While 2023 has been a strange year for TV, as we are still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry and had remarkably long labor strikes from both the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, it’s also been a wonderful one in terms of quality. This year, we got an incredible list of TV shows released across broadcast, cable, and streaming.
Whether it was beloved and long-running shows coming to an end, highly-anticipated adaptations finally making their debut, or the return of everyone’s favorite Netflix comedy, there was plenty to love in 2023. What rose above the rest to truly stand out, though?
That’s what we decided to figure out, polling the GameSpot staff on the best TV shows of 2023. There will be a lot of titles in this list that shouldn’t surprise you. After all, is it a best TV of 2023 list if the final season of Succession isn’t on it? However, there are hopefully some picks that may surprise you as we tend to dig a little deep around here.
Take a look below at our 10 favorite TV shows of 2023.
In the fourth and final season of HBO’s latest in a decades-long line of standout original series, the Roy media empire’s fate was finally determined, but not before the adult children all still ruthlessly jockeyed for position at the expense of their personal and professional relationships for several more episodes. Showrunner Jesse Armstrong’s ultimate vision for the show comes to a head a third of the way through the final season when a major twist disrupts the series’ dynamics in such a way that feels both vital to get across the themes and yet so stunning that even the cast was said to have been uncomfortable with it when they learned of what would happen.
This is a show about cold-hearted billionaires arguing for the biggest slice of a figurative pie already disgustingly large in size, making the viewers’ empathy feel well-earned. We should hate all of them, and perhaps some do, but Succession also served as a constant reminder that every single person is nothing if not complex. If the next era of HBO is to look markedly different, Succession serves as an appropriate finale to the channel’s 30-year dedication to anti-heroes we loved, loved to hate, and ultimately watched get torn down.
And as often as the show would focus on rather vile individuals with more power than they should be granted, it was always deftly funny, too. Greg, Tom, and Roman, in particular, have been some of the most hilarious characters on TV for a half-decade now, and when paired with the series’ shaky, almost documentarian cinematography, it always feels like the viewer is in the room with these and other wicked yet entertaining people. The show brims with life for all of these reasons, and smartly didn’t overstay its welcome like so many TV series wind up doing. It will go down as one of HBO’s best series to date, which puts it among the all-time greats in general. — Mark Delaney
The Last of Us (HBO)
What is there to say about HBO’s The Last of Us other than it’s simply the best live-action adaptation of a video game ever made? The Last of Us is, in theory, something that might not work as a TV show. We’ve seen a number of games like it that just don’t translate. Most recently, Paramount+’s first season of Halo first that particular bill.
However, where The Last of Us succeeds is spending as much time building the world of the games as it does the characters. From the opening moments of the pilot episode, we go on a journey with Joel through the end of the world and the loss of his family. We are then with him as he meets Ellie and the two form an unbreakable bond.
What we are left with is a perfect storm of an incredible cast, which includes Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, thrilling and horrifying action sequences, amazingly devious villains for the protagonists to come up against, and one of the most engaging stories we’ve seen on a TV show in some time. — Chris E. Hayner
Jury Duty (Freevee)
The high-concept pitch of Jury Duty is easy enough to understand: a fake mockumentary about America’s jury system as seen through the eyes of a single civil trial, and everyone is an actor except for one man named Ronald Gladden. It’s an elaborate, season-long practical joke on just one guy who unwittingly wandered into a trap, and the zany characters rope him into increasingly absurd shenanigans.
But somewhere along the line, something shifts. What was a silly and maybe just a little mean-spirited prank starts to hit the wall of Ronald’s endless patience and kindness. You can almost sense the showrunners’ shock as they fail again and again to force the intended moment when he finally loses it on this band of charlatans and weirdos. Again and again we see him rise to challenges, be it reluctantly taking the position of jury foreperson moments after we’ve seen him privately confess he absolutely does not want it, or refusing to break a friend’s trust even when it’s in his self-interest to do so. Gladden is just a well-meaning sweetheart, a somewhat shy but helpful person who is trying his best to do the right thing, both as a juror and as a human being.
All that may make it sound treacly or saccharine, but this is first and foremost a comedy. James Marsden leads the pack, playing a raging egotist version of himself, and becoming Ronald’s closest jury-buddy throughout most of the episodes. The rest of the cast are character actors, balancing a tightrope between scripted beats they need to hit to move the plot forward, and days-long quick-thinking improvisation. The humor comes mostly from testing Ronald’s limits in the style of cringe-comedy and discovering over and over that he doesn’t have any. The result is a show that just feels good to watch, both for its moments of hilarious humor and for reassuring us that being a kind, thoughtful person really does matter. — Steve Watts
I Think You Should Leave (Netflix)
55 BURGERS55 FRIES55 TACOS55 PIES
100 TATER TOTS
AND 155 TATERS
Star Trek: Picard (Paramount+)
The first two seasons of Star Trek: Picard failed to live up to the legacy of The Next Generation, offering nonsensical plots that fell apart under any scrutiny, manufactured drama, and characters who didn’t feel true to their TNG counterparts, Picard chief among them. Picard Season 3, under the direction of new showrunner Terry Matalas, righted all of these wrongs, delivering a far more satisfying follow-up to the TNG TV series than anything the TNG movies and prior Picard seasons ever managed.
Despite ostensibly being a season centered all around reuniting the TNG cast, Season 3 took its time in doing so, really earning the moment when we see those characters back together. The first half of the season tells a terrific, self-encapsulated story that easily outdoes the TNG movies. But all throughout, it’s the smaller-scale, character-driven stories and interactions–Riker and Troi dealing with the grief of a lost child, Picard coming to grips with learning he’s a father, Seven and the excellent new character, Shaw, reaching a mutual respect–that make this among the very best modern Star Trek.
Although it falls into the trap of revisiting a familiar threat for Picard yet again, the story and characters render that an ultimately trivial complaint. Star Trek may never again offer the episodic, more reserved nature of the TNG days that many of us love and yearn for, but this is the next best thing. — Chris Pereira
The Bear (FX)
In Season 2 of Hulu’s breakout dramedy, The Bear, restaurant life got somehow even more chaotic, relatable, and heartfelt all at once. The show continues to be a vehicle to showcase the incredible cast’s talents, and there’s really no weak link across the spectrum of Chicago restaurateurs trying to make it through the work day without quitting on sight or stabbing their coworkers in the back–sometimes literally.
Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edibiri are remarkable as the lead performers and leaders of the titular restaurant. As the eatery gets remodeled, the entire group has to pivot to a very different atmosphere in an industry that feels hellbent on swallowing up anyone who isn’t all in. The secondary characters get more time to shine in a slightly longer second season, too, including a standout episode that focuses almost exclusively on Ebon Moss-Bacharach’s Richie as he seeks to rise above his status as screw-up “cousin” to White’s Carmy Berzatto.
But the true highlight of this season–and one that comes just in time for the holiday season if you happen to be reading this at the end of 2023–is an hour-long episode that moves the chaos out of the restaurant and into the Berzatto home at Christmas time in a flashback episode that is so loaded with surprising guest stars, we dare not spoil them here. Seriously, it’s arguably the best hour of TV released this year and, despite occurring outside of the restaurant, is every bit as tense and touching in equal measure, which has become the series’ hallmark since it first debuted. — Mark Delaney
Poker Face (Peacock)
Rian Johnson clearly has an affection for the classic detective story, and an eye for turning it on its head in films like Brick, Knives Out, and Glass Onion. With Poker Face, Johnson turned his creative eye toward the crime procedural, with equally striking results that pay homage to some of the most classic genre tropes while rearranging them in new, surprising ways. To start, Charlie Cale (Natasha Lyonne) isn’t a detective at all.
Instead, Charlie is a down-on-her-luck dirtbag, working as a cocktail waitress out of her crappy little trailer in Las Vegas. She doesn’t have any interest in crime-solving, but she does have a preternatural ability to tell when someone is lying. When she knows too much about the machinations of her crime boss of an employer, it kicks off a sequence of events that leads her to flee the area and go into hiding.
That structure creates a familiar crime-of-the-week structure. Charlie can’t stay in any one place for too long, so we’re treated to a wide variety of settings and guest stars. Wherever she goes, crime seems to follow, and despite her rough exterior, Charlie is just inherently too good to let it go when she notices something is off. Charlie’s gift means that we nearly always know the specific nature of the crime from the very start, so the treat is watching how she catches on, and the variety of ways that exposing dishonesty can unmake a crime. At the same time, this is a woman on the run, and she can’t trust the police, so she often has to find other creative ways to mete out justice to deserving killers.
As the lone series regular, the series lives and dies on the sly charisma of Natasha Lyonne. Her raspy drawl makes a meal out of every line delivery, and she brings a sensibility that frequently straddles the line between macabre and hilarious. The array of guest stars like Ellen Barkin, Tim Meadows, and Luis Guzman help complement the procedural crime stories, but they’re all dancing to the beat of Lyonne’s drum. And the meta-plot of a woman on the run gives the whole affair a constant sense of stakes, leading to a tense conclusion that leaves you wanting another round. — Steve Watts
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX)
It’s no mistake that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the longest-running live-action comedy in TV history. Season 16 reaffirms that the voice behind the show remains as strong as ever, with inspired new concepts and fertile new ground to still be explored–be it inflation, mental health, or the remnants of a Chuck E. Cheese-style knockoff called Risk E. Rat’s.
The humor remains first-rate; seeing Danny DeVito’s Frank sinking into an inflatable couch while Mac denies his obvious nut allergy, which leads to an increasingly grotesque allergic reaction, is tear-inducingly funny. Returns of fan-favorite characters and references to classic bits like the DENNIS system prove to be equally delightful without feeling forced or overly fan service-y, as well.
Really, the worst thing that can be said about Season 16 is that there isn’t enough of it; this is the second eight-episode season in a row, which flies by in the blink of an eye, even when watching week-to-week. But that’s a compliment in the end, as even 170 episodes in, the Sunny gang just leaves us wanting more. — Chris Pereira
The Curse (Showtime)
Have you ever wished for a show that’s like Curb Your Enthusiasm but has the unsettling tone from The Rehearsal and Uncut Gems? Well, do I have the show for you! The Curse, featuring Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder, and Uncut Gems creator Benny Safdie, is extremely awkward, and I love it. To be clear, this show is not for everyone. Just take one look at the critical-vs-audience scores for the past episodes, and you’ll start to wonder: at what moment did they lose everyone?
It’s noteworthy that this piece of recent satirical content stands out by nailing its subject matter. Unlike many others in this genre, which often miss the mark tonally, The Curse brutally captures the essence of what it is mocking (mostly click-baiting content creators). The show demonstrated a keen understanding of their subject, skillfully blending incisiveness with humor to deliver a sharply crafted satire.
This is high-quality cringe TV. Each episode is uniquely unpleasant to sit through. However, it’s inventive, provocative, and distinctly unlike anything else you’ll encounter on television this year. — Greg Martinez-Thomas
It’s safe to assume that 2023 may become a year that Marvel & Disney would like to forget.
Thankfully, the MCU can hold Loki Season 2 up to the sun like Rafiki lifting Simba in the air.
Tom Hiddleston returns as the charmingly self-absorbed Norse god alongside Owen Wilson, Wunmi Mosaku, Sophia Di Martino, Jonathan Majors (facing ongoing legal issues), and Ke Huy Quan for a thrilling time-travel adventure.
Throughout both seasons, Hiddleston has delivered some of his most compelling performances as Marvel’s god of mischief. Without going into major spoilers, there’s a poignant moment in Loki and Sylvie’s reunion at the End of Time, where he desperately intervenes to prevent her from killing He Who Remains, that stands out. While the episode may feel like Loki’s Groundhog Day, it also underscores the thematic depth of “Glorious Purpose.” With each futile attempt Loki makes to prevent Sylvie from taking He Who Remains’ life, the narrative poignantly emphasizes the inherent challenge of changing the perspective of someone resistant to transformation. Change is hard, people.
Loki Season 2 had its ups and downs, but it’s hard to argue that it didn’t nail the conclusion.
Instead of building anticipation for the upcoming Marvel project, “Glorious Purpose” concludes by focusing on Mobius and Sylvie, and the inseparable connection between their present freedom and the sacrifice made by Loki. — Greg Martinez-Thomas
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