With the year coming to a close, it is time to look back on some of the best TV shows that debuted in 2022—and there were quite a few of them, as the number of TV programs has been growing at an unprecedented rate. With streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, and HBO Max all contending for subscribers, the desire for new content is ever-present. The titles that made it onto this year’s list of the best TV series are a mixture of both wholly original shows and those that were adapted from a pre-existing franchise.
Though the genres range from fantasy to horror to sci-fi and drama, each features superb performances, eye-catching visuals, and intricate, compelling, and meaningful storylines and characters. Here are the 10 best shows that premiered in 2022, ranked.
10. ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiered on September 1, 2022, and is the first live-action Lord of the Rings adaption to hit our screens since Peter Jackson’s trilogies. The Rings of Power is a history of the Second Age of Middle-earth that is loosely based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s works. Although criticized by some audiences for deviating too far from Tolkien’s universe, this highly anticipated series is visually grand and serves as an intriguing, magical foray into the world of Middle-earth that can be appreciated by fantasy enthusiasts.
9. ‘House of the Dragon’
House of the Dragon was one of the most anticipated shows of 2022, with 10 million viewers tuning in to watch the premiere on August 21. House of the Dragon is a prequel to Game of Thrones that tracks the early history of the Valyrian-descended House of Targaryen. Like Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon is well-crafted with stunning visuals, cinematography, score, and performances. Its only flaw is that it condenses too much history into a short amount of time, leading to some wonky pacing and drastic time jumps.
8. ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’
Guillermo del Toro proves he is a master of Gothic storytelling with his Netflix series Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which premiered on October 25, 2022—just in time for Halloween. The anthology series consists of eight standalone modern horror stories told from the perspectives of del Toro and new and seasoned horror filmmakers. Featuring fantastic storytelling, deliciously creepy plots, and dark humor, Cabinet of Curiosities is a nice homage to classic horror. As expected with an anthology series, though, the quality shifts from episode to episode, and the effects aren’t quite up to the standard we’re accustomed to seeing in del Toro’s works.
7. ‘Ms. Marvel’
Ms. Marvel premiered on June 8, 2022, and is a refreshingly creative installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The series follows Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a typical 16-year-old who fangirls over the Avengers and struggles with overbearing parents. However, Kamala’s life flips upside down when her powers are awakened by an inherited bangle and she finds herself becoming a hero in her own right. Ms. Marvel is a fantastic origin story for Marvel’s first Muslim superhero that is filled with representation and historical exploration, and Vellani almost solely carries the show on her shoulders with her overwhelming charisma. The only flaws were uneven pacing and some subplots that lacked attention.
Andor, the latest Star Wars original series from Disney+, premiered on September 21, 2022. The prequel follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) five years before the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and tracks his journey from being a petty thief to becoming a prominent figure in the Rebellion. Andor stands out from previous Star Wars series by adopting a grittier and more mature tone for its realistic portrayal of the growing Rebellion in the face of oppression from the Empire. It works well as a refreshing and surprisingly sophisticated political take on the Star Wars franchise.
5. ‘Paper Girls’
Paper Girls premiered on July 29, 2022, and is an extremely fun sci-fi series with a retro feel to it. The Amazon original series follows four paper girls in 1988 who unexpectedly become time travelers together as they are propelled into a future that isn’t welcoming towards them. Paper Girls has a whimsical and intriguing time travel plot, features relatable and empathy-inducing characters, and also boasts outstanding performances from its talented young cast. The series also subtly dives into mature themes of family estrangement, abuse, and mortality. Paper Girls is engaging, entertaining, and also unexpectedly thought-provoking—which is why its cancellation after just one season is especially disappointing.
Severance, a psychological thriller starring Adam Scott, premiered on February 18, 2022. The series follows Mark (Scott) and his fellow employees at Lumon Industries, a biotechnology corporation that has utilized experimentation to divide their employees’ memories and fracture them into two individuals – a “work self” and a “personal self.” However, when one former employee reaches out to Mark, it leads him to begin investigating Lumon Industries. Severance is a unique, satirical take on office life and work-life balance that becomes more thrilling and intense as it progresses. It isn’t overly complex or groundbreaking but has a nightmarish tone in exploring corporate corruption that keeps viewers from looking away.
3. ‘Interview with the Vampire’
Interview with the Vampire premiered on October 2, 2022, and is based on the novel of the same name by Anne Rice. It is the second live-action adaption of the book but holds closer to the source material than the 1994 film adaption. The series follows vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and his history with those he considered his family – his partner Lestat du Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and the teen-fledging vampire, Claudia (Bailey Bass). Interview with the Vampire is an absolutely beautiful tale told through compelling performances, a gothic premise, a cynic tone, and a delve into the erotic subtext of Rice’s original work. Interview with the Vampire is an extremely well-made series that goes deeper than a typical vampire tale with its exploration of sexuality and race relations.
2. ‘Bad Sisters’
Bad Sisters premiered on August 19, 2022, and is a delightful family comedy with a murder mystery twist. The series follows the Garvey sisters as they become the center of a murder investigation after their brother-in-law, John Paul (Claes Bang), dies under mysterious circumstances. Paul was the strict and oppressive husband of one of the Garvey sisters, Grace (Anne-Marie Duff), though as the plot continues, it will be revealed the Garvey sisters had more than one motive for killing him. Bad Sisters mixes murder, an abhorrent and insufferable misogynist, and a family comedy, and the product is somehow astounding. It is both a hilarious, dark and twisted murder/revenge tale and a sophisticated story that rings surprisingly deep with its hauntingly realistic portrayal of an abusive, narcissistic man.
Heartstopper premiered on April 22, 2022, and is a beautiful, heartfelt, coming-of-age romance. The series follows Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), two high school students at Truham Grammar School who are seated next to each other in form class. Both boys are struggling with their identities and relationships and find unexpected comfort in their burgeoning friendship. Heartstopper is a beautiful and earnestly emotional portrayal of young love and innocence. While it is inclusive and does touch on the reality of homophobia, it is a nice departure from heavier content with its joyous, sweet, and affectionate premise. It may not be realistic, but it paints a beautiful picture of what the reality of high school should look like for everyone.
(featured image: HBO)
—The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]