In 2022, television did not come to play. No, it kicked into gear at the start of the year and never stopped delivering incredible content. It must be said there was an abundance of fantastic TV across genres; at Nerdist, we loved titles like Abbott Elementary and Reservation Dogs. But when it came to especially Nerdist-y television, a few titles rose to the top. As we get ready for 2023, take a minute to look back at this great year of television with us. Here are Nerdist‘s picks for the best TV shows of 2022.
The Rings of Power (Streaming on Prime Video)
Rarely does a show go from start to finish without some kind of crucial misstep, even across a season. Whether a series jumps the gun on a storyline, kills a character that still has a story to tell, or somehow fumbles the finale, there are many pitfalls that are hard to avoid in storytelling. But The Rings of Power delivered as close to a clean season as feels possible. The show did not rush through its tale and made no sudden movements purely for shock value. It avoided the temptation of miscommunication as plot and, refreshingly, allowed characters to sometimes make the right choices. Most importantly, The Rings of Power centered the evolution of its characters over everything else. The characters lived out their tales instead of being vehicles for prescribed plot points, and that makes all the difference.
The Rings of Power had a lot of weight on its shoulders. After all, in both literary and cinematic mediums, beloved versions of the world already exist. But the series did not bow under this burden and instead rose to the occasion, making The Rings of Power one of the best TV shows of 2022.
Andor (Streaming on Disney+)
Rogue One has a reputation as one of the most powerful Star Wars entries ever. So when we heard that Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor would return in a two-season prequel to the stand-alone movie, we felt thrilled. Rogue One revolves around the ideas of rebellion and sacrifice, and Andor takes those themes and heightens them. In a way rarely explored by high fantasy epics, Andor brings us to the level of the names not remembered by history. It explores the thankless sacrifices that so many have to make in order to obtain freedom, all while removing the shiny shield of protagonist power from the equation. As Cassian begins to understand what it means to be a part of something larger, Andor takes us on an emotional and powerful journey. This story is also one that could not resonate more strongly with everyone living in the world today.
The Boys Season 3 (Streaming on Prime Video)
At Nerdist, we’ve always loved The Boys and season three was no exception. In fact, the latest season was not only one of the best seasons of TV from 2022 but one of the best seasons of the show as a whole.
As befitting a season of The Boys, season three delivered even more weird, disquieting, gory, gross, and just plain wild moments than ever before. Octopus fantasies, giant marvels of anatomy, exploding men, and good old-fashioned vomit, who could do anything but welcome all of that? Not to mention, Homelander continued to reign supreme as one of the best villains in television history. But despite its cheap thrills, The Boys continued to deliver on the biting social satire that makes it deeper than just a shock-value show. More than ever, The Boys came down hard on the dangers of white Christan nationalism. And it continued to remind us that this dark, hilarious world of superheroes lives just a stone’s throw from our own.
MCU TV Shows: Moon Knight/Ms. Marvel/She-Hulk (Streaming on Disney+)
The 2022 MCU TV series really knocked it out of the park, putting them on the list as contenders on the list of the best shows of the year. Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk all gave us very different shows for very different audiences. Moon Knight hit the high notes of a drama, weaving a compelling mystery that featured some mythological nods. Ms. Marvel, meanwhile, offered a coming-of-age tale that centered on family and identity, blending serious and completely light-hearted storylines to perfection. Finally, She-Hulk gave us one of the most hilarious and digestible MCU shows to date, offering a fresh spin on the courtroom and the Marvel universe. Together, all three of these shows added to the MCU at large, offered comic fans Easter eggs and excitement, and appealed to viewers completely new to these characters. A job well done.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Streaming on Paramount+)
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds took us back into the orbit of The Original Series. But this series delivered its story in a whole new way. Following the journeys of the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, the captain of the Enterprise before the infamous James T. Kirk, Strange New Worlds offered just enough familiarity to feel familiar but left plenty of space for brand-new stories. And let’s face it, Anson Mount in an apron alone easily makes this TV show one of the best of 2022. Of course, its tight writing, nuanced exploration of character, and modern rendition of a Star Trek story, which loses none of the classic heart of the franchise, don’t hurt either. We can’t wait to see what Star Trek: Strange New Worlds holds for us in the future.
Stranger Things Season 4 (Streaming on Netflix)
A new season of Stranger Things is always a noteworthy event. But Strangers Things 4 not only had hype, it delivered on it. And that landed the franchise as one of the best TV shows of the year once again. Although Stranger Things 4 had many storylines and characters to contend with, it wove a compelling tale that gave pretty much everyone something to root for. Stranger Things 4 strengthened some of our favorite relationships like Robin and Steve, Lucas and Max, Steve and Dustin, Will and Mike, and more. But it also introduced us to new delightful characters like overwhelmingly-a-fan-favorite Eddie Munson and endearing, peace-and-love Argyle. Of course, big bad villain Vecna and his tentacles stole the show, offering us a baddie whose story successfully answers some of Stranger Things‘ biggest questions.
The only way Stranger Things 4 could improve in our esteem is if Stranger Things 5 brought Eddie back to life. If that happened, we might just go back and name Stranger Things‘ fourth season the best thing on TV in 2022. Netflix, your move.
Peacemaker (Streaming on HBO Max)
Superhero shows are everywhere these days. But James Gunn’s Peacemaker truly stands out from the crowd. Although ridiculous on the surface, this absurd show lures you in with its less-than-loveable lead and then unearths deep themes like overcoming trauma and persevering through toxic situations. And, of course, who can say no to its incredible opening credits dance? Like The Boys, Peacemaker‘s violence and toilet humor might have missed the mark. But these aspects of Peacemaker find balance through a true exploration of humanity. We wouldn’t have pegged Peacemaker to be The Suicide Squad spinoff we needed… But it turned out to be just the one we deserved.
Our Flag Means Death (Streaming on HBO Max)
Ah, Our Flag Means Death, the little show that could. Perhaps no one could have imagined that Our Flag Means Death would deliver a hit. But deliver it did. Part drama, part comedy, part sitcom, Our Flag Means Death has a little bit of everything. But what it has most of all is a deep love and commitment to the queerness of its story. Nearly every character on Our Flag Means Death is a little bit or a lotta bit queer in a rainbow of different ways. And for viewers everywhere, hungry for representation, every single queer character and storyline was an indescribable gift. So rarely do two queer characters get to see out a storyline like Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard received. They sparred, they quarreled, they kissed, they had adventures, they deeply misunderstood one another. In short, they got to do everything any lead romantic couple might do.
And though tragedy befell our darling duo, we rest easy waiting for season two, knowing we don’t have to question their importance to the narrative.
Severance (Streaming on Apple TV+)
We couldn’t have a best TV shows of 2022 list without at least one good sci-fi thriller. Happily, Severance is one good sci-fi thriller. It took one of the most familiar places in many people’s lives, the corporate office, and cleverly built a compelling, suspenseful tale that verges on true horror. Full of twisting mysteries and with lots of room for fans to theorize, the psychological thriller delivered a tight first season. Severance literally brought new meaning to what an office drama looks like. And we look forward to discussing season two around the water cooler.
The Best TV Shows of 2022
The best TV shows of 2022 took their respective nerdy genres and gave us something fresh, inspiring, and nuanced. We saw a lot of IP but also some new ideas bubbling up with the rest. As we move into 2023, we can only hope the world of television continues to outdo itself. Cheers to you, 2022, and all the amazing hours of stories you brought to us.