Tһe Best TV Sһows of 2023

From series that wrapped up this year to shows that are only just beginning, Collider staff makes our picks for the best of 2023.

Silo's Rebecca-Ferguson, The Last of Us's Pedro Pascal, and the Bear's Jeremy Allen White

2023 has been an… interesting year for television, to say the least. While there’s no denying that some of the best shows in the history of the medium are currently airing, there were complicated issues to navigate regarding the creative minds responsible for giving us said shows in the first place. The strikes that brought the labor conversation to the forefront served as a reminder that for all of us who watch TV — whether it’s weekly, or a ravenous binge-watch, or saving up episodes to meander through at our own pace — none of these shows would be possible without the talent that exists both in front of and behind the camera, both above and below the line.

While both of the major industry strikes this year have reached a resolution, that doesn’t mean the work to improve conditions for those in Hollywood stops, but the least we can do, in looking back on the year, is pay tribute to a mere fraction of the shows that we watched and loved. From narratives that finally reached a conclusion to the stories that are only just getting started, here are our picks for the top 30 TV shows of 2023.

Barry

Season 4

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Barry had a hell of a task this year, with its final episode of the series premiering on the same night as the series finale of Succession, another massive powerhouse in the dark comedy genre and arguably the greatest show of the year. Despite its competition, however, Barry’s final bow was a spectacular — and devastating — closure to a one-of-a-kind series.

The critically acclaimed dramedy created by Bill Hader and Alec Bergended with a bang after four seasons of delightfully dark humor, shocking plot twists, and standout performances by its incredible cast, including Hader himself in the lead, Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau, Sarah Goldberg as Sally Reed, Stephen Root as Fuches, and Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank. Hader’s performance as the massively depressed hitman-turned-actor is nothing short of bone-chilling in these final 8 episodes of the HBO dark comedy series.

With each season getting progressively darker, Barry Season 4 is essentially a full-fledged crime thriller — even with brief moments of surreal horror that will make you cross your fingers that Hader will take a full dive into the genre in future projects. Aside from Hader, however, the rest of the cast is a tour-de-force in this final season, particularly Carrigan as NoHo Hank, whose fate will leave you feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut. With stunning performances and complex character arcs coming to a crushing, brutal close, the final season of Barry is shocking, tragic, and masterful until the very end. — Rae Torres

Bill Hader as Barry Berkman in Barry Season 4.
‘Barry’ Season 4 Review: Bill Hader’s HBO Crime Dramedy Goes Out With a Bang

The final season of Bill Hader’s hitman-turned-wannabe-actor opus offers plenty of thrills while never losing sight of what makes its characters tick.

The Bear

Season 2

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2023 truly delivered on its dramedies this year, but while so many of them managed to seamlessly integrate sharp humor with some very emotionally heavy elements, no show dished it out quite like The Bear. When you hear about The Bear from friends or family, believe the hype. The show continues to be one of the best for good reason. Sure, a lot of it stems from its acute ability to capture the chaos and intensity of one chef’s life through an anxiety-inducing framework, but it’s also a masterclass in versatile storytelling driven by some incredibly compelling narratives and characters.

It might feel weird to place all your eggs in one very stressful basket following a pandemic’s worth of comfort shows, but The Bear manages to create a show with likable, interesting characters that you genuinely root for. As the hallmark of every good comedy-drama series is its multi-dimensional characters, we get that with Carmy Berzatto, played most brilliantly by Jeremy Allen White. Carmy is not perfect, but that’s not what the show aims for. Instead, we get a very onion-like character, complex and riddled with trauma, just trying to get by in his small business. He is supported by an incredibly fiery ensemble, including AyoEdebiriEbonMossBachrachAbbyElliottL-Boy, and OliverPlatt, just to name a few. With every episode hovering around 30 minutes, The Bear manages a smart pace for a harmonious flow that never overwhelms its sentiments. Instead, we get a buffet of fresh, relatable storytelling that strikes a welcome serving of intimacy and anxiety.

This might have been best seen in the sophomore season’s sixth episode, “Fishes,” which finds its audience immersed in one of the most nightmarish family holiday dinner experiences ever. Boasting an all-star cast including JamieLeeCurtis and BobOdenkirk, the episode delves into Carmy’s traumatic Christmas dinner from five years ago and the demons that haunt him. It will leave you emotionally exhausted, stressed, and perhaps crying over the interactions. However, this episode is followed by the much sweeter “Forks,” which flips the narrative for Richie’s arc (played charmingly by Moss-Bachrach). Nuanced and complex, his story is one of the best of the entire show, and it’s really rewarding to see Richie discover his worth this far along. It is in these magnetic moments we see how The Bear, with its strong balance of humor and drama is one of the best and most engaging TV shows of the past decade. — Tania Hussain

Jeremy Allen White as Carmy and Ayo Edebiri as Sydney in The Bear Season 2.
‘The Bear’ Season 2 Review: FX’s Hit Series Makes Every Second Count in a Cameo-Packed Return

Get ready to blast Sufjan Stevens and return to Chicago for a second season that will have you saying “Yes Chef!”

Beef

Beef Season 1 finale with Steven Yeun and Ali Wong

Despite some of the questionable behind-the-scenes issues with Netflix’s Beef, it’s hard to deny that Steven Yeun and Ali Wong are a match made in heaven (or hell) playing two people caught in a road rage incident that quickly gets out of hand. In the vein of entertaining stories about terrible people, Yeun’s Danny and Wong’s Amy are people from different walks of life who are miserable in their lives. Danny continuously feels like he’s at a dead end while Amy is facing stagnation in her marriage.

Galvanized by getting revenge on each other after their encounter, Amy and Danny both slowly spiral down to rock bottom together, becoming the worst versions of themselves before finally finding some peace. Showrunner Lee Sung Jin crafts an emotional, funny, enraging, and nail-biting series that showcases all the talents of his two leads. — Therese Lacson

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Steven Yeun and Ali Wong in Beef
‘BEEF’ Review: Steven Yeun and Ali Wong Are a Cut Above in Netflix Slow-Burn Revenge Tale | SXSW 2023

BEEF rewards patient viewers with a layered exploration of mental health, human morality, and how everyday chaos shapes our lives.

Blue Eye Samurai

Season 1

Maya Erskine as Mizu in Blue Eye Samurai.

There was no other series in 2023 that had as immersive and ambitious of a world as Michael Green and Amber Noizumi’s Blue Eye Samurai. This animated series is more proof that adult animation doesn’t need to just be a bunch of cursing and sex jokes to be tailored for a mature audience, because the husband-and-wife duo behind the series have crafted one of the most human animated series in a very long time.

The action is also top-notch, rivaling even some of the year’s biggest and best action movies, and all of it being animated makes it even more impressive. Maya Erskine leads a stellar voice cast as Mizu, an action heroine that would even make Uma Thurman’s The Bride from Kill Bill blush. The series was recently renewed for a second season, and I already find myself anxiously awaiting to see where Mizu’s journey of vengeance goes next. — Nate Richard

Maya Erskine as Mizu in Blue Eye Samurai.

The Curse

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The Curse is not the show you think it is — or maybe it is, especially if you’re familiar with the work of Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie. A satire tackling gentrification and the artificial nature of HGTV is one thing, but The Curse, much like its title might suggest, also operates as one of the strangest, most surreal horror shows in a very long time. It’s not conventional horror by any means, but there’s an impending sense of doom that looms large throughout the series, even amid its funniest moments.

It’s also just fascinating to see an A-lister like Emma Stone subject herself to this kind of role, which is just as bold and self-deprecating as you think it is. Fielder sheds some of the usual persona that we’ve seen from him in shows like Nathan For You and The Rehearsaland plays a character that is so inherently unlikable, but you also can’t help but be drawn to him. Cherry tomato boys for life, am I right? — Nate Richard

Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone posing in front of drywall as Asher and Whitney in The Curse
‘The Curse’ Review: Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder & Benny Safdie Make a Strange, Uncomfortable Show

‘The Curse’ feels like a perfect combination of its three stars’ sensibilities—and creates one of the wildest shows of 2023.

Daisy Jones & the Six

Josh Whitehouse, Sebastian Chacon, Sam Claflin, Riley Keough, Will Harrison, and Suki Waterhouse in Daisy Jones and The Six Episode 10

Based on the novel by Taylor Jenkins ReidDaisy Jones & the Six follows a rock band from how their formation came about to their disbandment, charting their highest highs and lowest lows. At the center of it all is the titular Daisy (Emmy nominee Riley Keough): an eccentric and enigmatic musician who grew up finding solace from her wealthy yet cold family going to shows at the Sunset Strip.

Sparks fly when she meets Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) — for better and for worse. They have an immediate, intense chemistry that both ignites their careers and eventually burns everything down. Though scripted and fictional, the story is told as if it’s a documentary series, complete with interviews and concert footage. This style lends itself to depicting both the glamor of the lifestyle — the private jets, the fancy hotel rooms, the adoring fans — but also the darkness of it: drug and alcohol abuse, tension when working with friends and lovers, and the pressure to always reach higher levels of success.

Though Daisy and Billy are the core of the show, the other characters are just as compelling, including excellent performances by Emmy nominee Camila Morrone as Billy’s wife Camila Alvarez, Suki Waterhouse as the fiercely independent keyboardist Karen Sirko, and Nabiyah Be as Daisy’s encouraging friend and disco star Simone Jackson. The show also has original bangers galore — I dare you to check out the album Aurora (loosely based on Fleetwood Mac’Rumours; that alone should tell you how good it is) and try not to let it seep into your Spotify Wrapped for 2024. – Taylor Gates

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Riley Keough Talks ‘Daisy Jones & The Six’ Finale, the Daisy and Billy Dynamic, and That Final Moment

“You never say never, but I can’t really see myself writing my own personal music and going on tour,” says Keough, about her musical future.

The Diplomat

Season 1

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Marriage and politics intertwine in Netflix’s political thriller The Diplomat. Keri Russell stars as Kate Wyler, a long-time government officer who has been stationed in crisis zones for most of her career thus far. Kate is excited and ready to start her ambassadorship in Afghanistan when the President of the United States (Michael McKean) diverts her to an ambassadorship in the UK instead – not exactly her cup of tea. This change of plans is as much of a surprise to Kate as is the fact that the President wants her for the job over her husband Hal Wyler (Rufus Sewell), an accomplished former US Ambassador himself. But the President and his White House Chief of Staff (Billie Appiah) have an ulterior motive for Kate’s UK posting, as does most every colleague surrounding Kate, including her husband Hal. Turns out that marriage? Not as strong as it seems. Is Hal just out for a power grab?

Netflix’s answer to Madam SecretaryThe Diplomat will keep you guessing at every turn, all the way up to its explosive season finale. Kate is an exquisite political tactician, but can she keep up with all the games at play here?The Diplomat has been renewed for Season 2, which will reportedly pick up right where the first left off. — Rebecca Landman

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Keri Russell Tells Us About Her Messy Character in ‘The Diplomat,’ Complicated Relationships, and the Absurdity of Politics

“I really feel like I spend most of my adult life trying to not work. I was not looking to do another series. [But] it was fun to do,” says Russell.

The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher cast promo

Since the release of his devastating and expertly crafted Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill HouseMike Flanagan has been lauded as a modern-day horror maestro, one that is worthy of adapting for the screen stories from the greats such as Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe. For his fifth and final series for Netflix, before he heads to Amazon, Flanagan gave us a modern, messy, and gory shift in his usual style. The Fall of the House of Usher is an amalgamation of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories compounded with Flanagan’s family-driven horror sensibilities to form a Succession on violent steroids.

It’s an epic saga over eight episodes: the wealthy Usher family’s fall from grace into the depths of hell spans decades, each episode more intriguing, deranged, and delightfully bloody than the last. It sees Flanagan employing body horror and gore more than ever before, using it as a way to punish the privileged and those who feel they are superior to others. Featuring an all-star cast of both Flanagan favorites and newcomers, from lead Bruce Greenwood to the always-fantastic Kate Siegel to newbie Willa Fitzgerald slicing through every scene with her icy precision, the scenery is chewed up and spat out by every performer. The Fall of the House of Usher may not reach the heights of Hill House, but it is a fun, nasty, and unrelenting swan song for Flanagan’s reign of terror at Netflix. — Emma Kiely

Carla Gugino in The Fall of the House of Usher
‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ Review: Mike Flanagan Successfully Merges Edgar Allan Poe and ‘Succession’

Flanagan’s most conventional horror series yet hinges on strong, complex emotions that do more than just get your heart pounding.

For All Mankind

Season 4

Joel Kinnamen as Ed Baldwin and Krys Marshall as Danielle Poole in For All Mankind Season 4

spectacular sci-fi series that just keeps reaching new heightsFor All Mankind is a television gem that still feels oddly slept on despite all it has achieved over the course of four seasons. Imagining a timeline where the space race went very differently, it has culminated in people taking up a base on Mars. However, life on this distant planet and back home on Earth in the aftermath is full of challenges. It is this that makes the series so consistently engaging.

More than just aspirational about the potential of our capacity for collaboration to achieve space travel, For All Mankind also shows how this can lead to the replicating of the same inequalities and problems that plagued us before we took flight. Throw in some strong characters we’ve gotten to follow through the decades and, once you look past some distracting old-age makeup, you’ve got one of the best science fiction series of recent memory. Time will only tell where it goes next, as this season has already done a whole lot, but it’s always worth going along with. — Chase Hutchinson

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‘For All Mankind’ Season 4 Review: Spectacular Sci-Fi Series Reaches New Heights

The new journeys for this series will fly you to the moon and let you dance among the stars.

Foundation

Season 2

Lee Pace and Laura Birn in Foundation Season 2.

Although Foundation started as a story based on Isaac Asimov‘s book series of the same name, the Apple TV+ series’ second season plays even more fast and loose with Asimov’s original tale but to its benefit. It’s hard to tell a sprawling sci-fi epic without getting lost in the confusion of the chaos, but Foundation keeps you engaged by keeping the viewer at the heart of the story. The series focuses on the human element of this space opera, rather than the complicated theories or high concepts. When a story jumps decades and even centuries, it might be disorienting for the audience — but, at Foundation‘s core, it’s about the people, and the show never loses sight of that.

Highlights of the series include Lee Pace‘s Brother Day, one of three clones who rules the empire as Emperor, Jared Harris‘s Hari Seldon, a mathemetician who develops an algorithm that can predict the future, and Lou Llobell‘s Gaal Dornick, Hari’s protégée from a distant planet who becomes entangled in the conflicts of the empire. Showrunner David S. Goyer weaves a complex narrative and successfully adapts a series that was once considered unadaptable. — Therese Lacson

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‘Foundation’ Season 2 Review: Apple TV+’s Epic Series Remains a Science Fiction Gem

In addition to exploring new corners of the vast galaxy, the show also boasts a memorable turn from Lee Pace in rare, naked form.

Gen V

Season 1

Jaz Sinclair as Marie Moreau, Patrick Schwarzenegger as Golden Boy, Maddie Phillips as Cate Dunlap, London Thor as Jordan Li, Derek Luh as Jordan Li, Chance Perdomo as Andre Anderson, Lizze Broadway as Emma Meyer, and Asa Germann as Sam in Gen V

One of the best, most feverishly brilliant shows of 2023 is by far the wildly violent and gruesome Gen V on Prime Video. As the highly-anticipated spin-off of The Boys picks up from the aftermath of its third season, Gen V takes big swings right out the gate for a chapter that builds on the foundations of its predecessor through a unique, chaotic perspective. Like The BoysGen V digs deep into its twisted lore with complicated characters, except the spin-off manages to blend the abrasive fun and humor into a strong character study that hooks us right from the start. Led by an amazing ensemble cast, including Jaz SinclairLizze BroadwayChance PerdomoDerek LuhLondon ThorMaddie PhillipsAsa German, and Patrick SchwarzeneggerGen V’s focus on younger characters offers a broadly different tone from The Boys, while amplifying its signature mystery, gore and humor.

Thanks to an optimistic campus setting that also functions as a kaleidoscope for teenage angst and the everyday struggles they face between eating disorders, social identity, and family trauma, Gen V manages a very nuanced story behind its apparent connections. Whereas marketing superheroes means ridding of their internal struggles and psychological or emotional tolls as evidenced in Homelander’s (Antony Starr) issues, Gen V gives it to us front and center, and most luminously through its fresh writing and direction. Through sharp social commentary delving into challenges younger generations face by way of an attention economy, Gen V enriches the narrative of its universe through deeper layers of complexity and intrigue. Not to mention, it works to transcend the shock factor often seen and felt in The Boys without any redundancy for a visceral, jaw-dropping experience.

In welcoming characters like Marie Moreau (Sinclair), the show shines as we learn just enough about every character and the struggles they have faced to get here. Through this motley crew, we unravel some very compelling threads that push the boundaries of television today for what are also some rather grisly moments. The show never takes itself seriously and is funny and irreverent all at once. But not once does the show in all its thematic spectacles and backstory ever fail to feel relatable. There is a lot of heart in Gen V and we get to see it in its characters, like Emma (Broadway), who is one of the best and deserves so much better after what goes down in Season 1. As the spin-off might hold some of The Boys’ genetic code, it’s a compelling show that truly asserts itself as more than just an extension. With crazy, wild plots and characters that just captivate and surprise, Gen V really engages its audience, and will no doubt break new ground for the genre. — Tania Hussain

Lizze Broadway on Ladies Night
‘Gen V’s Lizze Broadway Gave Herself 5 Years to Try Acting, Now She’s a Prime Video Star

In Broadway’s very first interview, she recaps her journey from studying computer science to taking a chance on acting.

Good Omens

Season 2

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Good Omens Season 2 lowered the stakes from Season 1’s almost-Armageddon to give us a breathtaking romance that left audiences devastated in the best way. Focusing primarily on the 6000-year-long relationship between Crowley (David Tennant) and Aziraphale (Michael Sheen), Good Omens Season 2 is very much the second part of a three-part story, with fans eagerly awaiting a renewal announcement from Prime Video. Over the course of six episodes, we’re treated to flashbacks to the past showcasing how their relationship evolved through the centuries, while in the present time, they attempt to uncover why Gabriel (Jon Hamm) lost his memories, eventually finding a love story that mirrors their own.

Queer romance is the heart and soul of Good Omens Season 2, with Crowley and Aziraphale slowly coming to realize their feelings for each other, all while playing matchmaker for a pair of sapphic shop owners, Nina (Nina Sosanya) and Maggie (Maggie Service). With a wholly unique tale, and the incomparable chemistry between Tennant and Sheen, Good Omens Season 2 is a breath of fresh air that will have you running the full emotional gamut from the comfort of your living room. — Sam Coley

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David Tennant on ‘Good Omens’ Season 2 & Crowley’s Favorite Queen Song

He also spoke about working with Michael Sheen and the show’s lasting impact on fans.

How to With John Wilson

Season 3

John Wilson How to With John Wilson Season 3

In its three seasons, How to With John Wilson continuously expanded the scope and ambition, and with its final season, John Wilson pulled out all the stops—from exploring the afterlife, truth in documentary filmmaking, and the difficulties of filming at Burning Man. Wilson’s series was wonderfully scattered, a show that could start by exploring public restrooms in the city and result in beautiful explorations of who we are and deeper meanings in life. And the fact that Wilson could do all of this through the random footage he captured in his day-to-day life is even more unbelievable.

In the end, How to With John Wilson attempted to teach us something about ourselves, all while finding the beauty in the randomness and mundanity of everyday life—and it succeeded in each episode. How to showed us the world from a different perspective, and in doing so, created a series unlike any other. — Ross Bonaime

How to With John Wilson Season 3 dish

I’m a Virgo

Jharrel Jerome as Cootie in 'I'm a Virgo' poster

A towering achievement from Jharrel Jerome and Boots Riley, the vibrant I’m a Virgo is unlike anything else you’ll see on this list or any other. Telling the story of a 13-foot-tall man named Cootie (Jerome) and his discovery of the complexities of life in a hostile world, it’s one of the most refreshing visions out there in how it takes this premise to exciting destinations. Plenty of this is humorous, with clever sight gags surrounding his height, while much of it is simultaneously darkly haunting as we see how the world wants to take advantage of the young Cootie just as they do all of us.

Yes, this is an indictment of capitalism and all its inherent cruelties that can chew people up and then spit them out without second thought. However, it is also a thrilling testament to the power of collective action and the immense power that all of us have when we come together for each other. Whether we tower far above everyone else or are merely a few inches tall, this stellar series shows we all have a part to play. — Chase Hutchinson

jharrel jerome in i'm a virgo
‘I’m a Virgo’ Review: Boots Riley and Jharrel Jerome Team up for a Towering Achievement

We aren’t horsing around when we tell you that this latest work from the rapper-turned-filmmaker is really shaping up to be something special.

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson

Season 3

Tim Robinson on a promo poster for Netflix's I Think You Should Leave

Every season of I Think You Should Leave feels like a gift—a new collection of sketches, jokes, and memes that will be constantly referenced and will get stuck in our heads for the rest of time. Once we get another glimpse into Tim Robinson’s bonkers world, it becomes a part of our own. After this year, who hasn’t gone through a drive-thru and wanted to scream, “55 BURGERS, 55 FRIES, 55 TACOS…,” or thought about a monster coming through a doggy door that makes us rethink our lives? Thus is the power of Robinson’s influence.

With the six new episodes of Season 3, I Think You Should Leave once again gave us hilarious moments that prove Robinson is one of the greatest and strangest comedic minds of our generation. Thank god Robinson is here to pay his hilarious ideas forward. — Ross Bonaime

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‘I Think You Should Leave’ Season 3 Review: I Don’t Know What to Tell You, Bud, It’s Still Great!

Tim Robinson and Zach Kanin’s absurd sketch show returns for a third season, complete with excellent jokes, surprise twists, and Robinson yelling.

Jury Duty

Jury Duty Poster Cropped

I love some good reality TV. The Real Housewives of Every City became my family during quarantine, I maintain that Nathan Fielder’s The Rehearsal is one of the most fascinating series of all time, and UnREAL, though scripted, deliciously digs into The Bachelor and is in my top five shows ever.

But even with my enthusiasm for the medium, I’ve never seen a reality show quite as funny, wholesome, or clever as Jury Duty. Feeling partly like an elaborate social experiment and partly like a workplace comedy (which makes sense, as co-creators Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky both worked on The Office for several years), Jury Duty follows Ronald Gladden as he’s called for jury duty. The twist? He’s not actually sitting through a real case, as everyone — from the fellow jurors to the witnesses to the judge — are actors.

Said actors include talented, up-and-coming comedians and improvisers as well as James Marsden, who plays a hilarious, more egotistical version of himself, even landing himself an Emmy nomination for the role. But the best aspect of Jury Duty is just how lovely and likable Gladden is. No matter what wild things these people throw at him (and trust me, there are a lot), he remains cool-headed and kind. The entire show is a massive, magical feat you have to see to believe. – Taylor Gates

Jury Duty Poster Cropped

 

‘Jury Duty’ Is Different From Any Other Prank Show on TV

Strong storytelling and emotional sincerity are firsts for this genre of television.

Justified: City Primeval

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As someone who loved the initial run of the FX series Justified, I was equal parts excited about Justified: City Primeval and the return of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and worried that it somehow wouldn’t have the same shine as the original. But the thing that I ultimately ended up liking the most about this new story was the fact that you could feel how the passage of time has weighed on Givens, now a father of a 15-year-old girl (played by Olyphant’s real-life daughter, Vivian Olyphant) that can often be more challenging to deal with than the bad guys he’s after.

In this latest installment for the cowboy hat-wearing hero, Raylan finds himself in Detroit pursuing violent sociopath Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook), who’s constantly trying to turn the cat-and-mouse game they’re playing back on Givens and who’s also unpredictable enough to get under his skin and crack his cool exterior. Much like many of us, Givens struggles with finding a healthy work-life balance due to a determination to see things through to the end, so even if he’d truly like to hang up his hat and focus on family, the bad guys might not be done with him. The season ends in a way that is huge fun for Justified fans while also giving a glimpse into what could come next, and if there is another installment in the life of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, I will definitely be along for the ride. — Christina Radish

Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens in Justified: City Primeval
‘Justified: City Primeval’ Review: Raylan Givens’ Triumphant Return to TV Doesn’t Miss a Beat

Timothy Olyphant’s cool-as-a-cucumber U.S. Marshal is back to solve a new case in a brand-new city.

The Last of Us

Season 1

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us

In adapting Naughty Dog’s beloved game, The Last of Us, to television, creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin didn’t just do an excellent job of bringing this story to another medium, they refined and improved elements that were already great and made them even better. The Last of Us brilliantly knew when to stick with what they had, as episodes like “Left Behind” and the finale “Look for the Light” pretty much came from the game almost unaltered, but knew when to expand and explore in ways that made this story feel new again. The Last of Us took a gruff asshole like Bill (Nick Offerman) and gave him one of the most romantic episodes of TV this year with “Long, Long Time,” or slightly expanded beloved characters like Tess (Anna Torv) or Tommy (Gabriel Luna) in ways that only improved what we already loved about them.

But the core of The Last of Us’ power remains in Joel and Ellie, brought to life perfectly by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. Even though we knew their journey, Pascal and Ramsey made Joel and Ellie feel new again with wonderful interpretations that honored the source while fleshing themselves out in ways that felt right. The first season of The Last of Us was a masterpiece, and we can’t wait to see how Druckmann and Mazin handle the next chapter of this story. — Ross Bonaime

pedro pascal and bella ramsey in the last of us
‘The Last of Us’ Review: Everything a Great Adaptation Should Be

Starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, The Last of Us brings one of the best video game stories to life in a beautiful new way.

Loki

Season 2

Tom Hiddleston as God Loki in Loki Season 2 poster

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a larger franchise than anyone could have imagined. In a single year, we’ve traveled to the Quantum Realm, saved the galaxy, and flown higher, further, and faster than ever. Yet one series stands firmly as the MCU’s best: Loki. In the show’s second and likely final season, the God of Mischief and a fantastic cast of supporting characters attempt to save the multiverse from implosion. While the premise of Loki is just as monumental and bombastic as other MCU entries, the major difference is that, at its core, the series has always been a character study of our favorite Son of Odin (sorry, Thor).

Loki has always been searching for his “glorious purpose,” and while at the beginning of his journey, it sounded like he was a child desperate to prove himself to his father, this series shows that it was much deeper than that. The show puts Tom Hiddleston’s character in the position where he must learn to put others before himself, because our actions can have dire consequences. The idea of time, choice, free will, and consequences are all themes that showcase the beauty of life itself. A god has to ensure the well-being of the people under him, and after thousands of years, Loki now understands what it means to live and the sacrifices that must be made to preserve such a gift.

Loki Season 2 uses the multiverse to deepen our understanding of its titular character. Instead of pointless cameos or needlessly convoluted storylines, the series uses this trope to flesh out the world, and Hiddleston absolutely delivers in his final performance. Couple the strong performances with Natalie Holt’s timeless score and captivating cinematography, and you have one of the best superhero projects of the year. — Michael Thomas

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‘Loki’ Season 2 Review: New Faces, Fewer Antics, and More World-Ending Time-Bending Drama

‘Loki’ returns on October 5 to Disney+, with weekly episodes airing until November 9.

A Murder at the End of the World

Emma Corrin in A Murder at the End of the World

In the wake of the show that was The OA — a series that may have been too weird to endure but has enjoyed remarkable staying power within its devoted fanbase — TV audiences were no doubt wondering what type of small-screen story longtime collaborators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij would spin next. With this year’s A Murder at the End of the World, we now have our answer in a twisty murder mystery series that might seem somewhat more conventional on the surface but serves as a standout for this creative partnership nonetheless.

Led by a fearlessly vulnerable performance from Emma Corrin as Gen Z detective and true-crime author Darby Hart, the diverse ensemble cast of characters all converge on a remote Icelandic retreat orchestrated by tech billionaire Andy Ronson (Clive Owen). But when one of their number turns up dead, with the incident swiftly dismissed as an accident, Darby finds herself caught up in the fixation of trying to uncover what really happened — and whether someone is actually trying to cover up a murder.

The show isn’t merely chilling in the story sense, with its atmospheric quality and the setting where it all plays out lending an unquestionable air of foreboding that can sink into your very bones. Like Darby, you’ll experience a rising compulsion to unearth the truth, even as the show surrounds you with so many characters, each of whom has their own secrets to protect. While the evidence points to the last individual anyone might have expected, the thrill of the experience isn’t in trying to solve the murder before the show makes its final reveal; it’s in the journey itself, and getting to know the heroine at the story’s heart. — Carly Lane

Emma Corrin and Clive Owen on the poster for A Murder at the End of the World

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