A Few (22) of My Favorite 2022 Series

There was so much good television in 2022. That’s my declarative statement. But I’ll continue. There was so much good television in 2022. And we were all better for it. In fact, there was so much, I had a difficult time compiling a list of just 22 of my favorites. So before I list the top 22 of 2022, I have to mention some honorables, shows I watched and was moved by.

[Note: I could and probably will write an entire piece of Peacock’s The Best Man: The Final Chapters. So, that’s not on the list but could easily be in the top five.]

There’s Rise Up, Sing Out on Disney Plus, Swagger on Apple TV Plus, House of the Dragon, Hacks and We Own This City on HBO Max, Reasonable Doubt on Hulu, Bust Down on Peacock, A League of Their Own on Amazon Prime, True Story on Netflix, and most recently, East New York on CBS. All of them had moments that were memorable, like Michael Ealy playing the role he loves, Chante Adams shining on the small screen, Jon Bernthal making a case for an Emmy nom, Kevin Hart showing his serious side, and The Roots helping curate a kids classic. Whew. So. Much. Goodness.

And now, without further adieu, here are my top 22 favorite television series of the past year. As always, leave a comment letting me know what you think, and with a few of your faves.


22. The Old Man | FX

If I’m being honest, the stars of this seven episode limited series were the two dogs. Created by Jonathan Steinberg and Robert Levine, this series follows Jeff Bridges as a badass ex-CIA operative as he evades capture for past misdeeds. If it sounds formulaic, it is. But along the way, there’s enough action to keep it interesting.

21. Candy | Hulu

I’m going to say this with all respect to the actress: I can’t remember any memorable role performed by Jessica Biel. Listen, I know she’s not without talent but off the top of my head, I got nothing. Until this. Biel as Candy Montgomery reeled you in and kept you on your toes during every episode of the Hulu limited series about a housewife who seemingly has everything, including a huge secret. I can’t recall if she was nominated for any awards for this based-on-a-true-story portrayal, but she rightly could’ve been. She was riveting. And also, now I’ll remember who she is.

20. Rap Sh!t | HBO Max

I didn’t know what to expect when it was announced that Issa Rae’s next project would be centered on a rap duo based in Miami. I guess I thought oh, she’s going to do a documentary on the City Girls. Well, nah. That’s not what happened. Instead, the mogul who continues to root for everybody Black switched up on us after Insecure, giving us an inside look at two 20 year olds (Aida Osman and KaMillion) trying to make it in the rap game. And yes, the City Girls were consultants on the show. Also, I think I have a little crush on Aida. Hi.

19. BMF | STARZ

I promise, I didn’t have high expectations for this STARZ series brought to us by 50 Cent. I’d bailed on Power after the second season due to the ridiculousness of the narrative, and promised myself I wouldn’t get caught up in another Fiddy drama. Welp, that didn’t last long. While I never went back to Power or any of its spinoffs, this drama based on the real life BMF crew based in Detroit got me back in the game. The two leads (Demetrius Flenory, Jr., Da’Vinchi) are incredible as the Flenory brothers, who are hellbent on building an empire in their hometown. OK, Curtis. You done reeled me back in. Bring on Season 2. ASAP.

18. The Lincoln Lawyer | Netflix

We all know the drill. We tune in to Netflix with no real expectation, just browsing and looking for a vibe or a show that can keep us company as we lie on the couch or do something (or anything) else. That’s what I was doing when I came across this series, created by award-winning producer/writer David E. Kelley, based on a book by Michael Connelly and starring actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. The legal drama follows Los Angeles lawyer Mickey Haller, who conducts his practice out of his, yup, Lincoln Town Car. All of that might sound a bit cheesy, but with a few Kelley twists and turns, it turned out to be one of the standout series of the year.

17. 61st Street | AMC

Wait a minute… Courtney B. Vance AND Aunjanue Ellis in a limited series? Um yes, sign me up. Those two names alone made me tune in each week to see if Moses Johnson, a promising high school track star, would be convicted of a crime that he didn’t commit. Sure, it was formulaic and the trial was largely everything we’ve seen on television before, but the acting by Vance and Ellis was just enough to make it palatable. Unfortunately, AMC didn’t agree, scrapping a possible sophomore season, but still… I enjoyed the time I spent with the Roberts and their son David, who was exceptional in his role.

16. Winning Time | HBO Max

Whatever you thought this series would be, you were correct. It’s a looooooooose interpretation of what took place during the late 70s when businessman Jerry Buss took over the iconic Los Angeles Lakers NBA franchise. There’s sex, drugs and Magic in this re-telling by filmmaker Adam McKay, based on the book Showtime by Jeff Pearlman. There were also stellar performances by Quincy Isaiah (as Magic Johnson), John C. Reilly (as Jerry Buss) and Solomon Hughes (as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Throw in some spirited work from Adrien Brody (as Pat Riley) and Wood Harris (as Spencer Haywood) and this 10-part series was everything you never thought you needed. Whew.

15. The Man Who Fell to Earth | Showtime

Hi. My name is Dawson and I have to admit, I’m not that much of a Sci-Fi fan. I know, I know… I should be, since I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, but honestly, I’m more of a drama and comedy guy. Well, with this limited series from Showtime, I got all of that rolled into one. It’s about what the title says, a man–a Black man–that seemingly fell to earth to complete a mission. There were twists, turns, a quasi love story, and outstanding performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Naomie Harris and Clarke Peters that kept me invested and wondering how it was all gonna shake out.

14. Black Bird | Apple TV Plus

If sideburns could win an Emmy, then Paul Walter Hauser and his face would’ve been accepting a statue. Even though that wasn’t possible, the Apple TV Plus limited series gave us award-worthy performances, specifically from Hauser as Larry Hall, a convicted killer who still has more secrets for prosecutors to unravel. Based on a true story, the actors–which includes the late Ray Liotta in one of his final roles–shine as they lead us to what one would hope to be a satisfying outcome. Or well, at least an outcome where the bodies are found.

13. Euphoria | HBO Max

It’s easy to say that Zendaya has turned out to be Sam Levinson’s muse. How else could you explain the way the writer/director is able to squeeze every possible emotion out of the actress as she portrays high school student/addict Rue Bennett over these past two seasons? I mean, there’s a reason the actress continues to win Emmys for this portrayal. It’s raw, riveting and sometimes really ugly. This second season saw Rue hit a rock bottom no one could think possible, while also giving us two of the best episodes of television in the history of it: the one where Rue was walking the streets barefoot after escaping certain death, and lawd… that play. Whew. What a series. What an actress. Can’t wait to see what a third season brings.

12. The White Lotus | HBO Max

We can focus on the second season, since that’s what aired in 2022, but if I’m being honest, this paragraph is really an homage to Jennifer Coolidge and her portrayal of Tanya over both seasons. Series creator Mike White pushed the actress to do more than simply use facial expressions on the screen, giving her a lot to do and being rewarded for his faith in her. Sure, seeing Michael Imperioli and F. Murray Abraham spar was rewarding, and watching Aubrey Plaza do Aubrey Plaza things was a godsend, but really, it was Coolidge that made me tune in from week to week, wondering what she would (or would not) do next. Brava.

11. Snowfall | FX

At this point, after five seasons, we all know what the FX series is all about. So if the show slipped into a formulaic malaise, we really couldn’t blame it. At least we’d see our favorite characters and how they moved, right? RIGHT?! Well, thankfully that’s not what’s happened with the John Singleton-created drama. Nope. Franklin Saint and his family has kept us on our toes for all five seasons, and given us things we could see coming, and even more that we could not. This past season especially, which was packed with more than one reset by multiple characters and a family showdown we haven’t seen since the days of Dallas. Whew. Sadly, this next season will be the last for the series, but clearly it won’t go out without a bang. Or ten.

10. Five Days at Memorial | Apple TV Plus

This is a series I wanted to give up on after the first episode. I mean, did we really need a re-telling of what took place in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? Did we really need to be reminded of the displacement, the agony, the trauma that affected so many, so many years ago? Did we really need to see it on screen for the umpteenth time? Well, turns out even if we didn’t need to see it, it was worth the time. And focusing on what took place at one hospital in the aftermath of the levees breaking proved to be riveting television. So many mistakes. So many costly choices. So many outstand performances by a cast that had the thankless job of reliving a tragedy. Well done.

9. Severance | Apple TV Plus

We’ve known Ben Stiller for his work on comedy classics over the years, but now we need to give him his flowers for executive producing and directing a Sci-fi drama that was also one of the best series of 2022. Severance came with a simple premise: office workers whose memories were surgically divided between the work and home life, and the consequences that spring from that. Again, not a huge fan of Sci-fi but it kept me guessing and waiting to see what was going to happen next. Bring on the sophomore season, Mr. Stiller.

8. From Scratch | Netflix

Two words: thug tears. Two more words: well done. That’s the most I can say about this captivating limited series based on a real life story experienced and written by writer Attica Locke. Zoe Saldana portrays a student who goes to Italy and falls in love with an Italian chef named Lino. And from there, we are engrossed in a love story and a family story that gives us more ups and downs than an elevator (there’s a dad joke in there somewhere). Saldana and Danielle Deadwyler did their good acting in this project, portraying sisters Amy and Zora, while Keith David and Kellita Smith deserve their flowers, too. Just… well done.

7. Only Murders in the Building | Hulu

Sure, this ranked higher last year and that’s OK. Placing this series that I love here doesn’t mean I love it any less. It just means that there was no way it could capture the same magic that accompanied the freshman season. At this point we know what we’re getting, and we know how palpable the chemistry is between the three leads, and we know that at some point Nathan Lane, Tina Fey and Jane Lynch will show up and do something ridiculous. That’s the joy of the Steve Martin-Martin Short-Selena Gomez project. That’s why it works. That’s why I’ll always love it.

6. Bel-Air | Peacock

We all know what happened with Will Smith in 2022: A book. An Oscar. A slap. An ostracizing. And then there was Bel-Air. Thankfully. The series, created by Morgan Cooper along with Smith, is a dramatic reimagining of the classic 90s sitcom that featured Smith as a transplant that went from West Philly to the Los Angeles suburbs. And it was good! Jabari Banks and Adrian Holmes, as Will and Uncle Phil respectively, were excellent, while Coco Jones as Hilary and Cassandra Freeman as Aunt Viv were both stellar (got a lil crush on Cassandra and that country accent. Whew!). And then there was Olly Sholotan, who gave the Carlton character so many brilliant shades of color, lifting what was the comic foil of the 90s to higher, more complicated and dramatic heights. Thankfully Season Two is on the way.

5. Atlanta | FX

I could sit here and deconstruct the entirety of the four seasons of Atlanta, but I won’t. Instead I’ll use this space to praise the actors that gave us four seasons of clever, off-the-wall, irreverent, satirical, primarily Black content. It was a pleasure following the travails of Donald Glover (Earn), Brian Tyree Henry (Alfred aka Paper Boy), Zazie Beetz (Van) and LaKeith Stanfield (Darius) as they navigated their way through adulthood. We saw Earn go from homeless to HNIC. We saw almost all of Paper Boy’s rap journey. We saw Van’s existential crisis and how it played out. And Darius… well, we saw him make his way. A great ride by a great cast in a great series. Sad to see it go, but thankful for everything it gave us. Even Alligator Man. And the invisible car. And Teddy Perkins. And fake D’Angelo. And fake Tyler Perry. Sorry, I could go on for a while.

4. Abbott Elementary | ABC

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY – “New Tech” – When a new computer program is introduced at Abbott, Janine is excited to finally

There’s a reason this series, created by Quinta Brunson, was the breakout comedy of the year. Actually, there’s a few reasons. It’s the writing, led by Brunson who created Abbott to give respect to teachers and specifically one of her childhood teachers. It’s the premise of being in a classroom and all the things that can happen and the hilarity of the child actors. And it’s the casting, led by Emmy Award winner Sheryl Lee Ralph and Emmy nominated Tyler James Williams and Janelle James. All of those things have contributed to Abbott being what it is. But it’s the heart Brunson has given the series that makes it shine.

3. Better Call Saul | AMC

I will admit, I didn’t think this prequel would have a chance to compare to its predecessor Breaking Bad. However, I was wrong. In fact, it can be said that Better Call Saul is on par with the original, with Bob Odenkirk masterfully leading a stellar cast through six seasons of great storytelling that leads up to and surpasses Bad. I feel the need to give flowers to Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks, Michael Mando, Patrick Fabian and Giancarlo Esposito for their performances as well. Just an amazing run and this final season was just as tense and dark as fans of the show would want. And special kudos to the legend Carol Burnett for her guest appearance. She was everything.

2. The Bear | Hulu

Yes, Chef! That’s what I say to this amazing limited Hulu series that took us inside the kitchen of a sandwich shop in Chicago. If you were wondering like I was if Jeremy Allen White would be able to break away from his role on Shameless, then I guess we all can say Yes. Yes he can. And did. Christopher Storer gave us a wide breadth of great characters, including stellar performances by Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Cousin Richie and rising star Ayo Edebiri as Sydney. The drama was palpable in each episode, with one amazing 18-minute stretch during Episode 7 that was filmed in one take being a standout. White and Edebiri spent time in professional kitchens in order to nail the authenticity of being chefs, and it showed. Just excellent work all around. Can’t wait for Season Two.

1. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey | Apple TV Plus

No series affected me like this one did. I hadn’t read the book by Walter Mosley (probably one of the ONLY books by the author I hadn’t read), but seeing that Samuel L. Jackson was attached made me hopeful that it would be good. Welp, needless to say I was blown away. Here’s a synopsis of the series:

Ptolemy Grey, 91, is on the brink of sinking into dementia, but he experiences a seismic shift when given the opportunity to briefly regain his memories, and he uses this fleeting lucidity to solve his nephew’s death and come to terms with his past.

Mr. Jackson (gotta refer to him as that from now on to give him the proper respect) inhabited this role with everything he had. And it showed. Dominique Fishback, who plays his caregiver Robyn, is perfect in her role. If I’m being honest, she never misses. So it was a perfect combination of acting and story. It still walks with me to this day. And THAT’S why it’s my #1 series of 2022.

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