Want to keep track of the highest-rated and maybe even best TV shows premiering or returning in 2023? This is the list for you.
So much television. It’s a common complaint nowadays, and yet we all can’t stop wanting to watch when old favorites return or when something new premieres which might grab our attention. Television has been going through a golden age for what feels like forever now, and we all have the favorites that we think represent the best of what’s going up on our favorite streaming services or premiering on conventional television channels and broadcasters.
It can be almost overwhelming to decipher what is or isn’t worth devoting our time to. With that in mind, this list will attempt to discern what are the best shows to be watching this year as they are made available. Just to clarify, this will be somewhat personal and subjective, but it will be an attempt at providing a comprehensive look at the televisual landscape across 2023 and an attempt to ascertain the shows that really stand out from the increasingly large crowd of shows vying for our attention.
Last Update: May 3rd, 2023.
Best and Highest Rated TV Shows of 2023
Crash Course in Romance
The world of maths and tutoring are a very big deal in South Korea. Crash Course in Romance’s depiction of maths tutoring takes on the air of grandiose importance amongst its brilliant utilization of K-drama cliches and tropes.
This is such a good-natured and funny series that you can’t help but get swept along with the romantic entanglements and comedic set-ups, but there are some dark moments of drama dotted along, with long-forgotten dreams and the specter of loss and bereavement of its older lead characters corresponding with that of its younger cast of players and their own hopes for what lies ahead in the future.
A surprisingly potent exploration of education and even social class, the series is also a gently funny one where trademarked high kicks, a social media presence, and great advertising campaigns have to go along with being a great teacher. Pride Maketh Math.
OFFICIAL PREMISE: “The series follows the bittersweet relationship between a banchan shop owner who belatedly enters the war of Korea’s college entrance exams, and a top hagwon instructor”
Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Kyung-ho, Roh Yoon-seo, Oh Eui-shik, Lee Bong-ryun
The Law According to Lidia Poët
It’s not often Netflix gives us a procedural with a case-by-episode format to its scripted dramas, but The Law According to Lidia Poët buckles that trend by delivering a series that combines David E. Kelley law procedural and something approaching a Sofia Coppola-directed period drama. Its palpable anger at a patriarchal society is powerfully set to a soundtrack that includes Florence and the Machine and a punk rock theme song, not to mention a magnificent central performance from Matilda De Angelis as the titular character.
The series might stylishly heighten the true story on which it’s based. Still, it’s always an enjoyable watch that never flinches from the points it’s trying to make at the unjust system that allowed men to prosper over women, not to mention being unafraid to be frequently horny in its portrayal of sexuality. The combination of smart mystery storytelling, social commentary, and romance come together to genuinely brilliant effect, and here’s hoping we get more.
OFFICIAL PREMISE: “Turin, late 1800s. A ruling by the Turin Court of Appeals declares Lidia Poët’s admission to the bar association unlawful, thus preventing her from practicing law simply because she is a woman. Penniless but full of pride, Lidia secures a job at her brother Enrico’s law firm while she prepares an appeal to overturn the court ruling. In an approach that’s ahead of its time, Lidia assists criminal suspects by searching for the truth behind outward appearances and preconceptions. Lidia’s brother-in-law, Jacopo, a mysterious journalist, passes her information and introduces her to the hidden worlds that lurk beneath a flamboyant Turin. The series is a light procedural drama, reinterpreting the true story of Lidia Poët, Italy’s first female lawyer.”
CAST: Matilda De Angelis, Eduardo Scarpetta, Pier Luigi Pasino, Sinéad Thornhill, Sara Lazzaro, Dario Aita
Boasting Ted Lasso’s very own Roy Kent himself, Brett Goldstein, as co-creator alongside Bill Lawrence and Jason Segal, Apple TV’s Shrinking utilizes all the tropes and cliches that you’d want from a good-natured single-camera comedy series, but this coming from the stable of Lawrence whose work also includes Scrubs, it works wonders and then some.
The humor is both gentle and biting, warm-hearted and emotionally observational, while also giving Segal his best work since How I Met Your Mother and a brilliantly funny and grumpy scene-stealing turn from Harrison Ford that might be amongst his best performances in recent years.
OFFICIAL PREMISE: “Shrinking” follows a grieving therapist who starts to break the rules and tell his clients exactly what he thinks. Ignoring his training and ethics, he finds himself making huge, tumultuous changes to people’s lives … including his own.
Cast: Jason Segal, Harrison Ford, Jessica Williams, Luke Tennie, Michael Urie, Christa Miller, Lukita Maxwell
Barry Season 4
Returning for its eagerly awaited fourth and final season, Barry continues what has been a hot streak for HBO this year with The Last of Us and the final season of Succession. That both Succession and Barry are ending after four seasons says a lot about how the television landscape has changed in terms of the duration of shows, but thankfully like Jesse Armstrong’s satirical familial epic, Barry is showing signs of going out on top form, with Bill Hader’s astonishing opus continuing to extend itself beyond what appeared to be a hitman comedy into something increasingly profound and grandiose.
OFFICIAL PREMISE: Cousineau (Henry Winkler) is hailed as a hero as Barry’s (Bill Hader) arrest has shocking consequences. It’s all been leading up to this – the explosive and hilarious final chapter of Barry.CAST: Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Anthony Carrigan, Henry Winkler, Robert Wisdom
Happy Valley Season 3
For seven years audiences waited for Sally Wainwright’s masterful British drama to return to our screens, and amazingly the wait was more than worth it. Still one of the absolute best series airing anywhere in the world today, Wainwright’s dark and uncompromising British crime drama returned us to the world of Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) as if it had never left our screens, gripping like a vice with its ongoing plot strands, but proving just as compulsive with the smaller nuances of its character moments. It’s a perfect combination and its upcoming finale, which is still to air at the time of writing, is eagerly anticipated.
OFFICIAL PREMISE: “Sally Wainwright’s multi-Bafta award winning hit Happy Valley returns to the BBC for its third and final series, starring Sarah Lancashire as Sergeant Catherine Cawood. When Catherine discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, it sparks a chain of events that leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce [James Norton]. Her grandson, Ryan [Rhys Connah], is now sixteen and has ideas of his own about the kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father, leaving Catherine’s sister Clare [Siobhan Finneran] caught in the middle.”
Cast: Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, Charlie Murphy, James Norton, Rhys Connah
The Last of Us
While video game adaptations have had a notoriously tricky track record over the years, The Last of Us arriving from HBO and having Chernobyl showrunner Craig Mazin in charge felt a statement of intent that this was going to aim high.
Comparisons with The Walking Dead will possibly be made by some, but this is a suspenseful and beautifully crafted slice of post-apocalyptic drama that is anchored to character and plot details in a magnificent manner.
Superb performances from Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal, not to mention some astonishing production values, make this a must-watch, but the plotting from Mazin and game co-creator Neil Druckmann makes it even better.
A smorgasbord of post-9/11, post-Trump, and pandemic-related paranoias add fuel to its themes, and the astonishing opening act of its first episode, not to mention a deeply unsettling prologue, has it becoming an immediately nail-biting work of brilliance.
OFFICIAL PREMISE: “The Last of Us takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal and heartbreaking journey as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.”
Cast: Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Gabriel Luna, Anna Torv, Nico Parker, Murray Bartlett, Nick Offerman, Melanie Lynskey, Storm Reid, Merle Dandridge, Jeffrey Pierce, Lamar Johnson, Keivonn Woodard, Graham Greene, Elaine Miles
A triumphant return for the second half of The Glory on Netflix this year, this compulsive revenge drama continued its seemingly never-ending dark descent into themes of vengeance, justice, and an ‘eat the rich’ narrative that was much more nuanced and explored more satisfactorily than the hysterical soap opera that was the fourth season of You. A massive international hit for Netflix, the flexibility of the story’s timeline might make this a confounding and frustrating experience for some audience members, but for those who stuck with it to a surprisingly open-ended conclusion, it was well worth it.
OFFICIAL PREMISE: Years after surviving horrific abuse in high school, a woman puts an elaborate revenge scheme in motion to make the perpetrators pay for their crimes.
Cast: Song Hye-kyo, Lee Do-hyun, Lim Ji-yeon, Yeom Hye-ran, Park Sung-hoon, Jung Sung-il
The eagerly awaited return of the Roy family following the tumultuous events of its third season finale hasn’t disappointed so far, but the premiere of the fourth season comes with a bittersweet feeling with the simultaneous announcement that this is to be its final season. Where it will lead is anyone’s guess, but even this early into its run, Jesse Armstrong’s biting satirical comedy-drama has shown that it’s not going to lose its bite as it hurtles towards its conclusion and might even be gaining a powerful and unexpected sense of poignancy as it does so.
OFFICIAL PREMISE: The sale of media conglomerate Waystar Royco to tech visionary Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) moves ever closer. The prospect of this seismic sale provokes existential angst and familial division among the Roys as they anticipate what their lives will look like once the deal is complete. A power struggle ensues as the family weighs up a future where their cultural and political weight is severely curtailed.
Cast: Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin, Alan Ruck, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun, J. Smith-Cameron, Peter Friedman, David Rasche, Fisher Stevens, Hiam Abbass, Justine Lupe, Dagmara Domi?czyk, Arian Moayed
And that completes our Best and Highest Rated TV Shows of 2023 list. What’s your favorite TV series so far in 2023? Comment below.
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