Skip to Content

The best new TV shows of 2023 (so far), from ‘The Last of Us’ to ‘Beef’

<i>Courtesy Netflix</i><br/>Bill Russell in 'Bill Russell: Legend.'
Courtesy Netflix
Bill Russell in 'Bill Russell: Legend.'

By Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — The television of 2023 has thus far been defined primarily by returning series, and particularly saying goodbye to several signature shows, including the finales of “Succession,” “Barry,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Ted Lasso” (at least, as we currently know it).

The first half of the year has produced some memorable TV in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dramas and comedies to limited series, docuseries to the hard-to-categorize comedy-reality hybrid “Jury Duty,” a project that has helped put the otherwise little-discussed Amazon channel Freevee on the map.

Taking inventory through June, here are the other standouts, presented in order of when they premiered. Indicative of the times, a couple of the entries are similar enough to be logically paired together, based on when the first one made its debut.

It’s not a bad bunch overall, but Hollywood needs to up its game if this is going to be remembered as a first-rate TV year for newcomers as well as its graduating class, with this major asterisk: Should it persist much longer, the Writers Guild of America strike against the studios could significantly tighten the spigot on scripted series through the latter half of 2023:

‘The Last of Us’ (HBO)

The new show of the year thus far, certainly in terms of media buzz, but also in its drama and pathos adapting the game into a series that brought unexpected depth to the concept of a zombie-ravaged world. Given the anticipation, the series impressively lived up to the hype, anchored by the central duo of Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.

‘Shrinking’ (Apple TV+)

The “Ted Lasso” team delivered another winner with this comedy about a grief-stricken therapist (Jason Segel) and the extended circle around him, a topnotch ensemble that included a terrific supporting role for Harrison Ford as his gruff colleague.

‘Bill Russell: Legend’ (Netflix) and ‘The Luckiest Guy in the World’ (ESPN)

A pair of docuseries both provide insight into two of the greatest centers that basketball has ever produced, chronicling the late Celtics star’s combination of athletic prowess and activism, and Bill Walton’s injury-plagued journey (which also included a championship with the Celtics) from the court to the broadcast booth.

Another NBA legend, Wilt Chamberlain, will get his own docuseries, “Goliath,” on Showtime beginning July 14, while Apple will devote a documentary to current player Stephen Curry a week later. So for hoops fans, the hits keep on coming.

‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ (Amazon’s Prime Video)

Basically just an old-fashioned soap opera set in and around the world of music in the 1970s, the adaptation presents the rise and fall of a very Fleetwood Mac-like band thrown into intramural chaos and heightened creativity, in equal measure, thanks to its new lead singer (Riley Keough, demonstrating that Elvis Presley’s granddaughter can sing too).

‘Swarm’ (Prime Video)

Produced by Donald Glover and Janine Nabers fresh off the end of “Atlanta,” this limited series offered a flawed but fascinating examination of excessive fandom, as captured through Dominique Fishback’s portrayal of a character whose obsession with her favorite musical star gradually leads her down a very violent path.

The Night Agent’ (Netflix) and ‘Hijack’ (Apple TV+)

Two thriller throwbacks in the “24” mode, the first focusing on an FBI agent (Gabriel Basso) seeking to unravel a massive terror threat that reaches into the White House, and the latter a real-time drama with Idris Elba as a skilled negotiator who happens to be the right guy to have aboard a hijacked flight bound for London.

‘Beef’ (Netflix)

The runner-up to “The Last of Us” among the year’s most memorable and addictive offerings, the series features Ali Wong and Steven Yeun as a pair of strangers whose road-rage encounter unleashes a whole range of darkly funny and occasionally tragic unintended consequences.

‘A Small Light’ (NatGeo/Disney+)

An understated but devastating limited series about Anne Frank’s family and the people who shielded them from the Nazis, with Bel Powley as Miep Gies, the unlikely hero who found reservoirs of courage she didn’t know she possessed; and Liev Schreiber as her boss, Otto Frank, who enlists her to help hide his family.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Entertainment

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content