2022 Television Diary

By Published On: December 22nd, 2022Categories: Capitol Notes, Poozer Pop Culture

Throughout 2022, there was almost always a television show on the air that captured my attention and had me craving its weekly return. The year provided comic book adaptations and visits into the Star Wars universe that were shockingly well done, the successful culmination of beloved dramas and dramedies, the launch of new, hyper-specific worlds, some major misfires, and limited series that hit hard and resonated long after viewing.

Television was so good this year that I created a Top 10 and a next Top 10, as it felt sacrilegious to lump some of these shows together.

Side note: It’s probably worth noting that all the new content that I loved this year was basically doled out in a week-to-week fashion, helping feed the buzz and conversation around the shows, which likely increased my enjoyment.

The Top 10 (in no particular order):

Station Eleven (limited series) – A heartbreaking, beautiful portrayal of loss, joy and serendipity that holds up on repeat viewing. Lovers of the book will not be disappointed if they have an open mind.

Andor (season 1) – Tony Gilroy proves that the heart of a Star Wars story doesn’t have to be lightsabers and uses the backdrop of a burgeoning rebellion to give us a heist, jail break and spy intrigue.

White Lotus (season 2) – Easily the funniest show of the year, as the result of the way creator/writer Mike White deploys zingers and dark humor. Constantly paused every episode to repeat lines, posit theories or pick my jaw up off the floor.

Better Call Saul (seasons 5-6) – The last two seasons of this prequel were like watching an NBA all-star game where the players are trying on both ends of the floor. We’re completely spoiled by all the acting performances and how the narrative fit together perfectly, like a beautiful puzzle in the end.

Peacemaker (season 1) – A hilarious take on the super hero genre that has no problem killing characters and burning through plot. It’s also visually interesting – especially the action scenes – and surprisingly emotional.

Slow Horses (seasons 1 -2) – Despite a sometimes predictable narrative, this British spy drama about a cast of lovable losers – led by Gary Oldman – translates perfectly from the paperback to the small screen.

Severance (season 1) – A puzzle-box show that is visually creative and makes viewers completely invested in (both sides of) the characters.

The Bear (season 1) – At points this surprise summer hit feels like Uncut Gems had a baby with Top Chef. Each half-hour episode is packed with heart, a feeling of authenticity and a diverse collection of characters that you love (to hate in some cases).

We Own This City (limited series) – For fans of The Wire, this is about as close as David Simon and George Pelecanos will probably ever get to making a sequel. Need another reason to watch? Jon Bernthal.

Motherland (seasons 1-3) – A heartfelt (but not overly sweet) British comedy about the challenges of being a parent with young kids and the friends you make along the way.

The next top 10 (in no particular order):

Better Things (season 5) – A hauntingly grounded, yet surreal portrayal of being a single parent and navigating the pain/joys of life.

Barry(season 3) – The latest incarnation of this dark comedy trends much darker than seasons one and two, but it also elevates the emotional storytelling and delivers top-notch action set pieces.

The Leftovers (seasons 1-3) – What began as an inconsistent mystery-box drama with standout performances, like from Carrie Coon, evolves into a dramatic heavyweight once it stopped being so self serious.

Atlanta (seasons 3-4) – Despite enjoying the standalone, dream-like episodes that offered the starkest social commentary of the series, I kept wanting to spend more time with the core cast, who do come together for a near perfect series finale.

The Great (season 2) – Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult are immensely charming in the wackiest rom-com on television.

Hacks (season 2) – The sophomore season isn’t as funny as the breakout debut season, but it remains a very smart, reliable hang that is settling into a groove.

Industry (season 2) – An expanding world brought in rewarding new supporting players, most notably Jay Duplass, and threw the young stars into the deep end of the pool, where we got to watch them tread water with mixed success. The show has overt references to a Mad Men storyline and is similarly vying to be one of the best workplace dramas.

Reservation Dogs (season 2) – So much heart and unique perspective packed into every 30-minute episode. Oh yeah, it’s also really funny when it wants to be.

The Girlfriend Experience (season one) – An erotic and extremely watchable examination of a young woman’s journey into life as an escort that probably wouldn’t work without the presence of Riley Keough.

How to with John Wilson (season 2) – Put your phone down and soak up the hilarious visuals that perfectly accompany the droll narration.  This is comfort food, but without the same highs as season one.

The rest of 2022

Welcome to Wrexham (season 1) – This serialized documentary is at its best when the captivating presences of Ryan Reynolds or Rob McElhenney are on screen, as the “real people” aren’t always as engaging.

Irma Vep (limited series) – An often surreal send up of the entertainment industry with a great supporting turn by Lars Eidinger. It’s crazy that Alicia Vikander is not a bigger star.

And Just Like That… (season 1) – The first episode provokes memories of a bad network sitcom. Couldn’t bring myself to watch a second episode.

The Girlfriend Experience (Erica & Anna: season 2) – One part political intrigue and one part doomed romance did not add up to a coherent or enjoyable story.

South Side (seasons 1-2) – A zany comedy that becomes more rewarding as it dives into its deep bench of characters, most notably a cop played by Bashir Salahuddin. You may also get more enjoyment from the show if you connect with all the cultural touchstones, some of which went over my head.

The Book of Boba Fett (season 1) – A nonsensical narrative that wastes a handful of compelling characters, most notably Cad Bane. The only watchable part of the show is when it becomes The Mandalorian season 2.5. Disney made a mistake by not presenting Boba Fett as an anti-hero in the mold of Tony Soprano.

Search Party (season 5) – What started as a grounded skewering of millennials in the first few seasons left reality almost completely behind in its final season and in doing so lost my attention for the most part.

The Righteous Gemstones (season 2) – If you enjoy Danny McBride’s comedic sensibilities then you’ll find something to love in this expansive family dramedy, which doesn’t always have me laughing, but always keeps me entertained, especially when Walton Goggins graces the screen.

Saturday Night Live (seasons 47-48)  – Consistently wacky and sometimes funny.

The Afterparty (limited series) – An all-star cast takes part in a multi-perspective, Agatha Christie style comedy that maintains a low baseline of fun and few actual laughs.

Abbott Elementary (seasons 1-2) – A saccharine sweet workplace comedy reminiscent of Parks & Recreation, but much tamer and more predictable.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (season 15) – While this long-running comedy has fallen far from its peak, it remains comfort viewing for fans who have been along for the ride since the beginning.

The Dropout (limited series) – A murderer’s row of famous actors – most importantly Amanda Seyfried – elevates this true-crime story, but the plotting is awkward and it feels at times like the creators left out important context for the viewers who aren’t familiar with what happened.

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (season 1) – I could hang out all day with this version of John C. Reilly and watch the behind-the-scenes machinations in the front office of the Lakers, but a lot of the drama with the players fell flat for me.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 4) – A complete disaster of serialized storytelling that limps along with an addictive dialogue style. I’m just hate watching at this point.

Our Flag Means Death (season 1) – The sensibilities and heart of What We Do in the Shadows, but with a slightly lower shooting percentage.

Moon Knight (limited series) – It was disappointing how this Marvel series wasted the talents of  Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke, as well as the storytelling possibilities of a superhero with schizophrenia. It also looks bad.

Julia (season 1) – An often breezy watch that would benefit from focusing more on Sarah Lancashire‘s portrayal of Julia Child and less time with the ancillary characters, including fictitious additions.

Bridgerton (season 2) – An overly drawn out melodrama that is far too prude and rarely amusing.

Russian Doll (season 2) – The plot and storytelling device was less engaging than the amazing season one and I stopped watching after a few episodes.

Top Chef (season 19) – Another pandemic season that felt claustrophobic and lacked breakout personalities.

Made for Love (season 2) – Significantly diminishing returns from season one as this high-concept dramedy doesn’t benefit from having extra time to tell its story and would have been better off as a limited series.

Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend – This cooking competition is hit or miss depending on the competitors and the challenge, but host Kristen Kish is always interesting.

The Boys (season 3) – Despite the occasional flash of creativity, this supposedly adult superhero story is mostly conventional and repetitive.

Obi Wan Kenobi (season 1) – This return trip to Tatooine is mostly a collection of uninteresting set pieces and illogical plotting. The experience was extremely disappointing, especially when compared to Andor.

Ms. Marvel (season 1) – A fun and creative spin on the (super hero) coming of age story, but I may be too old for it (based on the fact that I didn’t finish it).

Old Man (season 1) – This show takes off like a rocket in the first couple of episodes and features some engaging fight scenes, but it’s ultimately poisoned by too many flashbacks and an overly complicated story that should have been wrapped up in a limited series.

Stranger Things (season 4) – The latest season has the most visually interesting, high-stakes set pieces and a compelling collection of older teens, but I’m not a fan of the main cast and it feels like these episodes were mostly about positioning characters for the final season.

Dark Winds (season 1) – A somewhat cheesy realization of the world created by author Tony Hillerman that is made watchable  by the performance of Zahn McClarnon.

The Handmaid’s Tale (season 4) – A change in scenery breathed new life into this somewhat stale drama and made me think that this show would benefit from standalone episodes that shared the world beyond the perspective offered by our main characters.

Girls 5 Evah (season 2) – This Tina Fey-produced comedy offers creative and catchy original music and killer throwaway gags, but the storylines are blah.

The Rehearsal (season 1) – This prank/experiment show is at its best when “real people” are the stars, but unfortunately the story revolves too much around Nathan Fielder, whose motives/feelings we never really know and that made it impossible for me to care about his journey.

Westworld (season 4) – This glossy science fiction drama is visually appealing, with a few captivating set pieces, but is ultimately a dumpster fire because of its incomprehensible story and annoying dialogue.

The Sandman (season 1) – Wanted to like it this comic book addition, but couldn’t get through the second episode with the introduction of CGI creatures.

Yellowjackets (season 1) – My interest petered out after a few episodes, but I imagine this show would resonate with some viewers looking to scratch a Lost itch.

House of the Dragon (season 1) – A claustrophobic family drama offering few characters that I cared about and relying too heavily on its GoT mythology and digital dragons to carry the story.

What we do in the Shadows (season 4) – This eccentric comedy is a consistently fun hang that sprinkles in moments that make me guffaw.

The Reboot (season 1) – A corny and formulaic version of a show that would be much more successful with a more cynical worldview.

Derry Girls (season  3) – The final season of this British comedy relies too heavily on gimmicks and the good will it earned from first two seasons, which seemed more grounded in reality and let the ensemble shine.

Bad Sisters (season 1) – An interesting premise and compelling cast creates a watchable whodunnit that helps it overcomes the formulaic plot shortcomings.

1899 (season 1) – Imagine Lost on a boat, but everyone spoke a different language and it was much more depressing. This show’s predecessor, Dark, was more successful in making me care about the characters and the story.

Still need to consume: Welcome to Chippendales, The Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power, The Handmaid’s Tale (season 5),  American Gigolo, The English and Big Mouth (season 6). Anything else that I missed?