10. Dopesick (HULU)
Have you ever watched something that made you so angry that you wanted to throw something at the TV? Well, that’s how I felt while watching the entire eight episodes of Dopesick. The series dramatizes the beginning of the opioid crisis from oxycontin’s inception at Pardue Pharma, all the way to the ongoing litigation. In between all that are the stories of the people affected by this epidemic; the small coal mining communities turned into chaos through addiction, the doctors swindled into prescribing and also getting high on their own supply, and the DEA agents’ who’ve spent their life trying to take down the root cause of all of this turmoil.
Starring the likes Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlberg, Will Poulter, Kaitlyn Dever, and Rosario Dawson… Dopesick is a heartbreaking, fascinating, and riveting piece of television that is a call to arms. This one was severely overlooked during the Fall and I truly hope it ends up getting the recognition it deserves.
9. Arcane (Netflix)
Based on the massively popular video game: League of Legends… While those words probably don’t inspire much confidence, count this series as the best adaptation of a video game ever… by a long mile. The studio behind this steampunk fantasy used state-of-the-art, groundbreaking techniques involving motion capture, hand-drawing and watercolors, CGI, and more to make “Arcane” one of the most impressive and beautiful pieces of animation I have seen. Period. That would honestly be enough to keep me watching… but, this is an action-packed, mature, and thought-provoking show with a wonderful cast of characters and an endless array of imagination to boot. The recently announced Season 2 cannot come soon enough!
8. Physical (Apple TV+)
This eighties-set series about a woman taking her life back into her own control by starting a video fitness empire… will not be for everyone. It is narrated with Rose Byrne’s inner thoughts, which can be self-deprecating, dark, and downright nasty at times… but, I found it to all be quite hilarious, and honestly very frank and honest. This series is produced by Craig Gillespie who gave us I, Tonya with Margot Robbie… and if you liked that film, there’s a good chance you’re also going to dig Physical’s vibes, as well.
What really sets this show above the rest, however, is the magnetic, all-in performance from the incredible Rose Byrne… who has never been better. I must admit, the show does take a couple of episodes to really get into, but once the plot started picking up, I couldn’t help, but begin to champion Sheila… and luckily, we will definitely be getting a second season to see where her fitness empire journey leads her.
7. Yellowjackets (Showtime)
Yellowjackets follows a girl’s soccer team in the Nineties who are flying to Nationals, but their plane crashes in an unforgiving wilderness. At the same time, it follows a select few of the survivors, twenty years later. They are brought together by the “suicide” of one of their own, as weird occurrences start happening which makes them have to confront what actually happened all of those years ago. The series is like a genre-mash-up of all of the things I love… coming-of-age high school drama, mixed with a survivalist thriller and supernatural horror.
Think “The Craft”, meets “Lost” with a little “Lord of the Flies” and “The Blair Witch Project” sprinkled in there. It sounds like a lot, and it is… but, the A-list cast with the likes of Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, Jasmine Savoy Brown, and Ella Purnell; making it worth a watch, alone. What I love most about Yellowjackets, however, is that although the overlying mystery is totally compelling, it’s the characters that keep me coming back for more. And just as a forewarning, this is one brutally violent and messed-up show… so, don’t let the Young Adult vibes fool you.
6. WandaVision (Disney+)
I would consider myself a very casual fan of the superhero genre, I enjoy most of what Marvel and DC has produced, but I’m not ever clamoring for the next installment or anything. Frankly, I think that all of these Marvel series popping up almost every month is just plain overkill at this point. However, what I love about WandaVision is how unique it is. It’s so unlike anything else that Marvel has produced that I honestly can’t even believe that it exists in the first place… but, that risky chance really paid off. The show is anchored by two outstanding performances from Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. I was so impressed at the balance between smaller, more intimate moments and with the grand-scale action we have come to expect from the studio giant. I truly think that WandaVision brought humanity back to the superhero genre.
5. Only Murders in the Building (HULU)
This new series about three true-crime buffs who find themselves caught up in a murder is a blast from start to finish. Seeing Steve Martin and Martin Short ham it up together, is worth checking out the show alone. Throw in a lovely Selena Gomez and you have a dynamic trio that subverts the ageism that we have come to expect from Hollywood. It is so refreshing to see two different generations collide and come together in such a harmonious way. Not only is Only Murders laugh-out-loud funny, but the mystery will surely pique the interest of anyone that calls themself a “true crime buff”. This one is primed and ready for another season, and I can definitely see it sticking around for quite some time.
4. Young Royals (Netflix)
This new show from Sweden luckily found a huge and devoted following this last Summer and will be continuing its run in 2022. Young Royals follows Prince Wilhelm who, after a widely publicized altercation in public, is sent to a prestigious boarding school. While there he ends up falling in love with another boy, but following his heart and abiding by what is expected of him as royalty, proves to be far more difficult than he could have imagined.
Going into this show, I knew next to nothing about it, besides the fact that it was a foreign Young Adult show. And while I am a sucker for the coming-of-age genre, most of the time it is usually just “guilty pleasure fun”. But, while Young Royals is entertaining as hell, it is far more grounded than I ever could have imagined. You feel the love these two characters have for each other radiating off of the screen, you feel every sacrifice and every heartbreak these characters go through. Young Royals might sound like it’s all pomp and circumstance, but in actuality, it is a beautiful, authentic, and raw portrayal of first love.
3. Ted Lasso: Season 2 (Apple TV+)
What can I say about this Apple TV+ series that hasn’t been said already? Winner of SEVEN Primetime Emmies this last year, Ted Lasso came out of nowhere and put a smile on every person that decided to give it a watch. The series follows an American Football coach who takes a job managing a struggling London football team. And while the first season followed Ted’s journey to bring his team together, Season Two concentrated on him trying to get his own self together. The show tackled issues of mental health in such an honest way, all the while still keeping the laughs and crowd-pleasing coming.
It was a joy to get to see some beloved supporting characters get their time to shine like Sam and Dani Rojas, as well as the welcome addition of Sarah Niles as Dr. Sharon; the new team therapist. My only qualm in this second outing was seeing one of my favorite characters go down a villainous path, but that can always be amended in future seasons. Ted Lasso is the antidote to all of the negativity surrounding us in the real world… and will make you look at the world in a “glass half full” type of way. We need more entertainment like this in our lives!
2. The Other Two: Season 2 (HBOMax)
This despicably underrated series began its life on Comedy Central and was doomed for cancellation until HBOMax swooped in and saved it. And thank God! Because it would be a crime to humanity if this show never found its audience. Luckily it is finally gaining some recognition and was picked up for a third season. The Other Two follows two twentysomething siblings trying to find their place in the world while navigating their younger brother’s rise to fame as a global pop star.
The second season throws the titular “Other Two” into an even crazier tailspin, as their mother (played by the hilarious Molly Shannon) gets her own talk show. This show is a biting satire of the entertainment industry, that takes no prisoners and is exhilaratingly frank and raunchy. Oh, also… it is easily the funniest piece of entertainment to grace our screens all year, and possibly this last decade. The comedy genre has been sputtering to stay alive and relevant, but The Other Two is here to save the day.
1. The White Lotus (HBO)
Love it or hate it, Mike White’s dark comedy on human behavior got everyone talking. In six episodes… White transported us to paradise and made us cringe, boil with anxiety and rage, and laugh our asses off, uncomfortably, of course. The performers in The White Lotus include Jake Lacey, Murray Bartlett, Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario, Sydney Sweeney, Steve Zahn, and Molly Shannon (who is having one helluva comeback this year), formed one of the most compelling ensembles in television history. And while the mystery is what got us hooked from the get-go, it was the bad behavior that kept us watching and wondering what would happen next. No show this year has sparked such fascinating debate and conversation. One could only hope that Mike White is able to pull it off all over again, and maybe even up the ante, with Season Two.
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