The Best Cast TV Shows of the 2023-2024 Season

A lot of the work of making a great TV show is done in the casting. Characters with compelling, dynamic relationships are ultimately a huge part of what keeps our attention on the big or the small screen. So, given that Emmy voting has just begun, IndieWire wanted to reach out to some of television’s top casting directors to ask them to nominate one outstanding work from this past year.

Not so unlike seeing 10 great, different actors give 10 great, different interpretations of a role and then somehow having to pick just one, the casting directors who responded to us were quick to point out how many shows have made revelatory casting choices in the last year. “Baby Reindeer,” “Eric,” “Only Murders In The Building,” “Shogun,” and “What We Do in the Shadows” all received warm praise in multiple email threads about our casting directors’ choices, and luckily, most of them will be back with new seasons.

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What defined the choices that the casting directors made, however, was an ability to do a lot of world-building through the selection of the cast and to show us new facets of the characters we already love. “The Bear” received multiple (though not Michelin) stars for Jeanie and Maggie Bacharach’s work, especially in putting together a Berzatto family Christmas in Season 2. “It’s never easy to put a family together,” said Angelique Midthunder, who kept finding folks to make both “Reservation Dogs” and “The Curse” feel more real.

Laura Schiff, whose work on “Shogun” also had to enjoyably guide the audience through a high-stress environment, praised “The Bear” for finding characters that make the audience crave their presence. “These characters’ casting feels varied and nuanced. They are not all cut from the same cloth, and it expands the world,” Schiff told IndieWire.

Richard Hicks, who cast the early seasons of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” was thrilled to see how “True Detective: Night Country” utilized an expansive approach in its casting, finding actors from all over the world to give us a sense of the harshness of the setting. Bringing a large international group together also really impressed “The Gilded Age” casting director Bernard Telsey in the casting of “We Were the Lucky Ones.”

Kelly Valentine Hendry, who had to find her own collection of mildly haunted souls for “Mary & George,” also made the great point that the casting, whether for a maybe-supernatural murder mystery or a continent-spanning drama, really helps the audience keep track of what’s going on. “[‘True Detective’] has a clear tone and the characters have to be unique so the audience can recall them easily as a complex story is woven in and around around them. Francine Maisler is a master of this. Her casts are always full of distinctive faces, and she balances a wonderful mix of the known and the unknown,” Hendry said.

Even in less dire circumstances, how a cast meshes is often the hook that keeps audiences coming back, and it requires a lot of work on the part of the casting director to get into the showrunner’s head, to see and then find the people who will support their vision. Gary Davy, who needed to weave a web of intrigue around Elisabeth Moss in his casting of FX’s “The Veil,” singled out “Dreaming Whilst Black” casting director Heather Basten as someone who nailed that assignment, working with creator Adjani Salmon to create a cast that “each perfectly fit the world of the show.”

Kate Rhodes James, who has now armed both the Greens and the Blacks on “House of the Dragon,” loved the casting of “Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans” for similar reasons. “I never doubted those Madison Avenue women, each one a very particular flavor and clearly given so much thought to the look and the temperament,” James told IndieWire. And Carmen Cuba, responsible most recently for the world of intrigue surrounding “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” singled out “Under the Bridge” as shouldering the particular challenge of finding actual teen actors to play real-life teens in an age where viewers can compare documentary and True Crime series.

“Casting one lead role is its own hurdle; but casting a group in which each actor feels distinct and strong on their own, yet becomes its own cohesive organism together, is another thing altogether,” Cuba told IndieWire.

The joy of television is that cohesive casts don’t just coalesce once but can grow and change as a series goes on. That’s certainly been the case with “Slow Horses.” Destiny Lilly, who keeps finding perfect New York characters for “Only Murders in the Building,” praised pretty much every casting choice on the Apple TV+ series, from new guest stars to supporting characters who were able to find a fresh gear in Season 3.

Below, see how great TV shows were able to unlock the best version of themselves through their casting choices.

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