Since the unforeseen pandemic dawned on the audience, they started investing and getting invested in long-form storytelling on various OTT platforms. During the pandemic, many OTT platforms bloomed and provided us with entertainment, with doors to many stories and talents opening up, causing a further infiltration of the digital age into our lives via stories and characters.
Compared to 2022, the slate of releases in 2023 was smaller. It was because the writers, actors, and technicians were on strike to demand better residual pay. While some underwhelming projects were released in 2023, like ‘Ahsoka’, which failed to build on the success of ‘Andor’, Marvel continued with its exhausted, lethargic storytelling with season two of series like ‘Loki’. However, there were some new projects like ‘The Last of Us’, and the last seasons of shows like ‘Succession’ and ‘The Reservation Dogs’ provided some respite in a dud year for long-form storytelling.
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10) I’m A Virgo
Boots Riley brought another surrealist project with ‘I’m A Virgo’ on Amazon Prime after ‘Sorry to Bother’. Riley’s absurd metaphors center on Cootie, played by ‘Moonlight’ fame Jharrel Jerome, who is an everyday guy, but his 13-foot height sets him apart.
The series is set in Oakland, where Cootie lives with his highly protective uncle and aunt, who shield him to protect him from the world taking advantage of him. However, Cootie’s character sets out in the world to navigate through life and meets his idol, The Hero, played by Walton Goggins. Riley uses the mythical theme to address some complex socio-political issues of our time.
9) Fellow Travelers
Showtime released a miniseries starring Jonathan Bailey and Matt Bomer titled ‘Fellow Travelers’. It is a tender love story of two gay men, Jonathan’s Tim Laughlin and Matt’s Hawkins, who drift apart and come back to one another due to sexual and ideological tension.
The story is mostly told in a flashback manner as the saga leads to differences between the ideologies growing as they meet again each time as Hawk and Tim talk about the relationship as the former is dying of AIDS. The series is based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 book of the same moniker.
8) Dead Ringers
One of the best series that came out in 2023 was the Rachel Weisz-starrer ‘Dead Ringers’. The Prime Video miniseries is based on the true story of two gynecologists who were found dead in their apartment in Manhattan. While David Cronenberg took the story and made a film starring Jeremy Irons in 1988. The story was back on screen after 35 years with a fresh perspective.
In ‘Dead Ringers’, the twins, Beverly and Elliot Mantle, played by Rachel Weisz, want to revolutionize the maternity experience for women in their facility. However, sooner or later, problems surface between the two, which leads to their separation. During this period, the twins swap personalities, both professionally and socially. When the experiment reaches the point of exhaustion, tragedy creeps into the lives of the twins.
7) The Fall Of The House Of Usher
Netflix’s gothic tale of the fall of the family who runs a pharmaceutical empire has been an impeccable, gory telling of the story of greed, force, and money. The miniseries ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ focuses on the brother-sister duo, Roderick Usher and Madeline Usher, who infiltrate the pharmacy business and revolutionize pain-killer drugs.
The story of the series is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s stories. While the brother and sister build an empire, a phantom of a woman haunts them at each stage as the whole lineage of the Usher family gets erased as they make a deal while rising to the level of success they reach with the blood of dozens of people on their hands.
6) The Last Of Us
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey had the best year with their path-breaking adaptation of ‘The Last of Us’ video game. In the trend of adapting video games into a motion picture, Craig Mazin, Neil Druckmann, and Carolyn Strauss transformed the game into a heart-wrenching tale of two people becoming a support system for one another.
The story of ‘The Last of Us’ takes place 20 years after the apocalypse destroyed the entire universe, with Joel and Ellie being the only survivors. While they start on a bitter note, the two eventually form a bond that is one of care, love, and support. Along with the two, Bill and Frank’s love story in the third episode had the viewers tearing up.
5) Jury Duty
The mockumentary genre is what kept television alive in the early 2000s. ‘The Office’ is the prime example of that. Now, the creators of the same series have released a mockumentary in 2023, which is both heartwarming and hilarious. It is called ‘Jury Duty’ and is streaming on Amazon FreeVee. The series has already bagged four Emmy nominations, and it stars James Marsden and Ronald Gladden.
The series revolves around Ronald Gladden, who thinks that he is serving on jury duty for a case in California that is being documented. However, he is unaware of the fact that it is all being filmed with jurors, judges, and lawyers, all of whom are actors. ‘Jury Duty’ was released in April 2023, and it has garnered popularity on social media for its eccentric theme.
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4) Abbott Elementary
During the awards season, the niche black comedy ‘Abbott Elementary’, became one of the most deserving series to snag awards, including the Emmys. The series was created by a former Buzzfeed employee, Quinta Brunson. The series follows the lives of teachers at the Philadelphia public school, who run the classes with the bare minimum provided to them by giving us some laughing and teaching moments throughout the series.
In 2023, the second season of ‘Abbott Elementary’ premiered. It explored the relationship between Janine and Gregory while tackling the issue of schools being taken over by charter schools. We saw cameos of actresses like Ayo Edebiri and Taraji P. Henson.
3) Reservation Dogs
After Donald Glover’s ‘Atlanta’, FX gave us another series with some rooted characters along with a communal coming-of-age story with ‘Reservation Dogs’.
It follows the story of four teens—Bear, Cheese, Willie Jack, and Elora—who think that their town of Okern, Oklahoma, killed their friend, Daniel. He had a dream to be freed from the native experience and go to the picturesque beaches in California.
While the quartet goes on the soul-searching journey, they discover many things through the span of three seasons. In the third season, the foursome realized that they had everything they needed in their native community while they went on a quest. It is also a stellar tale, explaining to us about the native grieving.
With all due respect to ‘Succession’, it is better that we give time to the audience to recuperate from the election call day, where the fate of the Waystar Royco was decided. The fourth and final season of the series was a masterclass in keeping the viewers on edge while also playing with their psyche by giving moments like the one in the third episode after the patriarch dies. The season will remain one of the best viewing experiences of 2023.
1) The Bear
The year 2023 made Jeremy Allen White into a sex symbol with the catchphrase that made the most noise on the internet—Yes, chef! However, besides the popular culture phenomenon, the second season of ‘The Bear’ was one of the most riveting, cathartic moments on television this year.
White’s Carmen is all set to turn Chicago’s best beef sandwich place into a five-star dining place. He invites Sydney and Marcus back to reinvent the entire restaurant that his brother left him after his death.
The events from the first season still haunt Carmen, but the new season brings new demons forth for the Michelin-starred chef. The series’ best performance is provided by Jamie Lee Curtis, who plays Carmen’s mother during the sixth episode of the new season.
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