Believe it or not, the end of 2023 is almost here. This year kept the same energy as 2022 in terms of general chaos on Earth, a massive rock that we inexplicably pay to live on. But sometimes, keeping the same energy is a good thing. Such is the case when it comes to this year’s television lineup. New and returning shows kept us busy at Nerdist in the best way with a solid slate celebrating various arenas of the genre landscape. From wars across the stars to bloody superhero shenanigans, here are Nerdist’s picks for the best TV shows of 2023.
Gen V Season 1 ( Streaming on Prime Video)
The Boys universe expanded its reach to Godolkin University, which isn’t a safe space for superpowered students to thrive after all. Gen V takes all the elements that makes The Boys damn near perfect television and infuses them with all the angst, uncertainty, and insecurities that one would expect from burgeoning heroes. The show boasts a sublime ensemble cast, pitch perfect tonal shifts, compelling storytelling, peppy pacing, and all the blood and shocking moments one would expect from a spinoff. It has great connective tissue with the flagship series yet is wholly unique enough to stand on its own. We cannot wait to see what season two of Gen V holds.
The Last of Us Season 1 ( Streaming on Max)
Sometimes, video game adaptations don’t translate to television well. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with The Last of Us. The series starring Pedro Pascal as Joel, a grizzled post-apocalypse survivor tasked with guiding and protecting a young girl towards safety, kicked 2023 off in style. The Last of Us delivers heartbreak, adventure, intensity, and introspective moments in equal doses. Bella Ramsey brings glorious life to the ever-popular character Ellie for a story that, at times, will literally take your breath away.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 ( Streaming on Prime Video)
The Wheel of Time’s second season gave us peak fantasy entertainment in its second season. The show’s first season laid a solid foundation of world building that this season brilliantly expands on. Several character driven arcs pack an emotional wallop for fans with a brilliantly penned and engaging season that is worthy of a marathon watch.
Ahsoka Season 1 ( Streaming on Disney+)
Is it really a Nerdist “Best of TV” list without a Star Wars entry? Ahsoka took its titular ex-Jedi, played by Rosario Dawson, on a far, far away journey as she battles some serious iconic villains. The late, great Ray Stevenson’s stunning portrayal of Baylan Skoll, ample Easter eggs, and a bevy of new revelations made this adventure one worth following. It’s truly a live-action turn that is made for hardcore Star Wars fans.
The Mandalorian Season 3 ( Streaming on Disney+)
Was the third season of The Mandalorian a bit chaotic? Sure. But it was also supremely entertaining. The amazing Bo-Katan Kryze steps into the spotlight alongside Mando and Grogu on a quest that includes more Moff Gideon and galactic pirates, among many other things. This is the time when a series could begin to lose its steam. But The Mandalorian holds strong as it balances diving into Star Wars lore alongside pure adventurous fun with an unlikely dad-child duo.
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Season 1 ( Available on AMC/Streaming on AMC+)
The Walking Dead’s long-running TV franchise took an OG character on a quest full of adventure, snark, and discovery. Daryl Dixon unearths new layers to Carol’s crossbow-carrying best friend, setting him on a journey across France to usher a special child to safety. The juxtaposition of a man known for his belief in self versus a higher power alongside many people of faith makes for a thought-provoking and intriguing saga. The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon takes the bones of original series and revitalizes them with a shift in tone and a cinematic scope for an enjoyable story.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 ( Streaming on Paramount+)
Some of us here at Nerdist weren’t totally into the Paramount+ Star Trek universe until other members of this parish said that Strange New Worlds was worth a shot. And they were right. The first season is one of the best Trek offerings in a long time. It was just delightful, life-affirming, and thoughtful science fiction. Positive and upbeat, while not shying away from darker themes and adult stories. Season two continued that apace with explorations into Spock and Chapel’s relationship, La’an’s time travel escapades, and Number One’s court martial. The characters are also some of the best in the franchise. What other shows can have a musical episode followed by a gritty Gorn war episode? Boldly going, indeed.
American Born Chinese ( Streaming on Disney+)
Gene Luen Yang’s popular graphic novel American Born Chinese (2006) got the live-action treatment in this comedic fantasy series. It’s a family-friendly series packed with life lessons, epic fight scenes, and all the heart one expects in a coming-of-age story. In a year full of big-time offerings, this show may have fallen under the radar for those who aren’t familiar with its source material. But it is not too late to dive in and make American Born Chinese your next big watch. From its incredible cast lineup featuring Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan to its many odes to Chinese mythology, this series stands in a unique space of its own.
Reservation Dogs Season 3 ( Streaming on Hulu)
This series is a bit out our normal purview, but there’s a reason why it is among our picks the best TV shows of 2023. Reservation Dogs follows the lives of Indigenous teens living in a rural part of Oklahoma as they grapple with loss and the possibility of leaving their ancestral roots. The third and final season brings this story full circle by diving into their elders’ lives, uncovering choices and pivotal events that shaped this community. We love a completed arc.
Poker Face ( Streaming on Peacock)
Natasha Lyonne starring as a human lie detector in a stylish Colombo-inspired crime dramedy? There was really no way this could go wrong. Poker Face isn’t your typical Nerdist-style series but who among us doesn’t love a mystery or five? Unraveling the twisted strings that each case-of-the-week tangles up through the eyes of Charlie Cale was one of the best—and most fun!—TV ventures of the 2023.
The Fall of the House of Usher ( Streaming on Netflix)
Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher was a huge hit at Nerdist this year. Mike Flanagan said prior to the release of the series, “My favorite way to describe it to people is like ‘Hill House’ is kind of a string quartet, and ‘Bly Manor’ is this delicate, kind of beautiful piece of classical piano music, and ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ is heavy metal. It’s rock ‘n’ roll.” And rock ‘n’ roll is exactly what it felt like. The Fall of the House of Usher hit hard from episode one and never stopped slamming on the strings.
The series was full of blood, tragedy, and trauma but always kept Flanagan’s gorgeous aesthetic sensibilities alive. And, more than ever, a dark humor was embedded into the bones of the show, giving a comedic slant to even its darkest moments in wholly clever ways. Of course, as a Poe adaptation, it crushed the assignment. The remix of stories came together to successfully weave one compelling show. Quoth the Raven, “Hell yeah!”
Loki Season 2 ( Streaming on Disney+)
Marvel Studios Disney+ MCU series have been famously hit or miss. But Loki season two achieved the one thing more or less no other series so far has managed: character development. Although many multiversal shenanigans and time convolutions happened in Loki season two, they almost didn’t really matter in the face of exploring the relationships between the series’ main players. Loki season two let these friendships and deep intimacies breathe and deepened them, bringing together a motley crew that was easy to invest in.
And so, by the time Loki realized what his inevitable final sacrifice had to be, the tragedy really hurt because viewers could feel that he loved so hard those he was leaving behind and, indeed, was finally loved by them in return. It’s hard to stick the landing, but the ending of Loki season two was the natural conclusion of everything that had come before it. And so often, it just doesn’t happen like that. This year, the god of stories told one heck of a tale and ended up creating one of our best shows of 2023.
One Piece ( Streaming on Netflix)
One Piece had a lot of weight on its shoulders. Not only was it trying to deliver a compelling live-action adaptation of an anime, it was trying to deliver a compelling live-action version of the anime. But happily, Netflix’s live-action One Piece blew it out of the water. The series strikes an almost impossible-seeming balance by keeping the fun and surreality of its original anime and manga series but grounding and evolving the characters and plot to better suit a live-action. Viewers can still feel the deep anime-ness of it, but at once, know they’re watching a show that very much stands on its own feet.
One Piece is ultimately an earnestly joyful series that has a deep heart. But it also doesn’t shy away from the idea that one can be earnestly joyful and still face darkness and pain. In fact, One Piece‘s greatest strength is its very resonant portrayal of how the positives and negatives within us and around us come together to help form who we are. And, of course, it reminds us, always, to dream. Not only is One Piece an exceptional adaptation, but it is truly one of the best TV series of 2023.