The 14 Most Unforgettable TV Episodes of the Year, From ‘Barry’ to ‘The Rehearsal’

The Class of 2022 boasted more than its fair share of stand-out television episodes. It would be impossible to honor all of them, as badly as we wish we could. Which is why we at The Daily Beast’s Obsessed have named the 14 episodes that most stood out to us in several highly specific categories.

Together, we have come up with a list of end-of-year superlatives and named the most deserving entry for each one. Consider this a more surprising, representative Best in Class—one unlike the standard, objective measures you’re used to.

Wildest Action Scene…in a Comedy?

Barry Season 3, Episode 6, “710N”

I don’t think I breathed the entire time Barry was on his motorbike. My apologies to Marvel, DC, and whatever Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson put into the world this year, but there was no greater action sequence than the highway chase scene that happened in Barry. The reason for that, of course, is how expertly the series built out the tension that led to it. For a viewer, it was as hopeful as it was bleak. You wanted Barry to make it through, to have a good day, but you also knew how much he deserved what was coming to him. Barry is so good at shining an equal spotlight on the mundane as it does on the extreme; it’s all about the beignets and the shootout in equal measure. This was such a triumph, a show being explicit about “this is exactly how we got here” while still being so surprising. —Kevin Fallon

Watch on HBO Max.

Most Batshit Horror Wildness

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities Season 1, Episode 7, “The Viewing”

Beyond the Black Rainbow and Mandy established Panos Cosmatos as a maestro of hallucinatory sci-fi-horror madness, and “The Viewing”—his standalone contribution to Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities—is another work of mounting dread, low-fi surrealism, and WTF-ery. Co-written by Aaron Stewart-Ahn, Cosmatos’ tale is a kindred spirit to his prior features, both in terms of its malevolent style and its inexplicable craziness. Its story concerns a group of disparate experts (a musician, a psychic, a physicist, and an author) that are invited to the home of a rich weirdo (Peter Weller), who makes them take drugs and then view a mysterious meteorite that turns out to be far from harmless. Phantasmagoric to its core, “The Viewing” is a ’70s-flavored trip that cares less about lucidity than about sinister terror laced with off-kilter humor. It’s further proof that no one does out-there mania quite like Cosmatos. —Nick Schager

Watch on Netflix.

Most Enticing Family-Style Dinner

The Bear Season 1, Episode 8, “Braciole”

We learned a lot about the restaurant industry thanks to The Bear—including the definition of “family meal,” which is a big buffet served before the doors open for customers. At the end of the season, Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) whips up his family’s famous spaghetti recipe. It’s very simple, with olive oil steeped with basil and big chunks of San Marzano tomatoes. But Carmy finds something amazing as he cracks open the first San Marzano can. His late brother stashed thousands of dollars in the cans, cash wrapped up in plastic to be saved for emergencies. After harvesting the wads of cold hard(/soggy) cash from the cans, Carmy still serves up a brilliant meal to his coworkers—fresh garlic bread, with massive skillets full of piping hot pasta. Yum. Save me a portion, please! —Fletcher Peters

Watch on Hulu.

Barry, The Bear, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/HBO/FX/Netflix

Most Formative to the Art of Visual Media As We Know It

Irma Vep Season 1, Episode 8, “The Terrible Wedding”

Every year, there are a couple of shows that contend for the honor of being the most confounding series of the year. These shows are arty and heavy, requiring a decent amount of thought and maybe a couple of critic recap skimmings to make sure you didn’t miss anything. In 2022, Olivier Assayas’ ultra-self-reflexive Irma Vep was that show. The miniseries is a pseudo-adaptation of Assayas’ 1996 film, itself a tale of the life on set of a fictional remake of the real 1915 silent film serial Les Vampires. That might take some time to wrap your head around, but it’ll ultimately be rewarding. The Irma Vep miniseries is a wallop of imagination, a captivating tale about why the artifice of film and television is so important to us as spectators. Its finale is staggering, with a vision so singular it’ll knock your skin-tight velvet catsuit off. That final episode brings everything together in a way that few auteurs have been able to do successfully, making for one of the best endings of the year. —Coleman Spilde

Watch on HBO Max.

Most Inspiring for 2023 European Getaways

Conversations with Friends Season 1, Episode 4

Normal People proved that Sally Rooney is the GOAT of planning European vacays, sending Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal to Italy. But Conversations with Friends completely blew me out of the water. The four main characters—who are all, mind you, sleeping around within the friend group—venture off to Croatia, where they stay in a sprawling villa flush with aloe plants and wicker table sets. There’s an infinity pool. The windows are the size of walls. And to top the whole thing off, our two leads are sneaking off in the middle of the night to find each other and lock lips. Everything is so sensual in this episode of Conversations with Friends, which I’d argue is almost as gripping as Normal People. The European vacations, at least, measure up. —Fletcher Peters

Watch on Hulu.

Best Interior Design

The Rehearsal Season 1, Episode 1, “Orange Juice, No Pulp”

Nathan Fielder made the most out of his jump from Comedy Central to HBO. The Rehearsal isn’t just a more experimental, focused take on the comedy he perfected on Nathan For You—it’s also a way more expensive production. Case in point: the brilliance of the series premiere, in which Fielder makes it a point to highlight just how much of HBO’s money he’s using. In the name of staging the most accurate rehearsals for major life events, Fielder insists upon creating highly detailed replicas of existing locations. The episode opens with a surprise reveal that the apartment unit he’s in is simply a high-caliber mock-up of the real thing. (“It’s door city in here!” he repeatedly quips.) But it’s getting HBO to build him a perfectly accurate take on a Williamsburg dive bar that wins Fielder this particular accolade. The Alligator Lounge is now something of a Mecca for Fielder-heads, who want to get a taste of the real thing. But reality is no match for the genius absurdity of Nathan Fielder drinking alone in a perfectly recreated watering hole, right down to the stools and wall art—albeit trapped inside of a soundstage. —Allegra Frank

Watch on HBO Max.

Conversations With Friends, Dead to Me, The Rehearsal

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/HBO/Hulu/Netflix

Most Life-Affirming Character Death

Dead to Me Season 3, Episode 10, “We’ve Reached the End”

This year, Dead to Me stuck the landing with a final season as twisted, absurd, and human as those that preceded it. Christina Applegate’s wise-cracking mother, Jen Harding, has spent the series recovering from her grief over losing her husband—whom she finds out her new friend from the beginning of the series, Judy (Linda Cardellini) accidentally killed. For three seasons, Dead to Me has been soapy and sweet, as absurd as it is sincere. (Where else can you watch James Marsden playing his own evil twin?) So you can imagine our shock this season when we found out that Judy had stage four cancer. This downbeat turn, which might’ve sunken any other show’s spirit, somehow became its most life-affirming twist yet. This season, Jen and Judy were able to help each other grow as they faced their shared grief. As gratifying as it would have been to see both women make it out of this season in one piece, Liz Feldman’s refusal to give us an easy ending feels in keeping with a series that, despite its sunny setting, never lost its edge. And that’s saying nothing about the bold cliffhanger ending. —Laura Bradley

Watch on Netflix.

Most Needle-Drop Nostalgia, Doled Out in Droves

The Dropout Season 1, Episode 2, “Satori”

There was no show that had better needle drops this year than The Dropout, period. Hulu’s Emmy-winning miniseries about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ journey from visionary to fraudster was baked in pure longing. For Elizabeth, it was the longing to prove herself as an entrepreneur that went awry; for audiences, it was the longing for a simpler time: the decade between 2000 and 2010. Each episode was paired with a fitting soundtrack, synchronous with the year the story was taking place in—right down to Elizabeth waiting in line for the very first iPhone, set to Feist’s “1234.” But no episode had more cheer-worthy needledrops than the second episode, “Satori.” It included a montage of Amanda Seyfried looking scatterbrained, presenting Holmes’ ideas set to “We Run This” by Missy Elliott. Cap that off with “Temperature” by Sean Paul playing on a yacht and Robyn’s highly underrated cover of “Cobrastyle” scoring a location title card, and us later millennials were having the time of our lives. Thank you, music supervisors! —Coleman Spilde

Watch on Hulu.

Best Non-Redemption Arc

Industry Season 2, Episode 7, “Lone Wolf and Cub”

After spending the majority of Season 1 terrorizing Yasmin (Marisa Abela)—and being reported to Human Resources—Kenny’s (Conor MacNeill) return to Pieirpoint & Co. was jarring but not completely unexpected in this extremely corrupt ecosystem. However, I wasn’t at all prepared for him to return to the office reciting truisms he learned in rehab and tearfully apologizing to Yasmin. This self-flaggeting bit becomes obnoxious and annoying rather quickly. And the audience realizes, along with Yasmin, that his obsession with making things right is mostly performative and self-serving. Eventually, Yasmin’s frustration comes to a head when Kenny scolds her for mishandling a complaint about sexual assault from her mentee. While Yasmin responded poorly to that situation, it’s cathartic to see her tell Kenny to “fuck off” for being a self-righteous hypocrite. While our post-Me Too culture is overly concerned with reintegrating shitty men back into society as quickly as possible, Industry understands the pitfalls of fast and easy redemption—and most crucially, male ego. —Kyndall Cunnigham

Watch on HBO Max.

Most Perfect Finale

Better Call Saul Season 6, Episode 13, “Saul Gone”

After six seasons of some of television’s all-time best drama, Better Call Saul wrapped up in fittingly pitch-perfect fashion. Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), caught by authorities and facing a lifetime behind bars, works his scammer magic one last time—only to realize that perhaps money, and the thrill of the swindle, aren’t as important as the ones he loves. Closing with a black-and-white gaze across a prison yard between Jimmy and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) that silently spoke volumes, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Breaking Bad prequel played one last beautifully bittersweet note. The series was never going to conclude with an uplifting happily-ever-after, and yet its closer didn’t succumb to fatalism either; on the contrary, following flashbacks that allowed it to come (figuratively) full circle, its flawed protagonist received a final moment of transformative grace. Even if that gesture also wound up costing him the thing he prized the most. —Nick Schager

Watch on AMC+.

Best Product Placement

The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 14, Episode 6, “Don’t Be Sea Salty”

We’ll never know how many joggers Sheree Whitfield sold after the long-awaited launch of She By Sheree during the Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Season 14 finale. However, she did encourage at least two people—myself and colleague Coleman Spilde—to run the grocery store and pick up a bag of Simply Lay’s Sea Salted Thick Cut Potato Chips after a particularly amazing monologue about the brand’s gourmet alternative. (The chips are… fine.) In this comically long sequence, Sheree has just been blown off by her formerly incarcerated boo and is recovering the best way she knows how—through processed food. So she pulls out her “special chips” and starts chomping with the funniest narration. The loud crunch sounds dubbed over the scene are absurd—as well as the unnecessary closeups on the chips. And if it were 2007, I’d probably make her confessional quote “Sea salt with the thick cut? TO DIE FOR!” my ringtone. Safe to say, this oddly staged ode to the world’s most basic snack will live in the Iconic Moments Canon (and our hearts) forever. —Kyndall Cunnigham

Watch on Peacock.

Industry, Better Call Saul, Euphoria

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/HBO/AMC

Most Savage School Play

Euphoria Season 2, Episode 7, “The Theater and Its Double”

“Wait, is this fucking play about us?!” No one knows how to make her high school classmates squirm quite like Maude Apatow’s Euphoria character, Lexi Howard. The quirky younger sister to her high school’s resident bombshell, Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), Lexi proved this season that drama kids can be just as cruel as any lumbering bully. Her sister and her friends never suspected anything when Lexi said she was mounting a production of Oklahoma!—but yee-ow, were they in for a rude awakening. If Euphoria is essentially a horror show about being a teen who feels like every person and institution in one’s life has failed them, then this play was the big, blood-gushing moment when all the guts and viscera start spraying the walls. It’s unclear where the hell Lexi and her high school got the budget for this extremely over-the-top night at the theater, but one thing’s for sure: We won’t be forgetting that pumping iron dance number any time soon. —Laura Bradley

Watch on HBO Max.

Most Sexually Surprising

The White Lotus Season 2, Episode 5, “That’s Amore”

It’s been a hard year, so we all deserve to be a little horny. Certainly, everyone who was on vacation at the White Lotus hotel in Sicily was. It was so much fun to have The White Lotus back and, week to week, have seemingly everyone on the internet talking about it. But it’s undeniable that the real turning point for the series, both creatively and culturally, was Episode 5, when that boy fucked his uncle. It was a standout episode, regardless. The storyline with Albie and Lucia really took off, in all of its cringiness. Cameron rubs his fingers on Harper’s leg. Tanya goes to the opera. It’s such a juicy episode even before that final reveal. But the wildness of that scene, the “did I just see what I thought I saw” of it all is what takes it over the top. —Kevin Fallon

Watch on HBO Max.

Best Stealth Season Premiere

The Book of Boba Fett Season 1, Episode 5, “Chapter 5: Return of the Mandalorian”

The Book of Boba Fett was a lousy interlude between Mandalorian seasons. The miniseries, at once constipated with and completely bereft of ideas, turned one of the coolest Star Wars characters into the most boring in short order. Which made it a wonderful, refreshing twist that Boba Fett gave up on the whole Boba Fett story toward the end, bringing back Daddy Mando and Grogu, neé Baby Yoda. After four hours of Boba Fett backstory, the show does away with the whole enterprise to show us what the Mandalorian has been up to since we last saw in Season 2. Turns out, he’s been missing the little green guy as much as we have—and thus begins a new storyline altogether, in which Mando tries to reunite with Grogu. Boba Fett shows back up in the next episode, but Book of Boba Fett Season 1 has officially become The Mandalorian Season 2.5 by that point. —Allegra Frank

Watch on Disney+.

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