Countdown to 2024: 2023 TV

Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own risk…

Last year I watched 13 shows from 2022. This year I watched 11 shows that aired new episodes in 2023–a little less but not too bad consider last year I had three months off from work and this year I was busy with more writing projects. Last year I also watched 14 seasons of TV from previous years. This year I watched…6. This is where you can see the drop in viewing. There are a few seasons I’m in the middle of but haven’t finished them yet, so they’ll hopefully go on next year’s list. Also, I watched episode 3 of The Last of Us and I’m including that here because I have no desire to watch any more episodes, only that one.

Here are my top 10:

1. Poker Face
This was the year of Rian Johnson for me, having also watched Knives Out twice and Glass Onion this year as well. Poker Face has the same format as Knives Out: we know what happened (or some of what happened) and now we are watching the detective figure it all out. That detective is played by Natasha Lyonne, and she’s not a detective, at least not voluntarily, but a regular woman who knows 100% if people are lying. Each episode was its own contained mystery, and there was also a larger arc–a return to classic television. Seeing a single episode that existed on its own, not just a chapter in one long narrative, was so refreshing, thrilling even. And I felt the guest stars really savoring their opportunity to act their hearts out in these self-contained stories.

2. Firefly Lane
I was worried about how they were going to end this show given that one of the main characters dies, but I should not have been worried. It was done so well, and there was closure, though I wish this show could go on for many seasons. I still feel like there’s so much to explore with all the characters. I need more emotional shows about female friendships like this.

3. Never Have I Ever
Another show that ended that I wish could continue. This fourth and final season centered on the college process, and with a few exceptions I feel like it got a lot right about the process (even though it’s been 25 years since I went through it). I still don’t relate to how boy-crazy and girl-crazy every single character is (that was NOT my high school experience), but the show is so well-written that I really cared about all the characters and their relationships. I need more high school shows about female friendships like this.

4. Abbot Elementary
Abbott Elementary continues to be a good solid show with funny, endearing episodes. This year was cut short because of the writers strike, but the episodes that did air in the spring were enough to carry me through until the show comes back. Just like The Office before it, the main relationship started to heat up this season, but my favorite moments were the one that really used and understood Philly. An entire episode at The Franklin Institute? Yes.

5. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Another show of mine that ended this year! The final season was at least an improvement over the previous one, and it was fun to see Midge in an old school comedy writers room. My favorite characters (Susie, Joel) were still my favorite characters, and the ones who annoyed me (all the parents) still annoyed me, but the payoff of the last episode, with Midge taking the mic, was worth it. Now, let’s get more authentic shows about Jewish women.

6. The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years finally came back for another season (and was canceled–that makes 4 shows I watched this year that have ended), but I’m so glad it came back. As what usually happens with family shows that focus on one of the children, the stories focused more on the parents as less on the main child in season 2 as there got to be fewer stories to tell. However, the show continued to tell some really compelling nuanced stories with the entire family. I need more family sitcoms like this.

7. What We Do in the Shadows
This was my favorite season since season one, I think because the main throughline of the season focused heavily on Guillermo, the only character that changes (the only human character, though that’s not entirely accurate this season). The others change slightly but not that much–they stick to their character humor. Many episodes this season were zanier than they’ve been in the past few seasons, and the overall story with Guillermo was really strong. I believe there will be one more season, so with the return to normalcy at the end of this season, I’m curious to see what they’ll do with it.

8. And Just Like That
I can’t help but enjoy this show even with all the frustrating moments, and there are many. Points for any present-day show that acknowledges Covid, even if Carrie is selfishly faking the illness and causing more work for people, but the entire relationship with Aidan was ridiculous, especially the last moments. At least Che and Miranda are no longer together. I do enjoy this show.

9. The Morning Show
Another compelling show I enjoy but don’t love. Still, points for any present-day show that acknowledges Covid, and this one did fairly accurately. Greta Lee continues to be the best, and at least the character Paul Marks really was the jerk he appeared to be. Bradley’s January 6th storyline was interesting, and I liked how exposed the truth of the people around her in how they reacted to it.

10. Not Dead Yet
Not Dead Yet was the only other new show I watched this year (the other being Poker Face). It wasn’t a great show, but it was a nice show, and there were enjoyable moments and fun supporting characters. It was also a good show to watch to see what wasn’t quite working, which, in a way, I find just as fascinating as a show that’s completely working.

Runners Up

Love Trip: Paris
I only watch reality TV when I know someone on the show, and I was glad there was someone I knew on Love Trip: Paris, a reality dating show and not something I would ever watch normally. I could have done without the game show aspect of it because I’m more interested in real relationships than games, but it was refreshing how queer this show was. Three out of the four women were queer, and the show was with them on their journies. The show was also very honest about the characters knowing they were in a reality show (they would make comments about that here and there), which I appreciated.

Compare to Last Year’s Rankings

Older Shows/Seasons I watched/finished watching this year:
The White Lotus season 1
The White Lotus season 2
Party Down Season 1
New Girl Season 5
Scrubs Season 2

Episode 3 of The Last of Us

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