The 25 best TV shows of 2023

(Image credit: Future)

Wow, what a year 2023 has been for small-screen entertainment, from gripping final seasons that had our jaws on the floor to video-game adaptations like no other. It really has been a great 12 months for TV!

However, that meant the task of deciding on our list of the best TV shows of 2023 was therefore no easy feat, but the job must be done, and so the votes from the Total Film team came rolling in. And we think the result list really does showcase the best television the year had to offer.

Note: Total Film is UK-based and so, the below TV shows were released between January 1 and December 31, 2023 in the UK. Some later releases (such Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials) were not screened in time for consideration.

25. Lockwood & Co.

Lockwood & Co. on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

What do you get if you throw Attack The Block director Joe Cornish, an impressive ensemble cast of young actors, a bunch of CGI ghosts, and a beloved young adult supernatural book series into a blender? The answer is Netflix's Lockwood & Co., a fun and fantastical adventure that was simply a delight to watch. It naturally earned quite a dedicated fan-base who were then shocked to hear that the streaming service had decided not to renew it for a second season. Let's just say we are fully on-board the bring Lockwood & Co. back campaign! Emily Murray

24. The Curse

The Curse

(Image credit: Showtime)

The Curse might be the most uncomfortable Nathan Fielder has ever made us feel, and that’s saying a lot after four seasons of absurdist docu-reality Nathan For You and the surrealist (albeit heartfelt) cringe-fest that was The Rehearsal. Fielder and Emma Stone star as a newly married couple who, in addition to being inherently insufferable, are cursed by a poor child while filming their HGTV ‘philanthropy’ reality series – which has done more harm to the area than good. Uncut Gems helmer Benny Safdie, who stars as the reality show’s producer, also co-wrote the show with Fielder – which explains why low stakes social hang-ups become anxiety-inducing thrill rides. Lauren Milici

23. Interview with the Vampire

interview with the vampire

(Image credit: AMC)

Adapted from Anne Rice’s famous novel of the same name and elements of The Vampire Chronicles, this series centers on the life story of Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson), who in 1910 was turned into a vampire thanks to the charismatic Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) but quickly struggled with his newfound immortality and lack of humanity. Sound familiar? That’s because a movie of the same name was released in 1994 starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as Lestat and Louis. The show reflects the charm and intensity of the movie, whilst exploring the story further. So much so a second season has been announced and is expected to land on our screens sometime in 2024, so keep your eyes peeled and fangs sharpened for that one. Megan Garside

22. Ghosts Season 5


(Image credit: BBC)

Our final outing to Button House in Ghosts season 5 is a fitting end to the BBC comedy, one of the most consistent and unique British sitcoms in recent years. Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) are still short on money – and now they have a baby on the way, so they set their sights on selling off part of their inherited stately home to a golf club. Their resident rabble of ghosts, however, are predictably resistant. Ghosts was always skilled at being both feel-good and funny, and season 5 is no different, with a smattering of satisfying full-circle moments and a subtly heartfelt finale. Emily Garbutt

21. I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson

i think you should leave

(Image credit: Netflix)

The third (and hopefully not the last) season of the SNL alum’s sketch comedy show might be its strongest yet, delivering absurdist cringe of a caliber higher than we could’ve ever dreamed of. From a literal driving crooner and a doggy door commercial that questions the point of our existence, to an egg-related computer game gone wrong and a Bachelor contestant who’s only there to ride the zipline, there’s something weird – and laugh-out-loud funny – for everyone. Plus, Fred Armisen, Jason Schwartzman, Tim Heidecker, Will Forte, Tim Meadows, and Ayo Edebri all stop by to join in the chaos. Lauren Milici

20. The Mandalorian Season 3

Mando and Grogu in The Mandalorian

(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Hard to deny that the perma-armored Din Djarin has lost some of his shine. But there was no reason to abandon hope in the Star Wars spin-off, which this season truly became more than a one-Mando show. Fans were well serviced by an expanded role for Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan, a long-awaited trip to Mandalore, and the revelation that Mythosaurs are really real. Digressions were plentiful but arresting, from an Andor-esque interlude on Coruscant to a game of space-croquet with Lizzo and Jack Black. And the – refreshingly conclusive – arc ended with both a bang (Moff Gideon’s fiery fate) and a whimper (viewers choking up as Din formally adopts Grogu, still the show’s MVP). Matthew Leyland

19. Star Trek: Picard Season 3

Star Trek: Picard season 3

(Image credit: Paramount)

After two up-and-down outings, the Next Generation spin-off hit maximum warp with the greatest season of TV in Trek’s long history. While this long-awaited reunion of Picard (Patrick Stewart), Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Troi (Marina Sirtis), and the gang went big on nostalgia, it also looked to the future with epic cinematic action, a twist-filled story arc, and some truly memorable new characters – including Jean-Luc’s long-lost son, Jack Crusher. Best of all, it found all the right reasons to get the TNG crew back on the bridge, before delivering an emotionally satisfying conclusion. If this really is the Enterprise-D crew’s final voyage, they made it so in style. Richard Edwards

18. Shrinking

Jason Segel and Harrison Ford in Shrinking

(Image credit: Apple Studios)

Harrison Ford, it turns out, can be a funny, nuanced small-screen actor. In Shrinking, the Hollywood heavyweight plays the boss of a therapy practice. He and counsellors played by Jason Segel and Jessica Williams dispense advice while struggling to hold their own lives together. Segel’s character, for instance, is so haunted by his wife’s death that he neglects his daughter, instead becoming radically invested in his patients. Yet Shrinking maintained a frothy tone despite dealing with heart-wrenching topics. Once you know the scribes are Segel (How I Met Your Mother), Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso), and Bill Lawrence (Scrubs), its eccentric comedy-drama heritage is evident. Dave Bradley

17. Dead Ringers

Rachel Weisz as Beverly and Elliot in Prime Video's Dead Ringers

(Image credit: Prime Video)

We got two Rachel Weiszs for the price of one in a stylish, gender-flipped updating of the 1988 David Cronenberg classic about twin obstetricians whose intensely close bond starts to fracture when a patient steps between them. Expanding upon the Jeremy Irons original to tackle sexism, sisterhood, and the inequities of women’s healthcare, the result was both an acting tour de force and a bold provocation that complemented and also improved upon its iconic predecessor. And it was superbly scripted, too, not least in the episode that saw Beverly and Elliot spend a ghastly evening at investor Jennifer Ehle’s. Neil Smith

16. The Reckoning

the reckoning

(Image credit: BBC)

Plenty of eyebrows and objections were raised when the BBC commissioned this recounting of the late Jimmy Savile’s decades-long double life as a serial sex offender. Yet the result (largely) vindicated its decision, Steve Coogan presenting a chilling depiction of the vile DJ that made us wonder afresh how he ever pulled wool over so many oblivious eyes. Opening each of the four episodes with testimony from some of his many victims pushed the horror home in what was a grim but necessary watch. You wonder, though, if the drama could or should have been harder on the BBC itself and its contemporary response. Neil Smith

15. Only Murders in the Building Season 3

only murders in the building

(Image credit: Disney+)

The third season of the hit murder-mystery series added in lashings of Meryl Streep and Paul Rudd to make the show somehow even more delightful – as if it wasn’t enough already. This time around we also had several musical numbers, with Steve Martin’s exaggerated rendition of the Pickwick Triplets patter song undoubtedly being one of the best TV moments of the year. Speedily commissioned for a season 4 after a gripping finale, the magic of Only Murders was still very much in evidence thanks to the irresistible charms of Martin, Selena Gomez, and Martin Short. Bring on our next trip to the Arconia! Emily Murray

14. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5

marvelous mrs maisel

(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

It’s the 1960s, and Midge (Rachel Brosnahan, sensational) has taken a writer job on a talk show. But she also wants to guest as a stand-up and showcase her comedy. There’s just one snag: no staff on the sofa. In the 80s (Season 5 deftly juggled a dual timeline), an older, solitary Midge reflects on all she’s sacrificed – time with her kids, her relationship with manager Susie – to hit the big time. The dialogue was sharp as ever, the families got more focus, and we finally saw Midge adopt her titular moniker like some acerbic Avenger. Not many shows manage a perfect run, but with its hilarious, heartbreaking fifth and final chapter, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel got the last laugh. Amy West

13. Gen V

Gen V

(Image credit: Prime Video)

A spin-off of The Boys, Gen V answered the question, ‘What if the teens in Euphoria had superpowers?’ The result was a strangely paced, laugh-out-loud, and ultraviolent dramedy that starred a knockout ensemble cast full of college kids with great chemistry. From puppet violence to broken eardrums, and a gruesome self-immolation scene that rivals Hereditary, this superhero satire was self-aware and leaned into the campiness of the universe that producer Eric Kripke and his team have created. It didn’t always work – falling victim to lulls and over-exposition – but when it did, it was more fun than Marvel and DC combined. Lauren Milici

12. Happy Valley Season 3

Happy valley

(Image credit: BBC)

The third and final season of Sally Wainwright’s Yorkshire-set BBC crime saga had been a long time coming – seven years to be precise – but the wait was most definitely worth it. Sarah Lancashire once again excelled as the no-nonsense police sergeant Catherine Cawood, whose festering hatred of the now-imprisoned Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) boils over as he begins to make contact with his son – and her grandkid – Ryan (Rhys Connah). Tense, violent, and unflinching, Wainwright’s scripts were also eye-wateringly sad, exploring the ties that bind. As far as British TV goes, this was one of the must-see shows of 2023. James Mottram

11. Poker Face

Natasha Lyonne in Poker Face

(Image credit: Peacock)

Who cares whodunnit? As every Columbo fan knows, the real pleasure of a good detective story is watching a good detective work it out. In Natasha Lyonne’s Charlie Cale, we got one of the best – a happy-go-lucky, down-on-her-luck cocktail waitress who has a supernatural ability to smell bullshit a mile off. To showrunner Rian Johnson’s credit, the superpower was never treated like anything special – leaning instead on Lyonne’s career-best performance, a perfect set of puzzle-box scripts, and a cast (Adrien Brody, Ron Perlman, Ellen Barkin, Nick Nolte, Stephanie Hsu…) who all looked like they were having the best time just being there. Paul Bradshaw

10. Beef

Steven Yeun in Beef

(Image credit: Netflix)

Steven Yeun and Ali Wong joined forces for dark comedy Beef, playing two strangers whose lives converge after a seemingly innocuous road-rage incident. Over the course of the 10-part series, the story barrelled along at a thrilling pace – contractor Danny (Yeun) and small-business owner Amy (Wong) found themselves increasingly consumed by the petty feud, which quickly spiralled into something bigger and more sinister that threatened to ruin both of their lives. With several tricks up its sleeve, the show pushed narrative boundaries when it dabbled in more surreal territory, whilst Yeun and Wong’s chemistry made them electric scene partners. Emily Garbutt

9. Fleishman is in Trouble

fleishman is in trouble

(Image credit: Disney+/FX)

Middle-aged angst crashed into a knot of messy modern relationships in Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s adaptation of her own New York novel – an upsettingly human drama that delighted in pulling the rug out from under our feet whenever we got comfortably uncomfortable. Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes, Lizzy Caplan, and Adam Brody were all on their finest form as the show toyed with our allegiances and rearranged the pieces of the bigger picture with each episode. The show’s heaviest themes turned up late and hit all the harder for it, leaving a show about (mostly) unlikeable people feel hard to leave behind. Paul Bradshaw

8. Platonic


(Image credit: Apple TV+)

‘What makes for a good show about friendship?’ mused Seth Rogen while promoting Apple TV+’s Platonic. ‘I think the number-one thing is chemistry,’ cut in Rose Byrne. ‘Yeah, chemistry!’ nodded Rogen. ‘You gotta believe these people actually know each other and like each other!’ Well, these actors really do know each other and like each other (and have worked together before on the Neighbors movies), and boy did the chemistry fizz. In this messy mid-life-meltdown comedy drama, two old pals – stay-at-home mum Sylvia, who wants to rekindle her career, and hipster brewer Will – reconnect and then grapple for their lost youth via a ketamine trip, a stolen lizard, a desecrated painting, and more. A total blast. Jamie Graham

7. Silo


(Image credit: Apple)

Bingeable, high-concept TV doesn’t come ‘deeper’ than this. Based on books by Hugh Howey and adapted by veteran screenwriter Graham Yost (Speed, Justified), Silo is set in an underground city where 10,000 survivors shelter from a poisoned world. When the murder of her lover prompts engineer Juliette (a dour Rebecca Ferguson) to join the sheriff’s department, she uncovers a conspiracy. Apple TV+ money rendered a lavish, star-studded production that featured Tim Robbins, David Oyelowo, and Rashida Jones. ‘It’s an evolutionary urge to tell [post-apocalyptic] stories as they’re survival stories,’ Howey told Wired. ‘Dystopian stories [do] the exact same thing that stories have always done: here’s a person out of their comfort zone.’ Dave Bradley

6. The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix horror guru Mike Flanagan turned his eye to the oeuvre of Edgar Allan Poe for his latest outing, ambitiously adapting each of the author’s major works, from The Pit and the Pendulum to The Raven. Modernizing classic literature with a big pharma twist, the show saw Bruce Greenwood’s ruthless patriarch forced to watch his children fall victim to a mysterious curse, one Poe adaptation – and grisly death – at a time. The cast was stacked with Flanagan regulars, but Mark Hamill shone, going head-to-head with Carla Gugino’s chilling ghoul in the series’ final stretch. Fidelity to the stories was loose, but stayed true to the bloody tell-tale heart of Poe. Joel Harley

5. Top Boy Season 3

top boy season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

The final season of Top Boy was always going to be brutal, but the Shakespearean levels of hubris and tragedy made it spectacular. A decade after they first appeared on screen, the rivalry between childhood best friends and drug kingpins Sully (Kane Robinson) and Dushane (Ashley Walters) came to a bloody climax. After all, it’s ‘Top Boy’ singular and, Highlander style, there can be only one. The final run saw quests for vengeance, police brutality, and Barry Keoghan with a truckful of severed heads, but it saved the best for its finale, where the Summerhouse estate descends into chaos, and Sully and Dushane become increasingly desperate and volatile. Even braced for tragedy, the choices Top Boy made in its denouement, right up until its final scene, were merciless and utterly perfect. Leila Latif

4. The Long Shadow

the long shadow

(Image credit: ITV)

‘George’s scripts really put the victims, and the families, and the people affected by the case, at the forefront of the storytelling,’ said director Lewis Arnold (Des) of George Kay’s seven-episode trawl through the hunt for serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed by the press as the Yorkshire Ripper. It made for responsible, compassionate storytelling, in a series that captured the social and economic issues of the era, and the blood-freezing terror that paralysed Northern England as a sadistic monster killed 13 women from 1975 to 1980. As the manhunt went on (and on, and on), there was something of Fincher’s Zodiac to this detailed, slow-burn production, the obsessive quest hollowing out pursuing cops (Toby Jones, Lee Ingleby, David Morrissey), families, a community, a country. Jamie Graham

3. The Last of Us

The Last of Us

(Image credit: HBO)

Craig Mazin’s follow-up to the breathtaking Chernobyl saw him tackle the most-anticipated video game adaptation of the last decade. Luckily, it was a risk that paid off as, with game creator Neil Druckmann in tow, he crafted the year’s most emotionally affecting drama. Led by the never-better Pedro Pascal as grizzled anti-hero Joel, it charted his cross-country mission to get miracle child Ellie (Bella Ramsey in a star-making role) to safety. Navigating a cruel reality where the infected are the least of their worries, watching their quasi-father-daughter relationship develop was equal parts compelling and heartbreaking. But it was the additions to the series that took it into exceptional territory, with doomed couple Bill and Frank’s episode marking its finest moment. Fay Watson

2. The Bear Season 2

Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri in The Bear

(Image credit: Disney+/FX)

Christopher Storer’s comedy drama about the staff of a Chicago sandwich shop switched up the menu for its second season, abandoning the pressure-cooker intensity of its celebrated debut year in favour of an even more satisfying character-focused slow roast. As Carmy concentrated on renovating The Bear as a high-end restaurant, the rest of the kitchen were given space to step up. In Honeydew, Marcus found his equilibrium studying with Will Poulter’s pastry chef in Amsterdam, while in Forks, short-tempered Ridley Scott fan-boy Richie discovered purpose in service. But it was centerpiece flashback episode Fishes that most clearly demonstrated the respect Storer’s show now commands, with a who’s who of character actors guest-starring as the extended Berzatto family. Jordan Farley

1. Succession Season 4

Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun in Succession season 4

(Image credit: HBO)

Series creator Jesse Armstrong wrote the year’s most manic and momentous episode of television – Connor’s Wedding, the third instalment of Succession’s final season – in an unusual way: quickly. ‘I tried to be very careful about what I revised because – I don’t often feel this – but it had a coherence in its incoherence that felt appropriate, and I wanted to leave it rather raw,’ he said. ‘Raw’ is the key word, surmising our emotional frailty after the season concluded. The writers threw everything at their audience, killing off key characters without the usual grandiloquent speeches and concluding the Roy family saga with a surprising successor. Frankly, if someone said they predicted how Succession ended, they were lying. Much ink has been spilled waxing lyrical about Succession’s brilliance – stunning! Shakespearean! Sublime! – yet it cannot be overstated just how momentous this season was. Not since the dying days of Game of Thrones had a show captured the zeitgeist quite like this. Sure, we can now debate which show will be the next Succession, but like Logan Roy, this series was a one-of-a-kind OG. Y’all best salute. Jack Shepherd

Those are the best TV shows of 2023. Now, get ready for the new TV shows heading your way over the next 12 months.

And for more from Total Film's Review of the Year 2023, check out the latest issue.

The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, News Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Emily Murray. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.