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It didn't take long for this year to get its TV act together. The content carousel never stops spinning, so it's up to you to grab what you want as it passes by. The first few months of 2022 have provided a dizzying array of series to choose from for premium viewing. Ozark made a triumphant return to Netflix, Amazon gave us a beautiful look into the lives of three young adults on the autism spectrum, and ABC (yes, A-B-C, the network) delivered the year's best comedy. If this is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, the question will not be whether there is any good television, but whether you have the time to watch it all.
To stay ahead of the curve, we've selected a few series that you should add to your queue. There is no time to waste with a Lord of the Rings spinoff, a confirmed third season of Ted Lasso, and an upcoming instalment of The Crown. Here are the 18 series that have piqued our interest at Esquire so far in 2022.
Under the Banner of Heaven
Dustin Lance Black's Under the Banner of Heaven (based in part on Jon Krakauer's book of the same name) is a horrific look at religious crime, extremism, and tests of faith, following the demented murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty. Andrew Garfield plays Jeb Pyre, a fictional Mormon detective assigned to investigate the murder. What he initially discovers is an onion of a mystery, with more and more unsettling details revealed as he delves into the extremist fringes of his own church.
Although only one episode has been released, take it from someone who has seen the majority of the upcoming season: Barry's third season takes things to the next level. Following Gene's revelation that Barry is responsible for Detective Janice Moss's death, the third season returns to action, bringing Gene and Barry together in the most perilous of circumstances. Without giving too much away, Barry's long-awaited new season feels more charged than its predecessors. But, most importantly, how great is it to see Noho Hank back on our screens?
Netflix's new coming-of-age story avoids the snobbishness of prestige TV in favour of what appears to be in vogue: a straightforward, heartwarming story. The British series follows a teen who is one of the few gay boys at an all-boys school. He quickly finds an ally in the captain of the rugby team, only to discover that they have more in common than he thought. Bonus points: Olivia Colman plays one of the protagonist's mothers, and she absolutely steals every scene she appears in.
We Own This City
David Simon returns to HBO, this time with his greatest inspiration: Baltimore. Unfortunately, the source material hasn't gotten much better since his masterpiece, The Wire. The good news is that we're left with a limited series that chronicles the disastrous Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force. It's full of corruption and misgivings, making it ideal for one of Simon's Baltimore character studies. As the leads, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Hector, and Josh Charles shine in what is sure to enter Simon's canon of greatness.
Is Minx prone to using cliches? Sure. But HBO Max's Porn Valley-set feature, starring Jake Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond, is still enticing. In the latter, a feminist writer hopes to launch her own feminist magazine in the 1970s. Her publishing meal ticket is the former. What's the catch? He's the king of the smut mag. The result is hilarity.
The gap between Upload's first and second seasons was excruciatingly long. (This is how the world of pandemic premieres works.) Even so, the sci-fi series about the afterlife remains as exciting and inventive as it was in Season One. The new batch of episodes isn't short on comedy, but it also manages to weave in a story about wealth disparity and how it affects the people of Upload's universe long after they've left.
Apple TV+ recognises a good thing when they see it, so they took the novel of the same name, put Academy Award winner (Youn Yuh-Jung) in the lead, and created something spectacular. Pachinko outperforms the hype in the growing number of Korean-language series available to American audiences.
The Girl From Plainville
Hulu's adaptation of The Girl From Plainville, based on the same-named Esquire story, is a twisted version of Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy's haunting story. The series, starring Elle Fanning and Colton Ryan in the aforementioned roles (respectively), attempts to get inside Carter's head by following the real-life texts that encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide.
Put on that turtleneck and deepen your voice because we have some investing to do. The Dropout on Hulu is the first semi-fictionalized venture depicting the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, the notorious con artist who duped a slew of high-profile investors into betting on her "innovative" medical venture. The only problem is that the company that claimed to be able to take a drop of blood and run diagnostic tests... couldn't. Amanda Seyfried brilliantly plays Holmes, capturing the laser-focus of a desperate businesswoman as well as the naiveté of a young woman who believed she could pull it all off.
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
If you can accept this show for what it is (Adam McKay at his best), you'll agree with us that it belongs here. The miniseries amplifies the heydey of 1980s Los Angeles and the rise of the Lakers, Dr. Jerry Buss, and Magic Johnson. The end result is one of the most gripping sports miniseries we've seen in a long time. (The cast is also impressive, with John C. Reilly, Jason Clarke, Quincy Isaiah, and Gaby Hoffman on board.)
Every time someone says the network is dead, a show like Abbott Elementary appears. Quinta Brunson's (creator and star) half-hour comedy isn't attempting to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it keeps things simple and has become one of the funniest feel-good series in years as a result. It is set in an elementary school in Philadelphia and follows a group of primary school teachers who are just trying to make ends meet with what little money the government can give them. It also doesn't help that they have an objectively bad principal (perfectly played by Janelle James) standing in their way at almost every turn.
If there's a show that's perfectly nailed the surreal vibes of 2022, it's Severance. Following an office where your work memories are separated from your personal memories upon arrival and dismissal—perfect corporate strategy, right?—the show explores the many ways in which we split ourselves in half, particularly the parts that refuse to stay put.
It's difficult to put Someone Somewhere into words. It's less like watching a story and more like experiencing one. Bridgett Everett shines as a woman struggling to find grace and acceptance in the midst of adversity. The series is raw and unfiltered, part comedy, part drama, and entirely too realistic for anyone who has ever dreamed of leaving their hometown. (As an added bonus, Jeff Hiller's star-making performance elevates the series from a 10 to an 11.)
After a long hiatus, Euphoria's glorious, if not extremely stressful, return is proof that the series it not a one season wonder. Picking up after Rue's Season One relapse, the series from Sam Levinson has moved at a breakneck pace, with Sydney Sweeney giving a particularly notable performance. Do you want dicks in the foyer? This season has it. Do you want hot tub vomit? Got that, too. And then of course, there's the "how long you been fucking Nate Jacobs?" heard round the world. Don't even get us started on the play.
As We See It
Jason Katims, how dare you. The new series from the Friday Night Lights and Parenthood creator debuted on Amazon earlier this year, following three autistic young adults as they wade out into the world with the assist of their aid, played by Sosie Bacon. The series has heart, honesty, and a willingness to bring the world of life on the spectrum into the mainstream. That the three leads are all played by autistic performers makes the point perfectly.
Pam & Tommy
There are several intriguing things about Pam and Tommy. The CGI penis, obviously. Also, the subject matter of a stolen sex tape makes the show feel a bit icky and exploitive, as well. But damn if Lily James and Seabstian Stan don't go all in as the titular characters, resurrecting an era of 90s sensationalism—not to mention a scandal that defined the 30 years that followed.
On a lot of these "best of" lists, you'll see miniseries, new shows, and the occasional long-running favorite, but it's hard to keep a series fresh season after season. That's what makes Ozark so special. Now on its fourth batch of episodes, the series starring Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, and the incomparable Julia Garner, has continued to reinvent itself and offer some of the best television on any platform.
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