GameSpot's 10 Best TV Shows Of 2022
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Over the past two decades, television has evolved greatly. HBO changed the landscape with series like Sopranos, Oz, and The Wire, and very quickly, other networks followed suit. TV became more than sitcoms filmed before a studio audience that dominated the '80s and '90s. TV became more complex, more mature, and the overall quality increased. And since then, with the expansion of streaming services, there is simply too much high-quality content to keep up with.
In 2022, it felt like there was more new content than ever. Between networks, cable, and streaming, there are dozens upon dozens of TV series worth watching. Whether it is the latest Star Wars series on Disney+ or something innovative happening at FX--which is a lot more than you think--there is no shortage of high-quality television to watch.
And the list of great shows keeps growing, especially when services like Prime Video are dumping millions of dollars into creating a Lord of the Rings universe or HBO is continuing to build out its Game of Thrones brand with the prequel House of the Dragon or even Disney+ going beyond Marvel and Star Wars shows to bring back franchises like Willow and The Santa Clause as shows..
So the staff of GameSpot came together to ask, "What are the best TV shows of the past year?" After long discussions about our favorite series, we came up with our Top 10 TV shows of the year, with the best TV show of the year. So check out the staff's favorite series of this past year.
We had every reason to be skeptical of Andor, the third Star Wars show this year on a platform that gave us the forgettable Book of Boba Fett and the fine-but-not-great Obi-Wan Kenobi. For one thing, a show based on a secondary character from Rogue One--the dashing and ethically compromised Rebel spy Cassian Andor--didn't seem terribly necessary. Imagine our surprise when the outcome was a prestige TV drama that stands apart from its source material.
There's nary a Jedi in sight in Andor, which focuses on the first year of Cassian's recruitment into a fledgling rebel alliance. The story is more grounded and relatable, as it takes seriously both the stakes and the inner workings of the rebellion and the Empire. This is a show about interlocking systems of power and how they influence and ricochet off of each other, and it accomplishes this storytelling trick by focusing on individuals within those power structures. The Empire isn't a broad villain, but a collection of ambitious bureaucrats who feel utterly righteous even in the face of their own sadism. The Rebellion at this point a collection of loosely affiliated power brokers, dissidents, and guerrilla warriors, starting to find common cause. In most of Star Wars, we're told that the Empire is an oppressive force. In Andor, we see that oppression up close: how it grows and metastasizes, how it chokes out everyday life, and how those who fight against it are forced to surrender their own peace of mind.
This is the context in which we explore themes like what we're willing to sacrifice, how to confront fascism, the prison industrial complex, and the legacy of revolutionary ideas that live beyond their creators. Buoyed by Emmy-worthy performances from Stellan Skarsgard and Fiona Shaw and well-written dialogue that consistently delivers instantly-iconic moments, this is the smartest and most resonant Star Wars has ever been. -- Steve Watts
After four seasons of Nathan For You, it seemed like Nathan Fielder's fanbase had a pretty good idea of what to expect from his next reality project, but there is no way they could ever prepare for The Rehearsal. Billed as a chance for participants to "rehearse" important upcoming events in their lives so they could go off without a hitch, The Rehearsal is really an examination of what would happen if reality and fiction became so blurred that it was no longer possible to determine truth. The Rehearsal takes what Synecdoche, New York did in a fictional world and attempts to make it real, and that is as bizarre and hilarious as it sounds.
From the opening minutes of the first episode, Nathan Fielder makes it very clear that you should not try to guess what is going to happen next, because you will be wrong. He jokes with his first participant--an avid trivia-night player with a dark secret--that he had already rehearsed their initial consultation ahead of time. Except that wasn't a joke: Nathan had secretly scoped out the man's entire apartment and had it recreated at full scale, putting a stand-in actor inside so he could run through the conversation they'd have about rehearsing an upcoming event. It's unhinged, creepy, and so funny that you'll likely have to pause each episode several times while you laugh.
As Nathan finds himself more directly inserted into the rehearsals he's doing with his clients, The Rehearsal goes so far off the rails--in a good way--that I have legitimately no idea how he plans to top it with the upcoming second season. What I have learned, however, is to not question Nathan Fielder, who seems incapable of making anything that isn't laugh-out-loud hilarious and wholly unique. --Gabe Gurwin
Season 3 of Prime Video's adaptation of the comic book series The Boys was the best season to date. Building on the past two seasons, the latest offering of episodes parodies what's happening in the real world, surrounding corporate takeovers, politics, and parodying one thing not so much happening in the real world: superhero content.
This year's episodes were a game-changer for the show and the overall dynamic of The Seven. Without getting into major spoilers, it dived into a place where the future of the show seemed very exciting as the power dynamic of The Seven and Vought International was changing directions. For a show that's all about surprising the viewer--with typically shocking moments--it's great to see The Boys push the envelope by turning the well-established world on its head. Plus, we got to see a whole bunch of Jensen Ackles this season as he took on the role of Soldier Boy.
There was also the highly-anticipated adaptation of the outrageous Herogasm storyline, which was slimmed down to one episode. Although it was a pretty big departure from the source material, the way the setting was woven into Season 3's storyline was perfect. Of course, we got some exceptionally shocking moments--like the "throwing ropes" scene--but the latest batch of episodes of The Boys was a homerun. -- Mat Elfring
Better Call Saul
It's difficult to say anything about Better Call Saul that hasn't already been said. The show shouldn't have worked, Breaking Bad didn't need a spin-off to begin with, and a character like Saul Goodman should not have been compelling enough to carry multiple seasons. And yet, somehow, against all odds, here we are. Better Call Saul did everything right, from the way it handled its own forgone conclusion head-on to the way it maintained some level of mystery for its compelling supporting cast. It was heartbreaking, anxiety-inducing, and frequently hilarious. It took the groundwork laid by Breaking Bad and ran, pulling off victory lap after victory lap--but most importantly, it stuck the landing.
It'll be lucky if we see another show this well crafted and this well executed any time soon, but thankfully, with the entire show now finished and the last season in the books, we can go back and relive the experience as many times as we want to fill the void. -- Mason Downey
Our Flag Means Death
Thanks to the MCU, Taika Waititi's name has become close to ubiquitous in mainstream pop culture, but before he was part of the biggest franchise on Earth, Waititi was teaming up with his fellow New Zealanders to make some of the funniest and most absurd comedy around. Our Flag Means death thrust Waititi and his frequent collaborator Rhys Darby back in front of the camera to return to that form in this quasi-historical romantic comedy about the golden age of piracy in the 18th century.
But what makes Our Flag Means Death truly special, beyond just the fact that it's definitely one of the funniest shows around this year, is the fearless and fresh angle it takes on familiar pirate legends. Waititi and Darby play Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet respectively, but rather than a pair of swashbuckling pals or pirate rivals, in this version of the story Blackbeard and Bonnet are star-crossed lovers, brought together (and subsequently torn apart) by circumstance. It's hilarious, heart-breaking, and, most importantly, some of the most clever TV you can watch this year. Come for all your favorite comedians making cameos, stay for the definitely historically accurate 18th century Crocs. -- Mason Downey
Every year, more and more anime events break through into mainstream American pop culture. In 2021, One Piece reached 1000 episodes. In 2022, the highly-anticipated manga Chainsaw Man was adapted into an anime, and it did not disappoint. With 12 episodes in Season 1--leading to the finale on December 27--Chainsaw Man not only grabbed the attention of the mainstream, but it's also just a brilliant show.
Following Denji, a devil hunter, the series is bombastic and never lets up. Even when horrific monsters aren't being sliced to bits by the main character--who can transform into a monster with a chainsaw coming out of his head and two out of his arms--the show is shockingly fun and intense. Studio MAPPA is behind the show, and following its other recent anime like Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan, Chainsaw Man has a perfect home with this studio, as it's some of their best work yet.
Filled with emotional backstories and complex characters--some of whom are way too horny for their own good--Chainsaw Man hits all the notes of what an anime series is like, while, in many ways, being a great entrance-level show for those new to the genre. -- Mat Elfring
Who knew making Italian beef sandwiches could be such a high-stress environment? The Bear follows Carmy Berzatto, an award-winning chef that is more or less forced to return to his family's Italian beef sandwich shop to run it after the death of his brother. The premise is ridiculously simple, but the tension that radiates off the kitchen as cooks clash, family members quarrel, and Carmy tries to force a new and refined menu into a restaurant that relies on a classic dish is mesmerizing to watch.
That, of course, is thanks in large part to the cast led by Jeremy Allen White (Carmy), who somehow plays an even more Chicago-y kind of guy than he did as Lip on Shameless. The first season of The Bear was more or less a prologue to the overall story being told of Carmy and his motley crew of misfit cooks and business associates (and siblings) attempting to take their reliable family business and make something more that they can all be proud of. And, along the way, they'll chain smoke, scream at each other, quit repeatedly, and probably sell drugs from behind the counter. -- Chris E. Hayner
CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 experienced a rough launch, but it built a world that was exceptionally compelling and intriguing. Netflix's 10-episode anime series expanded upon that brilliantly. Produced by Studio Trigger (Promare), Cyberpunk: Edgerunner follows a new protagonist in Night City, taking on some familiar corporations from the game.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is intense from start to finish. Watching the protagonist David slowly go from school dropout to super-powered edgerunner is an incredible journey, and the series is incredible at making you care about everyone on this show.
It's a season that will fly by. 10 episodes will feel like an hour of view time with how engaging the show is. It feels like a cyberpunk anime from the '80s or '90s--drawing a lot of comparisons to Battle Angel, in the best way possible. Calling Edgerunners action-packed is almost like you're downplaying it, as the action sequences are over-the-top in the best ways possible. It is an incredible adaptation that far surpasses expectations. -- Mat Elfring
Interview With the Vampire
Adaptations can be tricky things, especially when you're dealing with texts as beloved as Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, which already have a certified cult classic adaptation in the '90s Interview With The Vampire movie. We love Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise as Louis and Lestat as much as anyone, but we're just going to come right out and say it: The show is doing a better and more interesting thing with that story.
AMC's TV show is a masterclass in making smart, creative, and necessary changes to a source material in order to update it for a new era. A lot has changed since the book originally hit shelves, and even more has changed since the movie debuted in theaters, but the show understands all this and takes it in stride. And, with an incredible cast with even more incredible chemistry, Interview With the Vampire is easily one of the best and most unexpected shows of 2023. -- Mason Downey
GameSpot's Top TV Show of 2022: Severance
Originality in an age of franchise sequels and spin-offs is rare enough these days, but it's rarer to see an original work so successfully stick its landing. Severance--an exclusive to Apple TV+ and the service's best selling point--is that original work. Its basic premise is infinitely relatable, asking us what our lives would look like if we could completely separate our personal memories from our work memories. It quickly veers into the surreal and dark in a way that shows just how harmful that would be.
Severance immediately grabs you with its visual style and set design, which are like the platonic ideal of "boring corporate office" turned up to 11 and sterilized in an extremely creepy way. Often eerily quiet, the Lumon offices--where employees take numbers on their screen and sort them, for reasons unclear--seem friendly and calm at first glance, but like that unstable friend we all know, the slightest problem can show its true, terrifying colors.
There are plenty of iconic moments in Severance's first season, including the much-coveted egg bar and Waffle Party, but they wouldn't have the same hilarious and unnerving impact without the show's impeccable cast. Adam Scott's role as a team leader who is also unsure of his company's true motivations makes for an emotionally complex part, and standout supporting actors like Christopher Walken and John Turturro both show different pieces of the always-churning corporate machine. Perhaps the best is Zach Cherry, a worker who cares not about the morally ambiguous nature of his job, but instead about the little freebies he gets for hitting arbitrary goals. We can all appreciate a good plastic toy for our desk, even if we only remember they exist for about eight hours every day. -- Gabe Gurwin