What's the best thing you watched in 2023? Plus, 'Fellow Travelers,' an Apple price increase, and a temporary programming surge
1) I can't believe I'm not saying Succession, but it's The Bear. One of the best seasons of TV that I've ever seen, bar none.
2) Shrinking was such an absolute delight this season, and I'm so excited to spend more time with those characters again.
3) With sincere, shocking apologies to "Connor's Wedding," I'd have to go with "Forks."
4) Roman breaking down during Logan's funeral.
5) Continuing the theme, apologies to the Roy siblings, but Ebon Moss-Bachrach was just an absolute revelation this season on The Bear.
1. Reservation Dogs
2. Poker Face
3. "Long, Long Time" - Last of Us
4. "Goddamn it, Raylan" "Yeah, I get that a lot."
5. Zahn McClarnon, Dark Winds
Preface: I haven't yet seen 'The Bear" and I'm deliberately keeping 'Succession' out of the competition:
1) Reservation Dogs
2) Poker Face
3) Elora's Dad from Reservation Dogs
4) The scene from Wahoo (Reservation Dogs) with Rita, ghost of Cookie , and Elora
5) Bella Ramsey
5a) Best ensemble: The Rez Dogs (Devery Jacobs, D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Lane Factor, Paulina Alexis)
5b) Best versatility playing 2 roles in similar jbut very different obs appeariing simultaneously: Zahn McClarnon (Dark Winds and Rez Dogs)
Note: I was originally going to nominate Slow Dogs for best series and Gary Oldham for best actor (I can still smell him), but the latest episodes apeared in December 2022.
1) The Bear - start to finish this season was fantastic and gripping and I can't stop thinking about it
2) Poker Face - for a show that's so inspired by the mystery of the week shows of old, this felt incredibly fresh and new, fantastic casting of guest stars, and Natasha Lyonne is just so damn charming
3) I know that Forks and Fishes are getting a lot of love, but I have to go with Honeydew. It's quite a departure in tone (not to mention location and focus) and it was just so beautiful to watch. I've rewatched that episode and Forks several times (and will probably never rewatch Fishes because I don't think I can handle the stress).
4) For best scene, I'm possibly going to cheat and say the continuous shot from the first half of The Bear's finale as it follows the staff from the kitchen and into the restaurant and back on Friends and Family night. Showing the contrast between the kitchen and the front of house with the choreography of all the characters and the sound design puts you in the middle of everything with them. While scenes like this could get gimmicky I think The Bear deploys them perfectly to really advance the story and develop the characters.
5) I will say Natasha Lyonne in Poker Face because I just don't think the show works without her as Charlie
1)The Bear, it just has to be. No show better mixed humor, drama, trauma, and hope better. And it just has A+ performances all around.
2)The Fall of the House of Usher. There is just no one out there who is able to do horror like Flanagan. The way he recontextualizes classics while capturing their spirit and uses hauntings to tell real stories about loss, trauma, etc is just unparalleled.
3)"Long, Long Time" from The Last of Us. A perfectly encapsulated story that was unlike anything I've ever seen in the genre. Completely erased my skepticism from the first 2 eps that this would be mostly like every other zombie show. Had me bawling at the end.
4)The "Meal Fit For a King" scene in the Succession finale. As someone who grew up with siblings, it captures the way adult siblings will always revert to being kids when they're around each other. And the feeling of knowing that that brief joy they shared wasn't going to last was crushing.
5)While I'm reeeeally tempted to say it's Matthew McFadyen, I have to go with Ebon Moss-Bachcrach. He feels so real and does such a masterful job of letting you see every single thing that's going on beneath the surface. The moment where he blares Taylor Swift in the car physically filled me with joy because I was so bought in on this character.
1)What is the single best TV show of 2023? Reservation Dogs (mostly cos I get to put Succession elsewhere and I couldn't really choose between the 2)
2)What is the best new TV show of 2023? Pokerface
3)What is the best episode of a TV show from 2023? Succession "Conor's Wedding"
4)What is the best scene in a TV show from 2023? (You could also answer with the best TV line of dialogue from 2023 if you prefer.) Richie sings along to Taylor Swift in The Bear "Forks"
5)What is the best performance in a TV show from 2023? Sarah Snook, Succession
Best show of 2023 (also best new show of 2023): Poker Face
Best episode of 2023: Some close contenders from Barry's final season but not sure anything beats Long, Long Time from The Last of Us
Best scene of 2023: I found this year's batch of Black Mirror episodes quite disappointing but the inevitable moment in Beyond the Sea where everything goes horribly, horribly wrong for Aaron Paul has really stuck with me. The way Josh Hartnett kicks out a chair for Paul to sit in, completely defeated.
Best performance: Again want to throw some love Bill Hader's way but I'm going to aim a bit more leftfield and say that the second season of Schmigadoon! falls on its face if not for Tituss Burgess who is clearly having the time of his life, a performance with a capital P.
1) What is the single best TV show of 2023?
2)What is the best new TV show of 2023?
3)What is the best episode of a TV show from 2023?
The Afterparty - Ulysses
The one where we learn John Cho's backstory and it's an absurd swoony romance
4)What is the best scene in a TV show from 2023?
The Bear, Richie singing Taylor Swift
5)What is the best performance in a TV show from 2023?
Tien Tran in How I Met Your Father delivering an unheralded top tier sitcom performance and basically carrying that show imho. Really fantastic comic timing.
1) The Great
2) The Last of Us
5) Belinda Bromilow - The Great (This is a "she's overlooked" vote. There were so many great performances this year that I would be hard-pressed to defend this as the #1 in absolute terms.)
In the early-aughts one of my favorite sites was teevee.org, where a few people wrote funny and insightful articles about tv. I knew they didn't have as much time for tv any more when their annual "Best tv of the year" didn't include discussion of some of the best shows. It was clear that they just hadn't had time to watch them. (Back then you literally could watch all the good shows if you had the spare time.)
When Alan asks "What is the single best TV show of 2023?", now I'm in their position. I have no idea in absolute terms. I watched a lot of tv this year and I feel like I go out of my way to keep up with what new shows are coming out, but the reality is that I didn't watch that many new shows this year. Certainly I only watched what I liked, not what was the best.
What was my favorite 2023 TV show? The Great. I found each episode of that show thrilling and unpredictable. That show's voice and tone are unique and have been consistent throughout. And as a bonus it's visually beautiful.
What was my favorite new TV show of 2023? The Last of Us. I'm not particularly fond of zombies or post-apocalyptic stories, but this one is undeniably very good. For all the reasons everyone has said.
For reference, here are the other 2023 shows I watched, as far as I can remember, in order from most liked to least. Note that I liked them all, otherwise in this age of infinite choices I wouldn't have wasted my time.
Platonic, Reservation Dogs, Party Down, Deadloch, The Bear, Nora From Queens, Minx, Shrinking, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Ten-year-old Tom, What We Do in the Shadows, Disenchantment, Our Flag Means Death, Harley Quinn, Somebody Somewhere, The Other Two, Only Murders in the Building, Bob's Burgers, The Great North, Starstruck, Ted Lasso, Never Have I Ever, This Fool, Poker Face, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Abbott Elementary, Los Espookys, Black Mirror (partial), Fleishman is in Trouble.
When I write it out, it seems like a lot, but it's maybe 20% of the tv I watched this year. So I'm feeling simultaneously bad that I watch too much tv and bad that I didn't watch enough tv to have an opinion on the best tv show of the year. Probably my goal should be to watch less tv and let Alan do the work required to know what's best.
One category I’d recommend adding for this end of year lists is “Best Series Finale” since they were so many.
1) What is the single best TV show of 2023? The Bear
2) What is the best new TV show of 2023? Shrinking (My hopes are pretty high for The Curse and A Murder at the End of the World.)
3) What is the best episode of a TV show from 2023? I agree with everyone saying "Forks" but since it's not been said yet, from a pretty mediocre season of Only Murders In The Building, I thought the "Sitzprobe" episode was fantastic.
4) What is the best scene in a TV show from 2023? The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel S5E8 where Abe Weissman (Tony Shaloub) is at dinner with his friends and he really sees his daughter for the first time. He wonders what she could have been if he took her seriously and gave her the attention and encouragement he gave his son.
5) What is the best performance in a TV show from 2023? Betty Gilpin, Mrs. Davis.
I'll cheat and now give you my favorite lines of dialogue too:
From Succession: "I'm the eldest boy!" (I also find "You're too online. You've lost context." very useful in my day-to-day.)
From the Starstruck finale as Kate, in labor, is being wheeled to a new room in the hospital: "They're taking me to a second location!"
1. Boring answer but it has to be Succession. I don’t think it’s going to end up on Sopranos/Wire/Mad Men/Breaking Bad/Americans level, but it’s the closest thing we’ve had since then… aside from Better Call Saul
2. I haven’t had much time for TV this year, let alone new TV. I did manage to watch Poker Face and Bupkis during my Peacock preview however, and I think I’ll go with the latter. This was the first time I started to understand the Pete Davidson hype, and we got great performances out of Edie Falco, Joe Pesci and Brad Garrett. Beef is next on my radar.
3. “Conor’s Wedding”, the second best representation of grief over sudden lost in television. “The Body” remains unparalleled, as much as I want to discredit **** ******.
4. The ending of The Bear’s “Fishes”, the explosive arguments that culminates an equally explosive final word from Jamie Lee Curtis. Perfectly timed.
5. I think I’ll give it to Ayo Edebiri, it’s her year and her performance as Sydney on The Bear is the perfect yin to Jeremy Allen White’s yang as Carmen.
1) The Bear
3) The Mushrooms episode of Party Down
4) The Cooler scene in The Bear
5) Bridget Everett in Somebody, Somewhere
1) Best TV show: Reservation Dogs
2) Best new TV show: Mrs. Davis
3) Best episode: Succession S04E03 - Connor's Wedding. Just brilliant. The disbelief I felt might be unmatched by anything else I've seen on TV in recent years.
4) Best scene: Claire hearing Carmy talk about their relationship in the walk-in fridge.
5) Best performance: Bridget Everett on Somebody Somewhere
1. Best show: The Bear
2. Best new show: The Last of Us
3. Best episode: The Bear Ep 7 "Forks" (this deserves votes even though Succession can easily win this category)
4. Best scene: Beef, Figures of Light, when they're both high in the wild. One of the very rare times they get a scene like this right in TV or films.
5. Best performance: Chloe Sevigny, Poker Face, "Rest in Metal." Sevigny is always wildly underrated as an actress but she's always really good. My runner-up for this is Meryl Streep on Only Murders, because she gives that role so much nuance and depth it's actually jaw-dropping but its Meryl and we know she's a god-level talent.
1) The Righteous Gemstones, with its best season yet on all fronts—hilarious and emotionally touching and very insightful.
3) "For Their Nakedness Is Your Own Nakedness" from The Righteous Gemstones s3. The one with a "cousins' night" and a trial game of Baby Billy's Bible Bonkers and Kristen Johnston and John Goodman talking over their past in an abandoned church.
4) Peeling mushrooms in "Forks", The Bear S2. I'm not a huge fan of the show overall but the highs are high and Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Olivia Colman in a two-hander scene about messy family history and finding meaning in what you do is perfection.
5) Edi Patterson in The Righteous Gemstones. The single funniest actor on television right now.
for new show, question 2) -apologies to The Fall of the House of Usher and Dead Ringers, which I haven't gotten to yet, and to A Murder at the End of the World and The Curse that aren't out yet
for episode, question 3) -"it takes a psycho" in Barry S4, the one where Barry basically doesn't show up, Sally works as an acting coach on the set of a superhero movie, and Hank makes his clinching moves against the Bolivians and loses Cristobal for it. -"How To Work Out" in How To with John Wilson where competitive pumpkin growing acts as a metaphor for the rat race and modern existence