Best of 2022: Found Families features spoilers for various shows. Please be advised if there’s something you don’t want to know.
Platonic relationships are always an underrated gem throughout every series, making it that much more special. The found families—the relationships that make characters better and amplify scenes with the best kind of balance between angst and love. No human is meant to be alone, and platonic relationships prove this by often being a light in the darkness.
For more end-of-the-year coverage, be sure to check out our Best of 2022: Romance Novels, the Best of 2022: Performances, the Best of 2022: Characters, the Best of 2022: Scene Stealers, the Best of 2022: Romantic Relationships, and the Best of 2022: TV Episodes.
1. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Leia Organa
“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope,” always held insurmountable power in a galaxy far, far away, and today, those very words are laced with more strength than any of us thought conceivable. There’s a lot about A New Hope that made little sense at the time, such as how Leia Organa knew the name Ben Kenobi. But when the Jedi Master returned to our screens this year, that question was answered with an exhibition of one of the most heartwarming relationships in Star Wars history. What could life have been like if Obi-Wan Kenobi got to be the uncle he was meant to be for the twins if the battle on Mustafar ended differently? We thankfully got glimpses that will stay with many of us for a long time.
As we had said in our review of Episode 6: “In the short time they knew each other, both Obi-Wan and Leia continued to look out for one another, fighting with all their might to ensure that Leia gets home to her parents and that Ben survives. They both needed to fight for the future to move forward from the sorrows of the past. We knew he would. But the little girl who found herself attached to an uncle-like figure has no idea what her future yet holds. Thus, to hear Obi-Wan say that they must be careful while promising that should she ever need help from a tired, old man, he’d be there is everything we need to add immense weight to the words that signify hope tirelessly.” Whatever they faced, their scenes together resulted in TV’s most beautiful partnership and the easiest spot as number one in our Best of 2022 Found Families list.
2. The Scoop Troop
Since Stranger Things Season 3, The Scoop Troop (Steve, Robin, Dustin, Lucas, and Erica) has been the best part of the series. In the fourth season, as the Scoop Troop evolved into Steve Harrington and his entire brood of six and counting, the dynamics got even better. Stranger Things has a thoroughly engaging narrative, but at its crux, the friendships make the show the cultural phenomenon that it is. And that fact has never been more accurate in the fourth season as the fight against their lives grew more vicious and threatening. During these trying times and the quest to survive, their love for one another grew tenfold. There is no leader here, not exactly because they all contribute something that results in their survival, and without one or the other, nothing would ever be the same again. In the separations they endured, from California to Hawkins, the singular fight to save each other made their friendship a light in dark, uncertain times.
There’s a reason no one wants to see any of these characters die—it’s too hard, impossible to think about. Our desperation to hold on to each of them, including Eddie and Argyle, who just joined the team this year, is by virtue of the colossal love they each share for one another, even when they’re constantly mocking and driving one another mad. As we got to watch Nancy and Robin form a friendship, Steve and his children fight to live another day, and Dustin uncover the hero that lived inside of Eddie all along while they put their best foot forward to continue protecting Max against Vecna, Stranger Things Season 4 ended up being one of the most emotionally taxing seasons of the year. Yet, through all this, it gave us friendships that feel so personal, it’s going to be wrecking to say goodbye in Season 5.
3. The Garvey Sisters
Bad Sisters works entirely because of the Garvey sisters and how profoundly they adore each other, even when they’re at odds, bickering, or keeping things from one another. The entire series is a love letter to the idea of blood being thicker than water, but through an angle where agency is front and center. And with every move they make, they cement their adoration for their sisters beautifully, showcasing that here, it’s all about loving one another as they are. Bad Sisters is unquestionably one of the best shows of the year, and with only a few sibling relationships to count in our Best of 2022 Found Families, theirs stands out in every way.
The series should’ve been titled Best Sisters because, at the end of the day, that’s what they are—they’re five women who could rely on one another through thick and thin, no matter what or who dares to come before them. The idea of the series is that they should be sticking together, which they do, bringing to life an adoration that’s so strong you never doubt the lengths they’re willing to go to for one another.
4. The Derry Girls
And one last time, we celebrate Erin, Orla, Michelle, Claire, and James as we leave Derry behind this year. The five have been on our Best of Found Families list since day one, and it’s thrilling to know they stayed on top to the very end. Derry Girls Season 3 challenged each of them in ways they hadn’t experienced before, and while there were consequential complications that arose, they stuck by each other in the end, proving that their friendship is a promise that’s fortified through an attachment so firm, nothing could contest to their loyalty to one another.
Additionally, as one of them dealt with the painful heartache that comes from losing a parent, the others hovered around her like angels—ready to take on the darkness for her, grieve with her, and stand by her through everything she needed. As someone who’s gone through grief, I’ve often believed that sometimes, it’s harder to be the one to comfort someone else. You don’t always know what to say or how to protect them from the pain, but showing up is everything. Showing up sometimes is more than enough, and through every growing pain, the girls (and James) stood by each other, immovable to the end.
5. Roci Crew
The Expanse has always been about a chosen family and so much of the final season reflects on this belief by quietly showing us that even amidst their differences, this team works excellently together—they’re meant for each other. They’re meant for this ship. And they’re meant to be in each other’s lives, driven by a single decision that changed everything, serendipitously thrusting them toward the fight of their lives. The quiet moments spent together navigating through their differences, bickering, and bantering is every bit the sort of calm they’ve all needed far away from the places they came from.
Holden, Naomi, Amos, Clarissa, and Bobby (plus, Avasarala and Drummer from time to time) are the kind of partners who know, without a shadow of a doubt, even when there are apprehensions, that their lives are protected by those who stand in front of them. These are the people who’ll stand by each other even when there are disagreements and doubts. These are the people who’ll fight on the same page to ensure that nothing or no one ever crosses the other. These are the people who’ll honor and remember each other’s actions when it’s most necessary.
6. Erin Tieng, KJ Brandman, Mac Coyle, and Tiffany Quilkin
Paper Girls could have been everything (and hopefully, it still can be if another network chooses to pick it up). And while the series’ premise is fascinating, the friendships they uncover through horrific circumstances make the story special. Erin, KJ, Mac, and Tiffany could not be more different from one another, which is rather intriguing when considering their future selves along with the younger versions of themselves. Still, those very differences make their dynamics so compelling to watch.
Despite everything, the girls are willing to show up for one another in the past and the future, fight for each other, learn the truths about what happened to them, where they go, and how they could continue holding on when all else crumbles. The series and what we could have explored with this group were brimming with potential, and it’s so heartbreaking to think we might not get more of it.
7. Helen Decatur, Maddie Townsend, and Dana Sue Sullivan
Sweet Magnolias works consistently as a series because of the bonds shared between Helen Decatur, Maddie Townsend, and Dana Sue Sullivan. As a series that puts friendships at the heart of storytelling, it strives to illuminate the strength found in numbers. In Season 2, the women brought a new light to their friendship as they showcased what it means to look out for each other through joys and heartaches. After the accident at the end of Season 1, Helen’s miscarriage, surprise visits, and heightened emotions, they proved that at the end of the day, theirs is a friendship always worth fighting for.
There are indeed more challenges to arise given the season finale, but what we got at the end of the episode is confirmation that no matter what happens, they have a found family at each other’s side willing to do whatever’s necessary to bring their best to the center. Pouring out isn’t just a statement—it’s the best kind of promise. It’s a safe place to land, unwind, and find themselves when their paths divert from life’s hurdles.
8. Jen Harding and Judy Hale
Dead to Me
It’s hard to imagine the world of television without Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini’s real-life friendship translating onto the screen as Jen Harding and Judy Hale. In the same way that Bad Sisters takes “ride or die” to new heights, Jen and Judy authenticate what it truly means to be someone’s entire heart. The two have grown tremendously throughout Dead To Me’s first two seasons, but it’s all heightened in Season 3 when health concerns come into play. It becomes crystal clear after Judy’s unfortunate diagnosis that Jen would give everything she has to keep her friend happy, healthy, and by her side.
Though the story doesn’t end with the two of them riding into the sunset together, no two women have showcased an adoration this profound in recent years. Jen and Judy aren’t just contenders for Best of 2022 Found Families, but for life. From where they began to where they ended, trust was the lodestone in their friendship as it developed into the kind of sisterhood where even the addition of blood couldn’t thicken. The series wouldn’t be the same without this friendship that’s been a source of comfort for both women as they helped one another grow for the better.
9. Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso
For multiple reasons, all of which include exploring the most emotionally compelling narratives, Cobra Kai Season 5 is the show’s strongest season yet. And the primary reason why is the genuine truce that Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso have finally called after decades of being pitted against each other. Fans have wanted to see the two men find common ground since the first Karate Kid film, and while we almost go there a few times throughout Cobra Kai, none of their decisions to see eye to eye have lasted until now. While the men certainly aren’t at the level that their significant others, Carmen and Amanda, are, today, they could sincerely trust each other. Today, they know that they’re not only fighting for the same cause but also making a lasting impression on the kids who need them most, carving a better path than the one they were on years ago.
So much of this friendship’s appeal in our Best of 2022 Found Families results from the decade-long grudge and compelling, heartfelt performances. William Zabka and Ralph Macchio clearly have a blast filming together, and it’s transcendent in their scenes together. The men have done an acutely thorough job of weaving their dynamic from point A to B in an organic manner. Their coming together was initially going to be forced—that’s part of the appeal, but how they work through that and subtly help one another become the best versions of themselves is no small feat. There’s still so much we’ve yet to see, but the series is exceptionally warmer now that they’re fighting for each other instead of with.
10. Wednesday Addams and Enid Sinclair
Nothing is more apparent at the end of the Wednesday Season 1 finale than the detail that Enid Sinclair and Wednesday Addams are each other’s person. They’re platonic soul mates, and in a show where too many love triangle-type relationships were shoved into our faces, Wednesday and Enid are the real love story. Theirs is the relationship worth preserving and evolving. In arriving at Nevermore, both women were inadvertently searching for each other to find a place to belong. Enid will never truly fit in with all the werewolves, and Wednesday might not fit in with her family’s legacy. Still, despite their differences, around each other, they’re a beautiful form of sunshine and rain—the best kind of afterglow.
The women aren’t changing their ways and aren’t expected to, but together, they can be the types of soul mates who’d do anything to protect the other. No one at Nevermore would’ve fought the Hyde monster the way Enid could to protect Wednesday and vice versa. Their friendship is a thing of beauty that helps them both become better, stronger versions of themselves as they bicker, bemuse, and taunt one another with a love that’s beautifully (and subtly) overflowing.
Honorable Mentions: Mabel Mora, Charles-Haden Savage, and Oliver Putnam (Only Murders In The Building), Barbara Howard and Melissa Schemmenti (Abbott Elementary), Olivia Benson and Amanda Rollins (Law and Order: SVU), The Organa Family (Obi-Wan Kenobi), and Firehouse 51 (Chicago Fire)