It’s the end of the year! The year-end is a perfect time for reflection, introspection, and, of course, for a detailed conversation about all the best TV of 2023.
Here are some picks for 7 of the best shows of the past year. From prestige drama to an animated thriller, we hope this list gives you some inspiration for your next binge!
Best Prestige TV
Much ink has spilled over the brilliance of Succession’s final episode. While the Roy children looked poised to collaborate part-way through the series finale, in true Shakespearian style, Succession showed us there’s no room for true family loyalty when the fate of an empire hangs in the balance. And while the ending wasn’t exactly unexpected, every episode of Season Four was gorgeously written and superbly acted. Who could forget Roman (Kieran Culkin) and his tearful failure to deliver a eulogy at his father’s funeral? Or the petulant way Kendall (Jeremy Strong) asserts his birthright to be a CEO: “I’m the eldest boy.” I could teach an entire course on the way Shiv (Sarah Snook) – now in servile wife mode – enthusiastically but dutifully takes her husband’s hand as they drive away from Waystar HQ in a black SUV.
Succession is a show that demonstrates what we all knew – that CEOs and megacorporations are the new kings and empires – but it does so with panache and subtlety that feels like art, rather than an overly earnest rant about the state of Late Capitalism. It’s a masterpiece and it has earned its place as one of the greatest series in the history of television. I defy anyone to say anyone else!
Best Reality TV
The Golden Bachelor
Reality TV is a legitimate and established genre. While it isn’t as high-falluting as an HBO drama, there’s real craft required to make something scintillating without the benefit of professional actors or a traditional writers’ room. Enter, The Golden Bachelor. Rather than having a 28-year-old software salesman court a bunch of twenty-something aspiring influencers, Bachelor Nation’s latest offering disrupts the script we know and adore. In this iteration, a man in his 70s searches for love with a bevy of age-appropriate beauties. Along the way, the series challenges our notions of what a love story looks like, treating us to steamy septuagenarian makeout sessions that prove it’s never too late to find love, or at least get some…
Best Limited Series
I’m a sucker for an inter-generational family saga, and Black Cake brings the goods. Part sweeping romance, part family drama, part thriller, Black Cake is the sort of epic miniseries I wish they made more of! Adapted from the popular book of the same title by Charmaine Wilkerson, Black Cake tells the story of Coventina (Mia Isaac), a young woman from Jamaica who must flee on her wedding day after becoming a murder suspect on her wedding day. Forced to change her identity and move to London, Covey, as her friends call her, assumes a new identity in London. But can she actually run from her past? And what will Covey lose if she succeeds?
Blue Eye Samurai
Set in 1600s Japan, I freaking loved this animated series. It’s the story of a Mizu (Maya Erskine), a sort-of samurai on a quest for revenge. The child of a Japanese mother and a white father, Mizu is on a quest to kill all four of the white guys living in Japan at the time – one of whom is the father who killed Mizu’s mom!
This show is violent, sometimes funny, gorgeously animated, and 100% thrilling. You must watch it on Netflix ASAP!
Never Have I Ever
Created by Mindy Kaling, this coming-of-age high school comedy centres around the life of a high-achieving – but fun-loving – Sherman Oaks high schooler named Devi as she recovers from the sudden death of her beloved father. While that doesn’t sound like the premise for a hilarious comedy, it is! Narrated by tennis legend Bob McEnroe, Never Have I Ever just got more uproarious with every season. While the fourth season offered plenty of gags and high school shenanigans, what makes the show a standout is its heart. Ultimately, Season Four is about the evolution of family, as Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) prepares to leave the house for university and Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan) contemplates whether it’s finally time to begin dating again. Because this is a sitcom, the person Nalini attempts dating is the daughter of Devi’s arch nemesis. Hilarity ensures!
Best Children’s Series
Ah, Bluey! According to IMDB, this children’s cartoon about a family of heelers is now more beloved than Seinfeld. And you know what? I get it. This show is an ode to the beauty of imaginative play and the benefits of quality family time. From infertility to postpartum depression, Bluey addresses a variety of important topics in ways children can digest and parents will appreciate. But there are always plenty of laughs!
While this show didn’t premiere new episodes in Canada in 2023, our good friends in Australia have already seen Season 4. And anyone who has watched it knows the show is living up to its high standards. The fourth Season drops on Disney+ in North America this January.
Based On a True Story
What is Based On a True Story? It’s equal parts zany comedy, True Crime satire, and thriller, but it’s all fantastic. Created by Craig Rosenberg for Peacock, it streams on Amazon Prime in Canada and is 100% worth your time. It stars Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina (two of our best TV actors) as a married couple who have fallen on hard times financially and may also be falling out of love. When they discover their plumber is a notorious serial killer, the husband and wife duo decide to blackmail him into doing a podcast. What ensues is an incisive commentary on True Crime – a genre where podcasters and TV producers alike habitually get rich off of other people’s pain. Ultimately, the show makes you realize that people who create True Crime are neither as bad as the killers they profit off nor as completely innocent as they would like to be…
If you appreciate well-drawn antiheroes, this is the show for you!