ENTERTAINMENT

Top TV of 2023: AP’s selections include ‘Succession,’ ‘Jury Duty,’ ‘Shrinking,’ ‘Swarm’

Dec 5, 2023, 5:29 PM

A young woman and a man with silver hair under a hat sit on a park bench...

This image released by Apple TV+ shows Lukita Maxwell, left, and Harrison Ford in a scene from "Shrinking." (Apple TV+ via AP)

(Apple TV+ via AP)

With so many shows on TV and streaming services, it’s impossible not to miss a gem or two. This year’s top television offerings as selected by The Associated Press include a mix of dramas and comedies that will draw you in.

Some are new, some have already ended their runs and some have new episodes on the horizon. There’s no time like December to add a title to your growing TBW (to be watched) list or settle in for a marathon during that time warp between Christmas and New Year’s when no one knows what day it is.

Here are 10 shows from 2023 that simply shouldn’t be missed.

“The Bear,” FX on Hulu

Let’s start off with a public service announcement to watch “The Bear” if you haven’t already. The FX show about an award-winning, fine dining chef named Carmy (played by Jeremy Allen White), who returns home to Chicago to run his late brother’s dive quietly debuted on Hulu in 2022 and was a word of mouth and critical hit. Season two did not experience a sophomore slump. In fact, it excelled. Any given episode can make you laugh, cry, feel anxious and excited by its genius casting of guest stars.
Episode six, called “Fishes,” is a masterpiece.

“The Big Door Prize,” Apple TV+

“Schitt’s Creek” ended its run in 2020 and left a void for a show about acceptance and unlikely friendships. It was humanity at its best and yet still funny, quotable and meme-worthy. Fans missing that vibe should watch “The Big Door Prize,” which follows the residents of a small town whose lives are turned upside down when a new game called Morpho appears in the general store that promises to tell each user what their life’s potential is. Some of Morpho’s answers prompt people to make major changes, while others feel dejected, insecure or second guess the results. Each episode follows a different character’s reaction to their Morpho reveal. The show’s charming cast is led by Chris O’Dowd with the story based on a novel by M.O. Walsh. And yes, it has a “Schitt’s Creek” connection — its showrunner is David West Read, a “Schitt’s Creek executive producer and writer.

Good news for fans: season two is coming.

“The Golden Bachelor,” ABC and Hulu

After 27 seasons of “The Bachelor,” the franchise managed to lure in viewers with a senior-centric version of the show called “The Golden Bachelor.” Instead of hate-watching, people tuned in as a 70-something widower named Gerry Turner set out to find a new partner. The streaming numbers set a record on Hulu. Turner told The Associated Press he believed people could feel the authenticity of the cast. “I never once questioned anyone’s motives about being on the show. At the age of 70, you’re only there for the right reason.”

“Swarm,” Prime Video

Dominique Fishback was already a rising Hollywood star when she landed the lead in “Swarm,” but now she’s an Emmy nominee for this seven-episode satirical slasher. Co-created by Donald Glover, Fishback plays Dre, an obsessed fan of a Beyoncé-like R&B singer named Ni’Jah whose fan base is dubbed the swarm. Dre’s devotion to Ni’Jah is unhinged and deadly. A commentary on celebrity worship, “Swarm” features Chloe Bailey in a recurring role and Damson Idris, Paris Jackson, Halsey and Billy Eilish are among guest stars.

“The Other Two,” Max

For a lighter offering that takes on celebrity, particularly the internet famous, there’s the “The Other Two.” Created by two former “Saturday Night Live” writers, the show followed Cary and Brooke, the older brother and sister of a teen pop idol, Chase — who goes by Chase Dreams. Canceled by Max after three seasons, the show is still worth a watch for how it pokes fun at internet culture, millennials, celebrities and sibling rivalry.

Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke play the older siblings, Molly Shannon is their mother and momager to a clueless Chase, played by Case Walker.

“Beef,” Netflix

For a dark comedy about an unhealthy fixation, look no further than the limited series “Beef.”

Ali Wong and Steven Yeun play two people almost get into a car accident in a parking lot and the incident escalates to road rage on ‘roids. Instead of eventually calming down and moving on, the two become obsessed with ruining the other by infiltrating each other’s lives and wreaking havoc. At some point you may start to wonder, do these two actually like each other?

Wong told AP earlier this year: “At first you think it’s about these two people who are enemies, but they keep involving each other in each other’s lives and they keep coming back to each other. And there’s a reason for that. It’s because they are letting those walls down. They’re seeing each other at their ugliest and the worst but somehow it’s very connecting and they still want to be around each other.”

“Jury Duty,” Amazon Freevee

In “Jury Duty,” everyman Ronald Gladden is led to believe he was picked for and then sequestered on a jury trial being filmed for a documentary. Everyone surrounding Gladden is an actor, including James Marsden, who plays a hilarious, heightened version of himself. The situations that occur from “witness” testimony to interactions among the other jury members is so absurd, it’s amazing Gladden never caught on. The best part is his reaction to the truth in the final episode.

The series was created by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, the duo who wrote the “Dinner Party” episode of “The Office,” which was uncomfortable humor at its finest.

“Perry Mason,” HBO

Something happened between season one and season two of HBO’s “Perry Mason” starring Mathew Rhys. It got good.

The first season had an impressive cast but it was an origin story of Mason the attorney, and the guy was dark: broke, divorced, angry and a drunk. The story was also hard to follow. Season two, however, did a 180. The central mystery was gripping, its supporting characters served the story, there were some light moments, and Mason showed his investigative skills that helped him to be a successful lawyer. And then… it was also canceled, but you can still watch on Max.

“Shrinking,” Apple TV+

Therapy and grief don’t sound like a recipe for a feel-good comedy, but “Shrinking” pulls it off. Jason Segel stars as Jimmy, barely coping with the recent death of his wife and making bad choices all around, as his teenage daughter resentfully watches from the sidelines and is essentially being raised by a neighbor (Christa Miller.) The irony? Jimmy is a therapist whose colleagues are played by Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams — each with their own set of issues playing out in their lives.

Segel created the series with Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs,” “Cougar Town”) and Emmy winner Brett Goldstein, who played Roy Kent on “Ted Lasso.” Their creation is a show where each character is delightful, and the writing is smart and quick and honest.

“Succession,” HBO and Max

Yes, most people know of “Succession.” The drama aired its series finale on HBO in the spring after four seasons but for those who haven’t watched it, now is the time to discover what the hype is about. The show about the Roy family — one-percenters who own a large media conglomerate — was nominated for 27 Emmy Awards and 14 of those are in acting categories. At its center is patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox), who has four adult children and three want to be his successor.

The battle over who is the rightful heir to his business empire came to a head in the stellar final season, and it was a rollercoaster.

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Top TV of 2023: AP’s selections include ‘Succession,’ ‘Jury Duty,’ ‘Shrinking,’ ‘Swarm’