TV did good in the first half of 2022. From January to June, we got a supervillain-turned-hero whose narrative dismantles toxic masculinity, a stunningly unique workplace drama with a sci-fi bend like no other, queer pirates, a feel-good elementary school sitcom, Julian Fellowes back in the rich white people problems saddle, and many more excellent new additions to the forever-growing list of must-see TV.
These are the 13 best new shows of 2022, so far. Catch up before the last half of the year brings even more new obsessions.
Credit: Courtesy of Apple TV+
Apple TV+’s excellent drama Severance is „an anti-capitalist fable with a Black Mirror twist.“ It imagines a world where workers can „sever“ their work memories from their civilian memories, resulting in a bizarre, sterile office world that only exists when employees are physically in the office and „regular“ people who have no idea what they do in their hours at work. Led by Adam Scott in a tremendous role, the Severance cast often plays double duty — portraying their work selves and their out-of-work selves as two entirely different characters.
The creeping mystery of what exactly their company does with their labor maintains suspense through the show’s nine episodes, complete with twists no one can see coming and a cliffhanger ending that guarantees a thrilling second season. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter
How to watch: Severance(opens in a new tab) is now streaming on Apple TV+.(opens in a new tab)
2. The Afterparty
The Afterparty is essential 2022 viewing. It’s a sprawling whodunit led by an utterly bonkers ensemble of young comic dynamos — Sam Richardson, Ben Schwartz, and Ilana Glazer, to name just a few — who are all suspects in the murder of a pop star (Dave Franco).
There’s a twist here, though: Each episode amounts to a retelling of what happened from different perspectives, and those accounts all lean on specific genre and blockbuster tropes that reflect the personality of the suspect being questioned, from big action romps to creeping thrillers to lavish musicals. All of that sits on top of the actual mystery, an elaborate puzzle that only the sharpest viewers will solve before the finale pulls all the pieces together. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter
How to watch: The Afterparty (opens in a new tab)is now streaming on Apple TV+.(opens in a new tab)
3. Moon Knight
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios
With Ms. Marvel off to a rollicking and formula-breaking start, Moon Knight may not be the best of Marvel’s 2022 offerings when all is said and done. However, that doesn’t detract from the Oscar Isaac-led Disney+ series, which is wild and refreshingly untethered from the MCU formula in its own way.
Isaac stars in the dual role of Marc Spector and Steven Grant, and their respective metahuman forms: Moon Knight and Mr. Knight. Spector’s powers are his reward for living in thrall to Khonshu, ancient Egyptian god of the moon. Grant’s situation is…more complicated, and best left in the realm of spoilers. His suit is spiffy as hell, though.
Propelled by terrific performances from Isaac, a great supporting cast that includes Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy, and refreshingly authentic representation for Arab and Jewish viewers alike, Moon Knight is the kind of Marvel adventure we’d like to see more of in the future. — A.R.
How to watch: Moon Knight(opens in a new tab) is now streaming on Disney+.(opens in a new tab)
One of the most ambitious new shows of 2022 is also among its most rewarding. Based on Min Jin Lee’s best-selling novel, Pachinko spans not only decades but also generations, following a family line from an impoverished community in 1915 Korea to a prosperous Japan in 1989. The center of this moving saga is matriarch Kim Sunja, who grows from an intrepid child (Yu-na) to a pregnant, unwed teen (Kim Min-ha), to a grandmother (Academy Award-winning star of Minari, Youn Yuh-jung) too often patronized by her doting son (Soji Arai) and hotshot banker grandson Solomon (Jin Ha).
Created by Soo Hugh, this sensational drama series slides back and forth across its timeline, paralleling Sunja’s journey with Solomon’s. Though she was raised in poverty and he in prosperity, both face challenges of racism, weighty family expectations, and impossible loves. Incredibly, though Pachinko hits on many dark elements, it’s resiliently hopeful, delivering on the promise of its exhilarating opening title sequence. If you’re looking for a series to grab you, heart and soul, Pachinko is a safe bet for satisfaction. — Kristy Puchko, Deputy Entertainment Editor
How to watch: Pachinko (opens in a new tab)is now streaming on Apple TV+.(opens in a new tab)
5. Our Flag Means Death
Credit: Aaron Epstein/HBO Max
Do you love pirates? Do you love rom-coms? Then you’re really going to love the excellent pirate rom-com Our Flag Means Death. Creator David Jenkins and executive producer Taika Waititi bring the Golden Age of Piracy to life with a healthy dose of comic irreverence, following the comedy of errors that is rich landowner Stede Bonnet’s quest to be a pirate. Along the way, Stede (played by frequent Waititi collaborator Rhys Darby) crosses paths with legendary swashbuckler Blackbeard (Waititi), and their ensuing relationship is what really drives the show. Lauded for its killer ensemble cast and thoughtful portrayal of queer relationships, Our Flag Means Death is worth all the hype and more. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter
How to watch: Our Flag Means Death(opens in a new tab) is now streaming on HBO Max.(opens in a new tab)
6. The Gilded Age
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes turns his attention to late-1800s America with The Gilded Age, a tale of high society that pits old money New Yorkers against the wealthier and increasingly powerful new generation of millionaires threatening their social standing. The show has many of Downton’s hallmarks, complete with an incorrigible doyenne in the form of Christine Baranski’s Agnes van Rhijn, a wide-eyed newcomer to wealth played by Louisa Jacobson, and a beautiful, unscrupulous pseudo-heroine with unstoppable fashion sense in Carrie Coon’s Bertha Russell. It’s glam, it’s great, it’s…The Gilded Age. — A.N.
How to watch: The Gilded Age(opens in a new tab) is now streaming on HBO Max.(opens in a new tab)
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
From beloved webcomic to graphic novel to Netflix series, Heartstopper is a truly sweet teen romance that will steal your heart. English writer and illustrator Alice Oseman has extracted the characters of her Tapas/Webtoon/Tumblr hit 2016 webcomic and found real-life ambassadors for them in the screen adaptation directed by Euros Lyn.
Heartstopper lies on the sugary sweet end of the teen dramedy series spectrum, worlds apart from Euphoria and Skins, younger but just as delightful as Sex Education, with a new gay love story akin to Love, Viktor. But it doesn’t shy away from a poignant examination of queer identity amid steadfast heteronormativity. — Shannon Connellan, Mashable UK editor *
How to watch: Heartstopper (opens in a new tab)is now streaming on Netflix.(opens in a new tab)
8. The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Man Who Fell to Earth is a sequel to the 1976 film of the same name starring David Bowie, and it rules. It pays homage to its predecessor while spinning a smart, all-too-relevant story about an alien attempting to save his homeworld from total collapse. That alien is Faraday (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and his quest on Earth is to find scientist Justin Falls (Naomie Harris) and recruit her to his cause. Ejiofor and Harris are both brilliant, as is Bill Nighy, who takes on Bowie’s role from the original film. If you’re looking for smart, fascinating science fiction, this should be at the top of your list. — B.E.
How to watch: The Man Who Fell to Earth is now streaming on Showtime.
9. Somebody Somewhere
Credit: Matt Dinerstein/HBO
Somebody Somewhere is an exceptional dramedy about finding community and the people who really understand you. Sam (Bridget Everett) is mourning the recent death of her sister, and she’s struggling to view her hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, as her home. Enter former classmate Joel (Jeff Hiller), who invites Sam to an open mic night disguised as a church choir practice. Their ensuing friendship, through all its ups and downs, is the core of this sweetly moving show, in large part due to stellar performances by Everett and Hiller, as well as Everett’s real-life pal (and NYC drag king royalty) Murray Hill. Do yourself a favor and watch: Somebody Somewhere is something special. — B.E.
How to watch: Somebody Somewhere (opens in a new tab)is now streaming on HBO Max.(opens in a new tab)
10. I Love That For You
I Love That for You is a rare glimpse at comedic lightning in a bottle. Every character is perfectly cast, with quirks and personalities that exquisitely complement each other. [Jenifer] Lewis, in particular, shines as a fiercely independent woman who loves Rolos more than people and gives her one-night stands „fuck baskets“ to encourage them to leave her house. And of course, the series would be nothing without [Vanessa] Bayer, who could teach a charming master class on how to be painfully awkward. Joanna’s beaming smile, over-the-top reactions, and rogue body language are endlessly amusing. Her random sound effects, voices, and flustered word salads could easily make one snort. And her unnaturally abbreviated words — from „gelat“ (short for gelato) to „thank“ (short for thank you) — are so cringeworthy you can’t help but love them. — Nicole Gallucci, Entertainment Reporter *
How to watch: I Love That For You is now streaming on Showtime.
11. Abbott Elementary
You know that kind of feel-good comedy that’s not exactly escapist because it never lets you forget the troubles of the real world, but is radiantly heartwarming all the same? That’s the kind of comedy Abbott Elementary offers, making it the top of its sitcom class.
Created by and starring Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary is an Office-like mockumentary that welcomes viewers behind the scenes (or into the teacher’s lounge) of a predominantly Black public school in Philadelphia, where the educators are as hilariously flawed as they are lovable. Among the staff, there are newbie/idealists Janine (Brunson) and Jacob (Chris Perfetti), jaded substitute teacher Gregory (Tyler James Williams), no-nonsense veterans (Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph), and a self-obsessed diva/problem-making principal (Janelle James). Together, they face budget issues, soiled carpets, faulty electricity, and a slew of other unglamorous problems that are just everyday issues for teachers in America. But through it all, Brunson and her A+ ensemble bring humor and humanity that makes the real world feel bearable. If you’re hungry for TV’s version of comfort food, look no further. — K.P.
How to watch: Abbott Elementary(opens in a new tab) is now streaming on Hulu.(opens in a new tab)
What happens when you pair a feminist journalist with a porn publisher? You get Minx. HBO Max’s comedic take on the creation of a ’70s feminist porn magazine is an absolute delight, from the heated confrontations between Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) and Doug (Jake Johnson) to an unforgettable penis montage. If you love workplace comedies, sex positivity, and killer vintage fashion, Minx is 100% for you. — B.E.
How to watch: (opens in a new tab)Minx (opens in a new tab)is now streaming on HBO Max.(opens in a new tab)
Credit: Katie Yu/ HBO Max
The DC Comics Extended Universe has had more than a few dumpster fire moments at and adjacent to the movies in recent years, but the creative direction guiding the franchise’s TV and streaming adventures is absolutely killing it. Nowhere is that more apparent than Peacemaker, the John Cena-led HBO Max series which spins off director James Gunn’s bloody and brutal The Suicide Squad.
Peacemaker picks up after the events of the 2021 blockbuster, with Cena’s eponymous vigilante anti-hero taking on a mysterious threat as a member of a secret government-sponsored strike team. That’s only part of the picture. A synopsis can’t possibly capture what makes Peacemaker so excellent. It’s the characters, the writing that fuels them, and the fearless engagement with difficult topics and deep-seated traumas that makes this show sing.
If you’re a fan of the excellent animated Harley Quinn series, think of Peacemaker as its spiritual live-action sibling. — A.R.
How to watch: Peacemaker (opens in a new tab)is now streaming on HBO Max.(opens in a new tab)
*The asterisk indicates that this blurb was pulled from another Mashable review.