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The Best TV of 2023

TV Week looks back at 10 of the top shows from the past year

When it comes to shows worth devouring, 2023 was the gift that kept on giving. Some cultural moments were unmissable, like the final season of Ted Lasso. You had to live under a rock to avoid spoilers about the shocking twists and turns of Succession or the drama behind the scenes of ratings juggernaut Yellowstone. But there were also gems that perhaps went unnoticed, like critical darlings The Bear and Reservation Dogs, or sci-fi drama Silo. Maybe you didn’t board the Last of Us train out of zombie fatigue. Well, get cozy on your couch, because TV Week assembled the 10 shows that celebrate the range of wonderful televisionbrought to us during the past 12 months.



To be fair, the Chicago-based restaurant drama premiered in 2022, but it was in 2023, after a boatload of awards and a celebrated second season, that The Bear went from well-known secret to must-see TV. The stress-induced comedic drama follows award-winning chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), who takes over his family’s sandwich shop after his brother Mikey (Jon Bernthal) dies. Through the relationship-building and conflicts that emerge between Carmy and his ragtag kitchen staff and flashbacks that show us where our tortured culinary antihero’s frenetic headspace originates from, The Bear is truly a show about family — the good, the bad and the chosen.



The horror series about a mass fungal infection that turns most people into zombies was a must-see to fans of the video game it was based on, but for those not already familiar with the harrowing journey across the United States made by Joel (Pedro Pascal) and 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey), in hopes of creating a life-saving vaccine, yet another scenario featuring the undead seemed redundant. The critical reception of the series’ third episode — which established the show as a heartbreaking, award-worthy drama — changed that perception and held onto those qualities until season’s end.



Cabaret star Bridget Everett’s comedic drama about Sam, a woman in her 40s who returns to rural Kansas after the death of her sister, does not as a premise sound either hilarious or heartwarming. But Sam’s growing friendship with sweet co-worker Joel (Jeff Hiller) and the quirky circle that surrounds them proves that even the most mundane existence can be a source of brilliant comedy with the right people around you. With two seasons to binge and a third one coming in 2024, now is the time to jump on this bandwagon.



In this single-cam workplace comedy, Rob Lowe stars as biotech genius Ellis Dragon, who tries to overcome his debilitating grief over his wife’s recent death by reconnecting personally and professionally with his estranged son Jackson (Lowe’s real-life son John Owen). Aided by an eccentric office ensemble, Jackson must save Ellis from being ousted by the company’s board, by both completing his father’s pie-in-the-sky research and keeping him from spiralling completely. Co-created by the Lowes, the show was inspired by the duo’s punchy relationship on social media.



You know you’ve missed Columbo, and now you don’t have to. Created by Knives Out writer/director Rian Johnson, this darkly comedic inverted murder mystery series stars Natasha Lyonne as Charlie, a cocktail waitress on the run who serves as viewers’ astute eyes and ears, solving murders-of-the-week with her innate ability to tell if a person is telling a lie. The guest star roster alone (Adrien Brody, Nick Nolte, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chloë Sevigny, Judith Light, Ellen Barkin and others) warrants a review of season one, but it’s Lyonne’s acerbic wit that brings this show home.


Apple TV+

After being siloed for two years in the pandemic, watching a society live in a 144-level underground bunker may have hit too close to home when the show premiered in May. With more distance to our own past, it’s time to examine our hopefully distant future, where engineer Juliette Nichols (Rebecca Ferguson) becomes suspicious of the Silo’s lack of history (as supposedly all records were destroyed 140 years ago), the rules and regulations this society follows without question and the people who govern it. And what exactly waits outside the silo? Only one way to find out.



When Reservation Dogs premiered in 2021, it broke new ground as the first show featuring all Indigenous writers and directors to go along with a largely Indigenous cast. But series creator Sterlin Harjo and producer Taika Waititi also broke rules with this genre-defying show, in their ability to combine magical realism, teen angst, social commentary and friendship in a coming-of-age story that remained as unsentimental as it was effective until the very end. Few “Best of” lists eluded this series in its three short seasons, and the ending, albeit brilliant, feels like a bittersweet reminder that we’ll never get
to be astonished by the Rez Dogs again.



In this absurdist dramedy that plays out like Falling Down meets The White Lotus, Ali Wong stars as small-business owner Amy, who comes into contact with struggling contractor Danny, played by Steven Yeun, when the two of them engage in a road rage incident for the ages. What could have been a simple release of aggression created by the stresses in their lives turns into an epic long-running feud that escalates to ridiculous levels. Praised for its ability to somehow stay grounded, it is the two leads that make this battle royale not just believable but a collision to root for.



Speaking of collisions to root for, this political thriller zeroes in on career diplomats Kate and Hal Wyler (played to perfection by Keri Russell and Rufus Sewell) whose fights are a revelation. When Kate is sent to the U.K. as the United States ambassador her trailing spouse follows, but it quickly becomes obvious that these two are a package deal — and Hal is particularly bad at playing second fiddle. A tense plot to diffuse a political crisis unfolds parallel to their contentious, sexy and brilliant banter. Think Mr. & Mrs. Smith with foreign office protocols.



The culmination of the Waystar RoyCo succession battle was every bit the divine comedy we had come to expect from series creator Jesse Armstrong and his magnificent cast. The fourth and final season peppered in shockers (episode three!) and subverted expectations, keeping viewers guessing until the last few minutes of the series finale. Watching a creative team exercise their craft at the highest level (the show garnered 75 Primetime Emmy nominations in four years) made it very hard to say goodbye, but if the intent was to go out on top, Succession succeeded in its mission.

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