Best Witchy TV of 2022 (and 2023, so far)
Recommendations for witchy, occult and pagan viewing
Hello! I hope you enjoyed my recommendations for witchy films from 2022 and that you’ve started watching some of them. I’m a bit late with 2022’s Witchy TV recommendations so I will be including a Part 2 very soon, including mention of some early-2023 releases, too. 2023 is already shaping up to be a great year for occult and witchy TV! There will be short reviews of Red Rose, Shining Vale, Mayfair Witches, to start with.
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Network and streaming TV is an overflowing cornucopia of entertainment, much of it of very good quality, some, not so great. Of course we all have different tastes. I tend to like TV shows that are well-written and well-produced, and television series have become increasingly cinematic in recent years. This list includes shows with prominent elements of paganism, the occult, the paranormal, or fantasy.
YELLOWJACKETS ~ The final episodes of the first season of this 2021 debut aired in 2022, ending on a very suspenseful note and wild anticipation for the next season. Set in two timelines, it is the story of a high school girls’ soccer team that is forced to survive in the wilderness for over a year after a plane crash. The survivors are also portrayed over 20 years later, still coping with the trauma and disturbing secrets of what happened while they struggled to stay alive. Scenes of violence and a pagan bacchanalian ritual loom large in their memories, a sort of Lord of the Flies with a witchy female overlay. With an astonishingly-good cast (including Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis), and wild twists and turns, this was one of my favorite new series of 2022. (Showtime)
ARCHIVE 81 ~ This very cool, very spooky series created by Rebecca Sonnenshine is based on a podcast of the same name. The plot blends two storylines, past and present (this seems to be a theme lately). The past story is told using old video footage, shot by Melody, a young woman (Dina Shihabi) who’s making a documentary about a Brooklyn apartment building. Years after her mysterious disappearance, Dan, a young podcaster and videotape collector (Mamoudou Athie) is hired by a shady millionaire (Martin Donovan) to reconstruct her research. Dan discovers that Melody’s project exposed some very dark secrets, including her family connection to a coven of witches. This excellent and beautifully-made show got rave reviews but, alas, it was discontinued after one season. But you need to watch it! (Netflix)
STATION ELEVEN ~ This one also premiered in December 2021 and ended in January 2022. Based on the novel by Emily St. John Mandel, this timely post-apocalyptic story takes place in the present, as a fast-moving viral pandemic decimates most of the world’s population practically overnight. Twenty years on, humanity’s handful of survivors struggle to connect and find purpose in a world without government or technology. A traveling band of actors brings joy and novelty via their ragtag Shakespeare performances, led by a young woman who survived the pandemic as a child, kept safe by a random stranger. Despite its sometimes disturbing storyline, the series is often uplifting and redemptive, exploring the power of hope and compassion. Does that sound corny? It’s actually profoundly moving. And we need some lifting up these days, don’t we? Terrific performances from Himesh Patel, Mackenzie Davis, and Lori Petty, among others. Be sure to watch through the end credits of each episode! (HBO Max)
OUTER RANGE ~ This weird but very entertaining series is a drama set in the rural west, with plenty of surreal conspiracy theory elements. A Montana family with a problematic history in their area must deal with issues of land appropriation and strange phenomena (earth mysteries? time travel?) that upsets their lives and future. The excellent cast includes Josh Brolin, Lili Taylor, a very witchy Imogen Poots (Vivarium) and Ozark’s Tom Pelphrey. (Amazon Prime)
SANDMAN ~ Wow, how long have we been waiting for this? Neil Gaiman’s epic graphic novel series finally got it screen adaptation and it’s amazing. A stellar team of writers, directors and designers adapted this hugely popular story of god-like figures who rule over humanity, reimagining it in stunning ways, with particular attention paid to overhauling the original’s mostly white male roster of characters with a culturally diverse cast. The casting is flat-out inspired, particularly English actress Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer. The special effects are excellent, often veering towards otherworldly. (Netflix)
CABINET OF CURIOSITIES ~ Guillermo del Toro produced this anthology series, and in Hitchcockian style, introduces each episode. After absolutely falling in love with his animated adaptation of Pinocchio, I thought I’d love this. But in general, I found the stories a bit uneven, and overly violent and gory for no good reason. But the episodes are all visually atmospheric, with great acting and some wonderful guest directors. Do check out The Autopsy, starring F. Murray Abraham, The Outside, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, Dreams in a Witch House (based on an H. P Lovecraft story), starring Rupert Grint and directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and The Murmuring, starring Essie Davis and The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln and directed by The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent. If you’re in the mood for some short installments of watchable horror without having to invest too much time, this series makes for good spooky popcorn entertainment.
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