Best TV Shows 2022 So Far

When it comes to watching television, we are no longer spoiled for choice, we are simply overwhelmed. There are more options now than we’ve ever had in the history of the medium. It’s the TV peak. But the consolation is that you haven’t missed anything.

Streaming services and digital channels mean that no good show is left behind. So please consider this bulletin of the best new shows of the year so far on your winter watchlist – when it gets cold, we catch up.

Discover the next TV series, streaming and movies to add to your must-haves. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

1883 (Primary +)

The writer of Sicario made a western – priceless for guessing that this wagon train saga is a brutal portrayal of life in the (extremely) wild west. Lavishly shot, with magical lighting and plenty of period detail, Taylor Sheridan’s vision of American exceptionalism is pessimistic and mostly devoid of hymns to the spirit of the frontier; many people die, few others care. It’s obviously dark, but also rhapsodic, with a teenage narrator in Isabel May’s Elsa Dutton, and a powerful performance from Sam Elliott and his mustache as the expedition’s unyielding leader.

Abbott Elementary School (Disney+)

Set in a Philadelphia elementary school where children and staff learn relevant lessons, this is the next great workplace mockumentary and a legitimate successor to Office. Creator and star Quinta Brunson, who plays naively optimistic new teacher Janine Teagues, has crafted a PG-rated family comedy that’s gleefully funny, dedicated to teachers’ struggles, and full of richly sketched characters that keep revealing intriguing new angles. Extremely inappropriate main influencer Ava Coleman (Janelle James) steals every scene she’s in.

As we see (Amazon Premium)

The portrayal of autism on scripted television has thankfully surpassed rain manstyle guest slots, with a broader understanding of neurodivergence and increasingly selected autism spectrum players. It’s not perfect, but this empathetic comedy-drama of Friday night lights Creator Jason Katims, about three autistic roommates in their twenties, gives them real struggles, real desires, and generally flawed conditions. Protagonists Sue Ann Pien, Rick Glassman and Albert Rutecki are all outstanding.

The stall (Disney+)

Amanda Seyfried gives one of 2022’s performances in this real-life Silicon Valley drama, inhabiting the mannerisms and increasingly frayed morals of Elizabeth Holmes, whose medical startup Theranos grew from a notorious company of billions of dollars to a scandal and criminal charges. With sharp humor as punctuation, designer Elizabeth Meriwether (new girl) has created a damning portrait of personal and corporate failure. This limited series is very watchable and deeply thought out; with each episode, your understanding of Holmes and his lies becomes more complex.

To kill him (Stan*)

Australian comedian and comedian Claudia O’Doherty has had eye-catching supporting roles since moving to London and then Los Angeles (see Netflix’s To like for proof), but now she has her breakthrough role in this comedy about the dystopian extremes of the American Dream. Jillian O’Doherty and sitcom veteran Craig Robinson are Florida residents looking for their big business break – one way or another it could be hunting an invasive species of pythons for the official bounty. The show is silly but also revealing, and as a dangerously playful spirit, O’Doherty is a force of nature.

life outside (SBS on demand)

This three-part documentary series follows a handful of inmates freshly released from NSW prisons who spend their first 100 days with a stranger and their family in a bid to have safe accommodation and a clean break from some of the circumstances that make likely re-offensive. The show doesn’t have the answers, but the question it asks of the incarceration system and those involved is genuine and necessary, and the intimacy of the storytelling turns disturbing statistics into real people. It’s a revelation.

Naughty (stan)

It’s 1971 Los Angeles, and second-wave feminist Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) wants to start a magazine to advance the cause. The problem? The only publisher who will support her is Doug (Jake Johnson), a cheerful pornographer who wants to publish an erotic magazine for women, with a male central page. From this awkward intersection, Ellen Rapoport’s comedy turns out to be very amusing and deeply observant, Joyce realizing that her new colleagues know more about women’s issues and sexual freedom than she does.

Herding dogs (ABC view)

It was a banner year for Doggo TV, thanks to shows such as The dog’s house, but the best of the litter was this local four-part documentary about a group of kelpie puppies sent to trainers and their farms across Australia to learn the cattle dog trade. Full of friendly four-legged and two-legged personalities, the show was an introduction to canine instincts and the modern needs of a very traditional job. A shout out to cinematography, which put you right in the middle of cattle hoofs and stockyards to great effect.

Old enough! (Netflix)

I’m Calling It: A Japanese reality show where toddlers leave the family nest to run errands is the best TV surprise of the year. Old enough! is an institution in Japan, where it aired for over three decades, but thanks to Netflix picking it up internationally, we can now enjoy the wholesome adventures and genuine tension of four-year-olds trying to remembering a purchase order and the home route. It’s a brilliant concept and a subtle commentary on the importance of community cohesion. It really is a tonic.

The Prime Minister’s Daughter (ABC view)

Highly relevant after the upheaval heralded by the federal election, this animated teen comedy about the dutiful teenage daughter Catalina Parkes Perez (Cassandra Helmot) of a newly installed female prime minister is a dynamic leaving-the-box adventure that exemplifies our government systems and how party politics and activism can engage with each other. Designed for tweens, it contains enough wit and worthwhile observations for the target audience and their parents.

The answering machine (SBS on demand)

Martin Freeman fans be warned: there’s no sign of the British actor’s deft comedic skills in this relentless crime drama. Playing the role of a first response officer working the demanding night shift in the toughest – physically and emotionally – corners of Liverpool, Freeman is masterful. Bypassing corruption and trying to avoid a nervous breakdown, his Chris Carson carries the impossible contradictions of the police. If you’re up for the challenge, this series is compelling.

Breakup (AppleTV+)

I watched this American sci-fi thriller in February and it’s barely been a day since I thought about it. The best show of 2022 so far is immense in the themes and forms it takes on, set in a company where some employees have had their identities halved so that home and office are two different existences whose the other has no idea. Adam Scott is the dedicated employee trying to bridge the gap, and through all the mind-bending concepts and deeply eccentric twists, a powerful humanity burns.

slow horses (AppleTV+)

Welcome back, Gary Oldman. The definitive British actor of his generation is 64 and has played too many Hollywood villains, but he absolutely pulls off this acerbic British spy thriller as a cynical MI5 veteran called back from the fringes. As much about personal shortcomings as it is about national security, the series is clockwork drama illuminated by dark humor and desperate hope. slow horses gives the genre a new purpose.

someone somewhere (Frenzy)

Arriving with zero stars and low expectations, this bittersweet comedy about the struggles of trying to get a second chance at life aired without fuss in January and February. But if you found it – as I thankfully did – then you’ve discovered an unassuming gem, set in a college town in Kansas where a woman, Sam (Bridget Everett), hiding from her various connections, is brought back by a circle of queer singers who reignite her considerable voice. It’s a spectacle of everyday interactions, sometimes as simple as two friends making each other laugh, but ultimately it’s tender and illuminating.

We own this town (Frenzy)

HBO The WirIt remains one of the true pinnacles of TV drama, a kaleidoscopic take on the many tribes – criminal, police, political, etc. – which dominated the city of Baltimore. Show creator David Simon has returned to his hometown for this scathing and inspirational limited series, which dissects a real-life police corruption scandal that has provided chilling insight into how a supposedly working system can be broken. Jon Bernthal will never have a role as evocative and detailed as crooked cop Wayne Jenkins, and he’s making the most of it.

Upcoming highlights

She-Hulk: Lawyer (Disney+, August 17): Ally McBeal meets the Avengers? The great Tatiana Maslany (black orphan) plays a lawyer in this Marvel series who can play full Hulk in the courtroom or in the bedroom. Hopefully the show, which features Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, delves into the satirical possibilities.

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Dragon House (Foxtel/Binge, August 22): If you put the many disappointments of game of thrones′ ending the season behind you, this prequel promises a big rise in the silver-haired nobles of House Targaryen and the dragons they ride.

1899 (Netflix, TBC): From the creators of DarkNetflix’s German time travel mystery, comes what appears to be an equally dark drama about an unknowable hazard, set on a ship taking European immigrants to New York that is drenched in supernatural terror.

* Stan belongs to Nine, the owner of this masthead.

Discover the next TV series, streaming and movies to add to your must-haves. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

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