The Bestest 2023: Television

Marc Ruxin
5 min readJan 25, 2024

There is just too much good TV. This is good and bad, especially if you can just focus on the truly great stuff. It kept me occupied for much of the year (perhaps too much) and these are the shows you need to see. (caveat: I did not see Reservation Dogs, Poker Face, or Yellowstone). I will.

  1. The Righteous Gemstones (Max) I’m a sucker for just about everything Danny McBride and Jody Hill have ever done starting with “Eastbound & Down “ and “Vice Principals.” This time out everything is bigger and the cast is even better and weirder than before, as a family of corrupt megachurch entrepreneurs who muddle through this bizarre American phenomenon. Great comedies seem harder to make than drama, this has both.
  2. Beef (Netflix) At the center of this road rage initiated dramedy, Ali Wong and her pseudo nemesis Steven Yuen, battle each other while also stumbling over marital and professional potholes on the hysterical road to self destruction.
  3. The Bear (Hulu) My favorite character on “Shameless” was Lip (Jeremy Allen White). On that show I watched him grow up over 11 seasons. I was also born in Chicago and my mother still lives there so I have a Chicago bias. I’m also a foodie. The Bear is a great show. Everybody knows it.
  4. A Small Light (Nat Geo/Hulu) Had I not been desperate for a show and digging hard for the next one, I never would have found this hidden gem about a married non-Jewish couple who sheltered Ann Frank and her family in Amsterdam. Led by the hugely appealing Bel Pawley, as the real-life Miep Gies, who took it upon herself to help Otto Frank (Liev Schreiber) and 6 others avoid the Nazi’s for years. There is a lightness to the show despite the impending darkness making it something special to behold.
  5. Better Things (FX) The final season of Pamela Adlon’s autobiographical story about being a single parent to three precocious girls and while continuing on as an aging actress in Hollywood is as honest and clever as anything you’re likely to see about modern families. The show is a bit like a female lead Curb Your Enthusiasm, the difference being Adlon has “responsibilities” and a “heart.”
  6. The Last of Us (Max) Twenty years after a planetary apocalypse, a crusty survivalist and a young girl set from Boston to find a missing family member in Wyoming. This voyage leads them through a series of impossible scenarios through a labyrinth of fungus infected zombies. Unlike most of the Zombie fare that has come before, “The Last of Us” relies less on action and more on quiet human moments, than gore-filled chaos, which separates it in a much more creative way than you’d expect.
  7. A Murder at the End of the World (Hulu) — Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij (The OA) are back with a sci-fi murder mystery that feels like the love child of “Ex-Machina” and your favorite serial killer series. Set at a futuristic hotel in Iceland owned by a Muskian tech-head who has convened a small group of artists and scientists, a murder takes place and the past and present are mixed into the to lol c one of the best shows of the year.
  8. Fargo (FX) The Fargo series is occasionally hit and miss, but this, the most modern of the bunch, features another great performance by Juno Temple and John Hamm. There is the violence we’ve come to expect, but also a war that is more entertaining and creative than what has come before.
  9. The Curse (HBO) This is a twistedly cringey faux reality show written and starring Nathan Fielder and carried in part by Emma Stone. Set in Los Almos, NM, the Curse mixes gentrification and wokeness with the superficiality of a home improvement show. No character is safe from judgment and humiliation, but most of it is carried by our self-absorbed stars.
  10. Succession (HBO) I’m both sad and glad that the Roy’s will no longer be a part of my life. Of course, this show managed to transcend the rather obvious sum of their parts, and the ending was better than you’d thought it would be, without having to try too hard. Through it all the over-the-top performances and uniformly loathsome characters made the show a vicious pleasure.
  11. The Woods, Safe, The Stranger, The Five, Fool Me Once (Netflix) … Anything by Harlan Coben for that matter. I love true crime shows, especially these 6–8 episode gems written by the best of the best in the genre. They are mostly set in the UK, but a few are set elsewhere in Europe. Start wherever you like. You can’t go wrong.
  12. Somebody Somewhere (HBO) This loveably oddball group of Kansas cast offs again create a kind of innocent but genuine magic in the everyday. Not much happens in terms of plot, but the show effortlessly exposes us to the hearts and minds of people who can’t help but become people we are attached to and rooting for.
  13. The Crowded Room (Apple+) / Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan(Netflix) Although it would be easy to pick holes in the fabric of the fictionalized retelling of the real life story of Billy Milligan, who was one of the first people to be recognized for having “dissociative identity disorder,” in “The Crowded Room, Amada Seyfried and Tom Holland are relentlessly compelling. The story twists and turns, but gains momentum down the stretch. If the real Billy Milligan is interesting, you’re better off watching the documentary which chronicles his life in the Midwest and the crimes that put him into psychiatric hospitals for a decade, “Monsters Inside” is the perfect compliment.
  14. Money Heist (Netflix) This was the show that finally convinced me that it was okay to watch a show dubbed (from Spanish) instead of subtitles. Over five seasons this addictively compelling cast of bank robbers create just the right amount of action and character development to leave you wanting more.
  15. The Sinner (Netflix) In Season 4 Bill Pullman is on vacation in Maine to recuperate from his last case and potentially retire, but his downtrodden whip-smart instincts can’t keep him away. In it he stumbles into the death of a girl, whose sordid family history takes him down a twisted rabbit hole.
  16. Telemarketers (HBO) Impossible to describe. Awesome to watch. Art imitates life.



Marc Ruxin

Entrepreneur, investor, operator, music and film zealot, and occasional writer of occasionally interesting things ..