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The 12 Best TV Shows of 2022

From ‘Abbott Elementary’ to ‘Yellowstone,’ we name names

spinner image A collage of stars from Kevin Costner to Steve Martin who starred in the best TV shows of 2022
Photo Illustration: MOA Staff; (From Left: Paramount Network; ABC via Getty Images; HBO; Amazon/Everett Collection; Hulu/Everett Collection)


In a year when TV overtook movie houses as the center of our entertainment world, there were more terrific shows than ever — and even broadcast TV showed signs of creative resurgence. Our critics name the 12 best of the best for grownups, listed here in alphabetical order. See if your list matches ours, and discover gems you may have missed the first time around.​


spinner image Quinta Brunson and Sheryl Lee Ralph in Abbott Elementary
ABC via Getty Images

Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Talk about a find! It’s a prestige sitcom (on a broadcast network!) about an important social topic — underfunded school teachers heroically giving their students a chance in life, with an all-funny, mostly Black cast. It took Emmys for best comedy writing, best comedy cast, and hilarious best supporting actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, who got her first Emmy at age 65.


spinner image A scene from the television series Bad Sisters
Apple TV/Everett Collection

Bad Sisters (Apple TV+)

Comedy doesn’t get much blacker than 52-year old Sharon Horgan’s whodunit about five Dublin sisters who lose their marbles and moral bearings in their repeatedly thwarted attempt to kill the abusive husband of one of them (Claes Bang, 55, who should win an Emmy for “Most Satisfyingly Rotten Villain of the Year”).


spinner image Bill Hader standing with a group of people in the television series Barry
HBO/Everett Collection

Barry (HBO)

At first a terrifically amusing show about a hitman (Bill Hader, 44) who discovers a new talent in the acting class of a washed-up star (Henry Winkler, 77), it grew into an amazing dark crime story that still managed to crack us up, and its bravura motorcycle shootout chase scene made it one of TV’s best action shows too.


spinner image A scene from the television series Better Call Saul
AMC/Everett Collection

Better Call Saul (AMC)

The Breaking Bad prequel that chronicled slippery lawyer Jimmy McGill’s descent into evil as Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk, 60) outdid the original classic show, and it got even scarier and greater by showing his law partner and lover, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn, 50), go from Jimmy’s conscience and better half to his morally ruined partner in crime.


spinner image Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate in Dead to Me
Netflix/Everett Collection

Dead to Me (Netflix)

Married… with Children’s Christina Applegate, 51, and ER’s Linda Cardellini, 47, are TV’s top female comedy team on a show that’s also a mystery drama with a soap opera’s worth of car crashes, betrayals, furtive burials, identical twins and bizarre plot twists. It’s fast, funny, and nimble in dealing with issues like infertility, bereavement and self-esteem. Applegate’s MS diagnosis did not rob her of her gifts, and her strong bond with her costar shines through in their characters.


spinner image A scene from the limited television series The Dropout
Hulu/Everett Collection

The Dropout (Hulu)

At 37, Amanda Seyfried’s blazing big blue eyes have never been more riveting, conveying the fanatical ambition and ruthless corruption of fraudulent blood-science entrepreneur and Steve Jobs-wannabe Elizabeth Holmes. Alas, it’s a true story.


spinner image Chaske Spencer and Emily Blunt in The English
Amazon/Everett Collection

The English (Prime Video)

Sorry, Kevin Costner, yours is not the deepest revisionist Western on TV. This twisty revenge saga has the gravitas of No Country for Old Men or Unforgiven. Emily Blunt, 39, was never better as an 1890 English noblewoman who is hunting her son’s killer — and gets mixed up with a Native American U.S. Army man who’s out to reclaim his land. The villains are spine-chillingly superb, especially Ciarán Hinds, 69, and Rafe Spall, 39.


spinner image A dragon in the television series House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon (HBO)

In the big-budget smackdown of the year, the Game of Thrones sequel outdid Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The civil war called the Dance of the Dragons, between the heir of King Viserys (Paddy Considine, 49) and his second wife, who were childhood besties turned deadliest enemies, is set hundreds of years before the first series, but it bears a bloody family resemblance to the original.


spinner image Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short in Only Murders in the Building
Hulu/Everett Collection

Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

In the second season of the hit about true-crime-obsessed residents of a fancy Manhattan apartment building (Steve Martin, 77, Martin Short, 72, and Selena Gomez, 30), Tina Fey, 52, and Amy Schumer, 41, add to the fun, as the satirical plot gets more complicated, and the sleuths are persons of interest in a new killing. Martin’s character faces another mystery: What the heck are people under 30 talking about? “It’s like I’m watching Squid Game without subtitles!”


spinner image A group of teenagers in a scene from the television series Reservation Dogs
FX Networks/Everett Collection

Reservation Dogs (Hulu)

A comedy about Native American slacker teens yearning to escape Oklahoma, it also tackles subjects as deep as grief, and the second season got even better partly thanks to excellent grownup actors like Zahn McClarnon, 56, Gary Farmer, 69, and Wes Studi 75.


spinner image A scene from the television series The White Lotus
Fabio Lovino/HBO

The White Lotus (HBO)

The show about bad behavior at a spoiled rich folks’ resort got more brilliantly dark in its second season: A lonesome zillionaire (Jennifer Coolidge, 61, at the peak of her peculiar powers) gets befriended by men with a sinister plan to steal her money and/or her life; two young couples’ marriages fray; and a father (F. Murray Abraham, 83), his son (The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli, 56) and grandson (Adam DiMarco, 32) look for love they scarcely deserve.


spinner image Kevin Costner in Yellowstone
Paramount Network

Yellowstone (Paramount Network)

Out of nowhere, 67-year-old Kevin Costner’s modern Western about a violently dysfunctional Montana family became TV’s top hit (sort of a cowboy version of Succession). It’s fun to root for the two-fisted Duttons from the heartland, and their ranch hands who can ride, rope, shoot, spit, cuss and brawl against the suits.

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