This Year In: Streaming

Here’s what we binged in 2022

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Want to get our stories Straight to your inbox (see what we did there)? Sign up for our newsletter here.

      We read somewhere that 2022 had more video content available than any other time in human history. Or maybe we dreamed it. It certainly makes sense, though—with over a dozen streaming services offering full blocks of original series and movies, there’s simply far too much for any one person to get through. Here are 10 of our favourites of the year. While there’s an argument to be made that films and series should be considered separate mediums, we think the lines have been blurred enough to include them in one category. 

      And before you get all bent out of shape that – spoiler alert! – Better Call Saul’s not on here, we’re letting you know that it was disqualified because it wasn’t available for streaming unless you paid for the entire season. Which we did. And it was awesome. 

      The Bear (Disney+)

      A genius chef takes over his family’s rundown sandwich shop in Chicago’s River North neighbourhood, following his brother’s suicide. His attempts to turn it around results in a tense, emotional, at times chaotic, and often hilarious exploration of grief, family and food. Jeremy Allen White’s breakout performance is rightfulling drawing all the attention, but the whole production is a master class. -SS

      Chucky (Amazon Prime/STACKTV)

      Diehard fans of the Child’s Play franchise will love the Chucky series, which honours its past while also having fun wreaking bloody havoc on a new generation. With creator Don Mancini at the helm, alongside Brad Dourif (who voiced the titular character in the original films), Jennifer Tilly reprising her role as Tiffany, scream king Devon Sawa (seriously, though. See: Casper, Idle Hands, Final Destination), and a talented gang of young actors, it’s deliciously written and well-cast. The show’s second season, which premiered this year, is even more gory, campy, and hilarious than its first, with a big dose of heart thrown in for good measure. -YS

      Emily the Thief (Netflix)

      For the longest time, Aubrey Plaza was most famous as the house weirdo who showed up on talk shows and then promptly freaked the living shit out of the host. With that in mind, 2020’s Black Bear marked something of a coming-out party with the former Parks and Recreation regular showing herself as adept at blackheart drama as she is at left-field one liners. In Emily the Criminal, Plaza goes dark and dangerous, playing the part of a go-nowhere catering company minimum wager with a mountain of student loans and a rap sheet that makes gainful employment a problem. Writer-director John Patton Ford asks some big questions in his feature film debut, zeroing in on everything from race relations to whether or not it’s stealing if the victim is a monolithic, Best Buy-style corporation. As for Plaza, she’s a winning blend of seething anger, casual awkwardness, and street-smart hustler. Best of all, thanks to Emily the Criminal, guess who spent the summer weirding out the hosts of your favourite talk shows? -MU

      Fire Island (Disney+) 

      There aren’t a lot of romcoms that are legitimately funny, let alone ones with a queer storyline, let alone ones that centre on Asian-American stories, let alone ones that have a killer soundtrack. So that’s four checks for Fire Island. The movie is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, swapping Elizabeth Bennet for Joel Kim Booster’s hunky Noah. He’s a nurse who devours books, has a short temper, and loves his chosen family of his friends so fiercely that you want him to be your ride-or-die too. While there is a handsome Mr. Darcy—straight-laced Will (Conrad Ricamora)—the real magic is between Noah and his bestie, Howie (Bowen Yang), who’s got shades of both Jane Bennet and Charlotte Lucas. The ubiquity of the source material means you’ll have a sense of where the movie’s going before it gets there, but it sticks the landing as a flirty, funny summer romp. -VW

      House of the Dragon (Crave)

      After the dumpster fire that was the final season of Game of Thrones, to say that there was some skepticism going into the first season of House of the Dragon would be a massive understatement. But even with that crushing pressure of viewer expectations, HBO delivered a true-to-(earlier)-form return to Westeros, morally ambiguous characters, and the devastating power of dragons. 

      While those who have read the fictional textbook that is Fire and Blood—from which the story of HOTD is based—may have some qualms about the slower, mostly bloodless start to the Dance of Dragons, it has managed to prove that the Game of Thrones IP has done away with the plot armour, fan service, and subverting expectations for the sake of subverting expectations that plagued the predecessor’s later seasons. 

      Let’s just hope that kind of forgetting about massive war fleets isn’t something that runs in the Targaryan bloodline. -CW

      Our Flag Means Death (Crave)

      There are two wolves inside of you. One is a fancy rich boy who loves long books and fine fabrics. The other is a hard-drinking leather daddy with cool scars and cooler tattoos. The wolves are pirates. And they’re actually Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby) and Blackbeard (Taika Waititi). And still have New Zealand accents despite the fact they’re based on British historical figures. Historical accuracy? Wrong show. 

      Our Flag Means Death takes the romantic notion of pirates and asks: what if that was a romcom? Izzy Hands (Con O’Neill), Blackbeard’s ruthless second-in-command, really wants the cast to act like they’re in Black Sails; everyone else is more Muppet Treasure Island. It’s beautiful, sumptuous, ridiculous—and makes the moments of gore or horror or tragedy all the more galling. Personally, I think Waititi needs to stop directing blockbusters and return to his true calling: being a hot goth sex shark. -VW    

      Severance (Apple TV+)

      The Apple TV+ original, starring Adam Scott and Patricia Arquette, takes every lesson learned from the streaming era —prestige-drama quality, high binge quotient, bizarre concept—and refines them into an edge-of-your-seat, mind-warping thriller. It also ends with one of the most satisfying reveals in recent memory. This alone is worth the streaming service’s price of admission. -SS

      Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Roku)

      “Life is like a parody of your favorite song—just when you think you know the words, surprise, you don’t know anything.” 

      Daniel Radcliffe playing Weird Al Yankovic is the fever dream none of us knew we desperately needed. It makes perfect sense that it would take the parody king himself to revive the long-dead-and-rightfully-buried genre of parody movies in a way that actually works, thanks largely in part to a hilariously endearing performance on Radcliffe’s part. 

      The weirdest thing about the Weird Al biopic? Just how much wasn’t exaggerated or outright fabricated. They don’t call him weird for nothing, folks. -CW

      White Lotus (Crave)

      Just when you thought things couldn’t get more entertaining than a drug-addled hotel manager shitting in a guest’s suitcase, Mike White ups his game with the second installment of HBO’s hit travel-porn series. You want dysfunctional? Start with a perpetually horny grandfather, a neurotically clueless heiress, a sexually frustrated hotel clerk, a couple of over-sexed call girls, and a couple of couples with radically different sex drives. Yes, it’s all about sex, and yet somehow about so much more. Picking a standout is impossible, because F. Murray Abraham, Jennifer Coolidge, Sabrina Impacciatore, Tom Hollander, Haley Lu Richardson, and Will Sharpe are all in a group-effort war to outdo each other. Oh, and let’s not forget Aubrey Plaza. If there’s one great, endlessly quotable line of 2022, it’s “You got this.” And if there’s one place you’re going to want to go in 2023, it’s Taormina, Sicily. Especially if you’re of the belief that sex is at its best when it’s insanely complicated. -MU

      1899 (Netflix)

      What is reality? This heady sci-fi series from the minds behind Netflix’s Dark will have you questioning everything as it twists and turns while following European immigrants aboard a ship to New York. It’s a slow-burner, with the mystery of what is truly happening to the passengers, and why they keep glitching between different traumatic dimensions, becoming more intricate, unsettling, and strange as it progresses. Also featuring some excellent musical placements of Jefferson Airplane, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Jimi Hendrix. -YS