The best TV performances of 2022

Is it just us or is TV better than ever? The past year, the small screen has gifted us an embarrassment of riches when it comes to making us laugh so hard we cry, or cry so hard we get dehydrated. From The White Lotus to Andor, This Is Us to Wednesday, The Boys to The Crown, TV actors leveled up to deliver performances we haven't been able to stop thinking about all year long. Here, in no particular order, EW celebrates the best performances — both individual and ensembles — we were blessed with in 2022.

Sydney Sweeney as Cassie on Euphoria, Joe Quinn as Eddie on Stranger Things, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams on Wednesday, Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan on Ms. Marvel, and Tony Dalton as Lalo Better Call Saul
Sydney Sweeney as Cassie on Euphoria, Joe Quinn as Eddie on Stranger Things, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams on Wednesday, Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan on Ms. Marvel, and Tony Dalton as Lalo Better Call Saul

AMC / HBO / Netflix / Disney

Elizabeth Debicki, <i>The Crown</i>

Season 5 of The Crown had the "Revenge Dress," the controversial Panorama interview, the royal divorce — but Elizabeth Debicki didn't need those recreations to show us the true essence of Lady Diana. Her most powerful moment as the People's Princess came in a brief and lovely scene at the end of episode 3 — one that was almost certainly fictional. Sitting with Mohamed Al-Fayed (Salim Daw) at a royal horse show, Diana and the Harrod's owner bond almost instantly over their failed attempts to curry favor with the Queen (Imelda Staunton). Diana and Al-Fayed are two outsiders within "the system," and in this one scene Debicki conjures some of Diana's most endearing qualities — her saucy wit, her bold honesty, her self-deprecating charm — to create a rare and thrilling portrait of the Princess at ease. —Kristen Baldwin 

The Crown Season 5
The Crown Season 5

Patty Guggenheim, <i>She-Hulk: Attorney at Law</i>

The Marvel Cinematic Universe's first half-hour comedy, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, was chock-full of irreverent humor poking fun at the seriousness of the past 15 years of big-budget, plot-heavy action and full of dynamite and fresh performances from Tatiana Maslany, Mark Ruffalo, Tim Roth, and so many more. That's what makes Patty Guggenheim's debut as Madisynn (with one Y and two N's, but it's not where you thiiiink) all the more impressive. Her perpetually drunk party girl was an instant fan-favorite from the very first second she appeared onscreen, too tipsy to understand how dangerous that magic show gone awry/hell dimension really was. The MCU's newest icon spent the rest of the season binge-watching TV with her new BFF "Wongers" — a.k.a. Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) — and stealing our hearts with each impeccably slurred line delivery (a lot of which were improvised!). Marvel decision-makers, greenlight a Madisynn and Wong BFF comedy series next! —Sydney Bucksbaum

SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW
SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW

Renée Zellweger, <i>The Thing About Pam</i>

While not officially described as a dark comedy, Renée Zellweger's stunning portrayal of the murderous Pam Hupp sure made it seem like one at times. Based on the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria that resulted in the conviction of her husband, The Thing About Pam was one of 2022's many true crime stories-turned-podcast-turned-television special. While the concept of intertwining dark comedy with a real-life murder case might turn some off, the show was sure to keep the tone as serious as it needed to be, reminding viewers that the real thing about Pam was how she was able to convince a DA and police department to look the other way when it came to her heinous crime. At times, Renée's performance as Pam reminds you of her portrayal of Chicago's Roxie Hart: A stone-cold bottle blonde willing to do anything to stay out of jail. —Alexis Wilson

THE THING ABOUT PAM
THE THING ABOUT PAM

Ebon Moss-Bachrach, <i>The Bear</i>

Of all the tragic figures in The Bear, Richard "Richie" Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bacharach) might be the most heartbreaking. Loud and stubborn, Richie fights against every improvement that young owner/chef Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) makes to The Beef. But his mission to preserve the restaurant is really about preserving the memory of his best friend Mikey (Jon Bernthal), who died by suicide offscreen and bequeathed The Beef to Carmy. Episode 6, "Ceres," opens with a flashback and a performance that says it all: While prepping Sunday dinner, Richie and Mikey dominate the kitchen, recalling a wild night out to Carmy and sister Sugar (Abby Elliot). Moss-Bachrach and Bernthal are an incredible duo, finishing each other's sentences while Moss-Bachrach beams with brotherly affection. Cutting back to the present, Richie fails to impress a date with the same story, and Moss-Bachrach's visible disappointment reveals the smoking crater left by Mikey's death. Richie knows he wasn't meant to be a solo act. —Chuck Kerr

FX's THE BEAR &quot;Sheridan&quot; (Airs Thursday, June 23) Pictured: Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richard 'Richie' Jerimovich
FX's THE BEAR "Sheridan" (Airs Thursday, June 23) Pictured: Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richard 'Richie' Jerimovich

Jenna Ortega, <i>Wednesday</i>

If your show is called Wednesday, you simply cannot mess up the casting of, well, Wednesday Addams. And Netflix's new Addams family series knocked it out of the park when it cast Jenna Ortega as the iconic character. Ortega was able to deliver all the things viewers have come to expect from Wednesday — her razor-sharp monotonous comebacks, her impossible-to-read expressions — while also bringing a new, reinvigorated spirit to her older version of the character. She's a teenager who cares about her friends (and even kisses a boy)! Plus, Ortega deserves all the credit for acting opposite a hand in so many (great) scenes. —Samantha Highfill

Wednesday
Wednesday

Joseph Quinn, <i>Stranger Things</i>

If 1986 was Eddie Munson's year, then 2022 belongs to the man underneath the metalhead's magic mane: Joseph Quinn. The Stranger Things star's sparkling portrayal of the unapologetic, lunch table-stomping leader of Hawkins High's Hellfire Club could've just been a one-note performance, but instead Quinn skillfully imbues Eddie with a heart of gold and a charming, dry wit that makes his transformation from fearful fugitive into full-on head-banging hero all the more satisfying. (Seriously, that "Master of Puppets" performance pulled on everyone's heartstrings.) Entering a well-established series in its fourth season is no easy feat, but Eddie passes the test with flying colors and, like all great musicians, leaves fans desperately wanting more. Like an appearance in season 5, please? —Emlyn Travis

STRANGER THINGS
STRANGER THINGS

Andy Serkis, <i>Andor </i>

After playing Supreme Leader Snoke in the sequel trilogy, Andy Serkis returned to a galaxy far, far away as inmate Kino Loy in the Imperial prison factory Narkina 5 on Andor. At first, Serkis's shift supervisor has no time for talk about rebellion, he simply wants to beat the other prison levels at the facility's deadly production game. But once he and Cassian (Diego Luna) discover a whole floor of inmates has been killed to hide the fact the Empire has no intention of releasing them once their sentences are up, Kino sparks a thrilling prison break as he rallies their fellow inmates to strike a blow against the Empire. But once Kino discovers the prison is surrounded by water,  his simple declaration that "I can't swim" proves that the King of Motion Capture needs no CGI to deliver a devastating performance. —Lauren Morgan

Andy Serkis as Kino Loy in Andor
Andy Serkis as Kino Loy in Andor

Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, <i>Dead to Me</i>

Murder takes a back seat during Jen and Judy's final excursion to skirt the law — and Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini deliver both humorous and gutting swan songs as the trauma-bonded besties. Jen must contend with manslaughter, a surprise pregnancy, and Judy's terminal cancer diagnosis, one that evokes her own mother's death from the disease. Judy must contend with arduous treatment and sewing up loose ends. Applegate — who was determined to finish the final season despite the challenges of her multiple sclerosis diagnosis — triumphs at the finish line hard fought for through Jen's stoic resolve (plus, many, many F-bombs), while Cardellini bids farewell in quiet but affecting moments. We're raising a glass of orange wine to these powerhouse performances. —Jessica Wang

DEAD TO ME
DEAD TO ME

Mark Proksch, <i>What We Do in the Shadows</i>

This vampire mockumentary is packed with delightfully unhinged performances — whether it's Kayvan Novak reciting Barenaked Ladies lyrics or Matt Berry waxing poetic about "his pal, his homeboy, his rotten soldier." But the season 4 standout was Mark Proksch, who's starred in all four seasons as the bland energy vampire Colin Robinson. After Colin's shocking death in the season 3 finale, he was reborn as an infant, and Proksch plays him at every age, rapidly growing from wobbly toddler to tap-dancing tween to surly teenager. It's inherently hilarious to see Proksch's adult head pasted onto a tiny child's body, but it's made even better by Proksch's wholly committed performance. You'll never think of vaudeville the same way again. —Devan Coggan

“WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS” -- Pictured (L-R): Mark Proksch as Colin Robinson. CR: Pari Dukovic/FX
“WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS” -- Pictured (L-R): Mark Proksch as Colin Robinson. CR: Pari Dukovic/FX

Freddie Stroma, <i>Peacemaker</i>

One of the best parts of Peacemaker almost didn't exist. Freddie Stroma — an actor with the most fascinating resumé you'll ever see — joined the HBO Max series halfway through filming, taking over the role of DC Comics antihero Adrian Chase/Vigilante (from Chris Conrad) and undergoing massive amounts of reshoots to catch back up. It's hard to imagine what the role would have looked like without Stroma bringing the sweet sociopath to life because on paper, Peacemaker's BFF (according to Adrian, not Peacemaker) is an absolutely unhinged serial killer who feels no remorse for any murders he commits and you should hate him ... yet you just can't help but love him. Stroma portrays him with a confusing mix of naïve innocence and savage brutality, equal parts hilarious, sad, horrifying, and adorable all at the same time. We still haven't gotten over that iconic prison fight scene 12 months later! —S.B.

Peacemaker Season 1 - Episode 7 Freddie Stroma
Peacemaker Season 1 - Episode 7 Freddie Stroma

Paddy Considine, <i>House of the Dragon</i>

King Viserys I Targaryen is not much of a character in George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood, as the author himself even admits. In the grand history of House Targaryen, Viserys basically functions as a stopgap between the long, glorious reign of King Jaeherys and the disastrous civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. Given this lackluster source material, it was an extremely pleasant surprise to watch Paddy Considine bring King Viserys to life in three dimensions on House of the Dragon. The on-screen Viserys had a tragic sense of destiny — thanks to his visions of a coming ice-zombie apocalypse we know he won't stop. He also had genuine love for his daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock and Emma D'Arcy), and Considine played that familial pathos across the years as one of the only actors on the show who maintained his role through multiple time jumps. He made viewers believe that Viserys was the only person in King's Landing who couldn't see the inevitable conflict between Rhaenyra and his second wife Alicent (Emily Carey and Olivia Cooke). Over the course of Game of Thrones, viewers saw many different kinds of leaders take power in Westeros: some sadistic, some ineffective, some damaged beyond repair. Considine's Viserys was the most tragic of all: a leader who just wants to be beloved by everyone, too naïve to realize that's impossible. —Christian Holub

House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon

Andrew Garfield, <i>Under the Banner of Heaven</i>

Based on a true story, Under the Banner of Heaven follows Detective Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield) attempting to solve the brutal double-murder of Mormon housewife Brenda Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her infant daughter. Garfield says that his character was "a less emotionally expressive character" than what he's been playing recently, yet his performance allowed audiences to see right into the struggles he faced. Watching the show, you couldn't help but feel for Garfield's character and the challenges he was up against, especially surrounding his faith. Garfield even secured an Emmy nomination for his role in the limited series. —Jess Leon

UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN
UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN

Antony Starr, <i>The Boys</i>

After two seasons of hiding his twisted true self from the public eye, star-spangled psychopath Homelander (Antony Starr) finally drops the Super Friend act in The Boys' third season. Starr does his best work on the show to date, revealing flashes of vulnerability and oceans of self-loathing as the character reels from the revelation that Jensen Ackles' OG supe Soldier Boy — the one character powerful enough to kill him — is his biological father. But while that family reunion ends explosively, Homelander ultimately finds acceptance from the fans that cheer his every fascist move (including murdering a protester with heat vision). Now that Homelander's mask is off, so are the gloves. —C.K.

The Boys season 3
The Boys season 3

Selma Blair, <i>Dancing With the Stars</i>

Though Selma Blair didn't win this season of Dancing With the Stars (she bowed out fairly early due to health reasons), she still gave us the most memorable run of any contestant on the long-running reality competition series this year. Blair pushed through the challenges of her MS to deliver stunning performances, from her emotional blindfolded (!) rumba to "For Your Eyes Only" to her exuberant quickstep (complete with a dang cartwheel) to The Muppets Show theme song. But it wasn't even her dancing that made her one of our favorite performers this year — it was her bravery and her grace in putting her body on the line and then knowing when to quit. We don't have enough examples in our culture of people putting their health and wellbeing first. But there's truly nothing more courageous. — Maureen Lee Lenker

Dancing with the Stars Selma Blair
Dancing with the Stars Selma Blair

The cast of <i>Yellowjackets</i>

When a show casts Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, and Tawny Cypress, viewers have high expectations. And make no mistake, those expectations were exceeded as all four Yellowjackets stars masterfully played women battling with the trauma of their months spent in the wilderness (and the mysteries that still affect them today). But just as many great things can (and should) be said about the drama's teen cast. Sophie Thatcher, Sophie Nélisse, Samantha Hanratty, and Jasmin Savoy — along with Liv Hewson, Courtney Eaton, and others — had to play out life in the wilderness, from the initial shock of the crash to the mushroom-induced craziness of the penultimate episode. The show doesn't work if you don't believe the complicated dynamics at play in the wildnerness, and this cast made sure we, like Lottie, believe. —S.H.

YELLOWJACKETS
YELLOWJACKETS

Sydney Sweeney, <i>Euphoria</i>

Cassie Howard entered her villain era on Euphoria this season, and Sydney Sweeney deserves all the awards for bringing every complex, nuanced aspect of her downward spiral to life beautifully. In what easily could have been relegated to comic relief (just look at the amount of memes and viral TikTok sounds/trends inspired by her this season alone), in Sweeney's hands, Cassie's unraveling was gut wrenching to watch — and yet you just couldn't tear your eyes away from the acting masterclass she delivered onscreen week in and week out. As Cassie slept with her BFF's ex, hid their toxic relationship, and lied to everyone in her life, every moment of wide-eyed panic, barely restrained rage, or compulsive self-care routine carried a through line of a teen desperately hanging on by a thread while self-destructively raising the scissors to cut it herself. But don't worry, she's "never, ever been happier!" despite her disastrous season 2 finale meltdown onstage in front of her entire school. Here's hoping Cassie's life improves in season 3 ... just as long as Sweeney keeps getting great material to work with. —S.B.

sydney sweeney
sydney sweeney

Iman Vellani, <i>Ms. Marvel</i>

Iman Vellani was still a preteen when Kamala Khan made her comics debut in 2013 — but the Pakistani-Canadian actress is so perfect in the role, it feels like it could've been written just for her. The now 20-year-old Vellani plays Kamala with a giddy, wide-eyed wonder, and her joy in the role is infectious. As an added bonus, the actress herself is an obsessive Marvel fangirl, just like the character she plays on screen. (She's been known to geek out over her favorite heroes or pepper Kevin Feige with nerdy questions.) The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for its impeccable casting, but Vellani might be their smartest casting choice yet. —D.C.

Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan in 'Ms. Marvel'
Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan in 'Ms. Marvel'

Maya Rudolph, <i>Loot</i>

With Loot, Apple TV+'s luxe comedy on the folly of mega-fortune, Maya Rudolph finally got to take the wheel of her own star vehicle as Molly Wells, the philanthropist wife of a philandering billionaire who, after divorcing him, becomes the third richest woman in America. Determined to put her sizable money where her mouth and her name is, Molly takes on a more direct role in the charity she forgot she founded, the Wells Foundation, throwing the organization and her life into chaos as she struggles, very publicly, to find her purpose. Even at Molly's most embarrassing moments — a disastrous Hot Ones interview, drinking human waste water onstage at a rich person tech summit, or getting a literal pie in the face — you can't help but root for her and that's the real trick in Rudolph's performance: making a billionaire a believable underdog. —Lester Brathwaite

Loot
Loot

Meghann Fahy, <i>The White Lotus</i>

Meghann Fahy was the best part of The Bold Type, but now she's finally getting the chance to shine like the true star she is on The White Lotus. She originally auditioned for Alexandra Daddario's season 1 role, but it was a blessing in disguise that she ultimately didn't land it because her season 2 turn as the seemingly idyllic rich housewife Daphne allowed her to deliver a much more impressive performance (Emmy voters, pay attention!). As each layer gets peeled back, revealing the darker secrets and vengeful antics Daphne's been hiding from her husband and the world, Fahy lets the mask of her blissful facade slip in blind-and-you'll-miss-it moments that have you (and her new vacation bestie Harper [Aubrey Plaza]) questioning whether you actually imagined it. Her warm charm covers up a cold reality, and it's hard to know whether you're supposed to root for Daphne or hate her just as much as her aggressive, immoral husband Cameron (Theo James). One thing's for sure, though: she was the only guest confirmed to make it out of season 2 alive from the very beginning. —S.B.

The White Lotus
The White Lotus

Simone Ashley, <i>Bridgerton</i>

We all burned for Simone Ashley in BridgertonNetflix fans were familiar with her from Sex Education, but her work on Bridgerton showed a different side of her acting chops. Everyone thought Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page) would be their favorite Bridgerton couple, but that was before we were delightfully treated to Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma's (Ashley) blooming enemies-to-lovers relationship. Falling in love with her sister's fiancé isn't ideal and Ashley had us all feeling for her character in this situation. Audiences were so captivated by the chemistry Ashley had with Bailey to the point where we will be seeing even more of their relationship in season 3. —J.L.   

Bridgerton Season 2
Bridgerton Season 2

Mandy Moore, <i>This Is Us</i>

Over the course of six seasons of This Is Us, Mandy Moore turned in some of the most nuanced, complex dramatic work on television this decade (no thanks to Emmy voters). It's impossible to overstate how incredible it was to watch her believably play a woman in her early 20s through to her elder years. But we were most wowed by her final stretch of episodes. The series' end showcased her as an ailing Rebecca in her final days, requiring assistance to get dressed or even sit up. But it also gave us Rebecca in her prime, revisiting the most cherished memories of her life in "The Train" as she approached her death. There was a graceful finality about her performance, a melancholy blend of joy and loss that seemed to capture the inexpressible, exquisite heartbreak of grief and nostalgia. It's hard to imagine we'll see another performance with this level of range and subtlety any time soon — but Mandy left us wanting Moore. —M.L.L.

THIS IS US -- “Day of the Wedding” Episode 613 -- Pictured: Mandy Moore as Rebecca -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
THIS IS US -- “Day of the Wedding” Episode 613 -- Pictured: Mandy Moore as Rebecca -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Henry Winkler, <i>Barry</i>

Look, the entire Barry ensemble is fantastic. Sarah Goldberg, Bill Hader, and Anthony Carrigan all turned in top-tier performances this year, and you could make a case for any one of them to be on this list. But it's Henry Winkler who steals season 3, adding new layers to the hilarious and deplorable Gene Cousineau. Winkler carefully walks the line between sympathetic and pathetic, and the season follows his washed-up acting teacher as he juggles secrets, attempts a Hollywood comeback, and tries to outrun a pack of dogs. The 76-year-old Winkler has been a beloved TV icon for decades, but Barry proves that he still knows how to make us laugh — and how to make us cry. —D.C.

Henry Winkler HBO Barry Season 3 - Episode 8
Henry Winkler HBO Barry Season 3 - Episode 8

Elle Fanning, <i>The Girl From Plainville</i>

Inspired by the true story of Michelle Carter's unprecedented "texting-suicide" case, The Girl From Plainville could arguably be considered one of Elle Fanning's most heartrending performances. After a pretty jarring transformation, Fanning had the difficult job of portraying a very loaded character that the show itself has nothing particular to say about. Based on the Esquire article of the same name, the show follows the relationship between Conrad Roy III and Michelle Carter, along with the events that led to his death, and ultimately, her conviction of involuntary manslaughter. Colton Ryan delivers an emotionally gripping performance of a socially awkward, depressed teen while Chloë Sevigny offers an equally moving performance as a mother experiencing extreme grief, topped only by Fanning delivering an unforgettable scene as she rehearses a Lea Michele Glee monologue word-for-word—mannerisms and all. A difficult role to take on, Fanning conveys the complicated case of Michelle Carter in a way that very few could. —A.W.

The Girl From Plainville -- “Mirrorball”
The Girl From Plainville -- “Mirrorball”

Gbemisola Ikumelo, <i>A League of Their Own</i>

A League of Their Own may be a baseball show, but one of the best characters isn't a baseball player at all. Gbemisola Ikumelo shines as Clance Morgan, an aspiring comic book artist and best friend to pitcher Max Chapman (Chanté Adams). Together, the two have a sparkling chemistry, whether they're working overtime at the Rockford screw factory or plotting a scheme to get Max on a professional baseball team. Warm and fiercely loyal, Clance anchors some of the funniest and most emotional scenes in the show, making her A League of Their Own's ultimate MVP. —D.C.

Gbemisola Ikumelo on A League of Their Own
Gbemisola Ikumelo on A League of Their Own

Amanda Seyfried, <i>The Dropout</i>

Amanda Seyfried's uncanny performance as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has already earned her an Emmy Award and the respect of Jennifer Lawrence who was so wowed by Seyfried that she dropped out of another planned Holmes project. From Holmes' unnervingly deep voice to her penchant for Steve Jobs-like black turtlenecks, Seyfried seemed almost possessed by the dodgy medical entrepreneur as she took faking-it-until-you-make-it to a criminal level. As Theranos' medical con spiraled out of control, her steely gaze hid barely contained panic as Holmes' unearned self-regard and unwillingness to face failure led to her inevitable downfall. It made Seyfried one of the acting standouts of 2022. —L.M.

The Dropout -- “Lizzy” - Episode 108
The Dropout -- “Lizzy” - Episode 108

Jeff Hiller, <i>Somebody Somewhere</i>

Joel is unlike many of the gay characters we see on screen. He's a 40-something gay man who has found community in his small town and not by going to a big city to search for it. What Jeff Hiller brings to his role on Somebody Somewhere is a fully realized lovely person and a great partner. He shows Sam (Bridget Everett) what her hometown has to offer and what it's become in her absence. Early on in the series he replies, "No, you didn't," when she says she remembers their meeting in high school choir without any self-pity. It's a sign early on of not only how different Joel would be, but also very specifically who he is as an individual. Throughout the season Joel adds more layers to his warm, sometimes sly, and ultimately hilarious character. While Sam is the driving force of Somebody Somewhere, Joel is its heart. —Alamin Yohannes

Somebody Somewhere Season 1 - Episode 6 Jeff Hiller
Somebody Somewhere Season 1 - Episode 6 Jeff Hiller

Bernardo Velasco, Julio Torres, Cassandra Ciangherotti & Ana Fabrega, <i>Los Espookys</i>

We were extremely sad to learn of the tragic demise of Los Espookys (2019-2022), the original, surreal, and always delightful comedy that HBO recently canceled. So consider this a small but sincere ofrenda placed on the altar of a remarkable show that left us far, far too soon. It is impossible to single out just one Espooky for this list. Each misfit member of the team brought a unique flavor to the mix that perfectly complemented the others: The aloof, mystical Andrés (Julio Torres); the irrepressible and indestructible Tati (Ana Fabrega); the deadpan, no-nonsense Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti); and sweet-natured goth Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco). In lieu of sending flowers, we ask that you rewatch the first two seasons. —C.K.

Los Espookys Season 2 - Episode 1
Los Espookys Season 2 - Episode 1

Sheryl Lee Ralph, <i>Abbott Elementary</i>

We've all had a teacher like Mrs. Howard, but we've never seen anything quite like Sheryl Lee Ralph. The Broadway legend rightfully won her first Emmy for her portrayal of Abbott Elementary's veteran first-grade teacher. Ralph's Mrs. Howard is at turns kind and compassionate, outraged, and downright over it. She can deliver the most delicious putdown with a smile, and her side-eye to the faux-documentary cameras is consistently hilarious. Whether she's pondering retirement over a zoo lizard, trying to avoid Janine's (Quinta Brunson) hero worship, or dropping her jaw at a parent's "bitch" tattoo, Ralph is delivering comedy gold. We need only look to the way "Sweet Baby Jesus and the grown one too!" became an instant TV catchphrase for evidence of her singular brilliance and influence. No apples for Mrs. Howard, only trophies and applause. —M.L.L.

ABBOTT ELEMENTARY SHERYL LEE RALPH
ABBOTT ELEMENTARY SHERYL LEE RALPH

Steve Carell, <i>The Patient </i>

While you might have seen Steve Carell in serious performances before (Little Miss Sunshine, Beautiful Boy, The Morning Show), his role as Dr. Alan Strauss in Hulu's The Patient is gripping, heartbreaking, and at times, chilling. Playing opposite the equally captivating Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina), Carell's performance is so moving that he sometimes makes you forget that he's playing a recently widowed psychotherapist captured by a serial killer. Carell's portrayal is exactly what you would hope to find in a therapist  (calm, unwavering, reassuring), as well as exactly what you'd hope to avoid (powerless, and capable of violence when pushed too close to the edge). While viewers seem split on how they feel about the series overall, it seems that everyone agrees that the performances were some of the best of the year. Despite the startling ending, it was hard not to get emotional about at least one aspect of Carell's performance, which was not only raw but, often reminiscent of actual therapy sessions. —A.W.

“THE PATIENT” -- &quot;The Cantor’s Husband&quot; -- Episode 10 (Airs October 25) Pictured: Steve Carell as Alan Strauss
“THE PATIENT” -- "The Cantor’s Husband" -- Episode 10 (Airs October 25) Pictured: Steve Carell as Alan Strauss

The cast of <i>A Black Lady Sketch Show</i>

In the third season of A Black Lady Sketch Show, season 2's featured player Skye Townsend joins the main cast alongside creator Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Gabrielle Dennis. This quarter and a bevy of great guest stars (including season 1 standout Quinta Brunson) make the latest season another slam junk. Black's Chef Lourdes' constant turns to camera during reality show sketch Capp't, when creator Robin Thede channels her midwest upbringing in "Snitches Get Cross Stitches," and when the 10's came back out for the Funeral Ball are some of the season's great moments. With the previous two seasons under its belt, A Black Lady Sketch Show is beginning to reference itself and a prime example is when Thede brings back a line from season 2 ("But the tilapias are fine, right?") and cements one of her characters as the tilapia lady in the hilarious sketch "I Feel Your Paint." —A.Y.

A Black Lady Sketch Show
A Black Lady Sketch Show

John Turturro, <i>Severance</i>

Our first impression of Irving Bailiff (John Turturro) on Severance is as a goofy, rule-following scold who loves being a "severed" employee of the cult-like Lumon Industries. But like everything on this show, appearances are deceiving. Irving's "innie" persona (read: his existence inside Lumon's walls) begins to blur at the edges as he falls for fellow "innie" Burt (Christopher Walken), spurring him to join his severed co-workers in revolt against their corporate overlords. Turturro's slow-burn transformation from worker bee to office agitator is both tragic and inspiring (a high point: his call to "burn this place to the ground" late in the season). By the time we meet Irving's "outie" persona — revealed to be a veteran who spends his off hours painting dark corridors and investigating Lumon — the single-minded discipline Turturro lends to the role brings both sides of Irving into sharper focus. —C.K.

Zach Cherry, Britt Lower, John Turturro and Adam Scott in “Severance,”
Zach Cherry, Britt Lower, John Turturro and Adam Scott in “Severance,”

Jinkx Monsoon, <em>RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 7</em>

After hundreds of queens and dozens of Snatch Games over the last 13 years, Jinkx Monsoon made the aging (and age-old) RuPaul'sDrag Race celebrity impersonation challenge feel fresh and new with her franchise-best performance as Judy Garland. From "absolving" her former makeover partner, Dave, for "killing" the Wizard of Oz star (an admission he made back on season 5 in 2013) to calling RuPaul "Broom" (Why? Who cares!) and belting classic Ru tunes remixed with signature Garland swag, Jinkx's take was self-referential, completely absurd, and unintelligible to straight people — every hallmark of a RuPaul's Drag Race success story. —Joey Nolfi

RuPaul's Drag Race
RuPaul's Drag Race

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