TV is mostly bad. Here are a couple of shows that I thought were mostly good.
The Afterparty (Apple TV+)
The No. 1 television idea of 2022 is that there are murders happening everywhere and quirky people should solve them. Murders are happening in rural Pennsylvania, in an old Manhattan building called the Arcadia, at now at a high school reunion afterparty. The show tries its best to do something a little different, however, and an all-star cast of Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Dave Franco, Ben Schwartz, and Ilana Glazer certainly helped keep me entertained. The events are recounted in a different genre in each episode–from a musical to a John Wick action flick, to a romantic comedy. It’s cute. Sam Richardson is a talent, and it’s easy to watch.
Barry — Season 3 (HBO)
Barry is deep in the s**t by Season 3, so much so that it’s amazing he hasn’t killed everyone and started over in a new town. Starring Bill Hader, the assassin-turned-actor story has never been more thrilling. With the way Barry is going crazy, it’s a wonder the series is even still going let alone possibly the best show on television. Season 3 is also the best season yet for Barry’s acting teacher (Henry Winkler) and girlfriend Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg), who are uncomfortably brought into Barry’s dark and spiraling world of murder and mayhem.
Euphoria — Season 2 (HBO)
HBO may be falling apart, but it still has pretty much all the good television shows. Euphoria, the teen drama about drug addiction and love starring Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s Zendaya, is one of their best. The series contains some of the most breathtaking and unflinching depictions of trauma on TV and stars Zendaya and Sydney Sweeney are really giving everything they have to these performances.
Hot Ones — Season 18 (YouTube)
Is Hot Ones considered television if it’s a series on YouTube? Maybe, probably not really. Is it 2022 and this list is mine to do what I want with it? Yes, and yes. Hot Ones is both TV and the best celebrity interview series. It’s also torture, and it’s such a diabolical delight to watch interviewer Sean Evans make his A-list guests eat the spiciest hot sauces around. Season 18 features guests including Post Malone, Millie Bobby Brown, Khloe Kardashian, Daniel Kaluuya, Lizzo, and more.
House of the Dragon (HBO)
If you liked Game of Thrones, the new HBO prequel series, House of the Dragon, is just more Game of Thrones. Chronicling a civil war for the Iron Throne that took place over 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series is full of just as much violence, political back-stabbing, and awkward sex scenes as before. House of the Dragon‘s debut episode was also the most watched premiere for any show in the history of HBO–drawing in an audience of over 10 million. Also, I’m covering the series weekly on Esquire *wink wink.*
Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend (Netflix)
Iron Chef is back with a new home on Netflix and the cooking competition series is as campy and challenging as ever. Hosted by Alton Brown and Top Chef winner Kristen Kish, the series also features prominent chefs such as Curtis Stone, Marcus Samuelsson, Dominque Crenn, Gabriela Cámara, Ming Tsai, and Esther Choi. Allez cuisine!
Love Island UK — Season 8 (ITV/Hulu)
You’re a mug if you’re not watching Love Island UK–the pinnacle of the reality dating competition series genre. Move over The Bachelor, FBOY Island, Love Is Blind, Too Hot to Handle… you all wish you could just be Love Island. Taking inspiration from Big Brother and Temptation Island, the hot singles search for love in a paradise villa full of drama, rich British accents, and egos like you wouldn’t believe. On almost every day in the UK, the series highlight occurs halfway through the season when the couples are separated, the cast is doubled, and their relationships are really put to the test.
Ms. Marvel (Disney+)
Marvel has recently been exceptionally bad. Eternals, Moon Knight, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, She-Hulk–all content that I’ve struggled to even get through. The algorithm is at work, and it’s never been stronger at making every Marvel character feel exactly the same. And yet, Ms. Marvel is occasionally able to break the mold. To be clear, it’s as Marvel as Marvel comes nowadays, but the series starring Marvel’s first Muslim superhero was also able to tell the story of Partition–a traumatic event in the late 40s that divided British India into two independent nations: India and Pakistan.
Pachinko (Apple TV+)
Pachinko is more than a multi-generational story of a Korean family following the Japanese occupation–basically what every website’s blurb will tell you about the television adaptation of Min Jin Lee‘s best-selling novel. It’s also kind of ground-breaking for its use of multiple languages: Korean, Japanese, and English. Kogonada, the South-Korean filmmakers known for After Yang, directs some of the series’ episodes, and Pachiko even stars Youn Yuh-jung, who recently won the Academy Award for Minari.
The Rehearsal (HBO)
I’m not sure how The Rehearsal ever got the green light to air, but I’m incredibly glad that it did. Comedian Nathan Fielder bewildered audiences on a journey of self-discovery, role-play, and schemes, delivering something very different than how the short series began. The Rehearsal started out as a show that let real people rehearse stressful conversations in extravagant and obsessively detailed sets. What it became, was an experience for Nathan himself–one that explored his comedic thesis and recent divorce so far that he got completely lost within his own fabricated world. Somehow, there’s going to be a second season.
Ranking of Kings (Crunchyroll)
Ranking of a Kings was a total surprise pick for the best anime of the year. The medieval series, based on a popular webcomic by Japanese manga artist Sōsuke Tōka, follows Prince Bojji–a tiny deaf child who is heir to his father’s kingdom. When Bojji’s strong, giant father falls ill, the young prince sets off on adventure to prove that empathy and kindness are more important attributes for a good king than power alone.
Rap Sh!t (HBO)
Once Rap Sh!t moved on from being solely shot on someone’s phone, it became a way better show. The gimmick was cool for a couple of episodes, but it hurt my brain a little to watch. Since then, the new Issa Rae series on HBO has turned into one of the best shows on television. Like Insecure, the series features a down-on-her-luck protagonist who raps to herself in the mirror. She starts a City Girls-like rap duo with one of her friends and drama ensues. Every character is fleshed out, the songs are actually kinda good?!, and not a second feels wasted.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars — Season 7 (Paramount+)
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, All Winners was one of the most special events in herstory. Past winners returned to compete in the ultimate drag competition to become the Queen of All Queens, racking up Legendary Legend stars and turning out one insane look after another. The amount that every queen was celebrated as well was also a nice reprieve from the harsher critiques of regular seasons. It certainly helped that the competition was, as promised, truly on another level.
Severance (Apple TV+)
Move over Netflix, Apple TV+ is the secret best new spot for television. We’ve already talked about The Afterparty and Pachinko on this list, but their BEST series is hands down Severance. A funny and suspenseful sci-fi/work comedy, Severance is one of the most entertaining new concepts in a looong time. The plot follows Mark (Adam Scott) and his days working for a company called Lumon Industries. There, he was agreed to take part in “severance,” a surgical procedure that completely separates your work life from your home life. You won’t know what you do in the office, and the office version of you won’t know what you do outside. Naturally, this does not work, and the twists and turns are smartly written. The series, which stars Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, John Turturro, and Tramell Tillman, is perfectly cast, and it’s also directed by Ben Stiller.
Single’s Inferno (Netflix)
Single’s Inferno, as a concept, didn’t really work. The Korean dating show had a lot of weird rules such as hiding your age and occupation (even though they all ended up having normal ages and jobs for people who go on these types of shows), and how to game the system by ensuring you ended up with the person you wanted was kind of obvious by the end of the series. Contestants also had constant difficulty figuring out where to stand and what would happen next. But hey, it was Season 1. There’s still plenty of time to make this sweet dating series even better for round two, and honestly, a good amount of it was more charming and entertaining than the normie-freaks shows like Love Is Blind and The Ultimatum keeps putting in front of my eyes.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.