The best international series of 2023: all on Showmax

12 December 2023

The best international series of 2023: all on Showmax

What do the most-nominated show at the Emmys and Golden Globes (Succession), IMDb’s Most Popular Series of 2023 and Google’s most searched TV show (The Last of Us), and the best-reviewed series of 2023 (Rain Dogs) have in common? They’re all only available in Africa on Showmax. 

Explore the best TV series of 2023 below:

Succession S4 | First On Showmax | Binge now

As Vulture puts it, “Succession. This is the most boring, unsurprising answer to the question, ‘What was the best TV show of 2023?’ It also happens to be the truth.”

Everyone from Entertainment Weekly to Time agrees, as do the Emmys and Golden Globes, where it’s the most nominated series overall for both. 

In Season 4 of HBO’s smash hit series, the sale of Waystar Royco to tech visionary Lukas Matsson (Emmy winner Alexander Skarsgård) is looming ever closer. It’s a prospect that provokes existential angst and familial division among the Roys as they anticipate their diminished cultural and political influence once the deal is completed.

“Just as The Sopranos and The Wire defined one era of HBO, Succession will go down as the best series of its time. If anyone disagrees, it’s best to ignore them: They’re not serious people,” says The Ringer, calling back to Logan Roy putting his children in their place once again. 

The Last Of Us S1 | Binge now 

The most popular series on IMDb this year, The Last of Us is set 20 years after modern civilisation has been destroyed. Joel is hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie out of an oppressive quarantine zone. But what starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal journey as the pair cross the US, depending on each other for survival.

The most searched TV series on Google in 2023, the breakout HBO hit raked in 24 Emmy nominations this year – behind only Succession S4. This includes Best Drama, as well as first-ever Best Actress and Actor nominations for its two stars, Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) and Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian). 

Indiewire hails the Playstation adaptation as the Best New Show of 2023, while Variety’s Aramide Tinubu named The Last of Us as her top show overall for the year. As Financial Times put it in their Best TV Shows of 2023 roundup, “Who would have thought a survival series set in a world overrun by mushroom monsters would be one of the year’s most affecting dramas?”

Rain Dogs S1 | Binge now

HBO and BBC One collab Rain Dogs is MetaCritic’s best-reviewed show of 2023, with an 88% metascore. 

Double-BAFTA winner Daisy May Cooper stars as Costello Jones, a devoted mother, aspiring author, and peepshow dancer, who wants more for her young daughter. 

As Time puts it, “Streamers are going broke scrambling to scale up television to fit genre-franchise-multiverse specs, but often the most effective small-screen stories are also the most intimate. Rain Dogs is this year’s most compelling case in point, a portrait of a fascinatingly unconventional family… The perfect balance of darkness, warmth, grit, and scathing British humour.”

Mrs Davis S1 | First on Showmax | Binge now

“Hallucinate” was Cambridge Dictionary’s word of the year, so it feels right that a show about defying AI was named the best TV series of 2023 by The Washington Post, who hailed the Peacock Original as “a romp, an epic, a masterpiece.” 

Mrs. Davis is the world’s most powerful Artificial Intelligence. Simone (three-time Emmy nominee Betty Gilpin) is the nun devoted to destroying her.

Mrs. Davis is co-created by three-time Emmy winner Damon Lindelof (Watchmen, The Leftovers) and writer Tara Hernandez (The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon). As Vulture puts it, “Turns out sometimes TVcan still be intellectually challenging and fun as hell.”

Poker Face S1 | Binge now

Natasha Lyonne is on the case in Poker Face, from mystery guru Rian Johnson, Oscar-nominated for both Knives Out and Glass Onion. 

Lyonne is up for an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award as Charlie Cale, a human lie detector solving a new mystery each episode as she travels across America. 

Nominated for Best Comedy at the 2024 Critics’ Choice Awards and hailed as “the crime show of the year” by Entertainment Weekly, Poker Face’s stacked cast includes Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Oscar nominees Hong Chau, Nick Nolte and Chloë Sevigny, and Emmy winners Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Barkin, and Cherry Jones. 

Inverse calls the Peacock Original a “love letter to Columbo and classic murder mystery shows… Stylish, wry and oh-so-satisfying.” 

Special mentions:

Other Showmax favourites popping up on all the critics’ lists include:

  • Somebody Somewhere S2: “The mere mention of this show’s name puts a smile on my face… Few things on television exude more organic joy than this half-hour slice of Midwest small-town life; it’s a weekly reminder that life, even at its most mundane and frustrating, demands to be embraced.” Vulture
  • Barry S4: “Among television’s most brooding and violent shows but still bubbled over with snappy one-liners and zippy satire.” The New York Times 

Other Showmax series featuring prominently include:

  • Blue Lights S1: “Trying to make a new cop show without clichés is a bit like attempting to jump into the ocean without getting wet. Massive props, then, to a gripping and cliché-free police drama that started impressively and ended up feeling like it just might grow into Belfast’s answer to The Wire.” TimeOut
  • How To With John Wilson S3: “John Wilson’s brilliant, one-of-a-kind series… feels like the kind of thing you’ll tell your grandchildren you were alive to see. Ostensibly the product of Wilson’s free-associative wanderings around New York City, each episode follows a train of thought that takes him to locales as disparate as Burning Man and a convention of vacuum-cleaner collectors. It’s like spending an evening with your smartest, weirdest friend, the kind who tells stories so rambling you can never remember where they started, but it’s always worth holding on till the end.” Slate
  • The Righteous Gemstones S3: “One of TV’s funniest and most incisive shows.” Polygon
  • Warrior S3: “It’s never been better… Exploring systemic racism and the Chinese immigrant experience with some of the most exhilarating action sequences on television, Warrior continues to pack a punch.” The Ringer

We could keep going: other shows we’ve seen pop up on Best of the Year lists include A Spy Among Friends, Based On A True Story, Chucky, and Perry Mason, not to mention 1923, up for Best Drama at the 2024 Golden Globes; Winning Time, up for Best Drama at the 2024 Critics Choice Awards, and Love & Death, up for Best Limited Series at the 2024 Critics Choice Awards. 

So take all your leave this year: you won’t run out of great series to watch. 

That festive Showmax flavour
Shaka iLembe, now streaming