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The Best TV Shows of 2022

This year was loaded with great TV, and is proud to present 30 of our favorite new and returning series of 2022.

Narrowing down a list of the best TV shows of 2022 is pretty much impossible—yet here we are, attempting to do just that. It’s the end of the year; Media Law demands it.

Here are our top 30 new and returning dramas and comedies that knocked it out of the TV park in 2022. If we missed your favorite(s), let us know in the comments.

Stream the best

All our Best TV Shows of 2022 are available to watch on a major streaming service. Check out our Best On-Demand Streaming Services guide to get the deets on those you might not subscribe to yet.

The best new TV shows of 2022

1. The Bear (stream on Hulu)

Anyone who’s ever worked in the chaotic urgency of a restaurant will appreciate The Bear—few shows have gotten the service industry so right. NYC chef Carmy Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) returns home to Chicago to run his late brother’s seen-better-days sandwich shop, a mismanaged mess populated with an exhausted staff and colorful customers. Add “Yes, chef!” to your vocab.

The Bear (Hulu)

2. Andor (stream on Disney+)

Like its cinematic counterpart Rogue One, Andor doesn’t fit neatly into the Star Wars universe. The series has more in common with Cold War thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy than any lightsaber-swinging Disney+ Star Wars show that’s come before it. Andor was also allowed to craft a dense story over 12 episodes, a luxury in 2022 streaming. “Star Wars for adults” sounds weird, but it works.

Andor (Disney+)

3. Severance (stream on Apple TV+)

Apple TV+ originals are consistently good, but Severance raised the bar with the brain-twisting (and occasionally heart-tugging) ferociousness of “Defiant jazz.” Company workers (including Adam Scott and Britt Lower) punch in and have their off-the-clock memories wiped, then have their job selves deleted at EOD; rinse, repeat daily—and that’s not even the scariest part. Severance will make you reevaluate your work/life balance.

Severance (Apple TV+)

4. Yellowjackets (stream on SHOWTIME®)

A dark dramedy set in the ’90s and now, Yellowjackets is the most deliciously deranged SHOWTIME original since the heyday of Shameless. After a plane crash, a group of teen girls are forced to survive in the wilderness by any means necessary (subtext right there). Twenty-five years later, the grown women (including Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci) still have dark secrets eating away at them (yet more subtext).

Yellowjackets (Showtime)

5. House of the Dragon (HBO; stream on HBO Max)

So much post-Game of Thrones hype—could prequel House of the Dragon ever live up to it? Not only did it deliver on that, but House of the Dragon also trounced perceived competition The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power in sheer pathos, violence, and swagger (and viewership, if you believe the network suits). The dragon-stuffed drama may have even done well enough to avoid being deleted from HBO Max—as of this publishing time, anyway.

House of the Dragon (HBO)

The best of the rest

The Afterparty (Apple TV+), Bad Sisters (Apple TV+), Dark Winds (AMC), The Dropout (Hulu), The English (Prime Video), A League of Their Own (Prime Video), Minx (HBO Max), Peacemaker (HBO Max), The Resort (Peacock), Wednesday (Netflix)

Olivia Bono, Junior Staff Writer: “One of my favorite new shows this year was Paper Girls, a show about time-traveling kids on Amazon Prime Video. I’m a big fan of the comics, and it was really interesting to see how the show changed and expanded the plot to fit a new medium. My unpopular opinion? Good adaptations don’t have to be 100% faithful to be successful!”

The best returning TV shows of 2022

1. Better Call Saul (AMC; stream on Netflix)

As they did with Breaking Bad, showrunners Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould managed to pull off the perfect series finale for Better Call Saul after six seasons. The transformation of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) into sleazeball Breaking Bad lawyer Saul Goodman was unpredictable, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant in giving its characters (including Kim, profoundly played by Rhea Seehorn) a happy-ish ending.

Better Call Saul (AMC)

2. Better Things (FX; stream on Hulu)

Part autobiographical comedy, part art film, all celebration of single motherhood, star/writer/director Pamela Adlon’s Better Things pushed the Curb Your Enthusiasm template to emotional extremes over five seasons. As Donald Glover did with Atlanta, Adlon ended Better Things on her own terms in 2022, establishing a 52-episode statement that no artist is going to top (not even Glover).

Better Things (FX)

3. Barry (HBO; stream on HBO Max)

Black comedy Barry roared back with a delayed third season in 2022, a hilarious and sometimes shocking escalation of affairs—you can never get too comfortable with Barry. Disillusioned hitman Barry (Bill Hader) is at his lowest point yet, but he’s still determined to get out of the crime game and become an actor. On that front, Season 3 of Barry also doubled down on the ridiculousness of Hollywood (better not tick off HBO Max, Bar).

Barry (HBO)

4. Reservation Dogs (stream on Hulu)

The first season of Reservation Dogs was framed by the death of a close friend and its effect on four Indigenous teens in rural Oklahoma. Season 2 dug deeper into that grief, but never at the expense of the sharp comedy that drives the series (it is a Taika Waititi co-production, after all). Watch for hysterical cameos by Marc Maron, “White Jesus,” and Amber Midthunder (Prey) as an “Indigenous influencer.”

Reservation Dogs (Hulu)

5. Abbott Elementary (ABC; stream on Hulu)

It’s The Office relocated to an elementary school, but so what? Abbott Elementary is one of few broadcast comedy hits in years (see also: Ghosts), and it re-proved itself in 2022 with an even stronger sophomore season. Show creator/writer/star Quinta Brunson and the Abbott Elementary cast are a tight comic ensemble that hasn’t delivered a dud episode yet—something the first two seasons of The Office can’t claim.

Abbott Elementary (ABC)

The best of the rest

Acapulco (Apple TV+), Atlanta (FX), Dead to Me (Netflix), Doom Patrol (HBO Max), Ghosts (CBS), Hacks (HBO Max), The Kids in the Hall (Prime Video), Made for Love (HBO Max), What We Do in the Shadows (FX), The White Lotus (HBO)

Mike Strayer, Managing Editor: “At the risk of professional suicide, I confess that one of my favorite shows of 2022 was The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Season 2 finished up in March, and Season 3 is about halfway over as of this writing. From accusations of fake funerals to Angie K.’s champagne-soaked blowout hair, RHOSLC ruled trash TV—change my mind.”

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