How is 2022 almost over? Or maybe, how did 2022 take so long? I don’t know about you, but I am still in a post-Covid time warp, not entirely sure what day it is, and finally understand the importance, both aesthetically and functionally, of owning a pair of joggers. Here are my thoughts on the television and music that helped me make sense of the world in 2022. Thanks for reading and best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2023!
Editors Note: Joggers really are awesome.
BEST SHOW YOU MAY NOT HAVE HEARD OF – Kevin Can F**K Himself (AMC)
Kevin Can F**K Himself was a lot of things, but watched wasn’t one of them. However, that lack of viewership didn’t stop Kevin from being one of the best shows of 2022. At times Kevin was a black comedy with a sitcom laugh track and at other times it was a dark drama sprinkled with a touch of Thelma & Louise with a smattering of ‘Will They/Won’t They’. Television veteran Mary Hollis Inboden was indelible as Patty, the sarcastic neighbor and frenemy of Allison (Annie Murphy) who plays the aforementioned battered wife. Murphy put the entertainment world on notice by bombastically displaying that she was more than Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek and the chemistry displayed between she and Inboden make for the most dynamic relationship on television this year. If you are looking for an unconventional and heady new streamer, look no further.
Bonus points for best single line of dialogue of the year: ‘Let’s die alone, together’.
BIGGEST DISSAPOINTMENT – The Patient (Hulu)
Let the record state that I do not think The Patient was an awful show, it wasn’t. However, to quote principal Richard Vernon of The Breakfast Club fame, ‘I expected more from a varsity athlete’. And who might that varsity athlete be? That varsity athlete is the writing, directing, and producing team of Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg; creators of FX’s heralded spy thriller, The Americans. Is the tale of recently widowed therapist Allan Strauss (Steve Carrell) being kidnapped and held in a basement by a serial killer Sam Fortner (Domhall Gleeson) looking for psychological help interesting? Yes. Is there chemistry between Carrell and Gleeson? Yup. Does Steve Carrell give a nuanced and subdued performance? Absolutely. Is The Patient binge worthy? Affirmative.
The problem with The Patient is that Gleeson never quite hits his marks in selling himself as a terrifying killer (even in gruesome strangulation scenes) and that the B-Plot of the still mourning Strauss trying to reconnect with his estranged son, due to a falling out pertaining to religious differences, is a far more interesting vignette than a serial killer in therapy. Perhaps the biggest flaw of The Patient is that Fields and Weisberg, as brilliant as they are, still struggle with writing and developing parts for the protagonist’s children, as they did in The Americans. The Patient would be well served, as would The Americans by only featuring one child.
Bonus Points: David Alan Grier as the ghost Strauss’ therapist.
BEST EXAMPLE OF STICKING AROUND TOO LONG – Killing Eve (BBC)
There would have been few, if any, better ways for a series to end than with the bridge scene featuring Eve (Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) at the very end of Season 3 of the British spy thriller Killing Eve. I mean, we are talking Justified and Better Call Saul series finale territory. However, that is not how it shook out and as a result, the legacy of Killing Eve is marred.
In season 4, Killing Eve still gnashed its dark humor and sharp writing teeth, but viewers were primarily exposed to a convoluted and unnecessary origin story plot between spymasters Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) and Konstantin (Kim Bodnia), while Eve and Villanelle largely stayed indifferent to each other. By playing down and taking the spotlight off of the Villanelle and Eve relationship, the showrunners erased the tension and dynamics that made Killing Eve must see TV. Few shows were as well written, irreverent, and heartfelt as peak Killing Eve, and it is a shame that series will not be remembered as such.
Bonus Points: The wonderfully abstract hallucination scenes featuring Villanelle as Jesus
BEST SEASON FINALE – Ted Lasso (Apple TV)
Who doesn’t love Ted Lasso, both the character (Jason Sudeikis) and the show? What originally seemed like Ned Flanders meets the film Major League, Lasso has evolved into so much more, least of which is shining a spotlight on mental health awareness in a post-Covid world.
In a series that can at times be uneven, Lasso nailed its season 2 finale while making it’s characters transitions feel organic. For example, the arcs of Keeley (Juno Temple) getting a promotion while breaking up with Roy (Brett Goldstein), Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) staying with Richmond and Trent Crimm (James Lance) being fired, all seemed organic to the story. However, the big emotional payoff was Ted taking control of his mental health while working through the anxiety attacks that were attributed to his father’s suicide. However, the plot topper for the whole season may have been Nate’s (Nick Mohamed) mental health fueled heel turn that saw him rip down the fabled ‘BELIEVE’ sign and becoming head the coach at rival West Ham United. Anyone care to guess which two teams will be playing for the championship at the end of the next (and final) season?
Bonus points: Coach Beard’s Bell Bottoms
BEST CAST – Only Murders In The Building (Hulu)
Steve Martin and Martin Short have decades of chemistry together and nowhere in their storied collaborative career are their performances better than in OMITB. And of course, the duo is aided in their murder-solving and podcast-obsessive hijinks by Selena Gomez. Martin, in playing aging and vulnerable Charles-Hayden Savage has never been more believable, Short shines as bombastic and neurotic theatre veteran Oliver Putnam, and Gomez’s mysterious Mabel Mora is the millennial glue that holds this cast together. Aided by Tina Fey, Amy Ryan, Nathan Lane, Jane Lynch, and Michael Rappaport, there is no finer primary and supporting cast on television. If you haven’t watched OMITB, you need to start, and if you have started, you are already a fan.
We were late to the OMITB party as my wife believed it to be akin to Murder She Wrote. She ended up liking it even more than me, and never in human history has a husband been so happy to report that his wife, admittedly so, was wrong.
Bonus Points: Shining a spotlight on the deaf community and actors with disabilities.
BEST SHOW (NOT NAMED BARRY OR BETTER CALL SAUL)
The Bear on FX is incredible. Instead of rehashing my thoughts, here is the link to an article I wrote about it.
Bonus Points: Ectoplasm Punch
Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights
Super producer and -cowriter to the stars (Thundercat, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Solange) Lacy’s sophomore album details the struggles of dating, exploring sexuality, and the difficulties that come with breaking up. His effort also sounds like Prince fronting Outkast in art school, which is a compliment of the highest order. I haven’t stop listening to Gemini Rights since I became familiar with Lacy during his Saturday Night Live performance of Bad Habit, the single of the year and an ode to the one that got away.
Amanda Shires – Take It Like A Man
Nashville Royalty and singer-songwriter extraordinaire Amanda Shires is her own person, not just a fiddle player, not just wife to Jason Isbell, and not just a quarter of The Highwomen, and never has that theme been more prominent than in her newest release Take It Like A Man. In Take It Like A Man, there is less opining about insecurities or self doubt, and more of letting the world know what she thinks and why she thinks it. Amanda Shires is the closest thing to putting the punk ethos into country music in a very long time, and perhaps that is why she isn’t featured on the radio. In 2023, your resolution should be catching her on tour so you can appreciate her dynamism in person.
Taylor Swift – Midnights
Midnights, the follow up to Swift’s 2020 opuses Folklore and Evermore feels like the final edition of a triple album, both in spirit and artistic endeavor. Returning are collaborators Jack Antanoff and Aaron Dessner and the vision this trio delivers is nothing short of transcendental. Ethereal and introspective ballads and beats permeate Midnights, and the 20 track, seventy minute run time flies by as the listener is transported into a whole vibe. Whole Vibe…that’s what the youths say, right?
Mac Miller – I Love Life, Thank You
I was super late to the Mac Miller party and if you are late too, do yourself a favor and get there. I Love Life, Thank You is a posthumous mix tape release of material and tracks from early in Miller’s career. This release makes the listener thankful for the time Miller spent with us, in awe of the transformation between the beginning and end of his career. Mac Miller was a true artist, a talented musician, and an incredible lyricist and his influence will be felt by generations of Rap and R&B fans to come. Make time for his Tiny Desk performance.