarming and purest friendships on television and proof that Harrison can function outside of his bubble. The show exudes warmth and positivity but doesn’t shy away from showing the difficulties people with ASD encounter in a world that challenges them at every turn. Sosie Bacon delivers a stunning performance as Mandy – a woman so devoted to making sure the trio succeeds that her own personal life suffers. Less high profile than others to make the list, As We See It provides perhaps the most authentic and truthful look at life on the autistic spectrum ever seen on TV. Criminally under-watched, and sadly axed by Prime Video, I’m glad As We See It existed and it will stick with me for a long time. Written by Luke Knowles.

The Responder (January 2022, BBC One) Martin Freeman has made a career accurately portraying the everyman. Here, he plays First Responder  Chris Carter – a man who is first on the scene for a bitter neighborly dispute and when an elderly woman dies at home. He’s worn down by a life of nightshifts, his home life is suffering, and when a local scally (Josh Fian)  knicks some drugs from local kingpin Carl Sweeney (Ian Hart) Chris finds himself unwittingly caught in the middle. Freeman is electric as Carson. His body appears to vibrate whenever he’s stressed or under a pressure. It’s also Freeman as his rawest and he disappears entirely sporting Caron’s thick scouse accent. Newcomers Josh Finan and Emily Fairn are wonderful as the two Chris finds himself protecting. Adelayo Adedayo delivers a tender performance as Chris’s partner on night shifts who just wants to learn and prove her worth within the force but who feels trapped by an abusive relationship and dragged down by Carson’s constant need to divert from what she knows to be the correct ways of policing. At times Tony Schumacherfeels more like an episode of Channel 4’s 24 Hours in Police Custody than it does a written piece of drama. In a TV landscape constantly awash with dramas about the police and detectives, The Responder stands out as something completely different. It is Martin Freeman’s best performance and though the first series ended with every loose end neatly tied up, I’m curious to see what Schumacher does with the second series. Written by Luke Knowles.

This is Going to Hurt (February 2022, BBC One) The title for Adam Kay’s autobiographical medical drama should have really prepared ujs more. The year has been full of exciting, surprising and moving episodes of television, This Is Going To Hurt takes the prize for the most devastating hour of television of the year. Based on Adam Kay’s book of the same name, the story of an overworked OBGYN ward in an underfunded hospital is witty, scathingly funny and heartbreaking in equal measure. Ben Whishaw is a brilliant surrogate for Kay, dropping acerbic observations to camera between traumatic emergency births. He’s unfailingly likeable but also an incredibly flawed character – he’s arrogant, he’s self-centred, he ignores his partner, he makes mistakes that have very real consequences, and he’s dismissive of his colleagues, but we never hate him for any of this because he’s so charismatic, and the show explicitly calls him out on his behaviour. It’s a beautiful series, at once capturing the often unbearable toll the job can take on a doctor’s mental well-being, and the fundamental humanity that drives them to do this job. This is shown best in Episode 5, a genuinely painful episode of television that affected me more than anything else this year, where everything seems to be going well until the rug is pulled from under you. If Ambika Mod doesn’t win the BAFTA for her performance as junior doctor Shruti then something has gone very very wrong. Written by Nick Bartlett.

Severance (February 2022, Apple TV+) Apple TV+ has had a very impressive year, gradually creating a roster of hit shows that viewers will keep returning to. One of its new offerings this year was Severance, which launched in February with Ben Stiller at the helm as director. It’s a high-concept take on the work-life balance dilemma, with the premise surrounding a dystopian procedure within a mysterious office that surgically separates someone’s work and personal memories. In essence, a worker has no idea what their life looks like outside the office building while at work, and while at home, they have no idea what they do for a living. After being confronted by a former colleague outside the office, Mark (Adam Scott) attempts to investigate what is really going on within his company. Severance is a very impressive show; from its carefully crafted plot and beautiful cinematography to nuanced performances from the likes of Britt Lower, Patricia Arquette and Christopher Walken. The storytelling is incredibly intricate, the audience makes discoveries at the same time as Mark, as he tries to figure out the world he exists in. Severance is unique and in a class and world all of its own. Completely engrossing, strange and incredibly intriguing, the finale had me on the edge of my seat, and with season 2 currently in production, I’m so excited to watch another chapter – there is, after all, so much story left to tell. Written by Erin Zammitt.

Somebody, Somewhere (March 2022, Sky Atlantic/HBO) The TV landscape, with its many options, can often mean shows have to shout and be in your face to get attention. This wasn’t the case with Somebody Somewhere – a beautiful and tender show that celebrates small-town life, family, and finding your place later in life. Bridget Everett is wonderful as Sam – a woman who is back in her hometown to nurse her sister who, when the series opens has succumbed to her cancer. Lost, aimless, and stuck, Sam’s life changes when she meets Joel (a scene-stealing Jeff Hiller) who encourages her to embrace her talents as a singer and live life to the full. Quiet, sweet, and deeply personal, Somebody Somewhere is a truly special show and real gem of the year. The stakes here at small but the world feels so lived in that sometimes it can feel as if you’re intruding on a private moment. I can’t wait to spend more time with Sam and Joel and lose myself in the wonderful and cathartic world of this perfect little show. Written by Luke Knowles

The Dropout (March 2022, HULU/ Disney+) 2022 was the year that television appeared to want to get into the gutter and explore a myriad of con artists and corrupt businesses that had grabbed headlines over the last few years; WeCrashed, Inventing Anna and The Dropout all arrived within weeks of each other and yet New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwethers account of Elizabeth Holmes and the creation of Theranos stood out instantly with its genuinely witty nature, aghast plotting and the knowledge that it all really happened, featuring what may very well be a career-best performance from Amanda Seyfried. Meriwether’s series was a scathingly bitter and angrily witty concoction that gripped like a vice as it continued, even feeling like a quietly simmering horror film in its latter stages, the storytelling lambasting the naivety of the rich and powerful, as well as the hollowness of trying to gain prestige without actually doing the proper work for it. Written by Eamon Hennedy.

Derry Girls (March 2022, Channel 4) Delayed due to the pandemic, the third and final series of Derry Girls made an impact from the off with a Hollywood cameo from Liam Neeson in the opening episode. As ever, Lisa McGee’s comedy mixed 90s nostalgia with biting humour and all the agony of teenage life, including concerts, fights, exams and love. Ma Mary (Tara Lynne O’Neill) gets a much-needed spotlight in more than one episode, highlighting the comedy chops of the somewhat overlooked adult performers in the show. But in the end, it’s down to the youths. Our heroes Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), Clare (Nichola Coughlan), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), Orla (Louisa Harland) and the wee English lad James (Dylan Llewellyn) are reaching the end of their school years and facing looming adulthood, but still manage to get involved in some outrageous antics before real life comes crashing into their lives. Saoirse-Monica Jackson continues to shine as the grounded core of the show, with her eyes set on a literary life, while her heart lies in her homely community. The actress balances the physical comedy she is so adept at, with the growing sense of self-awareness as Erin tries to find her place in the world. But even with a reduced presence by Nichola Coughlan, Clare shows herself to be the heart of the group as tragedy strikes her family, and her return in the finale saves their end-of-school party. In 6 thirty-minute episodes, creator Lisa McGee manages to give each character a chance to shine and space to grow; gives the audience some of the James and Erin romance they craved; and pays due homage to those who lived through the Troubles and the scars they carry. Oh yes, and as always, Sister Michael (Siobhan McSweeney) steals the entire show in a Delorean. Written by Dawn Glen.

My Brilliant Friend (March 2022, Sky Atlantic) The third series of My Brilliant Friend reached new heights. The penultimate chapter of the story which tells the story of the complicated friendship between Elena and her beloved Lila. The third series saw a time-jump to the pair grown up and navigating the world with their own families. The culture clash between the working-class atmosphere that Lila has made her home and the studious Elena has been present since the start but it boils over here – with devastating, earth-shattering, and character-driven events really propelling the story forward in its last few episodes. It’s the last season with its two current stars, Margherita Mazzucco and Gaia Girace – but their age betrays the characters’ inexperience, and it’s really interesting to see both wrestle with the world around them. Max Richter’s score is as beautiful as usual and the whole thing is spectacularly shot,  lending to it a certain charm that establishes it as maybe the best television show currently airing, and in this current market, that’s no mean feat. It’s Elena’s season more than Lila’s – but then that makes up for the second season which was the other way around, and gets the balancing act just right. The final chapter is due next year and I can’t wait to see how it all ends. I’ll miss it. Written by Milo Milton-Jeffries. 

Julia (March 2022, HBO Max/Sky Atlantic) Falling into a comfy space between the gritty dramas and sitcoms comes Julia – the easygoing, female-forward biographical drama based on the life of American cook and cultural icon Julia Childs. Set in the early 60s, the show captures the successful cookery author’s stumble into the world of TV cookery, and the obstacles she faces from both the world of TV production and those closest to her. Sarah Lancashire is unrecognisable in the title role, capturing the jolly-hockeysticks brashness, along with the sweet vulnerability, of one of TV’s most pioneering women. David Hyde Pierce is a stand-out as her devoted husband Paul, who takes some time to come round to sharing his extraordinary wife with the world, and Hyde Pierce’s sometime Frasier cast-mate Bebe Neuwirth rounds out the lead cast as the steely-spined best friend we all wish we had. Mixing some glorious food porn with personal dramas, and ad-hoc developing skills of cookery Tv show production, keeps the show lively and moving forwards. It’s an incredibly warm and uplifting, feel-good piece of TV that shows a much-mimicked personality as the full-bodied, glorious human she was. Written by Dawn Glen.

Top Boy (March 2022, Netflix) I Will come out and say it flat out, this is Netflix’s best show and one of the few things left standing that I adore. Its gangland drama of a London tower block is presented in an authentic and realistic way where its characters feel real, honest and perfectly flawed. Ronan Bennet’s scripts mix the old with the new, the continuation from the Channel 4 series never loses touch with its humble beginnings as it embraces the continental overseas. In my humble opinion, this is the UK’s answer to The Sopranos, with shocking twists that propel the show forward – and a very well realised world that gives it a much more grounded edge than any of the more showy, flashy gangster shows like Peaky Blinders. The most recent series of Top Boy elevated the series to new levels, with the storytelling taking darker turns than ever before. At points, the performances (from the mostly unknown cast) feel so real and visceral that you forget you’re watching actors. Written by Milo Milton-Jeffries. 

Pachinko (March 2022, Apple TV+) Right from its opening moments, it was difficult not to be awestruck by the epic beauty of Pachinko, but this was also a majestic masterpiece that never lost sight of its characters amongst the cinematic grandiosity and portrayal of familial history over two periods of time. If David Lean ever made a television series, it might have been something like this. Of course, Min Jin Lee’s novel finds a home on television more appropriate given that showrunner Soo Hugh and directors Kogonada and Justin Chon have given this historical epic time to breathe and reflect amongst its bigger moments and turbulent historical setting. This was eight episodes of television perfection the likes of which we never see anymore, not only reminding one of cinematic epics of the 50s and 60s but which also felt like a modern streaming variation of the mini-series phenomenon of the 1980s and 1990s when best-selling epic novels were turned into three-to-four hour events. This is a prestige streaming series that will hopefully run for the four seasons Soo Hugh has envisioned for it, and when you have performances as good as the ones here from Youn Yuh-jing and Kim Min-ha, and quite possibly the very best credit sequence from any television series this year, it instantly entered the realm of masterpiece territory. Written by Eamon Hennedy.

Slow Horses (April and December 2022, Apple TV+) What happens when MI5 intelligence officers are blacklisted. They are exiled to Slough House and become surrounded by losers, misfits, and boozers. Heading up this motley crew is Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman), a disheveled drunk who is only concerned with keeping his subordinates (aptly named ‘Slow Horses’) on a short tether, and not pissing off the top brass in Regent’s Park. Oldman, no stranger to espionage dramas, has cracking scenes with Lamb’s chief antagonist Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas), the Deputy Director-General of MI5. Taverner is an ice queen who will exploit and eliminate anyone to retain power, even if they are allies. The newest Slow Horse in season 1 is River Cartwright (Jack Lowden), MI5 royalty who gets banished to Slough House after a training exercise mishap.  Cartwright quickly learns the Slow Horses may lack the slick professionalism of other MI5 officers, but they make up for it with their sharp wit and quirkiness. These are Spooks for the 2020s, operatives who are resigned to quiet quitting their intelligence jobs but rise to the occasion when armed enforcers threaten their lives. Adapted from Mick Herron’s Slough House series, season 1 tackles the first novel Slow Horses and season 2 is based on the sequel Dead Lions. In just two seasons, Slow Horses is quickly helping to reinvigorate the espionage series for the streaming age. Written by Mo Walker.

Hacks (April 2022, Prime Video) The ‘odd-couple’ may be familiar territory for viewers, but Hacks is a comedic drama examining ageism and gender politics in show business with a side of baby boomers versus millennials. Debra Vance (Jean Smart), an aging comedian whose Las Vegas show needs a facelift, gets paired with Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder), a young comedy writer who has been semi-canceled. At first glance, Debra appears to be channeling a ‘Devil Wears Prada’ persona. This an easy assumption to make given that Debra revels in humiliating and ditching Ava in the desert. One of Hacks’ secret weapons is counterbalancing Debra’s actions with Ava’s entitlement issues. In addition to great comedic timing, Smart and Einbinder’s characters display a connection that goes deeper than employer/employee. Though there is a bit of a reset in Debra and Ava’s relationship in season 2, shifting the setting allows viewers to reestablish their connection with the show while characters are doing the same on-screen. Each episode of Hacks delivers plenty of comedic beats, but there are dramatic moments and gut punches courtesy of Debra Vance. Whether it is Debra removing her body armour (make-up and hair products) or unfettered discussions with her daughter DJ (Kaitlin Olson). This should not be a surprise; television viewers have been treated to several memorable dramatic performances by Smart in recent years. Given the ending of season 2, Hacks could have dropped the mic and walked off-stage. However, because of the chemistry between Smart and Einbinder it is easy to see why fans would crave an encore. Written by Mo Walker.

Barry (April 2022, HBO, Sky Comedy) Everyone’s favourite hitman went missing for a living for three years during the pandemic, and while everyone expected a new season this year opinions were divided on whether the third installment would reach the same heights as the previous two seasons. The truth is though, that the black comedy was better than ever. The unexpected downtime gave creators Alec Berg and Bill Hader the chance to rewrite a lot of the season and also start work on next year’s fourth season. The third season was dark and felt properly dangerous. Barry (Bill Hader) is in a downward spiral. He’s caught in between his past and trying to move in a new direction. We pick up from the gun-toting mania of the last season and find our anti-hero unable to meaningfully connect with his girlfriend Sally (Sarah Goldberg) who has become more aloof after securing a starring role in a new show. Evading attention as he reels from his former acting coach and father figure Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) finding out his secret, and avoiding the wrath of old manager Fuches (Stephen Root) as he goes to new lengths of depravity to keep his true identity hidden. Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s third outing is their best yet. Exceptional writing, directing, and acting are all delivered with a blunt and surreal comedy that mixes perfectly with suspenseful action and emotionally charged scenes. A long sequence where in the sixth episode that sees Barry trying to outrun a motorcycle gang on the freeway might be one of a contender for best scene of the year. It’s dialogue-free, full of tense action, and choreographed to perfection. The world of Barry is so fleshed out that all the side characters like the brilliant NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) grow and mature as the season progresses. Whatever happens next, it’s clear that Barry as a show will be different in its fourth season, but it’s the show’s ability to subvert our expectations at every turn that keeps us coming back again and again. it’ll be interesting to see how the questions the cliffhanger finale presented us are answered. Written by Hannah Fletcher. 

Better Call Saul (April 2022, AMC/Netflix) It’s a testament to the quality of Better Call Saul that the debate on whether or not it’s better than Breaking Bad is still ongoing. It’s a facile question really as the two shows are very different, although I would make the case that the spin-off following Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) managed to surpass its predecessor in terms of the final season, and especially the finale. Rather than trying to tie everything together in a fantastical wish-fulfillment final stand that sees him go out like a badass, Jimmy does something infinitely harder – he faces up to the consequences of his actions. It’s quietly devastating in the best way possible – a muted, downbeat and yet immensely satisfying final episode that gives both Jimmy and Saul Goodman the ending they deserve. Leading up to that finale is some of the best plot development of the year, full of shocking, heart-in-the-mouth set-pieces that perfectly depict the culmination of Jimmy’s descent and the birth of Saul Goodman. Michael Mando and Patrick Fabian do excellent work as two characters caught in the periphery of Jimmy’s life who end up as unwilling participants in his criminal misdeeds, leading to some genuinely upsetting moments, and yet for all of the fireworks it’s the tender relationship between Kim and Jimmy that provides the show with it’s heart. Their final farewell provides the series with its most bittersweet, deeply moving moment, and it’s telling that despite Odenkirk’s stellar work in this series, somehow Rhea Seehorn is even better. Written by Nick Bartlett.

Heartstopper (April, Netflix) Heartstopper’s goal was joy, and it delivered in every sense of the word. The show followed the story of two teenage boys discovering themselves and falling in love, alongside maintaining their friend group despite the problems they may face. Teen dramas tend to face a multitude of problems, both in casting and tone. They’re often written in a way that doesn’t reflect how teens speak or express their emotions. Heartstopper surpassed that problem with ease, sporting a cast of entirely young newcomers, paired with writing that immediately resonated with the teen audience. The unknown cast became stars overnight. Joe Locke and Yasmine Finney have since gone on to book roles in major shows such as Marvel’s upcoming Agatha: Coven Of Chaos”, and Doctor Who respectively. Heartstopper was important for many reasons but mostly, it radiated happiness. Both for its characters and the identities they sport. Heartstopper’s joy comes in many forms, from individual friendships, sibling support, community, and how they overcome personal issues. Backed by the killer soundtrack, expertly handled cinematography, and cute special effects, hand drawn for the show. it all comes together in one heart-warming, homely package that felt like a joy to watch. In short, the show felt like a warm hug, a well-needed one that could be basked in by anyone, regardless of age. Written by Tyler Murray.

Shining Girls (April, Apple TV+) The 2013 Lauren Beukes novel arrived on our screens this year and became an instant classic and another jewel in the crown of Apple TV’s ‘quality-over-quantity’ approach to television production in the streaming age. The prospect of watching Elisabeth Moss in another prestige series detailing female characters being abused and murdered at the hands of a male antagonist might seem daunting and even off-putting, but don’t let that have you turning away. Shining Girls was a potent and instantly gripping genre piece and a must-see for anyone with a love for intelligent genre mysteries that dabbles in genre tropes and trappings through character and emotional intelligence.Written by Eamon Hennedy.

Russian Doll (April 2022, Netflix), Similar to The White Lotus, it was easy to feel wary when a second season of Netflix’s Russian Doll was announced. Season 1 felt like such a complete, satisfyingly resolved story that it was hard to imagine where it could go next. However, Season 2 arrived this year and quickly proved to be worth the three-year wait, delivering an ambitious, time-hopping journey into its protagonist’s family history. While the first season saw Nadia (the eminently watchable Natasha Lyonne) stuck in a time loop, repeatedly dying on her birthday, the hook of season 2 is that trips on the subway start taking her back in time to inhabit the body of her mother – and later her grandmother too. The result is both a wildly entertaining ride and a fascinating exploration of family, with Nadia becoming fixated on trying and failing to rectify her mother’s past mistakes. Written by Sophie Davies.

Big Boys (May 2022, Channel 4) This semi-autobiographical Channel 4 comedy from Jack Rooke was a real gem of 2022, and a well-deserved second series is on its way. Set in 2013, Big Boys focuses on Jack going to university not long after the death of his dad, and using the time away from home to explore his sexuality. Dylan Llewellyn (Derry Girls) shines in the central role and is flanked by a pitch-perfect supporting cast – including Jon Pointing (Plebs) as Danny, Jack’s laddish but sweet housemate whose mental health issues start to affect his uni work, and Camille Coduri (Him & Her) as Jack’s lovely mum. It’s equal parts fun and moving, with sharp writing, likeable characters and a ‘coming out’ scene that has to be up there with this year’s best British TV moments. Written by Sophie Davies.

Borgen: Power & Glory (June 2022, Netflix) We live in an era of television where anything can be revived. The surprise announcement of the return of the Danish political drama was a pleasant one but I worried series creator Adam Price might use it as an excuse to have his brilliant protagonist  Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) tackle all of the issues that have come about in the time since Borgen was last on our screens. In truth, the fourth series was fantastic. It picked up with Birgitte uneasily working for another female Prime Minister. She didn’t really agree with the majority of her new boss’s policies and she was often the outsider. It portrayed the realities of being an older woman in that position and showed Nyborg at perhaps her most vulnerable. Putting aside or sacrificing her moral stands to remain popular or powerful, Price wasn’t afraid to make the person who was once the moral compass of the series into someone who was quite unlikeable at times. The various subplots set in Greenland and Katrine’s (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) promotion in the newsroom were all really interesting and timely. The series felt fresh and never felt like it was revisiting what made it such a hit the first time around. At its heart, it was the story of two women trying desperately to hold onto who they were in a field that is evolving quickly and leaving them behind. Borgen stands as one of the best political dramas of all time – if not THE political drama.  Written by Luke Knowles.

Abbott Elementary (June 2022, ABC/Disney+) In June, Britain finally got to see the much-acclaimed new sitcom from ABC, Abbott Elementary. Even before it won its much-deserved EMMYS, the school-set comedy had caused ripples with its fully-formed characterisation and sharp comedy, already running where other freshman comedies have only walked. Creator, writer and star Quinton Bunson uses short-cut tropes of the under-performing school, in an underprivileged neighbourhood, becoming the subject of a documentary to cut out much of the exposition. Substitute teacher Gregory (Tyler James Williams) is our foot in the door to Abbott, where we find the experienced, world-weary teachers Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) and Barbara (much deserved EMMY winning Sheryl Lee Ralph), dealing with eye-rolling patience with the youthful optimism of newer teachers Janine (Bunson) and Jacob (Chris Perfetti). The elementary school is ruled – in the loosest definition of the word – by chaotic, social-media-mad, hell-cat Ava (Janelle James). As is the case with similar mockumentary workplace comedies like The Office and Parks and Recs, this hodge-podge of humans find themselves becoming family, and the reluctant educators Ava and Grgeory find themselves warming to their wards, and learning as much as they teach. A sweet, slow-burning ‘ship brewing between Gregory and Janine adds another level of interest into the incredibly engaging comedy, which grabs you by the heart whilst highlighting the harsh realities of teaching. It’s hard to pick out a star from a cast that all deserve A stars, but Janelle James makes the sometimes horrific Ava believable, and lets Ava’s humanity and heart shine in a touching, understated way. Abbott Elementary is charming but never loses its foot in the real world, and we can’t wait for season 2 to hit Disney+ in the UK. Written by Dawn Glen.

Girls 5eva (June 2022, Peacock/NOW) Second seasons like follow-up albums should introduce new songs while retaining familiar elements fans have grown to love.  Girls5eva season 2 brings the B.P.E., by continuing to intertwine absurdist situational comedy with genuine emotional arcs for its four leading ladies – striving for a second chance in the music industry.  Part of Girls5eva’s appeal is watching the comedic melodies of Sara Bareilles, Busy Philipps, Paula Pell, and Renée Elise Goldsberry harmonize to create 30 minutes of entertaining telly. The audience empathizes with Dawn’s (Bareilles) desire to be a lead vocalist, along with her struggle to balance family and career. Summer (Philipps) and Gloria (Pell) also experience meaningful journeys as the group records their second ‘comeback’ album.  For Summer it is coming to terms with her religious self, while Gloria is grappling with a monkey’s paw-type situation.  Wickie (Goldsberry), the resident diva extraordinaire, experiences the most growth over the eight-episode season. She goes from self-absorbed stardom seeker to a Lunch Lord lover! Two albums in (excuse me, seasons) Girls5eva is poised to reach new audiences with its highly anticipated third season which will stream on Netflix in 2023.  To borrow a page from Wickie, “We are getting an upgrade!” Written by Mo Walker.

Sherwood (June 2022, BBC One) A crime drama that got a lot better once you got over the fact that it’s not a whodunnit – (do you think the person wandering around with a bow and arrow might be the murderer?) James Graham’s layered, rich tapestry of life in the black country feels like a Broadchurch for the 2020s, a deep, profound meditation on the North’s relationship with the police force in the wake of the miner’s strikes, and the divisions that persist to this day. Divisions within families, within communities, that prove to be more pervasive than anyone imagined. The scars of Thatcher’s Britain are all too evident in Sherwood, in a community where “Scab” is still just about the worst thing you can call someone. Based on the true story of two murders in the Sherwood area, the series never feels like it’s exploiting the real-life murders. Graham imbues the series with a grounded, lived-in quality, that extends to the characterisation and performances. In an impressive ensemble cast that includes Leslie Manville, Lorraine Ashbourne, and Adeel Akhtar, David Morrissey and Robert Glenister stand out as the two detectives with a shared, fractious history who are forced to partner up to solve a murder. Honestly though, the character dynamics across the board are brilliant, from the sisters on opposite sides of the picket line, to the drug dealer family who nonetheless have deep ties to the community (and are more than a little reminiscent of the Bennetts in Justified). An incisive script that is as natural and realistic and never gloomy or overwrought, in fact it is often hilarious (upon learning that Glenister has worked on 293 murder cases, Morrissey mutters “well London sounds fucking lovely”). Sherwood was one of the best and most thought-provoking dramas of the year, and while it’s exciting to learn that a second season has been commissioned, this season set a very high precedent! Written by Nick Bartlett.

Atlanta (June 2022, FX/Disney+) Strangely, they were two seasons of Atlanta this year. Donald Glover’s anthology series that follows Atlanta-based rapper Alfred Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), his cousin/manager Earn (Donald Glover), friend Darius (LaKeith Stanfield) and Earn’s partner Van (Zazie Beetz) had been gone since 2018, largely down to the availability of its incredible cast and the minds behind the scenes coming together. The fourth season was the last meaning I’ve seen now seen 41 episodes of Atlanta. Even so, it’s difficult, to sum up, with a great deal of eloquence what exactly Atlanta is. A mix of genre-bending episodes both with and without the central foursome that satirise and lampoon the black experience in America. The third season, which saw Paper Boi and co on a European tour and experiencing casual and not-so-casual racism was often difficult to watch.  The season was criticised by some fans for breaking away from the core cast too often to tell anthology stories. In truth, the anthology stories are often my personal favourites as they give Glover and his team the opportunity to tell any story they like. Season 3 opens with an episode called Three Slaps. The episode focuses on a dream being had by Earn of an African American boy, Loquareeous, who lives with his mother and grandfather and is boisterous at school. The white teachers and administrators at his school are troubled by his mother and grandfather’s emotionally and physically abusive behavior and call social services when Loquareeous’s family physically assaults him in front of the guidance counselor. Through errors in communication, he winds up in a foster home with two white, hippie women, who have adopted several other black children who silently work for them in their home and garden. The episode was inspired by the truly chilling true story dubbed ‘The Hart family murders’ The episode is dark, twisted and funny in a way only Atlanta can pull off. Other anthology hits across this year’s two seasons include The Goof who sat by the door (a true work of genius, this episode, is a documentary that imagines Dinsey’s first Black CEO and his aspiration to make Disney’s first black movie in 1997’s A Goofy Movie) and Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga (A literal black and white episode that focuses on a high school student Aaron, who wants money to go to his dream college. A multimillionaire alumnus promises the high school to pay the college tuition for all black students, and Aaron is tested for his “blackness”). Even the episodes that do feature the main cast like Work Ethic, which sees Van take Lottie along to an audition for the mysterious Mr. Chocolate (Glover hidden under a ton of makeup) quickly turns into a horror film when Mr. Choclate takes a shine to Lottie and Van loses track of her on a set that is always changing. As with any anthology series, some episodes work better than others. The season 3 finale, Tarrare, was a rare misfire for the series because it didn’t feel fully formed and was messy and confused. Moving the group outside of Atlanta, though novel, left the series feeling like it was lacking something. The fourth season and final season returned to Atlanta and felt more focused. The series finale felt particularly Altana-ee, one that will leave you questioning every aspect of the series to that point. Clever, poignant and utterly impossible to pin down, Atlanta went out (as it was always going to) on its own terms. There won’t be another show like it, any copycats won’t last and the imprint it has left on the television landscape with long outlast the show itself. I’m still not sure what Atlanta was, but I’m pleased it existed and just wish more people here in the UK would watch it so I could talk to more folk about it! Written by Luke Knowles

The Lazurus Project (June 2022, Sky Max)  Sky thriller The Lazarus Project is perhaps this year’s prime example of a TV show deserving of far more attention than it received. From the mind of Joe Barton (creator of the also highly underrated Giri/Haji), The Lazarus Project revolves around a secret organisation with the ability to reset time to a ‘checkpoint’ whenever the world is about to end, so they can go back and try to stop it from happening as many times as it takes to succeed – and what happens when a new recruit tries to bend the rules and take advantage of this power to prevent a personal tragedy. The premise may be high-concept, are initially a little tricky to get your head around, but the stakes feel all too real as protagonist George (Papa Essiedu) chaotically hurtles further and further past the point of no return. You’d be hard-pushed to find a more high-octane emotional rollercoaster of a show this year. A second series is currently in the works, so now is the time to catch up before it returns. Written by Sophie Davies.

Under the Banner of Heaven (July 2022, FX/Disney+) In a landscape overly saturated with true crime dramatisations, it is hard to comprehend how one will be even mildly entertaining anymore. However, Under the Banner of Heaven managed to outdo any preconceptions this year and stand out from the crowd. Dustin Lance Black’s adaptation of the same-name nonfiction bestseller finds the perfect balance between the cop show action that is expected and an engaging storyline – this time about religious fundamentalism. The performances are also a cut above the rest and each member of the star-studded cast delivers thoughtful performances. The performances are also memorable here; Sam Worthington is haunting as the murderous Ron Lafferty; Gill Birmingham ignites the background of political and religious tension as one of the two not-in-the-book investigating detectives, and Andrew Garfield delivers a career-defining performance as the devout detective whose faith and way of life are challenged when trauma grips the community. The series also has a real sense of steadiness and unsteadiness keeping the right amount of pacing and tone required to provide a real sense of dread and trepidation suiting the controversial subject matter it deals with. Truth be told, this could have been a disaster. It could have turned into a rote exploitation of organised religion complete with nefarious opinions on its most controversial aspects of violence, racism, and misogyny, but it doesn’t. Instead, the framework of frustrated detectives, evasive suspects, and communal tension amidst a discussion of fundamentalist Mormonism make it one of the year’s best, and in a world tiring of the many true crime dramas available this one is still worth your time. Written by Hannah Fletcher. 

A League of Their Own (August 2022, Prime Video) A TV take from Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson on the 1992 film of the same name. In line with the Madonna-starring film, the TV show revolves around an all-female baseball team in the 1940s USA (based on the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League), but the characters are different from those who featured in the original. You don’t need to know anything about baseball to enjoy A League Of Their Own, as it’s less about the sport and much more about a group of misfits wanting something different from what women were typically allowed at the time. Further distinguishing itself from the 1992 film for the better, the TV show has multiple LGBTQ characters, and we also get to follow the story of a woman who tries out for the team but gets rejected because she is black. Detractors have pointed out that the language used in the series is decidedly modern for the 1940s, but it’s hard to care when the characters are so likeable, the drama is so compelling, and D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place) manages to steal every scene she’s in from the moment she appears on the screen. Written by Sophie Davies.

Bad Sisters (August 2022, Apple TV+) At first glance you might have been thinking that Sharon Horgan’s latest was an Irish flavoured variation of Big Little Lies. In reality, it was a remake of the Flemish series Clan and ended up being one of the very best of the year. Cast to perfection, Bad Sisters walked a delicate tightrope in being both genuinely funny and yet unflinching in its darker moments. Here was a series that celebrated family and sisterhood (and cold morning swims) but which did so through a suspenseful whodunnit that never shied away from the horrors of domestic abuse, while giving audiences one of the great female ensemble casts. Then there was Claes Bang’s performance as John Paul, a character that has the effect of leaving you wanting to smash the television whenever he does something horrible (or uses the term ‘mummy’) that you can’t help but cheer on his inevitable demise, with his performance and the writing involved shaping the character into one of television’s most memorable villains in recent years. Written by Eamon Hennedy

The Rehearsal (August 2022, Sky Comedy/HBO) How best to sum up Nathan Fielder’s latest project? At once funny, discomfiting, profound and genuinely moving, it’s quite simply one of the most unique, unpredictable shows in recent memory. Nathan Fielder has been one of the most unique minds in comedy for years – Nathan For You was a wonderfully offbeat comedy, where it was never entirely clear who was in on the joke and who was an unassuming bystander, with Fielder himself playing it straight the entire time, never once breaking character. The Rehearsal feels like a similarly formatted show, to begin with. Fielder embarks on a mission to assist members of the public with awkward or stressful confessions or making life-changing decisions by providing a safe space for them to rehearse how they will handle the situation. Fielder goes to characteristically extreme lengths to set up the perfect environment for this, constructing meticulous replicas of the required settings on a soundstage, but what begins as a novel premise for a TV show soon takes on a life of its own. It expands beyond the initial premise into a meditation on religion, fatherhood, and the concept of reality television itself. It’s much more introspective than any comedy has a right to be, making you question some fundamentals of television production that are often left unsaid. For example confronting head-on the ethics of casting children who don’t understand the difference between reality and fiction in a thoughtful, moving way. And yet as with Nathan For You, Fielder pushes these ideas just that little bit too far into absurdity, leading to that perfect final moment, a simultaneously disconcerting and hilarious moment that sums up the show perfectly. Written by Nick Bartlett. 

Minx (September 2022, Paramount +) Sill missing GLOW? Try this. An American period comedy-drama about feminist culture clashes and social upheaval with wonderfully sassy performances. Central to both is a relationship between an uptight woman and a sleazy man where they both learn from each other and, despite their differences, become friends. Written by Ellen Rapoport and starring Ophelia Lovibond as Joyce (remember Izzy from W1A?) and Jake Johnson as Doug (best known for New Girl), this is incisive, hilarious, and extremely raunchy. Joyce’s baggage is The Matriarchy Awakens, her failed feminist magazine. She refuses to even pitch her magazine to Doug because he peddles tacky pornography. “I’m not illiterate” Doug reminds her and nor are the centrefolds of Asian Asses who become her first fans. Despite his failings, Doug has gotten hold of the central issue (he defines feminism as “making shit fair and equal for the chicks”) and sees a way to expand into the untapped female market. Kerching. He’ll publish Joyce’s magazine under one condition: The Matriarchy Awakens must become the erotic Minx. Joyce is earnest, preachy and snobbish, pathologically unable to have fun. “Do people enjoy your company?” Doug asks. “Not typically” she responds. So prudish Joyce herself is awakened to the world of Bottom Dollar Publishing. Jessica Lowe plays the irresistible Bambi, a blonde bimbo subverting expectations, who dives right in and reads the Kinsey Report. With Richie, a talented gay photographer and Tina, Doug’s right-hand woman, she spends all day looking at cock for the first centrefold. Insert your own joke here about a hard job. The team want hot; Joyce wants a guy who is an intellectual too, who can sell the philosophy of the magazine. Hilarity ensues and Joyce learns a thing or two about the power dynamic from the other side of the lens. Minx delivers. It’s funny, sexy and thoughtful, paying homage to the pioneering thinkers and activists of the 60s and 70s who helped us all by pushing the boundaries of what women were supposed to want and need. It looks great and sounds great right up to the closing credits which are a riot of sound and colour. Written by Sarah Kennedy.

Am I Being Unreasonable? (September 2022, BBC One) Off the back of the hugely successful This Country, there was perhaps a certain expectation attached to what Daisy May Cooper what might do next. But Am I Being Unreasonable? is a long way from the world of Kerry and Kurtan, and is an unexpected treat. The BBC comedy thriller is co-written by Cooper and long-time friend Selin Hizli, who also star as Nic and Jen, two mums who quickly form a close friendship, while each carrying dark secrets. Cooper and Hizli have brilliant chemistry and are supported by great performances from Dustin Demri-Burns and David Fynn. But a special mention must go to young Lenny Rush who plays Nic’s son Ollie and steals many a scene at the age of only 13. This is surely a breakout role to kickstart a very successful career. The series is grounded in such funny writing, but it is also genuinely thrilling and even scary at times, with several moments making me gasp out loud. Without spoiling anything, the ending really took me by surprise and stayed with me for a long time. Am I Being Unreasonable? is a little gem of a comedy, as bold and harrowing as it is silly and fun, and I look forward to the twists and turns that series 2 will bring. Written by Erin Zammitt.

Ghosts (September 2022, BBC One) Hit BBC sitcom Ghosts returned for a fourth series this year, still mastering a perfect balance between laugh-out-loud comedy and emotionally touching moments. After doing their best to make Button House a wedding venue in the previous series, this time Alison and Mike are trying to set up a small-scale B&B – which naturally the house’s resident ghosts have thoughts about. Tensions run higher than usual throughout the series as the central couple struggle to unwind and Alison gives the ghosts the biggest telling-off they’ve ever received. However, this all falls by the wayside when a momentous change shakes the inhabitants of Button House, resulting in arguably the show’s most poignant episode to date. There are so many characters, jokes and subplots to enjoy in Ghosts that every episode zips by effortlessly – and each series feels like it could easily be longer without ever outstaying its welcome. Here’s hoping there are still plenty more episodes still to come for this heartwarming hug of a show. Written by Sophie Davies.

The Bear (October 2022, Disney+) Welcome to The Original Beef of Chicagoland, a neighbourhood sandwich shop where chaos reigns supreme. Jeremy Allen White is Carmy, the prodigal son of an Italian family, back to run the place after his brother’s death. He’s burnt out thanks to high-stakes, high-stress kitchen environments like NOMA, but he’s still a trier, unwilling to take it easy. He survives on antacids, cigarettes and an all-encompassing self-loathing. He’s not back to be closer to his family, doggedly avoiding them. So what exactly is he here for? Fellow chef Sydney asks him this straight out and his low-key response is “Making sandwiches”. It’s loud, fast, and frenetic even before we see a full kitchen service, and exposition is not on the menu. Like his rag-tag team of cooks, we learn as we go along. Very personal arguments at had speed, and far angrier than anything performative Gordon Ramsay could ever muster. Insufferable cousin Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) tells Carmy he’s pompous and delusional, which is basically true, but one thing can’t be denied: the quality of Carmy’s food. His high standards are at the core of his being, and he’s determined to teach those to his staff. He calls them Chef as a sign of respect. His team, especially the disagreeable Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) call him names to his face. By the end of the series, the team is a stunning ensemble. It feels like these characters are alive after the cameras stop running. Watching one half-hour episode is impossible, but this is also far too good to binge. Love, hate, anger, desperation, and grief are all here, perfectly blended. If anything though, this is a comedy. And those lingering shots of sizzling beef, taking up the screen like a well-seasoned landscape, is far nicer than any M&S advert. My top tip: don’t watch hungry. Written by Sarah Kennedy.

Somewhere Boy (October 2022, Channel 4) This heartfelt, deeply human drama works on many levels. It’s a love story. It’s a story of a father’s deep love for his son and the story of learning to live in a world that you don’t recognize or know anything about. Danny (the brilliant Lewis Gribben) has spent his life in his home with his father Steve (Rory Keenan) watching black and white movies and being told of the dangers that lurk just outside his front door. Steve has been Danny’s protector from the monsters, he goes out to get them meals while Danny watches for monsters. His tiny world is turned on its head when he’s dad dies and he’s taken into the care of his aunt Sue (Lisa McGrillis) and her young family. It’s Danny’s first taste of the world and he’s surprised to see quiet streets and people getting on with their day. Danny may be eighteen but his life up to this point has him still full of childlike innocence. Danny’s family have all been aware of his upbringing and Sue carries tremendous guilt that didn’t intervene sooner, but Danny holds no grudges about his life and he’s the first to defend his dad whenever he calls him ‘a nutter’ or odd. Lewis Gribben is incredible as Danny. He plays him with wide-eyed innocence, and curiosity and gives him an almost other-worldly quality. At times, he has a touch of the ‘Man Who Fell to Earth’ about him. It’s telling that Danny manages to charm everyone who meets him. When Danny learns the truth about his mother’s death he’s determined to get to the bottom of it and ropes in his reluctant cousin Aaron (Samuel Bottomley) to get justice. Pete Jackson’s script manages to never demonize Steve and it cleverly juxtaposes Danny who has lived a simple sheltered life with Aaron who has lived a life of a normal teenager but has also struggled to find his place in the world. Even Danny with his naivety can see behind Aaron’s bravado and he’s quick to spot the people Aaron introducing him to as his friends clearly aren’t. Jackson’s script often cleverly puts Danny as the more emotionally intelligent of the pair and seeing the cousins bond is one of the many joys peppered across the eight episodes. Much like the character at its centre, Somewhere Boy is tender, deeply human and entirely different. Pete Jackson’s first drama is a triumph that is truly one of the gems of the year. Written by Luke Knowles.

The White Lotus (October 2022, HBO) The White Lotus was one of last year’s biggest surprise hits, and, given that it was created as a one-off limited series, some of us were unsure when HBO commissioned a second season. Would it be able to live up to its award-winning first outing the second time around? Thankfully we had nothing to worry about because season 2 of The White Lotus was just as entertaining and sharply written as it was before, located at a resort in Sicily with a new roster of privileged guests for us to judge and watch through our fingers. These include two couples holidaying together despite the fact they have very different worldviews (with Aubrey Plaza on excellent form as sardonic Harper) and three male generations of the same family trying to connect with their Italian roots. Plus Jennifer Coolidge makes a welcome return as fan-favourite Tanya from season 1, this time on vacation with her indecisive assistant and new husband in tow. Cue plenty of awkward conversations, sexual tension, and mystery around who may not make it out of the resort alive. The third season has already been confirmed and I can’t wait to see more. Mike White’s scripts are inventive and incredibly hard to pin down. The White Lotus is still one of the most surprising dramas on television. Written by Sophie Davies.

What We Do in the Shadows (November 2022, FX/Disney+) After being underwhelmed by the third season of what was previously one of my favourite TV comedies, I was hoping for a renaissance from the vampire sitcom and I wasn’t disappointed. What season four got right was refocusing on Harvey Guillen’s familiar/vampire hunter Guillermo who I felt was sidelined throughout the show’s prior run. Guillermo’s arc including a focus on his sexuality, the struggles in his relationship with Nandor (Kayvan Novak) and the season’s cliffhanger which plays into one of the show’s long-running narrative threads. The show also remained incredibly funny with Matt Berry’s Laszlo’s obsession with The Property Brothers-esque ‘Go Flip Yourself’, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) opening a club and, in possibly the most bizarre storyline this year, Mark Proksch portraying Colin Robinson’s evolution after emerging as a baby at the end of season three. Possibly one of the most unique and funniest programmes out there, What We Do in the Shadows regained its mojo this season and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Written by Matt Donnelly.

The Patient (November 2022, Hulu/Disney+) After we named their last series the best of the decade, I’d been eagerly awaiting the next project from Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields – the minds behind The Americans. The Patient wasn’t exactly what I expected but it was no less interesting, compelling and propulsive than their debut series. A two-hander between Steve Carrell’s Doctor Alan Strauss and Domhnall Gleeson’s Sam – the story of a serial killer who kidnaps a psychiatrist in hopes he can help him to overcome his urge to kill. The premise could’ve been silly but Fields and Weisberg make it a character study of the men at the centre. Carell gives his best dramatic performance as Strauss, a man forced to confront his Jewish faith and his failings as a father as he spends hours alone waiting for his captor to come home from work.  Domhnall Gleeson is unnerving as the serial killer who blames his early years at the hands of an abusive father to explain why he commits murders, but in truth, he may just be a psychopath who kills because people don’t bend to his will. It’s a serious show that offers a deep dive into Judaism, grief, and human psychology. With every episode coming in at either just under or just over half an hour everything about the show felt unique and unpredictable. Fields and Weisberg’s follow-up proved they can turn their hands to any genre and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Written by Luke Knowles.

And so, there you have it, our list of the best of 2022. I’m so proud of the site and the content we produce. I couldn’t do without the continued support from my co-editor Matt Donnelly as well as my team, Sophie Davies, Eamonn Hennedy, Milo Milton-Jeffires. Michael Lee, Sarah Kennedy, Dawn Glen, Will Barber-Taylor, Erin Zammitt. Tyler Murray, Nick Bartlett, Hannah Fletcher, Megan Hyland, Mo Walker and  Amy Beth. It means such a lot to have a support team of TV lovers to call on. Thank to everyone who visited the website, listened to the podcast, or interacted with me on social media this year it means the world. Here’s to the best of television of 2023! Editor of www.thecustardtv.com Luke Knowles.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

11/12/2022

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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The Last of Us to return for second season

The Last of Us to return for second season

Critically acclaimed drama The Last of Us has been renewed for a second season. The series from co-creators Craig Mazin (Emmy Award-winning creator of Sky & HBO’s...

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