Top TV Tips for 2023
Five overlooked streaming series to try out this winter
As the nature of TV, or more accurately, episodic streaming continues to become more and more niche year after year, we're left with simply too much to watch. Hopefully, this list can help you — consisting of five critically acclaimed series that haven't enjoyed the water cooler limelight that some have. Sure, there were masterpieces like Beef, The Last of Us, and The Bear. There were returning favorites like Yellowjackets, I Think You Should Leave, Only Murders In the Building, and Good Omens. There were astonishingly groundbreaking "reality" series' like Freevee's Jury Duty, Cunk on Earth from Netflix, and MAX's How To with John Wilson. There were reimaginings and world-building series like Poker Face, Gen V, and Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, which proved to be far more impressive than anyone thought they would be. There were comebacks literally decades in the waiting like Clone High, Party Down, and Futurama. Then there were the brilliant finales, as shows like Succession, Barry, Ted Lasso, Sex Education, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, who took their bows with genius, grace, and aplomb. That, Loki, and a lot of Star Trek shows made this quite the year for streaming television. Here are a few shows that (in my humble opinion) you may not want to miss.
Best Overall // Best Miniseries // Best Drama: A Small Light // Hulu
Retelling the story of Anne Frank from the perspective of the woman responsible for hiding her and her family during the Holocaust, A Small Light is an absolute triumph. The series illuminates Miep Gies, the Vienna-born Dutch denizen who helped to shelter the Frank family, the Van Pels, and Dr. Fritz Pfeffer for nearly two years while Amsterdam was under Nazi control. While the miniseries readily admits to taking some artistic license in lieu of historical perfection, the sentiment rings true in nearly every scene with an all-too prescient lens. The emotional impact of this gut-wrenching finale, even with all its dramatic irony, has not been equaled for this viewer since the ending sequence of Six Feet Under, and receives my highest recommendation.
Starring: Bel Powley, Liev Schreiber, Joe Cole, Amira Casar, Billie Boullet // Eight episodes // Created by: Joan Rater and Tony Phelan
Best Comedy: The Other Two // Season Three // MAX
The clear successor to 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (but without the cringe-worthy scores), The Other Two is easily one of, if not the best comedy you are not watching. An on-point skewering of Los Angeles celebrity culture, the series teeters between reality and absurdity. Balancing its inane laugh-out-loud jokes with its characters' (sort of) earned pathos, the third season moves to solidify the character aspects of Cary (the fantastic Drew Tarver) and Brooke Dubek (Heléne Yorke) for better or worse. Creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, both Saturday Night Live veterans, have crafted a pitch-perfect series worth binging immediately.
Starring: Drew Tarver, Heléne Yorke, Case Walker, Ken Marino, Molly Shannon, Wanda Sykes, and Brandon Scott Jon // Ten episodes // Created by: Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider
Most Adorable Show // Best LGBTQIA+: Heartstopper // Season Two // Netflix
If you have any love for gay culture and the urgent sentimentality of youth, and you missed the first season of Heartstopper, drop what you are doing and watch it immediately. Following the burgeoning love between Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor), this adaptation of the Alice Oseman graphic novel series blends the Netflix Young Adult house style (see: Never Have I Ever, Atypical, etc.) with subtle emotive traditional animation that echoes the source material. The second season even manages to transcend its remarkable predecessor, grappling with more serious issues and exploring what came before.
Starring: Joe Locke, Kit Connor, William Gao, Yasmin Finney, Corinna Brown, Kizzy Edgell, Tobie Donovan, Rhea Norwood, Sebastian Croft, Fisayo Akinade, and Olivia Colman // Eight episodes // Created by: Alice Oseman
Best Animated Series // Best Sci-fi: Scavengers Reign // Season One // MAX
Despite citing influences like Jean Giraud (better known as Mœbius), and Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki, you've never seen anything quite like Scavengers Reign. Tracing the struggles of three groups of crash landed survivors of the wrecked cargo spaceship Demeter 227, the protagonists explore the complex planet of Vesta. Stranded indefinitely, the crew adapts to life there, utilizing the unique flora and fauna of the world. In essence, the fascinating ways in which the envisioned alien biomechanics work with the human crew members serves as the true star of the series, with captivating interactions and unforgettable visualizations happening nearly every minute.
Starring: Sunita Man, Wunmi Mosaku, Alia Shawkat, Bob Stephenson, and Ted Travelstead // 12 episodes // Created by: Joseph Bennett and Charles Huettner
Best Ensemble // Best Multi-Genre Series // Best Murder Mystery: The Afterparty // Season Two // Apple
While the daring formalism of its premiere season made it easy for viewers to possibly write off this show's second season, The Afterparty returns just as strong as it arrived. With perhaps the best ensemble cast out there, the show revisits its Rashomon-esque point-of-view gimmick to wild success. The main plot of each episode relies on a different genre. Film Noir, rom-coms, heist movies, and Wes Anderson movies are all in play this time, and you'll keep pressing "play next" until you find out whodunnit.
Starring: Sam Richardson, Tiffany Haddish, Zoë Chao, John Cho, Paul Walter Hauser, Ken Jeong, Anna Konkle, Poppy Liu, Elizabeth Perkins, Jack Whitehall as Sebastian Drapewood, Zach Woods, and Vivian Wu // Ten episodes // Created by: Christopher Miller
Nick Warren wasn't able to watch every series in 2023, but all of the above mentioned are some of their favorites. They are excited to finish rewatching Six Feet Under with their girlfriend, eventually convincing her to rewatch Silicon Valley, Community, and The West Wing with them this winter.