The Best And Worst TV of 2022–Part 4

Our editor makes his picks

(Editor’s Note: There’s so much TV, we can’t cover it all, even though we have 500 full-time TV critics on staff. Today, I make my choices. Most of them are obvious, but these shows were so obviously good (or bad) that to pick anything else would be contrarian for contrarianism’s sake. And we wouldn’t want that. Happy New Year!)

Best

The White LotusThe TV chattering class’s favorite virtual water-cooler show chewed up the screen for the back months of 2022, with a second season that was more glamorous and sexier than the first. Without the first season’s overt politics about social class and colonialism, Mike White was free to explore juicy themes of love and betrayal and family ties that do and don’t bind. Plus, the show’s signature murder mystery was even more outrageous than in Season 1. Absolutely legendary TV.

Severance–This sci-fi dramedy dragged sometimes when it shifted to the surface world, as opposed to its creepy subterranean settings. But when it clicked, it really clicked, in a wholly original fusion of Black Mirror and The Office. “Melon Party” will forever be in our lexicon. And the cliffhanger was tense beyond words.

The BearIn an era where food TV has become bloated, boring, and way too full of itself, ‘The Bear’ reclaimed why we enjoy watching food-themed content in the first place. This dark comedy about a grief-stricken Top Chef type who inherits his family’s Chicago Italian beef joint felt like a classic David Mamet play. It’s the most Chicago show in the history of TV, which has been full of Chicago shows. The best half-hour writing and jittery energy of the year.

House of the DragonAll is forgiven for the weird last couple of ‘Game of Thrones’ seasons with this prequel set nearly 200 years before the action of that show. A tense royal chamber drama, but also an epic fantasy featuring horrific monsters, both human and non-, House of the Dragon was fun, gripping appointment viewing, and deserves all the ratings and praise it received.

AndorStar Wars content is so schizophrenic. It can either be some of the worst TV you’ve ever seen, or some of the best, sometimes simultaneously. The first few episodes of ‘Andor’, a prequel series to Rogue One, felt a little draggy and flashbacky, but once the show got to the middle, with a three-episode heist sequence, it really took off and became the best action show of the year. A surprise late season twist, where the action moves to a creepy Imperial prison, is an ode to classic 1970s sci-fi, with amazing tension and stripped-down production design. A truly pleasurable and nourishing surprise.

The Boys, Season 3–After a second season where it got a little didactic and high on its own supply, The Boys rebounded with an amazingly entertaining third season, full of outrageous scatological set pieces that you had to see to believe. An annoying child character bodes poorly for season 4, but the third season was legendary.

The Rehearsal–The year’s most insane comedy was also a deeply moving chamber drama about family and identity. Whatever Nathan Fielder was doing with this show, he’s a magician. Contains some of the best and most outrageous comic set pieces of all time.

What We Do In The ShadowsThe fourth season of FX’s supernatural comedy was funnier than ever, with a great plotline surrounding a vampire nightclub, and with the cast re-reaising a reborn Colin Robinson. What We Do In The Shadows has been the most consistently funny sitcom on TV for years.

The Kids In The Hall–I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson is the best sketch comedy show on TV, but it didn’t feature any new episodes this year. Fortunately, The Kids In The Hall returned with a fresh season of their long-dormant series. Very much older, maybe 10 percent wiser, The Kids were as funny as ever, and didn’t lose a beat. Endlessly watchable, always hilarious, and extremely welcome.

Worst

Obi-Wan Kenobi–For Every ‘Andor,’ there is an ‘Obi-Wan’. Ewan McGregor is the best actor in the history of Star Wars, so you can’t blame him for this dumb and turgid misfire of a series. But the showrunners surrounded him with an incredibly weak comic-book storyline that included Baby Princess Leia and a terrible performance by Moses Ingram as the “Third Sister,” a bad guy so annoying you found yourself rooting for Darth Vader. Full of improbable twists and wooden line deliveries, a handful of decent set pieces couldn’t redeem Obi-Wan.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of PowerThe show takes the richest fantasy universe ever created, strip it of all his metaphorical depth, and populate the world with lousy acting, shockingly obvious dialogue, dark-lit battles, and corny speechifying. A slog to watch every week.

“Mexican Week”–The ultimate winner of this season’s Great British Baking Show, a charming, funny Malaysian immigrant woman, would have been a welcome and formidable competitor on any season. But GBBS surrounded her with thin competition and some of the dumbest challenges in the show’s history. It reached its cake-jumping nadir with “Mexican Week,” which featured the hosts asking if “Mexico is a real place?”, a taco-making competition, and a tres leches cake challenge where a baker actually put a large fake black mustache on the cake–and the judges praised him for it! Rarely do you have to watch a cooking show from between your fingers, but Mexican Week was racist beyond all measure.

Reboot–Full of talent and pedigree, Reboot started off with the promise of making fun of the poor and unimaginative judgment of contemporary TV executives. But it quickly devolved into self-admiration and cliché, including a bizarre fixation on lesbian sex. Though there were some clever lines and set pieces, the show’s self-love sets it apart from other shows that make fun of the TV industry, and sent it to the bottom of that surprisingly deep barrel. Plus the final scene was a tender three-minute montage of characters having meaningful moments with the backdrop of a female-sang cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” as a backdrop. Very cringey.

Cobra Kai–The first couple of seasons of this Karate Kid extended universe show were an absolute delight and a pop-culture phenomenon. By season 5, it has completely fallen off the rails, much like the movies did in later installments.  William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence is one of the greatest TV characters of all time, but there are a lot of other characters and plotlines, and it feels like Cobra Kai is covering the same story beats over and over again. Almost unwatchable.

Is It Cake?–While not racist like The Great British Baking Show, ‘Is It Cake?’ scrapes the bottom of the tin of cooking shows. Saturday Night Live’s Mikey Day presides over a panel of comedians who try to guess whether or not bakers have successfully replicated real-life objects as cake. This may have kitsch value in 10-minute chunks on YouTube, but as an episodic Netflix show, ‘Is It Cake’ has very ‘Ow My Balls‘ energy. As god is my witness, I’ll always go hungry again.

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Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of 12 semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer for both film and television, Neal has written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

One thought on “The Best And Worst TV of 2022–Part 4

  • December 28, 2022 at 7:04 pm
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    Thank you for saying this about Cobra Kai. I, like everyone, loved the first season. But this season I could not even finish. It is basically the third sequel of the movies, just unwatchable and this is getting by on all the love it got from seasons one and two. Really, once they brought back Kreese the shark jumped, but it is no longer a story about Johnny making a comeback and winking at the old movies. It is the old movies, and not very good anymore. It is all melodrama and very bad cliches with bad guys who spout almost kid show like dialogue with kid show level motivations for being evil. It is a bad show

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