By GRACE DETWILER
In 2023, television reigned the horror landscape. As the year comes to a close, join RUE MORGUE in remembering our favorite horror series of 2023. Below you’ll find my list of the 5 best horror TV shows of the year, plus my picks of the best episodes from each.
1. DEAD RINGERS, Prime Video
Diving deep into the murky waters of David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, Rachel Weisz and Alice Birch’s gender-swapped reimagining is undeniably the best horror IP reboot of the year. True to the twisted soul of the source material, but never lacking in fresh ideas, DEAD RINGERS centers the very real issue of maternal health like you’ve never seen it before. In a year full of horror relating to pregnancy and child-rearing, DEAD RINGERS stands tall above it all. Gracing the cover of RUE MORGUE #212, DEAD RINGERS stars Weisz in her best performance(s) to date and stretches the bounds of childbirth representation in the body-horror subgenre. Best episode: “Six”
2. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, Netflix
The best Mike Flanagan mini-series since The Haunting of Hill House, THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER weaves together the most frightening works of Edgar Allan Poe into a Final Destination-style dance with death. Poe fans will be happy to find the series littered with easter eggs referencing the work of the beloved pioneer of American gothic fiction. With each episode tracking the death of a member of the Usher family at the hands of a mysterious woman, HOUSE OF USHER delivers truly gruesome gore alongside laugh-out-loud moments of dark satire. Featuring an all-star cast of Flanagan favorites, HOUSE OF USHER is a worthy end to Flanagan’s stint of original series for Netflix. Best episode: “The Masque of the Red Death”
3. SWARM, Prime Video
Featured in RUE MORGUE’s “Radio Macabre” column for its accompanying soundtrack EP, the Donald Glover-created series SWARM gave us the year’s best TV serial killer anti-hero in Andrea “Dre” Greene (Dominique Fishback). A superfan of Beyonce-analogue Ni’Jah, Dre embarks on a bloody cross-country killing spree to get as close to her idol as possible. A razor-sharp satire of contemporary fan culture, SWARM is entertaining and disturbing in equal measure and does not shy away from the darkest side of its female protagonist. Far from the popular ‘good for her’ trope that follows most lady killers, Fishback’s excellent portrayal of Dre dives deep into the character’s twisted and damaged psyche. Best episode: “Running Scared”
4. THE LAST OF US, HBO
Unlike practically any video game adaptation before it, HBO’s THE LAST OF US uses its source material to illuminate the emotional bonds of its characters, rather than focusing on the fungal zombie action. While hard-core fans of the game may have had their gripes with THE LAST OF US, there is no denying that the first season truly captured the spirit of TLOU’s narrative. With Pedro Pascal as father-figure Joel, and Bella Ramsey as his ‘adopted daughter’ Ellie, TLOU posits one central question: what makes life worth living after the end of the world? The answer, of course, is love. Love is the theme that runs through every episode of the vignette-style series, which explores the human connections between friends, lovers, parents, and children. However, TLOU has no shortage of horror and never shies away from the violence inherent in any struggle for survival, and the lengths we will go to save the ones we love. Best episode: “Long, Long Time”
5. YELLOWJACKETS (Season 2), Showtime
Everyone’s favorite queer cannibal show (RIP Hannibal) is back and just as batshit as ever. In Season 2, the Yellowjackets’ true nature is revealed as the former soccer team faces their demons while fighting for survival in the wilderness. Ripe with the series’ signature supernatural will they/won’t they, Season 2 follows the girls’ psychological unraveling and the scars that followed them into adulthood. With truly disturbing sequences of human flesh consumption and the violence women are capable of, YELLOWJACKETS proves that the show is not afraid to approach the line of the taboo and trample over it. Despite the new season’s admittedly erratic plot and overstuffed narrative, YELLOWJACKETS remains a high point in the horror television landscape. And don’t forget about that killer soundtrack. . . Best episode: “Edible Complex”
Have a favorite not on our list? Leave a comment below and let us know!