I watched less television this year. Or, at least, it felt like it. Although we can still count the hours of episodes here as quite a few, I didn’t dive into the small screen like I have previously. For some shows, I tuned in weekly for new adventures. For others, I caught up or binged all at once. A few I’ve even fallen behind on. Regardless, 2022 brought new and old favorites back to life and I enjoyed every second. Even then, we have a list of rules that helped:
- Must be a show I watched and loved in 2022. Either something I’ve never seen before or a show that released a new season with a majority of episodes in this year.
- I’ll explain why this show is a favorite of 2022: whether it’s a memory, a particular episode, or just a basic reason why I love the show.
- As I do not have cable, most of these are gathered from my access to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or other sources.
Let’s tune in!
Abbott Elementary (Season 1-2). I hope the mockumentary style of sitcoms never ends. From The Office to Parks and Rec and more, the documenting of the often ‘every day’ happenings of a setting make for prime entertainment. In this show, camera crews follow the teachers at the titular school in Philadelphia. Janine Teagues (creator Quinta Brunson) is a relatively new teacher, still full of optimism about changing the system. Not all of her co-workers feel the same and with a pretty useless principal (Janelle James) they have their work cut out. As someone who has taught, the education humor definitely hits right. Additionally, the genuine care these teachers have for their students shines. The slowburn romance between Janine and Gregory is going to kill me. Every member of the cast brings something to the screen, and you can’t help but care for them all. This might be the first time I’ve wanted winter break to end as quickly as it can.
Attack on Titan: The Final Season (Season 4: Part 2). This three-part split on the last season of Attack on Titan is driving me crazy. For the quality of the animation and the pacing of the story, however, I understand the choice. As someone who just wants to learn how it all ends, I can’t wait for 2023 much longer. Here, the conflict between Marley, the Jaegarists, and the Survey Corps continues to heat up. We learn more backstory about how the titans came to be, how the subjects of Ymir are persecuted by other countries, and what the right choice should be. The action and violence are amazing, and plenty of the episodes end on heart-stopping moments. Multiple seasons in, it’s amazing to see how much these characters have changed and how all of these choices and moments have led to these conflicts. As always, this is an anime with a surprising amount of morality and ethics behind it, sure to case its own debate.
Bluey. One day, I put on this Australian children’s show to see what it was about and because I needed something without drama. Next thing I know, I’m obsessed. In short, easily digestible episodes, this show follows the Heeler family: Dad/Bandit, Mum/Chilli, Bingo, and Bluey. Together, they discover the magic and difficulties of childhood. This show somehow perfectly captures the imaginative games and their make-believe rules, while also leaving room for mistakes and growth. If you thought this was just for kids, then be prepared for parenting advice or serious thematic details hidden in the fun. Episodes like “Bus”, “Sleepytime”, and “Onesies” are great at showcasing the best elements of the show. It’s amazing how such a short episode can hit you with the feels by the end. This is a show that’s perfect for the whole family, and even childless adults can find some stress relief in the days of childhood.
Midnight Mass. I will love anything Mike Flanagan puts out. In this miniseries, he combines the inherent dogma of Catholicism with the mysticism of the supernatural. Riley, freed from a four-year jail sentence after drunk driving, returns to the isolation of Crockett Island. Then, a young priest arrives and begins to preach miracles. The island will never be the same. The series does fall prey to a few Flanagan-isms, like monologues, but the thematic and dramatic weight of the series is heavy. The show has a certain Stephen King-esque appeal to it with characters (like fanatic Bev Keane, played dutifully by Samantha Sloyan) who are in various states of conflict at all times. The horror is beautiful, especially in the finale, and the contrast between angels and demons has never been grayer. Like many of his other projects, Flanagan knows how to scare and move you to tears with memorable stories.
Our Flag Means Death (Season 1). This show would win the award for My Biggest Obsession of 2022. I watched the ten episodes multiple times. Loosely based on history, the show follows Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby), a member of the gentry in the early 1700s, who leaves his family and home behind to be a pirate. His methods are remarkable and he strikes up a relationship with Blackbeard (Taika Waititi) that leads to adventure, romance, and a different kind of treasure. I love the humor in this show, which acknowledges modern-day knowledge about pirates while playing into the period. The episodes are short and sweet, and always left me wanting more. The colorful crew of the Revenge works to the show’s advantage, and we get to know them and their goals as well. Somehow, the death of a seagull will move you. The transformation of Stede and Blackbeard by each other will surely lead to great things in the second season. I can hardly wait.
Over the Garden Wall. I had heard about this miniseries through various grapevines, but didn’t sit down to watch it until a dreary autumn day. That was perfect weather for this tale of two brother’s journey through the dark and creepy woods. Wirt (Elijah Wood) and Greg (Collin Dean) find themselves in various misadventures and settings—like a school for animals, a pumpkin-headed harvest, and a pub full of archetypes. The show is misleadingly aesthetic, which only increases the moments of terror when the Beast appears. The story feels at home in fairy and tall tales. The ninth episode’s twist is memorable and deepens the tragedy and moodiness of the earlier scenes. Overall, this is a miniseries I could revisit every year when the gentle wind beckons through the leaves.
Spy X Family (Season 1). I love anime series that put together interesting characters into various situations. This narrative finds us in a fictional cold war between two countries (similar to East and West Germany). Twilight, a spy who is trying to investigate the leader of Ostania, creates a mock family as a cover. His new wife, Yor, seems unassuming but is secretly a master assassin. His daughter, Anya, is precocious and adorable, and secretly telepathic. They all have their hidden lives while making a new one together. The action and humor work well, but it’s mostly the characters that have charmed me week after week. This may be a fake family, but they have real chemistry. It’s reminiscent of the fun spy thrillers of the 60s, where the consequences are high but never all that real.
Stranger Things (Season 4). While the last two seasons of Netflix’s sci-fi powerhouse were good, I didn’t find myself captivated the same way I was with the first. The fourth, however, changed my mind completely. Separated into multiple plotlines and goals, we find Hawkins in trouble again from another dark creature of the Upside Down. Somehow, our characters in Russia, California, and Indiana will join together for battle. Obviously, the standout of the season is Joseph Quinn as Eddie Munson, a Dungeon Master metal head who’s dragged into the drama. Although there are three distinct plotlines, I found the Hawkins one to be the most engaging and time spent away with that was slightly less interesting. The cool thing about watching these characters go through puberty and traumatic events are how they change from that initial introduction. Mike and Jonathan felt less likeable, Joyce put her priorities in a different direction, and Steve and Nancy stepped up their game. Music supervisor, Nora Felder, chose some amazing 80s tracks to feature in key scenes that amp up their memorability. This season was more horrific and felt more tragic than the earlier seasons, and the costs keep increasing. I’m excited to see what next season will bring.
Umbrella Academy (Season 3). Somehow, this show can have an apocalypse every season and still feel relatively fresh. The Umbrella siblings find themselves in an altered timeline after the events of the previous season; they’ve been replaced by a slightly more functional team of super-powered and famous individuals, including a living Ben. Can the drama between the Umbrella Academy and the Sparrow Academy be set aside in favor of saving the world? As usual, the best parts of the show feature Klaus (Robert Sheehan) and Five (Aiden Gallagher). A few of the plotlines and elements, especially the direction Allison’s takes, were a bit ick. However, I like the contrast in bad/good and how the season handles a slightly more understandable figure of Reginald Hargreeves. I’m interested what apocalypse the next season will bring, but it may not hold up to my expectations.
Yellowjackets (Season 1). This is another show I’ve been obsessed with—for good reason. The drama is told in dual narratives. In the past, a high school soccer team is stranded in the wilderness when their plane crashes. In the present, a handful of the survivors try to move on with their lives and make sense of what happened. What I love most about this show is how it plays with viewers assumptions. We assume it’s a Lord of the Flies narrative, and we’re only given a few months of their 19-month stay in the wild to see how it begins to devolve. In the present, we can see how the general public have framed this tragedy and assume the girls become cannibals. Both timelines play with the relationships between the team, their friendships, and drive people together and apart. To see how this trauma has effected the survivors later is harrowing. The old-young casting is brilliant, and many of the performances, especially Melanie Lynskey, are great. I loved survival tales like Hatchet when I was little, and this puts an a darker, adult spin on a favorite narrative. I am hungry for the next season.
Although I watched and kept track of the shows I enjoyed, many weren’t my top favorites by December. This doesn’t mean they weren’t good, though, so I’d like to mention them below.
- Euphoria (Season 1)
- The Gilded Age
- How I Met Your Father
- Miracle Workers
- Moon Knight
- Ms. Marvel
- My Hero Academia (Season 6)
- She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
- Ted Lasso (Season 1)
- What We Do in the Shadows (Season 4)
As always, I have more shows I missed, and plenty will be released in the next year. I hope I can find more to love and enjoy in 2023.
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