It’s that time if year again! When we take stock and look at the best and worst serialized storytelling streamed, stolen, and broadcast to our TVs, tablet, laptops, and God knows what else. There were a lot of great shows in 2022, and in article, I’ll be going over my favorites, enjoy!
The Boys (Amazon Prime)
Hands down, my favorite series of the year goes to Amazon Prime’s The Boys. This surprisingly layered show works on multiple levels. What makes the series a cut above the rest (as well as the best show on television, in my opinion), is how the show is executed with excellence at every level. On the surface, there’s the insanity, graphic violence, shocking gross out moments, and depravity that the show revels in. It’s not for everybody. There’s a scene early on in the Season 3 premiere, that is unlike anything I have ever seen committed to screen. It was utterly insane. Almost as if the creators were saying to the audience “Hey, we know it’s been awhile, but in case you forgot what kind of show you’re watching… Check this out!”. It seemed to proudly announce, The Boys are BACK and no punches will be pulled!
The series works as a superheroes deconstructed, as well as a commentary on our current cultural obsession with them. On a whole other level, The Boys is a brilliant social and political satire, lampooning both sides of the social and political spectrum with equal opportunity. However, none of that would work if The Boys didn’t have some of the best storytelling and characters on TV. The writing is truly phenomenal, with amazing performances, from a cast that’s absolutely stacked with talent. It all comes together to create something very special.
In the world of The Boys, nothing is black-and-white. Every single character feels fleshed out and real. There are at least four or five actors on this show, if not more, who give Emmy worthy performances. However, Season 3 had a few particular standouts who blew the roof off ever time they were on screen. Unsurprisingly, two of those standout performances belong to Anthony Starr as Homelander and Karl Urban as Butcher. Both actors continue to add layers to these complex characters with their extraordinary performances. Both Butcher and Homelander are guilty of fairly vile behavior, yet the show somehow makes you feel sympathy for them. That is no mean feet. Their dynamic continues to be the backbone of the series and things are poised to only get more interesting from here.
The prize for third MVP of the season has to go to new cast member Jensen Ackles, joining the show as Soldier Boy. As the show’s twisted version of Captain America, he was a great character who fundamentally shook up the status quo of the series, the first Supe we’ve seen to genuinely rival Homelander in power. As both an antagonist and reluctant ally, Soldier Boy was a true wild card. After 15 seasons playing Dean Winchester on Supernatural, Jensen Ackles showed us that he is not a one trick pony. Giving a complex, fascinating performance, as a complicated character who worked as both friend and foe. Soldier Boy was a kind of character we’ve never quite seen before on the show. He was the perfect shake up that the series needed and I hope we see Ackles return for future seasons. This was the best season of The Boys yet, coming off of the first 2 spectacular seasons. With Season 4 on the way, The Boys has established itself as the best show currently on television.
A long list of wildly entertaining and groundbreaking animated shows have emerged over the last 30 years. After just one season, Netflix’s Arcane has already solidified it self as one of the very best. Arcane has so much going for it that it’s hard to know exactly where to begin. The beautiful animation is genuinely unique, every character is complex and interesting. One of the many things I loved about Arcane is how it doesn’t operate within the context of heroes and villains. The so-called “good guys” struggle with their inner demons and mistakes from their past. Conversely, just as you’re about to right off a “villain” as irredeemable, they display unexpected kindness, compassion, and humanity. Arcane is even further enhanced by it’s stellar voice cast, almost every actor here crushes it in their respective roles. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the fight scenes. The fights on this show fucking rule. The fight sequences aren’t just beautifully choreographed and thrilling, they also have a purpose in the story and give us better insight into the characters involved (Plus, they just look so damn cool). Even if you’re not a fan of animation, I say, give this show try, because Arcane is an absolute MUST WATCH.
The Sandman (Netflix)
After years in development Hell and numerous attempts at possible movies and TV series, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman finally got an on screen adaptation. It was worth the wait. However, what’s downright miraculous how damn good the show really is. Neil Gaiman himself was very hands on during the creative process and the production, so he approached this adaptation as if he was writing The Sandman story for the first time, instead of 30 years ago. Gaiman said that if he was writing The Sandman comic book series today, instead of the 90’s, this is more or less what it would look like. But don’t let that scare you if you’re a diehard fan, this is still very much The Sandman that we know and love. The result is show with the characters stories and you know and love, with some minor tweaks as the story transitions mediums from a comic book to a TV series.
Almost all of the changes made are for the better, even improving upon certain storylines and characters that didn’t work for me in the comics. Tom Sturridge IS Morpheus. He perfectly embodies the character and without him the series wouldn’t work. The rest of the cast kills it as well, with fan favorites like Lucifer, The Corinthian, Mathew The Raven and Hob Gadling all making memorable appearances. Despite the changes, this was still a shockingly accurate adaptation of the classic award-winning comic book series. With Netflix, having recently announced that the series will be returning for Season 2, if the show stays on its current course, some of the best Sandman stories are about to be brought to life on screen.
Stranger Things 4 (Netflix)
It’s safe to say that this was the best season of Stranger Things yet. The mythology moved forward in a major way. Stranger Things got a horrifying villain in Vecna, and the characters and story are left perfectly positioned at the end of the season to wrap up the series with a bang in Stranger Things 5.
This season has some fantastic characters, both new and familiar. Without spoiling anything, if one of the characters dies, you genuinely feel the emotional impact, where lesser series can come off as cheap. Let’s no forget the already iconic scene as Max and the rest of the gang desperately try to save her, all set to Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (Deal With God)”. Great stuff, a real chef’s kiss.
Peacemaker (HBO Max)
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad has become is one of my favorite films over the last couple of years. It’s arguably the best film in The DCEU. Now, I love John Cena and he’s fucking great in The Suicide Squad, but to be honest I was less than enthusiastic when I heard Peacemaker was getting his own spin-off series on HBO Max. It seemed like an odd choice to expand on the character. Boy, was I wrong. In James Gunn we trust, my friends.
Peacemaker is a home run that has no business being as good as it is. I always say, there’s no such thing as a bad character, just bad writers, and Peacemaker is a perfect example of that. John Cena elevates the seemingly violent sociopath, into a deeply broken man, struggling with guilt and deep emotional turmoil. The series is surprisingly complex, shifting between hilarious and heartbreaking with ease. Coupled with the magic touch of James Gunn, and one of the best TV show opening intro sequences ever, and Peacemaker is yet another contender for the best superhero show on television.
Other Favorites From 2022:
- The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
- Reacher (Amazon Prime)
- Young Justice: Phantoms (HBO Max)
- His Dark Materials (HBO/HBO Max)
- Interview with The Vampire (AMC)
- Moon Knight/She-Hulk (TIE) Disney+
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