Good riddance, 2021! Dump that kittens-on-catnip calendar into the garbage and lose yourself in the senseless optimism of a new year, courtesy of 2022. And the one thing you can always count on to look forward to is a new year of television, because the streaming machine is showing no signs of slowing down.
Below, we've run down the new TV shows — yes, we're also excited for Stranger Things Season 4, but we're talking about NEW shows here — we're most excited about in the upcoming year, from big-budget adaptations of beloved properties to new series with casts made up of our favorite on-screen friends. As is the case with television schedules, we're working with the information we've been given. Some of our picks have no release dates, some of these shows may be delayed into 2023, and many shows that we'll end up loving this year haven't even been announced yet. The only thing we know for sure is that we want to see the shows below, like yesterday.
Jan. 13 on HBO Max
John Cena and tighty-whiteys is a combination that can't go wrong, so expect a lot of that in this series based on the DC Comics superhero character who recently appeared in The Suicide Squad. Leaning way more into the comedy side of things, Peacemaker follows the man as he seeks to bring peace by any means necessary, even if it means war! And therein lies the comedic irony. Joining Cena are Steve Agee, Danielle Brooks, and Robert Patrick.
Jan. 16 on HBO
Maybe you don't know Bridget Everett yet, but you will soon. The Brooklyn comedian-singer stars in this heartfelt comedy about a woman (Everett) trying to find herself in small-town Kansas in the wake of her sister's death. Sure, that doesn't sound too exciting, but the performances from Everett and her on-screen new best friend Joel (Jeff Hiller) burst with warm fuzzies, and the sincere themes of standing out to fit in make this a quiet gem that should make a lot of noise with viewers. Plus, it's hilarious.
Jan. 24 on HBO
If you're into period dramas in general and Downton Abbey specifically, you're probably going to be into The Gilded Age, a new HBO series from Downton creator Julian Fellowes. And if you're not usually a fan of that kind of thing, you might be after you see this cast list. It's got Carrie Coon! It's got Christine Baranski! It's got Cynthia Nixon! And it's got a lineup of recurring and guest stars that reads like a who's who of Broadway, including Nathan Lane, Audra McDonald, Kelli O'Hara, Donna Murphy, and Michael Cerveris. NEW YORK, BABY! I think I love period dramas now. Anyway, the plot, if it matters, revolves around a pair of old-money sisters (Baranski and Nixon) warring with their new-money neighbor (Coon) in 1880s New York City. Everybody raise a pinky. -Kelly Connolly
Feb. 2 on Hulu
Arguably the first viral video gets its proper due in this comedy-drama about Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson and the sex tape that took their celebrity to a new, scandalous level. Seth Rogen and Nick Offerman play the two dudes who find the tape and spread it across the fledgling internet, and Sebastian Stan and Lily James play Pam & Tommy.
Feb. 4 on Amazon Prime Video
The formula here is simple, but it's a proven winner: Totally massive, ripped dude kicks ass. Author Lee Child's popular character Jack Reacher, a former Army Ranger who takes odd jobs and solves crimes, jumps from the movies to streaming in this action series. While this looks like it will definitely appeal to fans of shows like Strike Back and Jack Ryan, there's a self-awareness and fun added in that gives it an extreme mainstream appeal. Though Tom Cruise played the role in the films, Alan Ritchson — who can probably deadlift a few dozen Tom Cruises — better represents the character as fans of the books know him, so this is probably a good do-over for them.
March TBD on HBO
Boogie Nights meets the Showtime Lakers in this miniseries from Adam McKay depicting the, uhhh, rise of the Lakers dynasty in the late 1970s and early 1980s that showcased Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and socks pulled up to the knee. The impressive cast includes Adrien Brody, John C. Reilly, Jason Segel, and Sally Field.
TBD on HBO
PlayStation users have been clamoring for this ever since the Last of Us game came out in 2013, because the story of a man, Joel, escorting a young girl, Ellie, through an apocalyptic hellscape where a plant-based infection has turned humans into disgusting creatures turned out to be even more satisfying than playing the game itself. Even if the show gets half of what the game's story delivered, it should be great. Pedro Pascal and Game of Thrones' Bella Ramsey star. (Video game trailer above.)
TBD on Disney+
Shows and movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have a general problem with soullessness — they're inoffensive, fungible pieces of fast food that all taste pretty much the same and primarily exist to maximize profits. But by casting Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke, two of our most soulful actors, Moon Knight may finally put a ghost in the machine. Maybe this Batman-esque Disney+ show will be the thing that finally unites the Marvel and Scorsese fans. I'll probably be disappointed, but I can dream. -Liam Mathews
TBD on Paramount+
Showtime's adaptation of the sci-fi video game may have lost its showrunner (Awake's Kyle Killen left the project mid 2021) but it still has its star in Pablo Schreiber, who plays the Master Chief. There's a lot of pressure on Paramount+ to get this right, and Halo the TV show certainly has had enough delays to make us think that the work is being put in. The most recent Halo video game, Halo Infinite, also had big delays, but the wait proved to be worth it, as it's KILLTACULAR. Hopefully the same happens with the show.
TBD 2022 on HBO Max
Are we really doing this again? Yes we are. The Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon will fill us in on what happened with the Targaryens 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, so maybe it's the backstory we need to make sense of Seasons 7 and 8? Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, and Paddy Considine star.
TBD 2022 on Amazon Prime Video
Well, let's see what half a billion dollars for a TV budget gets you, shall we? Here's everything we know about the Lord of the Rings TV series.