Entertainment has never been better; whether you want bittersweet comedies or melancholy gothic horror, there’s something for everyone. We’ve watched a ton of TV this year, with plenty of returning series and brand-new creations. It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to celebrate the best TV shows in 2023. As there’s so much to cover, we’re casting a wide net to showcase a variety of TV’s offerings this year.
10. The Wheel of Time Season 2
Not everything starts with all of its wheels on the ground. The Wheel of Time season 2 showcased how its creative team honed in on its source material to create a spectacle that improved upon every quality of its predecessor, especially its characters. It’s a big achievement during an era in which people don’t have time to wait for a show to finally become worthwhile. By fine-tuning itself, The Wheel of Time has become something worth watching, whether you’ve read the books or are going in blind.
9. Reservation Dogs Season 3
It was the year of beloved shows ending. One of the best shows on TV has ended on a high note in 2023 with the third and final season of Reservation Dogs. Following a community of Native Americans, we see a satisfying, bittersweet conclusion for our cast of teens and adults. Co-creators Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo landed their story about community with a teary-eyed finale that made us want to join in on the group hug between this gang of friends who’ve been irresistible since it debuted in 2021.
8. Succession Season 4
Succession had been building up to who would take over Waystar Royco. The final season went out with all the hysterical hilarity and heart-pounding drama that we had received in the previous seasons with heightened emotions. While surprising in its direction that veered away from what many fans expected, the series went above and beyond. Some TV shows will go down as one of the best of 2023, but not many will go down in history. Succession‘s sharp writing and nuanced acting coalesced into a kind of magic that we don’t often see.
7. Barry Season 4
Bill Hader made a name for himself in comedy but veered into a darker realm with his HBO series Barry. With each passing season, the titular character explored darker and darker territory while never losing the humor that surrounded him. From quirky criminals and odd situations that he stumbled into, the show brims with black humor. To go out on a high note, Hader and the team took a huge swing with a time jump that put us in uncharted territory. What it did accomplish was a bitter finale that was fitting for the show’s core themes, which collide triumphantly with both the entertainment industry and the seedy underbelly of the criminal underworld.
6. The Last of Us Season 1
Video game adaptations were a nasty word but that’s slowly turning around, especially on the small screen. HBO jumped on the train by taking on one of PlayStation’s most prized games, The Last of Us. Season 1 did all the smart things that fans needed by keeping the most memorable moments. The creator of the adaptation, Craig Mazin, collaborated with Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann to find an impressive balance of compelling character development and storytelling that went in a different direction to please both gamers and people who had never touched a PlayStation controller. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay’s terrific take on these iconic roles worked out so well to make a video game masterpiece into one of the best TV shows in 2023.
5. The Bear Season 2
Beautifully presented food and a side dish of anxiety make for a tasty meal if Carmy is making it. The Bear season 2 had to hit a high bar after its surprisingly excellent first course. The stakes have never been higher as the restaurant owner is knee-deep in debt as he tries to re-open his sandwich shop into a fine-dining experience. The series goes big with A-lister cameos like Jamie Lee Curtis while maintaining everything fans loved with the high-intensity drama, the breath of fresh air from the levity, and the food porn to make us salivate.
4. Gen V Season 1
Amazon Prime Video has become a premier destination for streaming, largely due to shows like The Boys. So, it was a big swing to try to spin-off a show that pokes fun at the MCU and DCEU by making it TBCU. Gen V explores what a superhero university would be like in The Boys universe. As expected, it is gory and grim while being provocatively hilarious. Fears of it being milked for the success of the main series dissipated after one episode from its sharp commentary, a new heart not present in the main show with its new cast, and a compelling mystery that ties into The Boys season 4. When a new season of The Boys releases, it’s one of the best TV shows of that year, so it’s fitting that Gen V is one of the greats in 2023.
3. Our Flag Means Death Season 2
The most unlikely love story returned with the most heart, humor, and love. Our Flag Means Death season 2 followed up a heartbreaking cliffhanger from the debut season. Changing up dynamics with new characters and separating some of its main cast struck a fresh start that would go back around to the love story of Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard. It never forgot what made the first season special while expanding on its characters in new, creative ways.
2. Loki Season 2
Killing Loki in Infinity War and having a show centered on a variant from 2012’s Avengers was a risky move. Season 1 was an astounding success that reinvented the beloved character into a hero. Season 2 delivered the answer to his arc by delivering a level of satisfaction and emotion that gave Endgame vibes. While Loki season 2 sidelined some qualities we loved from the first season, it upped the agency, jaw-dropping production design, and went into profound places in its final two episodes that were unlike anything we’ve seen in the MCU.
1. The Fall of the House of Usher
Mike Flanagan rose to prominence within the horror community through his Netflix limited series like The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass. The Fall of the House of Usher is another modern interpretation as he takes this beloved Edgar Allan Poe story into a gothic Flanagan twist on Succession and the source material. While this is his most approachable show due to its faster pacing and thrilling deaths that come at every episode, it keeps his melancholy approach and beautifully written and acted monologues. If you’re itching for horror, nothing beats a new Flanagan series as one of the best horror shows in 2023.