The Best TV Performances of 2022

Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Abbott Elementary
Many comedies take a while to find their footing and figure out the balance of their ensembles. Not Abbott. It joins a rare club – whose members include Arrested Development and Brooklyn Nine-Nine – of shows that nailed it right away. Every cast members knows when to step into the spotlight and when to cede the stage for someone else to have the heartwarming or side-splitting moment.

Actor in a Comedy Series
Nathan Fielder, The Rehearsal
How much is Nathan Fielder acting in his diabolical creation? We’ll never know, and that’s part of the brilliance. His role as orchestrator, life coach and eventual participant has so many layers that only Fielder himself could peel back them all.

Actress in a Comedy Series
Hannah Einbinder, Hacks
HBO Max has been delivering some blatant category fraud by getting Einbinder nominated as a Supporting Actress two years running. It’s made it easier for Jean Smart to win Lead Actress both years, but especially in its second season, Einbinder has proven herself. This version of Ava is a lot more caring and mature. She takes her lumps from Deborah, coming out the other side as more confident writer.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta
I easily could have given this award to every dude on The Righteous Gemstones – including Walton Goggins, Tim Baltz, Eric Roberts and Tony Cavalero – but this was my last chance to honor the great Brian Tyree Henry, the heart and soul of this show. Alfred found success but still has to deal with robberies, grief, stardom, and a changing artistic landscape that forces him into uncomfortable situations, both literal and figurative. By the time he was fighting off a wild boar, it felt like a metaphor for all his frustrations.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Sarah Goldberg, Barry
Poor Sally. She finally saw her dream come true, starring in and show-running an autobiographical drama. And then it didn’t get 10 million hours viewed in its first weekend and got canceled. Having to listen to some nonsense from a CEO about not hitting the right “taste clusters” felt like an exaggeration, but with streamers cleaning house left and right, it now feels prescient. This is before we even get to Barry’s violent outbursts and solutions. Her elevator meltdown on her former assistant Natalie (D’Arcy Carden) felt completely understandable. Only a performance as good as Goldberg’s made that possible.

Ensemble in a Drama Series
The Bear
I don’t care what the awards-giving bodies say. Just because The Bear is a half hour long and features some laughs, this is absolutely a drama. So I’m giving all of the hard-working, barely-hanging-on family of the kitchen this award. No one is floating above it. They’re all knee-deep in the shit, struggling to keep up with orders, rent and their fraying mental health. Even in the unpleasant times, there was no other group I wanted to spend more time with.

Actor in a Drama Series
Antony Starr, The Boys
Only an actor as charismatic as Starr could keep you invested in a character this unrepentantly evil. Homelander was already terrifying, but with absolutely nothing left to lose, he was an unpredictable engine of chaos. Unfortunately, that just made his fans all the more supportive.

Actress in a Drama Series
Katja Herbers, Evil
Kristen Bouchard has a ton to lose, but she’s out of fucks to give. Having offed her stalker in the previous season finale, she has no qualms about doing anything else unethical or immoral to protect her family. If that means conspiring against her mother or a co-worker, so be it.

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Michael Mando, Better Call Saul
It’s all in the eyes. For the entire series, Nacho has attempted to stay one step ahead of the higher-ups in the criminal organization he’s been sucked into. But in the final season, he was out of moves. Rather than risk anything happening to his father (Juan Carlos Cantu), he charges ahead on his own terms. Mando never had to raise his voice, or even say a word, to get across his pain.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Julia Garner, Ozark
The final season of this money-laundering drama went out with a fizzle, simultaneously too long and not deep enough to justify its characters’ increasingly irrational actions. But none of that was the fault of Garner, always the best thing about the show. She won three Emmys for her role as Ruth Langmore, whose intelligence and capacity for vengeance only grew.

Ensemble in a Limited or Anthology Series
Under the Banner of Heaven
While Andrew Garfield rightfully got all the attention as the detective grappling with his faith, the rest of the cast was no less impressive. The Lafferty men may have been terrifying, but their wives showed tremendous resolve, torn between religious duty to their husbands and a moral obligation to protect their families from danger.

Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series
Colin Firth, The Staircase
Firth has been turning in tremendous performances for more than 25 years. Yet he found a way to top them all, with his thorny, contradictory turn as murder suspect Michael Peterson. A charming storyteller, it’s easy to see why so many people would be drawn to him, but also how he could easily manipulate them. We’ll never know for sure if Peterson killed his wife, or if it was merely a tragic accident. But Firth never lets the audience know anything except that he’s still got it.

Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series
Emily Blunt, The English
Speaking of career-best performances, Blunt blew me away here. She takes the “strong woman” archetype and refashions it to create a character far more complex than so many other badasses with guns. She uses both her naivety and her archery skills to her advantage, but constantly finds herself in over her head. But through grit, determination and the help of her reluctant guide (the equally great Chaske Spencer), she blazes her own trail of revenge.

Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series (tie)
Tom Hollander, The White Lotus
Rafe Spall, The English
Even miniseries need a proper villain to shake things up, and these two Brits did a magnificent job. Hollander was lot more seductive in his get-rich-quick scheme, while Spall was quiet at first until he revealed the depths of his depravity. Both underestimated the women they sought to control. That didn’t make them any less dangerous.

Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series
Meghann Fahy, The White Lotus
While Jennifer Coolidge stole the show, it was Meghann Fahy’s Daphne who was the key to unlocking this latest season of rich, unhappy people in paradise. At first glance, she’s apathetic and a little ditzy. But as the only guest who’s not constantly in her own head, she’s free to experience every luxury and indulgence this resort has to offer. If others had her mindset, they might be a lot happier.

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