Cinema is dead! Long live TV! It’s been a remarkable year for the small screen, and my list could barely be contained to just ten. So, here are the 15 best TV shows of the year. My taste is eclectic. My choices span genres, from prestige TV to brutal action and even animated series. Enjoy:
Andor (Disney+) – most the recent Star Wars movies and TV shows have either been nostalgia-fests (like Obi-Wan) or plain bad (Boba Fett), but Andor was exceptional. It helps that it is most un-Star Wars show. It ditches any links to Luke and Darth Vader and instead focuses on the workings of the fascist Empire. It is more grounded, character-driven and political as a result. Moreover, the occasional space stuff is very well done (it has probably the best spaceship fight seen of any Star Wars movie). The first few episodes are a bit weak, but from then on, it will keep you watching.
House of the Dragon (HBO/Now TV) – one of the best TV shows of all time, the Game of Thrones, ended with a poor season, so I watched House of the Dragon with some trepidation. Thankfully it didn’t disappoint. Wisely, it didn’t try to remake GoT, but shifted its whole look and focus to palace intrigue rather than expansive inter-tribal warfare. The show had a steady build-up of characterisation with some nice time jumps. Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) was one of the stand-out characters as you’re not quite sure if he’s a villain of hero. But ultimately the story is about two women, who were once best friends, but become enemies in their pursuit of power.
The Boys (Amazon) – this is a wild wild show. If you think there is a line a TV show shouldn’t cross, then this show proudly steps over it. The show is essentially a twisted superhero show where the superheroes act more like villains. The latest season is action-packed, has great story arcs and continues to show the depravity of people. And season 3 is better than season 2.
The Bear (Hulu) – this show follows a star chef having to return home to run the family restaurant. It shows the pressures of working in a kitchen, but also reveals the tensions in the family. Great show. Addictive.
Your Honor (HBO/Now TV) – this show actually came out a few years ago, but I just caught up with it this year. It has a great premise – son of a judge gets involved with an accident, which the judge ends up having to cover up. But his world starts to cave in, as he can’t escape the truth coming. Really well plotted and acted. A great example of a tightly made show – reminded me a bit of Mare of Easttown. Season 2 is out next year.
Only Murders in the Building (Disney+) – this is a real well-made drama-comedy show. Both Steve Martin and Martin Short bring the laughs, while Selena Gomez brings some pathos. It’s a fun show to watch with a murder puzzle at the centre of it.
Gangs of London (AMC/Sky/Now TV) – season 2 came out this year, and it was brutal, violent, and dramatic as the first season. The show paints London as a gritty city, rather than the airbrushed version you normally see. You see rival drug gangs of all nationalities fight it to gain control of London. Plus, you have some quite inventive action scenes.
Jujustu Kaisen (Netlfix) – this has become a modern classic and I loved it. It follows a collection of youngsters who have various powers. They kinds compete at a school. You have shamans and demons. Trust me, watch it.
Industry Season 2 (BBC) – I loved the first season of this investment bank-based show and the second was as entertaining. The show depicts the trading floor and hedge funds very well – perhaps the most realistic I’ve seen. The latest season shows more of the hedge fund side as well as a trading team trying to move to another bank. And the social lives of these financiers are quite wild (at least much than mine was!)
Severance (Apple) – a quirky but very engaging show. The premise is that you can become severed, which means you split yourself into your work self and your personal self. And the two selves don’t know each other. Sounds wacky and it is, but the show is well worth a watch.
This Is Going To Hurt (BBC) – a downbeat hospital based show – following a young surgeon who doesn’t seem to get much breaks. Unlike American shows, this is gritty, depressing and not very uplifting – which I loved! Oh, and there are moments of fun too.
Inventing Anna (Netflix) – I came to this show late, but it’s well worth watching. It’s amazing that it is based on a true story. The way Anna fools everyone in NY to believing her and lending her money is oddly believable. I can still hear her accent in my head – ‘you’re so basic’.
Kengan Ashura (Netlfix) – here’s an anime show I liked. It has an odd premise that corporates hire gladiators to fight in tournaments to secure business rights! In any case, one company finds a gladiator called Ohma who turns out to be rather good. A solid action show!
Euphoria (HBO) – I only recently this show in 2022 and what an original and modern show it is. It follows the lives of a bunch of teenagers as they deal with drugs and relationships. Even though it’s about teens, it’s a show for grown-ups too with heavy topics and explicit (often male) scenes. Pioneering. And way different to other shows focusing on youngsters.
Vinland Saga (Netlfix) – an anime show based in Viking times. It has an expansive backdrop and follows a young viking Thorfinn trying to avenge his father’s death. I liked the inner struggle the child faces.