Some shows meet immediate popular success and get deservedly showered with Emmys. They become meme factories, and people dress up as their characters for Halloween. They are the first answer to the question "So what are you watching these days?" The luckiest get a Saturday Night Live send-up or inspire a revival of interest in Chicago's Italian beef sandwiches. But with over 500 scripted television shows being produced a year, some of them are bound to fall through the yawning cracks of the zeitgeist. Here are five shows you might've missed in the hullabaloo that has been 2022:
Outer Range (Amazon)
For possibly the most well-resourced organization on the planet, Amazon often curiously forgets to market its TV series properly, like 2020's lavish intercontinental organized crime saga ZeroZeroZero. Outer Range is a case in point. Marketed as a dark Western, Brian Watkins' Outer Range is closer to Twin Peaks than Yellowstone, a magnificently weird and beautifully shot science fiction humdinger set in modern-day Wyoming. Taciturn rancher Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin) finds a mysterious, bottomless hole in his pasture on the same day that one of his knucklehead kids (Tom Pelphrey) accidentally kills one of his insufferable neighbor's sons (Matt Lauria) in a bar fight gone haywire, an oddball hippie (Imogen Poots) shows up to camp on the ranch, and the neighboring patriarch (a scene-gobbling Will Patton) announces his intention to seize some of Abbott's land. Figuring out who or what is in the hole and where this thing — replete with musical numbers, disappearing mountains, and sentient bears — is headed will be the most fun you've had in a long time.
Reservation Dogs (FX)
Inexplicably shut out of this year's Emmys, the second season of FX's groundbreaking half-hour comedy about a group of four disaffected Native American teenagers is once again set on a desolate reservation in Oklahoma. This season finds the town cleaning up in the aftermath of a tornado, with several of the characters embarking on a road trip to California. A standout cast of largely unknown actors give each character a rich realization that makes the show so much more than a deserved skewering of America's treatment of its indigenous populations. Showrunner Sterlin Harjo deftly incorporates elements of Native American mythology and most impressively, continues to use quirky humor to set up emotional gut-punches that showcase intergenerational trauma, loss, and neglect without ever once feeling like an after-school special.
Now and Then (Apple+)
If watching a large ensemble of morally bankrupt Miami smokeshows cover up a murder across two timelines sounds like your jam, then this is the show for you. One of the first truly bilingual prestige television shows, Now and Then is pure guilty pleasure, a preposterous soap opera that unapologetically hoovers up cliches from cop shows, the I Know What You Did Last Summer subgenre, and potboiler romances. In 2000, a group of cross-faded college graduates are rushing their friend Alejandro to the hospital after a beach party overdose when they collide with another car on an empty Florida back road, killing the driver, a young mother. Their fateful decision to stage the scene as if Alejandro were driving alone sets into motion a 20-year-long quest by Detective Flora Neruda (Rosie Perez) to nail them for it. When a mysterious blackmailer demands a million bucks from each of them in 2020, the friends are drawn together again to protect their secrets — and themselves.
Somebody Somewhere (HBO Max)
Comedian Bridget Everett's lyrical, autobiographical dramedy is set in small-town Kansas, where Sam (Everett) works through her grief after her sister's death, helps her parents (the late Mike Haggerty in his last role, and Jane Brody) save their farm, and navigates the pitfalls of middle age with a group of oddball friends. Everett, perhaps best known for her bawdy musical numbers on the sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer, demonstrates extraordinary range in a moving performance, and the series illuminates, rather than mocks, rural lives. Sam and her pals are the kind of forty-something people rarely depicted seriously on television — single, childless, and gloriously alive, luckless in love but with a strong bond. Somebody Somewhere will stay with you long after you finish it and HBO gave it an unexpected and heartening renewal for a second season.
The Afterparty (Apple+)
At a house party following their 15-year high school reunion, someone murders dingbat pop music star Xavier (Dave Franco) by pushing him out a second-story window. An ensemble cast of gifted comedians including Ilana Glazer, Sam Richardson, Ben Schwartz, Zoe Chao, and Ike Barinholtz take turns babbling hilariously to Detectives Danner (Tiffany Haddish) and Culp (John Early) as they try to figure out whodunnit, and the show zips frequently back to the past to uncover the grudges, secrets and unrequited loves that make almost everyone a plausible suspect. Detective Danner gets her own, extraordinary episode, the one about Chao's character (also named Zoe) is mostly animated, and despite all the goofiness, you probably won't figure out who the killer is until the last episode.