What are the best television shows of 2022 in Israel? - end-of-year review

Recent past loomed large in best of 2022 TV

 Stranger Things (photo credit: NETFLIX)
Stranger Things
(photo credit: NETFLIX)

As usual, in recent years, there was an embarrassment of riches on television, which seems to be the repository of sophisticated writing and interesting plots far better than the superhero flicks that dominate at multiplexes. At times, it was challenging to keep up with all the new releases.

This year’s list includes both Israeli and international titles, as well as new series and returning ones that are still hitting highs. If there is a trend to be found, it’s series set in the fairly recent past: Winning Time (early ‘90s), Stranger Things (mid-’80s), and Gaslit and Minx, both set in the ‘70s. We’ll have to wait for next year to see if this trend continues.

So what were the top shows of the year?

1. Stranger Things (Netflix) – The fourth season of this addictive series was released in the summer and it may have been the best so far. The original quartet of tween boys has grown up and been joined by a dozen or so other characters. The plot has become richer and more complex, with story lines that moved from the Midwest to California to Russia, adding new threats from the scary world of the Upside Down and giving our heroes more chances to shine. This year, the breakaway new star was Joseph Quinn, utterly unforgettable as Eddie Munson, a stoner with a sensitive side. Even if you’re not into Stranger Things, remember his name, this British actor has great things ahead of him. The series also put Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” back on the top of the charts.

2. Slow Horses (Apple TV+) – Extremely well-acted and well-written spy thriller series, adapted from Mick Herron’s novel, which features. ornery Gary Oldman as the leader of a group of British Intelligence screwups. Their antics would make George Smiley turn in his grave but they do pretty well for themselves.

3. Tehran (KAN 11 and Apple TV+) – Mossad agent Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan) was back for a second season of the suspenseful series. This time around, with help from Glenn Close, of all people, she infiltrated Iran’s privileged young in-crowd on the trail of an evil general.

4. The White Lotus (Cellcom TV, Hot and Yes) – Season two of the series about guests and staff of a high-end resort moved to Sicily and speculation about the identity of the murder victim teased in the opening episode made the series a major topic of conversation around the world.

5. Gaslit (Hot and Yes) – Julia Roberts, with her patrician good looks, was all wrong for Martha Mitchell, yet somehow she gave a compelling performance as the sometimes wacky whistleblower in this series about the Watergate scandal. Sean Penn was also surprisingly believable as her husband, John. A storyline about John and Maureen Dean didn’t work as well, even though the couple was played by Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) and Betty Gilpin (GLOW), and Gordon Liddy, one of the most bizarre people ever to make headlines, was reduced to cartoon villainy. But somehow the series worked, in spite of its flaws.

 Julia Roberts in 'Gaslit' (credit: Yes/Hilary Bronwyn Gayle) Julia Roberts in 'Gaslit' (credit: Yes/Hilary Bronwyn Gayle)

6. Grace and Frankie (Netflix) – Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were back for the finale of their long-running series about how two very different women make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons when their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) announce they are divorcing their wives and marrying each other. This last season had some touching moments as the main characters face the looming end of their last act.

7. Minx (Hot and Yes) – A prudish feminist teams up with a porn publisher to create an erotic magazine for ‘70s women in this often very funny HBO series.

8. As We See It (Amazon Prime) – Three young adults with autism navigate life in a shared apartment in this US remake of the Israeli series On the Spectrum, and showrunner Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) looked at the characters’ lives with wit and grace.

9. Dismissed (KAN 11) – The second season of the series about a socially challenged young female IDF officer (Alona Sa’ar) and her extremely difficult recruits continued the fun – and sometimes made some serious social commentary – about the dysfunctional military bureaucracy.

10.   Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (Cellcom TV, Hot and Yes) – You don’t have to be into basketball to enjoy this irreverent series about how a crazed, debt-ridden team owner (John C. Reilly), the rising star player Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) and a few eccentric coaches and stars turned the Lakers into basketball’s coolest franchise in the early ‘90s, created by Adam McKay (The Big Short).