We’re only halfway through 2023, and it’s already been a wild — and amazing — year for television.
During one week in May, we said goodbye to not one, not two, but four beloved — and highly awarded — TV shows: Succession, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Barry, and Ted Lasso. Elsewhere, brand-new series about everything from mushroom zombies to an elaborately faked court case captivated audiences. The sheer variety on display is proof not only of the vastness of today’s television landscape, but also of the talent and creativity of writers, who are currently on strike as studios refuse to compensate them fairly.
To celebrate these writers’ work, let’s take a look back at the best TV shows of 2023 so far. From sci-fi nuns and struggling therapists to Regency romance, this list has something for everyone. Here, in order of release date, are the 17 best TV shows of 2023 so far.
1. Abbott Elementary, Season 2
With its first season, Quinta Brunson’s grade school-set sitcom earned critical praise, an adoring audience, and a slew of awards, including three Primetime Emmys. Our hopes were sky-high for Season 2, and week after week, Brunson and her incredible ensemble delivered with new misadventures full of humor and heart.
Emmy-winner Sheryl Lee Ralph reunited with her bestie on and offscreen, Lisa Ann Walter, to bring a mix of righteous side-eye and unrepentant snark as only this dynamic duo can. Fan favorite Janelle James delivered new angles to her hustling principal, including a surprisingly touching arc about Black History Month. Chris Perfetti continues to mine white privilege and overzealous allyship for sharp laughs. But the best bit of this second season may be the slow-burn romance between Janine (Brunson) and Gregory (thinking woman’s sex symbol Tyler James Williams). Though guest appearances come a close second, boasting The Bear‘s Ayo Edebiri, Leslie Odom Jr., Taraji P. Henson, and Gritty. Yes, that Gritty. — Kristy Puchko, Film Editor
How to watch: Abbott Elementary is now streaming on Hulu.
2. The Last of Us
With its high stakes post-apocalyptic tension and the brilliant dynamic between leads Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), The Last of Us hit the ground running when it launched earlier this year. But when the beautifully poignant third episode landed, with its contained story about two men, Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), sharing a doomed romance amid the end of the world, it was clear Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann’s video game adaptation was more than just a standard zombie thriller. Over its nine-episode run, the show moved from strength to strength, mixing plenty of soul-destroying moments with scenes of levity, as well as posing some deep and difficult questions about the choice between the people we love and humanity as a whole. — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor
How to watch: The Last of Us is now streaming on Max.
3. Poker Face
With its tribute to 1970s classic Columbo‘s reverse whodunnit (aka “howcatchem”) formula, Poker Face feels like the best possible combination of new and old TV. The structure may be familiar, but creator Rian Johnson and star Natasha Lyonne keep this wonderful mystery of the week show feeling fresh.
While Peter Falk’s Detective Columbo is a man of the law, Lyonne’s new case-cracker Charlie Cale is a scrappy outsider on the run… with a special skill. She has the uncanny ability to tell when anyone is lying, something that comes in very handy when it comes to solving the murders she keeps encountering across the U.S., whether she’s at a Texas barbecue, a retirement home, or even a hilarious dinner theater performance. With each of these murders, Poker Face crafts an exceptionally satisfying puzzle box for Charlie to piece together, along with the help (or hindrance) of Poker Face‘s myriad guest stars. Best of all, in an age of TV trying to be “10-hour movies,” Poker Face‘s episodic structure is refreshing beyond belief. And that’s no lie. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter
How to watch: Poker Face is now streaming on Peacock.
Grief can be a real asshole, and no show in 2023 captured this more accurately — and hilariously — as Shrinking. Jason Segel stars as Jimmy, a widowed father/therapist who’s been pretty checked out since his wife died months ago. But now, he’s trying to heal, himself, his patients, and the teen daughter (Lukita Maxwell) who is officially over his mess. But progress — as any good therapist will tell you — isn’t a straight path.
In the search for closure, Jimmy urges his patients to break rules, take up boxing, and push themselves out of their comfort zones — for better or for utter catastrophe. Getting his back is his grumbling mentor (Harrison Ford at his absolute best gruff-but-lovable), his very hydrated yet hyper colleague (Jessica Williams, radiant), his volatile yet vulnerable client (newcomer Luke Tennie, positively crushing it against a wall of star power), and his nosy but generous next-door neighbor (Scrubs’ Christa Miller with her signature sharpness). These quirky characters collide in mental crises and merciful comfort, creating a show that has the kooky comedy echoes of Scrubs and Ted Lasso. Which makes sense, since Segel co-created this gem with Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein. — K.P.
How to watch: Shrinking is now streaming on Apple TV+.
Gloria and Ines do not get along. The two sisters are on the verge of getting kicked out of school because they can’t stop fist-fighting each other in the lunchroom. But when they find themselves in possession of an item that may or may not be cursed, they’ll have to put aside their differences to avoid unleashing doom on their family. A spinoff of On My Block, Freeridge is a brash and fearless teen comedy from Lauren Iungerich (Awkward). The characters are loud and unapologetic, led by the fantastic Keyla Monterroso Mejia (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Abbott Elementary). If you don’t like shows where the characters do a lot of bickering, then this one is not for you. — Kristina Grosspietsch, Contributing Writer
How to watch: Freeridge is now streaming on Netflix.
6. Yellowjackets, Season 2
The highs and lows of a high school soccer team have never been more jarring. For those unfamiliar with Yellowjackets, the show has two timelines: In 1996, the mostly teenage survivors of a plane crash struggle to stay alive in a remote wilderness; they also create a system of mystical rites along the way. And in the present-day, those who survived that nightmare — now adults — grapple with the lingering trauma, not to mention a mysterious blackmailer, night terrors, affairs, relapses, murder, and so much more.
While Season 1 of Yellowjackets was a delicious treat of mystery and horror, Season 2 amped up the show’s cultish theatrics by tenfold, giving us some of the most memorable moments of the series so far and somehow leaving us with even more questions than answers.
From marvelously unveiling the moment friends first became feasts (literally), to a card game gone feral, Season 2 of Yellowjackets was wickedly entertaining and finally gave us some of our first glimpses into the teams’ descent into the occult. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom! Season 2 also gifted us with Walter (Elijah Wood) and Misty (Christina Ricci), TV’s best and kookiest new ship, plus an adult Lottie (Simone Kessell) who is by all means a MILF-y cult leader in her own right. Chaos, crushes, and crazed hunger — is it even a season of Yellowjackets if you didn’t catch yourself stanning traumatized cannibals? — Yasmeen Hamadeh, Contributing Entertainment Writer
How to watch: Yellowjackets Season 2 is now streaming on Showtime.
7. Succession, Season 4
An unmatched tragi-comic examination of the ultra-wealthy, Succession‘s first three seasons had already earned it a spot in the Great Television pantheon. Still, Season 4, in all its unsparing, scorched earth glory, more than sealed the deal.
How do you even begin to describe Season 4 of Succession? It decimated us with its weighty narrative risks, like an early farewell to Logan Roy (Brian Cox). It made us scream-laugh at its razor-sharp dialogue (all hail the ludicrously capacious handbag). It captivated us, week after week, with Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman’s (Kieran Culkin) grief, anger, and sloppy betrayals of one another. Perfectly calibrated stakes, painful blowout arguments, and some truly WTF one-liners made sure that each episode of Succession was a capital-E Event. And as if that weren’t enough, the show capped off a monumental run with a staggering, yet completely satisfying finale. Thanks for everything, Succession. It’s with great sadness that I wish you one last loving “fuck off.” — B.E.
How to watch: Succession is now streaming on Max.
A pair of star-crossed frenemies ground Beef‘s roaring plot, and what an absolute delight they are. We first meet Danny (Steven Yeun) and Amy (Ali Wong) when the duo get into a road-rage incident, which later spirals out of control into an all-encompassing feud. This then becomes a larger vessel untangling Danny and Amy’s private lives while simultaneously exploring the dueling motivators of identity and purpose (it is an A24 show, after all). Beef truly shines thanks to Danny and Amy’s electrifying chemistry; powerhouse performances from Yeun and Wong draw you into their world, no matter how messy it is. The show’s final second is arguably one of the most rewarding finales we’ve seen on TV this year, and on Netflix ever.
Although Beef was initially lauded by critics and fans alike, the show and its creators faced massive controversy when cast member David Choe’s comments about sexual assault resurfaced on social media. Creator Lee Sung Jin and stars Wong and Yeun made an official announcement in response that read in part, “The story David Choe fabricated nine years ago is undeniably hurtful and extremely disturbing. We do not condone this story in any way, and we understand why this has been so upsetting and triggering.” They aded that Choe “has apologized in the past” and has since “put in the work to get the mental health support he needed.” However, some felt this fell short of an actual apology. — Y.H.
How to watch: Beef is now streaming on Netflix.
9. Jury Duty
The verdict is in! Jury Duty is guilty of being one of the most unexpectedly delightful new shows of 2023. Combining realty TV and comedy in a court room, this Freevee series is uniquely hilarious, thanks to its unwitting leading man.
Created by The Office producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, Jury Duty centers on Ronald Gladden, an average Joe (Schmo) who believes he’s being filmed as part of a documentary on the American jury system. Little does he know that everyone else in the court — from the judge to the lawyers and the bailiff, right down to his fellow jurors — are all actors, improvising to see how he’ll react. While the premise sounds like a prank, the results are winsomely heartwarming, as Ronald strives in every circumstance to be a stand-up guy. That’s the payoff, but the best hook? James Marsden plays himself as a comically arrogant, name-dropping celebrity douchebag who will defend his filmography — even Sonic The Hedgehog — until the gavel goes down. — K.P.
How to watch: Jury Duty is now streaming on Amazon Freevee.
10. Barry, Season 4
Over the course of its four-season run, Barry ditched any notions that its hitman-turned-actor protagonist was a lovable guy worthy of redemption. No, Barry (Bill Hader) is a bad person, and the show forces you to sit with that as Barry’s actions — and Barry itself — get darker and darker.
Barry‘s tremendous final season is the culmination of the show’s transformation from prestige comedy to surreal (but occasionally still quite funny) nightmare. From Barry’s time in prison to Sally’s (Sarah Goldberg) new acting class to Gene’s (Henry Winkler) attempts to capitalize on turning Barry in, Barry Season 4 is all about quests for redemption and freedom — and how far we’re willing to go to get there. Hader’s horror-tinged direction guides us through each arc with an unflinching strangeness, resulting in some of Barry‘s wildest sequences and biggest narrative swings to date. It’s all led up to a brutal series finale that — love it or hate it — reminds us of Barry‘s singular tone and its own quest to force us to see Barry for who he truly is. — B.E.
How to watch: Barry is now streaming on Max.
11. Mrs. Davis
So very much happens in this remarkably chaotic, surprisingly tender, relentlessly original show about a nun who wants to kill an algorithm, starring Betty Gilpin (GLOW): Schrodinger’s cat, enormous quantities of neon green whale sedative, a love triangle with Jesus, stage magicians, a sword the size of a pickup truck, flawed moms, an elaborate heist involving a special tool christened The Constipator, explosions, Character Actress Margo Martindale, and a liminal space that serves a divine falafel.
This is a “just trust me and go in cold” show, a “just enjoy the ride” show, a “don’t think about it too hard but it’ll mostly stand up if you do” show. Now someone please give Betty Gilpin her Breaking Bad, her Barry, the prestige star vehicle she deserves. (Gilpin could do Kendall Roy, but Jeremy Strong couldn’t do Sister Simone. There, I said it.)* — Caitlin Welsh, Australia Editor
How to watch: Mrs. Davis is now streaming on Peacock.
12. Dead Ringers
Dead Ringers may have the same name and central conceit as the 1988 David Cronenberg film, but this miniseries is no retread. For starters, creator Alice Birch (The Wonder, Conversations with Friends) genderswaps the dual roles of twin obstetricians Beverly and Elliot Mantle, with a mesmerizing Rachel Weisz taking over from the original’s Jeremy Irons. This recasting is anything but cosmetic: Weisz’s Mantles being women renders their work more personal and allows Dead Ringers to further explore their relationship to pregnancy in a way the original couldn’t.
The Mantles share everything, from their medical practice to their lovers to their dreams of opening a birthing center and research clinic. However, their close-knit, one-of-a-kind relationship begins to fray as Beverly begins a long-term relationship of her own, and as Elliot’s research begins to push past ethical boundaries. In Cronenbergian fashion, Dead Ringers is full of squeam-inducing body horror — although the show skews more towards medical gore. However, it also mines horror from the dehumanizing and racist origins of obstetrics and fertility science. Thanks to choices like these, Dead Ringers sets a new course far away from the storyline of the original, both building on it and standing apart in its own, brilliant way. — B.E.
How to watch: Dead Ringers is now streaming on Prime Video.
13. Somebody Somewhere, Season 2
Joining Succession, Barry, and The Last of Us in HBO’s stacked Sunday lineup this year was Somebody Somewhere, a deeply moving slice-of-life dramedy that continues to shine in its second season.
As we enter Season 2, we see Sam (Bridget Everett) settling far more comfortably into life in her hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, and her friendship with Joel (Jeff Hiller) plays a big part in that. The pair’s everyday activities, from their strolls around the park to their “teeny ‘tini” nights, are endless sources of naturalistic, everyday joy, and they continue to prove that Everett and Hiller have some of the best chemistry on TV. In addition to its many laughs, Somebody Somewhere also features quietly melancholy moments, rounding out the show’s all-encompassing portrayal of life. It may be a quieter series than its HBO Sunday brethren, but Somebody Somewhere is equally worthy of praise, and everyone everywhere should treasure it. — B.E.
How to watch: Somebody Somewhere is now streaming on Max.
14. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
It’s been over a month since Queen Charlotte‘s finale, and I’m still crying. A prequel looking into a young Charlotte’s (India Amarteifio) life and the early days of her marriage with King George (Corey Mylchreest), Queen Charlotte is by far Bridgerton‘s best love story and I can’t imagine a future where it isn’t. (Shonda Rhimes, I challenge you to outdo yourself.) Their relationship is one for the ages, brimming with the Bridgerton yearning and courting we all adore, and topped with a strangers-to-soulmates arc that’ll tug at your heartstrings. Although Charlotte and George may be the brightest diamonds of the season, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story also shines with a whole cast of characters that are deliciously divine and in their own equally infatuating relationships — special shout-out to a young Lady Danbury (Arséma Thomas) and Brimsley (Sam Clemmett) for being the real G.O.A.T.s of the season.
Come for the corsets, stay for the slow-burn romance, and waltz your way into Bridgerton‘s best ball yet. — Y.H.
15. The Other Two, Season 3
Already the funniest show on TV, The Other Two‘s third season improves on perfection. As the season starts, everyone in the Dubek family — including “the other two,” Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke) — has found success in the entertainment industry. But is it enough? The Other Two addresses that question with its trademark mix of sharp showbiz satire and affecting family drama, delivering a slew of instantly quotable zingers along the way.
More than that, what makes this season of The Other Two so spectacular is its willingness to push farther and farther into the absurd, bringing its insane portrayal of the entertainment industry to new heights. Where else could you find a Pleasantville parody about filming a procedural drama? Or a spy caper centered around driving an armpit across a country? Or an industry party haunted by invisible non-industry people? It would be a miracle to pull just one of these wild gags off, but The Other Two nails each one and more. Truly, it’s the show that keeps on giving. — B.E.
How to watch: The Other Two is now streaming on Max.
Primo is the kind of coming-of-age ensemble comedy that dreams are made of — and it’s the best new sitcom of 2023. Created by Shea Serrano and executive-produced by Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Recreation), Primo is a loosely autobiographical series based on Serrano’s San Antonio upbringing.
Standing in for Serrano is Rafa (Ignacio Diaz-Silverio), a high school junior whose five uncles and single mother Drea (Christina Vidal) are highly invested in his well-being, which leads to some hilarious mishaps. Primo deftly balances Rafa’s more grounded school life and college dreams with his wild family life, which includes barbecues gone awry and the world’s most competitive game night. Episode set-ups are often standard sitcom fare, but Primo is elevated by its sharp writing, hyper-specific characters, and a phenomenal ensemble that gels right off the bat. We may only be one season in, but there is no doubt in my mind that the Gonzales family already belongs in the TV family hall of fame. — B.E.
How to watch: Primo is now streaming on Amazon Freevee.
You know those friends who may not be a good influence but are just what you need? Platonic is about such a friendship, warts, weirdness, and all. And from a bond that supports — and sometimes suffocates — comes the one of the funniest comedy series of the year.
Neighbors stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne reunite for R-rated comedy, but in a binge-worthy mini-series format. He’s a recently divorced hipster. She’s a criminally bored stay-at-home mom. They used to be besties, but they drifted apart. However, as each crashes into a mid-life crises, they find comfort in wallowing in each other’s messy searches for meaning. Studded with millennial angst, Platonic has a thrilling edge to its humor, but also plenty of slapstick, feel-good goofiness, and cackle-earning one-liners about everything from Angela Merkel’s fashion sense to micro-brewed beers to Mel Gibson’s antisemitism. When these besties get together, no one is safe. And we’re lucky enough to be along for the ride. — K.P.
How to watch: Platonic is now streaming on Apple TV+.