Given that we’re now in the back half of 2023, lists are already starting to circulate that compile the best TV shows of the year thus far — lists that, of course, are extremely subjective but nevertheless afford a fun look back at all the great TV we’ve enjoyed since January. They range from buzzy new Netflix releases to Apple TV+ gems as well as a certain Hulu show set in a Chicago sandwich shop that critics and viewers can’t stop raving about.
This latest list of the 10 best TV shows, below, comes after another post we did a month ago now that ranked the top shows on the basis of IMDb user preferences. This time around, the yardstick is Rotten Tomatoes scores, and the resulting list includes … well, some head-scratchers is probably the diplomatic way to put it. Season 2 of The Bear, for example, is way, way too low at #9, while there is no universe in which Apple’s Drops of God deserves to be behind Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.
Likewise, I found Netflix’s Cunk on Earth to be pretty insufferable in its attempt to be funny — and, for the life of me, I cannot understand what the critics see in this one. The host basically does a whole so-ignorant-it’s-supposed-to-be-funny schtick throughout the series that you’ll either love or hate (maybe it works because she has a British accent, but still).
Another (completely subjective) list of the best TV shows of 2023
At any rate, let’s now take a look at what the Rotten Tomatoes scores show are currently the best TV shows of 2023 thus far, in descending order. Trailers, as well as summary info for each show, can also be found below. Is your favorite on this list?
10: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (98% critics’ score)
Series info: Per Paramount+, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds “will follow Captain Pike, Science Officer Spock, and Number One as they explore new worlds around the galaxy.”
9: The Bear Season 2 (99% critics’ score)
Series info: In this critically acclaimed Hulu original, a young fine-dining chef returns home to Chicago to take over his brother’s sandwich shop.
8: Primo (100% critics’ score)
Series info: Alright Mike Schur fans, here’s your next TV comedy obsession. Per Amazon’s Freevee, “Primo is a coming-of-age comedy about Rafa Gonzales, a wide-eyed teenager, being raised by his mother Drea and his five overbearing uncles (Rollie, Mike, Ryan, Jay, and Mondo) as he balances college aspirations, societal expectations, and a hectic home life on the south side of San Antonio.”
7: Cunk on Earth (100% critics’ score)
Series info: Philomena Cunk is a fictional investigative reporter who travels the world and sounds posh while making bizarre pronouncements and comments about everything she sees. Sort of like a British version of Stephen Colbert’s old character from Comedy Central.
6: A Small Light (100% critics’ score)
Series info: A Small Light tells the story of Miep Gies, who helped hide Anne Frank and her family during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.
5: Drops of God (100% critics’ score)
Series info: Drops of God is an 8-episode adaptation of the bestselling Japanese manga series of the same name.
The story: Alexandre Léger, creator of the famous Léger Wine Guide and world-renowned figure in oenology, has just died. He leaves behind two potential heirs to his wine collection, valued at $148 million: A daughter in Paris, Camille, who hasn’t seen her father since her parents separated when she was nine. And Alexandre’s protege, the brilliant young oenologist Issei Tomine.
In other words, it’s the biological daughter versus the “adopted” son. Almost like Apple’s version of HBO’s Succession, but much less stressful — indeed, this show captivated me from start to finish.
4: Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai (100% critics’ score)
Series info: From Max, “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai takes viewers back to 1920s Shanghai where the Wing family first meets the young Mogwai called Gizmo. Sam Wing (future shop owner Mr. Wing in the 1984 Gremlins film) accepts the dangerous task to take Gizmo home and embarks on a journey through the Chinese countryside.”
3: Foundation (86% critics’ score)
Series info: Apple’s critically acclaimed adaptation of the Isaac Asimov novels tells the story of a band of exiles on their journey to save humanity.
2: The Other Two Season 3 (100% critics’ score)
Series info: Per the Max synopsis, “When Cary and Brooke Dubek’s 13-year-old brother becomes an overnight pop sensation, their unglamorous lives are thrown into chaos.”
1: Happy Valley Season 3 (100% critics’ score)
Series info: This British crime drama is focused on the personal and professional life of a police sergeant, played by Sarah Lancashire.