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  • Writer's pictureJessica Taylor Yates

The Best And Worst TV Shows Of 2023 So Far

The reviews for the top TV shows of the year are in - and not all are positive.

fboy island

FBoy Island. Image: TV Blackbox.

While we're only halfway through the year, the stream of TV content has been steady - you know, until the Writer's Strike slowed us right down (just... pay them? kthanksbye). The start of the year was promising - we had new matchmaking people to make fun of, reality stars to tweet about, and thrillers with enough secrets secrets lies lies for us to actually put our phones down for more than five minutes. That said, not all returns or highly anticipated shows were worth the air time we put in.

January to June was filled with surprising highs (looking at you, guys in Limbro) to crushingly boring lows (Ted Lasso, don't @ me). So when we talk abut the worst, it's not bottom of the barrel shows we already know are abominations, like Sex/Life or the American version of Kath and Kim. It's more the ones that let us down, got us excited to sit down with the homemade popcorn and a chocolate Paddle Pop (cos #costoflivingcrisis) only to majorly suck and have us arguing over what to watch once more.

So if you're in between shows and wondering what to watch while your precious #Scandovil is over (I know the hip new jams) here's the top and bottom rung of TV shows so far in 2023.

Caveat: I'm yet to watch Beef and don't do Bravo, but please still trust and like me.

The best TV shows to watch and stream in 2023 - so far

Best finale: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (Amazon Prime)

Oh, we laughed, we cried, and we laughed and cried some more. Fans who have been along for Midge Maisel's journey were awaiting the finale with the question we all wanted to know: does she make it as a female stand up comedian in 1960s New York?

I won't spoil it for those who haven't watched. While the final season was full of ups and downs (and the use of flash-forwards to the 1980s that was divisive amongst fans - I still don't even know if I liked it), ultimately, we had become attached to all the characters and were desperate to know where they ended up.

In true Maisel form, the series was wrapped up with jokes, great fashion, lots of swearing, romantic trysts, heartbreak and a smashing set. Good night!

Watch it if you like: Why Women Kill, Hacks, The Nanny

Best second season: Morning Wars Season 2 (Apple)

Okay, I know I'm late to the party, but I watched it this year, so I'm counting it as 2023, okay? The thing is, I thought season one was fucking fabulous. So fabulous, in fact, that I put off season two, as I couldn't understand why on earth it needed a sequel. It felt so well wrapped up that I felt they were just milking another season for the ca$h monie$ (See, every reboot ever). And while this may be true, I'll give you this: the second season still slaps.

I ended up binging it on a plane (economy, wrongfully), where the second season picks up right where the first one left off. Cleverly putting the aftermath of a #metoo crisis against the backdrop of office politics, the role of the media, inter-female relationships and the ever growing thread of Covid, Morning Wars 2 is one of the first series to showcase what life was like with the pandemic creeping on in the midst of an identity politics crisis. Bring on season three.

Watch it if you like: The Newsroom, Great News, Ms

Best batshit doco: Fugitive: The Curious Case Of Carlos Ghosn (Netflix)

Guys, this was WILD. I'm not a car aficionado, but the story itself is so intriguing, you just can't look away (unless its motioning to your partner where you hid the Maltesers and to grab them, stat #pleasesponsorme).

Carlos Ghosn was the former chairman and CEO of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance (?) While to me this means nothing, in car land, he was like their Beyoncé. People worshipped this dude and the ingenuity he brought to the car market and profit shares.

Somehow, he is found holed up in Lebanon - but what caused this to happen? Did he commit a crime, or is it all a giant conspiracy? It's crazy af, and a genuinely interesting watch, promise.

Watch it if you like: LulaRich, Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult, Tiger King

Best true story: Blackbird (Apple)

Omg, this was so cooked. You obviously need to brace yourself to watch creepy dudes having chats about paedophilia in jail, but considering the acting quality and the fact that it is based on a true story, it is well worth being a bit squirmy.

The story centres on Jimmy (Taron Edgerton aka young Leo), a flashy and smarmy drug dealer who is sentenced to 10 years in prison. During his time, he is given an out - if he can get a suspected killer to confess in time for his arraignment, he will be set free. But can he get someone to confess to a crime he may not have committed?

Watch it if you like: The Jinx, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Best feel-good show: Queer Eye (Netflix)

Ohhh, I love QE! Like, why isn't it on every day like Ready, Steady, Cook used to be?!

This time, our Fab Five are in New Orleans, helping make over the clothes, homes, hair, houses and souls of those in need. It has everything you want - Jonathan yelling catchphrases, Antoni taking his shirt off, Bobby breaking his back doing 99% of the work on the show. But we love it and we love them and WHEN ARE MORE EPISODES COMING?!

Watch it if you like: The Home Edit, RuPaul, Snog Marry Avoid

Best reality show: FBoy Island (Binge)

Full disclosure: I wasn't expecting to like this. I wasn't even going to watch it. But you know, there's only so many hours in the day I can spend being productive until I need a scroll and a lol (and those hours are two, max).

FBoy Island is like if Punkee produced The Bachelor. There's three women each searching for their perfect dude, except there's a TWIST. Half the boys who came are 'nice' and there to meet a nice lady, and the other half came on as 'Fboys' who can potentially steal half of $50K from the chick if they 'win' her heart.

I would argue that the very notion of even thinking of going on a show like this makes you an FBoy, but, like equality, some are more FBoy than others.

What I liked is that it doesn't take itself seriously - FBoys who are voted out go into 'Limbro' training to stop being bad dudes, guys are made fun of on the reg, and the chicks call all the shots. Plus, watching FBoys put in their place is so, so satisfying. My only criticism is that I want it on mainstream TV so I can watch and text-bitch about it in real time with my friends!

Watch it if you like: MAFS, Love Island, The Bachelor

Best drama: The Big Door Prize (Apple)

This is one of those shows that I thought was so good, but no one else was watching and I kept trying to slide it into conversation in the hope other people would start watching and we could talk about it after they thanked me for the recommendation and asked me what other shows they should watch.

This never happened, but perhaps this will break the cycle. Based on a book and starring Chris O'Dowd from Bridesmaids, the show is set in a small town when a 'Morpho' machine appears in the general store one day. Kind of like a photo booth, the Morpho machine can tell, with extreme accuracy, what your 'life's potential' is. As people around the town use the machine, they start changing their lives based on their individual Morpho potential card - dancer, lover, politician, royalty, hero, and so on.

But what does it mean when you don't understand your potential, or living up to it would mean uprooting everything you already have?

Plus - 30 min eps guys, so totes doable.

Watch it if you like: Severance, Doctor Who, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Best comedy for couples done with arguing over what to watch: The Other Two (Binge)

Annoyingly, my partner found this gem, and smugly lets me know how good he is at TV every time we turn it on. I wanted to dislike it solely for this reason, but unfortunately, it's very funny.

The Other Two is about a kid who becomes the next Justin Bieber (with lots of not-so-subtle hints to his climb) and how this affects his older loser siblings - The Other Two.

The show is a great witty satire on fame, pop culture, what it is to be a 'good person,' political incorrectness and the entertainment industry. Never taking itself too seriously, it's some light-hearted fun during the cold, bleak winter - and sometimes that's all you need, tbh.

Watch it if you like: 30 Rock, Brooklyn 99, The Mindy Project

Best secrets secrets lies lies: Love And Death (Binge)

Ooh this was juicy. For my fellow secrets secrets lies lies lovers (see, The Stranger, Girl on the Train, anything where the main plot is 'is it her or is it all in her mind no it was the husband it's always the husband').

Based on real events, Love and Death focuses on Candy (magnificently played by Lizzy Olsen), a small town, church going 'mom' who embarks upon an affair with her friend's husband.

What we do know from the outset: somebody winds up dead.

What we don't: Who did it, or why.

My advice is not to Google the true story so you can be as shocked at the ending as me. Good luck.

Watch it if you like: The Girl From Plainville, The Dropout, Candy

Best true story doco: Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal (Netflix)

Ugh, I mean, this is so gross, but annoyingly, so intriguing. This true story was pretty big at the start of the year. If you haven't heard, it focuses on the 'Murdaugh' family (felt the producers could have had more fun with that one in the title, but I digress), who are like royalty in their little US town, running everything from politics to law and social classes.

However, this starts to crumble when the family are aligned with one too many deaths for the town's liking....

Watch it if you like: Wirecard, Making a Murderer, This is a Robbery

Best Aussie newcomer: Class Of '07 (Amazon)

See also: Riptide

This was so much fun, and didn't get the kudos it deserved for a funny and original Aussie series! With some established names like Emily Browning and Caitlin Stasey, the plot revolves around every woman's worst nightmare: being trapped on an island at your all-girls high school reunion.

Alliances are formed, leaders are established and enemies are made as the women regress to their Year-12 selves in the search for social standing and most importantly, survival.

It's funny, it's dramatic, it's full on, and it's great. Give it a whirl, I promise you'll be allocating who would be who from your own final year class in no time (note: I would be the self-appointed leader who is eaten after a sudden and violent coup on day two).

Watch it if you like: Summer Heights High, Heartbreak High, The 12

Best romance: Jewish Matchmaker S1 / Indian Matchmaker S3 (Netflix)

Man, I love this shit. I don't know why. I could say it's because I like to see people falling in love, but people know me better than that. It's like the time my partner and I started dating and at the start he'd say I'm such a good person and so kind and lovely, then months down the track I said 'I'm such a bad person' and he no longer rebutted the statement after seeing me as an Armchair Critic during the Fashion Police years. Anyway. #RIPJoan #toosoon #iykyk

I think it's just such easy viewing, and judging people's ridiculous romantic desires gives me such a legitimate thrill, as does watching them shatter for the people on the show I hate the most.

That said, they're not all bad, particularly on Indian Matchmaker (we reviewed S1 for you here). I actually found this show really eye-opening. People utilising the matchmaking services were cool, super hot, across multiple countries, and were more utilising the matchmaker's services as a human Tinder rather than a forced arranged marriage like the stereotype has us believe. Like, it seems handy af - write down what you want in a dude, and find him for me, where you've already done the requisite parent and police checks so I know he's not a serial killer. Sounds amaze.

The one thing I found with the Jewish one is this matchmaker lets them get away with their ridiculous pickiness more, like that a man must have 'great eyebrows' or that a woman being hot 'is all that matters' to a dude who still lives and works with his mother. Yuck. Love to hate you boo.

But you know, on the plus side, it made me feel truly excellent about myself as I spilled my mac and cheese all over my blanket next to my dog as we binged it on a Friday night. Plus, makes for good water cooler chat.

Watch it if you like: Queer Eye, First Dates, The Bachelor

Best easy show to scroll your phone to: Shrinking (Apple)

This show was easy enough. Like, not the best thing I've watched in my life, but like, it filled some time on a Tuesday night when my partner was walking the dog and I was eating some leftovers, you know? Like some meat and two veg. It's not my dad's spag bol (aka White Lotus) but it's not SPAM, either (The Kardashians - I said what I said).

It stars Jason Sudeikis as a therapist who has lost his way after some tragic personal events. He acts out by being a shit dad and telling his patients the truth rather than listening and going, 'how does that make you feel?' which is WHAT WE ALL ACTUALLY WANT FROM THERAPY FFS. Anyway.

Harrison Ford is also in it, some sub-plots are kinda funny and cute, and the ending did give enough of a cliff-hanger for me to come back for season 2.

Watch it if you like: After Life, The Good Place, The Kominski Method

TV shows you can give a miss in 2023

Worst final season: Ted Lasso (Apple)

Yeah, I said it, so don't @ me. Listen, Lasso was great in S1. It was the Covid years, we all liked watching the same thing, and I know some people loved that it was 'uplifting.' I personally loved watching British people make fun of American people, particularly by my British Jewish tv boyf Roy Kent (read: MY. MINE). But then it was like, everyone watched and the writers were like, fuck. Where do we go from here?

Season two was all, we are all mates but mind struggles, okay, but by season three, my gosh. Hour long eps of nothing but sap or episodes so camp I'm surprised it wasn't sponsored by BCF.

I found myself rolling my eyes during each lame pantomime locker room scene or overly meaningful moment - and I'm someone who didn't find Glee cheesy. Plus, (spoiler alert) the ending was SUCH a let down when it came to Kelsey's choices, Nate's showdown, and Rebecca's chat with her husband's ex that was never shown. Legit hours of my life I'll never get back, with the only saving grace being Kent. LYLT.

Worst book to screen adaptation: The Last Thing He Told Me (Apple)

Ugh. Regular readers (hi mum!) will know I love me some secrets secrets lies lies. The trailer was promising. Jen Garner is a stepmum of a bratty chick whose dad goes missing. I am obviously invested in a real is it her or is it all in her mind no it was the husband it's always the husband.

But as it went on, it appeared that a) Jen Garner has only one facial expression, and though her skin looked lovely when she pulled it thanks to all that Neutrogena spon con, it grew old. She also put up with WAY too much backchat from her spoiled, entitled, and frankly dumb af stepdaughter. I was clutching my pearls! Anyone who watched would also find the ending highly infuriating. Hard pass.

Worst return: Umbrella Academy S3 (Netflix)

Guys, I love me some UA, so it gives me no pleasure to say that S3 was kinda lacklustre. Despite the much-hyped change from Vanya to Viktor (which was done so well in the initial conversation, but then doing it 10 times kinda killed it), how many times can we watch the Hargreeves family try to save the world? I needed a different pull, you know?

Worst hype for no reason: The Idol (Binge)

See also: Platonic, Silo

Nothing worse than a show with loads of hype that it can never live up to. To be fair, the chat around The Idol was mixed, but there was so much of it I thought give it a go and get equally as mad, maybe even go rogue and like, tweet about it or something and then...get on with living my life. I thought at least I'd be offended or corrupted or shocked or something. Instead, it was just sort of...tired. I didn't finish, I felt like it was trying too hard to be super edgy when it was like, girl, ya basic.

Worst attempt at comedy: Based On A True Story (Netflix)

Only got a few eps into this before bail time. Starring Kaley Cuoco and the dude from Mindy Project who is a total dick but is somehow the love interest, the premise was interesting.

In a version of Only Murders In The Building, they star as a couple struggling to keep financially afloat when they realise their plumber is ACTUALLY a serial killer.

Instead know, going to the police, running for their lives, they think, hey. Let's make a podcast with him, we'll all get rich and famous, amazing.

The premise was just so dumb I could not continue. Boy bye.

Worst ending to a great show: Kaleidoscope (Netflix)

See also: The Crowded Room

I'll talk about both the above shows here. Kaleidoscope was a really cool, unique and interesting concept. The story is about a bank heist. What makes it interesting is that every viewer with a Netflix account will see these episodes in a different order (except the last one), thus changing the way their view the story, get information and clues, and what they think will happen.

This was great not only for this unique way of storytelling in a non-linear fashion, but it was actually just a bloody good story, even if you watched it in order. What ruined it?

That. Fucking. Ending.

All I'll say is, you will feel very let down. The same goes for The Crowded Room - what starts off as an interesting premise with great acting thinks it has a crazy twist. Trouble is, most people figure this out in the second or third episode - leaving you feeling pretty bored by the final 'crazy' reveal.

Worst mystery with great talent: Poker Face (Netflix)

Who doesn't love them a bit of Natasha Lyonne? Russian Doll was excellent, her partnership with Gucci is a red carpet romance found as often as a lost bobby pin, and we're all just happy to see her living her best healthy cool girl era.

That said, while this show had premise and cool cinematography, the plot is just so dumb I could not waste precious scrolling hours on it a minute longer. Lyonne stars as a down-on-her-luck woman who takes odd jobs from town to town. She also has an uncanny ability to know when someone is lying, which is the secret power equivalent of it all being a dream. 'Did you kill her?' 'No!' 'He's lying, lock him up!' So um...fin?

Also, each episode she's in a different town where a murder happens (unlikely... I mean, not that a murder would happen in the US cos obv, but that she's right there in the middle of it), and she just happens to solve it through this 'skill.' Nah.

Worst flogging of a dead horse: And Just Like That (Binge)

Omg, howwww is this still going? How did it get off the ground in the first place without Samantha? We all know there are shows that stupidly continued without the main character, and shows where the reboot or remake sucked. Like... I can't even think of one that is better than the original, except for the aforementioned Queer Eye, and even then, reality is a little different.

Whether it's (spoiler) killing off Big; trying too hard to be woke; or overcorrecting the previous series; the original SATC, while now extremely dated, was a truly revolutionary show of its time with a great ending. Let it stay there. To me, like the limit, this reboot doesn't exist.

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