From Tim Burton's reimagining of gothic icon Wednesday Addams to Stranger Things bringing metalheads and Metallica back into popular culture in a big way, it's been a massive year for alternative culture on the small screen, and another brilliant year for television as a whole.
Whether you were craving some thought-provoking comedy or the most chilling of horrors, there’s been something for you. So, to commemorate the gems that have made recent TV sparkle, we've compiled the 10 most unmissable TV shows from 2022. Beware, some mild spoilers below...
While Obi-Wan Kenobi surfed in on waves of hype then crashed into disappointment, Andor did the opposite. Nobody was that hyped over seeing a TV prequel about a side-character from an anthology film – let alone one who's ultimate fate we've seen. However, Andor excelled thanks to its stellar performances (especially from Stellan Skarsgård and lead Diego Luna) and political edge that made it feel like a refreshing addition to the Star Wars universe.
Better Call Saul
After crafting one of the greatest endings in TV history with Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan repeated the trick with Better Call Saul. The Breaking Bad prequel stuck the landing by amplifying all the strengths that made it, some claim, better than the show it was spinning off of.
The acting was nuanced and powerful, the writing was witty and every frame was gorgeous to look at, Gilligan throwing up some curveballs in the show's final episodes that meant its tragicomic leanings and bittersweet centre paid off perfectly.
House Of The Dragon
Anyone would be forgiven for entering House Of The Dragon pessimistically, what with Game Of Thrones’ final season remaining the biggest letdown in television history. However, this prequel, which depicted the early years of the ruling Targaryen dynasty, returned to its parent programme’s roots of political machinations and backstabbing. It became the fantasy show of the year as a result. Lord Of The Rings eat your heart out.
The Midnight Club
Mike Flanagan, the showrunner behind The Haunting Of Hill House and Midnight Mass, continued his Netflix residency with The Midnight Club. The first episode of this horror series about eight terminally ill teens who share scary stories set a world record with its number of jump scares (21), before its characters endeavoured to unravel the mysteries of their hospital. It was so compelling, its cancellation should be criminal.
A second Russian Doll season seemed needless. The first could have been a perfect one-and- done, chronicling protagonist Nadia’s attempts to escape a time loop wherein she kept dying at her own party. However, this successor was a wild yet tender dramedy that quantum leapt off the rails. Season three best be coming soon – unlike Nadia, we can only loop back to binge-watch this again so many times.
After Good Omens struck gold for Amazon, Netflix decided to make their own series out of a Neil Gaiman comic. The result was The Sandman: a dark fantasy melodrama about the god of dreams, who’s kidnapped by Charles Dance in 1916 and, once freed, returns to find his kingdom in ruins.
Dance, David Thewlis and lead actor Tom Sturridge all gave unsurprisingly powerhouse performances, while the time-jumping plotline never let the ten episodes (and one bonus) grow stale in replicating Gaiman's beloved comic series.
Ben Stiller stepped behind the camera to direct this comedy-thriller about colleagues who’ve had the work and home life halves of their brains literally, surgically separated. Despite (and because of) this duality, there’s fathoms of character depth. Protagonist Mark bisected his existence to help compartmentalise the grief he felt after his wife’s death, for example. Quirky and beautiful, Severance was some of 2022’s best entertainment full stop.
Netflix’s sci-fi/horror juggernaut doubled down on the darkness in 2022. After all, the long-awaited fourth instalment introduced new baddie Vecna: a grotesque, fleshy psychic demon with a penchant for mutilating and murdering children. However, that didn’t stop the season from becoming a pop culture powerhouse. Its soundtrack gave Kate Bush and Metallica newfound relevance, while Eddie Munson became the coolest (and sexiest) metalhead in TV history.
When it was announced in 2019 that The History Channel’s Vikings would end with its sixth season, showrunner Michael Hirst also confirmed he’d jump ship to Netflix for a spinoff. Vikings: Valhalla picked up a century after the original series, this time in Anglo-Saxon England. It also continued everything that made what came before so bloody fun, with violence and sex for all. Happy raiding!
Tim Burton has wanted to work within the realm of The Addams Family for decades, and Netflix’s Wednesday finally gave him that chance. The mastermind behind Batman and Edward Scissorhands directed half of this new show, but it was actually held together by Jenna Ortega’s perfect turn as the title character.
It was Ortega's charisma and an overall macabre tone that stopped this from plummeting into archetypal teen romcom fare, maintaining a twisted sense of black humour throughout that made it a captivating and entertaining watch.
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