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There was more than just Stranger Things
Netflix had quite the 2022. In addition to releasing one of pop culture's biggest events with Stranger Things Season 4, as well as new seasons of streaming titans Bridgerton and Ozark, the company was battered by the ongoing Dave Chappelle controversy, dwindling subscribers, and falling stock prices, not to mention the annual anger over canceled shows and rising subscription prices. In the end, Netflix proved too big to fail as subscribers came back and Netflix remained streaming's biggest player.
But what about the shows? Netflix had no problem with volume; it still pumps out about 80 original productions per month. However, quality has always been the question when put up against the sheer numbers of shows, movies, and specials it produces. And to be honest, when we were putting together this list of Netflix's best TV series of the year, it wasn't like a lot of shows were making valid claims to be included. In fact, not a single Netflix show made our list of the 20 best shows of the year.
Wow, that was a downer way to start a list celebrating the best. Even if Netflix didn't have a great year overall, it did put out some good shows. Here are the 10 best Netflix shows of 2022.
Stranger Things is Netflix's biggest show, and probably the biggest show on television right now. Just go to your local Hot Topic or ask your local tween for the lyrics to "Runnin' Up That Hill" for proof. Season 4 was the biggest season yet, with multiple 90-minute episodes and the finale running a Marvel-esque two and a half hours. It added an intriguing new villain and welcomed new heroes, set streaming records, and solidified its spot among pop culture's elite. And even though Season 4 wasn't always the best season, its biggest moments were among the series' most memorable. But you probably just came back to feel the comfort of hanging out with your old friends, like Steve (Joe Keery). You rule, Steve! -Tim Surette
The best show of early 2019 returned for a second season in 2022. Season 1 ended so perfectly and with such finality that it would have been a great limited series, but co-creator-star Natasha Lyonne had an idea for more. Season 2 is set four years after Manhattanites Nadia (Lyonne) and Alan (Charlie Barnett) escaped from their death-loop, and now they're on a new sci-fi sadcom adventure where they encounter a time portal accessible via the 6 train that leads to a fate even worse than endless death: becoming your own mother. Season 2 doesn't have the freshness of Season 1, but it's still as fun as a comedy about generational trauma can be. -Liam Mathews
Peaky Blinders is one of the defining shows of the era when Netflix was ascendant — its first season came out during the rise of House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black — and in 2022, it ended with an excellent sixth season. It's a stylish crime drama starring Cillian Murphy as antihero Tommy Shelby, the leader of the titular gang consisting of his relatives, as they rise to the top of the criminal underworld in interwar Birmingham. The costumes are glamorous, the anachronistic PJ Harvey-heavy soundtrack is cool, and the supporting performances from big stars like Tom Hardy and Anya Taylor-Joy are entertaining. If you never got around to Peaky Blinders, there's no reason to not start now. -Liam Mathews
This four-part docuseries tells the story of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its polygamist leader and self-professed prophet, Warren Jeffs, who had his flock of believers under his thumb in the early 2000s. Jeffs controlled the women in his sect, used them as currency, chose who they married (even when they were as young as 14), banished threats to his rule, and lived a lavish lifestyle paid for by the businesses he took over in the name of the church. With harrowing first-person accounts from the victims of Jeffs' mental and sexual abuse, Keep Sweet will send chills down your spine. In a year full of LDS content, Keep Sweet stood out as the best of the docuseries. -Tim Surette
You like The West Wing? Then you'll like this Danish political thriller, which is considered to be one of the first international shows at the level of the best dramas of Peak TV. It follows the unlikely rise of centrist politician Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) to prime minister of Denmark. The new surprising fourth season, a Netflix original, came out nine years after Season 3 and focused on a geopolitical crisis in Greenland. It's more fun than it sounds. -Allison Picurro
Think of Heartbreak High as Euphoria meets Sex Education meets Mean Girls, but with Australian accents. This series, a remake of the '90s Aussie series, follows a teen girl, Amerie (Ayesha Madon), who becomes a social pariah after she creates a mural that exposes the secret hookups of everyone at her school. She's also just had a falling out with her best friend for reasons she can't figure out yet. Luckily, she befriends two fellow misfits, Darren (James Majoos) and Quinni (Chloe Hayden), as she navigates a difficult period in her life. The update shows lots of respect for today's youth, while mixing a core story about two friends growing in different directions and a modern message about being yourself. –Allison Picurro
This eye-popping anime from renowned Japanese anime makers Studio Trigger is based in the dystopian, cyberpunk future of the video game Cyberpunk 2077, a setting rich in detail and possibility that Edgerunners uses to its fullest. Our hero is David Martinez, a young man who, after he's struck with tragedy, drops out of high school and into a life of cyber-enhanced criminality. There's violence, nudity, and cursing, so keep the kiddos away, and it's a deep, jargony dive into tech, so keep the normies away, too. But if Blade Runner-style drama is of interest to you, jack in. Anime is going strong at Netflix: 2021 had Arcane, 2022 had Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. -Tim Surette
Ramy fans don't need an introduction to comedian Mo Amer, and they probably won't need any introduction to Mo, either. But for everyone else, here's the scoop: The acclaimed Netflix comedy, created by Amer and Ramy Youssef and produced by A24, stars Amer as Mo Najjar, a Palestinian refugee living in Houston with his family and hustling to support them. It's a funny, warm show that debuted already fully confident in its voice. If you like Ramy, you'll like Mo, and if you don't like Ramy, you haven't watched it. -Kelly Connolly
This docuseries is all about the he-said-she-said bullsh--. It explores the debacle of Woodstock '99, the music festival marred by violence, depravity, and Limp Bizkit. Last year's HBO documentary Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage beat Trainwreck to the punch, but with three episodes, this one gets even deeper into how out of control it got. It's an intense you-are-there look at things falling apart. -Liam Mathews
This cute and gentle British teen drama is based on a webcomic-turned-graphic novel that's beloved by fans of romantic coming-of-age stories. Heartstopper follows Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), an openly gay secondary school student who develops an unlikely friendship with Nick (Kit Connor), a jock with a kind heart who invites Charlie to join the rugby team. And their friendship just might be developing into something more. It's a sweet little show that keeps some comic book-inspired stylistic flourishes. Fans of the comic, and teen drama in general, will love it. -Liam Mathews