'Andor'! 'Shadows'! 'Harley Quinn'! It's not a Top Ten list, but here are a bunch of my favorite TV shows and movies from 2022

I watched a lot of TV this year (and saw a few movies). Thankfully there was a lot of great stuff to watch. PLUS: My thoughts on 'Glass Onion' and 'Top Gun: Maverick.'

'Andor'! 'Shadows'! 'Harley Quinn'! It's not a Top Ten list, but here are a bunch of my favorite TV shows and movies from 2022
Morfydd Clark, Harley Quinn, Diego Luna, Edward Norton, Tatiana Maslany and Taika Waititi. / Popculturology illustration/Amazon Studios, HBO Max, Lucasfilm, Netflix, Marvel Studios

There’s a theory that the older you get, each year seems to move faster, as they’re a progressively tinier fraction of your life. That’s never seemed truer for me than with 2022. We brought our daughter home from the hospital on New Year’s Day, and now we somehow have a one-year-old who’s on the verge of walking and will do fun things like making a fart sound when asked “what sound does a bear’s butt make?” or watch Godzilla clips me. (Guys, I am nailing the parenting thing.)

The past two months of Popculturology have flown by too. It’s been a blast writing about pop culture again, and seeing an email about a new subscriber or talking to a friend who enjoys the newsletter never gets old. Hopefully you’ve all enjoyed reading Popculturology. As always, I’d much appreciate it if you shared the newsletter with a friend or subscribed if you haven’t yet.

Before we wrap up 2022, I wanted to share some of my favorite TV shows and movies from the past year. This list is missing obvious fan favorites like White Lotus (not done yet), Atlanta (I’m a season behind) and Better Call Saul (we have everything but the first season to watch). When I compiled this list, I originally thought of doing something cute like “22 shows and movies from 2022,” but that would’ve meant cutting out a few I really liked.

Maybe you’ll see a show or movie on this list that you haven’t watched yet. Maybe there’s something I missed and you’ll let me know.

Popculturology will be off the next edition, so I’ll talk to you all again on Jan. 5.

Abbott Elementary

We were late to this one, binge-watching the entire first season and getting caught up to the in-progress second season a few months ago. It’s impressive to find a network sitcom these days that actually deserves to be in a conversation like this. Quinta Brunson and the rest of the Abbott Elementary cast and crew have found a way to pull that off.

Where to watch: ABC

Genevieve O’Reilly in Andor. / Lucasfilm


What can I say about Andor that hasn’t already been said? Best Star Wars show. One of the best Star Wars projects. One of the best shows on TV right now. I have no idea how Tony Gilroy got this past Lucasfilm and Disney. Hopefully the lesson they take from Andor isn’t that every future Star Wars project needs to be Andor — they just need to be run by empowered creatives who understand that Star Wars canon has this kind of potential. Less “Somehow, Palpatine returned” moments and more “I burn my life to make a sunrise I know I'll never see” moments.

Where to watch: Disney+


Bill Hader continues to do it all with Barry, including directing a thrilling motorcycle chase in this season’s sixth episode. And where does Barry go after that third-season finale?

Where to watch: HBO Max

The Batman

I laugh to myself every time I see The Batman toys at Target. We’re a long way from Batman Forever and Batman & Robin existing solely to crank out Batman action figures with different costumes for kids to buy. But I really liked Matt ReevesThe Batman, especially Michael Giacchino’s score and the film’s love of Nirvana.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri in The Bear. / FX

The Bear

I worked a lot of jobs during high school and college (even spending a summer in a warehouse putting away just about any animal you’d dissect in science class), but I never worked in food. From what I understand, The Bear is triggering for people who have spent time in a kitchen, making it probably the purest depiction of that world. The Bear’s second-season renewal was a surprise, but I can’t wait to see Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri return.

Where to watch: Hulu

Better Things

I actually started watching Better Things when it first aired, back when it was still under the Louis CK banner. For whatever reason, I dropped off. I was lucky enough to pick this one back up last year when Caitlin and I were looking for a new show to watch. The stink of Louis CK is long gone, and Pamela Adlon delivered a touching and memorable series finale in 2022.

Where to watch: Hulu

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a cathartic movie. For the characters in the film. For the people making the film. For the people watching the film. Ryan Coogler told a story about processing grief while still bringing amazing new characters and actors into the Marvel Cinematic Universe like Tenoch Huerta as Namor.

Where to watch: In theaters


Give us more Bluey, Disney+. We know you have more episodes. Australia can’t keep a secret.

Where to watch: Disney+

Elizabeth Olsen in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. / Marvel Studios

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is on this list solely due to Elizabeth Olsen. We can question the motives of Wanda Maximoff in this movie, but Olsen destroyed every scene she was in. (“Is their mother still alive?) This can’t be the last time we see her as the Scarlet Witch.

Where to watch: Disney+

The Dropout

I had read Bad Blood, the book about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos (but not the property that The Dropout is based on), so I was familiar with the beats of this show before watching it. Amanda Seyfried is so good as Holmes, though, it didn’t matter than I already knew her story. This was one of the best performances of the year, and so good that Jennifer Lawrence decided there wasn’t a point in playing Holmes in a movie as she had originally planned.

Where to watch: Hulu

Everything Everywhere All at Once

There wasn’t another film like Everything Everywhere All at Once in 2022. Maybe not ever. While Multiverse of Madness told a Marvel-sized story about the multiverse, Everything Everywhere All at Once used the multiverse to examine a single broken family. I loved Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in this movie.

Where to watch: Showtime (and digital rentals)

Joel Kinnaman and Casey W. Johnson in For All Mankind. / Apple TV+

For All Mankind

The third season of For All Mankind didn’t live up to the finale of the second season, but I still looked forward to this show every week. Its optimism about the potential of humanity through space exploration just gets me. The show needs to drop Gordon and Tracy’s sons. Absolute story duds.

Where to watch: Apple TV+

Glass Onion

My full thoughts on Glass Onion are below in The Playlist section, but I loved Rian Johnson’s sequel to Knives Out. The man is an oracle, somehow writing a film at least a year before the current Elon Musk moment.

Where to watch: Netflix

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Of course James Gunn can write and direct a new Christmas classic here. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special works on every level, right down to “I Don't Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here).”

Where to watch: Disney+

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in Harley Quinn. / HBO Max

Harley Quinn

We must protect Harley Quinn at all costs from Warner Bros. Discovery. This show is too good and has too much heart to be in the hands of HBO Max’s cost-cutting regime. The show’s third season gave us “Batman Begins Forever,” one of the best Batman stories told.

Where to watch: HBO Max

House of the Dragon

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Game of Thrones prequel. The show played the traumatic childbirth card over and over and over again, often ending episodes with behind-the-scenes clips of men talking about how childbirth is the battlefield for women. If you could skip over those parts, House of the Dragon gave fans of this world dragon-on-dragon action that Game of Thrones was only able to hint at.

Where to watch: HBO Max

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

I spent last week’s edition of Popculturology raving about The Rings of Power. I love returning to this world.

Where to watch: Prime Video

Iman Vellani in Ms. Marvel. / Marvel Studios

Ms. Marvel

Iman Vellani is Ms. Marvel. Like Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Marvel Studios struck gold when they discovered Vellani. My favorite part of this show was that it was a show about a family with superhero elements as its secondary element. I can’t wait to see Kamala Khan return in The Marvels.

Where to watch: Disney+


The premise behind Murderville is simple: Will Arnett plays a detective. A guest star plays his partner. The guest star is truly in the dark in terms of the plot of the episode and is improvising the entire time. The Conan O’Brien episode had some of my favorite moments from TV this year.

Where to watch: Netflix

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Cheating a bit on this one, since I only want to highlight the final duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. Star Wars Rebels already gave us Ahsoka slashing through Vader’s helmet and revealing the lost face of Anakin Skywalker, but the moment hit differently in live action with Hayden Christensen behind the mask. “I am not your failure, Obi-Wan,” is such a crushing line.

Where to watch: Disney+

Taika Waititi and Rhys Darby in Our Flag Means Death. / HBO Max

Our Flag Means Death

When Our Flag Means Death was first announced, I assumed it was going to be a goofy pirate show starring Taika Waititi. It was so much more than that. Turned out Waititi had a heartfelt story to tell about sexual and gender identity, wrapping it up in a goofy pirate show.

Where to watch: HBO Max


John Cena was born to play Peacemaker. Gunn was born to tick off toxic fandoms. And Eagly? Well, Eagly was born to give hugs and be your new favorite characters. I dare anyone to skip the opening credits sequence while watching Peacemaker.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Reservation Dogs

By far one of the most creative shows on TV, Reservation Dogs has unfortunately gotten stuck in the grey zone of being an FX show that doesn’t actually air on FX. (When does it air? How many episodes does it air each week?) If you haven’t watched this show yet, fire up your Hulu subscription and binge through its eighteen episodes.

Where to watch: Hulu


We were late to Severance. I had seen the trailers but we often found ourselves watching YouTube or It’s Always Sunny repeats instead of jumping into a new show. (It happens at the end of a day of work and seeing to the demands of a tiny human being.) Once we got into the second episode, the show fully clicked for us, and then it was just a question of whether we should squeeze in another episode before going to bed.

Where to watch: Apple TV+

Tatiana Maslany in She-Hulk. / Marvel Studios


I loved She-Hulk. Tatiana Maslany is perfectly cast. We got Charlie Cox as Daredevil again. The CGI might have been shaky at times, but this is the first time we’ve gotten an MCU show where several main and supporting characters are mocap. The She-Hulk season finale was unlike anything we’ve seen from the MCU, pulling back the curtain and introducing us to the brain behind it all.

Where to watch: Disney+

Station Eleven

I haven’t read Emily St. John Mandel’s book (my wife actually did just as the pandemic was beginning), but I thought Station Eleven was a great, if not unsettling, watch. Shows like The Walking Dead have also calibrated my brain to expect a story like these to lead something like zombies too.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Stranger Things

The penultimate season of Stranger Things impressed me in its ability to retcon its own mythology in a way that appeared seamless. Jamie Campbell Bower gave the series the kind of villain it had been missing, with Vecna being more than just an unthinking force of violence.

Where to watch: Netflix

Ahsoka Tano in Tales of the Jedi. / Lucasfilm

Tales of the Jedi

I hope Lucasfilm makes more of these vignette series. Stories like Count Dooku’s fall to the Dark Side and Ahsoka’s missing gaps don’t always have a clear place in a full TV show or a movie, but they can effectively be told through these shorts.

Where to watch: Disney+

Top Gun: Maverick

You know a movie is good when it stars Tom Cruise and my wife enjoys it anyways. I missed Top Gun: Maverick in theaters but caught it when it made its Paramount+ debut. (A few more of my thought on this one can be found in The Playlist section below.)

Where to watch: Paramount+

Turning Red

Disney needs to figure out what it’s doing wrong with the release and marketing of its Pixar films. While Lightyear had some major issues, Turning Red was delightful. Domee Shi’s directorial debut went straight to Disney+ in the United States, further conditioning viewers that Pixar films aren’t theatrical releases. I would have loved to have seen Turning Red’s kaiju-inspired finale on a big screen.

Where to watch: Disney+

Werewolf By Night

The Special Presentation format is one of the best things to happen to the MCU. Werewolf By Night was the first story to make use of this format, with composer-turned-director Giacchino bringing Jack Russell, Elsa Bloodstone and Man-Thing into the universe in under an hour.

Where to watch: Disney+

Natasha Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Matt Berry, Randy Sklar and Kayvan Novak in What We Do in the Shadows. / FX

What We Do in the Shadows

Was there a better episode of television in 2022 than “Go Flip Yourself?” The Property Brothers spoof was a high point in a season of high points for What We Do in the Shadows. This show is clicking on every level. I understand that they can’t give Matt Berry and Natasha Demetriou all the Emmys, but, c’mon, throw a few their way.

Where to watch: Hulu

Winning Time

There was a point this year when our daughter was only contact napping, so we found ourselves scouring the streaming channels for new things to watch. I started Winning Time after it had already aired its first season, which made it easily bingeable. I wasn’t familiar with the full drama of the Jerry Buss Lakers, which led to repeated trips to Wikipedia to see what was real and what wasn’t.

Happy Thursday, and thanks for reading Popculturology. I love writing about pop culture, and I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. If you do, please subscribe. It’s the easiest way to make sure you get every edition of Popculturology. Tapping the ♥️ at the bottom of each post also helps the newsletter. Now let’s get to the news.

The News
Ana de Armas in a deleted scene from Yesterday. / Universal Pictures

Turns out you can sue if a trailer promises Ana de Armas in a movie and doesn’t deliver

Ever feel disappointed that a movie wasn’t what you were expecting based on its trailers? Turns out you’re allowed to sue the studio, a judge ruled last week. From Variety:

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson issued a ruling in a case involving Yesterday, the 2019 film about a world without the Beatles.

Two Ana de Armas fans filed a lawsuit in January, alleging that they had rented the movie after seeing de Armas in the trailer, only to discover that she was cut out of the final film.

Yikes, this is a slippery slope. Where’s the line on when people can sue a studio? In the case of Yesterday, de Armas was legit cut from the film. This isn’t even a Marvel Cinematic Universe situation where Marvel Studios removes characters from certain scenes or creating full scenes that aren’t even in the movie.

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984. / Warner Bros.

Gal Gadot returning to Fast and Furious

While the bonds that unite the DCEU are strained at the moment, Gal Gadot is returning to the ultimate family: The Fast and Furious franchise. The Direct reports that the Wonder Woman actress will be back for Fast X, the tenth film in the saga.

Gadot was last officially seen in Fast & Furious 6, while appearing in a deleted scene for Furious 7.

Netflix to crack down on password sharing

If you’ve been watching Netflix with someone else’s password, that era is about to come to an end. It turns out it’s hard to keep making money when you don’t require everyone using your service to pay for it.

“It’s a stark turnaround for a company that once tweeted, ‘Love is sharing a password,’” The Wall Street Journal writes. “The effort is part of Netflix’s answer to slowing growth, especially in the U.S. market.”

WSJ reports that Netflix has been doing trial runs of a new way to have subscribers pay to share an account.

While Netflix hasn’t announced its plans for the U.S., it has been running tests in Latin American countries, one of the regions where password sharing is most prevalent. In those tests, Netflix lets subscribers pay to share accounts with up to two people outside of their homes.

Rather than blocking password borrowers from accessing someone else’s account, Netflix prompts them to enter a verification code for their device. The code is sent to the primary account owner, and must be entered within 15 minutes.

The password borrower can watch Netflix after entering the code, but might keep getting prompts until the account owner pays an additional monthly fee to add a sharer, according to people familiar with the tests. Netflix is weighing similar plans for the U.S., the people said.

I do wonder if it’s too late for Netflix to make this change. This might be a similar situation to news website paywalls being instituted years and years after people became accustomed to getting news for free.

Ezra Miller in The Flash. / Warner Bros.

The Flash faces off against the Superb Owl, er, Super Bowl

Marketing a film that takes place in a cinematic universe in flux and starring a person accused of a slew of alleged crimes isn’t an easy task, but Warner Bros. Discovery is going to give it their best try. TheWrap reports that WBD will end a 17-year absence from the Super Bowl with a trailer for The Flash.

Super Bowl LVII will take place on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. The buzz on the film is so good that five days later, the superhero film will have its trailer pegged in front of Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania which opens in theaters on Feb. 17, 2023.

Super weird to read about this movie testing positively and Ezra Miller sorting *waves arms* everything out with a nice chat with Warner Bros. executives.

Wanna send me your comments, questions or recommendations? Write to Popculturology at popculturology@gmail.com, and I might run your mail in a future edition of the newsletter.

Trailer Watch

That ’90s Show

I’m very curious to see how heavily That ’90s Show features members of the original That ’70s Show cast. I can’t imagine Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis need to focus on *checks notes* working on their show about NFT cats? I think I have something mixed up on that one …

That ’90s Show premieres on Jan. 19, 2023.

Edward Norton, Madelyn Colin, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monáe and Daniel Craig in Glass Onion. / Netflix

Glass Onion

Rian Johnson wrote and directed the perfect film for 2022. I don’t know how he pulled this off, somehow writing a movie during lockdown about the emptiness of the billionaires that claim they are going to save the world and dropping it (in theaters for a week and then) on Netflix as the billionaire genius who owns Twitter reveals on a daily basis how false the mythology around him really is.

Glass Onion is a bigger story than Knives Out. While the first film in the Benoit Blanc saga had Ana de Armas as the perfect audience surrogate, Glass Onion tells a story on a private island full of technocrats, celebrities and politicians.

Johnson also created, what’s in my memory, the best film that takes place during the pandemic. There are mentions of working from home, characters wearing masks in various degrees of correctness (or not at all) and the awkwardness of doing the math whether you could hug someone. (Knives Out was weirdly the last film I saw in theaters before the pandemic.)

“It's a dangerous thing to mistake speaking without thought with speaking the truth,” is a killer line. Between Knives Out and Glass Onion, Johnson is making it very clear where he stands on matters of wealth and class. (He did the same with Canto Bight in Star Wars: The Last Jedi …)

Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc’s absolute undressing of Edward Norton’s Miles Bron instantly became one of my favorite moments in a movie.

The weirdest part of my Glass Onion viewing had nothing to do with the movie itself, but was instead how difficult it was to find the film on Netflix. We watched it the Friday it released on the streamer, and the movie was nowhere to be found on the landing page. I scrolled, I looped through the various categories — nothing. I had to search for Glass Onion to pull it up. A major film hits Disney+ or HBO Max, and it’s plastered in the biggest way possible on the landing page.

Tom Cruise, Miles Teller and Monica Barbara in Top Gun: Maverick. / Paramount Pictures

Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick might be the ultimate legacy sequel. It’s a miracle this movie is as good as it is. What easily could’ve been a direct-to-DVD sequel years ago is instead the fifth highest grossing film at the domestic box office and a Best Picture contender.

It’s a silly movie, but Top Gun: Maverick takes itself just the right amount of seriously. The chatter between the pilots doesn’t get stale, nor does Maverick’s insistence that being a fighter pilot isn’t what he does, it’s who he is.

“Stupid Tom Cruise movie,” Caitlin said as she fought back tears during a scene between Maverick and Miles Teller’s Rooster. That’s the highest praise.

One of Top Gun: Maverick’s most impressive tricks is never naming what country the Top Gun pilots are striking. The pilots from that country wear fully tinted helmets. Whatever country makes you want to buy a ticket to this movie, I guess.

Can we let Joseph Kosinski make his Tron: Legacy sequel now that he has a film that grossed almost $1.5 billion worldwide on his résumé?

White Lotus

We’re through the first three episodes of the new season of White Lotus. This show is so easy to quickly become obsessed with. The revamped theme song. The sprawling cast. Jennifer Coolidge in a world of her own.

We had to take a break while we went out of town for Christmas, but we’ll definitely jump back in once we’re home. I love seeing Christopher, um, Michael Imperioli finally get a shot at being a Hollywood player after it didn’t work out so well on The Sopranos.

Box Office Report
A scene from Avatar: The Way of Water. / 20th Century Studios

Weekend of Dec. 23-25, 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water (1)
Weekend gross: $64M / Total domestic gross: $261.7M / Percent drop: -52

Avatar: The Way of Water remains ahead of its predecessor’s box office numbers through two weekends, grossing a domestic total of $261.7 million compared to Avatar’s $212.7 million. The first Avatar’s massive staying power has already kicked it, though, with the sequel’s second-weekend haul falling behind the $75.6 million Avatar brought in over its second weekend.

  1. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (N)
    Weekend gross: $12.4M / Total domestic gross: $18.5M / Percent drop: -NA
  2. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (N)
    Weekend gross: $4.8M / Total domestic gross: $4.8M / Percent drop: -NA
  3. Babylon (N)
    Weekend gross: $3.6M / Total domestic gross: $3.6M / Percent drop: -NA
  4. Violent Night (3)
    Weekend gross: $3.5M / Total domestic gross: $42M / Percent drop: -30

The Links

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Odds and Ends

Behind the Sketch: ‘A Christmas Carol’

We don’t fully appreciate the work Saturday Night Live’s crew does week to week. We always talk about how the cast and writers spend long nights crafting sketches, but when they’re done, those scripts have to be turned into actual sketches. Sets have to be built. Special effects need to be designed and rendered.

Seeing the work that went into making “A Christmas Carol” a reality during the Steve Martin/Martin Short episode is great reminder of all that work.

Rian Johnson breaks down a Glass Onion scene

Loved Glass Onion and want to know more about it? Johnson broke down a scene for Vanity Fair, talking through the moment when the main characters arrive to take a boat to Bron’s island.

Johnson also reveled that he hates that the film’s full title is Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

“Honestly, I’m pissed off that we A Knives Out Mystery in the title,” he told The Atlantic. “I want it to just be called Glass Onion. I get it, and I want everyone who liked the first movie to know this is next in the series, but also, the whole appeal to me is it’s a new novel off the shelf every time. But there’s a gravity of a thousand suns toward serialized storytelling.”

The Atlantic’s full interview with Johnson is fascinating, with the director addressing whether the film is about Musk (“The very American, natural instinct to mistake wealth for wisdom and competency.”) and whether the film is angrier than Knives Out (“The whole movie, for me, is a bit of a primal scream against the carnival-like idiocy of the past six years.”).

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