Television 2023

Succession HBO Final Season

by Joanna Orland

This was undoubtedly the year of Succession, but there were a few other shows that made an impact! And as the writers and actors strikes lingered on, it was also a year of revisiting old series that people missed the first time round (note Suits making it into Netflix’s top 10 after all these years). An interesting year for TV to say the least. Here is my 2023 list:

Succession – Obviously this is the show of the year! It was the one everyone was talking about and overall a masterpiece. Every single performance, every single line of dialogue was perfection. This will stay with me for a long time to come as one of the greatest tv series ever made.

The Americans – Here is one of those old series that a bunch of people revisited or watched for the first time this year. Honestly, it might even be better than Succession – hard to objectively say. The makeup and hair certainly is. I love the performances, writing, plot, everything about it. One of my favourite tv series of all time and I cannot believe I only got around to it now.

The Bear – I did not think a season 2 of The Bear would be necessary as season 1 wrapped up Carmy’s emotional arc and left everyone in a pretty satisfying place. I was wrong. Season 2 is amazing! A broader focus and a slightly different style has allowed this show to branch out, yet continue to produce some of the highest quality storytelling.

The Other Two – Possibly the funniest show on television. Each season got more and more absurd. It’s heartbreaking that the series ended on such a sour (yet appropriate) note with the real-life behind the scenes drama that it often made fun of. Perhaps it was an untimely ending but it also felt like the story wrapped up at a good point. This show will go down in history as hilarious. Some of the best jokes and satire I’ve ever seen. In the best stupidest way possible.

Only Murders in the Building – How to keep a series fresh in season 3? Add Meryl Streep and Paul Rudd! This show somehow has still got it and I am seriously looking forward to season 4!

Jury Duty – The showrunners must be counting their blessings that they found Ronald Gladden to star in their hybrid reality / comedy show. James Marsden also finally gets some recognition for doing great work – which he ALWAYS does! Heartwarming, hilarious, so silly.

Poker Face – Uh… More of this please!

Better Call Saul – The final season made it to Netflix this year and I had a bit of catching up to do. Weirdly, I’ve always found Saul’s story the least interesting of all the amazing characters in the series. Lalo Salamanca in particular is one of the greatest TV villains. What a character and performance by Tony Dalton. But honestly, everyone in this show is fantastic.

Bluey – This may seem insane to put a children’s cartoon this high on my list, but not only does my kid adore it, it’s also just so wonderful!

Drag Race UK Season 5 – When Drag Race UK gets it right, it gets it more than right! This season is the second best of the UK franchise behind season 2, and one of the best internationally! An amazing cast and a fun positive season.

The Gilded Age – Downton Abbey meets Dynasty. This season found its feet and finally figured out what it’s trying to be. I was so heavily invested in the opera wars and the melodrama. A show about so little was just so much. This season solidified the show as a new favourite.

And Just Like That – I started out “Hate-Watching” this season, but found it improved greatly over the first… and I actually enjoyed it for the most part. It also inspired many hilarious text-threads with friends.

Beef – It didn’t really feel like any other TV series I’ve seen before. Really enjoyed it and its insanity.

A Murder at the End of the World – A gripping whodunit with lots of extra layers on top. Wonderful lead performance by Emma Corrin. Also, anything with Clive Owen makes me happy.

Strike Force Five – Obviously this is a podcast and not a tv show, but as it replaced various late night TV shows during the extended writer’s strike, it is worth a mention. It was also hilarious. I laughed SO hard at the Strike Force Wives. In many ways, these 5 hosts have never been funnier. Being themselves in a relaxed atmosphere of a podcast, with such amazing chemistry with each other really brought home why they have the jobs they have. Normally, I don’t really find them that funny… but clearly they are top of their game.

Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool – This is a seasoned storyteller who also happens to be extremely funny.

The Beatles: Now and Then (music video & documentary) – The video was directed by Peter Jackson and just felt soooo weird and strange tonally. The heaviness of this being the last ever song featuring all of The Beatles next to some weird old school Peter Jackson fx and humour was just a bit odd. The accompanying documentary about the making of the song was fantastic. It’s just such a big deal that this happened.

Sweet Tooth – I was totally hooked.

Barry – I’m not actually sure I liked this season all that much, but I adored the finale! I wasn’t sure Barry really needed another season, but we couldn’t have reached that end without it. It also kind of got lost airing on HBO at the same time as the Succession final season.

Yellowjackets – The quality did dip a bit towards the end of the season, but I’m probably on board for this until the bitter end!

What We Do in the Shadows – Always funny.

Lupin – I caught up with all of it this year! Loved the first couple of seasons, but this last one perhaps wasn’t quite as good.

You – I can’t get enough of this absurd dark comedy-drama. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Penn Badgely is fantastic!

The Last of Us – Well made, well acted and the best video game adaptation there is. (by a lot). Peaks early with episode 3, but that is one of the greatest episodes of television in general. Otherwise it’s a bit overrated.

The Diplomat – Keri Russell read the brief!

Cunk on Earth – Instant classic, so stupid.

The Crown – The final season was a bit hit and miss. The problem is that the rest of the royals (Diana aside) just aren’t as interesting as the Queen herself… and it was a lot about them. I can’t believe that it was the series finale that featured the Harry Nazi uniform scandal.

Our Flag Means Death

Loki – A lot of this season was confusing and not up to the same calibre as the first. But it had its moments and wonderful cast addition in Ke Huy Quan. Basically the chemistry of the cast, notably Ke Huy Quan, Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson, carries this season. I wouldn’t actually mind just a buddy comedy with those three.

Girls5Eva – This is made for me. New York Lonely Boy is my jam.

Mrs. Davis – Totally bonkers.

How To with John Wilson – A bit of a weak final season, but the show has produced some iconic material. Bowing out at the right time for sure.

The Mandolorian – The latest season wasn’t very good at all, but I watched the entire series for the first time this year. That gives it a bit of a bump up my list for me as it starts off great.

Queer Eye – Not a memorable season, but it’s still comfort tv.

The Righteous Gemstones – This season was not as good as the last, but I still enjoy it.

Abbott Elementary

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Seasons 15 and 16 both dropped on Disney+ this year. The latter in particular lacked a bit of its usual charm. But I’m happy if this show never ends.

A Whole Lifetime with Jamie Demetriou

Starstruck

Wanda Sykes: I’m an Entertainer

Amy Schumer: Emergency Contact

John Mulaney: Baby J

Last Week Tonight

Working Moms

Sex Education – The show overstayed its welcome a bit.

I Think You Should Leave – I didn’t enjoy this season as much as I did the last.

Selling Sunset – How am I still watching this? But I am.

Hannah Gadsby: Something Special

Mae Martin: SAP

Black Mirror

Future Man – For some reason the old final series of Future Man only dropped this year on Disney+ in Canada.

Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 15

John Early: Now More Than Ever – I like John Early when he stars in comedy. But doing standup, it didn’t click for me this time round.

Next in Fashion S2

Secret Invasion – I actually didn’t make it past episode 1.

Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 – Possibly the first season of All Stars I just stopped watching, it was so unbearable.

That 90’s Show – I watched some of 1 episode. No thanks.

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