30 TV Shows You Should Have Seen in 2022

From ‘Severance’ to ‘WeCrashed,’ these are some of the shows that helped make the past year more bearable

Adrian Hennigan
Adrian Hennigan
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Awards Season
Adam Scott, left, Zach Cherry, John Turturro and Brit Lower in a scene from "Severance."Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/AP
Adrian Hennigan
Adrian Hennigan

As 2022 draws to a close, it leaves us with more questions than answers. For instance, who would win a contest for the world’s most unpopular man – Vladimir Putin or James Corden? Are Teslas as prone to overheating as their boss? If Israel tilts any further to the right, will everyone slide into Jordan? And if the era of “peak TV” is finally over, why does my “Watch list” keep getting longer every year?

Please forgive the crass analogy, but this is the time of year when I always feel like Liam Neeson at the end of “Schindler’s List,” lamenting that I didn’t do enough and could have watched just one more show.

As I survey TV critics’ “best of” lists, I am appalled by how many I have yet to see – and that includes multi-series shows that have come and gone without me managing to catch even a single episode (“Atlanta” and “Derry Girls,” to name but two).

I suppose I should at least thank the TV networks for not adding to the headache by producing anything remotely watchable. If you think that’s harsh, just ask yourself the last time you watched an ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC show without regarding it as a guilty pleasure? Or indeed, any kind of pleasure.

Critics seem to love ABC’s mockumentary sitcom “Abbott Elementary” (available internationally on Disney+) and I keep meaning to check out another ABC show, “Alaska Daily,” for the simple reason that it’s created by “Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy. But other than that, it’s slimmer pickings than the health food section at a Manhattan deli.

It’s still sad, though, to see how the networks have become an entertainment desert over the past decade or more. These days, the Emmys and Golden Globes have become as relevant to them as the Pulitzer Prize awards are for New York Post journalists. (Top New York Post story online as I write, lest you think that’s unfair: “Man with WWI explosive lodged in his rectum sparks bomb scare, hospital evacuation.”)

I should also, in a way, thank the pandemic for inadvertently acting as a mini-shmita year that somewhat restricted the number of shows that could go into production in 2021-22. Who knows, maybe it also gave writers and showrunners a little more thinking time – although some, such as Netflix’s “God’s Favorite Idiot” and Fox’s “Monarch,” could have done with a little more time in isolation (say, 30 years) before venturing out into the world.

Luckily, the network void has been filled by an ever-growing number of streaming sites. Disney+ launched in Israel this spring, competing with Netflix, Apple TV+, Prime Video and the hard-pressed cable and satellite TV providers Hot and Yes for our hard-earned money/government stipends (delete as applicable).

If you like quality, intelligent television, then Apple TV+ has hands-down been the best “channel” of the year. Sure, not everything has worked, but it’s still got a hit rate that even the Ukrainians would have to regard as impressive.

It produced my three favorite shows of the year in “Severance,” “Bad Sisters” and “Slow Horses,” while “Black Bird” wasn’t far behind. It has also released a slew of shows I have still yet to watch but have high hopes for. These include “The Afterparty,” “Pachinko,” “Shining Girls,” “The Essex Serpent” and “Five Days at Memorial” – and one glorious day I will finally catch up with the likes of “For All Mankind” and “Mythic Quest.”

"Bad Sisters." Number 2 on the best TV hits of 2022 list.Credit: Natalie Seery / APPLE TV

That list of shows is something Netflix and Prime Video can only dream of, even if both enjoyed high-profile hits with two series that suffered from tautological titles but otherwise couldn’t be more different: “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” (Netflix) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (Prime Video).

I haven’t had the stomach or heart to get past the first episode of “Dahmer,” so I’ll just have to admit that there’s clearly an audience for this kind of show – just as there are those who love “Emily in Paris.” It just isn’t me. I’m also not sure if I’ll be able to stay the course with “The Lord of the Rings,” but Godspeed to those who can. (Ditto HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” which I thought initially might be the show to finally get me into the world of George R.R. Martin – but then turned out not to be.)

In a remarkably short space of time, both Apple TV+ and Disney+ have succeeded in forging clear identities: Apple TV+ is the go-to streamer for quality TV, while Disney+ is killing it with its Marvel and “Star Wars” franchises. I have only heard good things about “Andor,” but that’s just one of many on my to-watch list. You can blame the World Cup and my ongoing obsession with property shows – the latest discovery being “Grand Designs: New Zealand” – for the tardiness. That and the annoying indignity that I have to work for a living.

Disney+ benefits enormously from having the FX and Hulu brands to call on overseas, with shows like restaurant-set “The Bear,” evocative Sex Pistols drama “Pistol” and still-delightful “Only Murders in the Building” helping elevate it to the status of must-have service.

Right now, I’d struggle to make the same claim for Netflix and Prime Video. I also struggle to identify a clear brand for them other than “pile it high, sell it cheapish.” I’m not about to cancel my subscription to either, but another smart show like “The Queen’s Gambit” wouldn’t go amiss at some point in 2023, Netflix.

What’s up docs?

If the pandemic slowed down TV (and film) production, the area where it seemingly had the biggest impact was in the world of documentaries. I normally find it easy to list 30 great docs each year, but would struggle to pick 10 from 2022. This is clearly what happens when the world hits the pause button and filmmakers are prevented from going outside too.

The three documentary series that really stood out for me were “The Invisible Pilot” (HBO), a crazy tale about drug-runner Gary Betzner; season 2 of “The Vow” (also on HBO), on the end of the NXIVM cult and its sleazeball leader Keith Raniere; and Ken Burns’ “The U.S. and the Holocaust” (PBS). The importance of the latter doesn’t need spelling out – unlike “Auschwitz” to most Shoah-ignorant young Americans – but Burns and co-directors Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein did a masterful job making the case that the United States could have done more to help the Jews of Europe in the 1930s.

One show I didn’t mention earlier while discussing Apple TV+ was its Israeli co-production “Tehran,” which was my favorite guilty pleasure of the year – despite (or because of?) its ever-growing implausibility. Here is one show that is never likely to be mistaken for a documentary.

The thriller is part of an increasingly rare phenomenon: Israeli shows that make it big overseas. Season 4 of “Fauda” airs on Netflix in January, but another Israeli show, “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem,” failed to create much of a stir when it landed last May. If only the producers had thought to cast Lior Raz.

My favorite Israeli show of the year was undoubtedly “Munich Games.” This thriller from Michal Aviram overcame my initial fears about a tasteless appropriation of the Olympic Games massacre of 1972 to deliver a gripping six-part series that left you guessing until the very end.

A scene from "Munich Games."Credit: Hot / Next TV

Like “Tehran” and “Valley of Tears” before it, this was another impressive international coproduction that suggests the way ahead for Israeli television is increasingly via global partnerships.

Then again, as more and more overseas companies buy into or buy out Israeli production companies, the very notion of “Israeli” is becoming ever vaguer. If this trend continues into 2023, expect the proto-fascists running the government to start asking “What is a Jewish company?”

Finally, with the proviso that I know there are probably another 30 fine shows I have yet to watch (including the British shows “Sherwood,” “This is Going to Hurt,” “The Responder,” “SAS: Rogue Heroes” and “A Spy Among Friends,” and U.S. shows such as “Gaslit,” “The Offer,” “The Staircase,” “Andor” and “Under the Banner of Heaven”) – here are my favorite 30 shows of 2022…

1. “Severance” (Apple TV+)

2. “Bad Sisters” (Apple TV+)

3. “Slow Horses” (Apple TV+)

4. “The U.S. and the Holocaust” (PBS)

5. “The Crash” (Cellcom tv)

6. “The White Lotus” S2 (HBO)

7. “Munich Games” (Hot)

8. “Pistol” (Disney+)

9. “We Own This City” (HBO)

Josh Charles and Jon Bernthal in "We Own This City."Credit: Paul Schiraldi / HBO

10. “The Vow” S2 (HBO)

11. “Black Bird” (Apple TV+)

12. “The Capture” S2 (BBC)

13. “The Bear” (Disney+)

14. “Mo” (Netflix)

A scene from the 2022 Netflix series "Mo."Credit: Netflix

15. “Yellowjackets” (Showtime)

16. “Borgen: Power & Glory” (Netflix)

17. “Somebody Somewhere” (HBO)

18. “George Carlin’s American Dream” (HBO)

19. “The Dropout” (Disney+)

20. “High Water” (Netflix)

21. “The Patient” (Disney+)

22. “Irma Vep” (HBO)

23. “The Invisible Pilot” (HBO)

24. “Inventing Anna” (Netflix)

25. “As We See It” (Prime Video)

26. “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” (HBO)

27. “Minx” (HBO)

28. “Tehran” S2 (Apple TV+)

Glenn Close and Niv Sultan in "Tehran."Credit: Domniki Mitropoulou / Apple TV+

29. “Meltdown: Three Mile Island” (Netflix)

30. “WeCrashed” (Apple TV+)



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