Exclaim!'s 10 Best TV Series of 2023

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 5, 2023

Every few weeks, it feels like a new series sets the internet ablaze and becomes must-see television (or more accurately, must-see streaming content). Inevitably, in a couple weeks, it's all but forgotten in favour of a new shiny HBO toy. 

Wading through all the buzz and hype, Exclaim! has chosen the best of the best. As Bill Hader caps off his run as a hitman-turned-actor, we also take one last ride with the Roy family. Omni-Man reckons with the mess he left in one world, while Carmy and the gang breathe new life into the Beef in Chicago. And alongside horror entries and post-apocalyptic worlds, fresh narratives around the Black experience and Asian-American rage have filled out the many compelling narratives explored in the TV landscape. Also, let's not forget a fantastic James Marsden series that surprised us all.

Get your streamers at the ready: here are Exclaim!'s picks for the 10 best TV shows of 2023. Read all of our year-end 2023 coverage, including our 20 favourite films, here.

10. Bria Mack Gets a Life
Created by Sasha Leigh Henry

Filled with plenty of sharp pop culture references and realistic characters, Bria Mack Gets a Life is an instant Canadian classic. Created by Sasha Leigh Henry, the show follows university graduate Bria (Malaika Hennie-Hamadi), accompanied by her inner hype woman Black Attack (Hannan Younis), as she navigates the responsibilities of adulthood. Capturing the Black Canadian experience in a humorous and relatable way, the show stands as a reminder that Black life is more just than trauma. 
Courtney Small

9. Invincible, Season 2
Created by Robert Kirkman
(Prime Video)

A byproduct of the superhero genre has been a surge (particularly in television) of the anti-superhero, The Boys and its spinoff Gen V being the most popular examples. What Invincible brings to the sub-genre's table is the stark contrast of putrid violence and sinister themes to the simple stylings of '90s cartoons with a stacked voice cast that includes Steven Yeun, Sandra Oh and J.K. Simmons. The perfect show for the generation that ran home to watch Spider-Man and X-Men, Season 2 of Invincible doubles down on the darkness in the best way possible.
Rachel Ho

8. The Fall of the House of Usher
Created by Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan returns with another project that proves he is the master of the adaptation, remixing the works of Edgar Allan Poe into a series about avarice, greed, the price that we pay for our actions, and the one we make others pay for us. The series is anchored by Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood, both giving career-best performances, blending Flanagan's signature style and tone to chilling effect.
Matthew Simpson

7. Swarm
Created by Janine Nabers and Donald Glover
(Prime Video)

As a pop star and famous rapper, Donald Glover surely knows a thing or two about stan culture — something that he uncomfortably explores at the co-creator of this unsettling comedy about an obsessed fan (played with intensity by Dominique Fishback) whose love for her favourite artist is literally a matter of life or death. A serial killer comedy with seamless diversions into social satire and even romance, the tonal tension never lets up, leaving a lingering and uneasy impression by offering scathing commentary without providing tidy answers.
Alex Hudson

6. Succession, Season 4
Created by Jesse Armstrong

 Succession arguably contains the most detestable characters in all of modern storytelling, yet looking away from these monsters and their misdeeds seems impossible. Enough ink has been spilled over Jeremy Strong's method acting and Kieran Culkin's zeal, but everyone in this cast performs exceptionally in their final season. For those who preferred Joffrey on Game of Thrones, take pleasure in gallows humour and find themselves drawn to Dark Ages palace intrigue, Succession certainly delivers.
Tobias Jeg

5. The Last of Us
Created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann

The pairing of Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey for arguably the best TV chemistry seen this year is only one among many reasons why fans flocked to HBO's elite mushroom-zombie drama every Sunday night at the beginning of the year. Between the action choreography, Barrie and Sarah Gower's top-tier prosthetic design, the series' standalone tear-jerker gay prepper subplot, a classic "are they cannibals" post-apocalypse cult, and Season 1's morally ambiguous finale (which should lead us neatly into Season 2), as well as brutal, relentless violence throughout, The Last of Us tapped into a "post"-pandemic ethos with tact and heart unlike any other show that attempted to in the last four years.
Allie Gregory

4. Jury Duty
Created by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky
(Prime Video)

This pseudo-reality show set in a courtroom, where everyone is an actor except for one jury member who is unaware of the charade, could have gone terribly wrong. Playing a fellow jury member and a heightened version of himself, James Marsden's comedic timing and general charm has a lot to do with the show's success,— but from the judge to the bailiff, Jury Duty is the enchanting, light-hearted comedy we needed this year.
Rachel Ho

Created by Lee Sung Jin

Created by Lee Sung Jin, the 10-episode series follows the aftermath of a road rage incident between two strangers. Danny Cho (Steven Yeun) is a failing contractor with a chip on his shoulder, and his feud with entrepreneur Amy Lau (Ali Wong) soon starts to unravel both of their lives and relationships. Told through an Asian-American lens, the darkly comedic and deeply moving series toes the fine line between drama and comedy as it unpacks an existential dread that many will relate to. Yeun and Wong are raw and edgy, with their performances serving as a therapy session for the characters and viewers alike.
Marriska Fernandes

2. Barry, Season 4
Created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader

During its three previous seasons, Barry embraced the duality of its hitman protagonist, portraying him as a likeable comedic lead despite the brutality of his profession. But for the show's fourth and final season, Bill Hader goes all-in, embracing the ickiness of the fact that anyone could have ever rooted for his character in the first place. Boldly jumping way ahead in time, Hader exposes both the menace and the childlike naïveté of Barry, while Sarah Goldberg's raw-nerve performance as Sally Reed grows ever more harrowing. Capping off the final scene with one last scathing send-up of Hollywood, it's an uncompromising and unforgettable end to one of the best shows in recent memory.
Alex Hudson

1. The Bear, Season 2
Created by Christopher Storer

Last summer, The Bear made its series premiere, captivating audiences with both breathless mayhem and thoughtful focus, earning its spot as Exclaim!'s best TV show of 2022. Once again, the much-adored dramedy tops our end of the year compilation — and deservedly so. In Season 2, we pick up just 12 weeks after the closing of Chicago sandwich shop the Beef with a sizzling delight, as Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) and the rest of the gang plan and execute the reopening of a new fine dining restaurant.

While Season 1 was piled high with stress upon stress — along with ear-ringing kitchen antics ("Yes, Chef!") and shorthand terminology ("Hands!") — Season 2 allows more space for quiet introspection and deep character study. But don't be fooled, there are still moments of distress and, in true Bear-like fashion, they are meticulously crafted and treated with care. The star-studded Berzatto family dinner episode certainly comes to mind — if you know, you know. 
Sarah Regan

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