The best streaming services have one big downside: there's so much stuff there it can be hard deciding what to watch. But we've got good news for subscribers of Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Netflix: Uswitch has run the numbers to find the most popular streaming shows of 2022 so you can get some pointers towards quality entertainment.
Of course, popular doesn't always mean good – you can add your own Ed Sheeran gag here – and sheer market size means Netflix dominates the list and Apple TV+ is nowhere to be seen despite superb shows such as Severance and Slow Horses. But the shows here are genuinely good.
1. Heartstopper (Netflix)
With a perfect 100% Rotten Tomatoes score and 2.6 million average monthly searches, this heartwarming school drama scored highly with viewers and critics alike. And no wonder. It's a lovely thing with beautiful performances, great writing (courtesy of the original welcoming by Alice Oseman) and a huge heart. No wonder Netflix has commissioned a second and third series.
2. The Last Kingdom (Netflix)
If you're looking for something featuring lots of swords, Saxons and shouting you'll love this. Born to a Saxon nobleman, Uhtred is captured by the Danes and raised as one of them – but his loyalties are fiercely tested when he's forced to choose between the country of his birth and the country of his found family. Cue lots of drama and plenty of swordplay too – and I'm pretty sure that this is the only series here that makes liberally use of the Middle English word "arseling".
3. Cheer (Netflix)
2022's third most popular streaming show is a documentary. Cheer hopes to show you what it's really like to be a cheerleader in the modern world, and season 1 followed the Navarro College Bulldogs as they prepare to compete in the national cheerleading championships. The first season was a word of mouth hit and the second season, which debuted in 2022, attracted rave reviews for its mix of drama, tension and unforgettable characters.
4. Ozark (Netflix)
The fourth and final season of this tense, Breaking Bad-esque drama answered the question everybody was asking: did they get away with it? Master manipulator Wendy Byrne (Laura Linney) and her accountant husband Marty (Jason Bateman) have spent four seasons dealing with the consequences of their money laundering scheme gone badly wrong, and in the final episode we discover... well, you'll have to watch it to find out.
5. Andor (Disney+)
The prequel series to Star Wars: Rogue One is a wonderful thing, with a stellar performance by Diego Luna and an atmosphere that's really reminiscent of A New Hope back when it was fresh and new. This is proper grown-up SF, as thoughtful as it is kinetic, and the critics agree: Andor has an impressive 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
Edgerunners takes place in the Cyberpunk universe and is much more successful than the overly ambitious and horribly broken (and now, almost fixed) video game it takes its cues from. It's the animated story of a street kid trying to survive in a world of grinding poverty and cutting-edge tech, a world where body modifications do a lot more than Botox.
7. The Sandman (Netflix)
I'm one of the very many people who absolutely adored this adaptation of Neil Gaiman's legendary series. When Morpheus, king of dreams, finds himself tricked and trapped by mortals for more than a century, he finally escapes and returns to the ruins of his kingdom. In order to fix the chaos that occurred in his absence he has to travel across different worlds and times. In the wrong hands it could have been ridiculous, but with a cast including Tom Sturridge as Morpheus/Dream as well as Jenna Coleman, David Thewlis and Mason Alexander Park this is glorious fantasy fun. After a nail-biting wait, Netflix has greenlit a second season.
8. Moon Knight (Disney+)
Is this moody Marvel character a hero or a villain? It isn't always clear. Marc Spector is a soldier turned mercenary turned vigilante who battles evil, dispenses justice and generally goes around the place cracking heads. There's some really clever writing here thanks to a dissociative disorder that means for Moon Knight every day is a kind of Groundhog Day, and Oscar Isaac plays the character with a winning mix of mockery and machismo.
9. All Of Us Are Dead (Netflix)
Imagine Squid Game but with zombies. That's essentially what you get with this gloriously gory Korean drama, which pits a high school of trapped teens against a zombie outbreak in a tight, tense and often gratuitously splattery apocalyptic action-horror. The acting is first class, the zombies are suitably scary and the whole thing rattles along at a frenetic pace.
10: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime Video)
Amazon's big-budget LOTR show takes place thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and it's undeniably entertaining and visually spectacular. It divided critics, however, and some felt that its eight-hour run made reckless changes to Tolkien's lore. If you're a Tolkien purist you might agree with them, but if you're looking for an epic hack-and-slash tale of good versus evil there's a lot to love here.