Even if you believe, as some do, that the world has moved from Peak TV to Trough TV, there are still more shows released in any given year than any one person could consume (trust us, we tried). Between major networks, cable television channels, and streaming services, there’s just too much to watch. You’re bound to miss your new favorite binge-watch. We’re here to help. Below are our picks for the best TV shows you might have missed in 2023.
A Spy Among Friends
In the midst of the Cold War, MI6 intelligence officer Nicholas Elliott (Damian Lewis) is shocked to learn that his longtime friend and colleague Kim Philby (Guy Pearce) has been secretly working for the KGB for the past 30 years. When Philby defects to the Soviet Union, suspicion falls on Elliott and how much he might have known. Ultimately, it’s left to Elliott to solicit a confession from Philby about what he has done, and shared, with his Russian cohorts. Lewis and Pearce make for formidable foes and friends in this smart spy thriller, based on Ben Macintyre’s 2014 book about two very real men.
The Big Door Prize
It’s one thing to know what you want to do with your life; it’s another thing to be told where your destiny lies. A tiny town is sent into an upheaval when a mysterious “Morpho” box suddenly materializes in the Deerfield general store and promises to reveal residents’ true destiny. While everyone around him begins rearranging their lives—including quitting their jobs and leaving their spouses—to suit their Morpho predictions, local school teacher Dusty Hubbard (Chris O’Dowd) feels like the last sane man to not buy into the machine’s predictions. O’Dowd shines, as usual, in this charming series, which can have you laughing out loud one minute and thinking deeply about your own potential the next. Apple TV+ has ordered a second season, and it’s expected to arrive in mid-2024.
Class of ’07
After being publicly humiliated on a TV dating show, Zoe Miller (Emily Browning) decides to disconnect from the world for several months. When a bizarre weather event has her seeking higher ground, she heads to her old high school, where she discovers her 10-year reunion is in full swing. When a catastrophic weather event further isolates Zoe and her classmates from the rest of the world, they’re forced to find a way to survive—all while being reimmersed in the insecurities and (often petty) squabbles they thought they had left in the past. The Australia-set Class of ’07 (which should not be confused with Class of ’09) is a deeply layered apocalyptic comedy perfect for those moments when you’re feeling nostalgic.
Just because David Cronenberg’s creepy body-horror classic didn’t need an update doesn’t mean this gender-swapped miniseries wasn’t appreciated. Rachel Weisz is a force of nature while doing the dual role thing to play Beverly and Elliot Mantle, twin gynecologists who will stop at nothing to reinvent the way people do childbirth—medical ethics be damned! Weisz offers a master class in being totally unhinged, and clearly relishes every second of it. Her talent is equally matched behind the camera, with indie auteurs like Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) and Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) stepping in to direct.
It’s winter “feastival” time in the sleepy town of Deadloch, on Australia’s Tasmanian coast, when a man’s dead body is discovered on the beach. In order to work quickly to find the killer, two detectives with totally different approaches to the job—by-the-book senior sergeant Dulcie Collins (Kate Box) and unpredictable senior investigator Eddie Redcliffe (Madeleine Sami)—must find a way to work together to solve the case. Making police matters even more confusing (and funny) are the assists Dulcie and Eddie get from junior constable Abby (Nina Oyama) and noted slacker Sven (Tom Ballard).
Drops of God
Camille Léger (Fleur Geffrier) hasn’t seen her father, a noted wine expert and creator of the Léger Wine Guide, since she was just a child. But when she learns of his passing, she suddenly finds herself being flown to Tokyo for the reading of his will. While their relationship was strained, she’s still shocked to learn that in addition to leaving behind a more than $100 million wine collection, she must compete with Issei Tomine (Tomohisa Yamashita), her father’s protege, to claim the collection to inherit it. It’s a visually striking series that balances moments of humor with genuine sadness and anger, all leading up to a satisfying meal of a series.
It’s been called the “crime of the century.” On November 26, 1983, a half-dozen men broke into the Brink’s-Mat warehouse near Heathrow Airport, where they inadvertently stumbled upon £26 million worth of gold bullion, which would be the equivalent of more than $130 million today. It remains one of the largest robberies in England’s history, and very little of the gold has been recovered to this day. On the 40th anniversary of the robbery, this six-episode series recounts the events of that monumental theft, with Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville as DCI Brian Boyce, the detective tasked with getting to the bottom of the crime (which remains unsolved). In late November, the BBC ordered a second season of the series.
I’m a Virgo
If Sorry to Bother You taught viewers anything, it’s that rapper turned filmmaker Boots Riley is operating on a whole other level as a storyteller. He continues that tradition in I’m a Virgo, the story of Cootie (Jharrel Jerome), a 13-foot-tall teenager who has been sheltered by the outside world by the aunt and uncle who raised him in Oakland, California. But when he’s discovered by a group of young political activists, they offer Cootie the opportunity to experience the world as they know it, with all its ups and downs. The series features the voice talents of a brilliant cast of actors, including Elijah Wood, Joel Edgerton, Danny Glover, and Juliette Lewis. But it’s Walton Goggins who, as always, steals the show as The Hero—Cootie’s longtime idol.
On December 8, AMC announced that Lucky Hank would not be getting a second season. Following Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, this is now the first time in nearly 15 years that Bob Odenkirk doesn’t have a starring role on an AMC series. As we wait to hear what is next for the beloved comedian/actor, now’s the perfect time to consume all eight existing episodes of Lucky Hank. Based on Richard Russo’s semi-autobiographical novel Straight Man, it tells the story of Hank Devereaux Jr. (Odenkirk), a professor and the accidental English department chair at Pennsylvania’s financially-struggling Railton University. But nothing seems to be going right for Hank, who’s in the midst of a midlife crisis and seems dead set on burning his life down to the ground. It’s the charming curmudgeon role that only an actor like Odenkirk can pull off, and well worth your time.
If you asked ChatGPT to spit out a plotline for a bonkers TV show, it might sound a lot like Mrs. Davis. Sister Simone (Betty Gilpin) is a nun who is hell-bent on destroying Mrs. Davis, an AI program that seemingly everybody (save Sister Simone) uses. In her attempt to destroy technology as we know it, Simone makes a deal with the faceless AI: If she can locate and retrieve the Holy Grail, Mrs. Davis will delete herself. Yes, it’s as wild as it sounds, but somehow it all works. Gilpin is the nun-hero you didn’t know you needed, and the series is action-packed with a compelling storyline that pits faith against technology. There are just eight episodes in season 1, which is likely all we’ll get, as the excellent finale does a great job wrapping everything up.
If you’ve ever wondered what Shea Serrano was like as a teenager, Primo is about as close a glimpse as you’ll get. The semi-autobiographical coming-of-age comedy, which Serrano created, follows the adventures of Rafa Gonzales (Ignacio Diaz-Silverio), a San Antonio teenager being raised by his mom (Christina Vidal) and five very opinionated uncles. Rafa deals with all the typical teen issues, including family, friendships, first loves, and worrying about the future—which includes very possibly becoming the first member of his family to attend college. It’s top-notch comfort TV at its finest: sweet but not maudlin, funny but not silly, and authentic through and through.
Dysfunctional family dramedies are hardly in short supply these days, but Rain Dogs practically makes Succession’s Roy family seem like the Brady Bunch. In part, that’s because the “family” at the center of this black comedy isn’t the blood-related kind. Costello Jones (Daisy May Cooper) is a single mom to daughter Iris (Fleur Tashjian), and just trying to keep a roof over their heads. This is where her wealthy best friend Selby (Jack Farthing), who is just finishing up a prison stint when the show begins, comes in—though their relationship comes with some strings. Namely, that Selby can be violent and abusive, even if he does love Costello and Iris. “It’s completely normal to hate the people you love,” he tells Costello at one point. Which may as well serve as a tagline for the series. It’s brilliantly constructed, beautifully acted, and painfully honest.
While it’s technically billed as a science-fiction series, Silo plays out more like a murder-mystery set in a dystopian future. In a giant bunker that extends hundreds of stories underground, approximately 10,000 people go about their daily lives while avoiding the toxic world outside their carefully constructed community, which they believe is for their own good. But when one resident starts to question the Silo’s many rules, he ends up dead. Juliette (Rebecca Ferguson), an engineer, is convinced it was murder and sets about investigating the matter—only to discover some shocking details about the lives of the Silo’s people.