best of 2023

Vulture’s 25 Most Popular TV Recaps of 2023

The shows that generated the most readership—and comments.

Photo-Illustration: Franziska Barczyk; Photos: Chuck Hodes/FX/Everett Collection, HBO, Barbara Nitke/HBO, Bravo, Nicole Weingart/Bravo/Everett Collection
Photo-Illustration: Franziska Barczyk; Photos: Chuck Hodes/FX/Everett Collection, HBO, Barbara Nitke/HBO, Bravo, Nicole Weingart/Bravo/Everett Collection

For a year likely to be best remembered for its twin Hollywood strikes and a blockbuster movie meme pairing, there sure was a lot of noteworthy television—and as always, just like ATN News, Vulture’s TV recaps were here for you. Below, you’ll find the 25 series that visitors spent the most time reading about in 2023, along with the most popular individual recap from each show and some highlights from the hundreds—if not thousands—of comments those recaps generated. Thanks as ever for helping us keep the TV conversations going. Let’s do it again next year.

(If you’re curious to see Vulture’s 20 overall most popular stories, we have that list for you, too.)

25. Black Mirror

Photo: Nick Wall/Netflix

Season 6, Episode 3: Rocket Men: “It’s an admirably twisted ending, more fucked-up than either of the men actually dying. Instead, Cliff is forced to live with the man who killed his family — an arrangement that, fittingly, puts him in basically the same position David has been in for most of the episode. In the end, what David wanted most wasn’t female companionship or the opportunity to touch grass; he just wanted someone to understand what he was going through. Putting Cliff through the most unimaginable tragedy is the darkest possible way of ensuring that.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

June 20, 2023, 11:52 PM
Josh Harnett is aging well!!!

24. Only Murders in the Building

Photo: Patrick Harbron/Hulu

Season 3, Episode 10: Curtain Call: “Oliver delivers a booming rendition of “Creature of the Night” as Howard does the choreo in the wings like Mrs. George, and as Matthew Broderick and Uma gripe in the audience like Statler and Waldorf. Revisiting all of these phenomenal songs makes me wonder if Death Rattle Dazzle will follow Smash’s lead and actually come to Broadway in 12 years.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

October 3, 2023, 7:20 PM
Matthew Broderick muttering " I am so glad I am not in this " made me laugh so hard. Death Rattle Dazzle made so little sense but I could not stop laughing:
the anguish, the pratfalls, the soprano ballads....loved this season. When I thought it was Steve Martin at the end and not Sazz, was momentarily crushed. I guess he decided to do one more season and I am here for it.

And Martin Short is pure perfection.

23. Snowfall

Photo: Ray Micksaw/FX/Copyright 2023, FX Networks. All rights reserved.

Season 6, Episode 10: Prometheus: “It’s a brutal way to end a show so beloved among Black viewers. As Andrew Ricketts at Okayplayer wrote: “Snowfall makes the bold choice to portray how Black love survives or dies amid Black ruin.” There have been many instances of love surviving and dying throughout the show’s run and tonight’s finale, but because Franklin has always been at Snowfall’s center, it’s understandable to want to see his love survive. That desire is what makes Franklin’s ending so incredibly painful to watch. It’s natural for many viewers to want him to live happily ever after. But happy endings are for fairy tales, and the story of the destruction in our community is very real, and it has continued long after the downfall of Franklin Saint.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

April 20, 2023, 3:16 PM
This was devastating and heartbreaking. Although franklin caused his own demise, it was still very hard to see him like that at the end. Which I think is worse than death.

Damson idris’s performance this episode was astounding. You could see him loosing his mind slowly.

That ending was haunting and bleak.

22. Outlander

Photo: Robert Wilson/Starz

Season 7 Episode 1: A Violent Man “Our favorite time-traveling historical romance returns for season seven (can you even believe it?) by reminding us exactly what Outlander is all about: The delicate balance of grisly trauma and swoony, swoony romance. Okay, sometimes it isn’t all that delicate. But season seven opens with Jamie’s horrific and very detailed dream of Claire being hanged — they show a lot of this! Too much, some might say! — followed by his voiceover assuring himself that Claire is still alive, and he knows this because she is blood of his blood and bone of his bone, and he would feel it if she were gone from this world. Then he tells Ian, “Let’s go get my wife,” and the two ride off toward Wilmington as the new (good but a little creepy) version of the Outlander opening credits begins. Did I have to stop myself from standing up and cheering because I have some dignity but not that much? Why, yes, I did. I won’t apologize for the impulse — Jamie just loves Claire so, so much, and I am into it! I think we all are. Otherwise, why are we still here? The history lessons? I doubt it!” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

June 19, 2023, 10:09 PM
They've been in America for so long now that my wife and I can't enjoy calling it "Scottish Sex Show" anymore. :(

21. Below Deck Down Under

Photo: Bravo

Season 2, Episode 6: Crossing the Line: “When they return to the Northern Sun, Aesha, like the good person she is, is intent on chaperoning Margot and making sure she gets to bed safe and sound. When the power suddenly goes out, a stark-naked Luke takes it as an opportunity to enter Margot’s cabin and climb into her bed while she’s unconscious. This prompts the producers to intervene, repeatedly telling Luke to get out of the bed and leave the room, but he refuses and tells them to “fuck off.” The episode concludes with the producers trying to force the door open as Aesha discovers the situation. The fact that Luke chose to enter Margot’s cabin while the lights were off shows exactly what his intentions were, and thank God the producers were there to stop him before things escalated. Luke is a predator, and him doing this on literal television makes you wonder what else he’s done in the past when cameras weren’t around. “ Read the recaps

The commenters say:

August 8, 2023, 7:49 PM
Aesha is an absolute 100% certified gem.

20. RuPaul’s Drag Race

Photo: WOW

Season 15, Episode 1-2: Supersize Me: “We open with compulsory choreography drama. I’m assuming they got a choreographer to come give them help after cameras cut like they have on other seasons, but the bickering leads into a strong Werk Room moment when Sugar and Spice reveal that they thought Mistress and Irene (who are friends from the Texas drag scene) hate each other. The more experienced girls then get a chance to explain on-camera that shade and banter is not about hating the other person; it’s just the way queens talk in groups. During this, I had a flashback to a straight male former co-worker telling me he didn’t understand why the queens were mean to each other and that if he were there, he would be nice. Chris, I hope you’re watching!” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

January 7, 2023, 4:21 PM
I have a feeling Sugar and Spice were cast for the sole purpose of having them lip synch against each other. Hopefully soon.

19. 1923

Photo: Vulture; Photo: Paramount+

Episode 8: Die Another Day: “Compared to the life and death, freedom, and imprisonment stakes of the episode’s more dramatic storylines, Jacob’s woeful tale of an old guy who can’t afford his big-ass ranch anymore doesn’t exactly pack much emotional punch. Sometimes people who used to be on top lose ground, you know? Life goes on. So they yanked out the horse-hitching rail by city hall to make room for car-parking spots? No one said Luddite life would be easy.” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

February 27, 2023, 7:04 AM
When Whitfield was giving his inexplicably dull Treasurer’s Report about the current state of micro-economics in Bozeman and surrounding regions, I so wished Harrison Ford would harken back to his Indiana Jones days and shoot the prancing villain out of boredom if nothing else. Although, props to Timothy Dalton, who could probably deliver a crop report with the same titillating air of silken menace. (Can’t wait until the girls start whipping him with his own belt.)

18. The Gilded Age

Photo: HBO

Season 2 Episode 7: Chaos, Intrigue, and Subterfuge: “Blah, okay, here we go. Reverend Luke has come and gone. He was BUT A FLICKER OF SUNLIGHT in Ada’s life and now things are dim once more. I wish we could have gotten more emotionally invested in this story line, or even at all emotionally invested, but maybe Robert Sean Leonard had vacation plans, and I respect that.” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

December 11, 2023, 3:50 AM
At least Rev. Luke didn't die while using some 19th-Century version of a Peloton bike.

17. The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Photo: Bravo

Season 4, Episode 3: Tricksy Motel: “‘[Monica’s] coming into this group as my friend,’ Angie reminds the group, annoyed that Monica isn’t being loyal to her. This is classic Housewives: an unspoken debt owed for bringing someone onto the show, even though that’s typically an arbitrary construct created by the producers. She’s complaining to Lisa and Whitney about it when Monica crashes the conversation to stand her ground, telling her that she was rude and she has no problem calling it out. Angie flounders when confronted and changes the subject. ‘I deserve to be here as much as everyone else,’ she says, which sounds like a mantra she repeats to herself in the mirror before stepping in front of the cameras.” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

September 20, 2023, 3:11 AM
I realize that Mary is problematic but, lordy , she is so (unintentionally) hilarious.

16. Billions

Photo: Christopher T. Saunders/SHOWTIME

Season 7, Episode 12: Take the Money and Run: “Underneath the primal alpha-male energy, there’s a melancholy undertone to Axe getting the band back together, even as he reclaims his former office and orders his team to “make some fucking money.” Axe was the one person who left, did the work on himself, and changed his outlook — only to come back to do the same thing all over again? Even Wags is ready to spread his wings elsewhere. Perhaps in Miami. Could that be a hint of what’s to come, spinoff-wise?” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

October 29, 2023, 8:15 AM
this episode made me feel like one of the dorks who applauds the pilot as they land the plane smoothly after a long, and turbulent at times, flight. great tv!

15. Barry

Photo: HBO

Season 4, Episode 4: Knowing Too Much: “So she compliments Kristen’s work and marches home, where she knows Barry must be waiting. It’s not a surprise when he emerges from the shadows, limping into the harsh overhead light, but it is a surprise when she’s the one to suggest they leave. So we’re teleported to another world: a sprawling, empty plain where a boy named John is fighting with his friend Travis. It reminds us of Barry’s childhood flashbacks from earlier in the season, but this time the kid isn’t Barry; it’s his son. And so years later, in a world much less populated than the City of Angels, the cycle of violence starts anew.” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

May 1, 2023, 3:16 AM
It feels sort of naive to have ever imagined Cristobal and Hank could have worked, but that doesn’t make this episode any less devastating.

14. The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Photo: Bravo

Season 13 Episode 14: Irish Good-byes: “I see how what is really angering Melissa and Joe at this point is how relentless Teresa is about their marriage. You would think that after she tried the stripper gambit and it didn’t work or her first ruse about Melissa making out with an ex that she’d maybe give up and just try to accept her sister-in-law. Barring that, at least you would think she’d come up with a new strategy. Nope, here’s Teresa, like Wile E. Coyote with a nail job painting a tunnel on a cliff face with Acme paint and then being shocked when she flattens her face trying to run through it.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

May 17, 2023, 1:47 AM
Some might say Melissa doesn't have a story line, but she sat on the story of Teresa and Louie accusing her of cheating for six months when she could easily have exploited that as a story line. And the fact that Melissa sat on the story in order to shield Teresa in the period around her wedding -- which I believe because why else? -- tells you all you need to know about the relationship between the two.

13. Saturday Night Live

Photo: NBC/Will Heath/NBC

Season 48, Episode 13: Woody Harrelson Gets Wasted: “Something was in the air in Studio 8-H during national treasure Woody Harrelson’s latest SNL monologue, and it wasn’t weed smoke, just bad vibes. Weed was part of the problem, however. Somehow, nobody seems to have told the host — an elder statesman of marijuana advocacy — that weed is now legal in nearly half the country and thus no longer particularly cool. It’s awesome, but it isn’t cool. It’s what your dad eats a little of in gummy form to fall asleep faster. And yet Harrelson’s monologue leaned heavily once more on this most creaky aspect of his public persona, either affecting being stoned, actually being stoned, or making a compelling case for the long-term degenerative effects on the public-speaking ability that comes with being stoned all the time. In any case, things got off to a rocky start with the fifth-time host emerging, arms akimbo, alluding to an imminent induction into the Five-Timers Club that didn’t happen.” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

February 27, 2023, 10:26 PM
The monologue was just poor writing, an attempt to be dangerous on behalf of an old fart who isn’t very edgy now that every eighth-grader and their grandparents smoke. I think the writers must’ve thought his belovedness could sell the bit as deeply ironic. Or something.

12. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Photo: Bravo

Season 13 Episode 6: Going to Pot: “Crystal comes into the room to get them back to the table so everyone can eat. Crystal says that Sutton and Kyle are doing the same thing to each other, and she is absolutely right. (Thank you, Crystal, for contributing something!) Kyle and Sutton are playing reputational chicken. Kyle wants to say that Sutton is a drunk but won’t come out and say it. Sutton thinks that Kyle is a lesbian whose husband is cheating on her, but she won’t say it either. This is peak RHOBH; people want to talk trash but do not want to look bad. This is also RHOBH without Lisa Rinna. You know she would have exposed all of this in 24 seconds, but instead it’s festered and festered, and now the situation looks just like PK’s undercarriage.” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

November 30, 2023, 11:15 AM
Brian, no one wants Rinna to come back.

11. Love Is Blind


Season 4, Episodes 1-5: Mean Girls: “When people talk about peak TV, this is what they mean, right? I’m a natural cynic (check my Bachelor recaps for proof), but this is definitely the best season of Love Is Blind yet. We just left the honeymoons, and we already have one solid couple to root for, one guy attempting to get back with his second choice, and one love triangle/square/whatever shape is made when Irina likes Paul, but he’d prefer it if she took a one-way flight back to Mexico. You’d think by season four of this show, the formula would be tired, but Netflix keeps finding new and inventive ways to punish single people.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

March 25, 2023, 4:54 AM
Zack looks like a god damn property brother. I said what I said.

10. Yellowjackets

Photo: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME/Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Season 2 Episode 2: Bite Me: “The episode, thankfully, doesn’t come down firmly on whether or not there’s an entity in the woods, but it plays a lot with the concept through the eyes of the survivors in both the past and present. Lottie is the centerpiece for much of this speculation. In the past, she wielded an ever-increasing amount of sway over the group, continuing to insist that Shauna be left alone to grieve Jackie but then silently agreeing with Tai that they need to cremate her when they see that Shauna has gone full caboodle all over her dead friend’s face. She also continues to assert that Javi is alive, even though there’s no way he could have survived this brutal winter alone. (Watch this space when Javi shows up alive. Or not. But he’s probably alive, right?) Lottie also unknowingly (or maybe knowingly?) works her way into a spiritual threesome with Travis and Nat, creating one of the wildest love triangles in recent TV history.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

March 31, 2023, 1:36 PM
In “Alive” the survivors didn’t eat the dead right away, either — they were buried in snowpack and they consumed their backs and backsides, mostly, drying it in the sun like jerky. I know this because my twisted f of a 6th grade teacher read it aloud to the class, in the 80s.

9. The Morning Show

Photo: Apple TV+

Episode 10: Let’s Make a Deal: “His professional life is about to be in shambles, but his personal life isn’t doing so hot either. Rocketship debacle and toxic workplace aside, Alex is most livid about Paul silencing Bradley to save himself. He silenced a journalist, and Alex is also a journalist and she is exhausted. Oh wait, no, that last thing is Bradley from season one, but the other stuff about silencing journalists is true and very bad! Paul knows there is no way out of this, and he pulls out of the deal. Actually, he tells Alex to tell Leonard that he’s pulling out of the deal, which is honestly so like Paul.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

November 8, 2023, 11:56 PM
Three things:
1) you know Cory is just smooth empty space down there like a Corporate Ken.
2) what was up with Bradley’s old-timey frosted door?? it’s like she lives in a 1940s detective office.
3) not one word about Yanko’s extended dance scene??
god bless this show. thanks Maggie for great recaps from a fellow Maggie.

8. The Real Housewives of New York City

Photo: Bravo

Season 14, Episode 1: Say Cheese!: The restaurant is clearly Catch, the Meatpacking tourist trap where your Samantha Jones fantasies and fish’s dignities both go to die. I’m sorry, but they made the right call. I know, I know, it’s an asshole thing to do. But Catch? M-er F-ing C-A-T-C-H?! I wouldn’t sit in that restaurant with someone else’s ass. Even if the dinner was free and you paid me in compliments and blow jobs, I wouldn’t attend dinner there. Totally team Brynn and Sai on this one. Post away, ladies, and be free.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

July 18, 2023, 12:12 PM
Pretty interesting to see women with all white furnishings calling a restaurant 2012. 🤔

7. And Just Like That…

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/Max

Season 2, Episode 11: An Unexpected Turn of Events: “This year I, like Carrie Bradshaw, am letting go of expectations. But unlike ol’ Car Bear, mother of a cat named Shoe (or Shoo, it remains unclear), I’m not talking about the expectations of what the future holds or accepting that you never really know what life has in store for you. No, the expectations I am letting go of are my expectations for this show. Once you let go of the idea of what you think And Just Like That … should be (the spiritual sequel to Sex and the City, coherent) and allow it to be what it is (chaos, about a woman unwilling to say “vaginal suppository”) it is a much more enjoyable experience. Let it wash over you! Let And Just Like That … live! It’s much more fun, I promise. Otherwise, I’d be over here raging about how the much-touted Last Supper at Carrie’s old apartment held so much potential for drama and mess and instead gave us an attempt at introspection and was kind of boring? And not even one gratuitous shot of great food. It gave so very little. But that doesn’t matter, because good-bye expectations … Hello, Samantha Jones.” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

August 24, 2023, 5:19 PM
Here's hoping Carrie runs into Aidan in Greece, cheating on her with Nia Vardalos.

6. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Photo: Amazon Video

Season 5 Episode 9: You’re Fired: “We open on the one detail the show has been avoiding for five seasons: Lenny Bruce’s downfall. Short of turning Mrs. Maisel into an alternate-history timeline, Sherman-Palladino had no choice but to face the hard truth about the rakish comedian, and my God, does Luke Kirby deliver.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

May 27, 2023, 3:16 AM
I know there's been theories but I was never convinced that Susie was in love with Midge (and I'm still not) but the look on her face scene where she asks if Midge was ever a blonde made me say "hmmm".

5. The Bear

Photo: Chuck Hodes/FX

Season 2 Episode 6: The Christmas Guests: “Donna clearly loves her kids, but sometimes it’s hard to know if they love her back — or if they even love each other. It’s more like they’re all tethered to this family by obligation and circumstance, like survivors on some listless life raft. Carmy seems to be annoyed he came back from Europe, which he says is the most beautiful place he’s ever been, but when he expresses that regret to Mikey, who’s already been throwing pot shots at him about the entirety of his life being cooking, all he gets in return is a chorus of ‘FUCK YOU. WHOA! WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU SAY THAT?,’ as well as an admonition from his mom to ‘say the words,’ i.e., say ‘I love you’ to his brother. Mikey takes the love but then throws back a dig, saying Carmy is ‘too fancy’ for his family, which is one of those shitty things families say to each other that make the recipient feel like everything they’ve ever been told or encouraged to do has been a lie. Supercool stuff, right?” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

June 24, 2023, 1:19 AM
Possibly one of the greatest episodes in television, ever. It will stay with me for a very long time, and I will never want to watch it again. Brought too many memories of past family gatherings back to me, and I'd rather they stay in the closet. A truly special experience this show is.

4. Vanderpump Rules

Photo: Bravo

Season 10 Episode 15: The Scandoval Has Landed: “When Ariana sits down with returning champion Kristen Doute, she says something very powerful about how she and Tom kissed while he was still with Kristen. She says that, at the moment, you think it is situational. You think that a specific set of circumstances lead you to this point, so you make some compromises. But what she learned is that is who this person is, and it took her nine years to figure this out.

I think the same is true for the audience, and that is why this scandal has greatly impacted the Bravo community. Just think about all the things that we’re not revisiting, the cold cases that ain’t so cold anymore, as Lala says. Tom trashed Kristen and made us all think she was awful for cheating on him with Jax, but he was doing the same thing. He made us all believe that Miami Girl was a crazy stalker trying to get on the show and Kristen was evil for bringing her around. Then we find out that, as he says, ‘Ariana always knew the truth about that.’ So he did fuck her.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

May 18, 2023, 3:48 AM
Tom Sandoval wouldn’t know accountability if it turned itself into a little lightning bolt and dangled itself from his ear while he cried.

He acts like he tripped and fell into a life where he’s the Shein version of a rock star with a whiff of evil magician. My man, you made these choices!

3. The Last of Us

Photo: Vulture; Photo: Paramount

Episode 1: Fungus Among Us: “When Joel and Sarah encounter a soldier, it quickly becomes apparent he’s going to kill them, presumably acting on orders to take extreme measures to contain the spread of the infection. Tommy arrives in time to take him out, but not before the soldier peppers Joel and Tommy with a spray of bullets, grazing Joel but fatally wounding Sarah, who dies in Joel’s arms.

It’s a moment that doubles as a warning: This show will break your heart.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

January 16, 2023, 2:35 PM
I would listen to Pedro Pascal read The Billboard Book Of Number 1 Hits cover to cover. That is all.

2. Ted Lasso

Photo: Apple TV+

Season 3 Episode 12: The Long Good-bye: “It’s a happy ending to a series that, at its best, took seriously what it meant to pursue happiness while showing kindness to others. Ted Lasso had its ups and downs, particularly in this third season, which essentially laid out Ted’s fate in its opening moments then drew out the path toward that fate over a dozen episodes and took some characters along some truly peculiar sidetracks across some unusually long runtimes. But Ted Lasso will almost certainly be remembered for its best qualities, an unusual gift for heartwarming moments that felt earned rather than forced, and a central character defined as much by his willingness to admit his flaws as his infectious enthusiasm. Good effort. Nice hustle.” Read the recaps 

The commenters say:

May 31, 2023, 2:35 PM
Despite all the criticism about the show and a few rambley missteps, they stuck the landing in this finale. The show did what it came to do, and I’m completely satisfied and sad it’s done. I’ll miss the show and this lovely community here, but it was time to say farewell. I’m grateful to Jason Sudeikis and Brett Goldstein and the entire incredible team of actors and writers. They really did hold our hands through a very dark time and gave us comfort and happiness and hope in the inherent goodness of people. And that is no small thing.

1. Succession

Photo: HBO

Season 4 Episode 1: One Percent: “Of course, money continues not to buy happiness. In a devastating scene near the end of the episode, Tom and Shiv reconvene in their penthouse for the first time since, presumably, agreeing to a trial separation in the wake of Tom’s stunning betrayal last season. Tom wants to talk. Shiv doesn’t. And that’s perhaps the fundamental difference between them: The Wambsgans-Roy partnership may seem like a wedding of convenience for a go-getting executive type like Tom, but of the two of them, he seems to have understood their relationship as a real marriage. “Do you want to talk?” he asks. “Because there are things I wouldn’t mind saying and explaining.” Shiv shares some of his sadness — they clasp hands wistfully at the end of the scene — but not the same desire and facility for real intimacy. Her father talks earlier in the episode about human interaction as “markets,” and she inherits his thinking. She’s selling her shares in the marriage market.” Read the recaps

The commenters say:

March 27, 2023, 5:37 AM
Can Jesse Armstrong’s next show be about the Pierces? Nan is a hoot with her little girl headband and getting the kids to totally overbid.

Tom doesn’t have a long game. I thought he was going to be the “I, Claudius” of the series - playing dumb to survive. But he screwed over Shiv and now he’s worried about his future at Waystar if they divorce? That’s not playing dumb it’s just dumb.

48 hours for the GoJo deal to go south. Tick tock.

Team Mondale.
Vulture’s 25 Most-Read TV Recaps of 2023