Top TV shows of 2023, from The Last of Us to Replacing Chef Chico

The National's best selections from a stellar year that captured our attention

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As we bid farewell to 2023, it is time to reflect on a year filled with compelling television moments.

New shows such as The Last of Us, Beef and Gen V captivated our attention, while returning favourites such as The Bear, Succession, Barry and Only Murders in the Building continued to keep us entertained.

Whether through binge-watching sessions or patiently waiting for each weekly episode release, the past year offered plenty of entertainment. Here are some of The National's favourite TV picks from 2023.


Not the meat but a simmering animosity between Calabasas entrepreneur Amy (Ali Wong) and down-at-heel LA contractor Danny (Steven Yeun) after a road-rage incident comes to define their lives and propel this dark, existential series.

The script is hard to categorise – part comedy, part thriller, part character study – but it pays off with ever-greater reward through the course of the 10 episodes, blending humour with deeper questions about identity, power and privilege.

First released on Netflix in April, Beef justifiably won awards for its writing and directing, both of which make it a standout from the usual streaming TV landfill.

And like most of independent production company A24’s output – famously Everything Everywhere All at Once – there’s welcome representation on screen.

The conclusion will divide viewers, but only those hardest to please will be left wanting anything but more.

Nic Ridley, assistant editor-in-chief

The Bear, season two

Almost a year ago to the day, I was waxing lyrical about the debut season of The Bear. Here I am again, to voice my appreciation for the second season of the series lead by Jeremy Allen White.

The second turn is every bit as good (dare I say better?) as the first in this sitcom-drama set in the Chicago restaurant scene, with tense episodes and delicious depictions of food.

White’s Carmy is back, this time struggling to open his own Chicago eatery.

A-list cameos up the ante, with Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Olivia Colman, Will Poulter and Joel McHale all featuring, as well as Jamie Lee Curtis, who plays Carmy’s mother in the most stressful Christmas episode imaginable.

It’s impossible not to change your omelette cooking technique, inspired by one Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) makes for Sugar (Abby Elliott), and I challenge you to resist booking a flight to Copenhagen to follow in Marcus’s (Lionel Boyce) culinary footsteps. Plus, Richie’s (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) character arc moved me to happy tears in more than one episode.

The series has been renewed for a third season, so expect to hear me gush about that this time next year.

Farah Andrews, head of features


Just when you thought you’ve seen it all when it comes to plane hijack films or shows, Idris Elba comes along with this taut, highly-bingeable thriller that will keep you engrossed throughout its seven-episode run.

Elba plays Sam Nelson, a business negotiator stuck on a hijacked seven-hour flight from Dubai to London. As tensions and body count rise with each passing hour, he must use all his skills to try to save himself, the lives of his family members and that of hundreds on board.

While Hijack offers nothing new in terms of plot, it’s the slick production, strong performances and Elba’s commanding presence that will keep you waiting until the next episode ticks over.

Those in the UAE will be able to spot some familiar Dubai locations as well as an appearance by Emirati actor Mohamed Faisal Mostafa, who plays an air-traffic controller.

David Tusing, assistant features editor

Gen V

When The Boys first hit Amazon Prime, it felt like the pinnacle of unconventional superhero tales. Now, with Gen V in the picture, that notion is getting a bit of a remix and for good reason, as Gen V is a spin-off that complements the charm of its predecessor.

Set in the same universe as The Boys, the eight-episode first season focuses on students studying at the Godolkin University School of Crimefighting aiming to top the school's ranking for a chance to join The Seven, Vought International’s elite superhero team.

Gen V keeps in step with The Boys' edgy and ultra-violent vibe, while still maintaining an engaging plotline. And for fans of the supe universe, there's an added thrill with glimpses of familiar faces throughout the episodes.

Evelyn Lau, assistant features editor

The Last of Us

Usually the words “based on a video game” would have me scrolling past. The genre has been famously uneven and, well, I’m not a gamer.

But in The Last of Us, it turns out that pairing up arguably two of the most interesting minor characters in Game of Thrones and sending them out into the apocalypse together is TV gold.

Our protagonists Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) head out on a journey across a post-apocalyptic America, in which a fungal infection has turned huge swathes of the population into zombies.

The relationship that develops between the pair is organic and real, as Joel comes to realise that if word gets out about Ellie’s immunity she’ll be sacrificed under the guise of the greater good.

The show throws every cinematic genre at the screen – the hero’s journey, the buddy comedy, the road trip, the odd couple – executing them perfectly.

Gemma White, contributor

Only Murders in the Building, season three

Back for a third time, Only Murders in the Building’s unlikely crime-solving trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez continue to entertain.

The whodunnit plotline runs rings around the audience, set this time in the not-so-glamorous world of New York’s theatre scene. Season two ended with an A-list cameo and a major cliffhanger from Paul Rudd, who becomes a regular character in series three.

Rudd plays obnoxious actor Ben Glenroy, the is-he-or-isn’t-he-dead victim of the latest crime. Rudd is not the only star name added to the cast, as Meryl Streep, Jesse Williams and Ashley Park also feature, while Matthew Broderick appearing in a couple of episodes to play an exaggerated version of himself is masterful.

I find it impossible to watch without dreaming about moving to New York’s Upper West Side in the autumn, with access to Gomez’s character Mabel’s seemingly endless collection of wonderful coats.

Farah Andrews, head of features


An Indian adaptation of the Spanish show Elite, Class follows the lives of a group of rich and precocious teenagers who go to an exclusive school in New Delhi. When three underprivileged students join the school, dynamics change, eventually leading to the murder of one the rich female students.

Featuring mature themes such as promiscuity and illegal substances, the fast-paced dark thriller also lays bare the ugly face of the class divide in India in its rawest form. The cast is made up mainly of new actors, who are fantastic in their roles, especially Cwaayal Singh as Balli and Anjali Sivaraman as Suhani.

Gripping and entertaining, each episode ends with a cliffhanger, making it binge-worthy; I ended up watching all eight episodes in one sitting over the course of a day.

Aarti Jhurani, sub-editor, features

The Fall of the House of Usher

Created by director Mike Flanagan and loosely based on the works of gothic horror writer Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher is a macabre and entertaining look at the downfall of a wealthy family.

The show tells the story of the Usher family, a pharmaceutical dynasty which made its wealth from selling addictive opiates. The show could be compared to Succession in its portrayal of the ultra-wealthy, but gives us something that show didn’t: divine retribution.

Flanagan takes complete inspiration from the works of Poe to deliver that retribution as characters methodically meet a gruesome end. Flanagan has previously made four shows for Netflix which were released for Halloween. These were The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass and The Midnight Club.

The Fall of the House of Usher is Flanagan’s final collaboration with the streaming giant as he has signed a new contract with Amazon. It’s certainly a worthy send off after a great team up.

Faisal Salah, gaming and social journalist

Replacing Chef Chico

The first-ever Filipino-produced Netflix original series is a breath of fresh air in the country’s portfolio of mostly formulaic melodramas designed for network television, with little to no room of pushing creative boundaries.

Replacing Chef Chico is set in a fictional fine dining restaurant and revolves around the challenges faced by the staff when the head chef suddenly falls into a coma.

The show’s episodic structure highlights varying storylines throughout, smartly weaving in critical discussions about Filipino cuisine and indigenous ingredients.

Although it borrows some ingredients from the archetypes of traditional Filipino TV, it is still seasoned with a generous amount of ingenuity, supported by a masterful performance from the cast.

One Carlo Diaz, lifestyle reporter

Untold Stories, Volume 3

The series does exactly what it says on the tin: digging out oft-forgotten or unknown tales from the world of sport and putting them on a global stage, warts and all.

Stories include Jake Paul’s foray into professional boxing; the rise and fall of Johnny Manziel, the magnetic college quarterback known as Johnny Football; and one of sport’s most prolific dopers Victor Conte, whose programmes led to Olympic records being smashed. It ends with the four-part mini-series Swamp Kings, where the University of Florida’s college football team go from underdogs to two-time National Championship winners in three years.

In a year of excellent Netflix sports documentaries (Full Swing, Break Point and Tour de France), this one edges the competition thanks to its variety.

Dean Wilkins, sub-editor, features


Neatly packaged in six episodes, this thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat. Set in rural Punjab, the show follows two police offers who are tasked with solving the murder of a groom four days before his wedding.

As the series goes on, new twists and turns are introduced, as are new characters, but it is never complicated enough not to follow as the additional elements only add more interest to the storyline.

The soundtrack of Kohrra, which translates as fog, is also amazing, with tracks Tere Baad and Bas Tere Karke by Wazir Patar absolute standouts. Gritty, raw and at times gory, it is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys a good quick thriller.

Aarti Jhurani, sub-editor, features

Succession, season four

Many will probably agree that the awfully twisted characters in Succession have made some of the best television of a generation. The fourth and final season landed earlier this year and did not disappoint.

The story revolves around siblings fighting for the attention of their father, in the hope of inheriting the patriarch's grip on a media empire. With clear inspiration coming from the Murdochs, this series is a lesson on deceit and power, and the conclusion has probably been dissected a thousand times.

If you have managed to miss this gem in business dynamics, give it a go, because its turns out grey suits and boardrooms can be exciting.

Enas Refaei, head of multimedia


Pakistan-born British actor Mawaan Rizwan as Jamma brings us this surreal comedy focusing on a childlike millennial struggling to grow up. He has difficulties with work, relationships and his family who overshadow him.

Jamma works at a marketing company and craves attention and recognition. However, much to his dismay his brother – who he brings in as a test subject – is promoted over him, while his mother, a former Bollywood actress, is forever disappointed with both him and his father. Fun fact: his mother Farida, and brother Isaac, are played by Rizwan’s real-life mum Shahnaz and brother Nabhaan.

The joy to this show are the fun visuals utilised to give a sense of when Jamma is overwhelmed by his emotions (for example, a bed turning into a blanket tunnel or walls closing in on him), plus the breakfast Bollywood dance number.

Charlotte Mayhew, deputy photo editor

Slow Horses, season three

It’s safe to say that Slow Horses was a bit slow out of the gate when I started watching the first series on Apple TV in April last year.

But the British spy thriller turned out to be a brilliant slow burn and took just a couple of episodes to get me hooked, thanks to its dark humour and fast-paced storyline.

Now in its third season, Slow Horses is based on the Slough House series of books by British mystery writer Mick Herron.

Academy Award winner Gary Oldman is the standout as the irascible, obnoxious, chain-smoking Jackson Lamb, leader of a group of misfit agents who have been sent to Slough House, a dumping ground for failed MI5 spies.

In this series, Lamb and his agents find themselves caught up in a conspiracy that results in one of their own being kidnapped and threatens the future of MI5.

My only gripe? Drip-feeding the episodes once a week (what is it with that old-school TV approach these days?).

Felicity Glover, personal finance editor

Barry, season four

The final season of Barry completes the transformation of its titular character from former mercenary-turned-aspiring Hollywood actor into an irredeemable killer.

The concept of redemption lingers throughout this season, and it’s a threshold Barry cannot meet. Our delusional anti-hero goes so far as to listen to a Christian podcast – voiced by Bill Burr – to justify his murderous intent.

With Bill Hader behind the camera, Barry was also its most ambitious as characters were dragged further irretrievably into the abyss.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with the hapless Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) or Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan), the jovial Chechen mobster.

As for the ending? It's one that Barry certainly did not deserve. But it is one that brings the series back to its roots as a brutal satire on Hollywood's culture.

Kyle Fitzgerald, US homepage editor

Updated: December 19, 2023, 5:29 AM