Maybe it says something about this time of year (the winter doldrums) that we’ve chosen sitcoms and wholesome series to rule this week’s Power Rankings, but of course we at Paste TV love celebrating joyful television. Not everything has to be dark and dreary to be “important” (and that shouldn’t be the metric by which you judge television anyway). This is entertainment, first and foremost, and if you aren’t enjoying it you shouldn’t waste your time watching!
The rules for the Power Rankings are simple: Any current series on TV qualifies, whether it’s a comedy, drama, news program, animated series, variety show or sports event. It can be on a network, basic cable, premium channel, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you can stream on your smart TV, as long as a new episode was made available the previous week (ending Sunday) —or, in the case of shows released all at once, it has to have been released within the previous four weeks. The voting panel is composed of Paste Editors and TV writers with a pretty broad range of tastes.
Cobra Kai (Netflix), Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock (Apple TV+), The Righteous Gemstones (HBO), Naomi (The CW)
Network: Amazon Prime Video
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: A compelling series that lets people with Autism speak their truth
As We See It, executive producer Jason Katims’ Prime Video dramedy, is a refreshing take on both the coming-of-age story and on TV’s depictions of people on the Autism spectrum. Led by a cast of actors who have ASD, the series doesn’t sugar-coat the disorder or coddle the three main characters. It shows them falling in love, making mistakes and learning how to navigate careers and friendships. And while these characters may struggle to find their places in a neuro-typical world, viewers without ASD may find that the challenges the trio face aren’t that different from theirs. —Whitney Friedlander [Full Review]
Network: ABC (Hulu the next day)
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
This Week: The actors are seriously good at the side glances they make to the camera.
The best new network show of the season is already delighting viewers and dominating 2022. Quinta Brunson writes, executive produces, and stars in this ABC comedy inspired by her mother’s experience as a teacher in the Philadelphia public school system. The show is both hilarious and poignant as it lays bare the inequities in public education both for the children and those who are dedicated in their profession to enriching their lives. Keep an eye out for Tyler James Williams as a substitute and Sheryl Lee Ralph as the veteran teacher who has seen it all. —Amy Amatangelo
Last Week’s Ranking: Honorable Mention
This Week: Tricki Woo returns!
It’s actually very difficult to write a review of All Creatures Great and Small Season 2, because everything I said in my initial review of the show remains true. Now, there’s just more of it: six episodes and a Christmas special, to be exact. And what a wonderful gift to chase away the winter doldrums once again as the Channel 5 series, airing in the US on PBS Masterpiece, returns us to a bucolic pre-war Yorkshire and the inhabitants of Skeldale House, the preeminent veterinary practice in the region. (Or so its lead surgeon, Samuel West’s Siegfried Farnon, likes to say—and it is most likely true.)
In Season 2, both change and romance are in the air for James (Nicholas Ralph), Tristan (Callum Woodhouse), Seigfried, and Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley)—her expanded storyline is one of the best things about the TV series, which continues to capture the spirit (if not abide by the letter) of James Herriot’s books, giving us a wholesome and cozy setting that can nevertheless be emotionally intense when it comes to the hardships of rural life. And yet, the storylines about the animals the capable and caring James looks after—and what they mean to their humans—are always wonderful.
The bottom line is that, once again, All Creatures is a delight. It’s lovingly and beautifully made. It’s a throwback that feels familiar, and yet doesn’t always play out exactly as expected. Yet even when it does, it’s charming enough to make each decision work. It’s not out to prove itself, make statements, or feel pressured to bring in dark storylines just to feel more modern. Like the indomitable Tricki Woo, it knows just what it’s about, and we love it for that. —Allison Keene [Full Review]
Network: CBS (streaming on Paramount+)
Last Week’s Ranking: Honorable Mention
This Week: Matt Walsh arrives and brings a hellish surprise!
Based on the UK series of the same name (which itself is streaming on HBO Max), the delightful Ghosts has become a bona fide hit for CBS. But if you’re an elder Millennial such as myself, you could be knocked over with a feather to learn this is one of TV’s best series. But don’t sleep on it.
Ghosts follows a young couple, Samantha and Jay (Rose McIver and Utkarsh Ambudkar), who inherit a large country estate that is, turns out, filled with ghosts only Sam (after she goes through a near-death experience) can see and hear. These ghosts aren’t scary though, they’re mostly friendly and occasionally annoying in their demands to smell bacon or have Sam turn on the TV. They also make for a fantastic comedy ensemble. Comprised of a small percentage of those who have died on the estate’s property from the beginning of time, the ghosts rule the roost: Bossy Revolutionary War soldier Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones), kind Boy Scout leader Pete (Richie Moriarty), pants-less Wall Street bro Trevor (Asher Grodman), uptight lady of the manor Hetty (Rebecca Wisocky), certified hippie Flower (Sheila Carrasco), flamboyant jazz singer Alberta (Danielle Pinnock), deadpan Lenape tribesman Sasappis (Roman Zaragoza), and the oldest of all the ghosts, Thorfinn (Devan Chandler Long), a Viking.
As Sam and Jay work to establish a B&B, the ghosts both help and hinder the process in earnestly funny ways. The charming CBS series is not quite as cozy as the UK’s version, and features a few unfortunate hallmarks of American sitcom formatting that can feel heavy-handed, but when it hits, it really hits. Best of all, Ghosts is typically family-friendly enough for everyone to enjoy. —Allison Keene
Network: Freeform (streaming on Hulu)
Last Week’s Ranking: Not Eligible
This Week: A great start to a show that takes addiction seriously, along with humor and grace.
In Simone Finch’s comedy series Single Drunk Female, Samantha (Sofia Black-D’Elia) is forced to move back to Boston and live with her mom Carol (Ally Sheedy) after her public intoxication at work leads to a criminal conviction. Once home, she must confront the fact she is an alcoholic, albeit one who has functioned for years. She needs a job and a sponsor. And, she needs to own up to the mistakes she’s made. The result is a series that blends humor with a raw and honest look at addiction. Sheedy is fantastic as a mom who loves her daughter but makes a lot of mistakes in her efforts to support her, while Black-D’Elia shines as a woman who continues to make frustrating choices even though she wants to do better. —Amy Amatangelo
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