10 Best Docuseries to Come Out in 2023

Updated May 25, 2024 • Staff

There will always be binge-worthy dramas and rib-tickling comedies, but docuseries are what's stealing the spotlight this year. From historical explorations and true crime exposés to industry deep dives and informative breakdowns, these gripping non-fiction shows are sure to educate as they entertain, all while giving us a glimpse into different cultures and lifestyles across the world. So whether you're a seasoned documentary fan or a newbie looking to dip your toes into the unknown, you might want to check out the best docuseries that have come out in 2023.

Read also:
10.

Tour de France: Unchained

Tour de France: Unchained is an intense sports docuseries depicting the ins and outs of the prominent cycling race. While cycling is an individual activity, Tour de France is structured to be a team sport — usually comprising around 20 teams with eight riders each. The first season depicts the 2022 run from Copenhagen to Champs-Élysées, the comeback after the pandemic, with players looking to defeat two-time defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). If you're up to date with cycling news, you'll know how this one ends. However, it's still a worthwhile watch, as the show goes behind the scenes to witness the team dynamics, the severe falls, and the steep challenges. With this in mind, Tour de France is very watchable, especially for fans of the sport.

Our staff rating: 7.7/10
Genre: Documentary
Rating: TV-MA
9.

Who Killed Jill Dando?

Looking at a photo of Jill Dando, you’d be forgiven for mistaking her for Princess Diana. Both beloved public figures have the same cut of blonde hair and exude the same girl-next-door warmth. Still like Diana, Jill was suddenly killed in the ‘90s and left in her wake a string of conspiracy theories surrounding her death. This docuseries from Netflix examines those speculations, along with official investigations, and invites us to ask why, despite an abundance of clues and advocates, the truth remains hidden after all these years. It’s a compelling, respectful, and well-made show that humanizes Jill and dramatizes her death in equal measure. And like any true crime series worth your time, it also reveals how slow real cases outside of film and TV actually move. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking, but also quite enlightening. You don’t have to know much about Jill to be gripped by the series, although you do wind up caring about her and the development of the case by the end of it.

Our staff rating: 7.7/10
Genre: Crime, Documentary
Rating: TV-MA
8.

If I Were Luísa Sonza

Today’s child pop stars have a lot on their plate. On top of the already strenuous touring schedule, they have to deal with the fact that every move they make can be recorded, saved, and spread online just to cause their own downfall. Brazilian popstar Luisa Sonza grew up with the spotlight, and at the ripe old age of 25, has gone through two messy break-ups, a nude leak, and a racist controversy, all while creating two of her most captivating albums so far. If I Were Luisa Sonza portrays her at her most vulnerable– through the creating process, and the team meetings, and the doctor visits– but also at her most defiant, as she turns her scandals into art. The resulting intimate documentary might just be one part of her life, as she declares, but it’s just the precise viewpoint from this generation’s artists that is needed to question what it means to be a young artist in this day and age.

Our staff rating: 7.7/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Luísa Sonza
Director: Isabel Nascimento Silva
Rating: TV-MA
7.

Mother Undercover

There's no room for glamour in this heartwrenching yet inspiring documentary of first-hand accounts from mothers who went above and beyond for their children. These days it is hard to escape fancy editing, theatrical reenactments, and law enforcement's clinical recounts in true crime productions, but these four stories inject much-needed empathy for victims. In each episode, the mothers' fight for justice and their children's safety illuminates the strength of a community, the goodwill of strangers, and the perseverance of all (with or without the help of the law). Straightforward and respectful, these first-hand accounts will appeal to viewers wanting humane narratives and a few happy endings. 

Our staff rating: 7.8/10
Genre: Documentary
Rating: TV-14

Free Watching Options:

Watch Mother Undercover on Hulu for free
6.

The Romantics

Bollywood is the biggest film industry in the world, in terms of output. After all, the Indian film industry churns out 700-800 films per year. Because of sheer output, there are plenty of excellent hidden gems from the South Asian country, some of which we try to cover here in A Good Movie to Watch. However, for a fairly comprehensive introduction to the industry, the English-language miniseries The Romantics is a great place to start. There’s no better filmmaker to take notes from other than Yash Raj Chopra, whose media conglomerate shifted the industry for the past 50 years, so the show tackles his legacy through archival footage and interviews from India’s current roster of film stars. Footage of his films alone are already a compelling watch, but director Smriti Mundra keeps an excellent balance between these films’ personal impact, as well as the corresponding political and film history in which his works were released to. It’s an excellent introduction to the colorful and rich film history of India.

Our staff rating: 7.8/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Aditya Chopra, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Uday Chopra, Yash Chopra
Director: Smriti Mundhra
Rating: TV-14
5.

Secrets of the Elephants

After delving into the secrets of giants under the sea, James Cameron and National Geographic now explores the giants above ground in Secrets of the Elephants. Natalie Portman narrates the intricate social behavior of four elephant families from around the world, as each family adapts to their specific environments, as well as living beside, and sometimes, together with, the human world. Of course, the show offers picturesque views and fun facts about these gentle giants, but it recalls the same sociological approach that defined Secrets of the Whales as they treat the elephants’ behaviors as its own human-like culture.

Our staff rating: 7.8/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Natalie Portman, Paula Kahumbu

Free Watching Options:

Watch Secrets of the Elephants on Hulu for free
4.

Wrestlers

The OVW are practically nobodies outside the pro-wrestling scene, and they know it. They describe themselves as a “third tier” that trails behind more well-known companies like WWE and AEW, with one manager even likening their team to an indie film. If the WWE and AEW are Michael Bay movies, he says, then the OVW is like the highly-rated but little-seen movie The Squid and the Whale. But though their underdog status is bad news for their dipping financials and fanbase, it makes for a compelling story in Wrestlers. The docuseries pulls the curtains on the OVW and acquaints us with the owners, managers, accountants, and of course, the wrestlers, who are all struggling to keep afloat this act they love so much. “Wrestling is the art of physical storytelling,” CEO Al Snow says, and it’s clear that director Greg Whiteley believes him. He captures the OVW lovingly, intimately, making us privy to their highs and lows, celebrations and disagreements, and everything in between. He never forces us, either, but rather invites us to this world as naturally as possible. You may start watching this knowing very little about the OVW, but you’ll leave knowing and caring about them a little more. 

Our staff rating: 7.9/10
Genre: Documentary
Actor: Allen Sarven
Rating: TV-MA
3.

Searching for Soul Food

Fresh and fast-paced, Searching for Soul Food is a love letter to the titular cuisine. Known as one of America’s cuisines, soul food has been brought and developed around the world as a means for their own survival and the preservation of their cultures. Chef Alisa Reynolds enthusiastically introduces the viewers to the cuisine, digging deep (sometimes literally) into its roots and the resulting dishes. While the show sometimes gives speedy infodumps about the food, Reynolds infuses some sense of warmth and liveliness that makes the facts highly engaging. It’s clear that Reynolds and the team serve each episode with sincere love and respect for the cultures presented here.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Documentary, Reality
Director: Rodney Lucas
Rating: TV-14

Free Watching Options:

Watch Searching for Soul Food on Hulu for free
2.

Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York

"No one lives just one article or one headline of a life. There's more."

 

Last Call may be a true-crime docuseries, but it doesn't pigeonhole itself as such; the advocacy for humanizing LGBTQ+ people is undoubtedly at its helm. The series expands past the context of each crime, giving testimonials and evidence of the lives, struggles, solidarity, and fears of the community. It acknowledges the efforts of the New Jersey State Police whilst shedding light on the inherent biases of society, law enforcement, and media when responding to crimes against gay people. Interviews with family members, detectives, and activists round out the narrative, ensuring that the lives lost are not forgotten due to shame, hatred, or sensationalism.

Our staff rating: 8.1/10
Genre: Documentary
1.

Old Enough!

There’s a lot more to this show than what it packages itself as, which is a cute little show shot in the ‘90s/2000s about capable toddlers. We can assume the kids are safe and have adults offscreen with them, but anxious ol' me has too many questions (e.g. How many more guardians are there besides cameramen? This isn’t a nature docu, so do the cameramen step in a lot?) The flash forwards in later episodes are a warm and welcome wrinkle to the show that deepens a distant nostalgia into an instant connection with these people. This show maximizes its short runtime by packing cuteness, tension, and fascination, and even finding a way to hit you in the feels.

Our staff rating: 8.5/10
Genre: Documentary, Family, Kids, Reality

Ready to cut the cord? Here are the 14 live TV streaming services that offer a free trial.

More lists

That's all from us for the 10 Best Docuseries to Come Out in 2023! For more, subscribe to the newsletter. It's ad-free, spam-free, and algorithm-free. You get two e-mails every week with the best of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and nothing else.