If there’s one word that can sum up much of 2022’s television landscape so far, it’s this: finally. After longer-than-anticipated delays due to the pandemic, plenty of excellent shows made their way back to our streaming queues. That includes sublime crime-thriller spinoffs, time-travelling comedies and 80s-worshipping sci-fi hits — and glitter eyeshadow-strewn teen chaos, everyone’s favourite hitman-turned-actor and savage explorations of America today, too. They’re the shows that we all missed for years, and eagerly welcomed back like old friends.
Spanning mind-bending animation and explosive takes on superheroes as well, all these long-awaited returnees arrived with two pieces of good news. Firstly, they made a comeback. Secondly, they proved worth the wait. So did a heap of series that arrived for their latest runs exactly when they were supposed to — following up last year’s ace seasons with this year’s.
Basically, when it comes to already-great shows dropping more episodes, the first six months of 2022 have well and truly delivered. More will follow before the year is out — but now that we’re at the halfway point, here are the best 15 returning TV shows that reunited with our grateful eyeballs between January and June.
BETTER CALL SAUL
Saul Goodman’s name has always been ironic. As played so devastatingly well by the one and only Bob Odenkirk, the slick lawyer sells the “s’all good, man” vibe with well-oiled charm, but little is ever truly good — for his clients, as his Breaking Bad experiences with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman demonstrated, or for the ever-enterprising law-skirting attorney himself. That truth has always sat at the heart of Better Call Saul‘s magnificent tragedy, too, and has made the prequel series one of the best shows of this century. Viewers know the fate that awaits, and yet we desperately yearn for the opposite to magically happen. But now that the series’ final season is in full swing, we’re pushed well past the point of hoping. Professionally, the earnest, striving, well-meaning Jimmy McGill is gone, ditching his real name and his quest for a legitimate career, and instead embracing his slide into shadiness.
It isn’t over yet, but Better Call Saul‘s new season has explored the fallout from this concerted life change — and from all that’s brought Jimmy to this point. It hammers home what’s to come as well, given that it opens on Saul Goodman’s Breaking Bad-era home being seized by the feds; however, the show still has much to cover in the lawyer’s past. With his significant other Kim Wexler (the simply phenomenal Rhea Seehorn, Veep), he’s seeking revenge on their former boss Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian, Black Monday). Meanwhile, his ties to the Salamanca family and their drug empire — to the psychotic Lalo (Tony Dalton, Hawkeye) and ambitious-but-trapped Nacho (Michael Mando, Spider-Man: Homecoming), and to ex-cop Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks, The Comey Rule) and Los Pollos Hermanos owner Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito, The Boys) — are drawing attention. Tense, intelligent, heartbreaking and just exceptional: that’s the result so far, as it always has been with this astounding series.
Better Call Saul is available to stream via Stan.
Three seasons into the sitcom that bears his name, all that Barry Berkman (Bill Hader, Noelle) wants is to be an actor — and to also no longer kill people for a living. That’s what he’s yearned for across the bulk of this HBO gem, which has given Saturday Night Live alum Hader his best-ever role; however, segueing from being an assassin to treading the boards or standing in front of the camera is unsurprisingly complicated. One of the smartest elements of the always-fantastic Barry is how determined it is to weather all the chaos, darkness, rough edges and heart-wrenching consequences of its central figure’s choices, though. That’s true of his actions not only in the past, but in the show’s present. Hader and series co-creator Alec Berg (Silicon Valley) know that viewers like Barry. You’re meant to. But that doesn’t mean ignoring that he’s a hitman, or that his time murdering people — and his military career before that — has repercussions, including for those around him.
One of the most layered and complex comedies currently airing, Barry‘s third season is as intricate, thorny, textured and hilarious as the first two. Indeed, it’s ridiculously easy to see how cartoonish its premise would be in lesser hands, or how it might’ve leaned on a simple odd-couple setup given that Anthony Carrigan (Bill & Ted Face the Music) plays Chechen gangster Noho Hank with such delightful flair. But Barry keeps digging into what makes its namesake tick, why, and the ripples he causes. It does the same with his beloved acting teacher Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler, The French Dispatch) as well. With visual precision on par with Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, it’s also as phenomenal at staging action scenes as it is at diving deep into its characters — and, as every smartly penned episode just keeps proving, it’s downright stellar at that.
When it first hit streaming in 2021 with an avalanche of quickfire jokes — as all Tina Fey-executive produced sitcoms do, such as 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Great News and Mr Mayor — Girls5eva introduced viewers to its eponymous band. One-hit wonders in the late 90s and early 00s, their fame had fizzled. Indeed, reclaiming their stardom wasn’t even a blip on their radars — until, unexpectedly, it was. Dawn Solano (Sara Bareilles, Broadway’s Waitress), Wickie Roy (Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton), Summer Dutkowsky (Busy Philipps, I Feel Pretty) and Gloria McManus (Paula Pell, AP Bio) had left their days as America’s answer to the Spice Girls behind, barely staying in contact since the group split and their fifth member, Ashley Gold (Ashley Park, Emily in Paris), later died in an infinity pool accident. But then rapper Lil Stinker (Jeremiah Craft, Bill & Ted Face the Music) sampled their single ‘Famous 5eva’, and they were asked to perform backing vocals during his Tonight Show gig.
Jumping back into the spotlight reignited dreams that the surviving Girls5eva members thought they’d extinguished long ago — well, other than walking attention-magnet Wickie, who crashed and burned in her attempts to go solo, and was happy to fake it till she made it again. That’s the tale the show charts once more in its second season, which is filled with more rapid-fire pop-culture references and digs; the same knowing, light but still sincere tone; and a new parade of delightful tunes composed by Jeff Richmond, Fey’s husband and source of music across every sitcom she’s produced. One of the joys of Girls5eva — one of many — is how gleefully absurd it skews, all while fleshing out its central quartet, their hopes and desires, and their experiences navigating an industry that treats them as commodities at best. The show’s sophomore run finds much to satirise, of course, but also dives deeper and pushing Wickie, Dawn, Summer and Gloria to grow. Obviously, it’s another gem.
It’s official: after a dream of a first season, Rose Matafeo’s rom-com sitcom Starstruck worked its magic a second time. In season two, it makes viewers fall head over heels for its 21st-century take on dating a famous actor all over again. It’s also official for Matafeo’s (Baby Done) Jessie, who is now dating Tom (Nikesh Patel, Four Weddings and a Funeral), the celebrity she had a one-night stand with on New Year’s Eve, then navigated an awkward will-they-won’t-they dance around every time they ran into each other in London. But this next batch of six episodes poses a key question: once you’ve enjoyed the wild meet-cute, ridden the courtship rollercoaster and been bowled over by a grand romantic gesture (see: Starstruck‘s The Graduate-style season-one finale), what comes next? It’s the stuff that rom-com movie sequels might cover, except that for all of Hollywood’s eagerness to rinse and repeat its most popular fare, this genre is sparse in the follow-up department.
Season two picks up exactly where its predecessor left off, with Jessie and Tom’s bus ride segueing into a WTF realisation — as in “WTF do we do now?”. That’s a query that Jessie isn’t ready to answer, even though she’s made the big leap and missed her flight home. So, she avoids even tackling the situation at first, and then eschews fully committing even when she’s meant to be in the throes of romantic bliss. Basically, it’s messy, and the kind of chaos that rom-coms don’t show when they end with a happily-ever-after moment. Like everyone, Jessie and Tom endure plenty. In the process, this gem of a show’s second season is light but also deep, a screwball delight while also sharp and relatable, and still filled with fellow romantic-comedy references. And, as well as continuing to showcase Matafeo at her best, it remains a rom-com that’s as aware of what relationships in 2022 are really like as it is about how romance is typically portrayed in its genre.
Atlanta‘s third season hit with two pieces of fantastic news, and one inevitable but not-so-welcome reality. Dropping four years after season two, it’s one of two seasons that’ll air this year — and it’s as extraordinary as the Donald Glover-created and -starring (and often -written and -directed) show has ever been — but when season four arrives later in 2022, that’ll be the end of this deserved award-winner. The latter makes revelling in what Atlanta has for viewers now all the more special, although this series always earns that description anyway. Just as Jordan Peele has done on the big screen with Get Out and Us after building upon his excellent sketch comedy series Key & Peele, Glover lays bare what it’s like to be Black in America today with brutally smart and honest precision, and also makes it blisteringly apparent that both horror and so-wild-and-terrifying-that-you-can-only-laugh comedy remains the default.
Actually, in the season-three episodes that focus on Glover’s Earnest ‘Earn’ Marks, his cousin and rapper Alfred ‘Paper Boi’ Miles (Brian Tyree Henry, Eternals), their Nigerian American pal Darius (Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah) and Earn’s ex Vanessa (Zazie Beetz, The Harder They Fall), the lived experience of being a Black American anywhere is thrust into the spotlight. Paper Boi is on tour in Europe, which results in an on-the-road onslaught of antics that repeatedly put the quartet at the mercy of white bullshit — racist traditions, money-hungry rich folks looking to cash in on someone else’s culture, scheming hangers-on, brands using Black artists for politically correct PR stunts and culinary gentrification all included. And then there’s the standalone stories, all of which’d make excellent movies. Proving astute, incisive, sometimes-absurd, always-stellar and relentlessly surprising, here Atlanta examines the welfare system and in its inequalities, reparations for slavery, and the emotional and physical labour outsourced to Black workers.
Returning for its second season three years after its first — which was one of the best shows of 2019 — the gorgeously and thoughtfully trippy multiverse series Undone is fixated on one idea: that life’s flaws can be fixed. It always has been from the moment its eight-episode initial season appeared with its vivid rotoscoped animation and entrancing leaps into surreal territory; however, in season two it doubles down. Hailing from BoJack Horseman duo Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg, it also remains unsurprisingly concerned with mental illness, and still sees its protagonist caught in an existential crisis. (The pair have a type, but Undone isn’t BoJack Horseman 2.0). And, it deeply understands that it’s spinning a “what if?” story, and also one about deep-seated unhappiness. Indeed, learning to cope with being stuck in an imperfect life, being unable to wish it away and accepting that fate beams brightly away at the heart of the show.
During its debut outing, Undone introduced viewers to 28-year-old Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar, Alita: Battle Angel), who found everything she thought she knew pushed askew after a near-fatal car accident. Suddenly, she started experiencing time and her memories differently — including those of her father, Jacob Winograd (Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul), who died over 20 years earlier. In a vision, he tasked her with investigating his death, which became a quest to patch up the past to stop tragedy from striking. Undone didn’t necessarily need a second season, but this repeat dive into Alma’s story ponders what happens in a timeline where everything seems to glimmer with all that its protagonist has ever wanted, and yet sorrow still lingers. Once again, the end result is deeply rich and resonant, as intelligent and affecting as sci-fi and animation alike get, and dedicated to thinking and feeling big while confronting everyday truths.
In 2021, Hacks‘ first season quickly cemented itself as one of 2021’s best new TV shows — one of two knockout newbies starring Jean Smart last year, thanks to Mare of Easttown as well — and it’s just as ace the second time around. It’s still searingly funny, nailing that often-elusive blend of insight, intelligence and hilarity. It retains its observational, wry tone, and remains devastatingly relatable even if you’ve never been a woman trying to make it in comedy. And it’s happy to linger where it needs to to truly understand its characters, but never simply dwells in the same place as its last batch of episodes. Season two is literally about hitting the road, so covering fresh territory is baked into the story; however, Hacks‘ trio of key behind-the-scenes creatives — writer Jen Statsky (The Good Place), writer/director Lucia Aniello (Rough Night) and writer/director/co-star Paul W Downs (The Other Two) — aren’t content to merely repeat themselves with a different backdrop.
Those guiding hands started Hacks after helping to make Broad City a hit. Clearly, they all know a thing or two about moving on from the past. That’s the decision both veteran comedian Deborah Vance (Smart) and her twentysomething writer-turned-assistant Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder, North Hollywood) had to make themselves in season one, with the show’s second season now charting the fallout. So, Deborah has farewelled her residency and the dependable gags that kept pulling in crowds, opting to test out new and far-more-personal material on a cross-country tour instead. Ava has accepted her role by Deborah’s side, and is willing to see it as a valid career move rather than an embarrassing stopgap. But that journey comes a few narrative bumps. Of course, Hacks has always been willing to see that actions have consequences, not only for an industry that repeatedly marginalises women, but for its imperfect leading ladies.
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING
Born out of the world’s recent true-crime and podcasting obsessions — and the intersection of the two in the likes of Serial — Only Murders in the Building boasts its own version of Sarah Koenig. In this marvellous murder-mystery comedy, she’s called Cinda Canning (Tina Fey, Girls5eva). As viewers of the show’s impressive and entertaining first season know, though, she’s not the main focus. Instead, Only Murders in the Building hones in on three New Yorkers residing in the Arconia apartment complex — where, as the program’s name makes plain, there’s a murder. There’s several, but it only takes one to initially bring actor Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin, It’s Complicated), theatre producer Oliver Putnam (Martin Short, Schmigadoon!) and the much-younger Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez, The Dead Don’t Die) together. The trio then turn amateur detectives, and turn that sleuthing into their own podcast, which also shares the show’s title.
In season two, the series returns to the same scene. Yes, there’s another killing. No time has passed for Only Murders in the Building‘s characters — and, while plenty has changed since the series’ debut episode last year, plenty remains the same. Viewers now know Charles, Oliver and Mabel better, and they all know each other better, but that only makes things more complicated. Indeed, there’s a lived-in vibe to the program and its main figures this time around, rather than every episode feeling like a new discovery. Among the many things that Only Murders in the Building does exceptionally well, finding multiple ways to parallel on- and off-screen experiences ranks right up there. That applies to true-crime and podcast fixations, naturally, and also to getting to know someone, learning their ins and outs, and finding your comfort zone even when life’s curveballs keep coming.
From the very first frames of its debut episode back in June 2019, when just-out-of-rehab 17-year-old Rue Bennett (Zendaya, Spider-Man: No Way Home) gave viewers the lowdown on her life, mindset, baggage, friends, family and everyday chaos, Euphoria has courted attention — or, mirroring the tumultuous teens at the centre of its dramas, the Emmy-winning HBO series just knew that eyeballs would come its way no matter what it did. The brainchild of filmmaker Sam Levinson (Malcolm & Marie), adapted from an Israeli series by the same name, and featuring phenomenal work by its entire cast, it’s flashy, gritty, tense, raw, stark and wild, and manages to be both hyper-stylised to visually striking degree and deeply empathetic. In other words, if teen dramas reflect the times they’re made — and from Degrassi, Press Gang and Beverly Hills 90210 through to The OC, Friday Night Lights and Skins, they repeatedly have — Euphoria has always been a glittery eyeshadow-strewn sign of today’s times.
That hasn’t changed in the show’s second season. Almost two and a half years might’ve elapsed between Euphoria‘s first and second batch of episodes — a pair of out-of-season instalments in late 2020 and early 2021 aside — but it’s still as potent, intense and addictive as ever. And, as dark, as Rue’s life and those of her pals (with the cast including Hunter Schafer, The King of Staten Island‘s Maude Apatow, The Kissing Booth franchise’s Jacob Elordi, The White Lotus‘ Sydney Sweeney, The Afterparty‘s Barbie Ferreira, North Hollywood‘s Angus Cloud and Waves‘ Alexa Demie) bobs and weaves through everything from suicidal despair, Russian Roulette, bloody genitals, unforgettable school plays, raucous parties and just garden-variety 2022-era teen angst. The list always goes on; in fact, as once again relayed in Levinson’s non-stop, hyper-pop style, the relentlessness that is being a teenager today, trying to work out who you are and navigating all that the world throws at you is Euphoria‘s point.
Euphoria is available to stream via Binge.
Getting philosophical about existence can mean flitting between two extremes. At one end, life means everything, so we need to make the absolute most of it. At the other, nothing at all matters. When genre-bending and mind-melting time-loop comedy-drama Russian Doll first hit Netflix in 2019, it served up a party full of mysteries — a repeating shindig overflowing with chaos and questions, to be precise — but it also delivered a few absolute truths, too. Fact one: it’s possible to posit that life means everything and nothing at once, all by watching Natasha Lyonne relive the same day (and same 36th-birthday celebrations) over and over. Fact two: a show led by the Orange Is the New Black, Irresistible and The United States vs Billie Holiday star, and co-created by the actor with Parks and Recreation‘s Amy Poehler, plus Bachelorette and Sleeping with Other People filmmaker Leslye Headland, was always going be a must-see.
Here’s a third fact as well: after cementing itself as one of the best TV shows of 2019, and one of the smartest, savviest and funniest in the process, Russian Doll‘s long-awaited second season is equally wonderful. In glorious news for sweet birthday babies, it’s also smarter and weirder across its seven episodes, this time following Lyonne’s self-destructive video-game designer Nadia and mild-mannered fellow NYC-dweller Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett, You) as they tackle another trippy problem. After being caught in a Groundhog Day-style situation last season, now death isn’t their problem. Instead, time is. It was an issue before, given the duo couldn’t move with it, only back through the same events — but here, via the New York subway’s No 6 train, Nadia and Alan speed into the past to explore cause and effect, inherited struggles and intergenerational trauma.
Lycra-clad ladies of the 80s and 90s making their mark in a ruthless, consumer-driven and male-dominated world, all by getting active: as far as on-screen niches go, that’s particularly niche. It’s also growing. Back in 80s itself, Flashdance did it. Starring a fantastic Kirsten Dunst, the sadly cancelled-too-soon 2019 series On Becoming a God in Central Florida did as well. For three seasons from 2017–19, GLOW similarly stepped into the ring. And since 2021, Apple TV+’s Physical has, too. What a feeling indeed. Now back for season two, the latter sports a staggering lead performance, a superb supporting cast and a complex premise unpacked with precision, as well as a pitch-perfect vibe and a killer 80s soundtrack.
Season one of Physical didn’t quite see Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne, Irresistible) get everything she’d ever fantasised about. Rather, it followed the San Diego housewife as she pursued something she didn’t even know she wanted until her endorphins kicked in at an aerobics class. Now, she’s the star of her own fitness tape — and spruiking it, be it in supermarkets or by hosting public aerobics sessions, has become her life. But while she’s in control of every exercise move she makes, earning the same power in her relationships, and in business, isn’t as straightforward. She’s still stuck in a rut with her husband Danny (Rory Scovel, I Feel Pretty), to put it mildly. She’s still caught in a torrid affair with grim Mormon business developer John Breem (Paul Sparks, Castle Rock), too. And while she starts leaning on her wealthy and supportive best friend Greta (Dierdre Friel, Second Act) more, she’s also unable to shake the engrained notion that needing anyone’s help is a sign of weakness. And then there’s the help she hopes to get from fellow aerobics instructor Vinnie Green (The White Lotus scene-stealer Murray Bartlett).
Finally back for its fourth season after a three-year wait (yes, finally), Stranger Things ventures beyond its trusty small-town setting of Hawkins, Indiana, and in several directions. It keeps its nods and winks to flicks and shows gone by streaming steadily of course — but expanding is firmly on its mind. Once again overseen by series creators The Duffer Brothers, its latest batch of episodes is bigger and longer, with no instalment clocking in at less than an hour, and several at flat-out movie length. Its teenage stars are bigger and taller as well, ageing further and faster than their characters. The show has matured past riffing on early-80s action-adventure flicks, too, such as The Goonies; now, it’s onto slashers and other horror films, complete with new characters called Fred and Jason. And with that, Stranger Things also gets bloodier and eerier.
That said, it’s still the show that viewers have loved since 2016, when not even Netflix likely realised what it had unleashed — and no, that doesn’t just include the demogorgon escaping from the Upside Down. But everything is growing, as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown, Godzilla vs Kong), her boyfriend Mike (Finn Wolfhard, Ghostbusters: Afterlife), and their pals Will (Noah Schnapp, Waiting for Anya), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo, The Angry Birds Movie 2), Max (Sadie Sink, Fear Street) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin, Concrete Cowboy) all visibly have. Eleven, Will, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton, The Souvenir Part II) and Joyce (Winona Ryder, The Plot Against America) have branched out to California, and Mike comes to visit. Back in Hawkins, Dustin, Lucas, Max, Steve (Joe Keery, Free Guy), Robin (Maya Hawke, Fear Street) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer, Things Seen & Heard) have a new evil to face. And, as for Hopper (David Harbour, Black Widow), he’s stuck in a Russian gulag. Yes, things get chaotic from there, Kate Bush and Metallica needle-drops included.
In savage and savvy caped-crusader satire The Boys, it has been evident since episode one that Homelander (Antony Starr, Banshee) is a fraud. He’s America’s favourite superhero, as well as the leader of top-tier supe crew The Seven — and he uses his public persona as a shield for his twisted ego, soul-devouring insecurities, arrogance and selfishness. As instalment after instalment of the show passes, his sinister true nature keeps burning. In The Boys‘ third season, Homelander may as well be America’s most recent ex-President, complete with unhinged rants and an at-any-cost desperation to retain control. The comics that this series is based on were actually published from 2006–12, but the show they’ve spawned is firmly steeped in the polarised US of the past six or so years. Subtlety hardly comes with the territory here, and yet it doesn’t make The Boys any less potent.
The in-show alternative to Homelander’s psychopathic, egotistical, world-threatening existence: the ragtag gang of vigilantes that shares the series’ name. Led by cynical-as-fuck Brit Billy Butcher (Karl Urban, Thor: Ragnarok), they remain intent on bringing down The Seven and Vought, the all-encompassing company behind it, as always. About year has passed since season two, however, and Hughie (Jack Quaid, Scream) now works with congresswoman Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit, Where’d You Go, Bernadette) at the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs, countering misbehaving superheroes the legal way. That involves overseeing Butcher and fellow pals Frenchie (Tomer Capone, One on One) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara, Suicide Squad), but this wouldn’t be The Boys if their battle was that straightforward. It also wouldn’t be The Boys if everything that followed wasn’t wild and OTT to a jaw-dropping degree, oh-so-astute about popular culture and consumerism today, brimming in blood and Billy Joel songs, and always biting deeper — and sharper.
Ted Lasso is the Apple TV+ series that’s been scoring all the praise and love for the past few years, and rightfully so — but the platform’s M Night Shyamalan-produced Servant is also one of its winners. Perched at the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the warm-hearted soccer comedy, this eerie horror effort spends the bulk of its time in a well-appointed Philadelphia brownstone where TV news reporter Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose, The X-Files) and her chef husband Sean (Toby Kebbell, Bloodshot) appear the picture of wealthy happiness, complete with a newborn son, Jericho, to fulfil their perfect family portrait. But as 18-year-old nanny Leanne Grayson (Nell Tiger Free, Too Old to Die Young) quickly learned in Servant‘s first season, there’s nothing normal about their baby — which, after the tot’s death, has been replaced by a lookalike doll to calm the otherwise-catatonic Dorothy’s grief.
That’s how the series began back in 2019, with its second season deepening its mysteries — and Leanne’s place with the Turners, even as her own unconventional background with cult ties keeps bringing up questions. In Servant‘s third season, the household is once again attempting to pretend that everything is normal and to also keep Dorothy unaware of the real Jericho’s fate, even with a flesh-and-blood infant now back in her arms. But in a slowly paced series that’s perfected its unsettling and insidious tone from episode one, serves up a clever blend of atmospheric and claustrophobic thrills mixed with gripping performances, makes exceptional use of its setting and also features Rupert Grint in his best post-Harry Potter role yet, there’s always more engrossing twists to rock the status quo.
Servant is available to stream via Apple TV+.
Mike Schur sure does have a type. If you’re a fan of Parks and Recreation, The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Office, though, that won’t be new news. And if you watched the television producer and writer’s great first season of Rutherford Falls as well, you will have spotted all his usual touches at work — which doesn’t change in season two. By no means is this a criticism. His various different series feel like siblings, not clones; they share similar traits, but there’s so much about their individual personalities that remains distinctive. Here, the fact that Rutherford Falls is a show deeply steeped in a Native American community gives it a wealth of avenues to go down, as well as plenty that’s purely the sitcom’s alone. Also crucial: the influence of co-creator and showrunner Sierra Teller Ornelas (Superstore), and the strong commitment to exploring the treatment of First Nations peoples in America today.
Rutherford Falls‘ latest batch of episodes follows one of its characters running for local office, for instance, which is a scenario that Parks devotees will instantly recognise. And yet, what that means in a small town that’s struggling to address the colonial impact upon its original inhabitants, the Minishonka Nation, is always its real focus. What everything means here is filtered through that lens — including teenage aspiring mayor Bobbie Yang (Jesse Leigh, Heathers), enterprising CEO of the Minishonka Nation casino Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes, Firestarter), cultural centre head Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding, Reservation Dogs) and her best friend Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms, Ron’s Gone Wrong). It’s noticeable that Helms is no longer the show’s anchor, too. Indeed, the already smart, funny and warm series spends its excellent second season showing how Nathan wants to de-centre himself from hogging the town’s limelight, and puts that idea in motion itself.
Rutherford Falls is available to stream via Stan.
Looking for more viewing highlights? We picked the 15 best new TV shows of 2022, too.
We also keep a running list of must-stream TV from across the year so far, complete with full reviews.
And, you can check out our list of film and TV streaming recommendations, which is updated monthly.