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2022: The Year in Television
Where's the event programming? Plus, my favorite shows of 2022.
Greetings from frigid cold Lexington, Kentucky where it currently feels like it’s -30 degrees.
First, thanks for reading and happy holidays! Based on the feedback I received on last week’s Favorite Reads of 2022 megapost, I’ve decided to post more often. So in the spirit of the rapidly approaching holiday break, along with this gigantic winter storm that’s left many of us stuck indoors all weekend (aka Peak Binge szn), I figured I’d share my favorite TV shows of 2022.
First, I wanted to share a recent observation I had in regards to television consumption in today’s streaming world. If you follow me, you’ll know I LOVE TV! I love texting friends about shows old and new, jumping into group threads about what we just watched and getting everyone’s thoughts/POVs and hypothesizing what’s going to happen next. It’s what makes a show like The White Lotus so fun and exciting. It’s interactive! Communal viewing experiences matter!
Sadly, outside of HBO Sunday nights (+ sometimes Monday), it seems like every streaming service wants us to consume their biggest programming on our own time and engage in post-episode discourse via listening to podcasts on our own schedule without even trying to capture some of HBO’s Sunday night magic. For more than 96% of new shows, that’s fine but given the budgets attached to some of these shows, wouldn’t it make sense to TRY?
One of my favorite shows this year, Andor is essentially a Star Wars show for adults created by screenwriting god Tony Gilroy and its excellent. It’s obvious that Disney supported Gilroy’s vision for a Star Wars series both creatively and financially and I applaud them. Still, it kills me to see that a show with multiple pantheon level episodes in the Star Wars canon (E6 + E10) air at 3am EST/12am PST for no reason other than that’s how Disney releases new shows on Disney+. What are we doing here!?
Shows on Disney+ like Andor and all of their Marvel shows are huge investments—easily in the eight figures that take years to develop and produce, most of which come with huge marketing budgets. So it’s strange to see that they’re just thrown on the service on Wednesday mornings at 3am. Why?
You’d think they’d want to create a moment, increase ~nonexistent~ real-time discourse around their shows, which increases interest in the service. If you want to highlight the absolute best shows your company has to offer, why not select a night and drop it at 9pm? For instance, I’d suggest Disney make it Wednesday at 9pm EST. Immediately, they’ll create a way to signal “this show matters!” while not competing with their NFL programming and barely impacting linear broadcast.
It’s a small thing that really only applies to 1-2 shows per streaming service each quarter, but if streamers really want to signal to audiences that a show they’ve invested tens of millions of dollars matters, perhaps it’s best not to drop it at a time where there’s zero chance for collective consumption and conversation. We’re missing out on the fun of White Lotus elsewhere, we’re missing a collective gasp in episode 10 of Andor with ONE WAY OUT…and more than anything, it’s a bummer!
Thanks for indulging me. Below are my favorite shows of the year, plus some honorable mentions. I’ll have more updates in the new year on what I’ve been working on professionally, and as always, if you’d like to discuss anything I’ve mentioned or anything at all, feel free to shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preface: I wrote this pretty quick. Apologies for any grammatical errors.
The Righteous Gemstones (HBO)
Slow Horses (Apple TV+)
The Titans Who Built America (History)
The Food That Built America (History)
Dopesick (Hulu. 2021)
Light & Magic (Disney+)
Hacks (HBO Max)
Stranger Things s4 (Netflix)
10. Euphoria (HBO)
Is Sam Levinson’s direction in Euphoria the best direction in television this year? It’s certainly possible. It’s a toss up between Levinson and Bill Hader’s in Barry but I’ll give it to Euphoria this year for the silly reason that he went the extra mile to shoot season 2 all in Kodak 35mm Ektachrome film.
9. We Own This City (HBO)
Wayne Jenkins Day. David Simon. George Pelecanos. Nuff said.
8. Industry (HBO)
1/3rd of the rapid fire financial jargon used on Industry is far over my head, but it adds a level of authenticity necessary to the show. I love how Industry’s creators treat their world and the audience with that respect and authenticity. Can’t wait for season 3!
7. Black Bird (Apple TV+)
There needs be more discussion on Paul Walter Hauser as one of the best actors working today.
6. The Dropout (Hulu)
Amanda Seyfried is so good in The Dropout that Jennifer Lawrence said, “no thanks.”
5. Better Call Saul (AMC)
Next year has to be Rhea Seehorn’s year to finally win her well-deserved Emmy, right? The series finale was the perfect ending to the most amazing slow burn show of the decade.
4. The Rehearsal (HBO)
The incredible first episode alone landed The Rehearsal on my top 10 list and the subsequent episodes only lifted it higher and higher. I just hope Nathan Fielder never tells us the secrets behind his genius show. Props to HBO for supporting his crazy vision to the fullest extent because it’s brilliant.
3. The White Lotus (HBO)
The White Lotus is NOT a murder mystery, but you can tell that Mike White had a lot of fun making everyone think it was. I don’t know how White wrote and directed two seasons at this level in such a short period of time but I’m impressed! Here’s to hoping we get many more seasons of White Lotus at the same level as the first two.
2. The Bear (Hulu)
A perfect season of television. If you haven’t seen episode 7 of The Bear, it’s an all-timer. A 20 minute one-shot captured in just five attempts. The Bear uses constraints to really heighten the anxiety inside a kitchen and succeeds in ways that most shows would fail miserably. I have to give props to The Bear’s creator Christopher Storer for his awesome music supervision. Storer, uniquely did the show’s music supervision himself to both to save money and also, because the details matter and he got it right, which I love!
Unpopular opinion: I thought The Bear ended perfectly and we don’t need another season but we’re getting one. Let’s hope the second course is just as good as the first!
Let It Rip!
1b. Andor (Disney+)
Best writing on television right now. All the details matter. Do you need to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy or understand Andor? Nope! Andor could be set in almost any environment/time/etc which is one of the reasons why it’s so great.
Check out Episodes 6 + 10. One Way Out!
1a. Station Eleven (HBO Max)
quick caveat: Station Eleven was released in mid-December 2021, however, I watched it in January 2022
I could write thousands of words about Station Eleven, which I devoured in one sitting, but I won’t. Ultimately, it’s a show that’s difficult to articulate why it’s so great, but I’ll keep it simple and say it’s a show about: empathy, love, relationships and moving forward. It’s beautiful.
Showrunner Patrick Somerville took Emily St. John Mandel’s bestselling post-pandemic story and made me care about all of these fascinating people and their desire to rebuild society in the wake of a pandemic. There’s elements of both LOST and The Leftovers in Station Eleven and the way the story is weaved together is brilliant.
For those who are apprehensive to watch a pandemic show, I get it, but it’s not scary or morbid about a pandemic. It’s about hope, love and more. Episodes 5, 8, 9 are pantheon level. Just watch it.