In the era of Peak TV, there are literally hundreds of shows to choose from: Network shows, premium cable shows, streaming shows, web shows. Such a bevy of choices can make it difficult for viewers to narrow things down. Sure, everyone has their favorites, and everyone has at least one show for which they’ll patiently wait, often for many months, before it debuts a new season. But what if you’re looking for something truly new among the sea of shows that come with the arrival of fall TV?
Well, that’s where we can hopefully help.
While this is by no means a complete list (we’d be here all month), here are 18 new and returning shows worth checking out, from comedy to drama to everything in between. Happy watching.
(Honorable mentions: already returned shows You’re The Worst and American Horror Story: Cult, and soon-to-return shows The Mindy Project, Transparent, Speechless and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and new release The Deuce.)
OUTLANDER (Starz, September 10)
It would be easy to dismiss this Starz drama, based on Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling series of fantasy-historical novels, as just another steamy bodice-ripper. Don’t. For one thing, ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little bodice-ripping. For another, Outlander is an absurdly well-crafted show. Under the stewardship of showrunner Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) it’s become one of TV’s most viral shows because of its incredible writing, acting and overall design. For an added boost this season, Starz has raised the show’s profile by moving it to Sunday nights from its traditional Saturday slot. They want this to be their Game of Thrones and that’s not a bad plan at all.
TOP OF THE LAKE: CHINA GIRL (Sundance, September 10)
It took four years, but Jane Campion and Gerard Lee’s extraordinary mystery drama is back. Top of the Lake is a Peak TV masterpiece led by an incredible performance from Elisabeth Moss. China Girl brings almost all of the first series’ talent back, with the added incentive of Nicole Kidman and Gwendoline Christie.
THE ORVILLE (FOX, September 10)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and Jon Favreau (Iron Man) team up for what looks to be a very ambitious send-up of Star Trek, complete with weird alien prosthetics and plenty of interpersonal drama. MacFarlane has described the show as a mix of comedy and drama, which was almost necessary, given that each is episode runs an hour long. MacFarlane, a lifelong sci-fi fan with the William Shatner impression to prove it, seems built for this. Even if you’ve long since given up on Family Guy, it’ll be interesting to see if he can pull this off.
BROAD CITY (FOX, September 13)
Abbi and Ilana are back, and not a moment too soon. Since Key & Peele closed its doors the Broad City queens have become the premiere duo in TV comedy, and from the looks of things they’re not about to let up now. Season 4, apart from literally censoring Donald Trump’s name as if its curse word, will feature plenty of weird sex, awkward adventures and, of course, weed.
BETTER THINGS (FX, September 14)
Pamela Adlon was best known as a dynamite supporting actress on shows like Louie and Californication before Better Things. Now, she’s also known as a dynamite storyteller. Better Things is an extraordinary portrait of a single mother navigating life and love, and it can only get better from here.
STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (CBS/CBS All Access, September 24)
Finally, for the first time in more than a decade, Star Trek is back on television…sort of. The first episode of Discovery, a prequel series set a decade before the original series, will air on CBS this September. The rest of the season can be found on CBS All Access, the network’s streaming service, for which you’ll have to kick in a few bucks. It’s hard not to question the wisdom of relegating such a recognizable franchise to a streaming service. Here’s the thing, though: Star Trek: Discovery is just oozing with potential. It has a great cast, a great look and (hopefully) a great story to tell. There’s a lot riding on this one.
THE GOOD PLACE (NBC, September 28)
With its first season The Good Place established itself as one of the funniest and most imaginative new shows on TV. It’s got heart, humor and a storytelling sense ranging from absurd to deeply philosophical. This season, after a twist ending that made fans lose their minds, it will try and top it.
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO, October 1)
Larry David has finally returned to his iconic HBO series. In an age of almost constant terrible headlines and storms headed for our shores, we need Larry because we need someone who is willing to just be done with all of it at a moment’s notice.
GHOSTED (FOX, October 1)
Adam Scott and Craig Robinson are the Mulder and Scully of their own comedic universe. It would be easy to dismiss this as a meta-spoof, but the stars are just too talented. Give it a try.
THE GIFTED (FOX, October 2)
Marvel’s X-Men characters are thriving on the small screen. After the success of Legion (Noah Hawley’s FX mutant mindbender), another mutant series is getting a chance to shine, this time on broadcast TV. The Gifted will follow two parents (Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker) on the run as they have to contened with the fact their children are increasingly manifesting strange abilities. Parents who have to deal with their children’s changing nature is not a new X-Men element (it’s a metaphor, get it?) but the idea of centering a show around that, rather than yet another superteam, is promising. Throw in the chance to see lesser-known X-Men, like Blink and Thunderbird, and this could be a lot of fun.
I LOVE YOU, AMERICA (Hulu, October 12)
The crowded talk show landscape is due for a shakeup, and Sarah Silverman is well overdue for a hosting gig. After an election season in which she was front and center with both jokes and strong political opinions, Silverman’s finally getting her shot. I Love You, America is a new variety show that will feature 10 episodes of Silverman trying to connect with “un-likeminded” people. Silverman’s schtick has always been strange but it’s also always had a lot of heart. If we need a host who’s able to have a conversation with people she disagrees with without anger, she’s a good candidate.
MINDHUNTER (Netflix, October 13)
Netflix has already done plenty to aid in the new true crime boom with docu-series like Making A Murderer and The Keepers. Now the streaming service is giving us Minhunter, a fictional account of the founding of the FBI’s Behavior Science Unit and the development of the science of criminal profiling. It’s got that lovely dark David Fincher direction, it’s a chance for star Jonathan Groff to dig into some heavy material, and it’ll just be nice to see Anna Torv in a series again.
WHITE FAMOUS (Showtime, October 15)
When Jay Pharoah left Saturday Night Live, it felt like it was finally time for him to move beyond being “The Impressions Guy.” This is his moment: White Famous, a comedy from Jamie Foxx and Californication creator Tom Kapinos. Loosely based on Foxx’s own life, Pharoah stars as a struggling comic who gets the offer of a lifetime, something that could make him so famous he “transcends” color. He just might have to put on a dress to do it.
STRANGER THINGS (Netflix, October 27)
This feels like an obligatory mention but it doesn’t matter because you’ll likely watch it anyway. Stranger Things might not be the most-watched Netflix series but it might be the Netflix series that’s injected itself into the cultural conversation most effectively. The now-famous blend of nostalgic storytelling and an endearing cast captured our hearts, and this fall it’s all back for another run. The plot is being kept very, very tightly under wraps but an astounding Comic-Con trailer ensures we’ll all be watching.
ALIAS GRACE (Netflix, November 3)
Earlier this year Hulu landed a massive hit with its adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s searing dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale. Now Netflix gets a turn with this Atwood adaptation: The story of a servant girl conviced of murder after her employers turn up dead. Did she do it? Was she falsely accused? Can she really not remember what happened or is she just insane? It’s another brutal, brilliant Atwood tale and it looks to be a powerful new series.
MARVEL’S RUNAWAYS (Hulu, November 21)
The Marvel live-action empire expands to Hulu this fall with this adaptation of the hit comic series of the same name. The Runaways are a group of kids whose parents are all best friends. Only they’re not just that: They’re a secret supervillain organization. Armed with this shocking news, and a few gifts of their own, the kids set out to make sense of the situation and possibly bring down their own families. The original comic is a touching, funny and thrilling story about finding friendship when it seems like the world is against you. Hopefully the series gets it right.
SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT (Netflix, November 23)
Spike Lee becomes the latest major filmmaking force to jump to the small screen this year, adapting his classic film of the same name. Lee directed all 10 episodes, and it’ll be very interesting to see how this film can make the leap to longform storytelling. What you should really be on the lookout for, though: Hamilton breakout star Anthony Ramos playing Lee’s iconic character Mars Blackmon.