The past twelve months of the series were full of highlights. For example, the German thriller series “Liebes Kind” captivated the global Netflix audience, superstar Pedro Pascal (48) became the “daddy” of another protégé in “The Last of Us” and fan favorite Tom Hiddleston (42) impersonated Marvel once again introduces Loki, the god of practical jokes and deception. The following eight series hits caused a sensation in 2023.
The international streaming services based in Germany have released a whole series of local series productions in 2023. But only the Netflix show "Liebes Kind" based on Romy Hausmann's novel of the same name caused a storm of enthusiasm worldwide - and even made it into the streaming market leader's all-time best list.
In the thriller series, the director and author duo Isabel Kleefeld and Julian Pörksen masterfully tell of a cruel kidnapping situation, which in many ways is reminiscent of the very real case of Natascha Kampusch (35). The first three episodes of the six-part mini-series in particular are hard to beat in terms of excitement - even if there are a few logical holes that can be overcome here and there towards the end of the series.
“Liebes Kind” is carried for long stretches by Naila Schuberth, who is only twelve years old and who puts in a magnetic performance in the claustrophobic kidnapping setting. The young actress may have a great acting career ahead of her.
In 2023, the renowned US cable channel HBO also had a global series hit on offer with the apocalyptic show “The Last of Us”. As co-series creators, “Chernobyl” creator Craig Mazin (52) and Neil Druckmann (45), the developer of the video game template of the same name, breathed new life into the zombie genre. The cast around “The Mandalorian” star Pedro Pascal and the young actress Bella Ramsey (20), known from “Game of Thrones,” were completely impressive. In addition, HBO clearly spared neither expense nor effort in the complex production to conjure up the post-apocalyptic world of the acclaimed game series on the screens.
But in addition to breathtaking survival action and a generally oppressive atmosphere, "The Last of Us" also impressed with some narrative detours such as the third episode entitled "Love me the way I want it". The episode focuses on the unlikely romance of two men who get to know and love each other in the midst of the end of the world. In addition, the main actor Pascal, who is looking after a supposedly weaker and smaller person for the second time after "The Mandalorian", triggered a real daddy hype in the spring. Just another indication of many of the pop cultural relevance of this fantastic series.
The Netflix series "Painkiller" - just like the 2021 production "Dopesick" available on Disney - revolves around the terrible opioid crisis, to which over a million people have fallen victim in the USA since 1999. In their fast-paced miniseries, co-series creators Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster tell how Purdue Pharma and the unscrupulous Sackler family successfully trivialized the opioid OxyContin and brought it to the public, thereby plunging unsuspecting people into the most serious addictions, which ultimately resulted in many cases led to death.
In addition, however, the focus is also on these victims and their normal lives - such as the person of the car mechanic and family man Glen (Taylor Kitsch, 42), who unknowingly and through no fault of his own becomes a junkie after an accident at work. “Painkiller” jumps back and forth masterfully between all these storylines. The first moments of individual episodes feature real relatives of victims of the opioid crisis. These harrowing scenes remain in the memory long after the series has ended.
One of the most surprising things about "Painkiller" is that this extremely tragic theme is conveyed in a relaxed, light and extremely entertaining way, and at the same time the feeling for the seriousness of the crime committed is never lost. Probably no other series production achieved such a balancing act this year.
The miniseries "Dead Ringers" with Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (53) in a double role offers anything but light fare. Weisz plays the identical twins and obstetricians in the psychological thriller series - a remake of David Cronenberg's (80) classic film of the same name from 1988 Beverly and Elliot Mantle. Equipped with a financial injection from the wealthy New York upper class, they set up a slightly different maternity clinic in which, unlike the rest of conventional medicine, pregnant women are not treated as sick people.
With “Dead Ringers,” series creator Alice Birch (37) and her all-female writing team take a provocative look at how humans deal with the experience of reproduction. At the same time, body horror scenes of caesarean sections and bloody fetuses are shocking in the truest sense of the word, while hovering above all this is a brilliant double leading actress, Weisz, who immediately reveals to the audience the depths of two fascinating characters.
The celebrated actor Tom Hiddleston - now one of the longest-serving Marvel heroes alongside Samuel L. Jackson (75) and Paul Bettany (52) - returned to Disney screens in the fall with the second season of his superhero series "Loki". While the large Marvel universe as a whole had to struggle with failures like "Ant-Man 3", "Secret Invasion" or "The Marvels" this year, the innovative series, often reminiscent of the animated cult "Rick and Morty", delivered “Loki” was released again and thrilled audiences and critics.
In contrast to many of their Marvel colleagues, the “Loki” creators around season two head author Eric Martin understand how to derive extremely exciting, surprising and touching stories from the multiverse concept. With Oscar winner and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Ke Huy Quan (52), the cast of the Marvel series, which was already impressive in season one, was once again strengthened.
Apple TV's comedy series "Platonic" is - as the title suggests - about the platonic friendship of two people in their 40s: brewery operator Will (Seth Rogen, 41), despite his slightly advanced age, leads the life of an urban hipster in his 30s, Housewife and mother Sylvia (Rose Byrne, 44), on the other hand, is more down-to-earth.
After losing sight of each other for a few years, the former best friends get closer again at the beginning of "Platonic", with Sylvia's environment in particular being bothered by her friendship with a man. As a result, Will and Sylvia rediscover a bit of the carefree nature of earlier times.
“Platonic” is particularly driven by the incomparable chemistry of the lead duo. The likeable stars Byrne and Rogen have already proven that they harmonize perfectly in front of the camera in the two “Bad Neighbors” films of the 2010s. At the same time, the smart show by co-series creators Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller (47) takes a highly entertaining and satirical look at common everyday problems that people usually face in the middle of their lives.
In the Netflix series "Beef", the dissatisfaction of the successful self-made millionaire Amy (Ali Wong, 41) and the unsuccessful craftsman Danny (Steven Yeun, 40) breaks through when there is a violent confrontation between the two opposing characters Road traffic is coming. In the moment, everyone involved assumes the worst of the other person. The enmity between Amy and Danny is the focus of the darkly humorous comedy series.
But ultimately, creator Lee Sung Jin's miniseries is not so much about this "beef", but rather about the smaller and larger disappointments and frustrations of two people who are probably in a kind of midlife crisis.
The Netflix series, which is equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking, is accompanied by a magnificent soundtrack by iconic 1990s musicians and bands such as Offspring, Incubus, Tori Amos, Bush and the Smashing Pumpkins, which points to a better, more innocent time in life from Danny and Amy.
With the series “Poker Face,” “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” maker Rian Johnson (50) continues his triumphant march through the crime genre. The show with the famous leading actress Natasha Lyonne (44) represents a return to the classic case-of-the-week format of earlier TV series such as the unmistakable model "Columbo": As the human lie detector Charlie, Lyonne takes on a new one in every single episode murder case. What helps her is that she can always recognize when the other person is telling an untruth.
In the tonally very different episodes from season one, Lyonne's Charlie has to deal with numerous top-class guest stars. Cult actress Chloë Sevigny (49), for example, embodies the aging front woman of a struggling heavy metal band in an episode that is all about the music business. A second season has already been ordered by the US streaming service Peacock.