Forget “don’t touch that dial” — in 2022, TV viewing was more like “don’t cross the streams.” Even as Wall Street’s relationship to streaming giants like Netflix and Disney+ grew increasingly complicated, the different streamers in the space jockeyed for the viewing audience’s undivided attention (and subscription dollars) with star- and spectacle-powered lineups of prestige TV shows. Whether this economic model is sustainable, of course, is a question that will occupy much of the industry conversation for 2023. In the meantime, here are Yahoo Entertainment’s picks for the 30 shows that popped out of 2022’s Great Streaming War, as well as the five TV moments we’d rather forget. — Ethan Alter, David Artavia, Erin Donnelly, Marcus Errico, Chrissy Nguyen, Lyndsey Parker, Kevin Polowy, Taryn Ryder and Raechal Shewfelt
THE 30 BEST AND BUZZIEST TV SHOWS OF 2022
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Reviving our affinity for workplace mockumentaries — on network TV, no less — Quinta Brunson’s Emmy-nominated sitcom feels all at once fresh and cozy, hilarious and wholesome. At its core, the ABC comedy is a love letter to real-life teachers, spotlighting the all too often underpaid and undervalued profession of teaching. It’s a show we tremendously care about. With comedic chemistry in spades and not a single weak link in the bunch, the entire ensemble cast shines, from Sheryl Lee Ralph’s no-nonsense, seasoned educator Barbara Howard to Janelle James’s scene-stealing, brazenly selfish Principal Ava Coleman. It’s no surprise that Abbott‘s sophomore season hasn’t missed a narrative beat, continuing to rise in both acclaim and viewership, earning a much-deserved spot on our top TV shows. And since we’re definitely aboard the Janine and Gregory will-they-won’t-they relationship train, here’s to a Season 3! — C.N.
If you would have asked us at the beginning of 2022 which Disney+ Star Wars series would crack this list, we would’ve certainly taken the high ground and predicted Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen’s eagerly anticipated return to that galaxy far, far away. And while Obi-Wan certainly had its moments, the title of Best Star Wars Series easily goes to Andor, Tony Gilroy’s gritty, rousing thriller that follows Diego Luna’s eponymous rebel through the events leading up to Rogue One. The Star Wars universe has taken a lot of turns in recent years, but this is the creative direction we’re looking for. — K.P.
Bad Sisters (Apple TV+)
This comedy about four sisters who may or may not have killed someone was one of the most binge-worthy shows of the year — think Big Little Lies, but with a lot more laughs. Viewers learn in the first episode that John Paul Williams (masterfully played by Claes Bang) is the victim and his four in-laws are the prime suspects, but it doesn’t take long to realize he’s the villain. As the series goes on, you’re actually hoping the sisters killed him. Skillfully acted from start to finish by the five lead actresses — Sharon Horgan, Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene and Eve Hewson — Bad Sisters was good enough to get Apple to order a Season 2 so if you haven’t watched it yet, catch up now! — T.R.
The O.G. Fresh Prince’s once-charmed life may have flipped turned upside down in the last few months (more on that below), but luckily his replacement is still all cool with us. Morgan Cooper’s dramatic reboot of the ’90s sitcom isn’t just a great idea — it’s a great TV show, one that deftly comments on contemporary racial and social issues while also serving up addictive primetime teen soap antics straight outta The O.C. It’s totally… well, fresh. — E.A.
Better Call Saul (AMC+)
Vince Gilligan finally puts the Breaking Bad universe to bed (for now) with an extended send-off for Walter White’s lawyer Saul Goodman, aka Jimmy McGill. While the score-settling first half of Saul’s final season fell into a few familiar prequel pitfalls, the final four episodes provided a tour de force epilogue that ended beautifully with a full circle moment for Saul and the show’s real hero, Kim Wexler. — E.A.
The Bear (FX on Hulu)
The Bear doesn’t have plot twists to unravel, a big mystery to solve, hidden Easter eggs to find, flashy action sequences or big-budget special effects. But its visceral storytelling and richly built characters quickly made it Summer 2022’s sleeper TV hit, garnering internet buzz and critical praise. Raw, unrelenting and stress-inducing in the most exciting way, the drama about a wildly gifted chef (Jeremy Allen White in a Michelin star-worthy performance) forced to run his late brother’s Chicago sandwich shop immediately throws you into a frantic kitchen environment and keeps you there for the entirety of the show’s first season, which consists of eight half-hour episodes (certainly making it an easy, one-shot binge!). — C.N.
Chainsaw Man (Crunchyroll)
There’s a bloody good reason why Chainsaw Man is — literally — the buzziest anime debut of the year. Adapting Tatsuki Fujimoto’s blockbuster manga, the series tells the twisted story of Denji, a broken, beleaguered teen whose body gets fused with a cuddly, chainsaw-snouted demon to form the titular hybrid hero. He’s recruited to used his revved-up powers to hunt down malevolent devils. It’s beautiful, brutal and definitely worth a binge. — M.E.
The Dropout (Hulu)
Amanda Seyfried won an Emmy for playing Elizabeth Holmes, the notorious tech entrepreneur behind medical technology company Theranos. Seeing the backstory of a legal case that we’d all watched go down in real life — as well as Seyfried trying out Holmes’s unexpectedly deep voice — made for fascinating TV. And Seyfried was not the only recognizable name boarding a limited series based on the headlines: Joseph Gordon-Levitt played former Uber leader Travis Kalanick in Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber; Jared Leto portrayed the founder of WeWork, Adam Neumann, in WeCrashed; and Julia Garner transformed into faux socialite Anna Delvey in Inventing Anna. — R.S.
House of the Dragon (HBO and HBO Max)
Earlier this year, two fantasy shows set out to rule them all… and in the end, House Targaryen subdued the the forces of Sauron. HBO’s risky bet on a Game of Thrones prequel centered around Daenerys’s ancestors paid off, as House of the Dragon opened to a big audience and continued to gain viewers every week. Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power followed a different trajectory, grabbing viewers out of the gate, but seemingly losing its buzz as the season went on. Quality-wise, both shows are on equal footing, but first ratings blood goes to the dragons of Westeros instead of Middle-earth. — E.A.
Indian Matchmaking (Netflix)
It’s not your regular matchmaking show, which is the most refreshing part of Indian Matchmaking. Anyone who has seen the first season knows that the show’s central matchmaker, Sima Aunty, is the real deal. Some of last season’s U.S.-based singles return to have a second attempt at love, all while educating American audiences about the nuances of Indian culture, including the long-held tradition of arranged marriages. — D.A.
Interview With the Vampire (AMC+)
Anne Rice’s 1976 novel gets a much-needed infusion of fresh blood for the 2022 TV series, led by Jacob Anderson’s standout turn as an all-new, all-different Louis de Pointe du Lac. Recasting the character as a Black man in early 20th century America opens up a previously unexplored dimension of the story, as well as Louis’s relationship with the his creator, the vampire Lestat. We’re ready for more entries in AMC’s burgeoning Rice-verse. — E.A.
What a difference a year makes! The beloved game show struggled in 2021, but it found its footing in 2022 with Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik tag-teaming on hosting duties. There was still the occasional misstep — like the Celebrity Jeopardy! clue about Gabby Petito’s murderer — but the main show generally focused on what it does best: trivia. It helped that there were particularly strong contestants like Mattea Roach and Amy Schneider, who kept the competition as fierce as ever. — R.S.
The Last Movie Stars (HBO Max)
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s 50-year marriage is a love story for the ages, and one that Ethan Hawke — formerly one-half of a movie star couple himself — uses his acting peers to help tell in this engrossing six-part docuseries. Relying on archival footage and stars like George Clooney and Laura Linney reading aloud from interview transcripts detailing Newman and Woodward’s careers, constancy and controversies, Hawke crafts a story of the couple’s devotion — to each other, to their craft, to philanthropy — and our own commitment to their legacies as Hollywood icons. — E.D.
A League of Their Own (Prime Video)
Like Bel-Air, Prime Video’s A League of Their Own series was a reboot we didn’t know we needed until we saw it. Far from just repeating the much-loved 1992 movie (minus a few key scenes, of course) creators Will Graham and Abbi Jacobson seized the opportunity to foreground the LGBTQ stories that were part of the real history of women’s professional baseball. It’s a home run show that deserves another inning. — E.A.
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Netflix)
Ryan Murphy’s blockbuster Netflix deal was widely perceived as a bust… until he returned to the scene of a notorious American crime story. Powered by Evan Peters’s unnerving star turn as the notorious cannibal/serial killer, Monster became one of the streaming service’s most-watched shows of 2022. But that popularity was accompanied by controversy as Murphy was criticized by the families of Dahmer’s victims for “retraumatizing” them, a charge that complicates the show’s long-term legacy. — E.A.
Ms. Marvel (Disney+)
The über-charming Iman Vellani is a revelation as Kamala Khan in Disney+’s midyear joy ride. But the whole Khan clan is so easy to root for in this underdog series about an underdog hero, especially as we find out more about the Pakistani-American family’s traumatic past. As far as Marvel shows on Disney+ go this year, Moon Knight was disappointing and She-Hulk was funny and fun despite its shoddy CGI, but Ms. Marvel felt just right. — K.P.
Peacemaker (HBO Max)
James Gunn is catching a lot of grief from DC fans right now, but let’s not forget what an absolute romp this early-year HBO Max series was. From its inspired opening dance number to its hilariously raunchy John Cena as the titular vigilante to its oddball cast of supporting characters to its breakout bird Eagley, there was so much to love about Gunn’s incendiary spinoff. Sure we may not see Henry Cavill as Superman again but Gunn has stocked up plenty of goodwill in our opinion. — K.P.
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (Bravo and Peacock)
Season 2 of the Bravo series wrapped in March and in a rare move for the network fans got a third season six months later. That probably had something to do with Jen Shah’s legal troubles that play out on screen. The reality star was arrested last year as federal prosecutors claim she ran an illegal telemarketing scheme defrauding elderly people. In a stunning courtroom reversal, Shah pleaded guilty in the wire fraud case in July. It’s pretty confusing as viewers are currently watching her cry and maintain her innocence every Wednesday. So what happened? Unfortunately, the OG Housewife skipped out on the reunion taping earlier this month as Bravo (rightfully) was going to ask her about the case. Shah is set to be sentenced on Jan. 6. It’s unclear how the show will deal with all this, but we’ll be among those tuning in. — T.R.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 (Paramount+)
It could be argued that the Drag Race franchise hit its saturation point in 2022, but RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 was all winnahs, baby! Starring eight crowned queens from previous seasons, AS7 was positively packed with charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. Most importantly, it introduced two legendary champions to an unfamiliar Gen-Z audience raised on the Instagram-dependent “lewk queens” of more recent years: Season 3’s Raja, who changed the game as Drag Race’s first true runway-stomping fashionista back in 2011, and the eventual richly deserving AS7 winner, Season 5’s Jinkx Monsoon, possibly the most purely gifted comedian, vocalist and actor to ever grace any Drag Race stage. — L.P.
The Sandman (Netflix)
For decades, Neil Gaiman held onto his dream of a faithful adaptation of his seminal comic book series in the face of Hollywood indifference. Somebody pinch him, because Netflix’s version of The Sandman is about as comics-accurate as fans could hope. With Gaiman in the driver’s seat, the first season efficiently adapted the first two volumes of Morpheus’s tale and set the stage for some of the saga’s best chapters. Bring on Season of Mists! — E.A.
Secrets of the Chippendales Murders (A&E and Hulu)
It’s tough to stand out from the docuseries crowd, but Secrets did it by retelling the sordid history of the male dance troupe. Many of the people who were there at the start of the still-popular attraction tell candid stories accompanied by vintage photos and video footage of the late ’70s and beyond. While the subject matter is often dark — especially the stories of Paul Snider’s murder of Dorothy Stratten and Steve Banerjee’s ruthless efforts to… uh, permanently silence his rivals — the interviewees manage to keep the show interesting and, at times, even funny. Hulu’s recent dramatization of this story, Welcome to Chippendales, made these Secrets all the more relevant. — R.S.
Severance (Apple TV+)
If you saw the names Adam Scott and Ben Stiller and prepared yourself for a hilarious workplace comedy in the same vein as Office Space, the first episode of Severance probably took some adjustment. But once the show’s dark and sinister tones kicked in, this story of a mysterious corporation that brainwashes its employees so they have no idea what they do once they leave work turned into a twisty, taut ride. — K.P.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+)
At a time when Star Wars has notably struggled to recast some of its classic characters, Star Trek continues to successfully bring in new actors to play familiar faces. After debuting on Star Trek: Discovery, Anson Mount’s Christopher Pike and Ethan Peck’s Spock headline their own spinoff that rediscovers the sense of fun and adventure that made The Original Series a classic. All of the current Trek shows offer something unique, but Strange New Worlds represents the best of the franchise’s past, present and future. — E.A.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
The most expansive, emotional season yet of the blockbuster series found our motley band of heroes scattered from Indiana to Russia and struggling with their freakiest foe to date — the Upside Down-architecting Vecna. Aside from expanding the Stranger Things mythology, Season 4 also delivered two all-time viral moments: Max Mayfield (the sublime Sadie Sink) fleeing for her life to the strains of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and the head-banging, heart-wrenching last stand of Eddie Munson (breakout star Joseph Quinn) shredding to Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” while besieged by demobats. Season 5 can’t get here fast enough. — M.E.
The Tinder Swindler (Netflix)
By far one of 2022’s most riveting scammer documentaries, The Tinder Swindler follows a group of women who were victims of a dating app swindler that robbed them of millions of dollars. Together they attempt to hunt him down and recover their losses. It’s suspenseful, eye-opening and totally sucks you in while also forcing yourself to ask the question: Could this — or would this — happen to me? — D.A.
We Need to Talk About Cosby (Showtime)
It takes a comedian to interrogate a comedian’s legacy. Four years after Bill Cosby’s conviction on sexual assault charges — and less than a year after his unexpected release — W. Kamau Bell dives into the disgraced comic’s messy life and career. The four-part docuseries does credit Cosby for changing the game for Black comics in the ’60s, but keeps his victim’s voices front and center, never letting audiences forget the price they paid for his success. — E.A
The White Lotus (HBO and HBO Max)
Mike White’s second White Lotus outing is bound to spark debates about which series is better. Our vote goes to the the just-wrapped Sicily excursion which doubled down on Jennifer Coolidge’s hijinks and introduced us to a new batch of wildly privileged tourists whose flaws viewers dissected and memed each week. This season also grappled with the theme of sex as a transaction, as an act of devotion and as a youthful impulse. That’s amore, baby. — E.D.
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (HBO and HBO Max)
You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy this dramatization of the ’80s-era Los Angeles Lakers, when the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ruled the court. Every episode incorporates a recognizable event or personality — such as a young Paula Abdul choreographing a routine for the new Laker Girls dance squad — and while there is a lot of drama, the show never takes itself too seriously. In fact, the Adam McKay-produced series often has a similar feel to his movies like Vice and The Big Short. — R.S.
Yellowstone (Paramount Network and Peacock)
It’s not surprising that audiences for the Taylor Sheridan drama are bigger than ever, because the show has so much going for it. First and foremost, Yellowstone stars Kevin Costner as ranch owner John Dutton III, who happens to be the newly elected governor of Montana. There’s also the fantastic cast, including Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley and Cole Hauser. Most of all, though, there’s the simple fact that Yellowstone is a soap opera, in the same vein as Dallas or Falcon Crest, depicting a well-to-do family fighting to protect their fortune and way of life. Somehow, we just can’t look away. — R.S.
THE 5 WORST TV MOMENTS OF 2022
Mexican Week on The Great British Baking Show
We didn’t think it possible, but outgoing The Great British Baking Show co-host Matt Lucas managed to unlock a new level of cringe when he used “Juan” as a punchline, all while clad in a sombrero and colorful serape alongside Noel Fielding, no less. Alarmed by those kinds of off-color jokes and puzzled by the baking competition’s taco-based technical challenge, viewers quickly blasted the episode as culturally insensitive. The backlash “gutted” judge Paul Hollywood, who conceived the theme after spending a month in Mexico shortly before filming, therefore spoiling an otherwise enjoyable season — E.D.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars
It was one of the most shocking moments to ever happen on live television: A-list actor Will Smith stormed the stage and slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. For several minutes, viewers debated whether the whole thing was a stunt… but it wasn’t. When Smith accepted his Best Actor statue moments later, he compounded the strangeness by tearfully apologizing to the Academy and his fellow nominees — citing King Richard tennis coach Richard Williams in the process — but at no point mentioning Rock by name. — T.R.
Rudy Giuliani appears on The Masked Singer
A month before The Masked Singer’s seventh season premiere, the disturbing news leaked that Donald Trump’s notorious former attorney and adviser Rudy Giuliani had competed on the show. If this controversial piece of stunt-casting was a ploy to drum up ratings, it backfired in a big way: Liberal viewers boycotted the show in disgust, while those actually interested in seeing Giuliani perform became fatigued by the time he finally showed up as the Jack in the Box, croaking out George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone,” on the season’s seventh episode. The show never recovered, which is probably why The Masked Singer implemented a divisive format change for the currently airing season. Many fans on social media complained about this as well, so hopefully Fox’s powers-that-be course-correct in 2023. — L.P.
Saturday Night Live is dead again
To be fair, Lorne Michaels did warn us that SNL’s 48th season was going to be one of the show’s occasional rebuilding years, as one generation of cast members exited Studio 8H and another came on the scene. But even by rebuilding year standards, these recent episodes have been shaky to watch, with the new faces struggling to make much of an impression and the sketches themselves working overtime to go viral. In the vacuum of a memorable cast, the big-name hosts have sucked up much of the attention sometimes for better (see Amy Schumer) but more often for worse (i.e., Dave Chappelle). — E.A.
Westworld is closed for business
What did Dolores always say about violent delights having violent ends? The once-great Westworld continued its ongoing creative implosion in Season 4, tying itself in knots to recapture the glory days through headache-inducing plot twists and hilariously off-key performances. After dropping a truly cataclysmic finale, HBO finally put the series and its shrinking loyal audience out of their collective misery. But Westworld wasn’t just canceled — it was actually taken off of HBO Max entirely as part of Warner Media’s closely-watched cost-cutting efforts. Judging by Westworld’s Matterhorn-like ratings curve after Season 1, more people saw the news that the show had been deplatformed than actually watched Season 4. — E.A.