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The Best TV Shows Of 2022

Sure, Severance is a bit of a slow burn at first, and I was initially skeptical once I learned that the Apple TV+ series, created by Dan Erickson, was not an adaptation of the excellent 2018 Ling Ma novel. But this chilling sci-fi thriller really gets riveting by the end of the first season.

Adam Scott plays Mark, an office worker who has voluntarily undergone a procedure that completely separates his work life from his home life. On the outside, he’s a grieving widower still processing the death of his wife with his pregnant sister and corny brother-in-law. At the creepy Lumon Industries, Mark is working in middle management, wondering what happened to his office buddy Petey (Yul Vazquez), and onboarding a rebellious redhead named Helly (Britt Lower), all underneath the stressful gaze of his supervisor Ms. Cobel (an icy Patricia Arquette) and security detail Seth Milchick (Trammell Tillman). His coworkers, corporate lackey Dylan (Zach Cherry) and the melancholic Irving (the always-watchable John Turturro), are just trying to get through the end of the quarter. But Mark soon discovers that there’s something not right about his workplace.

As a reflection on the meaninglessness of so much office work, Severance nails it all, including the irksome Muzak, the bright fluorescent lighting, and the tedious corporate speak — all of which add a sinister foreboding that pays off with a giant cliffhanger at the end of Season 1. —Tomi Obaro

Where to watch: Apple TV+

For a fantasy franchise aimed at a younger audience, Andor shrugs off everything we expect a Star Wars show to be, but still somehow feels right at home in a galaxy far, far away.

Building off of 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Andor tells the backstory of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an orphan rescued from the planet Kenari by Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw). The show borrows the grittiness of the worlds shown in Rogue One, but it happily avoids the central inspirational hero trope so commonly found in Star Wars works.

Andor is the first Star Wars story that attempts to show characters with relatable motivations, adult choices, and adult responsibilities. Most of the characters have JOBS!

There is INTRADEPARTMENTAL CONFLICT! There are MULTIPLE scenes that are MEETINGS that could have been EMAILS! It’s one of the first Star Wars stories to show not only the bureaucratic and systematic brutality of the Empire, but also the expansive banality. To wit: One of the best parts of Andor is a conversation between Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) and Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser) about her career path. The second best part is where Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) loses his job and has to move back home to Coruscant with his mom.

The show is wonderfully acted (see the brief vignette where Luthen Rael, a rebel spy played by Stellan Skarsgård, practices his cover identity), lushly shot, and delightfully SLOW. Viewers will have to wait until Episode 6 for the central action of the story to take place.

Also, the music! It’s not the typical symphonic Star Wars score; the songs are closer to William Orbit than John Williams (NB: the song at the end of Episode 2 fucking SLAPS). By doing away with the tyranny of expectations for a Star Wars story, Andor delivers something more surprising and even fun. —Brandon Wall and Ben King

Where to watch: Disney+

I know what you’re thinking — a scripted show on Paramount+ about an esports team is a hard sell for a lot of people — but hear me out. If you, like me, were heartbroken by the cancellation of Netflix’s American Vandal, this is essentially a loose spiritual sequel. From American Vandal creators Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda, Players is a mockumentary series about the highs and lows of a League of Legends team trying to win their first championship after years of coming close and fumbling it. As with American Vandal, Players is an excellent example of depicting young, emotionally unavailable men and their problems, no matter how silly they seem on the surface. It’s also an apt commentary on influencer culture as it comes to gaming: the flexing of wealth and fancy cars, corporate ownership of esports, endless Twitter beef, and the growing power of Twitch in the creator economy. You might not care for esports, or even video games for that matter, but the endearing and messy emotional core of Players is impossible to resist. —Cody Corrall

Where to watch: Paramount+

I’m the type of person who tries to guess the killer five minutes into the crime show and watches to the end to see if I am right. I learned pretty early on that I could not do that for this show. The Afterparty follows Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish), who takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of who killed actor and pop star Xavier (Dave Franco) at the afterparty he threw for his high school reunion. The show features a stellar cast, including Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ilana Glazer, and Jamie Demetriou, who all play former classmates and murder suspects. The writing on this show is clever and smart, and just as I thought I had the story figured out, it immediately changed course, so I was kept on my toes until the very end. I’m super excited for Season 2, as Sam Richardson is reprising his role and the new cast includes Elizabeth Perkins, John Cho, Zach Woods, and Ken Jeong. —Zia Thompson

Where to watch: Apple TV+

It’s 2022 and I can’t believe I’m back in my sexy vampire era. The show, which is an adaptation of the 1976 novel, tells the story of the vampires Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) in 20th-century New Orleans, as told to journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian) in the present day. What I love most about this adaptation is that it fully leans into the gay undertones present in the 1994 film, which starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. In this retelling, Louis and Lestat are explicitly lovers, and the show chronicles the highs and lows of that relationship all while staying true to its source material. In both the movie and show, Louis grapples with what it means to be a vampire. But the show takes it a step further, having him deal with the emotional toll of being inhuman, all while navigating the world as a Black and gay man at a time when it was dangerous to be either, let alone both. The show is, as Louis describes Lestat’s killing techniques, “flamboyant,” but not in a tasteless way. It’s funny, sexy, gory, and at times heartfelt, making it the perfect show to watch and discuss with friends after. More than anything, I am so happy that adult-me can relive the vampire frenzy of my teen years. —Z.T.

Where to watch: AMC+

I had the sophomore jitters ahead of watching Season 2 of The White Lotus. The first season of this murder-y drama was such a home run that I worried its second would lose some of the spark. Not so! Set in Sicily this time around, The White Lotus easily fulfilled my every wish. Mike White, who created and wrote the series, does another top-notch job of setting up uneasy dynamics among louche folks with too much money. Jennifer Coolidge is back at the luxury resort after stealing the show last season, plying her signature whine to great effect as the filthy rich Tanya McQuoid, whose husband’s neglect makes her even more pathetically dependent than usual. Tanya’s assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) has set us up for next Halloween with her pitch-perfectly unfortunate Gen Z fits. Michael Imperioli is almost bafflingly good as serial cheater Dominic Di Grasso, while Aubrey Plaza’s Harper is dry irritability personified. White and the cast take these characters further than the types they represent, enlivening their antics with snappy dialogue, absolutely no self-awareness whatsoever, and liberal lashings of humor. Plus, there are sooooo many butts. —E.T.

Where to watch: HBO and HBO Max ●

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