Tuesday 26 December 2023

2023 in Review: Top 10 TV Shows

Even though the golden age of television may be long past us by now, there were still quite a number of noteworthy TV shows in 2023 for us to enjoy. From superhero fare to reimagined takes on classic tales, it seemed there was indeed something for every type of viewer. There were also several outright duds, none of which will be making it onto this list, thankfully. So without further ado, here are my Top 10 TV shows that aired in 2023.

10. The Mandalorian Season 3

After topping my list of favorite TV shows in 2020, the third season of The Mandalorian drops all the way down to number 10 this year. This is mainly due to a noticeable dip in the quality of its storytelling, as I found myself questioning how some of it managed to slip past quality control. I am still trying to recover from the abject stupidity of that Jack Black and Lizzo episode. But despite some really low lows, and its title character taking the back seat for much of the season, the show as a whole still managed to deliver the goods, at least in the areas of action and the continued development of the relationship between its two leads.

9. One Piece

Netflix has a pretty spotty track record when it comes to its anime adaptations. For every Alice in Borderland, it seems there are at least a few Death Notes and Cowboy Bebops. This was primarily why I didn't have high expectations for One Piece. Except I was immediately sucked into the show by its exceptional characterization and world-building. And even though I had minimal familiarity with the anime or the manga it is based upon, I was still captivated by how well those stories have translated into the show. So here's hoping they can keep the ball rolling for several more seasons to come.

8. Loki Season 2

The MCU might feel like it is in shambles right now, especially after the disastrous performance of The Marvels and the wet fart that was Secret Invasion. But you won't catch many people throwing any of that shade at Loki, a show that remains a bright spot for the struggling franchise. And even though its second season didn't quite set up Kang the Konqueror as the big bad of the Multiverse Saga like many of us had imagined it would, it still tied off enough loose threads from the first to be considered a satisfying conclusion to the show and this particular iteration of its title character as a whole.

7. Invincible Season 2

We recently got the first half of Invincible Season 2 after what had felt like an agonizing two-year break. But it was certainly worth the wait as the show picks up effortlessly from where it had left off, in the aftermath of the showdown between father and son. The show continues to prove that there is still plenty of juice left in the superhero genre, subverting many of its well-worn tropes with its rich, nuanced characterization, without sacrificing any of the over-the-top violence that defined the first season. And while those first four episodes are not enough to judge the quality of the season as a whole, I would still say that it is off to a very strong start.

6. Gen V

Speaking of over-the-top violence, things didn't really get any more bloody and violent in 2023 than in Gen V, a spinoff of The Boys, a show that was itself known for pushing the boundaries. And much like that other show, this one explores the seedy underbelly of a world where superheroes are treated like commodities. Except this time around, we see events unfold through the perspective of a diverse cast of young superheroes in training as they struggle to come to terms with the realities of the world they've been born into and the abilities they've been given.

5. Blue Eye Samurai

Just when I thought I'd seen all that 2023 had to offer, Netflix premiered a new animated show called Blue Eye Samurai. And based off of the incredible word of mouth it was getting after its debut, I was eventually compelled to check it out. The first thing that struck me was the incredible art style that successfully recreates the look and feel of traditional Japanese animation while using modern rendering techniques. But it was in fact its engaging narrative and its cast of memorable characters that actually kept me watching episode after episode, right up to an explosive finale that paves the way for what is sure to be an incredible multi-season run. 

4. Fargo Season 5

One would expect that a show like Fargo would be running on fumes by its fifth season. But the anthology series just keeps delivering the goods in what is already shaping up to be one of its best seasons yet. With a new cast that includes the incredible Juno Temple in the lead, the new season weaves one hell of a narrative filled with mystery and enough suspense to keep everyone engaged. The fact that it isn't afraid to take jabs at people on both sides of the political divide while still tackling delicate issues like domestic abuse just further adds to its overall appeal. This is what top-tier television looks like in 2023.

3. Beef

Steven Yeun and Ali Wong butt heads in the comedy-drama, Beef. As its title suggests, the show is about the ensuing feud between two strangers after an incident of road rage sets them on an insatiable quest for revenge. This was yet another show that was preceded by a lot of positive word of mouth in the lead-up to its release. Still, I was caught off guard by just how bingeable it turned out to be. I guess it is down to its roughly 30-minute episodes, which is the perfect length for falling into that unbreakable loop of telling yourself you can squeeze in one more episode before bedtime, then suddenly discovering 3 hours later that the time is 2 in the morning and you've become hopelessly hooked by the narrative.

2. Silo

Apple TV+ is really out to steal some of Netflix's thunder. They've in fact become one of my favorite places to watch top-shelf science fiction shows. And things don't really get more top-shelf than Silo, an adaptation of a series of books by self-published writer, Hugh Howey. I still remember the first time I read those books back in 2012 and learning that rights to an adaptation had been secured by Ridley Scott's team. As a fan of the books and the author behind them, I was eager to see how well it would translate into what eventually became a serialized TV format. And the folks at Apple have done a very commendable job, retaining all of the things that made those books so popular among genre fans, to begin with.

1. The Last of Us

It looks like video game adaptations might have finally begun to hit their stride in 2023. And nowhere is this more evident than in the HBO show, The Last of Us. No other video game has translated so flawlessly into another storytelling medium in my opinion. Then again, this should be expected given how narrative-focused the game was and the pedigree of the showrunners behind it. This is as faithful as any adaptation that fans of the game could've hoped for, and something that serves as a viable entry point into the story of Joel and Ellie for non-gamers as well. It remains to be seen just how well Season 2 would fare, given how divisive that portion of the game's narrative had proven with fans. But as things currently stand, The Last of Us is easily the greatest video game adaptation I've seen.


  1. I agree that Mandalorian S3 was a mixed bag. I liked Ahsoka a lot better but then I've been a huge Grand Admiral Thrawn fan since the early 90s so I was stoked to get a live action version.

    I liked Gen V too. In some ways it was better than The Boys because it focuses on the supes themselves instead of how to murder them.

    I have Loki, Invincible, and Last of Us on my queues but haven't gotten to them yet. The Netflix and Apple ones I'll probably never watch.

    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed Ahsoka. It definitely had its moments but I was ultimately letdown by it. Then again, I had no preexisting affinity for any of the characters since I never watched Rebels or Clone Wars, and the show didn't really bother to reintroduce them properly.

    2. That is true that they probably assumed too much familiarity with the source material