Prestige TV miniseries seem to be the new golden goose of streaming as it feels like every service is producing multiple series per month. It’s an appealing draw — creators can develop characters and stories longer than within the confines of a feature length film, big name actors are more inclined to sign on to something with a limited life span (so they won’t be stuck playing the same character for eight years), and studios don’t have to worry about the box office.
Updated December 25th, 2022: If you’re a fan of intriguing miniseries, you’ll be happy to know this article has been updated with additional content and shows.
As a result, there have been a huge amount of riveting new miniseries in the past several years, and it is difficult to keep up with them all. That being said, these miniseries are some of the best that have been released in 2022 so far.
The Apple TV+ miniseries WeCrashed stars Jared Leto as Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWorks, and Anne Hathaway as his wife Rebekah. The series follows the rise of the co-working space, whose valuation reached a ridiculous $47 billion, and the crash that followed. Leto is great as the eccentric business owner, as is Hathaway who is wonderful opposite her co-star.
14/15 Pam & Tommy
Pam & Tommy chronicles the turbulent three-year marriage of actress Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan). The series focuses on the theft and distribution of their infamous honeymoon sex tape, and features some of the best performances of the year. Seth Rogen’s Pam & Tommy, based on the 2014 Rolling Stone article by Amanda Chicago Lewis, has received 10 Emmy Award nominations including nominations for an excellent Seth Rogen, Stan, and James, who is receiving her first Emmy nomination. Pam & Tommy is now streaming on Hulu.
13/15 Under the Banner of Heaven
Andrew Garfield is a police detective faced with solving a devastating murder in the Hulu true crime drama Under the Banner of Heaven, chronicling the efforts of a Utah police department as they are rocked by the brutal deaths of a mother and baby in the Mormon community.
The riveting program is based on a real-life crimes committed in 1984 by two Mormon brothers who claimed to do so in the name of God, and is adapted from Jon Krakauer’s acclaimed novel. Garfield is phenomenal as Detective Jeb Pyre, a Latter Day Saints officer who finds his faith rocked by the heartbreaking deaths; his compelling performance has earned him both a Golden Globe and Satellite Award nomination.
12/15 Irma Vep
Irma Vep, which debuted with a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, is about Mira (Alicia Vikander), an American movie star looking to change the direction of her career. Mira travels to France to star in an adaptation of the silent film Les Vampires. Vikander’s acting is stunning against the gorgeous backdrops of France. Irma Vep is available on HBO Max.
11/15 The Essex Serpent
The Apple TV+ limited series The Essex Serpent is a gothic romance period drama based on the book by Sarah Perry. The series stars Claire Danes as the recent widow Cora Seaborne, an archeologist who travels to the coastal town of Essex to investigate reports of a mythical serpent. There she meets the local pastor Will Ransome (played by Tom Hiddleston) with whom she forms an unlikely bond. The Essex Serpent has stunning cinematography and gorgeous costuming as well as an interesting plot, not to mention a specifically fascinating performance from Hiddleston.
Jessica Biel stars as the titular Candy Montgomery in the biographical drama Candy. The miniseries is based on the 1980 murder of Betty Gore (Melanie Lynskey) in Wylie, Texas. Montgomery is accused of the axe murder and eventually stands trial in the small town. The entire cast is amazing in this captivating drama and is an interesting telling of this dark story. Candy is available on Hulu.
9/15 Exterior Night
Director Marco Bellocchio has had a great year. First, his deeply moving yet politically complicated documentary Marx Can Wait premiered to great acclaim, and then he revealed his five-hour epic miniseries Exterior Night at Cannes to great acclaim. Like Marx Can Wait, Bellocchio’s miniseries investigates the intersection of the personal and the political by dramatizing the 1978 kidnapping Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro.
Bellocchio obviously has mixed feelings about the revolutionary group responsible for the act of terrorism, the Red Brigades, which had legitimate political concerns but went about them through acts of chaotic violence. The result is an ethically complicated epic (in the truest sense of the word; the combined five-hour cut was screened in theaters to great acclaim), one that not only sheds light on the gray areas of politics, but the grayness of the human condition itself.
8/15 The Dropout
Documenting the shady exploits of the dishonored biotechnology company Theranos and disgraced fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, the Hulu biographical crime drama The Dropout features a sensational performance by Amanda Seyfried and sheds a light on the criminal activity prevalent in her epic rise and fall.
Both audiences and critics couldn’t get enough of Seyfriend’s commanding portrayal, with the actress mastering both Holmes’ demeanor and distinct voice brilliantly while revealing the many facets of her personality. For Seyfried’s 2022 role in The Dropout, the star won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress and is currently nominated for a Golden Globe.
7/15 The Thing About Pam
The Thing About Pam is about the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria and the involvement of her friend Pam Hupp (played by Renée Zellweger). Adapted from the Dateline podcast, this series stands out among the many miniseries this year because of its use of comedic undertones plus Zellweger’s fantastic performance as the self-proclaimed businesswoman. The Thing About Pam is available on Hulu.
6/15 The Girl From Plainville
The Girl From Plainville is based on the true story of the death of Conrad Roy III and the later conviction of his girlfriend Michelle Carter. Elle Fanning is captivating as high schooler Michelle Carter and received praise for her performance, as did her costars Colton Ryan and Chloë Sevigny. The series is emotional and shed light on cyberbullying, but offers few easy answers on this painful event. The Girl From Plainville is streaming on Hulu.
5/15 Obi-Wan Kenobi
The great Ewan McGregor is back as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the highly anticipated Star Wars series, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The series takes place 10 years after the end of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) with Obi-Wan now hiding out on the planet Tatooine.
Obi-Wan Kenobi brings back memorable cast members like Jimmy Smits, James Earl Jones, and Hayden Christensen who reprised his role as Darth Vader. McGregor is excellent as the titular character as is Deborah Chow’s directing style. The show also adds the expanded universe Lucasfilm is creating. Obi-Wan Kenobi is available on Disney+.
Pistol is a biopic following Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones (Toby Wallace) as the band forms and rises to notoriety. The series, created by Craig Pearce, is a stylized telling of the Sex Pistols short story and leads to an entertaining series. Pistol is full of crazy characters based on real people including Vivienne Westwood (Talulah Riley), a famous fashion designer of the punk rock movement, and Chrissie Hynde (Sydney Chandler), the lead singer of the Pretenders, who steals the show. Pistol is now streaming on Hulu.
The literary adaptation Pachinko explores Korean history with a quiet poetry, despite its epic nature. Spanning many years throughout the 20th century, the romantic historical drama is truly swoon-worthy as it chronicles 70 years of a family, a country, and a true love. It’s a big series, and Apple TV+ paid a lot to bring the complicated novel to life.
Each time period is perfectly designed, the costumes are incredible, and the actors have a fluidity to each other to the extent that it’s completely understandable to see one merge into the other. With multiple color-coded subtitles depending on the language, and slight variations in the filmmaking depending on the period (with help from the great director Kogonada), the series makes it surprisingly easy to keep up with this massive tale.
2/15 The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
Samuel L. Jackson delivers one of his best performances yet in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. The six-episode miniseries, based on the novel by Walter Mosely, follows Ptolemy Grey (Jackson), a 91-year-old man with dementia who temporarily regains his memories after the murder of his nephew. The relationship between Jackson and Dominique Fishback, who plays Robyn, is beautiful and honest, resulting in a wonderful, heartfelt, and melancholic story. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is available on Apple TV+.
1/15 Black Bird
Black Bird tells the true story of James “Jimmy” Keene (Taron Egerton), a promising football star who turns to a life of crime. The series, based on Keene’s autobiography In with the Devil: a Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption, follows Keene as he is transferred to a maximum security prison after being offered an opportunity to commute his sentence by becoming an informant. The miniseries is intense and dramatic with Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser in particular delivering amazing performances, in addition to this featuring one of the last characters Ray Liotta ever played. Black Bird is now streaming on Apple TV+.
The scale of miniseries has only grown over the years leading to incredible sets, amazing stories, and top-tier talent. It has gotten to the point where companies like Apple are paying $250 million for their miniseries (evidenced by the upcoming series Masters of the Air), and the trend only seems to be continuing. With so many great series already released, audiences can only be excited about what miniseries 2022 will end with.