Top 22 Shows of 2022

Top 22 Shows of ’22

Our (formerly) annual list of top streams is back! The Top 22 Shows of ’22 weren’t the only shows we watched, but shows that we needed to discuss and rank! Beware of spoilers!

22. The Cleaning Lady, Season 2

We start off with Fox’s The Cleaning Lady, a hometown favorite not only because it was shot here in Albuquerque, but it also resembles another New Mexico hit, Breaking Bad. Season 2 sees Thony dealing with the death and cover-up of her husband. She starts dealing with Arman in an attempt to hand Kamdar over to the FBI.

Our Reaction: Great performances by the entire cast – Elodie Yung, Eva de Dominici, Martha Millan, Adan Canto, etc. It’s hard to recall a substantial portion of Filipino characters in a major network drama, and they all knock it out of the park. The Cleaning Lady is a nice break from all of the network cop and doctor shows out there.

On a side note, we’re bummed Elodie Yung won’t be returning as Elektra in the upcoming Daredevil project. (On the other hand, it’s rumored it’s going to be goofier than the original series.) You can catch The Cleaning Lady Season 2 on Fox/Hulu. Haven’t started? Season 1 is also on HBOMax.

Hook Factor: 5/10
Our Rating: 6/10
Released: Fox/Hulu, Sept 19, 2022

21. Winning Time Season 1

The story of how Jerry Bus got a hold of a fledgling NBA franchise (weren’t they all in the 70s?) and brought Showtime basketball to LA with the help of Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Our Reaction: We were eager to see Adam McKay’s (adult) portrayal of this pivotal time in NBA history. It looked great from a scale point of view (actor Solomon Hughes, who plays Kareem, is 6’11”) and John C. Reilly is sympathetic as he struggles with the team and failing health of his mother (Sally Field). Even though the real-life Magic, Kareem, and Jerry West have blasted the show as factless, it didn’t alter our existing view of the real events or people involved.

Hook Factor: 6/10
Our Rating: 6/10
Released: Season 1, HBOMax, March 6, 2022

20. Pennyworth Season 3

Pennyworth burst onto the scene in 2019. It told the origins of Alfred Pennyworth, known mostly as Bruce Wayne’s butler. After Michael Caine was approached to play Alfred in the Christian Bale version of the Batman films, he created the backstory for Alfred, which evolved into this prequel HBOMax series.

Pennyworth 3

Our Reaction: WHAT. THE HELL. HAPPENED. TLDR: Seasons 1 & 2 great, Season 3 abort. ABORRRRT!

Pennyworth Seasons 1 & 2 were great pieces of entertainment. Action-packed, sexy, hilarious, with a touch of camp. Ex-SAS officer Alfred Pennyworth suffers loss, a questionable home life, a lack of moral direction, not to mention funds. His fight in the war against the fascist Ravens made Pennyworth a bingeable, fun ride. Close your eyes, and Jack Bannon sounded like the younger Michael Caine.

Season 3, however, was a debacle.

First, the show’s name changed to “Pennyworth, the Origin of Batman’s Butler,” which is not only super long, but super stupid. You’re describing the premise, in the title, in the THIRD season? Oh yea! That tactic worked for ”Seinfeld: Neat Jewish Comedian Who Talks About Nothing,” and “Ted Lasso: Upbeat American Goes to England to Coach Soccer.”

Then, each episode started with a character narrating what happened in the last episode, an antiquated tactic we might have seen in the campy, 1960’s Batman series. And they put subtitles on it! In ALL CAPS we might add, as if some exec said, “I can’t understand the accents. Fix this!”

The episodes were lifeless. Bruce and Martha’s constant fighting was not only unenjoyable to watch, but it lead nowhere and wasn’t satisfactorily resolved. Oh yea, they previously had a kid, and it was not named Bruce. Batman doesn’t have an older sister. So that little girl, Samantha, is nothing in this series. So, thanks for that. To add to the confusion, Samantha Wayne is the daughter of Bruce and Wonder Woman outside of Pennyworth canon.

Bet Sykes – played wonderfully by Paloma Faith – could’ve continued being great. That did not happen. She went Raven hunting, went after Salt, and like everything else this season, went nowhere. Lucius Fox, another great character who wasn’t given anything to do but babysit the superhumans, joined Bet on the bus to nowhere.

The unfocused episodes often had Alfie going on one-off missions, like we were tuning into an old western each week. The season-long arc of Francis dispersing the mind control chemical “Lullabye” across the city was fine in its conception, but terrible in its execution. Francis is not even portrayed as a criminal, just as some type of misguided, artsy guru. He seems shocked when *spoiler* – umm, the mindless zombies that he unleashed – kill him. As if he didn’t know what he was doing. Francis is barely in Season 3, yet he masterminds the entire arc. Maybe next time, have a real criminal as a villain, and umm, have Alfie actually engage with him.

We don’t know what happened behind the scenes at Warner to destroy Pennyworth. Maybe had something to do with consolidation of management or the merger in general. But it’s sad to see such a fun show die such a horrible death. Pennyworth was officially cancelled in February 2023.

Hook Factor: 5/10
Our Rating: 3/10
Released: Season 3, HBOMax, October 6, 2022

19. Bad Sisters

From actor/writer/director/comedian Sharon Horgan comes Bad Sisters, which premiered on Apple TV+ in 2022. It follows the story of five, tight-knit sisters who are out to eliminate a truly horrendous brother-in-law from their lives.

Our Reaction: We loved Sharon Horgan in the hit, Catastrophe, and even the not-so-hit, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, but Bad Sisters is next level. Beautifully shot (in picturesque Ireland we presume), storytelling felt efficient and didn’t meander. Still, it’s not for everyone. Everything that John Paul (“JP”) does is so despicable, you might just opt to switch the TV off.

Hook Factor: 8/10
Our Rating: 6/10
Released: Season 1, Apple TV+, August 19, 2022

18. Stranger Things Season 4

Stranger Things returns for Season 4. Eleven struggles with everything always.

Stranger Things 4 photo

Our Reaction: New characters Eddie Munson and Argyle breathe life into a stale cast dynamic. If they were looking for that season-defining character (last season’s was Robin), Eddie is definitely it this year. As for the other kid, how cool would it have been if they had made him the same Argyle that drives Bruce Willis around in Die Hard?

Sadie Sink continues her ascent to the top of this cast, almost displacing Millie Bobbie Brown as female lead. It was Max’s possessed hovering that became the iconic scene of the season — and even had one family replicating it in their driveway for Halloween.

Stranger Things topped our list six years ago, but steadily trended down with each new season. The main reason is that the story hasn’t progressed enough in that time. Everyone’s still fighting the same monsters with no solution in sight. Troubles in the upside-down are blended with predictable interpersonal and romantic conflicts, which aren’t all that interesting. The payoff on bullies this season weren’t fulfilling enough for our taste.

Nostalgic 80s packaging captivated us in the first two seasons, but the novelty has worn off. We suppose keeping the show fresh is hard to achieve when cute kids grow into awkward teens. But writing down Dustin, Lucas and Will is disappointing. Dustin’s “girlfriend” Suzy is a non-character (again) this season, and is merely a plot device. The longer episodes, in two parts, made the whole season drag. If Stranger Things can’t recapture its glory, we truly hope the series ends soon.

In the meantime, if 80s nostalgia with a less elusive storyline is what you crave, check out #4 on our list!

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 6/10
Released: Season 4, Netflix, May 27, 2022

17. Abbott Elementary Season 2

Technically, Abbott S2 is still in session, so it’s a bit lower on the list than it might have been if it were bingeable. Quinta Brunson returns as idealistic public school teacher, Janine Teagues.

Abbott Elementary Season 2

Our Reaction: Abbott, the current leader in cringe-mockumentary comedy, returns with a B+ second season (so far).  The writing and performances have been good, and there hasn’t been Philly team this strong at every position since the ’83 Sixers. Episode 10, Holiday Hookah, which spent a little more time being serious, was probably our favorite episode so far.

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 6/10
Released: Season 2, ABC/Hulu, September 21, 2022

16. Upload Season 2

From creator Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks & Rec, King of the Hill), comes Upload, which follows the life of ’LA douchebag‘ Nathan Brown, a recently deceased whose consciousness has been uploaded into a digital afterlife. Season 2 sees Nathan learning the truth about his death while dealing with Nora and his living (ex?) girlfriend.

Our Reaction: Upload was a timely distraction when it debuted at the start of the 2020 pandemic. It was inventive, hilarious, and romantic – a worthy surrogate for those stuck indoors with a dull partner. Season 2, though not as funny, was still worthy of a spot on our list. We cannot get enough of Owen Daniels in this.

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 7/10
Released: Season 2, Prime Video, March 11, 2022

15. Hacks Season 2

Comic Deborah Vance and young comedy writer Ava Daniels are back – on a road trip. Ava tries to undo the betrayal she made in Season 1.

Hacks Season 2

Our Reaction: After a dynamite first season which saw Hacks win several awards, Season 2 stumbles a bit. We still love the premise of showing, not necessarily the idiocy of the millennial point of view, but how unsuitably central to everything it can be. After Deborah gawks at her brand new master bedroom, Ava mumbles, “You actually shouldn’t say ‘master’ bedroom anymore, because the term is rooted in slavery.” Looks and silence. “Not your problem to solve!” she squeaks, as the door closes in her face.

The other parts of the show feel like they don’t go anywhere, such as the Marcus storyline. The Vance mother-daughter strife (with Kaitlin Olson) competes with the main Deborah-Ava conflict, so the show doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. Still a good watch, but not in our Top 10.

Hook Factor: 6/10
Our Rating: 6/10
Released: Season 2, HBOMax, May 12, 2022

14. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4

Midge is reeling after being dropped from Shy Baldwin’s tour. “Revenge!” she screams into a mic (which real life comedian, Chris Rock, was probably thinking in March 2022). Does the season deliver on this declaration?

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4

Our Reaction: We liked the set up for Season 4. Midge blew her big gig, was indebted to her ex-father-in-law (Kevin Pollack), and resorted to working at a strip club. Susie expanded her business with Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch). Abe wrote for the Village Voice, which caused backlash within his community. Rose got serious about her matchmaking business, and ran afoul of the existing syndicate. There’s a small storyline we liked about Mei’s difficulty as a bicultural outsider trying to fit in with “Jewish culture.” There was plenty of change for hilarity to ensue.

While it had its moments (“Abe, you were 30 and unmarried. And your wardrobe! They had to throw in a savings bond and a Turkish ceremonial rifle set for my father!”), Maisel 4 suffered from that penultimate season (and possible pandemic) lull.  Some of the scenes dragged on a bit, fewer jokes landed, and the season-defining moments were more subdued. Miriam’s revenge – her confrontation with Shy in the bathroom – was a nice, quiet scene. Could it have been more? The opening Lenny Bruce rant in Episode 6 was almost enough to switch off the TV. Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein and the main cast were phenomenal as always, but these episodes merely inched the story towards the end. Which we won’t wait long for – Season 5 debuts April 14, 2023 on Prime.

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 6/10
Released: Season 4, Prime Video, February 18, 2022

13. Kids in the Hall Season 2

The quirky Canadians from the 90s are back in this special series on Amazon’s Prime Video. But, like updated, eh!

Kids in the Hall 2022

Our Reaction: We were excited to see a reboot of The Kids in the Hall, a series we enjoyed in the 90s. If you haven‘t seen it, it was the weirder, more tight knit, and sometimes funnier cousin to Lorne Michaels’ other show, Saturday Night Live.

We’re happy to report the updated KITH 2022 is as strong as its original. It acknowledges the aftermath of MeToo, cancel culture and diversity topics that have driven social commentary in recent years. But not too much. It pokes fun at itself, Lorne, and brings back classic characters and sketches (“The Eradicator always eradicates!”). It continues its cross-dressing and sometimes nude ways. It does another important thing that reboots should – keeps its original theme song! We’re talking to you, Head of the Class. Mad About You. Night Court. That 90’s Show. (Okay that one’s technically a spinoff, but basically a reboot.)

KITH does not pretend that time hasn’t passed them by. They start the new series waking up from their final 1995 buried alive scene, reacting to the horrors of their 2022 selves (“Am I still the cute one?” whimpers Dave Foley). It simply delivers what The Kids would look like in today’s world. The answer is yes, old. But funny. 30 Helens agree.

Hook Factor: 8/10
Our Rating: 8/10
Released: Season 1 Reboot, Prime Video, March 15, 2022

12. Cobra Kai Season 5

The nostalgic action series kicks its way into another season, plumbing the depths of the Karate Kid universe.

Cobra Kai Season 5

Our Reaction: Look, Cobra Kai is getting up there in age. It’s not the fresh, 80s revisit it once was (see Stranger Things above, #18). Still, we respect how they’ve brought back so many key characters and villains from the movies to play some kind of role in this series. Otherwise we would’ve gone, “What about that dude? Or that dude?” There was always a bit of silliness in the storylines – Season 5 is no different – but it’s on-brand for Karate Kid, and why it’s reached so many people. Finally, unlike Stranger Things, Cobra Kai’s origins are authentically from the 80s. Johnny Lawrence, the man that time forgot, is still the best thing in Cobra Kai. Hashbrown dead meat!

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 7/10
Released: Season 5, Netflix, September 9, 2022

11. Wednesday Season 1

A high-profile reimagining of the Addams Family world, starring Jenna Ortega in the titular role, hit Netflix in 2022.

Wednesday Season 1

Our Reaction: Wednesday is a contemporary retelling that can sit comfortably next to Netflix’s shelf of young adult hits. But it also had enough charm from previous Addams incarnations to make this a likable hit for older audiences. The only eyebrow raised in terms of casting was with Luis Guzman (whom we love). We felt the Rasta Monsta entrepreneur lacked the graceful boyishness of previous Gomezes, John Astin and Raul Julia.

From a catalog point of view, Wednesday is extremely similar to Netflix’s other YA shows. Strong female characters, a world of their peers. Unique individuality (or “weirdness”) harboring some type of special power or sense. Persecution of the protagonist is a must, and maybe a ritual of some kind is involved. Vibe’s some degree of creepy, morbid or magical. It helps to have school uniforms. Wait, were we talking about Wednesday, or Sabrina? Umbrella Academy, or Stranger Things? Locke and Key or Riverdale? Netflix big data FTW!

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 8/10
Released: Season 1, Netflix, November 23, 2022

10. Barry Season 3

Barry (Emmy-award winning co-creator, Bill Hader) tries to win back acting coach Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), who last season found out the truth about Janice’s murder.

Barry Season 3

Our Reaction: We’ve noticed penultimate seasons take a noticeable dip in quality lately. Not Barry. Season 3 continued its perfect weaving of Barry’s ongoing Fuches dispute with the acting life he wants to lead. Bill Hader is phenomenal in this.

The main characters, and how their lives have intertwined with Barry’s madness feels very natural. That includes (ex?) girlfriend, Sally, acting coach Cousineau, NoHo Hank, and Fuches. It’s still introducing new characters, too, like Annie (Laura San Giacomo) and Joe Mantegna (as himself). We love Elizabeth Perkins in her small but funny role. This season’s ending hopefully sets up a great series wrapup. The final 8-episode season debuts April 16, 2023.

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 8/10
Released: Season 3, HBO/HBOMax, April 24, 2022

9. Ghosts Season 2

When we last saw Sam and Jay, they’d just opened Woodstone Bed and Breakfast to its first customers. Then a giant hole swallowed them.

Ghosts Season 2

Our Reaction: Who said network was dead? While its competitors at Netflix and HBO have luxuries such like ad-free programming and the use of nudity and profanity (see #8 for the latter), CBS’s Ghosts still satisfies two key sitcom-creation criteria: Does the audience want to hang out with these characters, and does the audience like being in this setting?

Ghosts goes beyond these two essential requirements, of course. People from different times in history (instant diversity!) who have died at Woodstone Mansion make up the supernatural group. As ghosts and humans navigate the physics and complications of this world, hilarity ensues.

The American version of Ghosts surpasses its UK predecessor in our opinion, mostly because Jay’s character is much more dynamic. As for the season, there’s not a weak episode in the bunch. TBH, we’ve already re-watched some episodes. We love the ghostly cast – hope no one gets sucked off this season!

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 8/10
Released: Season 2, CBS, Paramount+ September 29, 2022

8. The Righteous Gemstones Season 2

The Gemstone kids are just that – selfish brats with too much money and not enough self regulation. This season, the past catches up with evangelist Eli Gemstone (John Goodman) and threatens his entire operation.

Righteous Gemstones Season 2

Our Reaction: Season 2 started out slow for us. It all changed with Episode 4, As to How They Might Destroy Him. Judy’s husband BJ got baptized in a huge Gemstone ceremony, invited “weird people” (his family!), and put on a pink tuxedo onesie. There were broken fingers, thrown cake, assassination attempts, muscly-men, and a rockin’ 80s soundtrack. This, for us, is when the season went next gear.

The different plot lines are equally funny and materialize well. Edi Patterson could be Danny McBride’s twin sister. As in Vice Principals, she’s at times plain hilarious (caterpillar song) and other times, brilliantly hilarious (her “cooch puckers”). Walton Goggins edges into Gemstone life as the deplorable, Funyun forgettin’ Baby Billy. A satisfying second half saves – nay, propels – this season, right into our top 10. Praise the lowered!

Hook Factor: 7/10
Our Rating: 8/10
Released: Season 2, HBOMax January 9, 2022

7. Acapulco Season 2

AppleTV+’s warm-hearted series about the hot pink Las Colinas resort returns for a second season. Máximo navigates several changes in his life, including Julia’s impending marriage to Chad.

 Acapulco Season 2

Our Reaction: Season 2 continues Máximo’s story about his time back in the 80s at Las Colinas. Great performances all around, with subplots (Memo, Diane, Don Pablo, Sara) just as engaging as the lead arc. We somehow care about what happens to every single character. One thing we missed were the slew of 80s hits sung in Spanish by the resort’s hilarious poolside lounge act. Gold!

We devoured Acapulco Season 2 as fast the last season of Ted Lasso. We just miss the days when a season meant 22 episodes. Waiting a year for just 10 half-hour episodes is madness.

Hook Factor: 8/10
Our Rating: 8/10
Released: Season 2, AppleTV+ October 21, 2022

6. Only Murders in the Building Season 2

Charles, Oliver and Mabel are implicated in the murder of Bunny. They sleuth their way to the truth in this sophomore season.

 Only Murders in the Building Season 2

Our Reaction: The second season of this award winning comedy might be better than the first. The perfomances felt natural and relaxed, and the production beamed with confidence. It helped to have a supporting cast that included Paul Rudd, Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, and Amy Ryan. Great guest performances from Jane Lynch and Shirley MacLaine were exactly what the show needed.

The only downside was the addition of Cara Delevingne, who didn’t really have a reason to be in the story. She swoops in, targets Mabel, and it’s supposed to be for art? We didn’t buy it. But we’re not dwelling – we’re too excited about the addition of Meryl Streep in Season 3!

Hook Factor: 8/10
Our Rating: 8/10
Released: Season 2, Hulu June 28, 2022

5. The Gilded Age Season 1

From the man who brought us Downton Abbey comes its American counterpart – The Gilded Age. This time, it’s set in New York in the late 1800s, a time of rapid economic expansion in the US. 

The Gilded Age

Our Reaction: Fellowes creates another brilliant drama. While there’s an upstairs-downstairs element, the series focuses on social and class mobility outside of the kitchen. The show delicately plucks the maneuvers characters make in order to maintain or upgrade their status.

First, there’s the newly orphaned Marian. Shocked to find her father had nothing, she reconnects with her estranged wealthy aunts, Agnes and Ada. Agnes is played sharply by Catherine Baranski, a juicy role that some might compare to Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley.

Agnes, the symbol of old money, is threatened by the Russells, who have moved in across the street. Largely based on the real-life Vanderbilts, the Russells are newcomers who desperately want to be accepted. The social tug-of-war is fascinating. How Bertha Russell (played brilliantly by Carrie Coon) plots each move not only for her, but for her children, is compelling.

Then there’s a very interesting subplot involving aspiring writer Peggy Scott – a black woman living in The Gilded Age. We see her struggles and triumphs through a complicated relationship with her parents, as well as a white, male-dominated publishing world.

Like Downton, there’s something interesting about every character, central to the plot or not. Anxiously awaiting the Season 2 train, which should arrive in 2023.

Hook Factor: 9/10
Our Rating: 9/10
Released: Season 1, HBOMax January 24, 2022

4. Paper Girls Season 1

Paper Girls is based on Brian K. Vaughan’s graphic novel of the same name. Four girls, while on their harrowing paper routes in the wee hours after Halloween 1988, get sucked into the year 2019. (Not to be confused with, “sucked off” from Ghosts!)

Paper Girls Prime Video

Our Reaction: Whoa man. There’s so much we loved about this show. Our complaint with Stranger Things was that it was a stylized 80s. It didn’t look like our 80s at least – more like Steven Spielberg’s cinematic 80s. But Paper Girls was gritty. Dirty at times. It was more realistic in terms of 80s attitudes and aesthetics. And even the dangers that kids faced out in the streets (real ones, not Demogorgons). The authenticity of depicting 1988 – and 1999, and 2019 – was critical in order to show us when in time the characters were.

Paper Girls, to our delight, explains the circumstances in which the characters find themselves. Some shows don’t do that to be suspenseful (Lost, Stranger Things), but with all there is to watch, the investment in that mystery may not be worth a viewer’s time.

Of course, none of that matters without strong writing. Many episodes were written by women, and we noticed a richer handling of the material. Our female protagonists had realistic depth and emotion as a result. Even some of the subject matter – like when one character had period trouble during their adventure – added authenticity to the characters. Obviously, that meant the roles had to be cast and performed spectacularly, and they were. But the combination of the two made all the difference.

Aside from the sci-fi time travel stuff, a common fantasy we’ve all thought about at one point was explored: What if present-you met future-you? Paper Girls shows us a variety of outcomes. From shocking (a blood-soaked Erin meets future-self-about-to-shit-herself, Ali Wong) to touching (KJ looks for reassurance about liking girls from her future girlfriend) to annoyed (a staunch Tiffany can’t understand what future Tiff sees in her skater boyfriend), to heartbreaking (Mac can’t meet herself because she’s died). The mechanism that makes this happen is sci-fi, but at the heart of it is a human, existential question.

The show also explores other themes, like conflicts of obligation, family, and friendship. It shows how the girls react to knowing their destinies.

Sadly, Prime Video cancelled Paper Girls by September 2022, just a month after its release. They blame the show’s numbers, but it sounded like they put all their money into that awful Lord of the Rings series that we fell asleep to twice and never finished.

Hook Factor: 10/10
Our Rating: 10/10
Released: Season 1, Prime Video July 29, 2022

3. Severance Season 1

Severance is the groundbreaking series from AppleTV+ and Winner of two Emmys®. “Severance,” unitalicized, is a medical procedure in which employees’ memories are split, into personal and professional lives. Neither can access the memories of the other. The workers start a journey to discover the truth about their jobs.


Our Reaction: One of the year’s best.

We love this idea as a concept for a show, though it’s not entirely new. Not only have humans fantasized about being somewhere other than work (or slavery) for centuries, it’s been done in cinema as well. In 1999’s workplace comedy Officespace, Peter Gibbons asks a therapist:

Is there any way that you could sorta…just zonk me out, so that like, I don’t know that I’m at work? Could I come home and think that I was fishing all day?”

What is new is the execution. Severance simultaneously reflects incredible technology and a retro aesthetic. It also communicates that the weirdness at Lumon Industries has been going on a very long time. It is fully committed to a creepy vibe: the minimalist office, in which four workers are connected to a cube island; the boring corporate colors; the clandestine and cult-like vibes of management and the corporate hierarchy; the Scientology-like discipline rooms. Even their personal lives are cold and dark. These employees are essentially dying inside, and they have to make a move to reclaim life. You know, kinda like Tom Hanks in Joe vs. The Volcano. (Yea, we said it.) Lumon Industries tries to prevent this by doing what companies in real life do. They create a valueless system of perks to reward employees. Maybe if they hit their numbers, they’ll get a waffle party. In Officespace, Initech employees enjoyed Hawaiian shirt day. You know, because corporate gets them. They also surveil, intimidate, and do everything in between to make their procedure look like a viable alternative.

Severance is expertly directed and shot. The camera’s use of space to make us feel tension or vast emptiness was employed so well. We’re excited to revisit that emptiness soon. Season 2 has been greenlit!

Hook Factor: 10/10
Our Rating: 10/10
Released: Season 1, AppleTV+ February 18, 2022

2. Better Call Saul, Season 6

It’s Saul done! The Breaking Bad universe has ended. Bob Odenkirk survived an attack from his own heart on the set of Season 5, but was stronger than ever in the series’ final season. **Spoilers ahead.**

Better Call Saul Season 6

Our Reaction: The final bow was satisfying, though in a more quiet way than its predecessor, Breaking Bad. Saul doesn’t go out in a blaze of glory, as Walt did. That never was the show, and wouldn’t make sense. Instead, Saul dealt with his inner corrosion through thought. We saw this in a number of scenes throughout the series. Saul sitting pensively on a curb. In a desert. On a bed. Nacho’s father learning of his death at a dark fence. Kim Wexler crying on a bus. Jimmy and Kim sharing a cigarette.

There’s a sense of sadness at how far Saul Goodman fell. Early in the series, we witnessed Jimmy become Saul, then Saul become Gene, only to grift again. As Gene, he wasn’t even Saul. He was back to being Slippin’ Jimmy, now working at Cinnabon, pulling mall heists and drugging rich guys. After being discovered by Marion (played by the amazing Carol Burnnett) Gene is finally caught, in a dumpster, appropriately.

The crafting of the trial scene was masterful. As his trial begins, Saul (whom the court acknowledges him as) whispers, “Showtime,” as if he were pulling another scam. In a way he was, but it was a scam for redemption. In an attempt to show Kim he’s grown, he intentionally sabotages his own case. When he sees that his admission of guilt in the Walter White saga did not move her, he confesses one last thing. He details how his actions led to the death of his brother, Charles McGill. Just then, the camera switches to a shot from the exit sign, buzzing, in a nod to Chuck. (One might say the sign represented him in the room, looking down on Jimmy, but let’s leave that to interpretation.) The buzzing was previously used as an audio cue when showing Chuck’s electromagnetic hypersensitivity. It’s one of those details the show takes the time to do that sets Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s shows above most.

This final act moved Kim. His love is communicated and received. Finally, Saul Goodman became James McGill. The overall punishment of 86 years in prison was also an appropriate message for the show to send.

The other loose ends are tied up nicely as well, including the final confrontation between Lalo Salamanca and Gus Fring. It’s not as surprising since we know Gus lives on for Breaking Bad, but satisfying nonetheless.

Hook Factor: 10/10
Our Rating: 10/10
Released: Season 6, AMC, or Season Pass, April 18th, 2022

1. Sandman, Season 1

Our #1 comes from the world of DC Comics – Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

Sandman Season 1

Our Reaction: We’d be the first to criticize the overdone comic book movie trend of the last 15 years. (We get it, Disney had to get their $4 billion back from the Marvel deal.) But it’s not the amount of content we didn’t like. It was the lack of quality. When handled with vision and a degree of depth, graphic novel content can be captivating.

Sandman tops our list because of its beautiful scenes and its elegant, graceful storytelling. It chronicles the journey of Dream, aka Morpheus, who gets captured in the waking world while on a mission. He escapes after a century, and attempts to fix what has gone wrong in his absence.

Sandman does an excellent job of explaining its premise, motivations and physics. After all, characters traverse different realms, with different powers, so there’s much to understand. There’s a particularly inventive scene where Morpheus battles Lucifer in Hell. Instead of a standard physical brawl, they take turns verbally expressing what weapon they become at each turn. While the weapon is shown as a quick cutaway, the damage they inflict on each other is shown in real-time.

The entire series is sort of sadistic and gory at times, but cinematically wonderful. The infamous Diner episode gets pretty bloody, but boy, there’s a gracefulness in its concept and execution. Themes of choice, truth, and desire interweave episodes seamlessly, provoking thought along the way. Sandman Season 1 stood alone in our eyes as the best show of 2022.

Hook Factor: 10/10
Our Rating: 10/10
Released: Season 1, Netflix, August 5, 2022


Were any of these shows on your list? Which were your favorites of 2022? Let us know in the comments!


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