What to watch: the 22 most underrated TV shows of 2022 so far

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We have reached Peak TV. With acclaimed imports arriving from all over the world and a new streaming service seeming to launch every week, it’s never been harder to keep up.

But don’t throw your remote across the room in frustration just yet. Help is at hand. As the year approaches its midway mark, we’ve compiled a list of the 22 most underrated shows of 2022 so far - and where you can catch up with them.

While the likes of Anatomy of a Scandal and Conversations With Friends sucked up all the hype (and ultimately disappointed), here are the hidden gems that might have slipped under your radar. They didn’t get the plaudits or column inches they deserved. Consider this a step in the right direction. See you on the sofa…

Hacks

HBO’s Emmy-winning comedy stars the mighty Jean Smart as a Joan Rivers-alike veteran stand-up diva. When she reluctantly hires a hipster gag-writer in a bid to keep her Las Vegas residency, a cross-generational friendship slowly blossoms. Bonus: because the first series took so long to arrive in the UK, season two is already imminent, dropping on June 10.

Where to watch it Prime Video

Cheaters

This bite-sized romcom, split into snappy 10-minute episodes, sees Susan Wokoma and Joshua McGuire have a one-night stand on a minibreak - only to find they live on the same street back in Peckham with their respective partners. Messy, sexy and full of surprises.

Where to watch it BBC iPlayer

Slow Horses

Mick Herron’s Slough House espionage novels - think Le Carré gone to seed in a Soho pub - have built a devoted cult following. The blackly comic TV adaptation, starring Jack Lowden as frustrated 007-wannabe River Cartwright and Gary Oldman as his slobbish spymaster Jackson Lamb, is way better than even the most optimistic fan expected. Oldman even farts authentically.

Where to watch it Apple TV+

Dating No Filter

Fan of Gogglebox and First Dates? Well, here’s a hilarious mix of the two. Singletons are sent on (usually disastrous) dates, while comedians provide candid and often cruel running commentary. Like a night down the pub with your funniest mates.

Where to watch it Sky Max/NOW

Barry

Why the hell HBO’s Emmy-winning comedy-thriller, starring Bill Hader as an expert assassin who’d rather be an actor, isn’t way bigger over here is a mystery. It’s brutally brilliant and you’ll be obsessed within minutes.

Where to watch it Sky Comedy/NOW

Life After Life

Groundhog Day as a period drama. For some reason, the Beeb stuck this gorgeous adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s bestseller on BBC Two in midweek. It deserved a Sunday night slot on BBC One. A woman lives her life over and over again, learning more each time. But should she kill Hitler?

Where to watch it BBC iPlayer

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

Hugh Laurie adapts and directs Agatha Christie’s lesser-known mystery with real panache, even popping up in a sinister cameo role. Will Poulter and Lucy Boynton are a sparky screwball joy as the childhood friends turned amateur sleuths, investigating why a dying man’s last words were the titular question.

Where to watch it BritBox

Pachinko

Forget the flashy, gimmicky appeal of Squid Game. The best Korean drama around is this stunning family saga, spanning several generations and continents. Sumptuous, sweeping and visually dazzling.

Where to watch it Apple TV+

Chloe

Written by Sex Education’s Alice Seabright and starring Erin Doherty (aka Princess Anne from The Crown), this beguiling psychological thriller is part murder-mystery, part salutary warning about the perils of social media.

Where to watch it BBC iPlayer

Severance

Is it a corporate satire, sci-fi fantasy or psycho-thriller? Chilly visuals, a slow start and a hard-to-categorise premise put off some potential viewers of this Black Mirror-ish series. A shame because it blossomed into one of this year’s best and boldest dramas.

Where to watch it Apple TV+

Julia

Sarah Lancashire has long been one of Britain’s best TV actresses. Now she’s conquered America with this charmingly retro bio-series about trailblazing TV chef Julia Child. David Hyde Pierce, aka Niles from Frasier, isn’t too shabby as her husband either.

Where to watch it Sky Atlantic/NOW

Holding

Based on Graham Norton’s debut novel and directed by Kathy Burke, this character-led crime drama begins with human remains discovered in a sleepy Irish village and traces the emotional fallout. Witty, wise and at just four episodes, a tightly plotted treat.

Where to watch it ITV Hub

Reacher

Alan Ritchson filled the big, butt-kicking boots of Lee Child’s strapping action hero in this satisfyingly bruising action series. Phew. We can finally forget those distinctly “meh” movies starring tiny Tom Cruise.

Where to watch it Prime Video

Love Life

This romantic anthology is a low-key delight. The debut series starred Anna Kendrick as a single New Yorker. The latest run stars The Good Place’s brilliant William Jackson Harper as a married man with itchy feet and a roving eye. Satisfyingly soppy.

Where to watch it BBC iPlayer

Peacemaker

Yes, there are too many superheroes on our screens. But wait up. This Suicide Squad spin-off, starring John Cena as the vigilante douchbag, is unexpectedly raucous fun, from the dance-tastic opening titles onwards.

Where to watch it Sky Max/NOW

Somebody Somewhere

Fearless comedian Bridget Everett is a star on the New York alt-comedy scene. Now she’s lighting up the small screen in this spiky but stealthily lovely HBO comedy about a 40something’s “coming of middle age”. Bittersweet brilliance.

Where to watch it Sky Comedy/NOW

Shining Girls

After Mad Men and The Handmaid’s Tale, Elisabeth Moss delivers another magnetic TV turn in this mind-bending thriller. She’s a traumatised Chicago newspaper archivist on the trail of a serial killer but slipping through different realities and timelines as she does so.

Where to watch it Apple TV

All The Way Up

Oui, mon homies, it’s the Gallic hip-hop romp you didn’t know you needed. Called Validé in its native French, this gritty, gung-ho drama follows a raw young MC’s rise to the top of le rap game. It’s a cult phenomenon in France and finally crossed the Channel in April. Sensationnel.

Where to watch it StudioCanal Presents, via the Apple TV app

The Dry

It’s been hailed as “the Irish Fleabag”. It’s from the people who brought us Normal People. The heroine is called Shiv. This Dublin-set dramedy about a recovering alcoholic (Roisin Gallagher) has all the credentials and doesn’t disappoint.

Where to watch it BritBox

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to fall in love with this slam-dunk drama about the LA Lakers during their 80s pomp. With Adam McKay directing and Nicholas Britell composing the music, it’s sort of Succession in sneakers and a vest.

Where to watch it Sky Atlantic/NOW

The Afterparty

A January release date didn’t do this crime spoof any favours but it rewards seeking out. A millennial murder-mystery set at a school reunion, it stars a who’s who of comic talent, with each episode told from a different character’s perspective. High concept but fast, funny and fiendishly gripping.

Where to watch it Apple TV+

Station Eleven

Adapting Emily St John Mandel’s beloved post-apocalyptic novel for TV was no easy task. This 10-parter pulls it off with aplomb. It’s dystopian but deeply humane, richly realised, visually ravishing and eerily prescient.

Where to watch it StarzPlay, via Prime Video

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