Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal attend the Los Angeles FYC Event for "The Last Of Us".

Best new TV shows of 2023, according to critics

Written by:
December 29, 2023

Best new TV shows of 2023, according to critics

Between unexpected series cancellations and production delays, the historic writers and actors strike—the longest strike for film and television actors—rocked the world of television in 2023. But at the same time, the best new shows out this year took viewers on some of the most transformative journeys ever seen on TV. Audiences traveled across a ravaged continent with Ellie and Joel in "The Last of Us," tangled with the ramifications of artificial intelligence in "Mrs. Davis," and dove into both uplifting and horrifying true stories in several different docuseries.

Despite being such a difficult year for the entertainment industry, 2023 marked a remarkable year for TV across many genres. Dozens of new series, including anime action, crime dramas, political satires, and horror shows, have premiered over the past 12 months to win over both critics and audiences across the globe.

To celebrate some of the top television shows from this past year, Stacker sorted through data gathered by Metacritic to create a list of the 25 best new TV shows of 2023 (with ties broken by review numbers when possible). Read on to find out which shows made the list.

#25. The Curse

- Metascore: 76
- Premiere date: Nov. 9, 2023

Entertainment company A24's "The Curse" unites a powerful trifecta of Hollywood talent—Nathan Fielder, Benny Safdie, and Oscar-winning actor Emma Stone—to create what some critics have fondly dubbed the most uncomfortable TV show of the year. The Showtime series follows Whitney (Stone) and Asher Siegel (Fielder), a recently married couple attempting to start a home renovation TV show while trying to conceive a baby. Things go further sideways after the Siegels fall victim to a curse that quickly unravels their personal and professional lives.

#23. Castlevania: Nocturne (tie)

- Metascore: 77
- Premiere date: Sept. 28, 2023

Netflix has a strong track record of releasing highly rated animated shows and original anime series, but "Castlevania: Nocturne" still blew audiences out of the water when it hit the streaming platform in September. A sequel to Netflix's 2017 mega-hit "Castlevania," "Nocturne" takes place during the 18th-century French Revolution as a group of unlikely allies, led by vampire slayer Richter Belmont (Edward Bluemel), team up to stop the rise of a vicious vampire messiah.

#23. The Hunt for Raoul Moat (tie)

- Metascore: 77
- Premiere date: April 16, 2023

Raoul Moat gravely wounded two victims and murdered one man upon his release from prison in 2010. While it would be easy to lean into the sensational aspects of the story, as many journalists did at the time of Moat's crimes, the showrunners of the three-episode British crime drama "The Hunt for Raoul Moat" instead redirected focus toward the victims and the consequences of Moat's actions. "The Hunt for Raoul Moat" is a heavy watch, but a necessary one—it clears up many widely held misconceptions surrounding Moat and the ensuing chase that gripped the United Kingdom.

#22. Stonehouse

- Metascore: 77
- Premiere date: Jan. 2, 2023

Between its flawless casting and razor-sharp writing, "Stonehouse" has won over viewers and critics with a plot following disgraced British politician John Stonehouse, who famously vanished from a Miami beach in 1974 amid a clumsy attempt to fake his death. Starring Matthew Macfadyen as the titular character, "Stonehouse" pulls no punches in dissecting its subject matter, showcasing the series of poor and often farcical decisions that led to the MP's (member of Parliament) now-infamous disappearance.

#21. Lockwood & Co.

- Metascore: 78
- Premiere date: Jan. 27, 2023

Based on Jonathan Stroud's novel series of the same name, "Lockwood & Co." is the rare young adult watch that viewers of all ages can agree upon. Set in an alternate reality where legions of nefarious spirits have invaded Britain, the Netflix show follows a trio of teens who aim to clean up London's ghost-infested streets one case at a time. Though "Lockwood & Co." was sadly canceled after just one season, many critics have praised its sharp writing and the impressive performances of the three young leads.

#20. Mrs. Davis

- Metascore: 78
- Premiere date: April 20, 2023

If you've ever complained about your phone listening in or the woes of social media algorithms, the Peacock series "Mrs. Davis" is for you. The show follows Sister Simone (Betty Gilpin), a nun searching for the Holy Grail, hoping to use it to destroy the all-powerful artificial intelligence that's come to define human society. Though "Mrs. Davis" might not boast the same viewership numbers as some of the other series on this list, it ranks as one of the most critically successful series of the year thanks to its strong cast and wildly imaginative plotlines.

#19. The Lying Life of Adults

- Metascore: 79
- Premiere date: Jan. 4, 2023

An adaptation of Elena Ferrante's novel, "The Lying Life of Adults" takes place in 1990s Naples, Italy, following a teen on the cusp of adulthood in a country on the brink of massive change. Clinically bored Giovanna (Giordana Marengo) finds her humdrum, privileged life upended when she seeks out her estranged aunt Vittoria (Valeria Golino), sparking a whirlwind journey of self-discovery. Like other Ferrante creations, "The Lying Life of Adults" has landed critical acclaim for its poignant, deeply affecting portrayal of young adulthood.

#18. Dead Ringers

- Metascore: 79
- Premiere date: April 20, 2023

Though based on David Cronenberg's 1988 film of the same name, the 2023 version of "Dead Ringers" is no mere remake—it more than stands on its own as a six-part miniseries. As in the original film, the Prime Video show follows a pair of formidable twin gynecologists (both played by Rachel Weisz). Though the Mantle sisters claim to want to "change the way women birth," their goals aren't quite as noble as they may seem. There's something sinister hiding beneath the literal and metaphorical surface in "Dead Ringers."

#17. Justified: City Primeval

- Metascore: 79
- Premiere date: July 18, 2023

Devoted fans of FX's "Justified" have long mourned the show's 2015 cancellation, so the announcement for "Justified: City Primeval" came as a welcome surprise to viewers eager to see Timothy Olyphant don U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens' badge and gun once again. The miniseries moves Givens out of the hollers of Kentucky and into the no-less-seedy urban sprawl of Detroit, where he quickly locks horns with the unpredictable outlaw Clement Mansell (Boyd Holbrook), aka the "Oklahoma Wildman."

#16. Everyone Else Burns

- Metascore: 80
- Premiere date: Jan. 23, 2023

"Everyone Else Burns" centers on a suburban Manchester family with a pastime that feels increasingly common in today's world: prepping for an impending apocalypse. But while the sitcom could play up the family's religious devotion and fanatical doomsday sect for cheap laughs, the writing shows a surprising amount of sensitivity toward unusual belief systems while delivering plenty of genuinely funny moments.

#15. Bill Russell: Legend

- Metascore: 81
- Premiere date: Feb. 8, 2023

In the age of ubiquitous superhero movies and TV shows, the two-part Netflix docuseries "Bill Russell: Legend" highlights a real-life hero. At a time when racial segregation was the norm, NBA player Bill Russell rose to fame as both a civil rights leader and an immensely talented center for the Boston Celtics. Since its series premiere, "Bill Russell: Legend" has been recognized for showcasing Russell's life and legacy on and off the courts.

#14. Telemarketers

- Metascore: 81
- Premiere date: Aug. 13, 2023

Most people see scam calls as annoying at best, but documentarian Sam Lipman-Stern puts one of the industry's biggest players under an even less flattering spotlight in his true crime documentary series "Telemarketers." Compulsively watchable, this HBO original show exposes the lengths that telemarketing companies will go to trick callers on the other end of the line, depicting the harsh realities of the scams and ripoffs that often fly under our collective radar.

#13. Bargain

- Metascore: 82
- Premiere date: Oct. 28, 2022

Korean shows have long made waves in the worldwide television scene, but the gritty Paramount+ series "Bargain" will likely upend anyone's prior expectations of K-dramas. After a hookup gone wrong at a remote hotel, sleazy Roh Hyung-su (Jin Seon-kyu) finds himself on the auction block before a crowd of wealthy elites eager to bid on his internal organs. But luckily or unluckily for Roh, an earthquake casts everything into chaos and forces a brutal fight for survival.

#12. Cunk on Earth

- Metascore: 82
- Premiere date: Sept. 19, 2022

Even (or especially) if you snoozed your way through history classes, you're sure to enjoy the mockumentary series "Cunk on Earth." Helmed by "Black Mirror" co-creator Charlie Brooker, this follow-up to 2016's "Cunk on Britain" stars comedian and actor Diane Morgan as the loveable Philomena Cunk, who's sharing the story of humanity by bringing real-life experts to answer all the questions you've been afraid to ask—and some that have probably never crossed your mind.

#11. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

- Metascore: 82
- Premiere date: Nov. 17, 2023

Fans of the original "Scott Pilgrim" graphic novels and the 2010 action-comedy starring Michael Cera will find hours of binge-watching fun in "Scott Pilgrim Takes Off." So will anime fans, comedy fans, and, it seems, most TV watchers in general. This Netflix series covers the same events as its predecessors, centering on young musician Scott Pilgrim (voiced by Cera) as he battles all of his new girlfriend's exes, but the colorful animation brings the characters and premise to new heights.

#10. Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence

- Metascore: 83
- Premiere date: Feb. 9, 2023

Director Zachary Heinzerling doesn't shy away from the tough details in recounting how Larry Ray, a father of a Sarah Lawrence College student, preyed upon his daughter's classmates and eventually founded a cult on campus. Piecing together disturbing video footage and new interviews conducted with Ray's victims, the docuseries "Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence" explores the depths of Ray's manipulations and shares the devastating, lasting effects of his abuse.

#9. A Small Light

- Metascore: 83
- Premiere date: May 1, 2023

Anne Frank's name is known around the world, but the National Geographic-produced "A Small Light" focuses on an equally remarkable, yet lesser-known young woman close to Frank. The series is based on the life of a young Dutch woman named Miep Gies (played by Bel Powley), who helped hide the Franks from Nazi occupiers in Amsterdam. With a haunting score and strong cast, "A Small Light" illuminates an undersung account of resiliency and courage in the face of unthinkable tyranny.

#8. The American Buffalo

- Metascore: 84
- Premiere date: Oct. 16, 2023

The latest project from documentarian Ken Burns tells a quintessentially American tale: that of the bison, the United States national mammal. Over the course of two episodes and four hours, "The American Buffalo" chronicles how bison came to sustain many Native peoples of North America, the species' near-extinction at the hands of white settlers, and the resulting efforts to bring these iconic animals back from the edge of destruction. The series considers not just the bison, but their continuing impact on the many human beings who call this country home.

#6. The Last of Us (tie)

- Metascore: 84
- Premiere date: Jan. 15, 2023

Anyone who's been near a computer or social media platform this year won't be too surprised to find "The Last of Us" on this list. Starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, HBO's hit series is based on the popular video game of the same name, set in a world where a mind-controlling fungus has turned much of the planet into an uninhabitable wasteland roamed by hordes of bloodthirsty zombies. While the show delivers on all the action one would expect from a zombie premise, "The Last of Us" also delves into more complex themes of grief and guilt, showing how both might evolve amid such a changed world.

#6. Poker Face (tie)

- Metascore: 84
- Premiere date: Jan. 26, 2023

Created by Rian Johnson, "Poker Face" ties with "The Last of Us" for the sixth-best new show this year. This Peacock series follows a casino cocktail waitress (Natasha Lyonne) who's something of a human lie detector, taking her skills out on the road to solve crimes (and avoid her violent ex-boss). Both witty and uniquely charming, Lyonne's Charlie Cale tackles a new case in every episode of the show, which also guest stars the likes of Stephanie Hsu, Adrien Brody, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and many more.

#4. Dreaming Whilst Black (tie)

- Metascore: 85
- Premiere date: July 24, 2023

Series co-creator Adjani Salmon stars in "Dreaming Whilst Black" as Kwabena, a Jamaican British aspiring filmmaker caught between his dreams of directing and needing to pay the bills. Swinging between Kwabena's daydreams and his less-than-ideal realities, the series strikes just the right balance between comedic and heartfelt to recognize the struggles of "making it" in just about any creative field as a Black person.

#4. Last Call: When A Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York (tie)

- Metascore: 85
- Premiere date: July 7, 2023

"Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York'' is no easy watch. This HBO docuseries takes viewers back to 1990s New York when serial killer Richard Rogers targeted gay men in Manhattan as both the AIDS epidemic and prejudices against the LGBTQ community began to rise in severity.

#3. I'm A Virgo

- Metascore: 85
- Premiere date: June 23, 2023

Surrealist fantasy meets political commentary in the seven-episode miniseries "I'm a Virgo," which presents societal injustices through the eyes of a 13-foot-tall Black man named Cootie (Jharrel Jerome). From "Sorry to Bother You" creator Boots Riley, the show places audiences squarely in an unusual world filled with speedsters and flying superheroes to shine a light on real-world issues the Black community faces.

#2. Beef

- Metascore: 86
- Premiere date: April 6, 2023

Almost immediately upon its release, Netflix's miniseries "Beef" gained critical acclaim for its fresh writing and the excellent performances of its leads, Ali Wong and Steven Yeun. The two play a mismatched pair who initially butt heads during a road rage incident, but get deeper and deeper under one another's skin in the weeks and months that follow. Though "Beef" has been dogged by controversy surrounding series star David Choe, the show is still well worth a watch.

#1. Rain Dogs

- Metascore: 88
- Premiere date: March 2, 2023

Many TV watchers outside the U.K. may not have heard of this top-rated show of 2023. This dark comedy (emphasis on "dark") follows a struggling mother (Daisy May Cooper) who's trying to succeed as a writer and provide a sense of stability for her young daughter Iris (Fleur Tashjian), but in the meantime, has to rely on sex work to make ends meet. By turns emotionally devastating and surprisingly funny, "Rain Dogs" has garnered critical success as well as fans from all walks of life.

Data reporting by Luke Hicks. Story editing by Cynthia Rebolledo. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

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