By: Bill Cushing – Jan. 2024
It’s that time of year again. That time when all TV people start thinking about the best shows that they watched over the past year. As usual, it was tough to leave some shows off the list, but here are my picks for the best TV had to offer in 2023.
The Morning Show – (AppleTV+) – The introduction of new characters, most notably with Jon Hamm’s tech billionaire Paul Marks turned a sluggish start into really good season of TV. Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Billy Crudup were terrific as always.
Perry Mason – (HBO) – Matthew Rhys continued to impress as maverick lawyer Perry Mason. After a so-so first season, it changed showrunners and delivered an excellent second season. Unfortunately, there won’t be any further seasons as the show was cancelled. However, the season story arcs are self-contained and can still be enjoyed.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – (Amazon) – One of the best series in recent years was one of several shows to end in 2023 and its final season delivers some of the best episodes of the entire series. Fittingly, it also ended with a satisfying finale that tied up all of the loose ends. Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge was one of my favorite TV characters and will be missed.
1923 – (Paramount+) – The latest entry into Taylor Sheridan’s ever-expanding Yellowstone universe. It combined the star-studded cast, including Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, the sweeping romance, and the globe-trotting action so well that it’s easy to see why this show was a hit with critics and viewers alike.
Poker Face – (Peacock) – Natasha Lyonne stars in this love letter to classic detective series like Columbo. Viewers get to see who-dunit right from the start, the real mystery is the why-dunit. Lyonne’s performance along with an abundance of famous guest stars make this show lots of fun.
Daisy Jones & The Six – (Amazon) – This series, following a Fleetwood Mac-esque rock band’s rise to fame, plays a bit like a documentary and hits all the right notes with original music co-written by Phoebe Bridgers, Marcus Mumford, and Jackson Browne. Riley Keough is outstanding in the title role.
Shrinking – (AppleTV+) – Much like Ricky Gervais’ AfterLife, this series used humor to present a story about grief, and actually became one of the funniest and most heartwarming shows of the year. Jason Segel plays a therapist struggling to parent his teenage daughter and move on after the loss of his wife.
Ted Lasso – (AppleTV+) – Ted Lasso was another great show we said goodbye to in 2023, and it will probably be the one I miss the most. This show always had its heart in the right place. The world is becoming harder and harder to deal with on a daily basis, and a show like Ted Lasso will be sorely missed in todays TV landscape.
Beef – (Netflix) – Perhaps the most truly inventive and daring show of the year, Netflix’s drama about two unhappy souls whose paths collide after a vicious road rage incident starred Ali Wong and Steven Yeun. It was chaotic, and riveting and a true reflection on the anger that has bled into the fabric of our daily lives and how it consumes us as a society.
The Last of Us – (HBO) – Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey gave two of the best performances of the year in HBO’s top notch video game adaptation of a world dealing with the effects of a pandemic that decimates the population. Riveting and thought provoking. The episode featuring Nick Offerman was one of the best hours of TV this year.
The Bear – (Hulu) – After a much buzzed about first season, The Bear had a lot to live up to in season two. It may have even exceeded the first season, showcasing the tremendous supporting cast members and letting them all have their moments to shine.
And my pick for the best TV show of 2023 is….
Succession – The best show of 2023 solidified its place on the list of modern TV classics by delivering a stellar final season. Over its 4 seasons, Succession remained as engrossing as ever. Much like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Breaking Bad before it, Succession will be remembered as one of the best series of its time. (HBO)
Honorable mentions: The Night Agent, Slow Horses, Only Murders in the Building, Lessons in Chemistry, The Diplomat, Breeders, Tiny Beautiful Things, Hijack, Fargo, Bosch: Legacy, Winning Time, Star Trek: Picard.
If you have any questions about TV, you can email me at BillsTVTalk@gmail.com. I will answer all of your questions and will feature some of the questions I receive in a future Mailbag column. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @BillsTVTalk and on Facebook at BillsTVTalk for daily up-to-the-minute TV news and discussion.