Best Moments on TV of 2023... So Far

The final seasons of HBO's Succession, as well as HBO's Barry and Apple TV's Ted Lasso have garnered a lot of critical attention. In fact, it seems very likely that all three will land a lot of Emmy nominations. Based on the buzz, it feels as though Succession will likely win for Outstanding Drama. The series is all about the media business, mergers and acquisitions, culminating on who will become the CEO after the Rupert Murdoch-like figure passes.

It's ironic because HBO's parent company has also been going through media business drama. WarnerMedia, which owned HBO, was purchased by Discovery. The company is now known as Warner Bros. Discovery. Its CEO, David Zaslov is no Logan Roy, but there are some who see some changes he's made to be just as savage. The major superficial change is the switching of its streaming service, HBO Max, now being simply called Max and combining its content with that of Discovery +.

Rian Johnson's Poker Face on Peacock is also making a lot of top ten lists this year. After reinvigorating the murder mystery genre with Knives Out (2019) and that film's sequel, Johnson crafted Poker Face, which takes its inspiration from old TV sleuths like Columbo (1971). Yes, there are murder-of-the-week shows on the broadcast networks, the so-called police procedural programs, but Johnson's format for his episodes have captured the hearts and minds of many critics with the aide of the quirkiness that is Natasha Lyonne.

In terms of shows with high ratings, at least for streaming services, a series I've never seen is Ginny & Georgia (2021). Its second season went up on Netflix earlier this year and posted incredible numbers. Recently, the Netflix spin-off Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (2023) also posted incredible numbers. I didn't embrace Bridgerton (2020) as much as others, but I did get into the prequel that was Queen Charlotte. I appreciated it in the way that I appreciated Better Call Saul more than Breaking Bad. By the end though, I would say that I could've done without the titular character and would have preferred the focus be solely on the character of Lady Danbury, played by Arsema Thomas.

Best Series (New and Returning)

10. ALASKA DAILY (ABC) - Oscar winner Hilary Swank stars as Eileen Fitzgerald, a New York City reporter who loses her job and is offered another assignment in Anchorage. Her story involves the disappearance and possible death of a young woman in that city. Eilleen works with a native Alaskan and realizes the depths of the issues regarding the crisis, known as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Along the way, she inspires a sense of tough journalism in her small-town co-workers.

9. THE LAST OF US (HBO) - The popular video game series is adapted into a zombie-like thriller, focusing on a man named Joel, played by Pedro Pascal, and a prepubescent girl named Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey. The two are on a road trip across the United States in a post-apocalyptic landscape that threatens them at every turn with desperate or deranged humans. The best episode doesn't involve Joel and Ellie, but is instead an episode focusing on a gay couple named Bill and Frank, played respectively by Emmy-nominee Nick Offerman and Emmy-winner Murray Bartlett.

8. AMERICAN AUTO: SEASON 2 / GRAND CREW: SEASON 2 (NBC) - While most think Abbott Elementary is the best network comedy, these two sitcoms consistently make me laugh more and louder. One is a critique of corporate culture through the prism of a car manufacturer. The other is a combination of Insecure and Friends that many have been yearning for.

7. MANIFEST: SEASON 4 (Netflix) - Ever since the TV series Lost (2004) went off the air, there have been several shows that have tried to replicate it. Some to more successful degrees than others. This one was a worthy successor. It started on NBC before being canceled and picked up by Netflix. The ending was a little bit drawn out and leaned more heavily on the religious metaphors or presented them more bluntly than even Lost did, but it also managed to be a kind of science-fiction and quasi-fantasical version of Law & Order meets Quantum Leap. What sold me though were the performances from the actors who were all game and earnest, particularly Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh who played siblings on board a plane that went missing for five years only to magically return.

6. THE NIGHT AGENT (Netflix) - Ever since the TV series 24 (2001) went off the air, there have been several shows that have tried to replicate it as well. Obviously, 24 didn't invent the spy thriller. There have been plenty of shows going back to the 60's that did an American James Bond-like character. These kinds of shows lately try to find a middle ground between the extremes of something like James Bond and something like 24 by exploring avenues akin to Hitchcock's spy thrillers. Here, Gabriel Basso stars as Peter Sutherland, a FBI agent who works on a special assignment in the White House that results in his implication in a domestic terrorist plot.

5. SAM - A SAXON (Hulu) - This series is about Samuel Meffire, the first Black officer in East Germany, or what was known as the GDR. Meffire became the face of a poster campaign to show how the GDR was diverse and inclusive. Meffire joined the police force in the former Communist state as a way of avoiding the racism and discrimination he experienced in the streets. However, by the mid 90's, Meffire ended up on the most wanted list for armed robbery. The show follows how he went from cop to criminal with a brilliant performance from actor Malick Bauer who plays the titular character.

4. STAR TREK: PICARD: SEASON 3 (Paramount +) - For those who were fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and the subsequent films, starring Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, the captain of a futuristic space ship known as the USS Enterprise, this final season is a good send-off for Stewart's august role. It's also one last hurrah and cool adventure for the cast of that 1987 classic series.

3. THE DIPLOMAT (Netflix) - Keri Russell stars as Kate Wyler, the US ambassador to the UK. The President assigns her, despite her not wanting the job. She has to go to London with her husband who did want the ambassador job and can't help interfering. It's propped as a thriller, but it's more a drama-comedy about Kate struggling with this new job, fraught with sexism and protocols that she doesn't enjoy. It's brilliantly written and performed, especially by the very diverse cast.

2. THE BEAR: SEASON 2 (FX) - This show is nothing short of incredible and could easily be my number one choice for this list. Jeremy Allen White (Shameless) stars as Carmy Berzatto, an acclaimed chef in New York City who returns home to Chicago after his older brother commits suicide. He takes over his brother's restaurant, which is rundown and on the brink of closing. His goal is to turn it around and make it one of the best eateries in the Windy City. He hires a sous chef named Sydney, played by Ayo Edebiri, who is young but very ambitious, soft-spoken but tough. She has to navigate the strong personalities that work in the restaurant, including Richie, played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach, a stubborn, loud-mouth who can be a bit of a bull-in-a-china-shop. The series could be described as Robert Altman on crack in terms of how the ensemble often interacts. The guest stars and cameos this season are off the charts and speak to how this is an actor's dream show to be in.

1. BEEF (Netflix) - Absolutely blown away by this series. Oscar nominee, Steven Yeun stars as Danny Cho, an aspiring business man who mainly does construction jobs. Emmy nominee, Ali Wong co-stars as Amy Lau, a more successful business woman who owns a plant store. One day, Danny and Amy cross paths in a road rage incident that only spirals and grows increasingly more combative as the days, weeks and even months go on. Yes, they have a months-long feud that becomes at one point quite dangerous. The series is balanced with a nuanced exploration of each of their lives and relationships. It's darkly hilarious and surprisingly heartbreaking. It was a gut punch and a total blast by the end. It is no question my favorite of the year.

Best TV Movie or Individual Episode

ACCUSED (FOX) - Episode 5 - "Robyn's Story" - This summer, J. Harrison Ghee made news by becoming the first nonbinary person to win a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. Four months earlier in February, they were the leading performer for one episode in this anthology series about a drag queen on trial for a murder after their relationship with a closeted man living a double life goes askew.

NANA'S BOYS (Showtime) - Two Black men (David J. Cork and Jared Wayne Gladly) become trapped in their apartment in a presumed terrorist attack. The two are forced to re-examine their relationship as one wants to take their romance to the next level, while the other perhaps wants to end it.

KALEIDOSCOPE (Netflix) - "Green" - This limited series had the gimmick that a person could watch its eight episodes in any order. There is a chronology, but the structure is one that the viewer could break that chronology and still enjoy it. I think this gimmick doesn't have the merits or sense of "choose your own adventure" that the creators had in mind. The series stars Emmy nominee Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian and Better Call Saul) and the "Green" episode did remind me of Breaking Bad and sets the table in a way that promises a thrilling experience.

RESERVATION DOGS: SEASON 2 (FX) - Episode 5 - "Wide Net" - Like with a lot of TV shows of the past five years, the second season focuses on characters who weren't the original protagonists. The show is already notable for being one of the only productions with a predominantly Indigenous cast and a predominantly Indigenous group behind the scenes. The show's protagonists are four teenagers living in rural Oklahoma, but this episode doesn't really include them. Instead, the focus is on their mothers and aunts as they go on a quasi-vacation in a series of events that felt inspired by Girls Trip (2017) or Bridesmaids (2011).

RYE LANE (Hulu) - It focuses on a romance between two young Black people living in London on the aforementioned street. It's a mix of Notting Hill (1999) and Before Sunrise (1995).

BRUISER (Hulu) - It's a film about fatherhood. A teenage boy is pulled between two men who want to be his father figure and likely his only father figure. One is his biological father who has been absent for years. The other is a stepfather who has various issues of his own that might not be as apparent. Each dad has his pros and cons and exploring those pros and cons become an interesting insight into Black masculinity.


  1. How do you think the use of a unique format, inspired by old TV sleuths, contributes to the show's success, and what role does Natasha Lyonne's performance play in shaping the audience's reception?


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