The Top 10 TV Shows of 2022, According to Our Readers
Find out if your favorite TV shows of 2022 made the list!
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The best new TV shows of 2022
The past year has certainly been one to remember—at least on TV. There were 357 original shows released in the first six months of the year alone, not to mention all the returning shows with amazing new seasons, from The Witcher to Virgin River. We were treated to plenty of love, laughs, mystery, drama and even a few dragons, and viewers loved every minute of it. But what were the best TV shows of 2022?
We certainly have a few ideas, and apparently, you do too! We polled 7,400-plus of our readers on YouTube to narrow down the must-watch shows of the year. You’ll find the best shows on Netflix here, as well as content from streaming platforms like Hulu and Apple TV+, in a wide range of genres. But of course, there can be only one winner. See if you agree with our Reader’s Choice pick and if you think it qualifies as one of the best TV shows of all time. And then settle in to watch or rewatch all the shows on this list. When you’re done, check out the best Netflix movies of 2022. Talk about the perfect excuse to cancel those New Year’s Eve plans and ring in 2023 from the couch! Happy streaming!
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What you’re in for: A smart, dark boarding-school mystery about the paranormal starring a brooding heroine
Where to watch: Netflix
This young-adult drama, based on The Addams Family‘s daughter, Wednesday (Jenna Ortega), isn’t just for kids. (And to that point, it has some adult themes and language, so maybe don’t make it a family show if you have young ones!) With its undeniable quirk and surprising charm, it’s easy to see why Wednesday has become the No. 2 most popular English-language series of all time on Netflix, crossing 1 billion views in one month, as well as our readers’ top choice for the best TV show of 2022. It follows the original Goth teen at a Hogwarts-like boarding school for outcasts (witches, sirens, werewolves, etc.) as she unravels the town’s mysterious past, tries to catch a human-eating monster and grapples with her own issues.
Oh, and did we mention that it’s executive-produced and directed by Tim Burton? Expect plenty of dark comedy, funny quips, ghoulish mysteries and a viral dance sequence that is worthy of every click and recreation it has gotten to date.
What you’re in for: Period piece meets paranormal mystery on a steam liner full of immigrants coming to America
Where to watch: Netflix
This German mystery/science-fiction series, from the creators of the addictive series Dark, came in second place on Reader’s Digest‘s poll. It follows a group of European immigrants aboard a steamship heading for New York City, but instead of arriving safely to start new lives, they come across the Prometheus, a missing steam liner that had disappeared four months earlier. Even weirder? They find only one person on board—a young boy who is unable to speak. A core group attempts to uncover the mysteries of the Prometheus‘s disappearance while facing a mutiny of third-class passengers who think the boy isn’t quite as innocent as he appears.
During its first week of release, 1899 racked up 72 million hours viewed in just three days. It has a similar vibe as Lost and Manifest … but with a turn-of-the-century twist.
3. House of the Dragon
What you’re in for: A Game of Thrones prequel about the House of Targaryen’s ancestors and what it was like when they ruled the iron throne
Where to watch: HBO Max
This highly anticipated prequel takes place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones unfolded, and it shows how the House of Targaryen ended up losing control of the seven kingdoms. (FYI, the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen, won’t be born for about another 175 years.) House of the Dragon is based on the George R.R. Martin novel Fire & Blood, and as you might expect if you know anything about the fantasy series, it’s packed with themes of murder, war, incest and sex. The series’ premiere was watched by more than 10 million viewers, making it the biggest premiere in HBO Max TV history and helping it earn a top spot on our list of the best TV shows of 2022.
What you’re in for: A heartwarming LGBTQ coming-of-age drama
Where to watch: Netflix
Fans of Ted Lasso and Sex Education will adore this uplifting British teen drama based on a popular webcomic turned graphic novel. Need more proof that you’ll love it? Heartstopper received a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes for being so “effortlessly charming.” It follows the story of Charlie, a gay high schooler who falls for rugby star Nick, though he’s unsure of Nick’s sexuality. Over the course of the series, we see Nick come to terms with the fact that he might be bisexual, while their other close friends also learn about love and sexuality while dealing with high school life.
5. The Summer I Turned Pretty
What you’re in for: A charming coming-of-age tale set in a beach town, from the author of To All the Boys I Loved Before
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
The Summer I Turned Pretty, which was one of Amazon Prime’s best shows of the year, follows Isabel “Belly” Conklin, a cute and awkward teen, as she spends a summer by the beach with family friends Jeremiah and Conrad, two boys she’s known her whole life. But this is the summer she turns 16, and the boys begin to look at her in an entirely new light. The teens grapple with developing sexual feelings, first kisses and what getting older means for platonic friendships. You’ll enjoy the walk down memory lane, the well-written dialogue and the relatable moments.
6. The Gilded Age
What you’re in for: A 19th-century historical drama about New York City’s upper crust, brought to you by the creator of Downton Abbey
Where to watch: HBO Max
Think of The Gilded Age as Downton Abbey meets Bridgerton, except set in America. This period piece explores the dynamics between the wealthy and the nouveau riche in New York City in the late 1800s, as well as the lives of their secretaries and domestic staff. It follows Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon), a newly rich young woman trying to break into the snobby high-society circle that rejects anyone who isn’t old money. She and her husband (Morgan Spector) are determined to be taken seriously … and exact revenge on those who stand in their way. Supporting characters include a closeted aristocrat, the penniless niece of two aristocrats and a young Black aspiring writer who faces her own discrimination.
Fun fact: The cast is a veritable who’s who of Broadway. Between its regular and recurring characters, the show’s actors have received a whopping 56 individual Tony nominations (and 22 wins). Shockingly, The Gilded Age earned only one Emmy nod, but perhaps Season 2 will deliver more awards for this fan favorite.
7. The Dropout
What you’re in for: The true story of a tech CEO who bamboozled Silicon Valley into giving her too much money (and too much power)
Where to watch: Hulu
The Dropout dramatizes the real-life story of Elizabeth Holmes (played to perfection by Amanda Seyfried), the founder of Theranos, a Silicon Valley start-up that promised to revolutionize the world by detecting medical problems in patients via a single drop of their blood. The only issue? The technology she’d promised to the world—and to her investors and the media—didn’t actually exist. And despite her best efforts to get there, she continually failed … and continually lied to cover up the fraud. It’s a story of greed, ambition and how even the smartest people in the room can get outwitted by a master manipulator and pathological liar.
What you’re in for: An espionage thriller in the vein of The Bourne Identity … but with Star Wars characters
Where to watch: Disney+
Consider Andor an epic heist series, and the most grown-up Star Wars series that has ever been developed for TV. (For reference, Andor is the fourth Disney+ Star Wars series, after Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.) A prequel to Rogue One—which is, itself, a prequel to A New Hope and the rest of the original trilogy—it follows the story of thief and rebel Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he tries to steal money from the Empire … and hide his past as an accidental killer. However, his biggest foe, the Empire’s Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), is often hot on his heels.
What really makes Andor stand out from the rest of the Star Wars spinoffs and the other best TV shows of 2022? The writing. The series is helmed by filmmaker Tony Gilroy, the man behind smart thrillers like The Bourne Identity series and Michael Clayton, and Andor is equally sophisticated.
9. The Bear
What you’re in for: A fast-paced, almost-too-lifelike experience of what it’s like to work in the kitchen at a popular lunch spot
Where to watch: Hulu
He was a beloved character on Showtime’s Shameless, but Jeremy Allen White rose to massive fame this year on The Bear. He plays Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, a classically trained chef who’s worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City, but after the suicide of his brother, he returns home to Chicago to save his family’s failing restaurant. The restaurant, which specializes in Chicago Beef (an Italian roll full of simmered roast beef, served au jus with pickled vegetables) is unsanitary, drowning in debt and full of employees who don’t care about protocol. Carmy does his best, but the 24/7 stress he faces just about breaks him every day.
You’ll love getting a behind-the-scenes look into the wild world of restaurant kitchens … and fall in love with Carmy. Fans say his intense energy makes him super attractive, and you’ll truly feel for him.
What you’re in for: A science-fiction thriller about a company that surgically divides its employees memories to separate their work and personal lives
Where to watch: Apple TV+
If you’re already wary of the way employers can abuse their staff, Severance is for you. This futuristic psychological thriller—which stars Adam Scott, John Turturro, Christopher Walken and Patricia Arquette—tells the story of workers who’ve undergone severance, a procedure that surgically divides their memories, separating their personal and professional lives. It’s billed as a way for employees to have better work-life balance, but some start to believe it’s just another way for a corporation to have complete control over its employees. As the season goes on, it becomes clear that those people are right, and you’ll get sucked in trying to figure out what Lumon Industries is actually hiding. Similar to Westworld, characters can’t be sure whether their memories are real or not, which means it’s a guessing game for viewers too.
Our favorite returning shows of 2022
The past year wasn’t just about new TV shows, of course. Subsequent seasons of these stellar shows translated to more character development and surprising plot twists, and we were totally here for it.
White Lotus Season 2
The second season of this series about the guests and workers at an exclusive resort was arguably the most discussed show of the year, if not the actual best TV show of 2022. Fans are still talking among themselves about that shocking ending and conspiracies for what might happen next season. No spoilers here—just watch it!
Abbott Elementary Season 2
Show creator Quinta Brunson won an Emmy for the first season of her workplace comedy mockumentary, which takes place in an underfunded, mismanaged and predominantly Black public school in Philadelphia. And the second season of this sitcom was just as charming, hilarious and satisfying as the first.
Virgin River Season 4
The drama on Virgin River continued this season, when viewers learned all sorts of paternity secrets and the real reason Denny won’t commit to Lizzie. And while it seemed like things were finally coming together for Mel and Jack, they’ll undoubtedly face more relationship trials when Season 5 returns in 2023.
Yellowstone Season 5
The premiere for the fifth season of this incredibly popular series was the most-viewed season premiere of the year. Ten million viewers tuned in to catch up on the Dutton family drama on Yellowstone—and see what happened after John Dutton was sworn in as the governor of Montana. (If you’re a fan, you won’t want to miss the new Yellowstone prequel, 1923, either.)
Stranger Things Season 4
Stranger Things was not only one of the best TV shows of 2022, but it was also one of the most watched. The Netflix drama ended up with 1.4 billion hours viewed, second only to Squid Game, which received 1.7 billion. Plenty of fans say Season 5 is their favorite since the kids are more mature, the horror aspect is more epic and there were some new fan-favorite characters, like the misunderstood Eddie Munson (who shines in one of the season’s most memorable scenes, set to Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”).
Reservation Dogs Season 2
This quiet sleeper hit about four tight-knit Native American teens living on a modern-day reservation in Oklahoma landed on numerous best TV shows of 2022 lists. That was due to its clever writing, the subtle charm of teenage life and the running theme that friendship and family surpass hardships.
Now that you’re up to speed on the best TV shows of 2022, check out the best books of 2022 for more top-notch storytelling.