TV & Film
15 December 2022, 16:32
By Katie Louise Smith
From Euphoria and Stranger Things to Heartstopper and House of the Dragon, here's our picks for the best TV of 2022.
And just like that, another year of chef's kiss TV has come to a close.
2022 saw the long-awaited return of juggernaut series like Euphoria and Stranger Things. We binge-watched some absolutely exceptional first seasons of TV, including Heartstopper and Wednesday. And we said goodbye to some long-running faves (The Good Fight, Derry Girls, Peaky Blinders – none of which actually made this list because I am the only one who watched them. Sad!)
On top of that, 2022 was the year we all collectively went crawling back to our ex after swearing we'd never return, the one who left us high and dry with nothing but a Jon Snow-inflicted stab wound to the chest and… *checks notes* …Bran the Broken. (The dragon show is different though! It won't be like last time! We'll be fine!)
So, without further ado, here are the best 20 TV shows of the year as voted for by the PopBuzz team. (Plus one honourable mention involving everyone's favourite podcaster, Che Diaz.)
Despite the weekly criticisms and valid complaints, the passionate arguments over whether or not everyone was acting wildly out of character, the Che Diaz discourse (they're iconic, tbh), and the unavoidable Samantha-shaped hole throughout, And Just Like That was one of four TV shows that the PopBuzz team voted for unanimously. This chaotic, messy, imperfect and often frustrating revival made us realise one thing: We never want to be without Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte ever again.
It was the moment all Bridgerstans had been waiting for: Anthony and Kate. The enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn of the century. And boy, it did not disappoint. Jonathan Bailey and the perfectly casted Simone Ashley took centre stage and delivered some of the sexiest and most tantalising scenes we’ve seen on TV all year. (It’s always "ILY" and never "YATBOME, ATOOAMD", am I right?!) But while those spicy scenes were some of the most-talked about moments from the show, the true highlights might just include the sweet innocence that Charithra Chandran brought to Edwina Sharma, and that build up to the absolutely devastating fall of Penelope and Eloise's friendship. Season 3 could honestly not come soon enough. – Katie Louise Smith
While some hardcore fans of the ever divisive Star Wars franchise may have found the slower pace of Andor as monotonous as a post-battle bathe in a bacta tank, there’s clearly no denying that the grounded approach of the series builds a sense of apprehension, with a giant payoff in the explosive finale episode that makes it all worthwhile. Without merely a mention of a lightsaber or ~The Force~ (though cereal is now apparently canon in the Star Wars universe, blue milk included of course), Andor uses dramatic tension and excellent character building to deliver a highly watchable series, and leaves us all with a message suitable for today’s society and Rebellions alike… Hope. – Emily Beard
The Boys has always been shocking, dark and hilarious but season 3 was arguably the most shocking, dark and hilarious season yet. From Homelander blackmailing Annie into publicly pretending to be his girlfriend, to The Deep attempting to introduce an actual octopus into his sex life with Cassandra, each episode was wilder than the last. ‘Herogasm’ is arguably the most jaw-dropping episode of TV this year and Supernatural star Jensen Ackles made an excellent addition to the cast as Soldier Boy. Bring on season 4! – Sam Prance
Ms. Marvel is a coming of age story that sees Iman Vellani take centre stage as the MCU’s first Muslim superhero, and in the words of Lizzo, "IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME". It is mind-blowing that this is Iman’s first acting role, as her charisma and charm glow brighter than Captain Marvel in flight. While the series could have fallen into the many formulaic superhero show tropes, Ms. Marvel swings big, and takes the time to incorporate important elements of history about the partition in India into the storyline, showing the impact and effect it had on real people at the time and to this day. The series is a refreshing look at the experience of growing up and finding yourself, and with a second season reportedly in development, we can’t wait to see what Kamala gets up to next. – EB
READ MORE: Ms. Marvel's Iman Vellani vs. 'The Most Impossible Marvel Quiz' | PopBuzz Meets
Picking up after the events of season 1's finale, our favourite chaotic quartet were truly back on their bullshit as they dive headfirst back into life at Essex. While the first season established Kimberly, Leighton, Whitney and Bela as individuals, season 2 builds on that and truly lets their friendship flourish. No matter who each character gets paired off with (Leighton accompanying Kimberly to her surgical procedure, Bela and Whitney fighting for their lives in BioChem), each dynamic is magic. But the underrated highlight of season? Ilia Isorelýs Paulino’s Lila who steals every single scene. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: TSLOCG deserves a 22-episode season because 10 episodes with these girls is simply not enough. IT’S NOT ENOUGH! – KLS
After years of speculation, it finally happened. RuPaul got the winner’s circle together to fight it out to become the “Queen of All Queens”. Drag Race is only ever as good as the queens that appear on the show, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that a season with Drag Race champions was going to be the best one yet. All Stars All Winners let the queen’s talents do the talking and it was all the better for it. No eliminations, no drama, no problem. – Woodrow Whyte
Hacks season 2 takes the magic of season 1 and magnifies it. After Ava confesses to Deborah that she sent the writers of the TV show she turned down a scathing email assassinating Deborah’s character, Deborah decides to sue Ava while still working with her. This takes their love-hate relationship to new heights and Jean Smart’s performance as Deborah continues to be nothing short of award-worthy. 'The Captain’s Wife’, which sees Deborah unknowingly take a gig on a lesbian cruise, is comedy at its best. – SP
The dynamic trio are back and better than ever as they unravel the mystery surrounding the untimely demise of the Arconia’s most sassy tenant, Bunny (discounting Mrs. Gambolini the parrot, of course). The cliff-hangers, plot twists and emotional highs and lows will have you in your feelings more than when Oliver has to leave his dip selection on the stairwell, and the ultimate reveal scene is a show highlight (IRL slow motion enactment, anyone?). In short (and not the Martin variety), it’s not hard to see why Only Murders In The Building season 2 has earned 4 Golden Globe nominations collectively this year. – EB
READ MORE: Only Murders in the Building season 3: Release date, cast, trailers, spoilers and news
Adapting a beloved work of literature into a TV series is always risky. Will it live up the source material or will it fail to compare? Unfortunately, Pachinko author Min Jin Lee has distanced herself from the TV show but, for the most part, fans of the book have been mesmerised by Soo Hugh’s take on the Korean epic. Each character is expertly cast and the drama captures the tenderness and immersiveness of Min Jin Lee’s writing. Just like the novel it’s based on, Pachinko will make you smile, cry and fall in love with Kim Sunja and her family. – SP
Severance is a show that you not only need to watch ASAP, but one that you need to watch ASAP without seeing a single hint of a spoiler. And for that reason, I'm going to keep this very vague. Severance is a psychological thriller starring Adam Scott that follows a group of employees at Lumon Industries who agree to a "severance" program that splits their work memories from their non-work memories. (Yes, it's very Black Mirror adjacent.) The phenomenal first season ends with one of the most edge-of-your-seat, gasping-at-the-TV, have-to-get-up-and-pace-the-room finale cliffhangers in recent memory. Clear your schedule, wipe your brain, sign up for an Apple TV+ trial and don't come up for air until you've watched the whole thing. – KLS
Heartstopper may have been a little twee for some people’s tastes but there was no denying the chemistry of its leads, Kit Connor and Joe Locke. If I still had a Tumblr, it would surely be a Nick & Charlie ship account. Uplifting storylines about LGBTQ+ teenagers are rare, and Heartstopper’s heart-warming message about first love, and how precious and sweet it can be, stood out for all the right reasons. In years to come, Heartstopper will be regarded as defining show for a whole generation of teens, and a comfort watch for many older fans too. – WW
READ MORE: Netflix's Heartstopper cast interview each other | PopBuzz Meets
Jenny Han has a gift for creating utterly charming teen romance stories and The Summer I Turned Pretty is a delight from start to finish. The series follows chaotic but endearing teenager Belly as she finds herself torn between three potential love interests. Whether you’re Team Conrad, Team Jeremiah or Team Cam, it’s impossible not to be swept away by the enchanting world that Jenny has created. Oh, and the soundtrack features five of Taylor Swift’s best songs including an impeccable use of 'That’s The Way I Love You'. Taylor’s Version – of course! – SP
Big Boys has a certain charm, like badly-cropped Facebook photos after a night out at the student union bar, and it captures the noughties and early 2010s better than any other TV show or film that I can think of. Jack Rooke’s autobiographical comedy about a friendship between a gay guy (Jack, played by Derry Girls’ Dylan Llewellyn) and a straight lad (Jon Pointing) has a knack for making you sob and snort with laugher at the same time. Jack and Danny’s friendship, their struggles with mental health, grief and, yes, getting laid, is pitch perfect, thanks to a brilliant script and two incredible actors. This show is simply perfection. – WW
From Jenna Ortega eating up her role better that the Hyde chewing down on Rowan in the opening episode (pour one out for Rowan), to Thing being the MVP side-kick of the year, this murder mystery tale full of more twists and turns than a spider’s web will leave you ultimately ~festering~ for more. Encapsulating the energy of the certified classic Scooby Doo live-action movies, Wednesday brings the spook AND the humour, particularly in episode 7, a series highlight which sees Wednesday team up with her Uncle Fester with hilarious and chaotic results. You won’t be able to take your eyes off this show, but, unlike Wednesday, just make sure to blink while you’re watching. – EB
Few shows are more fun to watch week on week than The White Lotus and season 2 is a masterclass in TV. Brilliant cast? Check. Gripping mystery? Check. Plot twists? Check. Moving the drama to Sicily and introducing viewers to a whole new set of characters was a genius move. Lucia and Mia were instantly iconic and I will be thinking of Portia’s line delivery of "So you fuck your uncle?" for the rest of my life. Jennifer Coolidge was as mesmerising as ever but the acting across the board was remarkable. The campaign for Meghann Fahy to win an Emmy for her performance as Daphne starts now. – SP
Game of Thrones spin-off. Targaryen. With Dragons in it. (Oooh, stunning!) The feuding family trials and incestuous tribulations of Westeros have got us by the throats yet again. Monday morning Thrones debriefs are back on the table. Allegiances to our favourite fictional war criminals have been pledged. And I have never, EVER been happier. (Sorry, wrong HBO show…) It’s impossible to single out one performance as the best amongst a truly phenomenal cast. That said, Emma D’Arcy and Milly Alcock’s blistering performances as Rhaenyra, alongside Olivia Cooke and Emily Carey who play Alicent with sheer perfection are so seamless, you almost forget they were played by two different people. House of the Dragon's first season flew by. Literally. Dragon-wise and timeline-wise. And now I'm ready for all hell to break loose in season 2. – KLS
READ MORE: House of the Dragon cast vs. 'The Most Impossible Game of Thrones Quiz' | PopBuzz Meets
Euphoria might be a little messy boots but you can’t deny she was thee moment at the turn of the year. Season 2 took everything from season 1 and turned it up to 11. Lexi’s play? A moment in history. Cassie’s breakdown? An iconic performance from Sydney Sweeney. Rue’s relapse and that Emmy-worthy intervention episode? The power that that has! Yes, there were flaws and mistakes (Justice for Kat! No more scenes with Elliot and a guitar PLEASE!) but this was gripping television from start to finish. – WW
READ MORE: Euphoria season 3: Release date, cast, spoilers and news about the HBO series
A Lord of the Flies-esque series about a girl’s high school soccer team who survive a plane crash and get lost in the wilderness for 18 months? Melanie Lynskey and Christina Ricci delivering career best performances? A soundtrack featuring the likes of Wilson Phillips and Mazzy Star? What’s not to love? Yellowjackets somehow manages to combine the charm of a '90s coming of age teen drama with cannibalism and all the best elements of a psychological thriller. Told in the present day with flashbacks to the crash in 1996, each episode is more gripping, entertaining and disturbing than the last. And the reveal about that devastating death in the season finale is truly haunting. – SP
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The majority of this show aired in 2021 but it ended in 2022 and it's our list anyway, so we can do what we like!)
A rare 22-episode season of a sitcom? On a major US network? In 2022? Who is doing it like Quinta Brunson? WHO? With a top tier cast that boasts the likes of the incomparable Emmy-winning legend Sheryl Lee Ralph, the effortlessly funny Janelle James and the Parent Trap icon Lisa Ann Walter, Abbott is a welcome and much needed breath of fresh air. Like the powerhouse mockmentary-style sitcoms before it, Abbott Elementary is well on its way to earning its own spot in that elite hall of TV comedy fame. It’s chock full of laugh-out-loud, rapid-fire one-liners, hilarious character quirks (Barbara’s ‘white celebrities who she thinks are Black’ scene will go down in Abbott history) and it balances all of that humour with a big huge heart. Come for the note-perfect performances and the sheer joy of it all. Stay for the Janine and Gregory slow burn. – KLS
Once again, Stranger Things managed to reinvent itself into something even bigger and somehow even more astonishing that its previous seasons. There’s actually no other way to describe it. It was epic, in every single sense of the word.
This season, she went international and inter-dimensional, honey! Taking on the challenge of four different storylines in four different locations, all simultaneously running alongside each other, was a mammoth task. And while it caught some criticism from viewers from a pacing and character preference perspective, the culmination of those four narratives was nothing short of spectacular.
Both Sadie Sink and Millie Bobby Brown gave their best turns yet, with Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo’s heartbreaking performances in the final episode also garnering well deserved (and long overdue!) praise. And the additions of Joseph Quinn and Jamie Campbell Bower? Inspired.
As far as the episodes go? 'Dear Billy' and 'The Massacre at Hawkins Lab' stand out amongst the nine feature-length chapters, but the 2 hour 19 minute finale – an episode that had me squealing in delight as a day-one Jopper shipper watching Joyce finally climb Hopper like a tree, and then screaming, crying and throwing up moments later over Max doing the Chrissy Crumble and Eddie getting shredded by those Demobats – will go down in history as one of the absolute best episodes in the entire series. (I want that Stranger Things x Kate Bush remix liquified and injected into my veins IMMEDIATELY.)
Stranger Things 4 sets up what is guaranteed to be an emotional yet satisfying final outing for this beloved set of characters. And we've no doubt that the Duffer brothers will manage to deliver on all fronts. – KLS
READ MORE: Stranger Things season 5: Release date, spoilers, cast, news and trailers
🏆 It's A Sin (2021)
🏆 I May Destroy You (2020)
🏆 Euphoria (2019)
🏆 Queer Eye (2018)
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House of the Dragon
The best TV shows of 2022 – PopBuzz