One blog tradition I’ve followed is writing up a list of all the books I’ve read during the year. Well, friends, several things have occurred in the year 2022.
- I stopped keeping track of what I read.
- I started working a full-time job for the first time.
- I really didn’t read that much.
So, I’m doing something else this year. I’m going to share series I watched that I enjoyed instead! A story is a story, whether it’s printed on a page or played back on screen.
Biggest Obsession: Twin Peaks (Paramount+, Showtime)
I got into the epic David Lynch+Mark Frost saga Twin Peaks this year. Seasons 1 and 2 were released in the early 1990s. The show was subsequently cancelled. Lynch wanted to do a trilogy of prequel films, but after he released the first one, Fire Walk With Me, the next two films were canned. Then, in 2017, Lynch released a third season via Showtime. I was able to track down and watch each of these pieces.
This is the most compelling, bizarre, fascinating, artistic foray into the genre of storytelling through film I’ve seen. Lynch is known for surrealism, and while the first season is tamer in this regard, he really lets loose as the series progresses.
Twin Peaks invented the small-town-murdered-beauty-queen-FBI-procedural television genre. But where modern shows tend to focus in a grotesque way on the dead girl, Lynch is able to empower his murdered beauty queen while exploring vast swathes of time and space and consciousness. The series is about so much more than what happened to Laura Palmer.
Twin Peaks is unpredictable, hilarious, crushing, inspiring. If you haven’t tried it, give it a watch! It’s guaranteed to blow your mind.
Biggest Disappointment: First Kill (Netflix)
This was supposed to be the sapphic teen vampire romance we deserve, but friends, First Kill was VERY NOT IT. It had potential as a concept, but was bogged down with clunky Romeo and Juliet tropes, strange and inconsistent worldbuilding, and wooden acting from the supporting cast. And then there’s the heat level: very sexy, but, like, aren’t these girls supposed to be minors? Am I, an adult viewer, supposed to be into that? Feels very, eh, um, weird.
After the first few episodes, I resolved to hate-watch the entire season out of spite. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that it was cancelled so I didn’t have to suffer through a second season.
Cancelled Too Soon: I Am Not Okay With This (Netflix)
If you’re looking for that high school sapphic supernatural romance, check out I Am Not Okay With This instead!
This dark, quirky, high school show follows a teen girl as she reels in the wake of her father’s death, discovers her emerging telekinetic powers, and realizes she might be in love with her best friend. Which one of these things is the biggest issue is unclear. Very funny, wry sarcasm and dark humor, very relatable teen angst that never goes over the top. This show is well acted, tightly scripted, and packs an emotional punch.
There is only one season, which might be the biggest tragedy of all time. It deserved a better ending than the skyscraper-tall cliffhanger it got.
Favorite Reality Show: RuPaul’s Drag Race (Hulu, Paramount+)
I know, I am super late to this party, but I can’t get enough!
Drag Race captures and packages for your entertainment the culture of drag. This includes intense drama (grab the popcorn, sis), betrayals, feuds, runway revelations of trauma, sisterhood, and found family. The intensity of the competition tends to reveal contestants’ insecurities, and puts a spotlight on the suffering and triumphs of the queer community in the larger world.
But there’s something more. Past the comfortably formulaic episodes (which read America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway for filth), the cheesy Boomer humor (RuPaul is gonna RuPaul, can I get an amen up in here), on the other side of the stunning transformations, artistry, and fashion (which are really unparalleled in any other television show to date)…
Over the many many seasons of Drag Race, there is a consistent emphasis on loving and fighting for yourself. The message is: everyone has value, something to say, and a place in the world. It is oddly, under-the-table, inspirational.
Through the lights, the glitz, the choreography, the lip syncs, the magic of drag whispers, Be transformed, from the outside in. Create yourself, then be yourself. We’re all born naked, and the rest is drag.
Best New Show RUNNER UP: 1899 (Netflix)
From the creators of the Netflix German-language sci-fi drama Dark (which I am obsessed with and you should totally watch) comes a brand new series…
A ship sets sail to America in the year 1899. On board is an internationally diverse group of people, all with their own reasons for starting a new life in the “New World.” Everything starts getting weird when they come upon a ghost ship, one that has been missing at sea for months, and the captain decides to investigate.
This is the only show that could give Twin Peaks a run for its money in terms of unpredictability and twists. I’m hoping for a season 2 announcement soon…!
Best New Show WINNER: Our Flag Means Death (HBOMax)
Ah, the gay pirate show… Our Flag Means Death (OFMD) is the hilarious, heartfelt, insistently historically inaccurate pirate romantic comedy that has the queer community setting themselves on fire with the intensity of their devotion.
This is the kind of show that resets the cultural zeitgeist, a show that will mark time periods Before and After.
The pilot episode is reminiscent of Monty Python, The Office, with “kind comedy with heart” notes of Schitt’s Creek. And it just gets better from there.
Join Stede Bonnet, a wealthy landowner unsatisfied with his life who buys a pirate ship, hires a crew, and sets out to be a pirate captain. His crew is of the extreme motley sort, and Stede’s leadership style is not what they’re used to–democratic, empathetic, trauma-informed, with the quotable refrain, “We talk it through, as a crew.” Needless to say, misadventure follows.
It’s when Rhys Darby’s Stede connects with Taika Waititi’s Blackbeard, though, that the show really, um, heats up. To be clear: Taika, as a leather-clad, biker-inspired Blackbeard with long flowing hair.
Yeah. You read that right. I honestly don’t know why you aren’t hitting play already.
OFMD fans upended the internet, watching the show over and over. I have seen it at least four times. Many LGBTQ+ viewers of color saw themselves represented on television for the first time in a positive way. Because of this show, I saw so many emotional breakthroughs, in myself and in others, so many people feeling empowered in their identities, and making new friends through the show. It really emphasized how POWERFUL media representation is.
OFMD was snubbed in the awards season, which is ridiculous, given how hilarious, wonderfully acted, and brilliantly written and edited it is. And how it moved heaven and earth for fans, who promoted it themselves by word of mouth with two words: gay pirates.
HBO did essentially no marketing for this runaway hit and has created no merch. Fans are doing it all. HBO did announce a second season, practically held at gunpoint by fans, who had organized a myriad of Twitter events that got OFMD trending, and even sent handwritten postcards en masse to the HBO headquarters, requesting the series be renewed.
There are two more seasons expected from creator David Jenkins. Filming for season 2 has already begun on location in New Zealand.
Favorite Comedy: What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu/FX)
Irreverent old-world vampires living in the shadows of modern-day Staten Island, NY… What could go wrong?
Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement created the movie of the same name that the American show is based on. The vibes between the two are much the same: mockumentary comedy about the dealings of a group of vampires who have set up as roommates that refuses to take itself anything but ridiculously.
The lightning in the bottle with this show is the juxtapositioning of the trope-heavy, dramatic, ancient, secretive vampire material with modern-day culture, like bar hopping or local city council meetings or reality renovation television programming. There is nothing funnier than seeing immortal beings outmaneuvered by animal rescue employees, or attending a Super Bowl party thinking they’re going to meet a mythological creature called The Superb Owl.
The fourth season of What We Do in the Shadows came out in 2022, and it has been renewed for two subsequent seasons.
The Long Listed
I enjoyed these series too, but this post can only be so long…!
- The Bear (Hulu)
- Bridgerton (Netflix)
- The Dropout (Hulu)
- Extraordinary Attorney Wu (Netflix)
- The Great (Hulu)
- Inventing Anna (Netflix)
- Love on the Spectrum (Netflix)
- Midnight Mass (Netflix)
- The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)