Runners-up: Atlanta (FX); The Bear (FX on Hulu); Peacemaker (HBO Max); Reservation Dogs (FX on Hulu); Rick and Morty (Cartoon Network); Righteous Gemstones (HBO); She-Hulk (Disney+); Under the Banner of Heaven (FX on Hulu)
10. Better Call Saul (AMC): Vince Gilligan and co. didn’t land the plane for me in Saul’s final season. Truth is, they didn’t need to. The Saul crew at a C+ is as good as everyone else at an A+.
9. Station Eleven (HBO Max): Station Eleven has only grown in my estimation since the series finale aired in January 2022. Its surrogate father-daughter relationship, unorthodox tone, and hopeful vision for a post-apocalyptic society have all stuck with me. (Not to mention this banger track.)
8. Yellowjackets (SHOWTIME): Yellowjackets crosses Lord of the Flies with 1993’s Alive and adds a female-led cast to delightful result. Who knew cannibalism could be so fun?
7. Barry (HBO): While most of today’s big-screen action relies on CGI creations smashing into one another, Bill Hader is pushing the bounds of action directing on a 30-minute TV show.
6. Hacks (HBO Max): Hacks took its show on the road in season two. Like its central fictional comedian, it continues to evolve. Hacks remains one of the least formulaic comedies on TV, making it a strange spiritual successor to HBO’s Veep.
5. Players (Paramount+): The team behind Netflix’s undervalued mockumentary American Vandal is back, shifting focus from high school mysteries to Esports. Relative unknown Misha Brooks gives one of the performances of the year as Creamcheese, an Esports star who is as compelling as he is annoying.
4. The White Lotus (HBO): At first, I thought the follow-up to White Lotus writer/director/do-everything Mike White’s season one masterpiece was stop-start. The pieces weren’t fitting together as cleanly, the satire wasn’t as biting, and the characters weren’t as engaging. By the end, I thought he had matched season one’s brilliance using an entirely different set of themes and archetypes.
3. The Rehearsal (HBO): Nathan Fielder’s new project blurs the lines between scripted and reality television. Somehow, the space Fielder occupies in The Rehearsal is all the more fascinating for it. The Rehearsal muses on perception, performance, preparation, and a hell of a lot more than any comedy should.
2. Severance (Apple TV+): One of the surprises of the year brings intrigue, suspense, and countless workplace ethics violations. Science fiction is a finicky genre made even more difficult by television’s episodic format (see Lost), but so far Severance has struck a balance between provocative questions and rewarding answers.
1. Andor (Disney+): Finding out that the best TV show of the year is a Star Wars property is like learning that Dyson just produced the best car on the market. I didn’t know that was a thing they were interested in, and if I had, I could only assume it would end in abject failure.
Unlike every other Star Wars property, Andor isn’t interested in funny space wizards or Luke Skywalker’s third cousin. Instead, showrunner Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) takes us inside the galaxy-spanning authoritarian empire. How do opportunistic pencil pushers enable oppression? What inspires ordinary people to fight back? How do you build a cloak-and-dagger resistance movement from the ground up? Andor answers these questions and not-so-subtly turns its viewers against the carceral state, all under the Disney banner. Bravo.