You know, looking back on it now, 2023 was kind of a wild year for television. A bunch of our best shows wrapped up their runs, and a bunch of other shows were delayed by prolonged negotiations between labor unions and the studios, and a bunch of weird and fun shows popped up out of nowhere. We had spoiled children in New York and sandwich chefs in Chicago and rascal teens in Oklahoma. We had an apocalypse and time loops and trips to outer space. Jon Hamm was in about half of the hundreds of shows that aired. There was really something for everyone out there if you knew where to look.
Which, as always, makes compiling a top ten list at the end of the year a little tricky. There’s just so much across so many genres and it makes it almost impossible to create a comprehensive list. So… we resorted to math. The members of the Uproxx team each submitted a top ten list and then we assigned points based on these individual rankings. (Ten points for the number one show, nine points for the number two, and so on through the list until one lonely point was assigned to everyone’s tenth-ranked show.) We took all those numbers and plugged them into the calculator and here we are.
It’s a pretty good list. If you disagree, blame the math, not us. Numbers can be cruel.
I Think You Should Leave — The third season of this beautifully deranged little sketch show delivered once again, introducing us to a slew of unsettling comic characters like, to pick just one, the Driving Crooner. What did we ever do without him?
Yellowjackets — If you thought a thriller series that leaps between two time periods to cover the immediate and future dilemmas faced by a girls soccer team whose plane crashes in the woods was going to be a one-season phenomenon, buddy, were you ever proven wrong by the second season of this show.
Beef — A contentious traffic situation escalates beyond road rage into life-consuming obsession, but in a fun way, with Ali Wong and Stephen Yeun and the best Hoobastank needledrop you’ve ever seen delivering on a premise that could have been too ambitious to work in less capable hands.
Blue Eye Samurai — The animated series that followed a half-white, half-Japanese samurai on a mission for vengeance was a blast, with eight extremely bingeable episodes dropping in November and a voice cast that included everyone from Maya Erskine to Randall Park to George Takei to Kenneth Branagh.
Jury Duty — What happens when you take a normal guy and drop him into an absurd legal situation where everyone is an actor and everything is scripted and James Marsden shows up as a heightened goofball version of himself and the normal guy doesn’t realize it’s all a ruse? Well, you get a good television show, for one thing.
What We Do in the Shadows — It feels unfair that this show is buried in the honorable mentions when all it did this season was continue to deliver on its silly vampiric premise at a high-level the same way it has since its first season. It’s a gift and a curse, really, these expectations of greatness that make it hard for the show to surprise us sometimes. There are worse problems to have.
Swagger — The sports drama loosely inspired by the experiences of NBA superstar Kevin Durant came to an end after two seasons this year, which is a shame, because it delivered a kind of cultural commentary — thanks in large part to the stellar performance by O’Shea Jackson — that is rarely seen on television.
The Other Two — Another show that ended its run this year, which is a shame for a lot of reasons, some having to do with the razor-sharp satire of Hollywood it depicted and some having to do with the performances by Drew Tarver and Helena Yorke as the overlooked sinking of a teen megastar and some having to do with there just not being enough shows on television that let Molly Shannon run wild like this. Still, it was a good one.
The Golden Bachelor — Be honest, you did not expect a dating show about a 72-year-old former restaurateur with a massive lion tattoo looking for love among similarly aged women to be network television’s biggest smash hit of the fall. And yet, here we are. Life is strange like that.
10. (tie) Shrinking (Apple TV+)
Grief is at the center of Shrinking — the grief that comes from losing someone close, from losing one’s own dynamism, confidence, and control. But it’s also about the beauty that comes from refinding some of those things and discovering a way through with the help of love and friendship. Led by Jason Segel as a widowed therapist and Harrison Ford as his mentor, the show is a layered, funny, and heartful mess of broken people trying to fix other broken people. Few 30-minute comedies ever feel this deep and life-affirming.
10. (tie) Poker Face (Peacock)
Rian Johnson’s love letter to case-of-the-week detective shows with quirky sleuths a la Columbo and Murder She Wrote, Poker Face absolutely cooks with Natasha Lyonne as an on-the-run human lie detector who keeps bumping into hairy situations with morally dubious characters. From the soundtrack to the cool car and the idiosyncratic and lyrical dialogue, Poker Face is a surprisingly breezy watch for something that so often dips into murder.
9. Silo (Apple TV+)
Fans who dusted off their Dystopia Fatigue for this slow-burn murder mystery set hundreds of years in the future and buried deep beneath the earth’s “toxic” surface were rewarded with a surprising sci-fi thriller that finally convinced us that Apple TV+ knows what it’s doing when it comes to sci-fi. Based on Hugh Howey’s work of fiction, Silo introduces audiences to a community of thousands living in a sort of inverted skyscraper miles underground. They’re there because of some environmental catastrophe, but the hows and whys of who lives, who dies, who procreates, and who controls become muddled when a stoic mechanic (hello to Rebecca Ferguson and her greased-up biceps) escapes her Down Deep existence to serve as sheriff and solve a painfully personal homicide case. Twists and turns (both narrative and physical, especially when the show utilizes its 144-story winding staircase to ramp up the action) elevate Silo’s premise. This isn’t just about living past the end of the world, it’s about how we do it and the lies we tell along the way.
8. Gen V (Amazon Prime)
The Boys brand stayed impossibly strong in this offshoot’s first season, and to quote Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, the finale came, saw, and kicked ass for several reasons, including that Homelander cameo. The college-based show seamlessly integrates with the original series while also poking a lot of fun at shared universes. Did you have Amazon on your bingo card for outdoing the MCU and DCU this year on superheroes? Oi.
7. The Last of Us (Max)
A lot of things had to go right for HBO’s The Last of Us to be as good as the video game it’s based on. It needed to find the perfect actors to play Joel and Ellie (Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey — check). It needed the right writers to find the humanity in a world overrun by monsters (Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, who also created the game — check). It needed to be violent, but sweet; hopeless, but ultimately hopeful; bleak, but with moments of genuine humor (check and check and check for the Bill and Frank episode alone). The Last of Us was a triumph, not just as a video game adaptation, but as one of the best TV shows of the year.
6. The Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix)
Horror maestro Mike Flanagan and original doom king Edgar Allan Poe added up to a macabre yet delightful meeting of the minds. Carla Gugino sizzles in several different ways (and guises) and stole back her Flanagan MVP crown from Hamish Linklater, and this show was so screwball that we did a death ranking if you want to live it all over again. This isn’t a literal telling of the Poe story but one that successfully incorporates modern ills while skewering the concepts of wealth, privilege, and power, and this is the most entertaining takedown of Big Pharma in years.
5. The Righteous Gemstones (HBO)
A few things worth noting about this show, which is now three seasons deep into its comedic look at a fictional family of televangelists:
- Walton Goggins in old-man makeup as snake oil salesman Baby Billy Freeman continues to be one of the best performances on television
- Everything Edi Patterson does as spoiled middle child Judy Gemstone is remarkable and she should have so many awards for it by now that she has trouble climbing over them to get out of the house
- It had the year’s best car chase, somehow
4. Barry (HBO)
Barry wrapped up its run this year, bringing an end to the story about a skilled hitman who becomes depressed and tries to crawl out of the hole he’s in with the help of a local theater group. Bill Hader was the mastermind behind all of it and deserves the lion’s share of credit, but please never forget the performances by Sarah Goldberg as Sally Reed and Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank and Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau and Stephen Root as Fuches and… wow. Just typing all that out again is a nice reminder of what a stacked cast this had. One of the best shows of the last five years and it went out with a bang. Can’t ask for much more.
3. Reservation Dogs (Hulu)
Just a special television show that, in case you haven’t noticed a theme developing here, also came to an end this year. Sweet and profound, funny and sad, mixing the silliest jokes you’ve ever seen with deep contemplations on coming of age and death, this series about a group of rascal indigenous teens growing up in Oklahoma was truly one of a kind. We are better for the fact that it existed at all. Please binge it this winter if you haven’t seen it yet. Or watch it again next year if you haven’t. This is everything television can and should be.
2. The Bear (Hulu)
The Bear burst onto the scene with a wonderful first season a couple of years ago, a story about a talented chef coming home to run the family sandwich shop after a death left its future in limbo. The second season continued to deliver, with a cameo-packed family meal and star-making performances by Ayo Edebiri and Ebon Moss-Bachrach, the latter of whom was responsible for one of the better character arcs you’ll ever see. Everyone hated Richie in season one. Everyone loves Richie now. That’s not an easy trick to pull off. The only downside here is that watching this show will make you want a sandwich all hours of the day. Could be worse.
1. Succession (HBO)
What a ride. From the very beginning to the very end, with countless F-bombs and shocking deaths and goofball failsons and hangers-on clinging to financial lifeboats, the time we spent with the Roy family was memorable. There’s not much else to say that hasn’t been said. Succession was the rare show to capture critical acclaim and a massive audience and it was just a lot of fun to have a huge water cooler show to talk about again in a time when everything else is all splinters and frayed. There was so much about it worth discussing, from Logan’s grumbling to Cousin Greg’s bumbling to Kendall quite literally staring out into the ocean looking for answers. Everyone on this show was an awful human being. We will miss them deeply.