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The Absolute Best TV Show Dramas Of 2022 So Far

Overall, 2022 has been an eventful year for television in all mediums — but especially drama. In addition to exciting new genre entries in the MCU and "Star Wars" franchises, many longtime staples of TV have delivered some of their best episodes yet. For instance, the series finale of "Better Call Saul" on AMC wrapped up nearly 15 years of storytelling that began with "Breaking Bad." Other popular shows that came to a close throughout the year included "This Is Us," "Killing Eve," and "The Walking Dead."

Despite fans having to say goodbye to these iconic series, there's also plenty more TV to watch over the next few years. Social media buzz continues to circle around "Euphoria" and "Barry" on HBO, as well as limited series like "Pam & Tommy" and "Inventing Anna." Meanwhile, popular shows like "Stranger Things" continued to dominate pop culture consciousness — not to mention the Billboard music charts with their classic needle drops.

However, the real draw of 2022's television output has been its selection of brand-new drama series. Some of these shows will be at the forefront of water cooler conversation for the next few years. Others, such as the limited series, will continue to impress new viewers and those who take the time to rewatch. One thing is certain about 2022's TV drama library: it's perhaps the darkest and craziest TV has ever been. 

House of the Dragon

"Game of Thrones" was a massive success for HBO throughout the 2010s. However, when it came to a close in 2019, fans were divided on the show's ending, which left some disappointed and enraged at how things played out for certain fan-favorite characters. HBO's money was already on the "Game of Thrones" train, though, with several spin-offs shows already entering pre-production. One of those projects, "House of the Dragon," created by Ryan Condal and George R. R. Martin, received a straight-to-series order and premiered in 2022. 

"House of the Dragon" explores the Targaryen dynasty that ruled Westeros for hundreds of years before the events that preceded "Game of Thrones." The series will mostly examine a civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons, which pitted families against each other in a war of succession. Suffice it to say, the show promises a lot of bloodshed, battle, and politics in its future, with Season 1 containing mountains of the drama that made "Game of Thrones" such a hit with audiences.

That said, many critics felt that Season 1 of "House of the Dragon" paled in comparison to its "Game of Thrones" counterpart. IndieWire attributed this to the show's time jumps, which resulted in cast members being replaced and stories being oddly paced. It settles into what Rolling Stone felt was a fairly disappointing finale promising great conflicts to come, with stellar performances from Emma D'Arcy, Olivia Cooke, Paddy Considine, and Matt Smith.

Interview with the Vampire

As part of their mission to adapt the works of Anne Rice to the small screen (via ComicBook), AMC premiered "Interview with the Vampire" in late 2022. The series stars Jacob Anderson, who "Game of Thrones" fans will recognize as the former Unsullied commander Grey Worm, as Louis de Pointe du Lac. Many may also draw quick comparisons between the new series and the 1994 film adaptation, which starred Brad Pitt in Anderson's role.

Nevertheless, critics such as Den of Geeks have observed that "Interview with the Vampire" is a much more modern take on the novel, particularly addressing the queer subtext in Rice's work. Louis invites Daniel Molloy, an interviewer played by Eric Bogosian, to his estate, where he recounts his life story of being turned into a vampire by the mysterious Lestat de Lioncourt, played by Sam Reid, and their subsequent romantic tryst. Along the way, Molloy challenges Louis' narrative, particularly as he dives into the second point-of-view provided by Claudia, a teenage girl that Louis and Lestat save and turn into a vampire, raising her as their immortal daughter.

While the latter half of Season 1 led to confusion and critique from some reviewers, many praised the show's direction and its lead performances. Entertainment Weekly was especially fond of the twist in the finale. Thankfully, AMC has already renewed the series for Season 2, which will continue to explore the narrative of Anne Rice's original story.

The Bear

"The Bear" premiered during the summer of 2022 through FX on Hulu, starring Jeremy Allen White of "Shameless," Ebon Moss-Bachrach of "Girls," and Abby Elliott of "Saturday Night Live." The series follows White's character Carmy, an award-winning chef who moves back to his hometown of Chicago to run his late brother's sandwich shop. There, he butts heads with his sister Sugar (Elliott), who co-owns the establishment, as well as the shop's staff, which includes Moss-Bachrach's loudmouth Richie. 

The series quickly became one of the highest-streamed shows of 2022, garnering critical acclaim and social media attention. An article from Rolling Stone outlined exactly why audiences were so engaged with the show's stressful kitchen antics, writing, "watching it felt like being stuck in that kitchen with the cooks ... it was too intense, too uncomfortable, too raw." This sums up the odd charm of "The Bear" — it has a knack for pulling viewers into this hyper-specific world, much like "Game of Thrones" did with fantasy. 

Fortunately, for fans who haven't had enough of "The Bear" and its tumultuous drama, the series will be returning for Season 2. Although after some of the sequences in "The Bear" depicting Carmy's time as a distinguished New York chef, viewers may find the run-down Chicago sandwich shop more comfortable this time around.

Conversations with Friends

In 2020, Hulu premiered the limited series "Normal People" starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, which was based on a novel by Sally Rooney. The show, which depicts the tumultuous relationship between two young adults living in Ireland, was a smash hit during quarantine. Based on that show's success Rooney's first novel, "Conversations with Friends," was adapted by the same team for Hulu, premiering in 2022. While "Normal People" followed a simplistic monogamous tryst, "Conversations with Friends" delves into affairs, polyamory, and sexuality.

The series features the debut of Alison Oliver, who plays the lead role of Frances, a student who strikes up a relationship with the married Nick, played by Joe Alwyn. Their secretive affair results in Frances' estrangement from her best friend Bobbi (Sasha Lane), while further conflict develops when Nick's wife Melissa (Jemima Kirke) finds out. The series mostly revolves around these four characters as they all fail to communicate properly, as observed by Vulture. If audiences were rooting for Connell and Marianne in "Normal People" to overcome their issues, the same likely won't be said for the four in "Conversations with Friends."

In general, critics like those at CNET felt that "Conversations with Friends" was a step down from "Normal People," though praise was held for the performances of Oliver and her co-stars. Ultimately, the series did not catch fire like its predecessor but remains a beautiful exploration of somewhat familiar territory for fans of the first series. 

Somebody Somewhere

HBO had a particularly fruitful 2022 when it came to TV dramedies, including "Somebody Somewhere." The series stars Bridget Everett as Sam, a woman in her 40s going through a midlife crisis after her sister passes away. Though it had very little attention in social media circles, "Somebody Somewhere" was acclaimed by critics, including those at The New York Times, for its depiction of a small town in Kansas and for Everett's performance as a woman whose life hasn't gone the way she wanted it to.

In a TV landscape filled with fairly high-concept shows, particularly on HBO with the likes of "Barry" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," it's quite refreshing to see a show like "Somebody Somewhere" gain the attention it deserves. A review for Roger Ebert's website called the show "a disarmingly earnest portrait of loss, loneliness, and disappointment." Everett, a cabaret singer, also received acclaim for her character's singing in the show. In the series, Sam had dreamt of becoming a singer, but life didn't turn out so well in that regard.

"Somebody Somewhere" is also proof of TV's ability to be succinct, with just seven 30-minute episodes in Season 1. For fans who want more from the show, Variety reports that HBO has already renewed it for a Season 2, which will hopefully see it grow in popularity. 

The Patient

Steve Carell has had a transformative career in TV, starting in comedy on "The Dana Carvey Show" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" before starring in the NBC sitcom "The Office" as its iconic lead, Michael Scott. In between seasons, Carell also forged a successful career in comedy movies, including "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and as the voice of Gru in the "Despicable Me" movies. However, in the 2010s Carell made a surprising shift to drama, earning acclaim for his performances in "Foxcatcher" and the Apple TV+ series "The Morning Show."

"The Patient," Carell's new drama for FX on Hulu, is perhaps one of his best and most surprising dramatic turns in years. Carell plays Alan, a therapist who is kidnapped by one of his patients (Domhnall Gleeson), who wants Alan to help him work through his homicidal tendencies. The show is a limited series, with 10 episodes that follow Alan's tense and dysfunctional relationship with Gleeson's Sam. Like many of the other shows on this list, "The Patient" is a deeply disturbing and unsettling watch, which rang some warning bells in the ears of critics.

Specifically, reviewers were thrown by the ending to "The Patient," which won't be spoiled here but was noted by The Guardian to be anti-climactic and frustrating. Although not all stories are meant to have a happy ending, "The Patient" is one that gets darker and more twisted as it goes on, for better or worse. 

Under the Banner of Heaven

"Under the Banner of Heaven" was one of the most talked-about limited series in 2022. Based on the novel by Jon Krakauer, the series premiered on Hulu to a glowing critical reception. In a review for Variety, the series was lauded for achieving the challenge of adapting its source material, nailing its merging of a religious origin story and a grisly homicide investigation. It stars Andrew Garfield, hot off his reprisal of Peter Parker in 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home," in his first TV lead role. 

The series follows Garfield's character, Mormon detective Jeb Pyre, who is called to investigate the murder of Brenda Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones), and her daughter. While her husband Ron (Sam Worthington) initially seems like the most likely candidate, a deeper conspiracy emerges that finds Jeb questioning his Mormon faith. Along the way, a series of recurring flashbacks dive into the history of Mormonism, with Broadway actor Andrew Burnap playing its founder, Joseph Smith.

While critics praised the series' direction, performances, and storytelling, "Under the Banner of Heaven" also garnered controversy from certain Mormon viewers. The Atlantic published an article that explained that the series demonized the religion and failed to consult with any Mormons in the show's creative process. However, as long as viewers can suspend their disbelief, "Under the Banner of Heaven" remains one of the most compelling mysteries on TV in 2022.

Yellowjackets

One of the most critically-acclaimed shows of 2022 is "Yellowjackets," which premiered on Showtime at the end of 2021 and concluded its run in early 2022. The show follows a high school girls' soccer team whose plane crash lands in the wilderness. It invokes "Lord of the Flies" — as well as the hit TV series "Lost" — in its story about teenagers attempting to survive in the wild. However, the show has a big twist in that it also follows the lives of the characters in the present-day years later, causing the audience to constantly question how they were able to make it out alive.

"Yellowjackets" has received many award nominations since it premiered, including the Primetime Emmys, where it was nominated for best drama series. Two of its actors, lead Melanie Lynskey and supporting actress Christina Ricci, were also nominated for their performances. However, there was lots of praise reserved for one of its younger leads, Ella Purnell, who did a brilliant job turning the "Mean Girls" tropes on its head (via Vanity Fair). A character who would, in an inferior project, be easy to hate becomes one of the first season's most empathetic roles. 

Since "Yellowjackets" was already renewed by Showtime before its first season ended (via Deadline), fans can expect to be taking a journey with these characters for the foreseeable future. While it may seem anticlimactic to know where most of them end up, the tribulations of seeing these young women get there may just deepen our relationships with them. 

The Dropout

There has been plenty said about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, whose conviction of criminal fraud has been the subject of books and podcasts over the past few years. While it may seem quite too soon for Hollywood to be adapting her story, it's resulted in quite a stellar showcase on Hulu. Starring Amanda Seyfried as Holmes, critics raved about the show throughout 2022 so much that it prompted Jennifer Lawrence to back out of a planned Adam McKay directed film about Holmes (via Deadline). 

That is to say, "The Dropout" may be Seyfried's best performance in her career of stellar work. Publications like Variety particularly praised its success in telling a true story, saying that Seyfried was able to "anchor the series with a performance that simultaneously humanizes Elizabeth and justifies her unique pull to the many who want to trust her." One of the best examples of Seyfried's performance is the now-iconic Lil Wayne dancing scene, which perfectly captures the off-beat energy of the real-life Elizabeth Holmes. 

Certainly, the rest of Hollywood seemed to agree. Amanda Seyfried eventually won best lead actress in a limited series at the 2022 Emmys, which was well-deserved considering how much she threw herself into this role. For a series so rooted in current events — Holmes was sentenced to 11 years in prison in November 2022 — it's not an attempt at relevancy. It's an attempt at understanding a complex, devious human being.

Moon Knight

Since 2021, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone from ruling movie theaters to ruling streaming services. The series "WandaVision" was one of the most critically-acclaimed shows of the past year, and that track record has kept up into 2022. Marvel Studios premiered three series on Disney+ in 2022 — "Ms. Marvel," which featured a stunning debut from Iman Vellani, "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," which bypassed critique on its writing thanks to the charm of its lead, Tatiana Maslany. However, when it comes to drama, neither of those held a candle to "Moon Knight."

Unlike other projects, "Moon Knight" is significant for having no ties to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was by design, and it certainly paid off. Oscar Isaac stars as Steven Grant, a British museum worker who learns he's the alter ego of American-born marine turned mercenary Marc Spector, who masquerades as Moon Knight, the sworn fist of the Egyptian god Khonshu. Not only is it a stellar debut from Isaac in the MCU, but it features one of the most dedicated and realistic portrayals of dissociative identity disorder in modern media (via Very Well Mind).

It helps "Moon Knight" even more that Isaac isn't acting in a vacuum. The actor has outstanding chemistry with May Calamawy, who plays Spector's wife, while Ethan Hawke shines as the mysterious cult leader Arthur Harrow. With "Moon Knight," Marvel shows that even obscure comic book heroes can make for a blockbuster television spectacle. 

Andor

Next to the MCU, the "Star Wars" franchise has been the other big cash cow for Disney+. "The Mandalorian" has proven to be one of the most popular series of the early 2020s, while "Obi-Wan Kenobi" satisfied long-time prequel fans who wanted more closure. However, "Andor" has caught a different kind of attention from the public. The series stars Diego Luna as his character from "Rogue One," set five years before the events of the spin-off — which is itself a prelude to the events of "A New Hope." 

Part of what works about "Andor" is its surprising ensemble nature, with supporting characters played by Adria Arjona, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kyle Soller. A review from Variety praised the show for separating itself from the conflicts between Jedi, Sith, and the Force while exploring a darker underbelly of the "Star Wars" universe. Additionally, the actor Andy Serkis was praised for his guest-starring role in the series, which surprised "Star Wars" fans who are familiar with Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke from the sequel trilogy. 

Luckily for audiences that are enjoying "Andor," there's more to come. The first season's 12 episodes will be succeeded by an additional season of equal length, which will complete the show's mission of catching the story up to "Rogue One." For the time being, fans get to enjoy more of Diego Luna's understated performance as a rebel in the making. 

Severance

One of the most surprising and critically-acclaimed debuts of 2022 is the Apple TV+ series "Severance," a dystopian drama created by Dan Erickson and directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle. The show features a surprising dramatic turn from Adam Scott, who is mostly known for his work in comedies like "Parks and Recreation" and "The Good Place," but has dabbled in drama before with roles in "Big Little Lies" on HBO. Scott stars as Mark, a corporate employee who agrees to a program that separates his work memories from his outside-of-work memories.

Fortunately for Scott, he's paired with one of the strongest casts in TV currently for this series, including Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, Christopher Walken, and Britt Lower. The show was renewed for a second season prior to receiving a whopping 14 nominations at the 2022 Emmys and winning two (via Deadline). Given how much audiences seem to love "Severance," however, it won't be long before its sweeping future ceremonies.

Other details on the series' plot best remain unspoiled, as the show is a perfect example of what kind of television works in the streaming model. A show with this many mysteries certainly works best when rewatched so that fans can catch all the clues they missed out on. More than any other show on this list, "Severance" gets better and better every time you restart it.