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Top 10 TV series of 2022

'Pachinko' earns the top spot in this 2022 Top 10 TV series list. Photo credit: Apple TV+

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When compiling the list of my favorite TV series of 2022, I've opted not to include continuation seasons in favor of spotlighting shows that debuted this year.  

10. We Own This City (HBO and HBO Max)

The creative team behind The Wire and many of the cast members of that seminal series return to Baltimore and the world of crime, but this wasn't a sequel, it was a standalone, six-part, self-contained series based on the best-selling book of the same name by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton that chronicled the meteoric rise and spectacular, crime-riddled fall of the Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force. Jon Bernthal is in prime Brando scene-stealing form as the swaggering macho cop Wayne Jenkins. 

9. Shining Girls (Apple TV+) 

Even if Silka Luisa's adaptation of the Lauren Beukes novel hadn't done an astonishing job of recreating the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom from the early 1990s as I remember it, I would have loved this expertly crafted and beautiful yet haunting story of a Sun-Times archivist (the great Elisabeth Moss) entangled with a serial killer who somehow seems to have committed murders across multiple timelines. An elegiac masterwork. 

8. Welcome to Wrexham (FX and Hulu) 

It sounds like the pitch for a fictional series in the vein of Ted Lasso: Likable Hollywood hotshots Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who know nothing about soccer, team up to purchase the third-oldest professional football team in the world, a moribund franchise in Wales. But it's actually a fascinating, funny, inspirational and moving documentary series that focuses at least as much on the colorful players and locals as it does on Reynolds and McElhenney.   

7. Black Bird (Apple TV+) 

Taron Egerton (Rocketman) achieves Sean Penn-level intensity playing Jimmy Keene, a high-riding hustler in the Chicago of the 1990s who gets caught in a drug sting and hit with a serious sentence, after which he's offered a deal: If Jimmy can get his cell mate, the suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser doing Emmy-level work), to confess his crimes, he'll have his sentence commuted. Based on a true story, Black Bird is a gritty procedural in the vein of Mindhunter, and features the late Ray Liotta in one of his final roles. 

6. Bad Sisters (Apple TV+) 

Oh, how I loved every minute of this sly and dark Irish comedy, and how thrilled I am it's coming back for a second season! Sharon Horgan, Anne-Marie Duff, Sarah Greene, Eva Birthistle and Eve Hewson are a marvel together as the Garvey sisters, who are extremely tight and do just about everything together - and that might include the murder of Grace's husband, the abusive and manipulative and cruel and absolutely hiss-worthy John Paul (Claes Bang). Bad Sisters begins with a body in a coffin and works its way backward, as John Paul survives more attempts on his life than Rasputin, until he doesn't. 

5. House of the Dragon (HBO and HBO Max) 

Few series in the history of television have faced as much advance scrutiny and pressure as this prequel to Game of Thrones, set some 172 years before the death of the Mad King, Aerys, and the birth of his daughter, Prince Daenerys Targaryen. It took a while to sort out all the players and how they relate to one another, but House of the Dragon immediately captivated us with its lush location shots and elaborate interior sets, a brilliant score from GOT composer Ramin Djawadi, and some wild, racy and violent storylines. Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans, Graham McTavish, Emma D'Arcy, Olivia Cooke and Fabien Frankel were among the standouts in the ensemble. 

4. Tulsa King (Paramount+) 

Sylvester Stallone is tailor-made for the role of recently paroled New York Mafia capo Dwight "The General" Manfredi, who finds himself exiled to Tulsa in a classic fish-out-of-water setup. The 75-year-old Stallone remains a formidable physical force and still has a gift for light comedy, as Dwight alternates between knocking out his foes and quipping about this strange new world he's found himself in. 

3. The Bear (Hulu) 

The buzziest new series of the year makes great use of its Chicago setting as showrunner Christopher Storer creates an instantly believable and incredibly frenetic universe set in and around a family-run Italian beef sandwich joint that is going through some MAJOR changes. We already knew Jeremy Allen White was a singular talent from his work on the Chicago-set Shameless, but White reaches genuine star status with his blazing performance as an award-winning chef who returns home from New York under the most trying circumstances and takes over the ramshackle family joint. The entire supporting cast is Emmy-worthy, with Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri and Abby Elliott creating characters so indelible they could each have their own series. 

2. Somebody Somewhere (HBO) 

Set in Kansas but filmed in Chicago suburbs including Lockport and Warrenville, this is that rare comedy-drama that is equally superb in both genres, with the life force that is Bridget Everett drawing on her own experiences to create Sam, a smart and dryly funny and cynical and insecure woman in her 40s who has returned home following a family tragedy and is navigating tricky waters on a number of fronts. In addition to the earthy, grounded drama and humor, we're treated to Everett belting out numbers such as Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up" and Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" with such power and passion that it makes our hearts soar. 

1. Pachinko (Apple TV+) 

One of the best TV series in recent years - a masterfully spun, gorgeously photographed, beautifully acted and deeply memorable work following the journey of one Korean family across some 75 years. Based on the widely acclaimed novel by Min Jin Lee, Pachinko is a triumphant work with gleaming performances by the great Youn Yuh-jung (Oscar winner for Minari), Lee Min-ho, Minha Kim, Soji Arai and Jin Ha. Very specific to one family and yet universally relatable, Pachinko is a breathtakingly original treasure.

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