Seven 2023 Emmy-Winning TV Shows That You Should Watch Immediately
Including the feuding hijinks of 'Beef', the final season of 'Succession' and Jennifer Coolidge's second 'The White Lotus' stint, these are the 2023 Emmy-winners that you need to see.
January 16, 2024
If you like watching glitzy Hollywood awards ceremonies that hand out shiny trophies to talented actors and other creative film and TV talents, 2024 has been a particularly dazzling year so far. First came the Golden Globes, as always happens. Next, only a week later, the Emmys have anointed winners.
For those thinking that this sounds out of the ordinary, it is. In fact, there'll likely be two Emmys in 2024. This one, as held on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 New Zealand time time, is the 2023 event after being postponed during Hollywood's writers' and actors' strikes.
If you like basing your viewing picks on what's been collected prizes, this is clearly a stellar year as well, with a heap of new Emmy-winners now demanding a spot in your streaming queue. Here's seven that you should — and can — watch ASAP.
(And if you're wondering what else won, you can read through the full list, too.)
The more time that anyone spends in the kitchen, the easier that whipping up their chosen dish gets. The Bear season two is that concept in TV form, even if the team at The Original Beef of Chicagoland don't always live it as they leap from running a beloved neighbourhood sandwich joint to opening a fine-diner, and fast. The hospitality crew that was first introduced in the best new show of 2022 isn't lacking in culinary skills or passion. But when bedlam surrounds you constantly, as bubbled and boiled through The Bear's Golden Globe-winning, Emmy-nominated season-one frames, not everything always goes to plan. That was only accurate on-screen for Carmen 'Carmy' Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White, Fingernails) and his colleagues — aka sous chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri, Bottoms), baker-turned-pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce, Hap and Leonard), veteran line cooks Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas, In Treatment) and Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson, Fargo), resident Mr Fixit Neil Fak (IRL chef Matty Matheson), and family pal Richie aka Cousin (Ebon Moss-Bachrach, No Hard Feelings). For viewers, the series' debut run was as perfect a piece of television as anyone can hope for. Excellent news: season two is better.
The Bear serves up another sublime course of comedy, drama and "yes chef!"-exclaiming antics across its sizzling second season. Actually make that ten more courses, one per episode, with each new instalment its own more-ish meal. A menu, a loan, desperately needed additional help, oh-so-much restaurant mayhem: that's how this second visit begins, as Carmy and Sydney endeavour to make their dreams for their own patch of Chicago's food scene come true. So far, so familiar, but The Bear isn't just plating up the same dishes this time around. At every moment, this new feast feels richer, deeper and more seasoned, including when it's as intense as ever, when it's filling the screen with tastebud-tempting food shots that relish culinary artistry, and also when it gets meditative. Episodes that send Marcus to a Noma-esque venue in Copenhagen under the tutelage of Luca (Will Poulter, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), get Richie spending a week learning the upscale ropes at one of Chicago's best restaurants and jump back to the past, demonstrating how chaos would've been in Carmy's blood regardless of if he became a chef, are particularly stunning.
Won: Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Jeremy Allen White), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Ayo Edebiri), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series (Christopher Storer), Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Christopher Storer).
Where to watch it: The Bear streams via Disney+.
Read our full review.
Endings have always been a part of Succession. Since it premiered in 2018, the bulk of the HBO drama's feuding figures have been waiting for a big farewell. The reason is right there in the title, because for any of the Roy clan's adult children to scale the family company's greatest heights and remain there — be it initial heir apparent Kendall (Jeremy Strong, Armageddon Time), his inappropriate photo-sending brother Roman (Kieran Culkin, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off), their political-fixer sister Siobhan (Sarah Snook, Pieces of a Woman), or eldest sibling and presidential candidate Connor (Alan Ruck, The Dropout) — their father Logan's (Brian Cox, Remember Me) tenure needed to wrap up. The latter was always stubborn. Proud, too, of what he'd achieved and the power it's brought. And whenever Logan seemed nearly ready to leave the business behind, he held on. If he's challenged or threatened, as happened again and again in the series, he fixed his grasp even tighter.
Succession was always been waiting for Logan's last stint at global media outfit Waystar RoyCo, but it had never been about finales quite the way it was in its stunning fourth season. This time, there was ticking clock not just for the show's characters, but for the stellar series itself, given that this is its last go-around — and didn't it make the most of it. Nothing can last forever, not even widely acclaimed hit shows that are a rarity in today's TV climate: genuine appointment-viewing. So, this went out at the height of its greatness, complete with unhappy birthday parties, big business deals, plenty of scheming and backstabbing, and both Shiv's husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen, Operation Mincemeat) and family cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun, Cat Person) in vintage form — plus an early shock, at least two of the best episodes of any show that've ever aired on television, one of the worst drinks, a phenomenal acting masterclass, a The Sopranos-level final shot and the reality that money really can't buy happiness.
Won: Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kieran Culkin), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Sarah Snook), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Matthew Macfadyen), Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Jesse Armstrong), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Mark Mylod).
Where to watch it: Succession streams via Neon.
Read our full review.
As plenty does, Beef starts with two strangers meeting, but there's absolutely nothing cute about it. Sparks don't fly and hearts don't flutter; instead, this pair grinds each other's gears. In a case of deep and passionate hate at first sight, Danny Cho (Steven Yeun, Nope) and Amy Lau (Ali Wong, Paper Girls) give their respective vehicles' gearboxes a workout, in fact, after he begins to pull out of a hardware store carpark, she honks behind him, and lewd hand signals and terse words are exchanged. Food is thrown, streets are angrily raced down, gardens are ruined, accidents are barely avoided, and the name of Vin Diesel's famous car franchise springs to mind, aptly describing how bitterly these two strangers feel about each other — and how quickly. Created by Lee Sung Jin, who has It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dave and Silicon Valley on his resume before this ten-part Netflix and A24 collaboration, Beef also commences with a simple, indisputable and deeply relatable fact. Whether you're a struggling contractor hardly making ends meet, as he is, or a store-owning entrepreneur trying to secure a big deal, as she is — or, if you're both, neither or anywhere in-between — pettiness reigning supreme is basic human nature.
Danny could've just let Amy beep as much as she liked, then waved, apologised and driven away. Amy could've been more courteous about sounding her horn, and afterwards. But each feels immediately slighted by the other, isn't willing to stand for such an indignity and becomes consumed by their trivial spat. Neither takes the high road, not once — and if you've ever gotten irrationally irate about a minor incident, this new standout understands. Episode by episode, it sees that annoyance fester and exasperation grow, too. Beef spends its run with two people who can't let go of their instant rage, keep trying to get the other back, get even more incensed in response, and just add more fuel to the fire again and again until their whole existence is a blaze of revenge. If you've ever taken a small thing and blown it wildly out of proportion, Beef is also on the same wavelength. And if any of the above has ever made you question your entire life — or just the daily grind of endeavouring to get by, having everything go wrong, feeling unappreciated and constantly working — Beef might just feel like it was made for you.
Won: Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie (Steven Yeun), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie (Ali Wong), Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie (Lee Sung Jin), Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie (Lee Sung Jin).
Where to watch it: Beef streams via Netflix.
Read our full review.
THE WHITE LOTUS
Lives of extravagant luxury. Globe-hopping getaways. Whiling away cocktail-soaked days in gorgeous beachy locales. Throw in the level of wealth and comfort needed to make those three things an easy, breezy everyday reality, and the world's sweetest dreams are supposedly made of this. On TV since 2021, HBO's hit dramedy The White Lotus has been, too. Indeed, in its Emmy-winning first season, the series was a phenomenon of a biting satire, scorching the one percent, colonialism and class divides in a twisty, astute, savage and hilarious fashion. It struck such a chord, in fact, that what was meant to be a one-and-done limited season was renewed for a second go-around, sparking an anthology. That Sicily-set second effort once again examines sex, status, staring head-on at mortality and accepting the unshakeable fact that life is short for everyone but truly sweet for oh-so-few regardless of bank balance — and with writer/director/creator Mike White (Brad's Status) still overseeing proceedings, the several suitcase loads of smart, scathing, sunnily shot chaos that The White Lotus brings to screens this time around are well worth unpacking again.
Here, another group of well-off holidaymakers slip into another splashy, flashy White Lotus property and work through their jumbled existences. Another death lingers over their trip, with The White Lotus again starting with an unnamed body — bodies, actually — then jumping back seven days to tell its tale from the beginning. Running the Taormina outpost of the high-end resort chain, Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore, Across the River and Into the Trees) is barely surprised by the corpse that kicks off season two. She's barely surprised about much beforehand, either. That includes her dealings with the returning Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (Jennifer Coolidge, The Watcher), her husband Greg (Jon Gries, Dream Corp LLC) and assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson, After Yang); three generations of Di Grasso men, aka Bert (F Murray Abraham, Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities), Hollywood hotshot Dominic (Michael Imperioli, The Many Saints of Newark) and the Stanford-educated Albie (Adam DiMarco, The Order); and tech whiz Ethan (Will Sharpe, Defending the Guilty) and his wife Harper (Aubrey Plaza, Best Sellers), plus his finance-bro college roommate Cameron (Theo James, The Time Traveller's Wife) and his stay-at-home wife Daphne (Meghann Fahy, The Bold Type).
Won: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Jennifer Coolidge).
Where to watch it: The White Lotus streams via Neon.
Read our full review of season two.
The Office did it, in both the UK and US versions. Parks and Recreation did so, too. What We Do in the Shadows still does it — and, yes, there's more where they all came from. By now, the mockumentary format is a well-established part of the sitcom realm. Indeed, it's so common that additional shows deciding to give it a whirl aren't noteworthy for that alone. But in Abbott Elementary, which has aired two seasons so far, the faux doco gimmick is also deployed as an outlet for the series' characters. They're all public school elementary teachers in Philadelphia, and the chats to-camera help convey the stresses and tolls of doing what they're devoted to. In a wonderfully warm and also clear-eyed gem created by, co-written by and starring triple-threat Quinta Brunson (Party Down), that'd be teaching young hearts and minds no matter the everyday obstacles, the utter lack of resources and funding, or the absence of interest from the bureaucracy above them.
Brunson plays perennially perky 25-year-old teacher Janine Teagues, who loves her gig and her second-grade class. She also adores her colleague Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph, Ray Donovan), the kindergarten teacher that she sees as a mentor and work mum. Actually, Janine isn't just fond of all of the above — she's so devoted to her job that she'll let nothing stand in her way. But that isn't easy or straightforward in a system that's short on cash and care from the powers-that-be to make school better for its predominantly Black student populace. Also featuring Everybody Hates Chris' Tyler James Williams (also The United States vs Billie Holiday) as an apathetic substitute teacher, Lisa Ann Walter (The Right Mom) and Chris Perfetti (Sound of Metal) as Abbott faculty mainstays, and Janelle James (Black Monday) as the incompetent principal who only scored her position via blackmail, everything about Abbott Elementary is smart, kindhearted, funny and also honest. That remains the case in season two, where Janine is newly single and grappling with being on her own, sparks are flying with Williams' Gregory and James' Ava can't keep bluffing her way through her days.
Won: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Quinta Brunson).
Where to watch it: Abbott Elementary streams via Disney+.
2022 marked a decade since Taron Egerton's first on-screen credit as a then-23 year old. Thanks to the Kingsman movies, Eddie the Eagle, Robin Hood and Rocketman, he's rarely been out of the cinematic spotlight since — but miniseries Black Bird feels like his most mature performance yet. The latest based-on-a-true-crime tale to get the twisty TV treatment, it adapts autobiographical novel In with the Devil: a Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption. It also has Dennis Lehane, author of Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and Shutter Island, bringing it to streaming. The focus: Jimmy Keene, a former star high-school footballer turned drug dealer, who finds his narcotics-financed life crumbling when he's arrested in a sting, offered a plea bargain with the promise of a five-year sentence (four with parole), but ends up getting ten. Seven months afterwards, he's given the chance to go free, but only if he agrees to transfer to a different prison to befriend suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser, Cruella), and get him to reveal where he's buried his victims' bodies.
Even with new shows based on various IRL crimes hitting queues every week, or thereabouts — including Inventing Anna, The Dropout, The Girl From Plainville and The Staircase, to name a mere few, also in 2022 when this one arrived — Black Bird boasts an immediately compelling premise. The first instalment in its six-episode run is instantly gripping, too, charting Keene's downfall, the out-of-ordinary situation posed by Agent Lauren McCauley (Sepideh Moafi, The Killing of Two Lovers), and the police investigation by Brian Miller (Greg Kinnear, Crisis) to net Hall. It keeps up the intrigue and tension from there; in fact, the wild and riveting details just keep on coming. Fantastic performances all round prove pivotal as well. Again, Egerton is excellent, while Hauser's menace-dripping efforts rank among the great on-screen serial killer portrayals. And, although bittersweet to watch after his passing, Ray Liotta (The Many Saints of Newark) makes a firm imprint as Keene's father.
Won: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series of Television Movie (Paul Walter Hauser).
Where to watch it: Black Bird streams via Apple TV+.
Read our full review.
DAHMER — MONSTER: THE JEFFREY DAHMER STORY
Mindhunter might be over, but Netflix isn't done exploring true crimes or serial killers yet — not by far. In 2022, DAHMER — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story joined the service's hefty list of TV series based on horrific real-life details. It's coming back for a second season, too, turning into an anthology series as Monsters: The Lyle and Erik Menéndez Story. The show's debut outing wasn't an easy watch, as the IRL story was always going to ensure. With WandaVision and Mare of Easttown actor Evan Peters starring as the titular IRL murderer, it told Dahmer's particularly gruesome story; between 1978–1991, he murdered and dismembered 17 boys and men — and there's more to his crimes, including cannibalism. The inherently unsettling first season reunited its lead with American Horror Story creator and prolific TV producer Ryan Murphy, too, this time getting creepy in a different way.
Alongside Peters, Netflix's dramatised step back into Dahmer's murders features Richard Jenkins (Nightmare Alley) as the serial killer's father Lionel and Penelope Ann Miller as his mother Joyce, with the full cast including Niecy Nash-Betts (Never Have I Ever) and Molly Ringwald (Riverdale). There's much about the show that's impossible to shake, Nash-Betts' now Emmy-winning performance for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie among them. As Dahmer's neighbour Glenda Cleveland, she's shock, concern and outrage personified. Thanks to her portrayal, imagining being in the same shoes — and being that horrified and traumatised — is the simplest thing about DAHMER — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Of course, that isn't easy either, but Nash-Betts couldn't be more of an effortless force in a difficult role and miniseries.
Won: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie (Niecy Nash-Betts).
Where to watch it: DAHMER — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story streams via Netflix.
Top image: Andrew Cooper/Netflix © 2023.
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