Best TV shows of 2023
This year, the small screen has reigned supreme. These are our picks for the top 10 best TV shows of 2023.
The streaming era has revolutionized the golden age of TV – not necessarily for the better. Shows are bigger, denser, more involving, and higher-budgeted than ever before, with each platform crying out for your 10-episode, hour-long attention. It’s arguably the most competitive market pop culture has ever experienced.
The risk of wasting time on something you don’t like (or a show that disappears into the ether of your mind as soon as it’s done) is a constant peril as you scroll, and scroll, and scroll through whatever library you’re subscribed to. Yet, mercifully, 2023’s television has constantly blown us away, frightened us, thrilled us, and broke out hearts – if only at their (un)timely departure.
Maybe you’re just trying to catch up on crème de la crème, or perhaps you want to see your favorite show appropriately ranked (we have good taste, so don’t worry). Without further ado, this is our ranking of the 10 best TV shows of 2023 – for you, for all of us.
10. Happy Valley Season 3
Season 3 of Happy Valley had viewers glued to their screens for the first few weeks of 2023. The concluding series of Sally Wainwright’s superb Halifax crime drama, the final few episodes put Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood and killer psychopath Tommy Lee Royce on a collision course. And while the episodes that preceded the finale weren’t the very best of Happy Valley – with the Season 3 mystery somewhat underwhelming – the climax very definitely delivered. A big chunk of the concluding episode saw actors Sarah Lancashire and James Norton go toe-to-toe, and it was spellbinding television – tense, emotionally charged, and with a devastating denouement.
Author: Chris Tilly
9. Jury Duty
While the thought of doing a social experiment on an unsuspecting person is usually not cool, Jury Duty managed to take this concept and make it not just fun to watch, but also compelling as hell. Various actors, including James Marsden, end up on a jury with the ordinary Ronald Gladden, who has no idea the entire court proceedings are fake. The show is a beautiful exploration of the human condition and how one man can give us all hope that people can do the right thing without anyone watching them.
Author: Kayla Harrington
8. Invincible Season 2
Be bold, be original, be… Invincible. Season 2 picks up in the fallout of Mark and Omni-Man’s calamitous land-and-air brawl, and with Nolan off-world, his son and “pet” wife struggle to reconcile the lies, violence, and weight of just… carrying on – and that’s before we get to new villains and other “superhero’ing” on Mark’s plate. While we’ve only had four episodes (the rest will air in 2024), Part 1 is near-immaculate, setting a much-needed bar for small-screen superheroes – this is televisual storytelling not only done well, but right.
Author: Cameron Frew
7. Loki Season 2
Cementing itself as one of the best Marvel TV shows, Loki Season 2 ramped up the show’s premise to 11 and didn’t let the audience breathe for even a moment, following the fan-favorite god as he was ripped across the past, present, and future while trying to save all of time. While Season 1 fleshed out one of the MCU’s biggest and baddest villains, the second season gave Loki the glorious purpose he’s been craving since his debut Thor and also gave fans a glimpse into the multiverse, which is slowly becoming the lynchpin for Marvel’s Phase 5 and 6.
Author: Kayla Harrington
6. Dead Ringers
There’s truly nothing better than Weisz Tweisz, and Alice Birch’s adaptation of the 1988 David Cronenberg film Dead Ringers proves it. Rachel Weisz takes the Mantle twins, both (un)ethical gynecologists, and distorts them into the ultimate gore-stricken antagonists – which is actually just two women unashamedly doing whatever they want. Throw in the Eurythmics and you’ve got eight episodes of nail-bitingly good TV.
Author: Jasmine Valentine
5. Barry Season 4
Barry wrapped up its four-season run as it started: as one of the most consistently well-conceived and executed shows on TV. Series creators Bill Hader and Alec Berg admirably avoided the final season bloat that plagued the likes of Ted Lasso Season 3, cranking out eight all-killer, no-filler episodes as its tortured villain escapes prison and gets lost between redemption and revenge. At the same time, they also took big creative swings like time jumps and darker tonal shifts. The upshot of all this is that Barry Season 4 is a tightly scripted, impeccably acted, disarmingly funny meditation on change and consequences.
Author: Leon Miller
4. The Fall of the House of Usher
To us, Mike Flanagan can do little wrong, and while The Fall of the House of Usher may not quite live up to the likes of Hill House, the director continues to make some of the best horror media out there, and especially the best on Netflix. Featuring a stellar ensemble cast, and a clever integration of Edgar Allan Poe’s work, House of Usher has more fun with its scares, allowing this entry in the Flanagan horror universe (The Flana-verse?) to stand on its own two feet.
Author: Lucy-Jo Finnighan
3. The Last of Us
The Last of Us TV show translates the beloved video game’s gripping narrative and emotional depth to the small screen, with Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie maintaining the raw humanity and post-apocalyptic tension. While some changes to the plot exist, they contribute to the show’s evolution rather than detract from its impact. The series honors its source material while standing as a compelling narrative on its own, delivering a thrilling and emotionally resonant experience for both fans and newcomers to this post-pandemic world. Not to mention develop a eep rooted fear for flour and fungi thanks to Clickers.
Author: Gabriela Silva
2. Succession Season 4
It’s never easy bringing a series to an end, especially when it comes to those of the caliber of HBO’s Succession. But we needn’t have doubted the Roys. As TV’s most agonizing, mean-spirited, nihilistic exploration of power, the fourth and final season delivered the goods and then some. Credit to writer and creator Jesse Armstrong for showing us what real storytelling can do; 10 episodes, countless quibbles, one power struggle, and an inevitably devastating ending cemented Succession as one of the greatest drama shows of the century.
Author: Daisy Phillipson
1. The Bear Season 2
Is The Bear the best show of 2023? Yes, chef! The first season was one of the most extraordinary out-of-nowhere debuts ever, but the second season is a richer, faultless (and yes, stressful) course that places it in the highest possible echelon of TV. Following Carmy, Sydney, and the rest of the crew as they train, scrub, shout, and fight to open their new restaurant, there’s a beautiful, tremendously affecting symphony in its constant collision of grief, anger, anxiety, and oh-so-brief moments of tender respite; chaos somehow balms the soul – and makes us really hungry.
Author: Cameron Frew
You can also check out our list of the best movies of 2023 here.
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