Netflix’s original programming has had another great year, with numerous episodes smashing watching records, but what were the top shows of 2022? Netflix began producing original series in 2013 with House of Cards, and has since produced some of the most-watched dramas in recent history. Orange Is the New Black, BoJack Horseman, and Squid Game have all received widespread critical praise and popularity.
Despite losing some users in early 2022, Netflix’s number and quality of programming had won the streaming platform over 220 million subscribers globally, placing it ahead of competitors Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ (via IndieWire). In 2022, Netflix continued to offer brand-new material with new seasons of its established shows, which aided in increasing member numbers and reversing the year-earlier dip. This year, Netflix has many series with over one billion hours of viewing time, and the platform has several candidates for major honors during the 2022/2023 awards season. With that in mind, here is a ranking of the greatest Netflix series of 2022.
The second season of Bridgerton follows Lord Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest Bridgerton, as he becomes involved in a love triangle with the Sharma sisters, finally falling for and marrying the rebellious younger sibling, Edwina. In other news, the penultimate episode of Bridgerton season 2 features Eloise confronting her closest friend Penelope for her gossip-stirring tactics as Lady Whistledown. Bridgerton’s costume design team perfects the 1800s style once more, and the second season builds on the drama and suspense of the first, leaving enough of themes for future seasons of the Netflix program to explore.
9. The Sandman
The Sandman is a 2022 adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s DC comic book series, which was previously deemed unfilmable. Morpheus, called Dream of the Endless, escapes captivity after being imprisoned for over 100 years and is charged with restoring order to the dream realm during his absence. Dream is played by Tom Sturridge in a career-best performance, and he is accompanied by a star-studded ensemble that includes David Thewlis and Gwendoline Christie. The Sandman stays mostly true to the comics, even stealing moments straight from the source material while updating the language to make it relevant in 2022.
8. The Lincoln Lawyer
The Lincoln Lawyer, based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling novel series, follows criminal defense attorney and former drug addict Mickey Haller, played by the charismatic Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, as he takes on legal cases in Los Angeles while operating out of his Lincoln Navigator. With titles like Boston Legal, Ally McBeal, and Goliath under his belt, creator David E. Kelley has a history of crafting law-based successes, and his adept craftsmanship within the genre shows through in The Lincoln Lawyer. Although The Lincoln Lawyer may not break new ground in terms of law-based dramas, it is an engaging and binge-worthy series, so it’s no surprise that Netflix has renewed it for a second season.
7. The Umbrella Academy
The Umbrella Academy has grown to become one of Netflix’s most well-known franchises. Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy, inspired by Gerard Way’s books, sends the super-powered squad on their largest journey yet as they face another cataclysmic catastrophe that pits them against the Sparrow Academy, a team founded by Reginald Hargreeves in an alternate universe. While the show’s excellent production qualities and funny banter keep it enjoyable, it’s the protagonists’ relatable character flaws that keep it grounded. The Umbrella Academy, like Amazon’s The Boys, stays popular after numerous seasons because it provides an alternative to the conventional Marvel and DC offerings in the saturated superhero genre.
6. Cobra Kai
The famous successor series to The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai, returned for its fifth season in 2022. In season 5, antagonist Terry Silver teaches his violent form of karate to the pupils of the Cobra Kai dojo, which he took complete control of at the conclusion of season 4, while Daniel LaRusso goes to his old foe Chozen for assistance in bringing down the organization. Cobra Kai continues to produce flawlessly choreographed battle sequences, emotional punches, and self-aware goofy moments, resulting in another spectacular climax that closed up many plot threads while also laying the groundwork for an exciting sixth season.
5. Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan’s true crime thriller Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story was Netflix’s most contentious show in 2022. The depiction of “The Milwaukee Cannibal’s” life is filled of frightening scenes, and it raises the topic of whether actual crime tragedies should be represented considering the suffering victims’ families are forced to experience. Nonetheless, Dahmer is an engaging series that, because to Evan Peters’ controlled acting, avoids making Jeffrey Dahmer a likeable character. Because of Dahmer’s success in engaging a big audience, Netflix renewed Monster as an anthology series concentrating on other historical murderers, and the program will be prudent to avoid humanizing its key characters in the future.
4. Russian Doll
Russian Doll’s second season proved to be another smash for Netflix in 2022. Nadia is sent back to 1982, just over a week before her 40th birthday, when she finds herself stuck in her own mother’s pregnant body and at the center of a mystery involving her family’s antiques. Season 2 of Russian Doll follows the previous season’s pristine visual and incisive narrative, but moves in a different route by delving more into Nadia’s past. The shift in focus away from the time loop of season one allows Russian Doll to tell a more complex and wild narrative that lends deeper depth to the personalities of its core characters.
Ozark, Netflix’s criminal drama, returned for its last season in 2022. Ozark concluded with the last plot arc concentrating on the Byrde family trying one more money laundering deal before returning to a crime-free existence. While it may have been the objective, the conclusion of Ozark demonstrated that that was not the case, as Jonah, the Byrde’s youngest kid, murders private investigator Mel to protect his family. Although Ozark’s subtlety faded in season 4, strong performances by Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, and Julia Garner elevate the program to make it a compelling watch.
2. Stranger Things
Stranger Things was the most anticipated Netflix comeback in 2022. The fourth season ratcheted up the stakes as Eleven and her comrades faced their most formidable foe yet, Vecna. While Stranger Things season 4 has a similar spirit to previous seasons, the series’ larger episodes and massive budget made it feel more theatrical. Stranger Things continued to have an impact on pop culture by reintroducing Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” to the global charts. Stranger Things also had some of the finest sequences of the year, with newbie Eddie Munson stealing the show with his epic sacrificial guitar solo to buy his companions time during their struggle in the Upside Down.
The Addams Family spinoff Wednesday named Netflix’s finest program of the year. Wednesday follows the eponymous Addams Family member as she is taken to boarding school and finds herself investigating a murder using the psychic powers she inherited from her mother, Morticia. Jenna Ortega’s excellent deadpan portrayal captured the spirit of Wednesday and established her as the undisputed breakthrough star of 2022. Wednesday broke a new Netflix record for viewing hours in its first week of release, surpassing Stranger Things season 4, and has since been seen for over 1 billion hours, confirming its position as the platform’s top program of the year.