Some of the best work in television has occurred in the limited series genre, and the 2022 contributions have been no exception, given how they commandeered the zeitgeist and outperformed the likes of the much-publicized House of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. We’re speaking, of course, of Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Ryan Murphy’s 10-episode deep dive into the notorious serial killer. Aside from its clunky title, the Netflix series transfixed the true crime obsessed despite the surprisingly understated way it depicted the grisly murders.
Viewers were largely left to imagine what happened to Dahmer’s victims, a testament to the series’ chilling score and the extraordinary work of Evan Peters, Murphy’s longtime muse. Peters is a slam dunk for a nomination, if not for his co-star Niecy Nash as Glenda Cleveland, Dahmer’s next-door neighbor who heard the terrifying carnage go down in Dahmer’s apartment. And if you need more proof of the show’s immense popularity, look no further than the headlines from Nov. 7, when Netflix announced two more installments of Murphy’s Monster franchise.
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Another breakout performance came from an actor primarily known for his comedy: the prolific Steve Carell, who took a break from the tomfoolery of shows like Space Force to appear in FX’s The Patient on Hulu. Carell personified the role of Alan Strauss, a sympathetic yet bereft psychotherapist who becomes the downstairs prisoner of a serial killer (played by the superb Domhnall Gleeson). The 10-episode thriller ends in the most unexpected and dismal way, but Carell’s plight with both his captor and his adult son was appointment viewing.
Lost in the peak TV boom but no less worthy of Emmy gold is Five Days at Memorial, a grim retelling of the events that took place at a New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina. Penned with care and great detail by Carlton Cuse and John Ridley, the eight-parter for Apple TV was a triumph in that it actually made you feel like you were sweating alongside Dr. Anna Pou (Vera Farmiga) and incident commander Susan Mulderick (Cherry Jones), who faced overwhelming odds to save patients at Memorial Medical Center. Do yourself a favor and watch it, and then ask yourself what would you do if faced with the same predicament.
The series world wasn’t exactly devoid of fresh and exciting new arrivals this fall. FX hit it out of the park yet again with The Bear, a workplace show about a brilliant cook (Shameless’ Jeremy Allen White) who returns to his Chicago home to take over his dead brother’s greasy spoon. Each episode is only a half-hour and there are plenty of knee-slapping moments (wait until you see how guests at a kids’ party are accidentally drugged with downers), but the series from Christopher Storer (Ramy) is really about a family’s struggle to cope with the suicide of a beloved brother-cousin-boss. (Good luck figuring out which Emmy category to submit this gem, FX.)
Meanwhile, House of the Dragon — while no Game of Thrones, the early years — boasted several of its own breakout stars, from Milly Alcock as a young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen to Paddy Considine as her loving but useless king-father Viserys and Matt Smith as the rebel prince Daemon Targaryen. The Rings of Power served up a few contenders too, like Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Queen Regent Míriel. Jennifer Coolidge will likely attract attention once again for round two of The White Lotus, and we’re already predicting that The Crown’s Imelda Staunton as the Queen and Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip — not to mention Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana — will make a royal showing during awards season.
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