The best TV shows of 2022… so far!

From scary sci-fi to sex-crazed superheroes

We’re constantly being told that we’re living in a “new golden age of TV”. Which is obviously great, you know, but also makes it hard to pick something to watch – especially when a new streaming service seems to spring up every month. With this in mind, here’s our guide to the truly standout shows of 2022 that you’ll want to prioritise in your next week off.

‘Black Bird’

This intense prison drama is based on a true story you couldn’t make up. Taron Egerton plays Jimmy Keene, a drug-dealing former sports star given a chance to reduce his 10-year sentence by eliciting a confession from suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser). As Jimmy’s macho dad, the late Ray Liotta gives a poignant final performance.

Where to watch: Apple TV+

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What NME said: “Given the nature of the real crimes that Hall committed, it is a relief that a dramatisation of his case has been so expertly handled.”

‘Derry Girls’

The third and final series of Lisa McGee’s brilliant coming-of-age sitcom is also the most ambitious. It begins with our ’90s heroines worrying about their GCSE results – a rite of passage for any teen – and ends with Northern Ireland voting on the Good Friday Agreement. Along the way, there are audacious and amazing A-list cameos.

Where to watch: All 4

What NME said: “The funniest, sharpest sitcom on TV is bowing out on a high.”

Derry Girls
CREDIT: Channel 4

‘Euphoria’

Season two of Sam Levinson’s close-to-the-knuckle teen drama is even more bleakly beautiful than the first. Zendaya’s (sometimes) recovering drug addict Rue continues to be the show’s beating heart, but this time we see more of compelling supporting characters like Sydney Sweeney’s melancholy Cassie. It’s a wild ride with some very unexpected detours.

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Where to watch: Sky Atlantic and NOW

What NME said: “With a clutch of new episodes that are darker, tougher and more intense than ever, [season two is] well worth the wait.”

Eurovision Song Contest 2022

This year’s contest offers both a redemption story – Sam Ryder proving the UK can actually do well – and a stirring political statement. The grand final began with a pointed group performance of John Lennon‘s ‘Give Peace A Chance’ and ends with Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra emerging triumphant in front of a huge global audience. Eat that, Putin.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

What NME said: “Wow. This year’s Eurovision Song Contest played out in a dramatic and ultimately really heartening way.”

‘Heartstopper’

Adapted by Alice Oseman from her own graphic novel and webcomic series, this British teen series follows the blossoming relationship between popular rugby lad Nick (Kit Connor) and nerdier, nervier Charlie (Joe Locke). It’s part queer romance, part coming-of-age story, part friendship drama, and ultimately, 100 per cent life-affirming viewing.

Where to watch: Netflix

What NME said: “It’s not just the sweetest story you’ll enjoy all year, but also one of the most inclusive.”

Heartstopper
‘Heartstopper’ is the UK’s most talked-about new show. CREDIT: Netflix

‘jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy’

Directed by Coodie & Chike, who also shot early Kanye videos including ‘Through The Wire’, this epic documentary offers an intimate and sympathetic portrait of a controversial icon. Divided into three parts, it charts Yeezy’s rise from hustler struggling to get signed to superstar who doesn’t always let his music do the talking.

Where to watch: Netflix

What NME said: “It feels strange now to think that West’s signature [‘All Falls Down’] wasn’t the subject of an intense bidding war. But, as jeen-yuhs attests, the man himself never lost faith in his ability.”

‘Mood’

Based on her one-woman play Superhoe, Nicôle Lecky‘s spiky sitcom is one of the year’s vital new shows. Lecky plays Sasha, an aspiring rapper who enters the choppy waters of social media influencing and online sex work after being chucked out by her parents. It’s a smart, surprising watch punctuated by Lecky’s scalpel-sharp original songs.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

What NME said: “Nicôle Lecky’s series about social media and sex work is about to blow up.”

‘Moon Knight’

The latest Marvel miniseries could be the darkest and wildest yet. Oscar Isaac stars as Steven Grant, an unassuming gift shop worker who doesn’t realise he’s actually a superhero because of his DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). That Oscar based his north London accent on Karl Pilkington – yes, actually – is one of the show’s many bold swings.

Where to watch: Disney+

What NME said: “A grandstand character-piece dressed up as a swashbuckler with at least a couple of the roles Isaac was born to play.”

Lee Min-ho and Kim Min-ha as Koh Han-su and Sun-ja. CREDIT: Apple

‘Pachinko’

Adapted from Min Jin Lee’s award-winning novel, this enthralling saga charts the progress of a poor but ambitious Korean immigrant family over four generations. Complex and completely authentic, it’s peak prestige TV performed by a crack cast that includes Minari‘s Oscar winner Youn Yuh-jung.

Where to watch: Apple TV+

What NME said:Pachinko is masterful – the kind of quiet but utterly affecting show that haunts you for days, weeks and months afterwards”

‘Peaky Blinders’

Some iconic TV shows botch their ending – hello, Game of Thrones – but Steven Knight’s Brummie crime drama bows out in style. As the Shelby clan grapple with fascist forces and the rise of America’s Irish mob, Knight steers us confidently towards an explosive and twist-filled finale.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

What NME said: “Impressively, there’s nothing about the return of Peaky Blinders that feels forced [or] contrived.”

‘Pistol’

Danny Boyle’s fierce, fidgety miniseries dramatises the rapid rise and fall of the UK’s most iconic punk band: the Sex Pistols. Toby Wallace (Babyteeth) delivers a soulful performance as guitarist Steve Jones, whose memoir the show is based on, but Thomas Brodie-Sangster‘s flamboyant Malcolm McLaren is a real scene-stealer.

Where to watch: Disney+

What NME said: “A high-energy and creatively pieced-together look back on how punk rock, with Sex Pistols at the vanguard, swept the UK and beyond.”

Severance
Adam Scott in ‘Severance’. CREDIT: Apple

‘Severance’

Directed by Ben Stiller, this sci-fi thriller offers a savage satire of corporate life. Adam Scott stars as Mark Scout, an office drone who’s chosen to have his professional life “severed” from his personal life in order to be more productive. With Christopher Walken and Patricia Arquette in supporting roles, Severance is classy and creepy in equal measure.

Where to watch: Apple TV+

What NME said: “Great cast, great writing, great premise, great everything. The whole package. The home run.”

‘Stranger Things’

Released in two parts, Stranger Things‘ fourth season is scarier and more sprawling than previous instalments. It’s also even more of a cultural juggernaut: Kate Bush‘s ’80s classic ‘Running Up That Hill’ returned to the charts after soundtracking some of the most emotionally powerful scenes. You will be moved.

Where to watch: Netflix

What NME said: “While there are some gripes to be had with the penultimate season, it still packs in all the terrifying thrills you’d expect, deftly blending horror and sci-fi to maximum effect while allowing for some laughs among the bleakness.”

‘The Boys’

Season three of the hit superhero satire continues to be gleefully gratuitous. As the titular vigilante crew fight to keep power-crazed superheroes in check, there’s plenty of sex, violence and swearing. This time around, there are also musical numbers and witty nods to cancel culture, proving The Boys isn’t ready to be even remotely predictable.

Where to watch: Prime Video

What NME said: “It’s still the most adult, most graphic and most fun superhero show around.”

Top Boy season 4
‘Top Boy’ protagonist Dushane, played by Ashley Walters. CREDIT: Netflix

‘Top Boy’

With ruthless Dushane (Ashley Walters) expanding his business empire, series four of the London gangland drama has a more international flavour: there are trips to Morocco and Spain. Violence is never far away, but Top Boy‘s heart remains in its well-drawn ensemble of characters, which includes new recruit Adwoa Aboah.

Where to watch: Netflix

What NME said: “A decade after it first aired, there’s still not another show like Top Boy.”

‘We Own This City’

Co-written by The Wire‘s David Simon and George Pelecanos, this gritty miniseries tracks the rise and fall of Baltimore Police Department’s shockingly corrupt Gun Task Force. Based on a book by whistleblowing journalist Justin Fenton, it’s not just a riveting crime drama, but also a searing indictment of American life.

Where to watch: Sky Atlantic and Now TV

What NME said:We Own This City may be a spiritual successor to The Wire but it is a fundamentally different show.”

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