The Best Episodes of TV We Watched in 2022

The Best Episodes of TV We Watched in 2022

From the The Bear to Abbott Elementary to Yellowjackets, it was quite a bingeworthy year in television. Let's discuss the highlights.

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Television wasn’t quite the main character this year that it was in 2020 or 2021—but 2022 still gave us plenty of reason to (choose to) stay in on a weekend and binge an entire season of an experimental docu-comedy series. Or an international spy thriller. Or a British teen sitcom. As long as it took your mind off being a woman in the U.S. in 2022, it was worth bingeing.

But the Jezebel staff is taking our television recommendations a step further: These aren’t merely the best shows we watched this year; they’re the best episodes of the best TV shows we watched this year. We’re two days into the laziest, bingeiest, most throwaway week of the year—which means you have more than enough time to get through at least two books, half of this list, and about 24 pounds of leftovers. Enjoy goes without saying.

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The Rehearsal

The Rehearsal

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Photo: HBO

The Rehearsal Episode 2, “Scion”: This is the one with Robbin, the world’s worst numerology-crazed roommate. While I found the whole season of Nathan Fielder’s HBO show captivating, this second episode when Fielder introduces Angela’s motherhood project highlighted how skilled he is at showcasing fascinating people. I’m not in the “Fielder is exploiting people” camp; I think that viewpoint underestimates how much agency these people have and how willing they are to have their lives documented. Anyway, I haven’t been able to look at a Scion TC the same way since it aired. —Kady Ruth Ashcraft

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Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

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Photo: Netflix

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story Episode 6, “Silenced”: As controversial as it was popular, Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series about Dahmer seemingly got under everyone’s skin. But unpleasant and poor quality are not the same thing—if this long-form portrait of a cannibal serial killer weren’t brutal, it’d be doing everyone, as well as its source material, a disservice. Evan Peters’ Dahmer spent a lot of time on the periphery of the show’s sixth episode, which focused on his victim, Tony Hughes, who was deaf, and whose sudden absence naturally devastated his loving family. Hughes’ mother Shirley, depicted on the show by Karen Malina White, decried the series. That she wouldn’t want to relive the pain is understandable, as the episode made clear that Tony’s death was a staggering loss. The sort of victim focus and compassion seen in this episode is increasingly common but still too rare in horror—with this episode, Dahmer tore out its viewers’ hearts and ate them. —Rich Juzwiak

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The Boys

The Boys

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Photo: Amazon Prime

The Boys Episode 8, “The Instant White-Hot Wild”: This heavily slept-on Amazon Prime series poses the question, “What if superheroes were a cross between politicians, the military, and cops?” The entire third season brought back the cutting genius, relentlessly dark humor, and gratuitous gore of its first season with Black Noir’s animated imaginary friends and gruesome death, Vought’s neurotic CEO Ashley Barrett played brilliantly by Colby Minifie, and The Deep’s attempt to add a third to his relationship (the third being an octopus). But the finale stole the entire season in its final five minutes.

With the knowledge that much of Homelander’s villainous outbursts are just magnified Daddy issues, Homelander touches down at a Make America Safe Again rally—a movement he serves as the figurehead for and a not-so-subtle play on MAGA men. After a counter-protester calls him a fascist, the Supe murders him in the middle of the crowd, splaying the man’s blood on Homelander’s followers. In a now meme-famous moment, Homelander’s face shifts from horror and regret to one of shocked smugness, as he realizes that the crowd only adores him more for murdering one of the people they hate most. It’s difficult to pull off satire about a political party of incels that is very much still at play without triggering half your audience, but The Boys continues to skewer our country’s political circus with appropriate horror and bite. —Emily Leibert

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The Bear

The Bear

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Photo: FX

The Bear Episode 7, “Review”: It starts with a love song to Chicago—soft Sufjan Stevens over vignettes of the city and its winter morning commuters—and you feel that you might deeply miss a city you never lived in. Then, in the Beef’s kitchen before opening, trouble brews, tension rises, and tempers sour. The love song has been replaced by a warlike guitar riff over a helter-skelter drum beat. Disaster after disaster strikes. There are so many spiteful “fucks” thrown around you feel like you ought to duck and cover. Carmy—played by a man whom some refer to as “the working man’s Timothée Chalamet”—sweats through his perfect white tee, veins bursting out of his reddened neck. People get fucking mean. Richie gets fucking stabbed. You are so goddamn anxious and it just keeps coming—the camera ruthlessly panning from disaster to disaster, the guitar screeching bloody murder. And then, all of the sudden, it’s done. You’re set free. There’s no spiritual comedown, just a limp sort of relief that you, unlike all these characters you’ve a little bit fallen in love with, can leave the kitchen. The Bear consumed me. Its chaos is orchestral, and “Review” is the finest piece of that chaos I’ve ever heard. —Sarah Rense

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Abbott Elementary

Abbott Elementary

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Photo: ABC

Abbott Elementary Season 1, Episode 8, “Work Family”: Who doesn’t adore a feel-good sitcom with a touch of office romance? The eighth episode of the first season was a special one for me, not just because I find the conversation around what distinguishes a “work” friend from a “regular” friend intriguing, but also because mentally, I am 12 years old and love some good old absurdist comedy poking fun at society’s collective punching bag: aspiring rappers.

In this episode, Janine’s sweet but rather lame boyfriend-slash-aspiring-rapper comes to the school to perform an anti-drug concert for the elementary schoolers, with songs featuring such lyrics as, “I’m a sober guy, I don’t get high / If you take drugs, then you might die, LET’S GO,” and “If you smoke and drink, don’t come next to me / Cause I’m high on life, don’t take no LSD,” and “Drinkin’ water not taking hits / Ecstasy gives you swollen lips / If someone try to give you drugs punch em in the face!” Look, this year had its ups and downs for me, and after a long day of work, I just wanted to laugh. That’s the only explanation I have, really, for why a 22-minute TV episode in which an adult man raps about saying no to drugs to small children, self-censoring cuss words (“I’m bleeping your girl on a jet ski, bleep bleep bleep”), was my favorite episode of 2022. At the end of the day, laughter really is the best drug. —Kylie Cheung

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Tehran

Tehran

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Photo: Apple TV+

Tehran Season 2, Episode 1, “13,000": Since the season 2 finale, I’ve been Googling “Did Tehran get renewed for season 3?” at least once a day. This Apple TV+ series about Tamar Rabinyan, an Iranian-Jewish computer hacker who returns to her birth city (you guessed it: Tehran!) to work undercover as a Mossad agent, has flown criminally under the radar. But the Season 2 premiere is the most action-packed, heartbreaking, edge-of-your-seat 54 minutes of the entire series. Tamar and her maybe-probably-boyfriend (espionage gets complicated) who’s possibly just trauma bonded to her after all the shit they went through in Season 1, are on the brink of escaping to Canada—where they can live a peaceful life free of hacking and spying. Obviously, that doesn’t happen. The episode also includes the introduction of Glenn Close’s character (!), the hacking of the city’s power grid that leads to the potentially fatal prisoner extraction mission that nearly sent me into a full-blown panic attack, and a heartbreaking ending, the image of which has haunted me since. This show is number one on my recommendations list, but this episode is the one I reference when I explain to people why they’re badly missing out.—Lauren Tousignant

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Station Eleven

Station Eleven

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Photo: Ian Watson/HBO Max

Station Eleven Episode 10, “Unbroken Circle”: I made the mistake of reading Station Eleven, the novel about a traveling Shakespeare troupe 20 years after a pandemic wiped out most of humanity, in late March 2020. Then I began watching the HBO limited series based on the novel when it started streaming in December 2021, as omicron was sweeping the country and people were panic-tweeting, “This feels like March 2020 all over again.” But I came back to the show as it was wrapping up earlier this year, and I’m so glad I did; it’s easily one of the best television series I’ve ever watched. After nine episodes that dip in and out of various stories unspooling over the previous two decades, the finale (which aired on January 13 this year, thus just qualifying for this roundup) ties every loose thread together with a deep pathos—and a shocking amount of hope for a show that does not sugarcoat the inevitable horrors of a quasi-apocalypse. One of my favorite things about this series is its focus on love that is not necessarily based around the nuclear family: As survivors rebuild a version of society, most family bonds no longer exist, and the tasks of raising children and supporting the sick and elderly become communal experiences. Despite its darkness, there is so much light and love in the “after,” and this particular episode really highlights that. And for those who read the book but were skeptical of the series: There are some major tweaks to a few plot points, and it ended up being—at least to me—the rare instance where the TV adaptation might even be better than the book. —Nora Biette-Timmons

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The Dropout

The Dropout

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Photo: Beth Dubber/ HULU

The Dropout Episode 2, “Satori”: There are so many scenes that stick out when I think about the limited Hulu series about Elizabeth Holmes, the medical engineering con and girl boss. There’s the scene where a young Holmes chases a Stanford professor and begs her to take her ideas seriously. There’s the one where Holmes gets on a billionaire’s yacht to try and convince him to invest in Theranos, and ends up going batshit chanting, “I GET THE FUCKING MONEY!!!” There’s the deeply unsettling scene where Holmes rehearses her company’s phrases in a voice a full octave lower than her normal register in the hopes of getting male investors to trust and respect her. But nothing quite got me like the episode in which Holmes and her team are about to present a prototype of their machine—one that’s meant to run blood tests using just one drop of blood, hence revolutionizing modern medicine—to investors in Switzerland. No matter how hard they try, the machine simply won’t work.

That just doesn’t cut it for Holmes, who, in addition to possessing unchecked hubris, also doesn’t seem to have a drop of remorse in her body. Leading up to the presentation, Holmes runs a ruthless and seemingly never-ending trial session in her hotel room, wherein her workers are allowed to do little other than donate drops of their own blood to feed the machine until it finally works. Soon, the bed is covered in Kleenex tissues dotted with blood, everyone’s fingers pricked dry and slipping into borderline anemia. Miraculously, Holmes and her team do manage to fake the demo the next morning, but at what cost?

Yes, this episode drove home the fact that Holmes’ burgeoning monstrosity truly had no bounds, but it also harrowingly illuminated how much everyone else believed in the project, if not Holmes herself. My company can have my sweat and tears, but I draw the line at my literal blood. —Rodlyn-mae Banting

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Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets

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Photo: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME

It’s a three-way tie for me: the series premiere of Yellowjackets, the season finale of Severance, or the seventh episode of The Bear. Each one is duking it out for which elicited my most enthusiastic, “Holy shit!” But the images in Karyn Kusama-helmed Yellowjackets opener—from Melanie Lynskey masturbating in her teenage daughter’s bedroom to a faceless woman impaled by a wooden-spiked death trap—have haunted me since the first viewing. That the season remained as relentlessly jarring until the finale was the most satisfying shock of all. —Audra Heinrichs

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Derry Girls

Derry Girls

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Photo: Channel 4

Derry Girls Season 3, Episode 7, “The Agreement”: Derry Girls ended this year. It was a perfect three-season TV show that followed a group of friends living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1990s. Literally, every episode of the final season could be mentioned as the “Best Episode of TV We Watched This Year,” but the series finale might be the best. The girls must decide whether or not to vote for the Good Friday Agreement. Are they doomed to live among violence forever? Can we really change things? Derry Girls is the only show out there that really gets the awkward and fun parts of being a teenager right—even when you’re living through extraordinary times. —Caitlin Cruz

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