ArticleMedia & Entertainment

Some of the best pop culture content of 2022

Counterpoints Arts

Great pop culture content from 2022 to watch, read and listen to, as suggested by the PopChange Network.

In October, Counterpoints Arts held its 4th Pop Culture and Social Change Retreat, bringing together over 50 creatives, producers, activists, funders and changemakers to look at how we can use scripted TV and film to shift narratives about migration and displacement.

We asked this network to share with us their top ‘pop culture moments’ of the year — the TV, film, music and readings that left a mark in 2022 and that they might still be thinking or talking about in 2032. Note that this is not a complete or even ‘the best of’ list — there is so much good content this past year! — but these are the ones that quickly came to mind at the retreat.

As we all take some time to relax over the end of the year transition, we are very happy to share with you this collection to learn from, laugh with and be inspired by. Here’s to a 2023 full of more creative voices inspiring change! 


Netflix’s ‘The Swimmers’ Premieres

Directed by BAFTA-winning Sally El Hosaini, with immersive camera work and strong acting, The Swimmers’ is an emotional journey based on the true story of swimming sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini who fled as refugees from war-torn Syria all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Associate Produced by activist and filmmaker Hassan Akkad, with a cast that included people with refugee experience, it is an excellent example of the power of authentic stories told through scripted drama for mainstream audiences. Available to watch on Netflix now. And stay tuned in 2023 for news about Counterpoints’ lived experience consultancy for TV/film that we’ve just launched in collaboration with Hassan and IMIX!)

The Swimmers trailer (Netflix, 2022)

Other recommended films:

  • The Woman King (in cinemas) — in the 1800s, an all-woman army fights against a foreign enemy (errm, colonisers)
  • I Came By (on Netflix) — a suspense thriller directed by British-Iranian Babak-Anvari.
  • Ganghubhai Kathiawadi (on Netflix) — a true crime Bollywood film about a sex worker who rises to power in Mumbai.
  • Turning Red (free with Disney+) — an animated family comedy about periods, friendship, and a giant red panda.
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once (free with Amazon Prime) — a very fun sci-fi comedy adventure featuring a top Asian cast, including Ke Huy Kwan from the Goonies!
  • Nope — (available on all streaming channels) — a new science fiction horror from a genius of the genre, Jordan Peele.
  • Flee (free with Amazon Prime) — a powerful animated documentary about one man’s escape from Afghanistan, The Guardian’s 4th top movie of 2022, and a favourite of Counterpoints Arts.


Mo is one of the best tv shows about displacement

Created by Mo Amer and Ramy Youssef (produced by Netflix), Mo is a hilarious and emotional series about a Palestinian seeking asylum in America. This show is a clear example of what PopChange exists for — pushing narratives that are nuanced, refreshing and help connect audiences to experiences of displacement that are far removed from what you see in the media.

More TV recommendations:

  • Bridgerton(2020-) for South Asian representation (Netflix).
  • Ramy (2019-) a touching comedy-drama featuring comedian Ramy Youssef (Lionsgate+).
  • Never Have I Ever (2020-) a very funny coming of age story that broadens narratives about messy teenagers (the Mom is great too!), executive produced by Mindy Kaling (Netflix)
  • Halal Gurls (2022) – the ‘first Hijabi comedy series’ featuring three women living their best lives in Sydney (Youtube)
  • Heartbreak High (2022) — a remake of an Australian classic that features strong representation from First Nations communities, LGBTQ+, and people living with disabilities (Netflix).
  • Derry Girls (2018-) — hilarious comedy featuring a group of young girls in Northern Ireland during The Troubles (Channel 4).
  • Holby City (1999-2022) – after 23 years and as one of the most diverse long-running dramas, Holby City came to an end earlier this year (BBC iPlayer).


The Long Time Academy Podcast by Ella Saltmarshe

Host, activist and storyteller Ella Saltmarshe has long been pioneering work around culture and system change, and The Long Time Academy podcast is an inspirational deep dive into the power of collective action featuring people and projects everyone should know. We highly recommend Episode 6: The Art (and Pop Culture) of Getting Long Time. (Spotify and other ways to listen).

More podcasts:

  • But Is It Funny? (2021-) – Comedy critics in conversation with The Guardian’s Brian Logan, writer and comedian Suchandrika Chakrabarti, and writer Jamal Khadar. Each week they discuss what’s new in comedy, who is making waves and dig deeper into what we laugh at and why (produced by Counterpoints Arts as part of PopChange!).
  • Stuff the British Stole (2022-) — an award-winning podcast tracing the wild, tragic and not-so-polite histories of individual objects, hosted by Marc Fennel and produced by ABC/CBC.
  • Scene on Radio (2015-) – Peabody-nominated podcast from Duke University asking hard questions about who we really are and why. Recommended are some of the rerelased content from their seasons on “Seeing White” and “Men”.
  • Finding our Way (2020-) – hosted by writer, healer and Somatics practitioner, Prentis Hemphill in conversation with social justice leaders, artists, and activists. Highly recommend the episodes “Building Power with Alicia Garza” and “Continual Becoming with ALOK”.
  • Surviving Society (2017-) – A political podcast exploring the local & global politics of race & class from a sociological perspective.
  • And some music that made it to the listen list: Mel Made Me Do It by Stormzy.


Great magazines for culture that represents and topics that matter

If you want to hear from a diversity of talented writers and creatives, and be exposed to cultural critique that represents a wider world view (along with brilliant photography and graphics), the PopChange network recommends reading, subscribing and supporting these magazines: gal-dem, Skin Deep, Shado Mag and Azeema.

Other good reads:

We look forward to seeing you in 2023 with more inspiring pop culture.