10 Best 2023 Miniseries Right Now

Updated May 16, 2024 • Staff

The miniseries is one of the most creative things to come out of modern television. It's artful, purposeful, and most of all efficient: it's very possible to finish a miniseries, especially a well-made one, in just one sitting, which is no small feat given the length most episodes go at these days. Thankfully, 2023 had no shortage of such shows. This year, genres were challenged, different eras were explored, and historical figures were brought back to life. Out of everything we saw from around the world, we gathered the best 2023 miniseries in the list below and noted where you to stream them online.

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10.

PLUTO

Reimagining a children’s classic as a mature serial killer mystery, PLUTO already had high expectations for its anime adaptation. The limited series adds an additional challenge, with only hour-long episodes dedicated to each of the series’ eight volumes, which follows not only Gesicht’s own investigation, but also in-depth stories of each of the remaining Great Robots. However, the anime, now showing on Netflix, is able to meet this challenge with its deep understanding of the source material. It’s not just a straightforward police procedural, or just futuristic dream of how AI and humans can co-exist. PLUTO is a robot series that strikes at the heart of what it means to be human.

Our staff rating: 8.2/10
Genre: Animation, Crime, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Actor: Hidenobu Kiuchi, Hiroki Yasumoto, Koichi Yamadera, Mamoru Miyano, Minori Suzuki, Rikiya Koyama, Shinshu Fuji, Toshihiko Seki, Yoko Hikasa
Rating: TV-14
9.

Full Circle

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Oceans trilogy, Erin Brockovich, and more recently, Kimi), Full Circle is a twisty and stylish noir that takes a while to grasp, what with its epic ensemble and sweeping storylines, but once that first thread of connection is made, it becomes a series that’s very hard to leave. Each episode leaves you excited for the next, which in turn ups the ante even more. Soderbergh is in his element, and aided by a stacked cast of veterans and newcomers alike, he turns in a series that’s expertly tense and watchable throughout. 

Our staff rating: 8.3/10
Genre: Crime, Drama
Actor: CCH Pounder, Claire Danes, Dennis Quaid, Gerald W. Jones III, Jharrel Jerome, Jim Gaffigan, Phaldut Sharma, Suzanne Savoy, Timothy Olyphant, Zazie Beetz
Rating: TV-MA
8.

Black Snow

Black Snow has the sleek style of a modern murder mystery, but its concern with Australia’s colonial past that sets this show apart. As a neo-noir series centered on a murder, the show has all the classic elements: the hardboiled detective, the suspicious townsfolk, and the murder. As the murder is set in 1994, nostalgic summer-tinged high school scenes make it easy to root for justice for the show’s young victim.

But the series stands out as it's always mindful of Isabel Baker, always concerned with her and her dynamics with her friends, family, and her South Sea Islander (ASSI) community. Supported by the strong performance of newcomer Talijah Blackman-Corowa, and even consulting the ASSI community personally in the show’s development and production, Black Snow is excellent not just as a murder mystery but also as a depiction of a community that's rarely portrayed on screen.

Our staff rating: 8.3/10
Genre: Crime
Actor: Alexander England, Jemmason Power, Rob Carlton, Talijah Blackman-Corowa, Travis Fimmel
Director: Sian Davies

Free Watching Options:

Watch Black Snow on Amazon Prime for free
7.

Bodies

Based on the DC Vertigo comic, Bodies is an intriguing crime thriller with a unique twist – one body, in four separate time periods, being solved simultaneously all at once. While the show is triggered by the same body, the mini-series feels like four separate shows at the same time, marrying the classic Victorian detective mystery, war-torn film noir, and modern day police procedural through post-apocalyptic science fiction. And the four separate detectives take the helm of their respective side of the case, as well as how they deal with the discrimination against them. With four excellent strands to the same mystery, Bodies is an exceptional adaptation that demonstrates how even though details change, some things still remain the same.

Our staff rating: 8.3/10
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Actor: Amaka Okafor, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Kyle Soller, Shira Haas, Stephen Graham, Synnøve Karlsen, Tom Mothersdale
Rating: TV-MA
6.

The Curse

That The Curse is squirm-inducingly awkward won’t be news to anyone who’s watched a Nathan Fielder show before, but TV’s king of cringe digs his heels in on that approach here. The Curse chronicles the making of another show: HGTV’s inelegantly named “Flipanthropy,” which follows Fielder’s Asher and wife Whitney Siegel (Emma Stone) as they perform (the operative word) good deeds in a struggling New Mexico town. Flipanthropy is also a means through which the well-to-do white couple can shill the eco-friendly homes they’re gentrifying the town with — a galling conflict of interest that plays as a running satire of TV. 

The uneasy tension between what the Siegels say they want to do versus what they actually do is the heart of the show. In true Fielder fashion, their hypocrisy is revealed through excruciatingly awkward, tortuously long scenes takes, such as the one that gives the show its title (the socially inept Asher angers a little girl, who puts a curse on him). This scene is also an example of the insane left takes The Curse constantly takes, which speak to Fielder’s ability to make his shows feel like they’re falling apart all while building to towering complexity. Suffice it to say, there’s nothing else like this on TV.

Our staff rating: 8.3/10
Genre: Comedy
Actor: Benny Safdie, Emma Stone, Nathan Fielder
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch The Curse on Amazon Prime for free
5.

Tiny Beautiful Things

Based on the bestselling book of essays by Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things is, well, made of many tiny beautiful things. It’s at once a meditation on grief, a coming-of-age tale, a contemplation of family ties, a sobering look at a midlife crisis, a romance, a comedy, and an absolute tearjerker of a drama. It’s clunky on some fronts and much better on others, but overall the series packs a gut-wrenching punch with the ever-compelling Kathryn Hahn as the lead. 

It’s surprisingly light with each of its eight episodes running at just under 30 minutes, but in all, the show effectively tugs at the heartstrings and provides welcome insight into navigating the highs and lows of living a small but meaningful life.

Our staff rating: 8.5/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Johnny Berchtold, Kathryn Hahn, Quentin Plair, Sarah Pidgeon, Tanzyn Crawford

Free Watching Options:

Watch Tiny Beautiful Things on Hulu for free
4.

Phoenix: Eden17

Based on an arc of the classic Space Age manga, Phoenix: Eden17 reimagines the future of space exploration into a contemplation of human nature. While the show’s pacing speeds through its plot points within four episodes, each reveal feels gut wrenching, as Romi consistently has to deal with changes in Eden, Earth, and what happened to her loved ones. Modern-style animation is used, but inspired the original style of its time, creating a modernized version of the original mangaka Osamu Tezuka’s stunning images. But it’s the series’ ideas that make the show unique. Greed, betrayal, isolation, and human error causes all the disasters in this show’s universe, and even when you know it’s coming, it’s still hard not to feel the devastation the characters feel. Despite being based on a manga created decades ago, Phoenix: Eden17 still feels like an entirely singular work. Given modern animation, the ideas of the father of manga feel like it’s something never seen before.

Our staff rating: 8.5/10
Genre: Animation
Actor: Honoka Yoshida, Issey Ogata, Rie Miyazawa, Ryohei Kimura, Shintaro Asanuma, Yosuke Kubozuka
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch Phoenix: Eden17 on Hulu for free
3.

Cigarette Girl

Netflix is no stranger to adapting novels, nor to period dramas – Cigarette Girl is one of many, but it’s one from Indonesia that stands out due to its unique premise and excellent execution. Based on the novel by Ratih Kumala, the show is a slow-burn, smoldering period romance set amidst Indonesia’s kretek cigarette industry, booming in the 1960s, but it’s framed within the 2000s, where the man’s family uncovers his lost love before he dies. The alternating timelines keep the mystery fresh, as each new revelation uncovers what really happened between the two, as well as what would happen with the fate of their families. This intriguing structure, along with excellent writing, and stunning sets and costumes, make Cigarette Girl a compelling show to watch.

Our staff rating: 8.5/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Ario Bayu, Arya Saloka, Dian Sastrowardoyo, Putri Marino, Sha Ine Febriyanti, Tissa Biani Azzahra
Director: Ifa Isfansyah, Kamila Andini
Rating: TV-14
2.

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

On the surface, The Makanai is a simple, slice-of-life show about food and friendship. While it is that, to be sure, it's also a substantial drama that tackles questions about art vs. love, and love vs. companionship, and career vs. purpose. Under the gentle guidance of showrunner Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, Shoplifters, Broker), who generously allows up-and-coming directors to take the helm on certain episodes, The Makanai feels at once light and hefty, comforting and challenging. We're seeing mundane events unfold before us as if we were bystanders, but we also understand that there is so much more happening than what meets the eye. A prolonged gaze, a lovingly prepped meal, an especially sharp wing-eye, all of these have much to say about the state of mind of these girls. 

It’s a supremely gentle and culturally rich show with a tender heart; a truly great watch on all accounts.

Our staff rating: 8.8/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Ai Hashimoto, Aju Makita, Arata Iura, Jyo Kairi, Kairi Jo, Kanji Furutachi, Keiko Matsuzaka, Keiko Toda, Lily Franky, Mayu Matsuoka, Momoko Fukuchi, Nana Mori, Natsuki Deguchi, Ryota Suzuki, Takako Tokiwa, Toshinori Omi, Win Morisaki, Yukiya Kitamura
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda, Hiroshi Okuyama, Megumi Tsuno, Takuma Sato
Rating: TV-14
1.

Beef

A parking lot run-in wouldn't normally warrant anything more than an angry rebuke, but for Danny and Amy (Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, respectively), it's the final straw that pushes them over the edge and into the domain of unfiltered rage. Years of forced optimism and unreciprocated niceness have led them to this unforgiving point, and instead of going back to how things were, they burry themselves deeper into the ground with each new act of revenge proving more sinister than the last.

Beef could've easily been a comical show anchored on silly hi-jinks. Instead, it's a searing look at anger and repression in modern-day America. Danny and Amy are on opposite ends of the class spectrum, but both are riddled with unending malaise and self-hatred, parts of which are informed by their race, gender, and status as second-generation immigrants in the country. It's their chase for the elusive American Dream, and not actually each other, that entangles them in a web of deceit and danger.

Juicy with a thrilling aftertaste, each episode of Beef will leave you enthralled, enraged, and ever-hungry for more.

Our staff rating: 9.3/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Ali Wong, David Choe, Joseph Lee, Patti Yasutake, Steven Yeun, Young Mazino

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