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From 'Beef' to 'Good Omens', here's a ranking of 2023's best TV shows

Another year is almost over, but it wasn't like any other. Especially not on TV.

The year 2023 will forever be marked by this summer's Hollywood strikes, which saw both writers and actors walk off the job and onto picket lines amid tense negotiations with the major studios and streamers. Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes have been resolved, but the effects of the work stoppage were felt for much of the year and will be in 2024 and beyond.

Television has been most profoundly affected by the strikes, leading to a year with unfinished broadcast series, delayed productions and a lot of reality and Canadian TV. But a few good TV shows were mixed in there too.

Amid all the chaos caused by the strikes and the continued economic difficulties in Hollywood (Max just keeps canceling movies), 2023 was a very good year for TV, with some excellent shows (new and old) gracing our screens. There were fungal zombies, fake juries, dancing hippies, cater waiters, gourmet chefs, blood, and beef. Some series said goodbye, others were limited one-and-dones we wish could last forever. They all found unique stories to tell in the morass of TV, with hundreds of series premiering but few worth watching.

Here are the 10 best TV shows of the year, each one worth a binge-watch:

The fake jury of "Jury Trial" with James Marsden sitting next to Ronald Gladden in the second row.
The fake jury of "Jury Trial" with James Marsden sitting next to Ronald Gladden in the second row.

10. 'Jury Duty' (Freevee)

Among hundreds of TV shows premiering each year, it's hard for any one to stand out from the crowd. And yet Freevee − Amazon's free, ad-supported streaming service − came out with the most original series of the year, which happened to be really funny, too. "Jury Duty" convinced an unsuspecting man, Ronald Gladden, that he was serving on a real jury, but in reality his 11 fellow jurors (and everyone else in the courtroom) were actors. That included James Marsden, playing an absurd, heightened version of himself that marks his best performance to date. What could have been a mean-spirited train wreck was instead a sweet, darling little show that proves we haven't yet thought of everything you could possibly put on TV.

9. 'Abbott Elementary' (ABC)

In a strong sophomore season, "Abbott" continued to delight and induce belly laughs every week. Star and creator Quinta Brunson leveled up the series, pushing the will they/won't they relationship between her ever-positive Janine Teagues and taciturn Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams) just far enough to keep the romantic tension high.

Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale and David Tennant as the demon Crowley in Amazon's very funny and very romantic "Good Omens."
Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale and David Tennant as the demon Crowley in Amazon's very funny and very romantic "Good Omens."

8. 'Good Omens' (Amazon)

This year was full of second TV seasons that wildly outshone their firsts, and Amazon's biblical comedy is a prime example of this trend. David Tennant and Michael Sheen play a demon and an angel, respectively – friends for eternity who are none too concerned about epic battles between good and evil. When amnesiac angel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) shows up on their doorstep they have to play detectives, bodyguards and matchmakers (don't worry, it makes sense) to save themselves from the warring factions of heaven and hell. What makes the season so noteworthy is the performances by (and chemistry between) Tennant and Sheen, both talented actors with long careers who do anything but phone it in. A long-awaited kiss between the more-than-just-friends is both narratively triumphant and a scene that launched a thousand fan-fiction memes.

Devery Jacobs as Elora Danan, Paulina Alexis as Willie Jack, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai as Bear and Lane Factor as Cheese in "Reservation Dogs."
Devery Jacobs as Elora Danan, Paulina Alexis as Willie Jack, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai as Bear and Lane Factor as Cheese in "Reservation Dogs."

7. 'Reservation Dogs' (FX)

Combining magical realism, teen angst, social commentary, deep friendship and a dozen other moods and genres into one series about a bunch of good-for-nothing teens on a Native American reservation is an unparalleled achievement on TV. Wrapping up that series on a perfectly tuned note that satisfies without becoming cheesy or maudlin is exactly what fans have come to expect from "Reservation Dogs," which signed off in September after three short but sweet seasons. We mourn the ending of a show that could have gone on far longer, but it's also a relief that no aspect of the sharp, fresh, hilarious and heartbreaking series ever went into decline.

Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key get in the musical spirit of things in Season 2 of "Schmigadoon!"
Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key get in the musical spirit of things in Season 2 of "Schmigadoon!"

6. 'Schmigadoon!' (Apple TV+)

The first season of Apple TV+'s musical comedy "Schmigadoon!" was fine, a perfectly passable parody of the mid-20th century Golden Age of musical theater (think "The Music Man" and "Oklahoma"). But this year's second season is something far more special, dancing right off the screen and into your heart. Starring Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key (along with a bevy of Broadway regulars showing off their immense talents), "Schmigadoon" travels to the musical fantasy land of "Schmicago," satirizing great shows from the 1960s and '70s including "Chicago" and "Sweeney Todd." The story, the songs, the performances, all far leveled up from Season 1. It's more than a few musical theater jokes this time; "Schimgadoon!" now has its own story to tell.

Ethan Peck as Spock, Babs Olusanmokun as M’Benga, Celia Rose Gooding as Shura, Anson Mount as Pike, Christina Chong as La’an and Rebecca Romijn as Una in the musical episode of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."
Ethan Peck as Spock, Babs Olusanmokun as M’Benga, Celia Rose Gooding as Shura, Anson Mount as Pike, Christina Chong as La’an and Rebecca Romijn as Una in the musical episode of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."

5. 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' (Paramount+)

The best current "Star Trek" series (and maybe one of the best ever), "Strange New Worlds" is a soaring space adventure that hits all the right "Trek" notes (figuratively and literally, in the case of this season's musical episode). So many recent TV shows felt like homework, with overcomplicated stories and sluggish pacing. "Worlds" is effortlessly enjoyable, downright breezy and playful as the crew of the Enterprise (set just a few years before the original "Trek" series) faces one conundrum after another.

Ryan Hansen as Kyle Bradway, Zoe Chao as Lucy, Martin Starr as Roman Debeers, Adam Scott as Henry Pollard andTyrel Jackson Williams as Sackson in Season 3 of "Party Down."
Ryan Hansen as Kyle Bradway, Zoe Chao as Lucy, Martin Starr as Roman Debeers, Adam Scott as Henry Pollard andTyrel Jackson Williams as Sackson in Season 3 of "Party Down."

4. 'Party Down' (Starz)

Reviving a little-known but deeply loved comedy more than a decade after a short, two-season run on premium cable might not seem like a good idea on paper, but miraculously it turned into TV gold with a new season of "Party Down" on Starz. The deeply cynical comedy about cater waiters in Los Angeles, slumming through a side hustle while trying to make it in Hollywood, offers a brand of deranged, irreverent humor that made it an underappreciated delight in its original 2009-10 run. Every ounce of that darkly hilarious tone was recaptured, and then some, in six new episodes that reunited most of the original cast: Adam Scott, Jane Lynch, Megan Mullally, Ken Marino, Martin Starr and Ryan Hansen. We are, in fact, having fun yet.

Two chefs at the top of their game in "The Bear": Ayo Ebebiri as Sydney Adamu and Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto.
Two chefs at the top of their game in "The Bear": Ayo Ebebiri as Sydney Adamu and Jeremy Allen White as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto.

3. 'The Bear' (FX on Hulu)

The hyper-stressful drama set in a restaurant was last year's show of the summer, and its second season doesn't have a whiff of a sophomore slump about it. The frenetic pace, naturalistic dialogue, deeply flawed but lovable characters and muscle-spasming tension of the first season all return. But what really stands out about Season 2, which sees its ragtag team of professional chefs and learn-as-you-go cooks trying to open a fine-dining restaurant, are the quieter moments, beautiful character portraits between the shouting about table numbers and medium-rare steaks. Sometimes you want to see a messy family Christmas dinner with yelling and physical altercations, and sometimes you want to see two guys who respect each other, talking about their pasts and learning how to make a delicious dessert.

Juno Temple as Dorothy “Dot” Lyon and Sienna King as her daughter Scotty Lyon in "Fargo" Season 5.
Juno Temple as Dorothy “Dot” Lyon and Sienna King as her daughter Scotty Lyon in "Fargo" Season 5.

2. 'Fargo' (FX)

Juno Temple, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in Season 5 of FX's anthology series (inspired by the Coen brothers' 1996 film) and it's a gosh-darn delight. Frenzied, frosty and fierce, the new installment of the crime drama follows Dot Lyon (Temple), a seemingly meek housewife with a dark past that violently catches up with her. Full of twists, stunning visuals and plenty of Midwestern accents, the season is a breath of ice-cold air that makes it easy to forget 2020's lackluster Season 4 (which starred Chris Rock). Amid its darkness and violence, "Fargo" is just plain exciting and invigorating, an addictive story told by superb actors having the time of their lives. It reminds you that serious, prestigious TV can be deep and thoughtful while still being fun and funny. If you want a good time, call your pals in Minnesota.

The winding web of "Beef" led them here: Ali Wong as Amy, Steven Yeun as Danny.
The winding web of "Beef" led them here: Ali Wong as Amy, Steven Yeun as Danny.

1. 'Beef' (Netflix)

Netflix's black comedy about a road rage incident gone very, very bad is the best kind of TV series: Effortlessly (but also riotously) entertaining. Unique, wildly unpredictable and anchored by beloved actors Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, "Beef" follows two strangers caught up in a dangerous feud that becomes more unhinged with every careening episode. Between Wong and Yeun's superb performances and the whip-smart scripts by Lee Sung Jin ("Dave"), "Beef" is easily the best show of the year.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Best TV shows this year: Must-watch series from 2023