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The best TV shows of 2023 from Bluey to Succession

We're in the era of peak television with incredible shows like Happy Valley, Reservation Dogs and beyond

The best TV of 2023 includes Happy Valley, The Bear, Reservation Dogs, Bluey and Succession. (BBC/Disney+/Sky/HBO)
The best TV of 2023 includes Happy Valley, The Bear, Reservation Dogs, Bluey and Succession. (BBC/Disney+/Sky/HBO)

What have been the best TV shows of 2023? Looking back over the year it's clear it's been another outstanding year on the telly from the gripping Happy Valley to the final season of Succession, we really are living in the era of peak TV.

We've looked back at the best movies of the year and the best TV moments of 2023, so now it's time to choose our favourite TV shows of the year too.

Bluey (BBC/Disney+)

Bluey will air a second season on CBeebies. (Ludo Studio)
Bluey. (Ludo Studio)

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If you're over the age of 10, or don't have kids under that age, you can be forgiven for not being aware of Bluey. However, with the drip-fed global release of the third season throughout the year (and more to come in 2024), its clear that the Australian-made animated series is the best cartoon sitcom to come along since The Simpsons.

Yes, it's just a kids' cartoon about a family of dogs, but somehow the show shines a light on the human experience in a way that is, at times, deeply emotional (see Onesies) and, at others, laugh out loud hilarious (see Stories). And the best thing is, episodes are mostly under 10 minutes long.

Bluey is streaming on Disney+ and BBC iPlayer.

Jury Duty (Amazon Freevee)

Jury Duty (Freevee)
Jury Duty (Freevee)

Amazon's ad-supported streaming service Freevee released its first bona-fide smash hit in April 2023 in the shape of Jury Duty. Part reality-series, part prank show, the eight-part series saw a real guy (Ronald Gladden) participating in jury duty for a trial in Los Angeles, where every single person involved in the trial was an actor, except Ronald.

The show pushed Ronald into increasingly bizarre scenarios, but it was never at his expense. With actor James Marsden playing himself on the jury, the show was hilarious, and surprisingly heartwarming. Whether they can ever repeat the feat in a second season remains to be seen.

Jury Duty is streaming on Freevee.

Beef (Netflix)

Ali Wong as Amy in Beef. (Andrew Cooper/Netflix)
Ali Wong as Amy in Beef. (Andrew Cooper/Netflix)

The lives of two strangers become entangled following a road rage incident in this superb 10-part Netflix series, created by Lee Sung Jin, and starring Steven Yeun as struggling contractor Danny, and Ali Wong as his nemesis Amy, a small business owner.

The bitter, chaotic pettiness of the two leads made for compelling watching, as they both resorted to increasingly bizarre forms of retribution across the short series which is already up for three Golden Globe awards.

Beef is streaming on Netflix.

Slow Horses (Apple TV+)

Gary Oldman in Slow Horses S3. (Apple TV+)
Gary Oldman in Slow Horses S3. (Apple TV+)

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Apple TV+'s unassuming spy series Slow Horses has grown from strength-to-strength over the course of three seasons to become one of the best shows on TV. Gary Oldman's slovenly spymaster Jackson Lamb leads his team of cast off spooks (the Slow Horses) to solve cases ignored by MI5, and the explosive third series — Real Tigers — in which one of the team is kidnapped is streaming now, with its finale coming on 27 December.

At just six episodes a season, it's the perfect show to binge over Christmas.

Slow Horses is streaming on Apple TV+.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (Netflix)

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. (L to R) India Amarteifio as Young Queen Charlotte, Corey Mylchreest as Young King George in episode 103 of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. (Netflix)
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. (L to R) India Amarteifio as Young Queen Charlotte, Corey Mylchreest as Young King George in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. (Netflix)

Bridgerton became an instant hit for Netflix when it first landed in 2020, with viewers falling in love with many of the characters including the no-nonsense Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) who helps introduce young women into society and launch each new season. But what of her love story? Well Netflix decided it was time to tell it with Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.

An entirely new tale separate to Julia Quinn's novels, Shonda Rhimes delivered a heartfelt and touching love story between Queen Charlotte (India Amarteifio) and King George (Corey Mylchreest) and the challenges they faced in the early years of their marriage. Full of passion, the limited series proved even more delightful than the original thanks to its talented cast and exquisite writing.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is streaming on Netflix.

The Last of Us (Sky/HBO)

Pedro Pascal as Joel & Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last Of Us. (Sky/HBO)
Pedro Pascal as Joel & Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last Of Us. (Sky/HBO)

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The Last of Us proved how well a game can be adapted for the screen, and HBO brought the iconic Naughty Dog title to life thanks to Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey who took on the roles of Joel and Ellie as they traversed the dangerous landscape of a post-apocalypse America. They transfixed viewers with their thought-provoking performances, and the game's thrilling story lent itself well to the screen.

Viewers were terrified one moment and enthralled the next, and while the series favoured shot-for-shot recreations of its source material the writers also made moving changes that helped elevate the story to a whole new level. It has rightly become the gold standard of game-to-screen adaptations.

The Last of Us is streaming on Sky and NOW.

Happy Valley (BBC)

Happy Valley S3,Happy Valley S3 - First Look,Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE),Picture shows: Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE) Filming has begun on the third series of Happy Valley.,Lookout Point,Matt Squire
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley. (BBC)

Happy Valley took the small screen by storm at the start of 2023, with the long-awaited third and final season finally giving audiences the nail-biting final fight between police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and villain Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton). After three seasons of torment, will she finally get her man? We watched in horror as the villain escalates his crimes and tries to ensnare his innocent son — Cawood's grandson — Ryan, 16, who gets to know him in secret.

Happy Valley S1-3 are streaming on BBC iPlayer.

Reservation Dogs (Disney+)

Kimberly Guererro as Auntie B, Lane Factor as Cheese,  Devery Jacobs as Elora Danan, Paulina Alexis as Willie Jack, D'Pharoah Woon-A-Tai as Bear in Reservation Dogs. (Disney+)
Paulina Alexis as Willie, D'Pharoah Woon-A-Tai as Bear, and Devery Jacobs as Elora Danan in Reservation Dogs. (Disney+)

Reservation Dogs bowed out on its own terms in 2023 with the release of its third season, which recently landed in full on Disney+. The comedy, created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, explored the notion of friends, family and identity in a meaningful way and its lead cast pouring their heart and soul into these final episodes. What began as a smart comedy became something so much more, and the series helped to show what authentic Native American representation onscreen should look like.

Reservation Dogs S1-3 are streaming on Disney+.

The Bear (Disney+)

Will Poulter and Lionel Boyce in The Bear (Disney+)
Will Poulter and Lionel Boyce in The Bear (Disney+)

It was one of the standout shows of 2022, and The Bear's second season followed suit by building on what came before and delivering another startlingly intense chapter to the story in both the present (see "Forks") and the past (see "Fishes"). Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) and his fellow chefs try to make their Chicago food joint a success after Carmy discover a secret stash of cash to save the business at the end of season one.

Having money only solved some of their problems though, and the characters are forced to contend with an array of new problems from the impact of Covid to fighting their inner demons. The second season added rich character development with its unrelenting narrative, and the cast thrived in it, proving the show's first outing was no flash in the pan.

The Bear S1-2 are streaming on Disney+.

Succession (Sky/HBO)

Jeremy Strong, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun, Brian Cox, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Alan Ruck in Succession (Sky/HBO)
Jeremy Strong, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun, Brian Cox, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Alan Ruck in Succession (Sky/HBO)

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After winning over critics and audiences, Jesse Armstrong's Succession stuck the landing with its breathtaking fourth and final season. Transcending its source material as a loosely-veiled take on Rupert Murdoch's media empire, HBO's satirical drama finally delivered what had been teased from the very first episode: the death of Logan Roy (spoilers!).

Fans were blindsided by the patriarch's sudden passing in the beautifully realised third episode ("Connor's Wedding") but the best drama was yet to come as the Roy family tore itself apart across the following seven instalments while they fought over the future of Waystar Royco. Disturbing, hilarious, and meticulous, the finale was one of the best hours of TV ever.

Succession S1-4 are streaming on Sky and NOW.

Honourable mentions to: Dead Ringers (Prime Video), Sex Education (Netflix), The Great (Lionsgate+), Hijack (Apple TV+), Colin From Accounts (BBC), Silo (Apple TV+), Yellowjackets (Paramount+), Scott Pilgrim Takes Off (Netflix), Bodies (Netflix), Shadow and Bone (Netflix), Poker Face (Sky), The Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix), Our Flag Means Death (BBC), Fellow Travellers (Paramount+), I Think You Should Leave (Netflix), Race Across The World (BBC), Celebrity Race Across The World (BBC)

Read more: 2023 in review

Watch the Succession opening titles