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Photograph: Home Box OfficeJeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in ‘Succession’

The best TV shows of 2023 (so far) you need to stream

The essential streaming series of the year to date: from ‘The Last of Us’ to ‘Beef’

Written by
Phil de Semlyen
Michael Juliano
Helen O’Hara
Hanna Flint
Leonie Cooper
Alice Ellis

Do our sofas need to see more of us? Probably not after the past few years, but such is the calibre of small-screen (and let’s face it, iPhone) entertainment these days, they’ll just need to lump it. Because the so-called golden age of television and streaming continues to produce nuggets with indecent and almost impossible-to-keep-up-with regularity, bingeing options are almost limitless. Some older viewers may even find themselves pining for the days where the remote control was a passport to three or max, four, channels, and it all felt manageable.  

The tyranny of choice can be overwhelming, so to help, we’re narrowing things down... a long way down. We’re ranking the must-see series of the year to date to pare things down to telly’s must-watch elite. 

And there’s loads of potential bingeable fare ahead too, with another season of Netflix’s warm and fuzzy Heartstopper and Hulu’s massively ace The Bear, a long-awaited return for Charlie Brooker’s bleakly brilliant dystopian visions in Black Mirror season 6, more regal shenanigans with The Crown, the thrilling climax of Stranger Things and an emotional finale for Henry Cavill in The Witcher. Keep an eye out for more hits to come, in other words. They’ll all be here.


🔥 The best movies of 2023 (so far).
🎞️ The best movies to catch at the cinema this month
📺 From House of Cards to Beef: the greatest Netflix originals,

Best TV shows of 2023

Succession season 4, HBO/Sky Atlantic
Photograph: HBO

1. Succession season 4, HBO/Sky Atlantic

Succession creator Jesse Armstrong and co could easily have eeked out another season or two of their Emmy-garlanded satire – this was not a writers’ room running short on inspiration or crushing putdowns – and a less audacious show would have kept that big early-season twist for much later in the final run. But Succession nailed the landing perfectly, delivering its ‘winner’ (though surely the most pyrrhic, short-term victory) and a multitude of losers at precisely the right moment, tying up its biggest question – what would happen to the kids without dad’s unique brand of sneering coercive control to rein them in? – in a brilliantly conceived and immaculately acted run of episodes. Even in a golden age for TV, Succession stands apart for making the most unpalatable truths about modern capitalism into unmissable entertainment.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 9 hours 49 mins

The Last of Us, HBO/Sky Atlantic
Photograph: © 2023 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

2. The Last of Us, HBO/Sky Atlantic

Adding ‘clickers’ and ‘shamblers’ to our daily vernacular, and leaving us eyeing up those moldy mushrooms in the veggie drawer with added suspicion, HBO’s adaptation of the monster-selling video game is the grand spectacle we’d all hoped it would be. And Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey bring more than enough humanity, humour and warmth to stop us weeping through ever gripping moment of Joel and Ellie’s desolate, zombie-riddled trek through a desolate America. We still wept, though – especially during that heartbreaking standalone third episode. Linda Ronstadt is going to a tough listen from here on in.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 8 hours 45 mins

Poker Face, Peacock
Photograph: Peacock

3. Poker Face, Peacock

From the yellow titles to the sorta-’70s aesthetic, Rian Johnson’s latest murder mystery is a straight-up Columbo tribute: a howdunit, if you will, as we see a new crime play out in each episode’s opening. The joy and thrill then comes when Natasha Lyonne’s human lie detector Charlie wanders into the story to piece together the evidence and mutter ‘bullshit!’ in the face of a parade of weekly guest stars (Benjamin Bratt, Chloë Sevigny and Lil Rel Howery), plus Johnson-verse regulars (Adrien Brody, Joseph Gordon-Levitt).—Michael Juliano

Length of binge: 9 hours 10 mins

Barry season 4, HBO/Sky Atlantic
Photograph: HBO

4. Barry season 4, HBO/Sky Atlantic

Still somehow straddling the line between being absolutely hilarious and soul-scarringly harrowing, the fourth and final season of Barry was further proof that Bill Hader might just be the cleverest man in Hollywood. A hitman, actor and former soldier with some serious PTSD, the titular Barry finally seems like he might be getting his just desserts. Even a somewhat clunky time jump quickly proves its purpose, and the chilling ending is every bit as powerful as the final scene of Succession (with both airing on the same momentous day).—Leonie Cooper

Length of binge: 4 hours 11 mins

Blue Lights, BBC 
Photograph: BBC

5. Blue Lights, BBC 

Trying to make a new cop show without clichés is a bit like attempting to jump into the ocean without getting wet. Massive props, then, to a gripping and cliché-free police drama that started impressively and ended up feeling like it just might grown into Belfast’s answer to The Wire. Its tight-knit police unit is beautifully sketched and impeccably played, with Game of Thrones’ Richard Dormer and Siân Brooke standouts as a salty old-timer with a past and an ex-social worker finding radically different ways to get the job done. John Lynch, once Gwyneth Paltrow’s smarmy boyfriend in Sliding Doors, is a revelation as the brooding crime boss they’re gunning for.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 5 hours 48 mins

Colin From Accounts, Fox
Photograph: BBC

6. Colin From Accounts, Fox

Everyone loves a show featuring a dog, but it’s the two adorably flawed and relatable humans – brought together by said dog – who draw you in to this Aussie comedy. The series plays on Gen X vs Millennial clashes while exploring the challenges of modern-day dating, and strikes the right balance of deep and compelling yet easy and breezy to watch. Will-they-or-won’t-they comedy series have been done thousands of times over, but this one is fresh. It’s gross, it’s irreverent, it’s awkward and cringey – and really very charming.—Alice Ellis

Length of binge: 3 hrs 38 min.

Fleishman is in Trouble, Hulu/Disney+
Photograph: Hulu

7. Fleishman is in Trouble, Hulu/Disney+

Like ’90s HBO horndog comedy Dream On set in the well-heeled Manhattan of The Undoing, sprinkled with a dose of Woody Allen-esque Jewish male neuroses, this barbed and tonally surefooted take on Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel is both a guilty-pleasure comedy and a startling insight into an unravelling marriage. Jesse Eisenberg is perfect as Toby Fleishman, a divorced doctor whose Tinder-fuelled sexual awakening is put on hold when his ex-wife, Rachel Fleishman (Claire Danes), disappears, leaving him with the kids and an unravelling sense of self. Danes is scary good, too, while Adam Brody plays against his own impish likeability as Toby’s sleazy gateway to the full joys/horrors of single life.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 6 hours 53 mins

Beef, Netflix
Photograph: Andrew Cooper/Netflix

8. Beef, Netflix

Korean director Lee Sung Jin‘s ​spiky ​black comedy – a kind of Falling Down with belly laughs – is a watch-through-your-fingers burst of fury and existential despair that will chime even with people who’d never dream of pursuing a road rage incident to the point of catastrophic self-sabotage. That’s the spiralling scenario Steven Yeun’s struggling handyman, Danny, and Ali Wong’s unhappy entrepreneur, Amy, fall into over ten propulsive episodes. The two Angelinos collide and re-collide in a show that gives OTT expression to the stresses of modern life. The supporting cast – especially Joseph Lee as Danny’s puppy-dog brother Paul – is a knockout too.Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 5 hours 22 mins

Happy Valley season 3, BBC
Photograph: BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire

9. Happy Valley season 3, BBC

After being a fixture in British viewers’ lives for the best part of a decade, it was time to bid the fondest of farewells to the wild west of Yorkshire and Sarah Lancashire’s brilliant and vengeful Catherine Cawood – the only cop it’s alright to have a crush on. The third and final season of Happy Valley is as tense and tender as the two seasons that came before, proof of creator Sally Wainwright’s impeccable way with not just a show-stopping action extravaganza, but also of the intimate exchanges between friends and family. It was pretty damn funny, too.—Leonie Cooper

Length of binge: 5 hours 59 mins

Dead Ringers, Prime Video
Photograph: Amazon Prime

10. Dead Ringers, Prime Video

Just when you thought we’d been spoilt enough with one Rachel Weisz on screen, Dead Ringers slaps two together and it’s a riveting feat of flair and fuckery. Rather than just copying, pasting and expanding David Cronenberg’s 1988 psychology thriller into six episodes, Alice Birch and her female writing staff have crafted an exquisitely witty, provocative and horrifying exploration of womanhood, the reproductive experience and medical malfeasance through the eyes of twin obstetricians Dr Elliot and Beverly Mantle – Weisz’s dynamic and diabolical duo. One of the sharpest and smartest film to TV adaptations. Period.—Hanna Flint

Length of binge: 5 hours and 54 mins

Perry Mason season 2, HBO/Sky Atlantic
Photograph: HBO / Warner Media

11. Perry Mason season 2, HBO/Sky Atlantic

Matthew Rhys continues to impress as maverick lawyer Perry Mason in a thrillingly rendered 1930s Los Angeles. The second season of this HBO crime drama is not only stacked with twists and intrigue, but boasts compelling insights into the rampant racism and homophobia of the era. Despite having a man’s name over the banner, it’s the women that make the show, with Severance’s Jen Tullock as sassy screenwriter Anita St. Pierre, and Hope Davis as fancy rich lady Camilla Nygaard, as well as the return of the brilliant Juliet Rylance as Perry’s more-than-capable sidekick Della Street.—Leonie Cooper

Length of binge: 6 hrs 51 mins

Guilt season 3, BBC
Photograph: Anne Binckebanck/BBC

12. Guilt season 3, BBC

Like Shallow Grave with creaky knees, this ace Edinburgh (and Leith)-set crime thriller spent two seasons taking us on our tour of Scotland’s criminal underworld when bickering fiftysomething brothers Max and Jake (Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives) accidentally run over an elderly man and decide to cover it up. The concluding run wraps it all up with the neatness and of any classic trilogy, giving us more dark laughs, edgy thrills and tangled schemes as the siblings try to dig their way out of the very deep hole that gangland supremo Maggie Lynch has them in. Phyllis Logan – Downton Abbey’s Mrs Hughes, no less – is a revelation as the icily in-control crime boss, but it’s Bonnar, once Catastrophe’s resident scene-stealer, who makes off with the show as the Machiavellian but kinda good-hearted Max. 

Length of binge: 3 hours 50 mins

Party Down season 3, Starz/Hulu Plus
Photograph: Starz/Hulu Plus

13. Party Down season 3, Starz/Hulu Plus

Like Extras, Ricky Gervais’s underrated post-The Office sitcom, Starz’s goofy, good-hearted sitcom mines comedy gold from the painful reality of struggling actors scratching a living within touching distance of their dreams. Still sore about its cancellation in 2010, the six-ep revival left us wanting more – quite a lot more – but its existence still felt like a blessing after its cancellation a decade ago. Adam Scott was back as one of a group of thesps working for an LA catering company run with chaotic fervour by Ken Marino’s recovering addict. The ’shrooms episode, in particular, is a slice of demented genius.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 3 hours 9 mins

Picard season 3, Paramount+
Photograph: Paramount

14. Picard season 3, Paramount+

When Star Trek spin-off Picard began three seasons ago, it was a scrappy, patchy addition to the franchise, taking Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard back into action long after retirement. But the show only really hit its stride in this third and, theoretically, final season, with the decision to reunite all Picard’s original crew, older but not necessarily wiser. Showrunner Terry Matalas doesn’t rely on simple nostalgia however, weaving a dense mystery plot. It’s a potent combination for fans and newcomers alike: as with The Wrath of Khan, the mere sense of shared history between the cast give everything extra resonance.—Helen O’Hara

Length of binge: 8 hours 51 mins

Yellowjackets season 2, Paramount+
Photograph: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

15. Yellowjackets season 2, Paramount+

Yellowjackets continued to be a television force majeure with a second run that delivered on its first season’S promise in beguiling and batshit ways. Props to the casting team for adding Simone Kessell (as the older Lottie), Lauren Ambrose (older Van) and the excellent Elijah Wood to the line-up. Some Stephen King horror nods bolster the drama, but the ensemble cast is still its biggest strength. The ’90s-era girlies stuck in the wilderness showcase some truly feral performances, while their modern-day counterparts bring acerbic comic relief as their lives chaotically unravel towards the meaty finale.—Hanna Flint

Length of binge: 8 hours 41 mins

The Gold, BBC
Photograph: Sally Mais/BBC

16. The Gold, BBC

The gaping hole left by Happy Valley in the BBC’s crime drama scheduling was quickly filled by this pacy six-part race through the Brink’s-Mat gold robbery of 1983, one of the UK’s biggest heists of all time. Its graciously grey rendering of ’80s London; full of grimy pubs, battered motors and suburban gangsters is spot-on, but some artistic licence has been taken too, as the show’s most engaging character, Charlotte Spencer’s no-bullshit detective Nicki Jennings, sadly never existed.—Leonie Cooper

Length of binge: 5 hours 45 mins

The Mandalorian season 3, Disney+
Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd.

17. The Mandalorian season 3, Disney+

The third run of the Star Wars spin-off saw Pedro Pascal’s bounty hunter taking a back seat as Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze led a homecoming quest. The busy and bumpy eight-ep run also threw in space pirates (farewell Gorian Shard, you seaweed-faced chancer), giant raptors, the return of the Vader-like Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), the Blade Runner-y city planet of Coruscant, and an undercurrent of po-faced Mandalore spirituality. But as usual, there was also loads to enjoy in its big-hearted adventure and the dad-son dynamics between Mando and Grogu. The winky final shot was a delight, too.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 5 hours 54 mins

You season 4, Netflix
Photograph: Netflix

18. You season 4, Netflix

After three seasons of murdering his way around New York and California, the unfeasibly charming Joe Goldberg decamps to a geographically-challenged London for a quieter life as a uni professor. Fat chance, of course, as a bunch of poshos draw him into a post-Bullingdon clique stalked by a murderer of its own. The role may have become something of a millstone for Penn Badgley, but his easy charisma, heady aura of danger and ability to effortless rock a grandpa cardie make You the easiest of binges. And cardboard cutout toffs in mortal danger is a subgenre we’ll never tire of.—Phil de Semlyen

Shrinking, Apple TV+
Photograph: Apple TV+

19. Shrinking, Apple TV+

Though Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein’s latest has some Ted Lasso fibers to it, more than anything it fills the sitcom landscape’s Scrubs-sized sweatpants. Comedy and grief collide over melancholy indie music as co-creator Jason Segel’s self-destructive widower tries to patch up his personal life and therapy practice. But this is a feelgood show, honest, and it’s buoyed by its sunny Pasadena setting, Segel’s sad dad-meets-goofball vibes and a pair of his scene-stealing co-workers: a warm, quick-witted Jessica Williams and a quietly crotchety Harrison Ford, who turns in his funniest performance in decades.—Michael Juliano

Length of binge: 5 hours 14 mins


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