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The Best Breakout TV Shows Of 2022 So Far

There's no denying it: 2022 has been a standout year for television. A number of popular shows returned and were on the top of their game, from the breathtaking full-circle final season of "Breaking Bad" spinoff "Better Call Saul" to exemplary new episodes of fan-favorite shows including FX's comedy-drama "Atlanta" and HBO's Bill Hader-led black comedy "Barry."

But where television content really shone this year was in its brand-new breakout series. So far, 2022 has seen an impressive variety of stellar new shows, including large-scale spinoffs like the "Game of Thrones"-based "House of the Dragon,” chilling true crime tales like Peacock's "A Friend of the Family" and HBO's "The Staircase," totally bizarre, meta creations such as Nathan Fielder's "The Rehearsal," and good ol' original IP like "The Bear."

There's a lot to choose from, but some of this year's shows undeniably stand out amongst the masses. So, without further ado, here are the very best of 2022's breakout shows.

The Rehearsal

From the mastermind of "Nathan for You," Nathan Fielder's "The Rehearsal" is far and away one of the most delightfully strange series of 2022. The reality show's six-episode first season starts out relatively simple. Fielder acts as the host and offers real people the opportunity to rehearse upcoming life scenarios that they are nervous about in exact replicas of the setting in which they expect the event to take place.

But as the episodes go on, "The Rehearsal" becomes increasingly bizarre. From somehow persuading a young man to wipe a stranger's butt to Nathan accidentally convincing a little boy that he's his father, the show is full to the brim with wild, you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it moments.

The show was lauded by critics and audiences alike and was renewed for a second season as a result of its popularity. There are a lot of reasons to love this show, but part of what makes it stand out is that it pushes the boundaries of what TV can be. Underneath its strange antics, "The Rehearsal" contains real, heartwarming messages about the importance of family and empathy.

The Bear

One of the biggest surprise TV hits of the year is FX's "The Bear." Created by Christopher Storer, the show premiered in the summer and thanks to positive word of mouth, plenty of people had binged all eight episodes before long. The series follows award-winning NYC chef Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto, played by Jeremy Allen White of "Shameless" fame, who returns to Chicago to help keep his late brother's sandwich shop afloat.

"The Bear" was met with rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. It boasts a rare 100% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics, with an audience score that isn't too far behind. People praised the show for its engrossing atmosphere and White's performance.

Luckily for audiences, Season 2 of "The Bear" is in the works, as was revealed after FX Entertainment president Eric Schrier admitted that the show "exceeded our wildest creative, critical and commercial expectations." As a bonus, Storer and co-showrunner Joanna Calo revealed that the new episodes will be hitting screens sometime in 2023.

The Rings of Power

Of all of 2022's TV releases, "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" might have been the most highly anticipated. Developed by J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, it is based on J.R.R. Tolkien's coveted "Lord of the Rings" book series. A prequel to the early 2000s "Lord of the Rings" film series, the events of "The Rings of Power" take place in the Second Age of Middle Earth, thousands of years before the films.

"The Rings of Power" already holds a special place in the history books. The show's first season cost a whopping $715 million to make which — in addition to a rights purchase from the Tolkien estate that ran Amazon up a bill of nearly $250 million dollars — made it the most expensive TV show ever made. And if that doesn't seem like enough of a financial responsibility, Amazon has already made a five-season commitment.

As far as Amazon is concerned, the gamble seems to have paid off for the most part. Luckily for any fans that were left dissatisfied, Payne revealed that he and McKay are taking some audience critiques into heavy consideration as they move forward with Season 2.

Under the Banner of Heaven

"Under the Banner of Heaven" is without a doubt one of 2022's bleakest shows. Based on Jon Krakauer's book of the same name, it tells the true story of a murder committed by fundamentalist Mormons Ron and Dan Lafferty — supposedly carried out in the name of God.

Andrew Garfield and Gil Birmingham star as two detectives attempting to get to the bottom of the harrowing mystery. The show is simultaneously a nail-biting mystery, an atmospheric drama, and a thoughtful interrogation of the institution of Mormonism.

The miniseries saw positive audience and critical reception, with the general consensus being that it is an exceptional new entry into the ever-growing true crime TV genre. But the show didn't come without its fair share of criticisms. Writer McKay Coppins critiqued the show's violent portrayal of Mormonism, writing in The Atlantic that it is an "aggressively negative portrayal of Mormonism" that equates the religion with violence.

The Dropout

One of the wildest true crime stories of the 21st century is that of Elizabeth Holmes — the founder and CEO of health technology company Theranos. In 2015, Forbes crowned Holmes as the United States' wealthiest self-made billionaire with a whopping net worth of $9 billion. But shortly after, Holmes' empire began to crumble when people discovered that Theranos was completely fraudulent.

The Hulu series "The Dropout," created by Elizabeth Meriwether and starring Amanda Seyfried as Holmes, shrewdly tells the tale of the entrepreneur's epic rise and fall. The stranger-than-fiction story would likely be enough to keep viewers watching for all eight episodes, but Meriwether brings an extra level of thrill with sharp, edge-of-your-seat writing and a powerhouse performance from Seyfried. The latter is so good that actor Jennifer Lawrence pulled out of an upcoming Adam McKay-directed project based on the disgraced mogul. "I thought [Seyfried] was terrific," said Lawrence. "I was like, 'Yeah, we don't need to redo that. She did it.'"

Ms. Marvel

In terms of its ability to dominate the discourse, Marvel took Hollywood by storm in 2022. From the box office-dominating "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" to the Taika Waititi-directed "Thor: Love and Thunder" and the much-awaited "Black Panther" sequel, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," Marvel definitely cranked out a lot of things to watch in 2022.

But this year's new MCU content hasn't just been limited to movies. The TV show "Ms. Marvel" hit Disney+ in June and was rated impressively high among audience and critics alike. Created by Bisha K. Ali and based on Marvel comics, the show follows 16-year-old "Avengers" enthusiast Kamala Khan who realizes that she is developing superhero powers of her own.

And if you feel like six episodes wasn't enough for this stellar story, don't worry — Ms. Marvel will return in "The Marvels," also featuring Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, slated to hit theaters in summer of 2023.

A Friend of the Family

On 2022's long list of true crime drama shows, "A Friend of the Family" might just be the most harrowing. The Peacock series tells the story of young Jan Broberg, whom you may remember from the chilling 2017 documentary "Abducted in Plain Sight."

While still a preteen, Jan was kidnapped twice by family friend Robert Berchtold over a period of two years. What makes this story even more surreal is the fact that Jan's overly trusting parents didn't make much of an effort to get their daughter back.

As you might imagine, a dramatic adaptation of Jan's harrowing story is equal parts compelling and grueling to watch. Created by Nick Antosca, the show goes into chilling detail about the lengths Robert went to keep Jan under his influence. The limited series saw largely positive reviews from critics and audience members alike, with people praising its captivating premise and strong performances.

Severance

As far as 2022 TV shows go, "Severance" was without a doubt one of the biggest breakout surprises. Created by Dan Erickson and directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle, the show follows a futuristic world where people can sever the memories and identities associated with their day jobs from what they remember and know about themselves in the world outside the office.

"Severance" is one of the few shows in 2022 that isn't a spinoff or based on real-life events. Its originality paid off, too, as Season 1 boasts an almost perfect critical score on Rotten Tomatoes and an audience score that doesn't fall too far behind. The show also went on to earn a number of accolades, receiving an impressive number of nominations at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards (via IMDb).

But the thrilling original premise of "Severence" isn't the only thing that sets it apart from many other series that came out this year. The show also boasts an impressive, all-star ensemble cast which includes Adam Scott, Zach Cherry, Britt Lower, John Turturro, Christopher Walken, and Patricia Arquette.

The Girl From Plainville

In 2014, 17-year-old Michelle Carter sent a series of texts to her 18-year-old boyfriend Conrad Roy encouraging him to take his own life. Later that night, Roy committed suicide, and the subsequent discovery of Michelle's texts launched an investigation that eventually landed the teenager 15 months in jail for involuntary manslaughter.

Naturally, the TV dramatization of this harrowing case is both a deeply disturbing and compelling watch. Created by Liz Hannah and Patrick Macmanus, "The Girl from Plainville" takes a deep dive into Michelle and Conrad's relationship, Conrad's suicide, and the grueling trial that followed.

The show saw largely positive reviews from critics, who praised it for its tactful handling of the delicate subject matters of suicide and mental health struggles and lauded Elle Fanning's performance as Michelle.

Audiences were a little less taken by the show, however, calling it slow, and saying that it felt dragged out and likely would have worked better as a film. Still, "Plainville" is absolutely worth watching on the merit of its staggering premise alone, as well as its undeniably complex handling of tough subjects.

Andor

It seems that TV in 2022 had something for everyone, and that includes "Star Wars" fans. Created by Tony Gilroy for Disney+, "Andor" is the fourth live-action series based on the franchise. "Andor" takes place five years prior to the events of the 2016 "Star Wars" film "Rogue One" as the Rebel Alliance plans an opposition against the Galactic Empire.

"Star Wars" has been a wildly popular franchise since the 1970s, so "Andor" certainly had the advantage of a built-in audience. According to JustWatch, it was the most-streamed show on any platform during the week of September 28, 2022.

Of course, whether "Andor" needed a built-in audience to succeed is another matter. The Diego Luna-starring cosmic espionage thriller has the reviews to back those chart-topping numbers up. The show has a high audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and an even higher critical score. Given all of this, it makes sense that a second season is in the works.

Pam and Tommy

Another entry into 2022's based-on-a-true-story shows, "Pam and Tommy" does a deep dive into the marriage of actress and model Pamela Anderson and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. Based on Amanda Chicago Lewis' 2014 Rolling Stone article "Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Sex Tape," the show looks at the harrowing aftermath of the couples' private sex tape going public after it was stolen from a safe in 1995.The show debuted on Hulu in February and garnered largely positive reviews following its release, with critics praising it for not shying away from highlighting the brutal misogyny and slut-shaming that Anderson was subjected to after the tape was stolen. Viewers also complimented the satirical tone of "Pam and Tommy," as well as stellar, Emmy-nominated performances from Lily James, Sebastian Stan, and Seth Rogen as Rand Gauthier, the disgruntled contractor who stumbles upon the legendary VHS tape. Rand's journey takes him through phases of ethical compromise, financial destruction, and finally, atonement. Whether or not Tommy Lee ever learns anything from his bad choices remains a mystery. 

The Staircase

If you weren't living under a rock in 2018, chances are you remember Netflix's release of the 2004 documentary miniseries "The Staircase." The show follows the lengthy, complicated trial of Michael Peterson – a writer who was accused of murdering his wife Kathleen after she was discovered dead at the bottom of their staircase.

Given how popular the doc was at the time of its release, it comes as no surprise that its live-action dramatization inspired a similar kind of buzz. Created by Antonio Campos, the limited series also called "The Staircase" follows Michael's life from the night of Kathleen's death to long after the trial and explores the ins and outs of the complex case, as well as the Peterson's home life.

Like the documentary, the series was well received by critics and audiences alike, who lauded Colin Firth's performance. However, not everyone had good things to say about the show. In fact, Michael himself had some strong feelings about it, saying that he felt it "trashed him" and his children. "There are egregious fabrications and distortions of the truth in the HBO series," he said, "well beyond what may be considered 'artistic' license."

House of the Dragon

"The Rings of Power" and "Andor" aren't the only 2022 shows based on popular sci-fi-fantasy franchises. A prequel to "Game of Thrones," "House of the Dragon" hit HBO in August and is based on George R. R. Martin's novel "Fire & Blood," which chronicles the Targaryen children's battle for the coveted throne of Westeros.

Given the popularity of "Game of Thrones," it is no surprise that "House of the Dragon" had a ton of viewers upon its release. In fact, the show's debut run surpassed viewing numbers for Season 8 of "Game of Thrones," making it Europe's most-viewed HBO title.

Understandably, HBO has already ordered a second season of the show — though HBO's chief content officer Casey Bloys told fans that it won't come out in 2023, but likely closer to 2024. Showrunner Ryan Condal teased that the new episodes will be worth the wait, explaining that in Season 2, they'll "get to the spectacle" that "Game of Thrones" fans have come to expect.