Fall approaches. The leaves are changing, the weather cooling, the summer vacation in the rearview. One thing is for certain: You’ll be spending a lot more time inside. That means more sitting in front of the tube (or the laptop screen for you cordcutters). As it seems we’re in #PeakTV, you’ll have plenty of programming to watch. These are the shows you should be sure to check out this fall.
Series Premiere: Sept. 6 on FX
It started with the “Twin Peaks for rappers” comment show creator and star Donald Glover made at the TCAs, and a tagline that’s stuck to Atlanta ever since. Ethereal promos demanding your curiosity and a Twitter feed full of equal parts witty aphorisms and thinking-face emoji have only increased the hype of this show. It looks to be the new show your friends say, “You just gotta see this, fam,” and they’re right.
Series Premiere: Sept. 10 on FX
“Don’t you want me to have clean, organic pot?” Pamela Adlon’s daughter asks her mother in the above promo for Better Things, a sentiment we both support and find ourselves chuckling at the Fresh Toast. If that quote weren’t enough, Adlon co-created the show with Louis C.K. (she played the ongoing love interest in C.K.’s Louie) and promises to examine the ossified lives of L.A.’s entertainment scene, but (finally) from a female perspective. Also, playing Tribe’s “Can I Kick It?” during a promo will 100% guarantee my watching almost anything.
Season 20 Premiere: Sept. 14 on Comedy Central
What more is left to dissect about South Park? It only recently became debatable whether it’s comedy’s best satire in existence (BoJack Horseman creates the argument), and 20 seasons in, Matt Stone and Trey Parker still throw 100 MPH fastballs. As our world turned more and more absurd this year, fans await South Park’s return to make sense and make fun of that absurdity. They always have.
Series Premiere: Sept. 16 on HBO
We’ve written previously about this show but for those unaware: It’s an original webseries by husband-and-wife team Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld that follows a New York dealer known simply as “The Guy” as he interacts with his customers. His adventures, typically in Brooklyn but sometimes Manhattan, lead him into tales that can be hilarious or heartwarming depending on the episode. Though the web episodes ran about 5-12 minutes in length, we’ll see how the cult series adapts in its six-episode HBO run.
Season 3 Premiere: Sept. 21 on FOX
There’s no denying it: Empire had a bit of a slump in its second season. But could the showrunners really be blamed? The attention paid to the show in its first season was fifth-season-of-Breaking-Bad level high. In some ways, they could only go down. The show has a lot to prove in its third season, but it isn’t in a terrible place to do so.
Season 3 Premiere: Sept. 21 on ABC
When it was announced, the show Black-ish seemed like it had “bad idea” written all over it. Two seasons in, it has asserted itself as both an ABC premiere sitcom and important forum for race relations in the country. Last season’s polemic episode “Hope” on police shootings was one of the best half-hours of any current sitcom and with that issue ongoing plus this farcical election cycle, the series is sure to have a lot on its mind.
Season 3 Premiere: Sept. 23 on Amazon Video
Two types of people know about this show: A) those who adore it and convince friends to watch, calling it television’s best written half-hour and claiming it’s a family drama, not “the trans show” some reduce it to and B) those on the listening end of such commentary but still haven’t taken the plunge. If you’re person B, you should change that because all those As are correct. Just binge it, already.
Series Premiere: Sept. 30 on Netflix
While fan-beloved, Netflix’s first two Marvel TV series have left me largely unimpressed and cold. The characters and worlds feel underdeveloped, the narrative arcs too loose and fast. It all felt too much like fan service-y content instead of a story. But yet I’m eagerly anticipating Luke Cage, a show that judging from trailers appears fully realized with fleshed-out characters and a larger tapestry at play than good vs. evil (and setting up the Defenders TV series). And dude used a car door as a battering ram while ODB’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” played in the background–yeah, you have my attention, Luke Cage.
Crisis in Six Scenes
Series Premiere: Sept. 30 on Amazon Video
Nervous energy surrounds this show, which isn’t saying much since it’s a Woody Allen project. He agreed to the six-episode series with Amazon and then in a later interview with Deadline, Allen said, “I have regretted every second since I said OK.” Not exactly words to hype you up. But the teaser looks like a classic Allen scene and Miley Cyrus’ inclusion should at least make things interesting.
Saturday Night Live
Season 42 premiere: Oct. 1 on NBC
When veteran heavy-hitters Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam were surprisingly cut from the show (as well as new guy Jon Rudnitsky), it seemed like some major shake-up was happening with SNL. But the rest of the cast will return in their previous roles and no new hires have been announced. The only other major change includes Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider taking over as head writers (they were behind the fantastic sketch “The Beygency). Otherwise, the show will continue as the pop culture stalwart it’s always been.
Ash vs. Evil Dead
Season 2 Premiere: Oct. 2 on Starz
In our Walking Dead, #peakTV, prestige-Prestige-PRESTIGE drama era, Ash vs. Evil Dead provides a breath of fresh air: It’s deliciously over-the-top B-level horror that never takes itself seriously. Demon heads explode like piñatas of gooey blood and the camera shots exaggerate the gore every chance it gets. It’s plain fun, and doesn’t want to be anything else.
Series Premiere: Oct. 2 on HBO
Not-so-quietly, HBO and the TV critic community have posited Westworld as the potential next Game of Thrones. That is, a tentpole show in a TV economy where tentpole shows barely, if at all, exist, due to the fractured, niche evolution TV has undergone with premiere cable and streaming services. But Westworld appears to have a chance: A hybrid sci-fi-western thriller that drives at the deeper mystery of our current existential fears stemming from Silicon Valley’s alternate realities. Plus: J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan (yes, the brother of famous Christopher Nolan) are behind this project, which includes a murder’s row of acting talent like Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Tessa Thompson, et al., the possibility is huge. This show should be high on everyone’s lists.
DC’s The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow
Respectively: Season 3 on Oct. 4, Season 5 on Oct. 5, Season 2 on Oct. 10, Season 2 on Oct. 13; all on CW
Holy DC TV Series, Batman (except sans Batman). While DC’s movie universe (unfairly, I think) receives massive vitriol, its TV universe has earned a small, but dedicated following. DC’s shows are campier, more like a comic book, than the Marvel properties, as to be expected.
Series Premiere: Oct. 9 on HBO
Issa Rae came of prominence through her YouTube show “Awkward Black Girl.” That show made her an Internet hero of sorts, or at least the type of creator people enjoy rooting for. Watching any of her videos, it’s easy to see why. Insecure marks her evolution into longer-form narrative storytelling and is being executive-produced by gone-too-soon Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore.
Season 3 premiere: Oct. 21 on Netflix
Black Mirror long occupied a space as a cult favorite, particularly for TV watchers of the techno-paranoia population (a.k.a. me). Watching the British anthology series felt like watching The Matrix but made against the backdrop of our current reality. Now, Netflix has picked up the show for a third season, though the previous two seasons and Christmas special total only seven episodes. This six-episode season will include an episode directed by Joe Wright, and written by Parks & Recreation creator Mike Schur and actress Rashida Jones.
Season 7 premiere Oct. 23 on AMC
Look: Seven seasons in, not withstanding spinoff series, you’re either in or out on The Walking Dead by now. You’re either about the tribal paranoia, the how-can-we-kill-zombies-now mechanics, or you’re not. Nothing said will sway you either way, so we won’t waste the ink. That said: Killing zombies is generally a good time.