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AARP’s 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2023

‘The Bear,’ ‘Fargo’ and ‘The Golden Bachelor’ make TV critic Tim Appelo’s list

spinner image collage of characters from different t v shows
Photo Collage: MOA; (Source: L to R: HBO; ABC; FX (3); Peacock; FX; HBO; Netflix)

Want to see a show that’s worth your time? Use our biannual must-see list to make sure you don’t miss a winner. It was the year when Succession, Reservation Dogs and Barry ended in total triumph, and the royal hit The Crown headed for a tragic end. The murder mystery Fargo staged a comeback to its previous artistic heights, and Meryl Streep made Only Murders in the Building funnier than ever. Jamie Lee Curtis did a stunning guest star stint on The Bear, and The Golden Bachelor became the season’s biggest out-of-nowhere smash hit — by taking the love lives of people over 50 seriously. Here are our picks of the year’s greatest TV shows.


spinner image bill hader as barry in a still from barry


The smart, funny and scary show about a hit man (Bill Hader) transformed by the acting class of a has-been actor (Henry Winkler, 78) got way scarier in its fourth and final season, brilliantly directed by Hader. Lots of dark comedies these days let the viewer off easy emotionally — we laugh off the darkness. But Barry seriously confronts us with moral issues, as the lead character faces the fact that what he’s done is nobody’s fault but his own, and Winkler’s character takes fate into his own bloody hands. Where to watch Barry


spinner image ebon moss-bachrach as richard richie jerimovich in a still from the bear

The Bear

Shameless star Jeremy Allen White reached a new level of fame with the story of Carmy, a neurotic restaurateur who’s recovering from his brother’s death — and maybe not recovering from his own demons. But he and the staff of his ambitious, imperiled eatery wrestle with their demons heroically, and guest stars ratcheted up the drama to unprecedented heights for the second season of The Bear. Bob Odenkirk, 61, equaled his Better Call Saul excellence as Uncle Lee of Carmy’s mom (Jamie Lee Curtis, 65), and Curtis’ plate-hurling, car-crashing-into-the-house scene at a family dinner was one of the wildest, finest moments of the TV year. Where to watch The Bear


spinner image emma corrin as princess diana and  
josh o connor as prince charles in a still from the crown
Des Willie/Netflix

The Crown

The sixth season of the ultimate royal soap opera kicks off with Prince Charles (Dominic West, 54) and Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) enjoying their first post-divorce summer — the latter in the early throes of a romance with Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla). After these four episodes, in which Imelda Staunton, 67, again aces the role of Queen Elizabeth II, no drama in previous excellent seasons can match the riveting spectacle of Diana’s tragic, emotionally tumultuous last days. Where to watch The Crown


spinner image keri russell and ato essandoh in a still from the diplomat
Alex Bailey/Netflix/Everett Collection

The Diplomat

This fun political thriller shows some of the DNA of creator Debora Cahn’s previous shows The West Wing and Homeland. Keri Russell, who blew us away on The Americans, does it again as America’s new ambassador to the U.K., dispatched by our crusty president (Michael McKean, 76, of Better Call Saul and Laverne & Shirley fame). Russell is accompanied by her husband (brilliant Rufus Sewell, 56), a former ambassador who deals with her new fame by undermining her — their arguments have a spark that sometimes recalls Moonlighting. For all the screwball comedy, it’s also rooted in savvy knowledge of the real political universe. Where to watch The Diplomat


spinner image jon hamm as roy tillman in a still from fargo
Frank W Ockenfels III/FX


After a so-so fourth season, the TV series that riffs on the Coen brothers’ classic film Fargo’s droll murder mystery template got great again in this, the fifth season. You’ll love the similar yet completely distinct TV version. Jennifer Jason Leigh, 61, plays a billionaire who resents her daughter-in-law Dot (Juno Temple), a mild-mannered Minnesota homemaker who turns out to have a dark past involving Roy (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, 52), a funny but scary sheriff who likes the Bible, despises pesky human laws and is a public menace. Where to watch Fargo

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spinner image cast of the golden bachelor all dressed in black
Ricky Middlesworth/ABC

The Golden Bachelor

It’s the biggest, most unexpected hit of the year and the greatest reality dating show in history — plus the only one with a Beverly Hills billboard featuring AARP’s headline about its star (“He’s Hot. He’s Sexy. He’s 72”). Besides the show’s addictive human drama, it refutes ageism and reminds everyone that people 50-plus are still in the game. “We made history together!” says bachelor Gerry Turner. “We’ve realized that at our age we’re not invisible.” His date, Susan, told AARP, “I want people out there who feel like they’re old and they’re never going to find anybody to stop feeling that way. Get up and get out! Just start living again — because our life is not over at 60, or 66.” Her rival, and now friend, Sandra added, “You can find love after 80. I mean, what’s the limit? The limit is within yourself.” Where to watch The Golden Bachelor


spinner image martin short as oliver, steve martin as charles and selena gomez as mabel in a still from only murders in the building
Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

Only Murders in the Building

What could make the jaunty hit murder mystery starring Steve Martin, 78, Martin Short, 73, and Selena Gomez as amateur sleuths investigating mayhem at their fancy Manhattan apartment building any better? The third season added actors Paul Rudd, 54, and Meryl Streep, 74, who plays a dotty actress down on her luck trying to leap back into the Broadway spotlight in Short’s character’s play, Death Rattle. Streep has never been better on TV, and the whole cast is up to her standard. Where to watch Only Murders in the Building


spinner image natasha lyonne as charlie cale and stephanie hsu as morty in a still from poker face

Poker Face

If you liked Rian Johnson’s film Knives Out and sandpaper-voiced Natasha Lyonne’s Groundhog Day-like Netflix show Russian Doll, you should try Johnson’s high-IQ mystery series on Peacock. Poker Face follows a magnetic drifter (Lyonne) with a gift for detecting when anyone lies. While on the lam, the former casino worker stumbles upon crimes in each town she lands in; she’s also on the hunt for her bestie’s killer. As on Peter Falk’s Columbo, we see the crime, then the gumshoe cracks the case. Lyonne is a sleuth as irresistible as Angela Lansbury. Where to watch Poker Face


spinner image lane factor as cheese and gary farmer as uncle brownie in a still from reservation dogs
Shane Brown/FX

Reservation Dogs

Is there a more exhilaratingly original show on TV? In three increasingly brilliant seasons, we watched a group of teenagers desperate to escape their Oklahoma reservation grow into wisdom, with a lot of help from the hilarious yet wise ghost of a warrior who died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It’s good for more than laughs — one devastating episode stars the ghost of a victim of the boarding schools that oppressed and murdered Indigenous people to erase their culture. This illuminating show made us all feel like part of one tribe. Where to watch Reservation Dogs


spinner image jeremy strong, sarah snook and kieran culkin in a still from succession
Claudette Barius/HBO


In the fourth and final season of TV’s most cynically realistic hit, Succession, the children of thundering potty-mouthed patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox, 77) are betrayed, and in turn energetically betray each other in ingeniously devious ways. It’s fantastically well written, and the acidulous comedy is rooted in heartrending drama. This is the rare show that lives up to its overwhelming hype. Where to watch Succession

Love our picks? Think we missed something? Scroll down to the Conversation section and share your favorite shows.


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