Every part of making a TV show is crucial to the final work. But the production design is arguably higher up on the essential element scale, should we imagine a ranking. Without a setting—whether it’s an iconic café where the characters meet in every episode, a fantastical set boosted with visual effects, or an actual location with revamped decoration—every show would certainly be less entertaining. Not to mention, the set design often helps drive home a message about the plot or characters in the show.
Tons of good entertainment hit the small screen in 2022, and with it came a number of intriguing sets and filming locations. And, while we’ve got a bit of time before some of these are officially recognized during awards season, we’ve got our own opinions on some of the best. From the hidden set design details in Wednesday to the coastal vacation interiors in The Summer I Turned Pretty, all of these shows are worth rewatching for the production design alone.
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It’s no secret that Wednesday became a viewer favorite soon after the series hit Netflix. Directed by Tim Burton, the gothic-style fantasy is packed with plenty of can’t-miss set design details. The stark contrast between Wednesday’s black-and-white aesthetic and her roommate Enid’s affection for color—perfectly exemplified by their dorm room decor—is only a drop in the bucket when it comes to all of the clever visual elements in the show. Learn more about how the universe was created from production designer Mark Scruton here.
The White Lotus, Season 2
HBO’s The White Lotus had no trouble captivating an extensive audience on Sunday nights during its second season. Mainly filmed at the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace, the seven-episode affair was packed with meaningful imagery—from the paintings and sculptures in the hotel, to a line of White Lotus-branded merch, to Quentin’s villa that’s actually the luxe rental property of famous decorator Jacques Garcia.
Welcome to Chippendales
One of the more underrated limited series of 2022, Welcome to Chippendales centers on the outrageous true story of the male-stripping empire Chippendales and the crimes of its founder Somen “Steve” Banerjee. Production designer Richard Bloom took artistic license by mixing an intensified version of reality with dreamt-up atmospheres to drive home the heart of the Hulu drama. The sets range from lavish and over-the-top to showy and full of shimmer. Find out more about the design process from Bloom here.
At the time of its premiere, the Game of Thornes prequel House of the Dragon became HBO’s most-watched series premiere in the network’s history. Along with the show’s vast filming locations, its dramatic sets bring the fantasy world to life. From the iconic Iron Throne to an altar around a giant dragon skull, the show packs plenty of symbolism into its set design details thanks to production designer Jim Clay and his team.
Bridgerton has certainly boosted the popularity of the Regencycore aesthetic since its debut, and the second season of the series was no different. Most notably, it featured an all-pink home that would make even Barbie jealous. Production designer Will Hughes-Jones divulged how the interiors were designed to match the aesthetic that Bridgerton has become known for, all the while making sure they were distinctly different from the interiors of other characters’ homes—and you can read all about it here.
Peacock’s dramatized reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air includes a revamped and arguably more opulent version of the iconic abode in the original show. While the exterior of the Bel-Air mansion was shot on location, the interiors were created using man-made sets built on a stage. Inspiration for the design was sourced from Jeff Hyland’s book, The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills. Art also plays a major role in the dwelling, much of which was created by some of the best Black artists working today. Get the full lowdown on how the new home came to life straight from production designer Corey Kaplan and set decorator Kristin Peterson here.
Euphoria‘s second installment was heavy, to say the least. But as the show continues, perhaps the easiest way to understand more about every character in it is to take a closer look at their bedrooms. It’s no coincidence that Maddy’s bed boasts a mirrored headboard or that Nate’s pillows are monogrammed. Rue’s bed is intentionally low to the ground. Set decorator Julia Altschul breaks it all down here.
It’s a shame that Minx has been canceled, and the first season is being pulled from HBO Max. But production company Lionsgate Television is looking to find the series a new home, so there’s still hope yet. In any case, the erotic comedy set in 1970s Los Angeles is packed with decor inspo from the era. Plus, we even tapped set decorator Douglas Mowat for tips on how to infuse your home with the best elements of the period, which you can dive into here.
Abbott Elementary, Season 2
As a workplace sitcom filmed in a mockumentary style, Abbott Elementary is familiar—but it’s also fresh and funny. In the second installment of the series, we briefly depart from the show’s main setting, the school, to enjoy a glimpse of a main character’s home. We peek inside Melissa’s Italian American household that’s everything we hoped it would be. “She’s got a fab ‘80s couch, big rolled arms, but we kept it in a neutral, ivory tone,” set decorator Cherie Day Ledwith told Variety. “But we had to go for it and put that plastic on there. It says a lot.”
The animal print pillows on the sofa top it all off. Plus, the set is even filled with framed family photos, supplied by actress Lisa Ann Walter herself.
Severance won’t exactly give you much interior design inspiration, but it’s not supposed to. The Apple TV+ sci-fi series is, after all, about a company that splits its employees’ consciousness into a work self and an outside self. The sterile white halls, beaming fluorescent lights, and deep green carpeting set the perfect scene for the eerie tale. “Everything’s just a little bit off, which is really uncomfortable,” production designer Jeremy Hindle told Variety.
The Summer I Turned Pretty
The epic beach house in The Summer I Turned Pretty is the perfect setting for making summer memories with friends and family. The home was chosen for the Prime Video series because it has a universal coastal feeling, and the interiors were treated with the same goal in mind. “The rooms are large and well-curated throughout,” says set decorator Beth Robinson. “It isn’t pretentious but rather warm and welcoming. It is the kind of place where you can walk in from the beach and put your sandy feet on the coffee table.”
Only Murders in the Building, Season 2
The way you decorate your home or apartment can say a lot about you, and the abodes of the beloved characters in Only Murders in the Building prove just that. Bunny’s apartment is a grandmillenial’s dream. Oliver, a Broadway director, lives in a clearly theatrical-inspired unit. Mabel’s renovation of her aunt’s apartment alludes to her own self as a work in progress. Charles has a new kitchen with some renovated spaces and art that make him look smart with his money, production designer Curt Beech told The Hollywood Reporter. The show’s sets are certainly a lesson in building and emphasizing character through design.
Another Hulu limited series based on true events, Pam & Tommy presents us with a larger-scale recreation of the Malibu mansion Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee once shared. The goal for the interiors was to capture “the naïveté of the mid-90s—it’s ostentatious, but it’s innocent,” says production designer Ethan Tobman. It does just that with custom furniture, like a 25-foot diameter sofa, and decor. Discover more about the show’s design process from the team, including set decorator Nya Patrinos, here.
While nearly 20 different historic house museums—including numerous Gilded Age mansions throughout Rhode Island and New York—were used to film The Gilded Age, it was crucial to protect the interiors while doing so. This meant swapping out any period furnishings that the actors would sit on or even place a teacup on, according to production designer Bob Shaw. The challenge was well worth it for the elegant visual feast, and you can read more about it here.
Emily in Paris,Season 3
There’s an incredible number of iconic filming locations in the third season of Emily in Paris—from the Hôtel Molitor Paris to the Château de Montpoupon. The production design for the Pierre Cadault Retrospective was inspired by the 70th anniversary Dior exhibition. It was even filmed at the same place: Musée des Arts Décoratifs. One thing’s for sure: The dreamy design choices are sure to make you want to move into Emily’s apartment, become a regular at a Parisian restaurant, and explore the French countryside.
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