Okayplayer's 10 Best TV Shows of 2022

A slew of superb series arrived, returned, and ended this year. From Industry to Atlanta, these are the 10 best TV shows of 2022.

To some, this year felt like “Peak TV,” a term coined by FX chairman John Landgraf who felt there was an oversaturation of shows dropping in 2022. He might have been on to something, as this year in television did feel a bit overwhelming. So many popped up across streaming services and broadcast channels alike, with all of them offering a show (or shows) that likely became your favorite (or favorites) of the year. A slew of superb series arrived, returned, and ended during a year that was a bit tumultuous on the culture front.

For example, Atlanta continued to shell out hilarious and dark storylines that left its fans yearning for more even in its final season, while workplace shows dominated for their humor (Abbott Elementary) and drama (Industry, P-Valley). There were also sneaky breakout hits like The Bear, whose unintentionally memeable lines (“Yes, chef”) and characters (Jeremy Allen White’s Carmy) aided the series in making a notable debut in 2022. These and other shows make up our best TV list for this year: a collection of series that spoke to us through their memorable writing, excellent cinematography, and talented cast members.  Some made us laugh; others made us cry. Some even had us wondering if the entire show was nothing but a simulation. But the common thread across all of them is that they were all some of the best television shows to grace our TVs, phones, and laptops this year.

This is the 10 best TV shows of 2022.

P-Valley lil murda and big teak handshake Photo Credit: Curtis Baker/ Starz

10. P-Valley (Starz)

In its second season, P-Valley provided some answers as to why main characters like Uncle Clifford, Keyshawn, and Mercedes ended up at the Pynk. This context added perspective and allowed viewers to fully understand the backstories of some of its key cast members. Since a lot of time was spent diving into the past, some moments that could have been presented more effectively lacked the shine that season one had. But by the last few episodes, P-Valley was back on its feet and serving up riveting scenes (especially those between couple Uncle Clifford and Murda) that were nearly mistake-free, showing why P-Valley has grown into one of Starz’s most popular current shows.Robyn Mowatt

Best TV Shows 2022 Photo Credit: Hulu

9. Reasonable Doubt (Hulu)

In Reasonable Doubt, Emayatzy Corinealdi is deeply relatable as the main character Jax Stewart, a smart-mouthed defense attorney. You might mistake this series as something that was greenlit to bite off the success of Insecure, but if you look closely enough you’ll realize it's got its own flavor. This is clear in how Reasonable Doubt’s creator and showrunner Raamla Mohamed, previously a writer on Scandal, inserts essential flashbacks that drive major plotlines forward. Key cast members Michael Ealy and McKinley Freeman provide excellent performances as Damon Cook and Lewis, respectively. Funny and sharp, Reasonable Doubt is a compelling watch that you’ll appreciate if you enjoy shows that provide fleshed-out, nuanced perspectives of professional Black women. RM

Best TV Shows 2022 Photograph Credit: Nick Strasberg/HBO

8. Industry  (HBO)

Industry is a workplace drama that pulls out all the stops. Pairing witty writing with enthralling plot devices, the series dissects the British financial industry and makes it digestible for those who are unfamiliar with it. This season, your heart might have been pacing back and forth as you watched Myha’la Herrold’s Harper Stern and Ken Leung’s Eric Tao battle it out for power. Aside from this power struggle, Jay Duplass’ Jesse Bloom injects some much-needed calmness into the series as he plays a major financial figure who brings out Herrold’s self-centered tendencies. Overall, we’re ready to see another season of Industry — despite how anxiety-inducing it can be. RM

Best TV Shows 2022 Photo Credit: Jon Pack/Hulu

7. Ramy (Hulu)

After a pair of seasons praised by critics and pedestrians alike, Ramy returned for a third outing with its most surreal and concertedly uncomfortable set to date. Picking up not far from where the preceding season left off, the titular character — portrayed by comedian and co-creator Ramy Youseff — continues to interrogate how his sexuality, socialization, and unexpected success interface with the current state of his faith, as a first generation American raised in a Muslim household in New Jersey. The messiness, misery, and absolutely stellar music supervision that drove seasons one and two return tenfold, amplified to nearly absurd orders of magnitude as Ramy (and a wildly talented ensemble cast) chaotically jostle between secular and sacred living. And it easily makes for some of the most endearingly shameless laughs you’ll get out of a show this year. Zo

Best TV Shows 2022 Photo Credit: Netflix

6. Stranger Things (Netflix)

Just when it seems like our team of Hawkins teens are finally able to catch a break after saving their fictional town, another supernatural problem arises. In the fourth season of Stranger Things, viewers not only had to see Eleven, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will deal with the normal pressures that come with entering high school (bullies, being pulled between cliques), but also with a villain that can basically be described as the Upside Down’s Freddie Krueger — Vecna. As the season unfolds, we learn more about the antagonist’s origins, while also watching our beloved chief of police Jim Hopper try to escape Soviet Russia. Because of its multiple plot lines, this season was at times harder to follow than previous ones. But in its ambition, it gave us arguably the series’ most interesting antagonist to date, along with a music placement that resurrected a 1985 UK hit into a worldwide phenomenon in 2022. As the Upside Down continues to invade Hawkins in its fifth and final season, the fourth season laid a wildly entertaining base for the final battle that’s to come. — Elijah Watson

Best TV Shows 2022 Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

5. Moon Knight (Disney+)

While it’s been difficult to pinpoint what themes or sentiments hold the current stage of the MCU together, one thing we can probably all agree on is how the search for identity factors into Marvel’s Phase 4 math. And what’s more emblematic of that existential grapple than a hero attempting to resolve the conflicting intentions and respective expertise of two (or three) of his split personalities? Though it takes a while for the dots to connect, at the heart of Moon Knight is precisely that longing for autonomy and completeness. In the titular role, Oscar Isaac is a fierce but broken veteran-turned-mercenary-turned-Egyptologist you can't help but rally behind, as he pieces together fragments of former lives that have severed off into their own personas and realities. Slivers of his traumas reveal themselves in each of the six episodes comprising the introductory season. And just when you think the full scope of his battered psychology has come into focus, a new detail from the past throws any unifying theories you might have come up with to the wind. It should also be noted, Moon Knight is the rare (if not entirely unheard of) MCU entry that doesn’t require any homework to appreciate the hero’s increasingly complicated path to wholeness. Instead, the showpresents a powerfully empathetic and self-contained story with almost no tie-ins to other Marvel projects, that will likely leave you with the urge to dig up as much tea as possible on the many men behind the mask. Zo

Best TV Shows 2022 Photo Credit: Tina Rowden/Netflix

4. Ozark (Netflix)

Netflix’s money-laundering drama returned for it’s final season this year, and it wasn’t a disappointment. The two-part season followed former financial advisor Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) and his power-hungry, stay-at-home wife Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney), as they try to get out of working for the Navarro Cartel once and for all. All 14 episodes have a “will they or won’t they” feel to them, as the Byrdes consistently put out fires every time they feel a sense of security. By the end of it, they seem to have gotten away with ruining the lives of many, with one of the last threats to their freedom taken care of as the show comes to its end. It’s an ending that speaks to what makes Ozark so great as a whole. The thrill of seeing just how far Marty and Wendy will get, somehow evading arrest or death at every turn, and living with a guilt that even their children have to carry, too. Matthew Pittman

Best TV Shows 2022 Photo Credit: FX

3. The Bear (FX)

What makes The Bear a brilliant show? The energy that’s jam-packed into each episode. From the very beginning, Jeremy Allen White’s Carmy captivated viewers with his distinct leadership style, as he tries to lead a team full of opposing personalities (who bring their own memorable performances) in a kitchen culture that can only be described with one word: unhinged. But in the chaos are these moments that’re brilliantly moving. For instance, the way the show gradually offers us glimpses of Carmy’s relationship with his late brother Mikey (Jon Bernthal), will likely have you reminiscing about family members who loved cooking who’re no longer around. The Bear hits so many emotional touchpoints that after a while you’ll think it’s you living in Chicago in a shitty apartment, as you attempt to fix your deceased brother’s failing sandwich shop. RM

Best TV Shows 2022 Photo Credit: ABC/Gilles Mingasson

2. Abbott Elementary (ABC)

What happens when a network sitcom marries humor and heart? You get the critically acclaimed Abbott Elementary. The mockumentary-style workplace comedy created, written, and starring the meme queen herself, Quinta Brunson, follows the faculty of an underfunded Philadelphia public school. The ensemble of educators includes overly optimistic second-grade teacher Janine Teagues (Brunson); substitute-turned-full-time teacher Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams); nerdy (and slightly problematic "woke" ally) history teacher Jacob Hill (Chris Perfetti); egocentric school principal Ava Coleman (Janelle James); peculiar custodian (and Illuminati conspiracy theorist) Mr. Johnson (William Stanford Davis); street smart and resourceful second-grade teacher Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter); and veteran kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph). With this multigenerational teaching and administrative staff, the series has a bit of humor for everyone, balancing joyous laughs with necessary commentary on the challenges teachers actually face across the country. Abbott Elementary is a much-needed escape from the more serious TV shows that tend to dominate TV discourse, reminding us of the importance of having a good and hearty laugh — even if it comes at the expense of a teacher being mercilessly roasted by their students. Daric Cottingham

The 15 Best Atlanta Episodes Photo Credit: Guy D'Alema/FX

1. Atlanta (FX)

Donald Glover’s popular FX dramedy finally came back after a four-year hiatus with two 10 episode seasons. The cool thing about Atlanta is that you never know what could possibly happen — but that’s why you keep watching. The show returned with the central focus on Earn (Glover), Earn’s rapper-cousin Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), Paper Boi’s friend Darius (Lakeith Stanfield), and Earn’s ex Van (Zazie Beetz), with all four of them having their own individual moments of self-discovery throughout its final two seasons. Although the third season makes an ambitious and experimental detour as an anthology, it usually worked to the show’s benefit, especially with its premiere episode that referenced two real-life tragedies. Atlanta will always be remembered for taking risks in its storytelling, and offering a surreal adventure that may or may not have been a simulation all along. MP

Honorable Mentions: Ms. Marvel, Flatbush Misdemeanors, Archive 81, Power Book II: Ghost.