It’s widely held that we’re in a Golden Age of television, and with that has come a Golden Age of opening title sequences. It’s now commonplace for prestige television shows to come accompanied by captivating opening credits that are works of art in their own right. You can point to Mad Men as being a major player in kicking off this trend, and the likes of Succession and Bojack Horseman carrying the torch.
The television series of 2022 have very much kept that flame alive, and we’ve rounded up our top 10 favorites of the year below!
1. The White Lotus
There would be hell to pay if any other opening title sequence of 2022 topped our list. Many wondered how Mike White and studio Plains of Yonder (Katrina Crawford and Mark Bashore) would possibly be able to exceed the opening credits of the first season of The White Lotus, and yet they somehow managed to do so.
The theme song— “Renaissance” by the brilliant Cristobal Tapia de Veer— is the indisputable star of the show, with complimentary Renaissance painting style visuals that grow increasingly eerie and perverse in time with the song’s crescendo.
The Pachinko opening credits were created by the design studio Elastic, and portray a joyful celebration that opens with grainy found footage of Korean immigrants flashing kinetically across the screen. The sequence builds to the cast members dancing in the show’s Pachinko parlor to the Grass Roots’ cover of “Let’s Live For Today.” The stunningly saccharine, retro-dream color palette is a visual feast that magnifies the celebratory tone of the sequence.
Pachinko show runner Soo Hugh told Digital Spy that, “The word that I told everyone is ‘exuberance’. I want the titles to feel exuberant.” Mission accomplished!
The dystopian workplace social thriller Severance needed an opening title sequence that captured the menacing tone of the show, and boy, did they nail it. A CGI animated sequence from Berlin artist Oliver Latta (AKA Extraweg) takes us on a surrealist journey through the corroding world of the show, touching upon themes of duplicity, alternate realities, and mounting doom, all set to a moody score from Theodore Shapiro.
These oozy opening titles snatched up the 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Main Title Design.
This text-based title sequence for the true crime series Candy uses slow-paced 2D animation in a retro aesthetic to create tension and intrigue. Studio Imaginary Forces gives viewers nods to themes of the show through visual motifs and movement, including domesticity and an overarching, foreboding feeling of things falling apart.
Here’s another captivatingly eerie, tone-setting title sequence that, much to our astonishment, was executed without the use of any CGI affects. Instead, the team over at Sarofsky looked to live action and 3D animation to depict the bizarre image of a unicorn ambling through a generic office space. This concept was born from the idea of the unicorn symbolizing the statistical rarity of tech start-ups succeeding.
The playful, theatrical opening credits for Peacemaker are unlike any title sequence we’ve ever seen, with a charming, tongue-in-cheek campiness. The custom typeface used is once again courtesy of Sarofsky, and the 80s glam rock track is by Wig Wam. HBOMax released a behind the scenes video of the filming of the dance sequence you can check out here.
7. Irma Vep
This visually stunning opening title sequence designed by Stephane Manel uses an animation style of brightly colored, wiggly sketches that nod to the aesthetic of renowned painter Henri Matisse. These credits are a spunky gestural achievement set to the toe-tapping tune of “Ya Habibti” by Mdou Moctar.
8. Only Murders in the Building
This animated opening title sequence takes viewers on an atmospheric tour of the facade of an apartment building, with pops of color and characters glimmering through its very many windows. These credits are another one on our list from the team over at Elastic, embedded with easter egg clues that tie into the whodunnit mystery of the show itself.
9. Winning Time
The Winning Time title sequence is an archival footage video collage that is not only visually enthralling, but critically sets the scene of the historic backdrop for its story surrounding the 1980s Lakers. These credits come courtesy of a partnership with STALKR, infused with the nostalgic warmth of home videos and vintage sportscasting aesthetics, masterfully cut to the beat of “My Favorite Mutiny” by The Coup.
10. The Staircase
Last on our top 10 list is another title sequence from Sarofsky, which centers around the main house from the show. This choice portrays the setting of the mystery that plays out within The Staircase, as well as the complicated dynamics between its characters. The sequence sets a general tone of precariousness and uncertainty that it establishes through images of glass, brooding silhouettes, and of course, a staircase.