In 2022, so many shows that I cared about came back with new seasons that it felt overwhelming. This resulted in some resignation toward the fact that I just wouldn’t get around to watching all of them, so I didn’t really try as hard as I could have. That said, I still managed (barely) to watch enough shows from last year that I felt good enough about including on a top ten list. However, I can’t help but feel that my list is especially incomplete because I never got around to watching the final season of Better Call Saul — both Sean and John’s number 1 show this year — despite having caught up with the first five seasons. Unfortunately, AMC just didn’t make it that easy to watch this final season if you don’t have a cable subscription and I’m guessing it won’t be on Netflix for another few months. Oh well.
With that all said, I feel like I must note the…
Shows that I watched earlier seasons of that I wish I’d caught up with last year:
Better Call Saul
Only Murders In The Building
Speaking of cable networks making it hard to watch shows on streaming, last year the second and third seasons (the latter of which aired in 2022) of Tuca & Bertie made their way from the clutches of Adult Swim to HBO Max. After falling for this show’s first Netflix season, it was incredibly fun to both revisit that first season and catch up with what these bird-brained BFFs have been up to in the wacky urban paradise that is Birdtown. I will admit that the show lost a bit of its edge in the transition from streaming to cable (a lot fewer cartoon boobs), but still retained enough of its affable irreverence that it still made for a winning formula. Also, it’s even easier to be begrudgingly thankful for the existence of the Adult Swim seasons when the show was unceremoniously canceled (again) by the network.
That’s right, another show created by BoJack Horseman alumni. 2022 couldn’t help but feel like a year where the tiny adult animation empire carved out by Raphael Bob-Waksburg started to crumble a bit, as Tuca & Bertie ceased to be while Undone does not seem like it’ll survive to see another season, even if Amazon hasn’t officially canceled it yet. It’s just really hard to see the streaming service funneling millions into The Rings of Power doing a fraction of the same for a show whose rotoscope style can’t be that cheap to produce. Anyways, this season proved to be more of a straightforward mystery containing buried family secrets than the trippiness of season one, but still proved pretty charming and emotionally satisfying, especially when Rosa Salazar continues to be lowkey great as the lead while Bob Odenkirk is as well. He’s also in it a lot more than you’d think for it not even being his main TV gig.
I still have not really read, listened to, or watched much of the various non-fiction chronicles of the Elizabeth Holmes scandal, but The Dropout proved to be a much better-than-average depiction of this type of story, which continues to feel rampant in our dumb society. 2022 thankfully saw many “tech innovators” exposed as frauds, be it Musk, Zuckerberg, or Sam Bankman-Fried. I quite appreciated the equally appalling and satirical approach that The Dropout took to the Holmes story, courtesy of New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether. It really drove home the idea that all you really need to succeed in this world is poise, confidence, and the ability to con investors, while it’s really hard to see audiences being more aware of this as a bad thing.
I just finished marathoning What We Do In The Shadows last night, so this latest season feels a little like a fever dream to me, considering I saw a child Colin Robinson grow into his old adult self over the course of a few days. This is something that certainly sounds a little terrifying, but in the hands of this show’s cast and writing team is unsurprisingly hilarious. It does feel a little easy to take this show for granted at this point, since it has been one of the few critically-acclaimed shows that has been consistently putting out seasons each year throughout the pandemic. But considering how good the show has been at concocting new comedic dynamics and supernatural situations for these characters to find themselves in, I’m really glad I caught up with it just in time to put the finishing touches on this list.
Ever since The Mandalorian aired its latest season, I’ve been pretty checked out on Star Wars shows as well as pretty much any show on Disney+ in general. However, after Andor started to get buzz claiming it rose above being good just for a Star Wars show or a Disney property, my lessening Star Wars fatigue compelled me to check it out. And I’m really glad I did! Andor is a bit more grounded than a lot of Star Wars stories, since it deals with the more day-to-day realities of living under intergalactic fascism. But at the same time, it’s often thrilling and intricately plotted in a way that gives you a complex picture of how this universe functions in a way that I don’t think I’ve felt for quite some time.
Just when you thought the network sitcom was dead for the bazillionth time, someone like Quinta Brunson comes along to make it feel fresh again. Or, at least if not fresh, Abbott Elementary reminds you why the workplace comedy formula worked so well in the past and why talented show creators abandoning it is a bit of a shame. Obviously, as a current Philadelphia native, the various Philly references were always fun to spot, even if the show is clearly filmed in L.A. Also, the cast is so uniformly good that I don’t think there’s a wrong answer for your favorite character (at the moment, I’d go with the custodian Mr. Johnson), though an easy pick is Sheryl Lee Ralph’s already Emmy-winning turn.
I can’t imagine I’m alone in this, but it is a little hard to think of the first season of The Rehearsal without focusing on the finale, which I still don’t think I’ve completely reconciled with. But that inscrutability is what made this such a funny, unpredictable, and formally adventurous season of television. Nathan Fielder now feels like a guy who’s kind of just out there on his own, doing something completely different from anyone else in TV comedy (if you can even call it that) and I’m both excited and a little bit scared to see what he does next.
After finding its footing in a great season one, Reservation Dogs’ vision of an Oklahoma reservation felt as funny, earnest, and assured as anything on TV last year. This young cast continues to walk a great fine line between being natural performers and acting like real authentic teenagers, while the supporting cast of characters inhabiting “the rez” also just seems to grow more expansive. While I’ve started to grow a little weary of the “characters go on a drug trip” episode format in modern TV, it felt like it made a little more sense story-wise on this show, even if there were two this season. Regardless, I really hope the Dogs never leave the rez, as seems to be their constant desire, since it’s quickly becoming one of the more inviting little fictional corners of the TV universe right now.
With Barry, I’m just waiting for the newest season to lose the tension and unpredictable storytelling at the heart of it, and it just doesn’t happen. It continues to be the kind of show where you stay glued to your screen (for lack of a better term), waiting/dreading to see how Barry makes things worse and how those consequences keep those damn walls pushing in. This season was much less of a comedy than the earlier seasons of the show, which I wrote a bit about how this felt like the show embracing the darkness that would surely be at the heart of a character who has spent this much time killing people, and so little time worrying about it. I can only assume Barry will get darker from here on out, but if it can pull it off as well as it did in season 3, I’m sure I’ll still be on board.
Don’t think I have much to add about The Bear, since it appeared on both Sean John’s lists. But I will say that for me to want to put a movie or TV show as my number 1 of the year, it often just comes down to how much I would look forward to watching it again. This is especially true in the case of TV, since I rarely watch TV seasons more than once, unless I’m doing an entire show rewatch years after it originally aired. While I never got around to revisiting this debut season of The Bear, I would absolutely love to be doing that instead of writing this review right now. It was probably the show I breezed through the fastest last year, as I was undeniably sucked in by its intense, adventurous, and expertly observed depiction of one of my favorite types of places on Earth to spend time in, a legendary greasy food joint in a bustling metropolitan city. I’ll gladly be coming back for seconds and leaving the biggest tip I can muster.