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The top 50 television shows of 2023, ranked from 50 to 41.


50

Rain Dogs

The TV show “Skint Estate” on BBC One/iPlayer, created by Cash Carraway, was a dark and authentic portrayal of a single mother and her daughter struggling to survive in modern-day Britain. Daisy May Cooper gave a remarkable performance as Costello Jones, a sex worker who aspires to write a book after being evicted with her daughter Irish (played by Fleur Tashjian). While not always easy to watch, the show’s sharp writing, compelling acting (including Jack Farthing’s portrayal of Costello’s troubled friend Selby), and dark humor made it a bold and impactful series from a fresh and talented TV creator.

According to our statement, “Rain Dogs” is not primarily a comedy. Instead, it is a dark and captivating drama where moments of humor are crucial for survival, akin to small breaks in the darkness. To learn more, continue reading.

49

Beckham

David Beckham in 1996.

This documentary on Netflix featured numerous well-known and interesting individuals, making it one of the most talked-about of the year. The interviews were engaging and insightful, giving viewers a glimpse into the private lives of David and Victoria as they playfully teased each other. One particularly noteworthy moment was when Victoria shared her upbringing with a father who drove her to school in a seemingly ordinary car, which turned out to be a luxurious Rolls-Royce. Along with showcasing David’s current hobbies and lifestyle, the documentary also delved into the harsh scrutiny and criticism he faced during his career, especially after a controversial incident during the World Cup. It also shed light on the challenges and struggles that he and Victoria have faced as a couple, including rumors of infidelity. Despite these obstacles, the couple has persevered and is now seen happily dancing to Dolly Parton’s music. Overall, this documentary is a wild and captivating journey.

We mentioned a lot of juicy tidbits, such as his sarong, numerous haircuts, and choice to wear purple at his wedding. It’s quite enjoyable and each episode goes by quickly. The Beckham brand will surely be relieved.

48

The Deceptive Existence of Adolescents

(Netflix) Elena Ferrante’s powerful story of a young person’s journey to adulthood may have gone unnoticed when it was released on Netflix earlier this year. Taking place in Naples during the 1990s, the show centers around Giovanna, a middle-class teen who has her world turned upside down when she reconnects with her estranged aunt Vittoria, who is from a less affluent area of the city. This gripping drama is a must-watch for those who loved the previous adaptation of Ferrante’s work, My Brilliant Friend, as it explores similar themes of relationships, loyalty, sexuality, politics, and social class divisions.

Ferrante’s insight into the intricate psyche of adolescent girls is flawless, and Giovanna’s journey of self-discovery, as she experiments with and rejects different identities, is relatable and universal.

47

Lessons in Chemistry

(Apple TV+) This charmingly styled, 50s-set tale of a prodigious female chemist using a TV cooking show to battle the patriarchy took a bestselling novel and turned it into zippy, emotive and wry television. There was killer knitwear, Brie Larson’s enjoyably comic turn as a lead who is low on emotional intelligence, plus a romance that veered between charming and utterly heartbreaking. Even better, it absolutely one-upped the original book – by only featuring one episode narrated by a dog.

“Think of Lessons in Chemistry as a version of Mad Men that takes place in an academic setting rather than on Madison Avenue.”

46

The Change

Bridget Christie as Linda in The Change.

(Channel 4) Bridget Christie tackled the topic of menopause head-on in this comedy, delving into the complexities and joys of an experience that has not been frequently portrayed on screen. She portrayed Linda, a 50-year-old who learns she is going through menopause and embarks on a journey to find herself in a forest, leaving her family behind. Along the way, she encounters new individuals and participates in an eel festival, leading to a profound finale that stood out for the year.

Essentially, this is like The Vicar of Dibley wearing biker leathers. It’s about a middle-aged woman who disrupts the norms in a close-knit countryside town. However, it also incorporates themes of folk feminism, inspired by the comedic style of Gloucester-born Christie and the River Severn.

45

Boat Story

The TV show “The Tourist”, created by the Williams brothers, aired on BBC One and can be watched on iPlayer. It is a gripping and unique thriller that combines different genres, and although it may not be for everyone, it is a thrilling experience for those who enjoy it. The story follows Janet (played by Daisy Haggard) and Samuel (played by Paterson Joseph), who meet on a beach and stumble upon a boat with two deceased individuals and a large amount of cocaine. They quickly make the decision to take the drugs and deal with the consequences, believing that when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

“The show’s script, which features a voiceover describing Janet as ‘a woman with blue hair, driving towards a Thursday,’ evokes the styles of Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and the Coen brothers by seamlessly blending different genres. This confident approach avoids gimmicks and elevates the show to a level beyond its individual elements.”

44

A Small Light

Bel Powley as Miep Gies in A Small Light.

This touching drama set during World War II delved into a lesser known aspect of the Anne Frank narrative. Actress Bel Powley delivered a standout performance as Miep Gies, a compassionate woman who, along with her husband Jan (played by Joe Cole), assisted the Franks in hiding from the Nazis in the Netherlands. The film skillfully balanced humor, heartache, and a glimmer of optimism, despite the tragic conclusion we are already familiar with.

The message of the story is not to lose hope, but to inspire bravery. The conclusion mentions that Miep, who lived to be 100, spent her life giving speeches and reminding others that even everyday individuals such as secretaries, housewives, or teenagers can make a difference by shining a light in a dark room.

43

Dear Mama

The documentary (Disney+) about Tupac Shakur and his relationship with his mother, who was a former member of the Black Panthers, provided deep insights and thorough coverage. The footage of the rapper during his teenage years was emotionally impactful, and the inclusion of interviews from both family members and famous figures like Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg gave the story a personal touch. It is worth noting that the film was made by Allen Hughes, a former collaborator of Tupac’s who was ultimately responsible for his imprisonment.

What we said: “Far more thorough and far more sweeping than many other music documentaries, and especially those about stars as culturally significant as Tupac.” Read more

42

The Piano

Amiss Tori sitting at the piano with Claudia Winkleman.

(Channel 4) Never before had so much joy been had on a train station concourse. This Claudia Winkleman-hosted showcase of unsung musical talent performing on railway pianos was relentlessly affecting. From charming pensioners bashing out jazz to kids playing rave classics, almost every performance sizzled with personality. And when blind, neurodiverse pianist Lucy took to the keys for a soaring, inspirational performance? Not a viewer in the world could have dry eyes after that. Astonishingly powerful TV.

The Piano is not only a showcase of the players’ skills, but also a celebration of the instrument itself. It exudes potential, with every semitone on display.

41

Champion

Ray BLK as Honey in Champion.

The music scenes in Candice Carty-Williams’s drama Queenie, available on BBC One and iPlayer, were incredibly authentic thanks to the contributions of well-known artists such as Shola Ama, Ghetts, and R&B star Ray BLK. Each time a character performed, the results were so catchy that you couldn’t help but hum them for days. This stylish drama about a hip-hop family also marked the return of Malcolm Kamulete, who had been absent from our screens since his role as one of the talented leads in Top Boy during his school years.

“If you are familiar with the popular hip-hop show Empire, or have watched an episode of Nashville, you will likely enjoy this delightfully dramatic series that pays tribute to local music.”

Source: theguardian.com