Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023: The year in (good) TV shows

This year was not exactly outstanding in terms of TV shows - mostly for personal reasons, since I had limited time and focus to watch anything. My list has 66 series, but many of them I never finished, or have completely forgotten since. Still, there were a few worth mentioning.

("This year" means I watched them in 2023. When they were made is irrelevant. And the list is completely subjective. No particular order.)

New series

Gen V

We finally got The Boys spinoff, and it's the X-men on coke. I like the original series too, but Gen V ended up being especially likable (in a weird, gory, gallows humor sorta way). Seems like the creators got complete freedom in taking the "superhero school" trope and giving it a hard 18+ rating. They go the extra mile every time. The characters are all flawed, messed up, and still likable; the casting is perfect. Looking forward to the next season.

One Piece (Live Action)

After something sarcastic and gory, here is something cute and cuddly. I have to confess, I love watching anime but I never really got into One Piece, mostly because of the art style. (And the daunting episode number). The live action remake, however, turned out to be extremely likable. Casting is great, and you can tell everyone put their best bright-eyed fan energy into their role. And the visuals translated into live action without losing quirkiness. Also, this series comes with lots of awesome "behind the scenes" content.

Twisted Metal

Most underrated series of the year. It needs more attention, but at least it has been renewed. It's a video game adaptation with a crazy post-apocalyptic setting (I never played the game so it was all new for me). Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz are a perfect duo, and they carry the story with lots of humor and action. The supporting cast is similarly great, the soundtrack is strong, and the show should be nominated for a "most fun sex scene" award...  


Whoever thought Natasha Lyonne would make a great Detective Columbo was a genius. Because she does. She plays her usual character, solves weekly murders, and is surrounded by memorable characters. We love her in everything she does. Luckily, the show has already been renewed. If you liked Lie to me back in the day, you'll like this one too.

The Last of Us

Audience favorite of 2023, and honestly it deserves it. I was getting very bored of the zombie genre (abandoned Walking Dead like 5 seasons ago), but this one managed to be likable (due to the stellar actors) and also kinda fun with all the fungus special effects. And that episode. You know the one.

Returning series

The Bear (season 2)

If I had to pick "best show this year", this one would be it. Second year in a row. The Bear can make no mistakes - not in dialogue, not in plot, not in acting. Every scene is perfect, funny, deeply likable, kinda crazy. And the Fishes episode alone needs to get all the awards. Like, all of them.

Glow Up (season 5)

I don't watch a whole lot of reality TV, but this one is definitely my favorite. I can watch for hours, enthralled, as make-up artists apply colors, design looks, and demonstrate tricks of the trade. And since it's a British show, the judges are kind too.

Outgoing series

Better Call Saul

Finally said a tearful goodbye to one of the best TV shows I have ever watched. They could make no mistake, it was perfect all the way up to the last frame, and had a very appropriate, touching ending. They stayed true to the characters and the storyline. And I'll die on this hill: this show was much, much better than Breaking Bad. (One day, I'll do a TED talk about why it's not more popular).

The Great

Another great, unhinged TV show that was fun to watch. If one does alternative history, then they should do it like this... Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult were an amazing duo with good chemistry, I would have watched the whole thing for several more seasons. But at least it had an ending that feels good enough.

Ted Lasso

This show was planned as a three-season story, and it stuck the landing without effort. It was the most likable series in the past years, with a great cast of actors and characters. It is a feel-good story, doesn't put your soul through the ringer, and yet it made me cry a little at the end. If they get any spinoffs, I'll be watching those too.


Háromezer számozott darab / Three thousand numbered pieces

The best Hungarian movie of the past years, created by young Roma artists. It is about a Roma acting group (directed by a white dude) that tavels abroad to perform at an international theater festival. It is sarcastic, poignant, funny, and somewhat surreal as it deals with issues of racism, prejudice, cultural appropriation, and white privilege. I was laughing and cringing at the same time. Hungary needs a lot more movies like this. 

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

I liked the Hunger Games back then, but I wasn't a diehard fan. I haven't read this new book, so the entire story was a surprise to me - and a pleasant one. I'd even venture to say that as a film, it was better than the originals. I kept guessing where it would go and it defied a lot of expectations, managing to completely avoid the tired "good man turns evil from heartbreak" trope. And the music was good too.

The three musketeers: D'Artagnan

I'd watch any iteration of this story anyway, but this time, it was actually good. Hellooo, Vincent Cassel and Eva Green! They twisted the story enough that it was surprising, and the fight scenes were rough and awesome. I'm looking forward to the second movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Gotta admit, I didn't like the first two movies at all. But this one was finally likable - ironically, because it was also pretty damn dark. Sam Raimi wanted to bring horror to Marvel with Doctor Strange, and then James Gunn just went "hold my beer"... and created a pet body horror movie that also turned out to be a feel-good ending to a trilogy. I didn't expect any of this, but I approve. And the soundtrack was spot on too.

Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse

Best visuals this year. Probably this decade. It lived up to the first movie, and created an art style that is unique, expressive, detailed, and memorable. Everything has a meaning, and sound, imagery, and story all work together. Plus once again it has an epic soundtrack. And Spider-Punk is an instant favorite.

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