Hello friend,

The world of TV news and info remains pretty quiet a few days post Christmas. What better time than to drop my list of the top 10 TV shows of the past year? This list is obviously definitive with no room for anyone to disagree with it. Why would they...?

Enjoy the list. I'll have another list in the next email with my top films of the year.

Dan Barrett

Top 10 TV shows of 2022

10) The Good Fight - Paramount+

If you haven't been watching The Good Fight with any regularity until now, what can I do at this point to get you to watch it. You had your chance.

This season, its final one, takes its inspiration from the Black Lives Matter protests. For the full season, the backdrop has been a continued series of street protests (its purpose unspecified). The intensity of it amplifying across the season. Couple this with terror cells of white nationalists targetting the law firm, an assassination attempt, and an actual resistance movement that is having some success by breaking every rule imaginable. Oh, also Andre Braugher joined the cast this year.

The Good Fight was always a show happy to push whatever boundaries needed pushing. And not every storyline necessarily landed. But whatever the show did or said, it was never dull and it was always flying at the greatest heights of ambition. This final season was no different.

9) Slow Horses - Apple TV+

Everybody loves an underdog, but who knew that an underdog spy show would be such a winner. The sell for Slow Horses is really simple: What if you took a John le Carré style spy thriller (he was the author of books like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, The Night Manager, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), but infused it with the humor and verbiage of The Thick of It?

The TV show is itself almost as much of an underdog as its protagonists.

8) 1883 - Paramount+

The most surprising show of 2022. The opening minutes of the show told viewers what to expect. But the network (streamer Paramount+) were also telling the audience that this show was set to continue on to a second season. What creator Taylor Sheridan hadn't told the audience or Paramount+ was that by the final episode, almost the entire cast of the show would be killed off and that a second season made no sense.

1883 was brutal and unforgiving to its characters. The show straddled familiar storytelling beats with some of the boldest storytelling you saw on TV this year - hugely compelling.

7) Minx - HBO Max

Minx is a comedy set in the early 70s about a strident feminist who partners with a skin mag publisher to produce a monthly feminist magazine that also has photos of nude men in it.

Each week the show felt like the most dangerous show on TV. With generous amounts of male nudity and weekly conversations about female sexuality, it felt like the show was just one tweet away from either/both conservatives and progressives tearing the show apart. That didn't happen and instead the show was cancelled by HBO Max (it is being shopped elsewhere and I wouldn't be surprised to see the show end up somewhere like Netflix, though the nudity may be an issue there).

The show is laugh-out-loud funny and extremely charming. A great binge-watch on the couch, but maybe wait until your parents/children have left the room.

6) The White Lotus - HBO

Most viewers coming to season 2 of The White Lotus expected more of the same: rich, entitled holiday guests lethargically finding a sense of themselves and where they find self-worth in the world across a season of languid television. And that is kind-of what they received, but there was something about that mediteranean vibe that gave the show so much of a greater weight this season.

Layered in to the season was a growing tension over what was joing on with Jennifer Coolidge's character and the mystery over what her newfound gay friends were up to, and there was a stronger narrative propulsion to the series than most were expecting.

Will season 3 see a return to being more about the vibe of it all, or is this a changed series moving forward?

5) Irma Vep - HBO

Irma Vep is a TV series remake by Olivier Assayas of his film of the same name - which is about the production of a TV show remaking a French classic film. It all a bit meta on the surface, but underneath that the show is largely a series of loosely connected vignettes about the actors and production staff as they consider art and life and how they fit into it as cogs in a corporate production aiming for loftier ambition.

This show really isn't for everyone, but if you can connect in with the vibe of the show, there is no show more satisfying.

4) Evil - Paramount+

Bold, daring, strange - each hallmarks of the sort of show I have been looking for recently. There can be a lot of sameness and group think surrounding the sort of TV we see and the way story is constructed, so there is something so refreshing about this show which manages to completely defy expectation every week. Both in terms of what is permissable on a drama like this (often sexier than you expect, scarier than you anticipate, and weirder than is comfortable), but also just in terms of the way plots are constructed - you'll often be watching an episode where it seems like the conceit of any given episode is relegated to a C plot.

3) The Bear - Disney+

The TV equivalent of high quality dude food, the show straddled really nicely the competing agendas of being a substantial show about coping with grief following the suicide of a loved one, while also being a (highly tense) hang-out dramedy.

2) Fleishman Is In Trouble  - Hulu (US) | Disney+ (International)

Every so often you see a TV show or movie that feels like it was just made for you and your sensibilities. That is Fleishman Is In Trouble for me. The first half of the season delivered a genre I miss so, so much: upscale New Yorkers walking and talking their way through New York musing about their relationships. Meanwhile the second half of the season has delivered on the core mystery of the show: why would Dr Toby Fleishman's wife just dump their kids at his appartment and vanish?

Actual human drama at the center of a premium drama series that doesn't begin with a body dumped in a forrest, or have a central protagionist asking why they commit the evil that they do. More of this please.

1) Andor - Disney+

I didn't think Star Wars could surprise me any more after so much product over the years. But where this show floored me was by delivering one of the more sophisticated action/adventure stories committed to screen.

This is a show that isn't interested in the trappings of the iconography of Star Wars with its lightsabers and the pew pew pew laser guns - this is a drama about the way a rebellian is funded, how a rebellian starts not with the common person, but instead with wealthy dilettante's who face opression at more of an intellectual level than otherwise, the middle management squabbles of an oppressive government, and about how innocent people have their lives entirely uprooted with no sense of rhyme or reason as these forces all enact their schemes.

Andor is smart, big, and exciting TV.

Honourable mentions:

The Guilded Age, Station Eleven (episodes straddled 2021 and 2022), Five Days At Memorial, The English, Kids In The Hall (2022), Stranger Things, Severance, House of The Dragon, Peacemaker, Pachinko, Yellowjackets.

  • Details emerged about that live Chris Rock special Netflix are set to stream. It will be titled Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, it will take place in Baltimore, and will start at 7pm Pacific Time on Sat March 4. That works out well for us in Australia, with the show airing around the middle of the day on a Sunday. Read: LA Times
  • Speaking of Netflix, how much will the co-heads of the world's largest TV network make this year? Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos will make $36.6 million and $40 million respectively. Read: Deadline
  • The Nine Network has won the Olympics broadcast rights up until 2032 when the games will be staged in Brisbane. What will the local commercial broadcast TV market look like 10 years from now? (Will there be one?) Read: SMH
  • The final episodes featuring John Aniston in Days of Our Lives have just been published to Peacock. Read: Deadline
  • Avatar: The Way of Water has passed $850 million global in its first 10 days of release. Good news for the film struggling with massive winter storm activity across the US and COVID putting a serious dent into its potential China box office. Read: Variety

The trailer for the Doctor Who TV specials set to air this year:

That's it for today. Unless something big happens, perhaps expect the next newsletter on Thursday or Friday.