best of 2022

These are a few of our favorite things


in Best of the Smart Set • Illustrated by Kat Heller


2022 was a year. I saw an apt TikTok where the creator said they can no longer remember a time when reflecting upon the end of the year was joyful. I seem to be seeing that refrain echoing on my timelines and in my circles, a sense of relief that 2022 is concluding. But even amongst the pressure, we found ways to carve some joy for ourselves as we navigated 2022’s potential pitfalls.   

Camille’s List


This year I got to see a LOT of my favorite artists and I am so lucky I was able to do that! I was also able to work at a music festival here in Philly and got to see Mary J. Blige (one of my favorite artists) as well as Summer Walker, Jazmine Sullivan, Masego, Keyshia Cole, and so much more! I was also able to experience another music festival for the first time back in my hometown, Miami. There I was able to see Kendrick Lamar (another one of my favorites), Future, Kodak Black, Lil Baby, and more!  The list of artists I’ve seen in concert is Tyler, The Creator & Kali Uchis (my favorite concert), Aminé, Dani Leigh, and Denzel Curry. I am really blessed to have been able to see these artists live and experience their music in person. It was a lot of fun!  

Feeling the Heat 

Although this was my second time seeing a basketball game, it was my first time seeing my favorite team play! I was able to see the Miami Heat play for the first time during spring break with my boyfriend who is also a Heat fan! I am so happy we’re able to share a favorite team together and that we were able to finally see our first Heat game and make that memory together! Although they sadly didn’t win that night, it was a great check off the bucket list for us both as Heat fans! We hope to go again soon, and hopefully, they’ll win when we are there!  

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 

This year for Thanksgiving break I got to go to New York to see my friend and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade again! She has a family friend who works at Macy’s and is able to provide tickets which is pretty cool. I really enjoyed it this year because it was a bit warmer than last time, and I got to bring my boyfriend along with me as well. My favorite float was Boss Baby because he is just so iconic . . . I mean he’s a BOSS BABY and it’s always the cutest thing. Everyone started shouting Boss Baby which I found hilarious. Also, Robert Herjavec from Shark Tank was in our section which was very random but very cool to see someone I’ve seen on TV for quite a while up close in person! I love how families come together to see the floats, I think it is such a wholesome way to celebrate the holiday.   

Joni’s List

Chat Pile – God’s Country

God’s Country from Oklahoma City sludge/noise four-piece Chat Pile hits like a falling cartoon anvil: inescapably heavy (the down-tuned instrumentation and unhinged performances on all nine tracks resound at a skeletal level,) but memorable particularly for its bluntness (hear “Why,” a searing denouncement of the existential fallacy that allows for the prevailing tragedy of homelessness.) It’s one of the most surprising, devastating, and impossible-to-categorize metal albums of recent years, yet never gives the impression that they’re even capable of taking themselves too seriously, because really, what would be the point?

The record — already defined by its arresting crescendos — builds to the nine-minute closer “Grimace_Smoking_Weed.Jpeg,” a harrowing encapsulation of our generation’s proclivity for shit-posting in the face of total annihilation. 


Jordan Peele explained the tie between his seemingly disconnected fields of comedy and horror as being the building of tension and strategic release. Zach Cregger’s Barbarian is a masterclass on this phenomenon. A sharp, modern, watertight horror movie with these jarring moments of comedy that defy your expectations and invest you deeper out of sheer disbelief. If it’s not too late, go into this movie knowing nothing about it. 

Girl God

A take: Stand-up comedy needs to acknowledge, if not pay tribute, to the self-sustaining juggernaut of meme culture if it wants to remain relevant among our generation. We’re going on well over a decade of the mass linking of the hilarious with the even uncomfortably surreal, our instantaneous social media digestion of the content, and its shaping of our collective sense of humor, and no one right now seems to better understand how to set this all to the stage than Girl God: the experimental comedy duo of April Clark and Grace Freud. I saw them perform a sold-out show at Philamoca this fall, and they were electric. You can’t beat that kind of communal laughter. 

Kat’s List

Our Flag Means Death

Do you like fine things? I’ll start my countdown strong . . . like, gale-force wind, crashing-up-on-the-rocks-in-the-best-way strong. This HBOMax original starring Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi was a breath of fresh sea air for queer, neurodivergent, and Indigenous audiences, though it can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone with a sense of humor and/or an appreciation for Fleetwood Mac. At its core, it’s a workplace rom-com set on the high seas during the Golden Age of Piracy. Add rule-of-cool’d leather pants, a storyline where the true villain is stereotype itself, and some of the best LGBTQIA+ representation I’ve ever seen, and there’s almost too much to love about this 10-episode gem. I absolutely cannot wait to reunite with the Revenge crew come springtime. 

My Chemical Romance . . . ON TOUR 

12-year-old me is screaming. 20-year-old me is STILL screaming, except it’s with thousands of other relapsed emos in the middle of the desert at When We Were Young. Learning about the modern rock giant’s Halloween reunion in 2019 stands as a flashbulb memory in my mind, as does my first listen to Foundations of Decay, the band’s first musical release since dropping Danger Days in 2010. Sitting in the back of the car on the way home from my brother’s spring concert, I was near tears (okay, more like actual tears. Gut-sobbing. It was a weird day.) over the thought of Iero, Toro, and the Way brothers crafting epics in the studio again.

The Arcadian Wild

I discovered modern folk music and sea shanties over the summer, and this band makes my heart ache in a truly special way. The amount of platonic love in every song and their message of simple pleasures beautifully narrates the quiet emotions I’ve had trouble putting words to for so long. As an animator and a synesthetic, I found “Liar” and “Wander. Wonder.” to be absolute windstorms of emotional and mental visuals. I truly wish I could listen to every one of their songs for the first time again. An honorable mention also goes to the group Fish In A Birdcage, discovered at around the same time . . . have you ever heard a cello weep


This show had been on my radar for months, and by the time I sat down with my brother after Thanksgiving to swap favorite TV shows (guess which program I showed him), I felt like I was finally remedying a disservice to my profession. The sheer amount of hype this show got during the first half of this year had me feeling a little intimidated, but by the end of episode two I looked over at him with my eyes wide and croaked “I get it.” This animated gem merges 2D and 3D styles in the most seamless and engaging way, and the soundtrack alone is a gritty, foot-pounding, bomb-bursting romp. You can’t put WOODKID on a project this rich and expect anyone to be normal about it!

Melinda’s List


PHEW. I still stand by my assertion that SZA’s “Julia” from her 2014 EP, Z, is the best pop song of the millennium thus far (I will not be taking questions). Ctrl was on repeat in 2017 and five years later there is nobody I’d rather pine with, cry over, and dance to than SZA. SOS captures the wistfulness of hoping for better, wrangling with the actuality, and confronting that maybe you’re not so mature, you’re not so mature, you’re not so mature. 

Normal Gossip 

I am not a regular podcast listener, but the ones I do listen to I throw myself completely into. Host, Kelsey McKinney, had me proselytizing the podcast to my friends and colleagues, which I had heard from a similar recommendation. We became participants in the circulation of gossip itself — its joy and schadenfreude. Two people talking about wild tales from real people’s lives have added some real bright spots to my morning walks to and from work.  

The Works of Frank Perry  

The director isn’t a 2022 phenomenon, especially having been dead for 27 years. But diving into his work more wholeheartedly this year has been a real treasure trove. Like watching fireworks, though instead of the flash and pows it’s about the emotional destruction of individuals — toxic marriages, delusion, and immense amounts of regret.  

Everything Everywhere All at Once 

This was one of the few movies I snuck off to in the theater, between time and Covid caution, my favorite escape was put on hold (though well supplemented by streaming services). But I knew this was going to be something and so I picked an odd day and time, a seat as close to the wall as possible, and just braced myself for all the sobbing. Actually, I hadn’t braced for it. I had no idea how much it would pick me apart – how a line like “In another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you,” would just cut me wide open. Worth every ounce of hype. •