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It’s officially impossible to watch every new streaming release these days, no matter how much we love our favorite streaming services. Each month there are dozens of new TV shows and movies, not to mention returning seasons of beloved hits. And when, by the way, are we supposed to re-watch our nostalgic faves?
Not that we’re complaining. But sometimes it’s nice to know what to stream and what to skip. That’s where SPY comes in with our top streaming picks. We’ve watched a lot (and we mean a lot) of stuff this year, and we’re whittling away our top picks. From family movies like Turning Red to the return of Stranger Things to a new season of our favorite anti-hero series The Boys, read on to see what we consider the best 20 streaming releases of 2022… at least so far.
20. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
The famous duo from when you were a kid is back with the most meta film possible. If you’re a fan of Easter eggs, Disney films and movies that combine various animation styles, this one is for you. John Mulaney and Andy Samberg voice the chipmunks at the center of it all and are joined by the likes of Will Arnett, KiKi Layne, Eric Bana and Seth Rogen. Oh, and did we mention there’s a Roger Rabbit cameo?
19. The Dropout
Amanda Seyfried nails her portrayal of real-life Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes in this dramatized limited series, while Naveen Andrews is unrecognizable as her boyfriend Sunny Balwani. The seven-part series traces Holmes’ attempt at revolutionizing the healthcare industry with her tech company, raising more than $700 million for a faulty blood test in the process.
This sweeping story based on the New York Times-bestselling novel by Min Jin Lee is as beautiful as it is addictive. The saga chronicles a Korean immigrant family across four generations, taking the story from Korea to Japan, to the United States.
Adam Sandler’s overall Netflix deal certainly includes a few doozies (or is that Hubies?), but this dramatic film has earned him critical praise and audience appreciation alike. In it, he puts aside his cartoonish characters in favor of a down-on-his-luck basketball scout who finds a phenom while abroad. The only problem? His team fails to approve the player. So when the scout brings his find home, he jeopardizes both of their careers.
16. The Bear
If you’ve ever worked in the restaurant industry you will 100% appreciate this nuanced story of a family in Chicago trying to keep their eatery afloat following a family tragedy. Jeremy Allen White is fresh from his run on Shameless and heads up a cast that also includes Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri, Lionel Boyce and Liza Colón-Zayas.
Fans waited four years for show creator and star Donald Glover to debut the third season of his Emmy-nominated show and although reactions were mixed, the results didn’t disappoint. The season followed Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) on his European tour, as Darius (LaKeith Stanfield), Earn (Glover) and Van (Zazie Beetz) joined him.
14. Ms. Marvel
Kamala Khan (newcomer Iman Vellani) has proved to be one of the most accessible superheroes in the MCU, never mind the first Muslim-American one. The six-episode series may not be getting the same flowers as some of the other recent TV offerings on Disney Plus, but those who have tuned in agree this is a compelling story that appeals to a wide range of ages and interests.
Julia Garner fans may have been all-in on the actor’s accent work on another one of her 2022 streaming drops, Inventing Anna, but we have to say it’s this series where she shines. The fourth and final season hit the streaming service in two parts this year, wrapping the tale of Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), his wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and their tense involvement with a drug cartel.
12. Turning Red
This original family flick about a 13-year-old girl named Meilin (Rosalie Chiang) and her overprotective mother Ming (Sandra Oh) was pure gold for parents who grew up with boy bands, Tamagotchis and other ‘90s nostalgia. It also happens to have a relatable yet unique hero at the center of the story, which is all about teaching kids to be true to themselves.
This LGBTQ+-friendly series based on the novel by Alice Oseman has been dominating social media conversations since its debut in April and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon — now that Netflix has renewed the show for a second and third season. The coming-of-age story revolves around two teens at an all-boys school whose friendship develops into something more. Joe Locke and Kit Connor head up the cast.
The second season of this Emmy-winning show starring Jean Smart as a comedian reinventing her act with the help of an outcast, 25-year-old writer (breakout star Hannah Einbinder) was every bit as critically acclaimed as the first. The show is the ultimate culture-clash comedy that digs much deeper than your typical generation gap, and it’s fairly certain we’ll be hearing more about HBO Max smash during this upcoming awards season, too.
9. Better Call Saul
There’s still half a season to go before this Breaking Bad spinoff wraps for good, but so far it remains one of the best shows currently on TV. The first half of the sixth and final season toyed with our emotions over the fate of certain characters (Kim Wexler for life!) but there’s also a whole lot to look forward to, including upcoming guest star Carol Burnett and the return of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.
8. Obi-Wan Kenobi
No matter how you feel about the Anakin Skywalker era of the Star Wars franchise, there was something comforting about seeing Ewan McGregor reprise the title role in this six-part series. It gave more context to the story post-Order 66 but pre-Jedi Luke Skywalker, with stand-up performances from Moses Ingram and Vivien Lyra Blair. Sure, there were some plot holes and frustrating turns, but we’re willing to overlook them thanks to the return of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader.
Bill Hader and Alex Berg (Seinfeld) have created an undeniably addictive dark comedy, which finally unrolled its third season after a three-year wait. This year the show got even better by taking more risks and doling out more emotional punches than ever. But there were also stunts, stunning visuals and a jaw-dropping finale to keep us hooked throughout all eight episodes. At this point, we can only imagine what’s in store for Season 4, when Hader himself directs every single episode.
6. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Look, we’re still on the fence about Star Trek Discovery and Picard, but when it comes to this Discovery spinoff (yes, it’s technically a spinoff), we know where we stand: all in. The story of Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Spock (Ethan Peck) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) is compelling stuff we’ve been missing in our lives. It hits that middle ground between appeasing Trekkies and newcomers in a way the others don’t thanks to the familiar, fan-favorite characters and interesting storylines.
5. The Boys
Sure, this series based on the comic book series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson will always have a place in our hearts, as will basically anything showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) does. So we went into the third season of The Boys with high expectations and we were still pleasantly surprised at how well the show kept up its stellar pacing and compelling characters… including that introduction of Soldier Boy, aka Jensen Ackles.
The second season of this coming-of-age story that’s not actually intended for a younger audience blew viewers away, building on the critical acclaim star Zendaya built in the first season with her historic Emmy win. This time around viewers were equally obsessed with the supporting characters, with the likes of Sydney Sweeney, Jacob Elordi, Maude Apatow and Hunter Schafer transforming into household names.
If your mind was blown by this twisty workplace drama with hidden motives, you weren’t alone. The Adam Scott- and Patricia Arquette-starring series is easily one of the best shows to stream in 2022 thanks to the nail-biting storylines and stellar acting. The show has some of the best twists we’ve seen on TV in a while, and that alone has us on the edge of our seats heading into the already ordered second season.
2. Fire Island
If you thought you’d seen every Jane Austen adaptation under the sun, you have yet to take in our favorite streaming movie of 2022 (thus far). The flick is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice but is told from a queer perspective, which results in a diverse, romantic and all-around enjoyable story filled with friendship and hope. Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang star.
1. Stranger Things
There is so much to unpack in the penultimate season of this Duffer brothers series, but given how the final two installments just dropped July 1 we’ll avoid spoilers and allow you to catch up. Instead, we’ll just say that some notable new characters, fiery music choices and heartbreaking story twists have kept this show firmly planted in the social media conversation for weeks now, and with the final season coming up in 2023 we don’t imagine the chatter will die down anytime soon.