Parenting can be a truly joyful endeavor: Watching our kids experience the world with a sense of wonder and delight is better than most anything else we've done. But there are a few drawbacks, namely we get, like, an hour of TV a night (at best) before we’re wiped and have to go to bed ourselves. We’ve fallen behind our childfree friends, and you may have too. In an effort to catch up, we’ve rounded up the shows of 2023 you probably missed because you were too busy being a parent.
This list is a blend of comedy, drama, documentary, reality TV, historical-drama, and sci-fi. In other words, there’s something for every taste.
Will it take you all of 2024 to get through these shows? It’s certainly possible. But at least you know you’re going to have a good time being years late to trends!
Poker Face is a case-of-the-week murder mystery series created by Knives Out writer-director Rian Johnson. It’s been a while since TV had an iconic new detective and Natasha Lyonne’s Charlie Cale is everything we didn’t know we desperately needed. She’s a cocktail waitress with the remarkable ability to know if someone is lying. Following the suspicious death of a casino boss, Charlie is on the run, and thanks to her particular talent, she finds herself amid kooky characters and mysterious homicides wherever she goes.
Stream Poker Face, rated TV-MA, on Peacock.
The Last Of Us
So you don’t like zombie shows? OK. You should still watch this zombie show, though. The zombies (humans infected by an aggressive fungus) are fairly scant. The real drama lies between Joel, a grizzled smuggler who operates out of Boston’s quarantine zone; Ellie, the teenager who may hold the cure to the virus that’s destroyed civilization; and the well-drawn cast of characters they meet along the way. Heartfelt and heartbreaking, it was one of our favorites this year.
Stream The Last Of Us, rated TV-MA, on Max.
This black comedy has been nominated for 13 Emmys, and with good reason: it was haunting and hilarious and definitely worth a watch.
It tells the story of Danny — an ambitious but hapless handyman struggling to provide for his brother and parents — and Amy, a wealthy business-owner on the verge of a multi-million dollar. While the two are in many ways opposites, they share a fanatical, well-meaning drive to provide materially for their families. They also share a ridiculous feud that, as it intensifies, threatens everything they’ve ever worked for.
Stream Beef, rated TV-MA, on Netflix.
Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence
In 2009, a group of college freshman arrived at prestigious Sarah Lawrence, ready to find themselves and take on the world... that is until they met their apartment-mate’s father, Larry, who was recently released from prison. Larry seems to cast a comforting spell over the students, but it isn’t long before his role of father figure shifts to that of tormentor.
This series requires all the trigger warnings. I live on a steady diet of horror movies and cult docu-series and I’ll be honest: there were times when I found this extremely difficult to watch. Larry Ray, the man at the center of these horrifying crimes, had a penchant for documenting the psychological abuse and torture he inflicted on his victims and some of it is shown in the series. That said, it was absolutely fascinating and really challenges ideas you might have about abuse, complicity, and culpability.
Stream Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence, rated TV-MA, on Hulu.
This series ended this year after its third season, and if you haven’t watched it yet, get. on. it.
Reservation Dogs is a dramedy that follows the lives of four teenagers living in a small town in the Muscogee Nation in rural Oklahoma, who oscillate between committing crimes and trying to stop them. The series opens a year after the death of their friend Daniel, who always dreamed of moving to California. As they grieve, they begin to examine their connections to (and issues with) their community at large.
Stream Reservation Dogs, rated TV-MA, on Hulu.
Ronald Gladden is a solar contractor from San Diego who receives a jury summons. No, really. He’s just an ordinary guy... who doesn’t know that the jury summons isn’t real and that everyone he encounters in the process of selection and the trial he’s chosen to rule on, is an actor. Well, he knows fellow juror James Marsden is an actor, but he doesn’t know he’s acting at the time.
Watching him react to the otherwise scripted series is hilarious, impressive, and an overall fun little watch.
Stream Jury Duty, rated TV-MA, on Amazon Prime.
I Think You Should Leave
Honestly, I really don’t know how to explain this truly bizarre sketch comedy series to you other than to say that it is beloved by Romper editors and I laughed so hard watching it that I had to pause as I gasped for air with tears streaming down my face. With three extremely quotable seasons, it’s a great show to either marathon watch or take in smaller doses as a palate cleanser after heavier fare.
Stream I Think You Should Leave, rated TV-MA, on Netflix.
The Other Two
This hidden gem concluded this year after three seasons and start to finish it was a treat. The series focuses on the Dubek family. Elder siblings Cary and Brooke are living in New York and are generally down on their luck. Cary is struggling an actor and Brooke, a former dancer, is just plain struggling. But overnight, their younger brother Chase becomes a viral sensation, and it isn’t long before Chase and their mother, Pat, move from Ohio to New York. Now, their little brother is one of the most famous people in the world, and his older siblings are going to find a way to ride his coat tails to success as well.
Stream The Other Two, rated TV-MA, on Max.
Love & Death
Based on a true story that shook a Texas town in 1980, Love & Death tells the story of Candy Montgomery, a beautiful but bored stay-at-home-mom who initiates an affair with her friend Betty’s husband. After the affair ends, Betty is found brutally murdered with an axe and it isn’t long before Candy is on trial for murder.
Stream Love & Death, rated TV-MA, on Max.
The Gilded Age
From the creator of Downton Abbey, this series explores the dramas of wealth, class, and privilege in 1880s New York City. Old money and new money clash in a series of scandals and schemes... sexy scandals and sexy schemes, naturally. The series concluded its second season this year, so if you haven’t seen any of it yet you have a delightful binge ahead.
Full disclosure: no one who watches this show says it’s “good.” Or at least not in the sense of “high art.” Rather it’s a beautifully costumed, hot mess soap opera portrayed by top-notch actors that fans just cannot get enough of and, honestly, that’s enough for us. Entertainment takes many forms, people.
Stream The Gilded Age, rated TV-MA, on Max.
History of the World: Part II
A “sequel” to Mel Brooks’ 1981 History of the World Part I, this sketch comedy series is a perfect ode to the beloved film, perfectly blending Mel Brooks’ incomparable brand of humor and more modern sensibilities. A cadre of celebrity comedians take on great moments in history — tales from the Bible, the fall of the Romanovs, the end of the Civil War — and make them hilarious. (We’re extremely partial to the quick interstitials of Johnny Knoxville as Rasputin pulling off Jackass-style stunts.)
Stream History of the World: Part II, rated TV-MA, on Hulu.
The Ultimatum: Queer Love
In this reality show, five couples put their relationship to the test. In every couple, one person wants to take the relationship to the next level (get married) while the other is dragging their feet. To see if their relationship is “marriage-worthy,” the couples have a 3-week trial marriage... with someone from a different couple. The original couples then have their own trial marriage and then at the end will either break up or get married.
We won’t lie to you: this show is trash. But sometimes trash is delightful. Like, OK dumpster diving is pretty gross but every now and then you can find a perfectly good armchair in there (or something). And then you clean it up, take it home and people say “Ooh! I love your new chair!” and you’re always going to have to admit “Thanks! I found it in the garbage.” So it’s always a garbage chair but that only adds to its charm.
Stream The Ultimatum: Queer Love, rated TV-MA, on Netflix.
Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto is a brilliant and renowned chef forced to leave the world of fine-dining after the suicide death of his brother. Now he’s taken over the family business: the Original Beef of Chicagoland. Carmy struggles to find a way to make the failing restaurant work, trying to find a way to convince his hard-working but stubborn staff that they can learn a thing or two from his three Michelin stars.
Stream The Bear, rated TV-MA, on Hulu.
Revolutionary mathematician Hari Seldon knows that the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire is doomed to fall, plunged into a 10,000 year darkness. He knows this through the algorithmic science he developed known as psychohistory. There’s nothing anyone can do to stop what’s to come, so Hari and others to work to establish “the Foundation,” which can guide humanity out of the darkness in the far distant future. But for Brother Day, ruler of the Empire, the Foundation poses a threat to his power. If all fo that sounds a bit complicated, let us assure you that this sweeping futuristic epic has a fantastic cast that includes every glorious inch of Lee Pace. That’s enough to get you hooked and the puzzle pieces will eventually fall into place.
Stream Foundation, rated TV-14, on Apple TV+.
Have fun playing catch up well into 2024, folks!
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