You’ve had your say, but now we’ve done the difficult job of selecting the best TV of 2022 according to us.

A League of Their Own, Channel 4’s Big Boys, Severance and Dead to Me are but a few that very nearly got a mention, but read on to see the Digital Spy TV team’s personal highlights.


By David Opie, Deputy TV Editor

I’ve talked a lot about Heartstopper this year, and specifically, how I wish there had been a show like this when I was growing up. I wrote a whole review around that idea, in fact. How a younger, closeted version of me struggled in the absence of stories like this, and how the person I am today was formed in large part by the pain and trauma of those years.

But what about the young queer people today who do get to grow up with stories like Heartstopper? One show alone can’t fix the world in a heartbeat, but for those fans, the ones who see their stories reflected in Alice Oseman’s world, this show means everything.

I know that in years to come, people will look back on their first time watching Heartstopper as a watershed moment in their lives, just like Queer As Folk was for my generation.

But this time around, it’s not just queer sex that’s being normalised. In Heartstopper, it’s a sweeter, innocent queerness that’s being affirmed, that puppy love queer children so rarely get to see on screen thanks to fear-mongering around the idea of ‘queering kids’.

I’m so happy that Heartstopper doesn’t just stop with cis, gay, male stories either. While my own personal experiences align with various aspects of both Nick and Charlie’s story, so many young fans watching have resonated with Elle’s transness, plus Tara and Darcy’s relationship too.

And it’s not just queer teenagers who are impacted by Heartstopper, or even queer people of any age for that matter. Heartstopper also speaks to the parents who wish they had handled their child’s coming out differently, like Nick’s mum did. Or the teachers who become inspired to work harder to ensure their students feel safe in their class like Charlie does with Mr Ajayi.

I’ll always wish that I had grown up with a show like Heartstopper, but more than anything, I’m just grateful that this show exists at all. And not just for myself, but for all the young queer people watching who will now grow up knowing that they’re not alone in their experiences, that their love matters.


By Laura Jane Turner, TV Editor

Every once in a while a show comes along that taps into something at your very core, moving you immeasurably and leaving you a different person than before.

For me, at the very start of 2022, that was Anne. ITV’s four-part drama told the story of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster; a crowd-crush which saw 97 football fans lose their lives at the stadium in Sheffield.

But at its very heart, Anne is the truly desperate story of a mother and her pain at losing her child. Maxine Peake took on the role of Anne Williams, whose teenage son was killed during the incident.

The camera didn’t shy away from the most painful and private family moments. Kevin Williams’ parents were forced to identify their own son’s body from a blurry polaroid in a makeshift victims’ room, still holding out hope that he had made it out alive. Peake’s raw and visceral howl still rings in my ears.

But far from feeling exploitative, Anne gave voice and renewed attention to those most affected by the Hillsborough tragedy. It pointed to the real horrors that the families of the victims had to face which, for too long, were drowned out by the tabloid press and the authorities who painted a false narrative of what happened that day.


By David Opie, Deputy TV Editor

There’s a scene in Pachinko’s fourth episode where Sunja’s mother begs a local merchant to sell her just one measly handful of white rice. It’s for her daughter, she admits through tears, a dowry that’s needed to help send Sunja away forever in hope of a better life.

Later, when Sunja arrives in Japan, the sight of this rice breaks her at the core of her being. Rice might not mean much to people watching back home, but for Sunja, this meagre meal represents everything her mother sacrificed to keep her safe. Each grain marks another loss for Sunja: her mother, her friends, her country, the only home she’s ever known.

Watching this scene broke me too in a way that no other show or film has this year, and I think it’s to do with this idea of losing everything all at once.

Grief, the bedfellow of loss, is felt so acutely throughout Pachinko and, while I will never understand what the Korean Zainichi women endured under the Japanese occupation, there’s something deeply universal about Sunja’s pain in this moment that just speaks to me and my fear of losing everything.

It’s not all pain and misery though. Soo Hugh’s moving saga weaves the past and present together in a mesmerising, almost dreamlike way, that speaks to the essence of family and memory and why these things are so precious. Pachinko is a challenging watch — no matter what that euphoric opening credits sequence might lead you to think — but it’s a vital one.

Paper Girls

By Janet A Leigh, TV Writer

The fact that Paper Girls will not be getting another season wounds me. It wounds me deeply.

Mac, Tiffany, KJ and Erin are forced into becoming fast friends when they accidentally time travel to the future and find themselves on The Old Watch’s hit list. For context, The Old Watch are a militant faction of time-travellers, who have outlawed time travel in order to preserve what they deem is the original timeline.

Spoiler: these girls have royally forked things up multiple times as their botched attempts to get home lands them in 1999, 2019 and even in the ’70s (I think they overshot the mark with that one).

It’s utterly fantastical and bonkers, but that’s the entertaining charm of it. That said, it is the girls and their blossoming friendship that is at the heart of the show. The very thing that urges you to push “watch next episode” as you route for their safe return home.

Despite the lunacy of it all, Paper Girls still manages to weave in important coming-of-age storylines in a way that is authentic and raw. First periods with less of the period-shame and a little more comedy and solidarity. The early exploration of sexual identities and illness as one of the fab four comes face-to face with her future mortality.

So much goodness packed into a female-led show with diverse races at the helm. I FREAKING LOVE IT.

Alas Paper Girls sits side-by-side with the likes of Raising Dion and Bastard Son in 2022’s wastepaper basket of shows axed and trashed in their prime. But that doesn’t mean you should give it a watch.

Rings of Power

By Laura Jane Turner, TV Editor

As Lord of the Rings fans go, I’m a big one. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had posters (and magazine cutouts) pressed to my walls with blu tack, Elven-branded stationary and that both Aragorn and Arwen held a very special place in my early teen heart. Only one of these still stands to be true, and I’ll leave you to decide which.

It was easier back then, in my younger and more naïve days, not to see that the fictional world that I loved didn’t seem to value its women all that much. Aside from that one line (and don’t get me wrong, it’s A Line) that pronounced a defiant Eowyn able to shatter the lore of the Witch-king, many of its female characters were defined by love interests and not afforded very much in the way of dialogue or autonomy.

Don’t get me wrong, the blockbuster trilogy still tops my personal list of movie favourites. But the Amazon series built upon that on-screen depiction of Middle Earth beautifully, and was able to go some way towards improving it.

Rings of Power placed one of Lord of the Rings’ original female characters front and centre, selecting her as the heroine. Sure, there were the usual naysayers – some decided to pull apart her attractiveness, others couldn’t quite get behind her abilities. I don’t recall anybody scoffing at Legolas’ potential to surf down the trunk of a moving Oliphaunt, but then nobody ever questions these things about male heroes.

The Amazon series also brought much-needed diversity in other areas, underlining what many already knew to be true: humans, elves, dwarves and the rest of Middle Earth does not need to be white (despite what Peter Jackson’s beloved films might have depicted).

The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself

By David Opie, Deputy TV Editor

More often than not, creators treat YA fantasy as mere escapism, or worse, something for kids that isn’t taken seriously. And unfortunately, Netflix tends to be the worst arbitrator of this, churning out basic genre hits with all the creativity of an algorithm bored to death by its own ideas.

So it was with great trepidation that I approached The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself. While that slightly clunky name had me intrigued, the story of a magic-using teenage boy and the prophecy that’s doomed him looked pretty generic on paper. But to underestimate showrunner Joe Barton is always a big mistake.

I’d struggle to give you just one reason why I named Bastard Son “the best YA fantasy Netflix has ever made” in my review, except that this show takes a near-hedonistic delight in risk-taking.

From the (extremely magnetic) unknown cast and lustful poly vibes to those vomit-inducing special effects — not to mention Gabriel’s leopard print jacket — Bastard Son undoes fantasy conventions like Annalise undoes anyone dumb enough to get in her way.

As someone who has to sit through a lot of bad fantasy shows, including many that somehow do get renewed, I took Bastard Son’s cancellation personally. Like many of you, I too am exhausted by the speed at which shows like this are cancelled, and by “shows like this”, I’m specifically referring to LGBTQ+ content.

Call me paranoid all you want, but it’s hard to deny that queer-led shows are carted down the river far quicker and far more often than their straight counterparts, which is even more noticeable when there still aren’t that many queer-led shows in the first place, particularly within the realm of fantasy.

Out of all these cancellations, it was Bastard Son’s demise that hurt the most though thanks to all the lost potential of this instant classic.

We’re Here

By Laura Jane Turner, TV Editor

Reality television can often get overlooked as being trashy, frivolous and trivial. But if there was ever a show that was going to categorically prove that wrong, it’s We’re Here.

The show had already built its legacy as a queer safe space, celebrating and platforming intersections of the community that don’t often get represented. It makes for cathartic viewing; self love, acceptance and resilience all wrapped into one.

Back for its third season this year, We’re Here has encapsulated a snapshot in time for queer history in the United States.

Books are getting removed from schools, historically homophobic rhetoric has resurfaced to fuel outrage about Drag Story Times and LGBTQ+ inclusive laws are under threat. It’s against this backdrop that season three of We’re Here was filmed – capturing protests and opinions on the ground.

It’s meant that the show is more important than ever.

House of the Dragon

By Janet A Leigh, TV Writer

I sit in the camp of die-hard Game of Thrones fans that were utterly disappointed by the final series.

Among its many problems, Daenerys Targaryen’s story arc was a huge sticking point for many. Our Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi was robbed of the ending she deserved when her descent into madness was more of a sharp plunge instead of a slow burn.

You can only imagine then, how insanely rewarding it has been to see the careful unfolding of this Targaryen tale. More than just a pretty thing – though its cinematic shots and grand-sweeping musical score were *chef’s kiss* – House of the Dragon peels back the layers of the Targaryen history to reveal the rot in the centre of the great houses’ decline.

Some found the show’s time-hopping and ageing-up jarring, but to me it only added to the story. The unorthodox method allowed us to gain greater insight into the character’s twisted journeys in a more authentic way.

The cast was exceptional – with Milly Alcock, Emma D’Arcy, Emily Carey and Paddy Constantine among the standouts.

The creators also didn’t mess about when it came to the dragons: the gorgeous details and the fluidity to their movement was of course a huge appeal, but their surfacing personalities as they interacted with their rider had me wanting to saddle up.

House of the Dragon has a slightly different tone to Game of Thrones, but what both do exceptionally well is to make you either fall in love with their characters or fall in love with hating them. You know, right before they are killed in the most brutal fashion.

It’s a sadistic kind of TV watching that keeps you at the precipice of anxious excitement and I’m here for it.

Outer Range

By Janet A Leigh, TV Writer

This list would have felt wholly incomplete without Outer Range. Part of its appeal is that it was such a surprise gem. As a Western, sci-fi, mystery thriller, it feels somewhat like the creative minds just threw everything at the chalkboard but, no need to dig out the erasers, it just works.

Marvel baddie Josh Brolin plays titular character Royal Abbott, who gets caught up in a murder-cover-up. If that’s not bad enough, a meddlesome stranger comes to town and takes an all too keen interest in his family.

There’s heaps of tension thanks to an overzealous sheriff and rival ranchers poking their noses where Royal absolutely does not want it, but it’s that lovely thread of psychedelic trippiness that helps keep you gripped.

What is that mysterious hole that’s opened up on the Abbott land? Where does it lead? And what happened to he dead body Royal tossed in? Intrigued? Guess you’d better watch.


By Ivaylo Angelov

Ivaylo Angelov born in Bulgaria, Varna graduated School Geo Milev is Tvserieswelove's Soaps Editor and oversees all of the section's news, features, spoilers and interviews.