The 10 best TV shows of 2022 so far

Top Boy

Netflix may be facing a reckoning at the moment, financial, critical and otherwise, but among its few 2022 highpoints is undoubtedly the return of this brilliant British drama, which was cancelled by its original UK broadcaster Channel 4 but then picked up by the streamer (via the rapper Drake, who pushed for its revival and these days is the show’s executive producer). Now in its second Netflix series, or fourth series overall, it tells an at-once densely detailed yet narratively propulsive story of East London life, which deftly covers everything from gang crime and drug deals to gentrification, coercive relationships and immigration policy, and has only got better and better. The way it films East London is both harsh and beautiful, capturing its vibe in a way that feels truer than any other film or show in recent memory, while the performances are remarkable in their naturalism – among them rapper Kano as the brooding Sully, now living on a canal boat, and Jasmine Jobson as the hard-edged Jaq. (HM)

Available on Netflix internationally

This is Going to Hurt

A harrowing, deeply important and, most of all, funny portrait of the British healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), This is Going to Hurt is based on the memoir of the same name by former doctor Adam Kay. Having been a junior doctor in a busy London hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology ward, Kay paints a nuanced portrait of the working conditions he and many others endured, and the serious toll that long hours and intense pressure takes on your life. Ben Whishaw’s performance as Kay is a tour de force, delineating the inner turmoil of a man determined to at least try to do the right thing, but who doesn’t always pull it off. What’s so special about this show is that Kay isn’t a likeable character, but you continually root for his success, desperately wishing him, his patients and his colleagues well. It’s not a rosy portrait of the realities of life in British hospitals, and there are some truly devastating moments throughout, but the show steadfastly keeps going with humanity and gallows humour, despite the horrors: just as healthcare professionals do every day. (AC)

Available on BBC iPlayer in the UK and AMC in the US

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