GQ’s 21 Favorite Things We Watched, Read, and Listened to This Year

A survey of the culture we couldn’t get enough of in 2022.

GQ's 21 Favorite Things We Watched Read and Listened to This Year

Illustration by GQ; photographs by Getty Images

We live in a time of overwhelmingly innumerable and ever-multiplying entertainment choices. We’re also in a time—specifically, the month of December—of year-end rankings and best-of lists. So here’s something simpler: a survey of the culture that, regardless of format or year of release, captivated GQ staff and contributors the most in 2022. 


Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts. The seductive classical music drama Tár was my favorite movie of the year—nothing else came close. After staggering out of the theater I was determined to go deeper into the Lydia Tár cinematic universe, so I paid $53 for a Blu-ray box set of the Leonard Bernstein lectures that Lydia watches towards the end of the movie. The Young People’s Concerts, originally broadcast on CBS, were a series of educational programs led by Bernstein when he was music director of the New York Philharmonic. As the frequent cuts to squirming young audience members remind you, these shows were for children. But they’re also fairly rigorous discussions of basic, interesting questions in classical music, backed up by world-class musicians. It’s been the perfect 50-minute entertainment on weeknights when streaming filler feels too brain-dead but a Criterion movie may as well be an Ambien. And while getting a little culture is always good, the real pleasure is watching Bernstein as he conjures orchestral blasts of music with a casual flick of the wrist. Much like Lydia Tár, he’s a supernova of charisma—even in grainy black and white. —Chris Cohen


Hot Ones, on YouTube. Hot Ones is a Web series about celebrities answering questions while eating progressively hotter chicken wings. The questions and answers are generally whatever, but in the guests’ struggle to maintain while pulling Gs on the Scoville scale, they reveal themselves in ways the famous rarely do—as human beings suffering and weeping and (it’s implied) cursing God for lining their anuses with capsaicin receptors. Watching a hundred of these has convinced me that all celebrity interviews should include a physical-duress component. Put rocks in Ryan Reynolds’ shoes. Put a beard of bees on Helen Mirren. Presto—junkets are fun again! —Alex Pappademas 


Luigi Lo Cascio as Nicola, left. 

Everett Collection / Courtesy of Miramax

The Best of Youth. For years, people have been recommending the 2003 Italian saga The Best of Youth to me. And for years, the six-hour-plus runtime put me off from committing. When I finally sat down with it this fall—in three two-hour sessions—I realized how squarely it’s in my wheelhouse. A richly-wrought chronicle of familial relationships? Spanning the years 1966 to 2003? Set against the backdrop of greater historical change? In postwar Italy? (Picture me going through every emotional stage of the Vince McMahon meme, no doubt the artistic intent of director Marco Tullio Giordana.) It’s a hugely ambitious undertaking that will both sweep you away and keep you grounded and invested in its humanity. —Gabriella Paiella 


Live With Kelly and Ryan. Working from home can be an unmooring, at times lonely experience. Thankfully, over this summer, a totem emerged to ground me to the realities of a standard work morning even on days in which I don’t venture outside until noon. That anchor is, of course, Live With Kelly and Ryan. There’s a nostalgia element; the series was a staple in Mom’s morning routine back in the Regis days, so much so that I can distinctly remember Kelly Ripa first getting the gig. Two decades later, there’s a lived-in, genuine charm to her banter with Ryan Seacrest. It’s like catching up with your close friend’s mom who loves a mimosa or three: wacky buzzed energy but always positive and welcoming, never sloppy or off-putting. Forget about the guest interviews—it’s all about the twenty minutes of pre-show convo. Kelly and Ryan are the best platonic couple on TV. She has the unleashed energy of a fuck-it-fifties empty nester, which plays beautifully against Seacrest, the perennial bachelor. Oftentimes you’re even treated to an actual couples show, when Ripa’s husband Mark Consuelos steps in for a week. (You haven’t lived until you’ve had the day’s first coffee listening to them debate the White Lotus finale, with Mark walking himself into the doghouse in real time as he opines on the show’s marital shenanigans.) One of the show’s staples is a trivia game where guests play for expensive vacations by testing how well they paid attention to the previous day’s episode. Don’t be surprised if I win a trip to Costa Rica one of these days. —Frazier Tharpe  


Diego Luna as Cassian Andor.

Everett Collection / Courtesy of Disney+

Andor. I was ready to love Andor from the moment I heard about it. Tony Gilroy, world-historical bard of unhappy people arguing expertly? In the world of Star Wars??? And while I found the first few episodes interesting enough, Andor really got its hooks into me when it got to space prison. The show follows the story of Diego Luna‘s Cassian Andor, who grows from scrappy, low-stakes criminal to revolutionary true believer. This progression is supercharged by a stint inside one of the creepiest prisons ever committed to film: the floors are electrified, the prisoners are barefoot, and the work is endless. Learning that the prisoners are building tiny pieces of what will eventually become … well, a rather significant part of Star Wars lore, only confirms how interestingly the show approaches its world. There are no space wizards, no laser swords, no mind games. Only an electrified-floor-level look at life in a world ruled by such things. —Sam Schube


Motomami, by Rosalía. In 2022, Rosalía was the queen of the global nightclub, but she was also the queen of my solo train commutes, my dinners cooked at home, and my weird little walks around the city. I’d found it difficult to listen to much new music over these past few years, but then Rosalía’s EP Motomami arrived to vrooooom its way through the mud. At last, music that felt restless in a good way! Early favorites emerged, including a naughty, ethereal track called “Hentai” and the lurching, wispy dance song “Diablo.” Seeing Rosalía perform it at Radio City this fall was a welcome communion: She’s a star, and it feIt nice to move, to have my brain bent a bit, to be an honorary motomami alongside all the other honorary motomamis (a gender neutral term) who had also been bumping the hell out of this album. —Eileen Cartter 


Design books by Herbert H. Wise. I don’t know who Herbert H. Wise is or where he came from, but in the 1970s he wrote and co-wrote a series of rich, earnest books about interior design that include the essential volumes Rooms With a ViewLiving Places, and Good Lives. These books are basically moodboards—light on text, heavy on lush, carefully styled imagery. But, as Wise writes in the intro to Rooms (the best of the bunch), what they’re really about is people: “People with imagination and daring,” as he puts it. If Wise is still alive (reader, if you know anything about him or how I might reach him, please get in touch), he might be tickled to see how his cataloging of “good taste”—through thoughtfully arranged images of cobalt bath tile, cast-iron wood stoves, and built-in shelves—has hit the big time. Entire social-media empires have been built on his shoulders. But he wouldn’t likely find much of that imaginative and daring, would he? Fortunately, it is well-documented on these pages, and used copies of most of Wise’s books can be found for a few bucks online. —Noah Johnson 


Never Too Small, on YouTube. Committing to a new TV show is a lot. So I spent most of the year hitting play on Never Too Small on YouTube and letting it roll. The channel takes you on five-to-ten-minute tours of the beautiful tiny apartments of architects and designers. Its central thesis is that living in small yet considered urban spaces with a small footprint and good access to public transportation will help fix the housing crisis and make the world more sustainable. I’m not entirely sure I buy that, but it’s a comforting thought. Mostly, I just want whatever they have: —Chris Gayomali 

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Paul F. Tompkins on the Comedy Bang! Bang! 13th Anniversary Tour. Walking the dog in August can be a joyless, sweaty chore. Thankfully, this summer I was laughing too hard to mind stutter-stepping alongside each sniffing expedition: Nearly every morning that month, a new live recording of the concurrent 22-city Comedy Bang! Bang! tour arrived in my podcast feed via my subscription to CBB World. Paul F. Tompkins—the most reliably hilarious (and frequent) guest of the Mount Podmore-worthy improvised fake-interview podcast—joined nimble host Scott Aukerman for almost all the stops, and in a virtuoso showcase, he appeared at each of them as a different uniquely odd character from his repertoire. One night he’d spend 90 minutes as Alimony Tony, the gaseous-paper heir addicted to paying spousal support to his seven ex-wives, and the next he’d be Big Chunky Bubbles, the dyspeptic children’s entertainer who makes bubbles out of “scalding hot soups, stews, or chowders.” Other seasoned improvisers (Lily Sullivan, Drew Tarver, Carl Tart, to name a few) rotated in and out of the tour, but Tompkins was the constant, reliable blast of smart cartoonishness that made everyone funnier—the only thing that could make me look forward to a 93-percent-humidity stroll. —Josh Wolk


The Hum Goes On Forever, by The Wonder Years. I’m a big enough Blink fan to have “182” tattooed across my fingers, but even I couldn’t abide “Edging,” the band’s moribund comeback single. Thankfully, there was music released this year that proves it’s possible to age gracefully in pop punk. The Hum Goes On Forever, the seventh LP from Philly lifers The Wonder Years, explodes at the seams with the kind of rocket-powered riffs and smack-to-the-jaw hooks that make you—and I say this from experience—want to thump your chest and run your voice ragged when you hear ‘em live. But it’s also riddled with frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s fervent reflections on fatherhood and aging and the anxieties of settling down. It’s a “grownup” record that still manages to feel vital and rollicking, crowd-pleasing but not the least bit pandering. —Yang-Yi Goh


Be Here Now by Ram Dass. I spent over a decade meditating twice a day and then—boom!—the whole deadly pandemic thing happened and threw me for a loop. It was tough to stay focused on the present because I hated my present existence of hardly leaving my apartment. This year I got out more and two things happened that helped me realign myself. One: I saw Laraaji in a field at Woodsist Fest. Two: I found an old copy of Be Here Now by Ram Dass at a used bookstore. It helped me when I first read it as a teen, and it worked again as an adult, getting me to think about, well, being here now. All these years later, going back to where I started was all I needed to get back on the path. The chill vibes are back, baby! —Jason Diamond 


Hikaru Utada.

Courtesy of Sony Music Labels Inc.

BADモード, by Hikaru Utada. J-Pop icon Hikaru Utada reemerged this year with BADモード, a cathartic, glittering set of “bangers you can cry to,” as Zane Lowe calls them, that easily count as some of the artist’s best work. In Japan, the second-biggest music market in the world after the US, they’ve been a Britney-tier superstar since the turn of the millennium, but treated with a reverence typically reserved for pop auteurs like Robyn. On BADモード, their first bilingual LP as well as their first album since coming out as non-binary, they’ve gone deeper into the electronic experimentation their work has always hinted at, working with a stacked roster of collaborators including A.G. Cook, Floating Points and Skrillex to create some of the most emotionally complex music of their career. From the yearning of “One Last Kiss” to the blissful release of the 12-minute “Somewhere Near Mersailles,” BADモード is a reminder that while there’s uncertainty and struggle in life’s liminal spaces, there is also the euphoria of self-discovery. —Raymond Ang 


HairCut Harry, on YouTube. If I could get my hair cut every day, I would. But my hair doesn’t grow fast enough (does anyone’s?), and I don’t have an endless supply of money. Part of my obsession with haircuts is that I love how relaxing they are, even if I’m not the one in the barber’s chair. Which probably explains why I can’t stop watching a dude who only goes by HairCut Harry travel the world to get haircuts and straight-razor shaves. Part of the appeal is the ASMR aspect, but mostly I just like to pretend that I’m in the chair enjoying this relaxing experience. And in a way, I guess I am. —Tyler Chin 


The Cooking of Provincial France by M. F. K. Fisher. I used to be a prolific cook, searching out elaborate multi-step recipes with which to occupy myself. Then I had a baby and instead of making food, I settled for reading cookbooks. The best was from legendary food writer M.F.K. Fisher, who, in 1968, wrote The Cooking of Provincial France. The book isn’t really something you’d cook out of today, but it painstakingly constructs the fantasy of how people ate in France in the ‘60s. The recipes revolve around the marathon two-hour lunches French workers would leave the office for every day (although Fisher nods at the sandwich shops then springing up for workers hooked to their newfangled IBM computers). She even lays out the exacting order of these meals; it’s very important that the salad greens, just lightly dressed, come after the meaty main. And not going to get fresh bread from the local bakery every day, Fisher writes, would be a source of great shame. Even though I won’t be cooking like I’m in provincial France any time soon, reading about it filled me up enough. I imagined that I would one day again find myself hosting extravagant Francais dinner parties, my son at the table excitedly grabbing at fresh green asparagus stalks served alongside a bucket of hollandaise sauce. —Cam Wolf 


Machine Gun Kelly, Johnny Knoxville, and Steve-O in Jackass 4.5 

Everett Collection / Courtesy of Paramount

Jackass 4.5. The Jackass franchise has brought me immense comfort over the last year and a half. I pay for Paramount+ strictly so I can access the original MTV series, and routinely throw on one of the films as a “cool down” after watching a movie or sports game with friends. But nothing in 2022 has hit like Jackass 4.5, the bonus-footage/making-of documentary released in May to accompany this year’s Jackass Forever. Like the theatrical release flick itself, 4.5 highlights the enduring, earnest bond between the original crew, while integrating pranksters and YouTube goofs of the modern generation. It’s a road map to a less striated world, and the best sandpaper for smoothing your brain. —Grant Ridner 


Channel 5 with Andrew Callaghan on YouTube. In 2022, Andrew Callaghan really found his groove, sussing out weird pockets of the human experience by elevating distinctly American obsessions (strongman competitions, bike weeks) to the realm of profound, hilarious, and gut-wrenching high drama. Channel 5 segments often feel like bizarro dispatches from another planet, but Callaghan excels most when he zeroes in on the motley cast of oddballs and outsiders that news headlines tend to obscure. Look at who we are, his straight-faced mien implores the viewer, and see if you can spot a little bit of yourself in the crowd. We’re not so different, are we? Laugh with them or at them, but ignore them at your own peril. —Avidan Grossman


Maggie Rogers. 

Burak Cingi/Getty Images

Surrender by Maggie Rogers. 2022 was what I’ll call my year of feelings, all about allowing myself to feel… everything, from the grand emotions of falling in love to the low blues of heartbreak and all the small joys and ailments in between. Nothing helped me through that more than Surrender, Maggie Rogers’s slam-dunk sophomore album. It’s a 12-pack of vibrant tunes that make you want to get up and dance while shedding a single, small tear. It’s an album you can put on repeat and find new things to love after every listen. It’s a reminder of how beautiful this life is. —Melissa Yang


The World’s First Podcast. I’ve been a fan of the Foster sisters since I binged their spoof reality TV show, Barely Famous, in 2016. I also happen to be a podcast fanatic so it was only natural for me to become completely obsessed with theirs, The World’s First Podcast with Erin & Sara Foster. Listening to them chat about everything from their own star-studded dating histories to mental health and religion has truly become the highlight of my week. There’s a strange sense of comfort in the way they openly bicker as they discuss their complicated family dynamic. And for every tense moment, we get a hilarious celebrity name-drop or interview with a manifestation coach. —Florence O’Connor 


Wolfgang Tillmans.

Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

Wolfgang Tillmans’s To Look Without Fear, at the Museum of Modern Art. Photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’s retrospective at MoMA showcases his enduring battle to capture life’s moments that can be stolen in a blink. Armed with his camera, he seems to be winning, accumulating a tender oeuvre that turns life’s most mundane moments into the miraculous. Pictures of fingers running through a clubgoer’s hair, a serene Lady Gaga relaxing in a park, and a terminally-ill lover soaking in a tub all serve as powerful reminders to turn the lens on your life and celebrate intimacy witnessed as art. —Alex Wedel 


Seeing Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery with a crowd. One of the most heartening experiences I had this past year happened in a strip-mall multiplex in Skokie, IL, when my family decided to spend a Friday night at the movies watching Rian Johnson’s Knives Out sequel. A Netflix production, Glass Onion only played theaters for one week, and while we can debate whether or not that short a run was a good idea (it wasn’t), catching the movie in the theater gave me hope about the future of moviegoing. The film played to a packed house enthralled by every twist and gag, a much-needed reminder that audiences do want more than just special-effects-filled blockbusters. To be clear, many blockbusters are great—butut they’ve overwhelmed mainstream theaters. Amidst alarming stories about first-rate movies like The Fabelmans and Tár struggling at the box office, it was thrilling to experience a movie winning over a crowd without a superhero or fighter jet anywhere in sight. —Keith Phipps


Stick Season, by Noah Kahan. The songs on Kahan’s album are authentic, vulnerable, and relatable—sometimes a little too relatable. Take the lyric, “now you’re tire tracks, and one pair of shoes, and I’m split in half, but that’ll have to do”: It gives a nod to accepting a situation as you move into the next season of your life and reinforces the idea that you’ll always come out on the other side, no matter what. —Ashley Grates 

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