LOL there are so many TV shows. What else is there to do but laugh about it? There are more than 500 of them, half of those airing this fall. That’s just scripted shows, too! Get bit by a radioactive spider or fall from Krypton or something and develop the superhuman ability to stop space and time and you’ll still be like, “Ain’t got enough time to watch all these shows!” And that will likely include at least two produced by Marvel and about you.
So in service of all mere mortal couch potatoes, we surveyed just the new offerings for the fall—you already know whether or not you’re going to tune in for the new season of This Is Us. (Don’t act like you won’t.) We’ve winnowed it down to 40 offerings—as if anyone could possibly sample them all—that grabbed our attention and therefore might be worth yours, too.
Some of them we’ve already seen. Some have big stars and brilliant talent attached. Some just sound batshit weird. Nearly all of them are produced by Greg Berlanti. So from buzzy shows starring the likes of Jim Carrey and Julia Roberts and a timely revival of Murphy Brown to sexy fairy tales and prison escapes, here’s a rundown, in order of premiere dates, of 40 new shows worth watching.
Our prayers are with your DVR.
Mayans M.C. (FX)
Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 10 pm ET
We have a crazy pitch for a cable TV show: It’s a guy who kills people but, you see, you root for him anyway. Four years after Sons of Anarchy rode off into the sunset, the crime drama’s mastermind Kurt Sutter is back with a spin-off centered on a different biker club chapter at the California/Mexico border. Sons of Anarchy can be given much credit for gleefully spinning the dial when it comes to wild plot twists, gruesome violence, and, for better or worse, episode running time on TV. Expect all that in Mayans M.C. Also, Edward James Olmos!
Premieres Sunday, Sept. 9 at 10 pm ET
Kidding reteams Jim Carrey with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry, marking Gondry’s first TV show and Carrey’s first scripted TV role since 1984’s The Duck Factory. The result is a quirky, melancholy, quite beautiful character study that finds Carrey doing some of his best, most grounded work. He plays a Mr. Rogers-like children’s TV host named Mr. Pickles, struggling to follow the advice his gives the kids who watch his show about finding the humanity in the world following the sudden death of his young son. This one is special.
Premieres Sunday, Sept. 9 at 8 pm ET
It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that watched Get Out that there was an all-out war among TV networks, comedy creators, and producers to land the first sitcom from the film’s breakout star, Lil Rel Howery. Jerrod Carmichael emerged the victor, reuniting with Howery after the two co-starred on his The Carmichael Show for NBC. Rel continues the King Lear (that’s Norman, FYI) revival tradition of using the multi-cam comedy to delve into topical cultural issues. Perhaps most importantly, it casts Sinbad—Sinbad!!!—as Rel’s dad, nearly 25 years after The Sinbad Show.
Premieres Sunday, Sept. 9 at 10 pm ET
That Gossip Girl alum Penn Badgely’s big return to TV is in a Lifetime drama series in which he plays a “full-time bookstore owner and part-time stalker” is just too, too good. You is among the latest fruits in the never-ending bounty of YA TV producer extraordinaire Greg Berlanti, and is juicy and compelling enough to recapture the salacious, zippy energy of Lifetime’s last buzzy drama series, UnREAL. Dan Humphrey, anti-hero? We’re into it. XOXO, Gossip Girl.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse (FX)
Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 10pm ET
Lord knows what the deal is with this new American Horror Story installment. (Lord = Ryan Murphy, duh.) Even getting executive producer Alexis Martin Woodall to explain what the titular apocalypse even is yielded laughably cryptic results: “The story begins with the end of the world, and then our world begins.” Sure. Anyway, this is the much-touted crossover of the Murder House and Coven seasons, with the AHS troupe reviving characters from both. Plus, Jessica Lange returns! In an episode Sarah Paulson directs!! So we should all be excited for the traditional watching of the first four to six episodes of this installment before giving up.
The First (Hulu)
Premieres Friday, Sept. 14
Eager to find another drama hit on the scale of The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu is serving up society’s collective fan-fiction: banishing Sean Penn to Mars. We kid, we kid. The First centers on the ambitious attempt to send the first humans to the Red Planet, Penn’s character among them. The show comes from House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, lending a bit of an operatic backdrop to the proceedings, as everyone involved weighs the epic dramatic stakes of blasting Sean Penn to outer space.
Premieres Friday, Sept. 14
Also known as “The Show That Will Make Your Heart Explode Into Three Million Pieces,” Forever stars Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen as a married couple—if your aortas didn’t swell at just that part of the sentence…—listless in a depressing 12-year pattern of predictability. An uncharacteristically spontaneous ski trip is planned to shake things up, changing everything they thought they knew about their relationship and themselves. Everything you thought you knew about Rudolph and Armisen’s range as performers will be changed by these poignant performances as well.
The Good Cop (Netflix)
Premieres Friday, Sept. 21
There’s something about Tony Danza and Josh Groban playing father-son cops in a TV series that is so weird and yet so right. Credit Monk creator Andy Breckman for that—and glean a sense of what the off-beat tone of the dramedy will be. More, it marks a rare foray into procedural for Netflix, perhaps one of the sole TV genres the streamer hasn’t saturated, dominated, or both, relying on the unlikeliest of star duos to lead the way.
Premieres Friday, Sept. 21
The last time Jonah Hill and Emma Stone worked together was in 2007’s Superbad. It was his breakout role and her first film ever, playing high school seniors at a calamitous last-summer-together party. Two Oscar nominations each—and one win for Stone—later, they are reuniting for a Netflix miniseries playing two strangers who forge an unusual bond while participating in a problematic pharmaceutical trial. Turns out Jonah Hill and Emma Stone have range. True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga directs all 10 episodes of the trippy series, which also stars Sally Field and Justin Theroux.
Jane Fonda in Five Acts (HBO)
Premieres Monday, Sept. 24 at 8 pm ET
“This is the beginning of my last act,” Jane Fonda says in voiceover for the documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts. “DON’T YOU DARE SAY THAT!” the world screams in response. The new documentary is an intimate portrait of the Oscar-winning legend’s life and career, touching on everything from her love life to her battle with an eating disorder to her stint as the nation’s biggest political lightning rod to her mother’s suicide, her father’s fame, and, now, finding rewarding acting and activism work at age 80. There’s more to that previously mentioned voiceover: “In order to know how to go forward, I’m gonna have to know where I’ve been.”
Magnum P.I. (CBS)
Premieres Monday, Sept. 24 at 9 pm ET.
The landmark 279th reboot of the last five years brings back the campy ’80s Hawaii-set detective series Magnum, P.I., bringing with it race-blind casting in new lead Jay Hernandez and sorely missing one iconic mustache. While sexy stubble is an adequate, if slightly disappointing substitute in this present-day go-round, slickness seems to be the modus operandi: Fast and Furious director Justin Lin helms the first episode, suggesting that at some point there may be other things to discuss with this show beyond facial hair.
Premieres Monday, Sept. 24 on NBC
For those of us in television journalism so used to hearing new series pitched as “the next Lost,” there’s something especially gratifying about Manifest. NBC’s new drama series follows what happens when a plane that went missing five years ago suddenly reappears. Guys, it’s Found! It’s a clever conceit, too. For the passengers aboard the plane, no time has passed, while their loved ones have long since given up hope of ever finding them, grounding the sci-fi nature of the proceedings with some complex human drama.
Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9 pm ET
Consider FBI the crowning achievement in Dick Wolf’s storied career of bluntly titled procedural dramas. From the guy behind the Law & Order franchise and the NBC Chicago trilogy (PD, Fire, and Med) comes literally just “FBI.” It takes place in the New York bureau of the FBI. Missy Peregym and Jeremy Sisto play people who work for the FBI. I mean, you already know what this show is. And you already know that you’re going to watch it.
Mr. Inbetween (FX)
Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 11 pm ET
The story of Mr. Inbetween and creator-star Scott Ryan’s journey to FX is so unusual it’s at risk of being more interesting than the show itself, were the crime drama character study not as unique as it is. The show is based on the hit man and father Ryan first played in the small film The Magician in 2005. With the help of Nash Edgerton, who directs every episode and happens to be Joel Edgerton’s brother, Ryan spent the next 13 years pitching it as a series, working as a cab driver and pizza delivery man in between. Now, finally, he gets to (fictionally) kill people again.
New Amsterdam (NBC)
Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 10 pm ET
With reruns on Hulu inspiring a resurgence of nostalgia for ER and ratings and Emmy nominations inspiring a mainlining of obsession for This Is Us, you can almost hear a NBC exec wondering out loud: “Why not both?” Enter New Amsterdam, which centers on a renegade new medical director of a busy city hospital—first act of business: you’re all fired!—whose crusade to re-prioritize patient care over profits is hampered by (cue the lilting This Is Us music) his pilot-twist cancer diagnosis. NBC paired the series with This Is Us, so, uh, make sure to hydrate on Tuesdays.
A Million Little Things (ABC)
Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 10 pm ET
TV’s hottest swag in 2018: tissues! Call it the This Is Us effect, call it the desperation to repeat the success of any hit show, call it our need for catharsis in a brutal world, but every network seems to be getting on the crying game. A Million Little Things is among the more blatant attempts to run with the Pearsons’ success, also centering the drama of a sprawling interconnected cast on the traumatizing death of a loved one. In this case, it’s the shocking suicide of a member of a tight-knit group of longtime adult friends in Boston.
Single Parents (ABC)
Premieres Sept. 26 at 9:30 pm ET
You’ll never, not in a million years, guess what this show is about. (It’s about single parents.) Here, a group of spouse-less guardians are figuring out how to raise their kids and still have some semblance of a life themselves. Single Parents stars a delightfully random array of actors, including Saturday Night Live vet Taran Killam, Brad Garrett, and Leighton Meester. (Fall TV 2018: Rise of the Gossip Girl Stars.) The group leaders—er, show creators—are New Girl’s Liz Meriwether and J.J. Philbin.
Murphy Brown (CBS)
Premieres Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9:30 pm ET
While a revival is not technically a new series, when a new episode hasn’t aired in a full 20 years, it merits consideration with fresh eyes. And these fresh eyes see a more compelling case for bringing back Murphy Brown in today’s world than perhaps any in the glut of revivals before it. A trailblazing journalist fighting for the legitimacy of the free press at a time when news is on the one hand under attack and on the other dismissed as superfluous? A feminist lighting rod at odds with a conservative politician? Candice Bergen in the spotlight? We need it all. We need it now.
The Cool Kids (CBS)
Premieres Friday, Sept. 28 at 8:30 pm ET
Like Mean Girls for the geriatric set, The Cool Kids is set in a clique-plagued retirement home where the arrival of a rebel played by Vicki Lawrence upsets the careful order established by a gang played by Martin Mull, David Alan Grier, and Leslie Jordan. What makes the whole endeavor unusual, however, is that it’s a multi-cam sitcom on Fox, which has mostly eschewed the format this last decade, and that comes from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Charlie Day, of all people. That last part, though, starts to make more sense once you know that it’s inspired by his time working in a nursing home.
God Friended Me (CBS)
Premieres Sunday, Sept. 30 at 8:30 pm ET
It seems like not that long ago when our Lord and Savior was dispatching a glowing Roma Downey to Earth, alerting those in despair that she was an angel from God. Now, he’s just sending Facebook friend requests. Yes, the title is that literal. God Friended Me stars Brandon Micheal Hall as an atheist rattled when he receives a friend request from God and his skepticism over its legitimacy threatened when he notices that God’s friend suggestions are all people in need. Have any God-centric comedies lasted past a season in recent years? No. Still, gotta have faith.
Happy Together (CBS)
Premieres Monday, Oct. 1 at 8:30 pm ET
Happy Together boasts the important distinction of being the only new fall series to have a Harry Styles connection, and that’s what makes it beautiful. (Actually, it’s merely adequate, but that would have ruined the pun.) The sitcom is very loosely based on the time producer Ben Winston spent letting a young Harry Styles crash on his couch as the singer pursued a music career. It’s unclear just how much of Styles’ rabid fan base will flock to the sitcom merely because of his involvement—though he does serve as a producer—but we’ve been laughing for a solid 30 seconds imagining a tween fan showing up at a meet-and-greet with Happy Together swag for him to sign.
I Feel Bad (NBC)
Premieres Thursday, Oct. 4 at 9:30 pm ET
Step aside, Harry Styles. A real superstar is coming. Amy Poehler executive produces I Feel Bad, which spins the aspirational “have it all” bullshit working mothers have to deal with on its head: the pursuit of such perfection just makes you feel bad. Sarayu Blue is the one wallowing in her perceived failures in attaining perfection, and, with her family’s Indian heritage, brings a rare South Asian perspective to TV’s roster of sitcom leads—a diversity that extends to the writer’s room. Also, did we mention Amy Poehler?
All American (The CW)
Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 9 pm ET
The Friday Night Lights comparisons are inevitable, and only a fool would shun them, in this high school drama about a gifted teen football star who moves from his family’s neighborhood in Crenshaw to Beverly Hills in order to play at a school that gives him more of a shot at a future. Inspired by the life of NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger, the series explores how race, class, and wealth are issues that don’t just affect the team off the field. All American is also Greg Berlanti’s 14th TV series airing this year, setting a new record for a producer.
The Romanoffs (Amazon)
Premieres Friday, Oct. 12
Amazon should really just bite the bullet and push out marketing materials that just say: “Here’s a TV show starring everybody you love.” Diane Lane? She’s in it. Kathryn Hahn? Yep. Corey Stoll? You bet. Isabelle Huppert? Hell yeah! Ron Livingston, Clea Duvall, Amanda Peet, Noah Wyle, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery: They’re all in this anthology series in which each episode centers on a different person claiming to be a descendant of the Russian Romanoff dynasty. A cast that great is needed to lift the show’s heavy baggage. Its delayed arrival is owed to two separate sexual harassment scandals: Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner is the creator and it was developed through The Weinstein Company.
The Alec Baldwin Show (ABC)
Premieres Sunday, Oct. 14 at 10 pm ET
Just because the existence of The Alec Baldwin Show is the biggest groan of the fall TV season doesn’t mean it might not be interesting. We’d say who really wants to watch Alec Baldwin host a talk show, but we are, in fact, aware that his WNYC interview series is both popular and occasionally provocative and engaging. Plus, he’s proved an affable host of the Match Game reboot and, obviously, is doing something someone somewhere likes on SNL as Trump. But a talk show lives and dies on the appeal of its host’s off-screen personality. So…Alec Baldwin?
Premieres Sunday, Oct. 14
Jennifer! Garner! Is! Back! On! TV! It’s been more than a decade since Alias went off air, and while Camping is not exactly a spy action thriller—Garner plays an obsessive-compulsive woman uniting her friends for a camping trip celebrating her husband’s birthday—it’s an occasion to see Hollywood’s most appealing and root-worthy actress on TV again on a weekly basis. Adding intrigue to the project: It comes from Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, in the recently separated producing team’s first, and thus last, scripted series following the end of Girls.
Charmed (The CW)
Premieres Sunday, Oct. 14 at 9 pm ET
Hands down the best thing I learned in two weeks at the Television Critics Association press tour this summer, at which dozens of shows and hundreds of stars and creators appear, is that there is a real-life witch in the writers room of The CW’s Charmed reboot. We just think that detail shouldn’t be lost amid the myriad conversations already circling the show: the original cast’s seeming displeasure with its existence, its branding as a “feminist” reboot, the inclusive Latinx and ethnically diverse lead sisters, and the fact that one is now a lesbian. It’s too good. What do you do if you’re making a series about witches? Hire a dag-gone witch to write it!
The Conners (ABC)
Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 8 pm ET
Oh boy. This one. Mere months after the world’s longest plane crash ended with the cancelation of the controversial and yet massively popular Roseanne, ABC is scavenging the wreckage in hopes that a spin-off centering on the Conner family might take flight. John Goodman recently let spill that the fictional Roseanne will be dead in this hastily assembled spin-off. Whatever. The bigger question is whether what Roseanne and its reboot thrived on—exploring blue-collar issues and progressive, provocative themes in family comedy—will be able to scare away the looming specter of Barr’s scandal and break through.
The Kids Are Alright (ABC)
Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 16 on ABC
While that title makes me scream each time I read it—“alright” isn’t a word no matter what Pete Townshend says—I’m comforted by the fact that series creator Tim Doyle also isn’t a fan: “There were 80 titles we were working with and ABC selected this. This is the one they landed on. I had a bunch of others that I thought were better.” Here’s hoping that the series, loosely based on his childhood, is told with similar, self-effacing candor. The Kids Are Alright is set in the 1970s and follows the devoutly Irish-Catholic Cleary family, a boisterous clan of eight boys raised with little supervision in a working-class neighborhood outside of Los Angeles.
The Rookie (ABC)
Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 10 pm ET
It’s been two years since ABC had Nathan Fillion starring in the crime procedural Castle, so this fall it seems to have decided to fill that void with Nathan Fillion starring in a crime procedural that might as well be Castle. This is not a knock on ABC, Nathan Fillion, or crime procedurals that are like Castle. They do very well and a lot of people like them! We expect both to be true again when The Rookie, in which Fillion leaves behind a small-town life to become the LAPD’s oldest rookie cop, premieres this fall.
Premieres Friday, Oct. 19
A new Toni Collette project should be accompanied by a siren alarm, ticker-tape parade, and National Day of Observance to ensure that it gets proper attention. In absence of all that, we can merely provide a logline for the new Netflix series starring the Emmy-winner and Oscar nominee. The series will explore the idea of monogamy, relationships, and multi-generational ties as a therapist played by Collette struggles to keep the spark alive in her marriage following a cycling accident.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
Premieres Friday, Oct. 26
If we said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka is the next Melissa Joan Hart. OK, that makes no sense, but we’re about 3,500 words into this preview and struggling. Expect this take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch to depart tonally from the TGIF comedy series ‘90s kids cherish so dearly, as it was developed originally as a spinoff of The CW’s brooding Archie comics adaptation, Riverdale. Already renewed for a second season, this is also produced by Greg Berlanti. (Everybody drink.)
Busy Tonight (E!)
Premieres Sunday, Oct. 28 at 10 pm ET
With the recent cancellations of female hosts Michelle Wolf and Robin Thede’s late-night shows, E!’s new talk show hosted by Busy Philipps would be conspicuous even if there wasn’t already tangible excitement for the scene-stealing actress’s at once sardonic and earnest candor—frequently displayed in her popular Instagram Stories—to be on nightly display. E! hasn’t had a talk show pop in the zeitgeist since the days of Chelsea Lately, but there’s something so irresistible about Philipps, both on-screen and off, that screams with potential for Busy Tonight.
Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj (Netflix)
Premieres Sunday, Oct. 28
Hasan Minhaj is the second Daily Show alumnus to see his profile skyrocket after hosting a Trump-era White House Correspondents Dinner and land his own topical Netflix talk show. Minhaj actually hosted the year before Michelle Wolf, whose Netflix talk show was abruptly canceled earlier this month. We’d venture that’s the part of his and Wolf’s shared trajectory that Minhaj hopes diverges.
Tell Me A Story (CBS All Access)
Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 31
Sexy fairy tales, y’all! And on Halloween, too! Kevin Williamson, the guy behind the sexy vampires of The Vampire Diaries, produces this psychological thriller, which spins narratives based on classic fairy tales in a present-day New York City setting with sexy James Wolk, sexy Billy Magnussen, and, risking sexy overload, sexy Sex and the City sexpot Kim Cattrall starring. Will they all live sexily ever after?
Premieres Friday, Nov. 2
Even at a time riddled with the biggest of A-list movie stars coming to television, there is still something thrilling about Julia Roberts and a bad wig making their way to the boob tube. She’ll star in a new thriller series from Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail, based on the podcast of the same name, playing a caseworker at a secret government facility. Imagine reading the sentence “Julia Roberts to star in TV series from online retailer Amazon based on a podcast” 20 years ago. It makes me laugh!
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
Premieres Friday, Nov. 16
Chuck Lorre is best known for his having the multi-cam Midas touch, with long-running comedies The Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Mom, Dharma & Greg, and more highlighting his resume. The Kominsky Method is, like last fall’s Young Sheldon, an exciting departure: a single-cam character study. This one stars Michael Douglas as a Hollywood acting coach and Alan Arkin as his longtime agent and friend, navigating the unexpected turns of the sunset of their lives together.
Escape at Dannemora (Showtime)
Premieres Sunday, Nov. 18 at 10 pm ET
If you lived in New York in 2015 that you might remember this story, because it is wild. Two convicted murderers escaped from an upstate prison with the help of a woman who worked there who was romantically involved with both of them. It’s honestly shocking that it’s taken this long for Hollywood to find the story, and pleasantly surprising that it’s Ben Stiller who did. Stiller directs and produces the Showtime miniseries, which casts Benicio Del Toro, Paul Dano, and, in yet another revelatory performance and her best role since winning an Oscar, Patricia Arquette as the trio of schemers. You can Google the outcome of this caper, but the ride Stiller stages is riveting nonetheless.
The Little Drummer Girl (AMC)
Premieres Monday, Nov. 19 at 9 pm ET
Not to hyperbolize, but absolutely everything about this is exciting. It’s AMC’s follow-up to 2016’s slick and award-winning John le Carré adaptation, The Night Manager, this time turning for source material to The Little Drummer Girl, le Carré’s 1983 novel about an Israeli spymaster who drafts an actress into his assassination plot. Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Shannon, and current Hollywood It Girl Florence Pugh star. And Park Chan-wook, the visionary behind Oldboy and The Handmaiden, directs every episode. Give it to me now.
The Flood (National Geographic)
Premieres Sunday, Nov. 25
For the 39 TV shows we just spent 4,000 words detailing, there’s something to be said for the fact that the most epic storytelling this fall comes from simply turning the camera to nature. Of course, there’s nothing simple about The Flood, which employs wildlife filmmaking’s most innovative camera technology to capture with stunning cinematography the dramatic stakes and unpredictable danger of life in Botswana’s storied Okavango Delta. The area is one of the most diverse habitats on earth and the setting for one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena: an infrequent flood that tests the survival skills of the array of animals already weathering the daily life-or-death threats of the Okavango.