Best new comedy shows to watch in 2023

Sign up to the Arts & Life newsletter for reviews and recommendations

“Beef” is the “best show Netflix has had in recent memory”, said Vox. This dark comedy follows two protagonists – played by Ali Wong and Steve Yeun – who meet in a “screeching episode of Southern California road rage”. The chance encounter “changes their lives forever”, as the characters embark on “an escalating war of terror” against one another. It is “anxiety-inducing”, “gripping” and “commanding” – and the pair’s story is seen through to a “perfect, satisfying end”.

This “textured and inviting romantic comedy” is a “real find”, said The Times. Two “slightly daft” people, Ashley and Gordon, meet when Gordon – “distracted after Ashley flashed him her breast as a reward for giving her right of way on the road” – hits a dog. The pair then “have to look after” the animal, who they name Colin from Accounts. The show is “charming”, and “soars thanks to the chemistry between the leading pair”, played by husband and wife duo Harriet Dyer and Patrick Brammall, who also co-wrote and directed the show.

British TV has been “crying out for comedy like this”, said Radio Times drama writer Morgan Cormack. The BBC has “a comedy gem” in this six-part series by Adjani Salmon, who also stars as lead character Kwabena, a “hopeful filmmaker” who is “pulling out” the stops to get his first film made. “The laughs” are balanced with “prevalent conversations and everyday explorations about what it means to be Black in Britain” in a way “other comedies can only learn from”, said Cormack. “Dreaming Whilst Black” is a series that “won’t be forgotten anytime soon”. 

A “family of worshippers” join an “overzealous Christian doomsday sect” in this six-part comedy, said Barbara Ellen in The Observer. “Inadequate control freak” David (played by Simon Bird with “a distracting pudding bowl haircut”) is “a kind of Captain Mainwaring of evangelism” who’s wont to getting his family “out of bed for apocalypse practice”. But “it’s not a comedy going for cheap laughs about Christianity”, said The Telegraph. “It’s a great premise”, the characters are “well-written” and “every line has a comic payoff”. 

At its heart, “Shrinking” is a “family story”, said NPR. It follows a recently-widowed therapist and the life of his teenage daughter, as they “reconfigure their relationship in a new way, shaped by his grief and hers”. It’s an “ensemble comedy-drama” with a “genuinely stupendous cast” – including Harrison Ford, who takes his performance to “a whole new comic gear”. This show is “a bright spot in a very crowded landscape”.

For “anyone who sat through the sweet, colour-saturated” Disney+ musical “Encanto” and “felt like it could’ve done with a few more jokes about hookups and Hitler”, “Extraordinary” is a “must-watch”, said the Financial Times. This eight-part series is “a breezy, London-set quarter-life crisis sitcom that doubles as an offbeat send-up of superhero stories”. Viewers can look forward to “a fairly consistent stream of playful gags, irony-laced humour and some giddy (and overly insistent) bawdiness”.

In “When Harry Met Sally”, Nora Ephron posed the question of whether men and women can “really be just friends”, said Lucy Mangan in The Guardian. The “mighty” writer’s answer was “in essence, no” – but Apple TV+’s “Platonic” “posits that the answer these days might be yes”. “Bad Neighbours” co-stars Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen reunite in this 10 episode series about two former best friends who “fall back into their old ways” five years after their fallout. The leads’ are afforded “equally meaty, equally comic” roles and their chemistry is “a joy to watch”.

Bridget Christie plays Linda, a wife and mum who embarks on a “mid-life road-trip” to “‘rediscover herself’” in the Forest of Dean – but on arrival, it’s “not quite the bucolic ideal she had in mind”, said Chortle. A “musing menagerie of weirdos” awaits her, and there’s an “otherworldly sheen” to the events that unfold. “The Change” encompasses a seemingly “unlikely” combination of “light-touch social commentary and a magical realism drawn from English folk mythology” that “works well”. It “proves itself repeatedly funny in ways large and small”. 

This “thought-provoking” comedy has the “Ted Lasso” formula of “saccharine sentiment offset by salty humour”, said The Telegraph. The story takes place in “smalltown America”, with the “mysterious arrival of an arcade machine at the local store”. The Morpho machine can tell you your “life potential” – and “unsurprisingly” proves “an instant smash hit with locals”, who suddenly find “purpose” in their “humdrum lives”. This “thought experiment” stars Chris O’Dowd, and the performances “across the board are superb”.