The 50 Fall TV Shows You Should Be Excited About
From the return of “Succession” and Jon Stewart to quite possibly the silliest singing competition yet, here’s our curated rundown of the fall TV lineup.
I laughed to keep from crying while I made this list.
In the not-so-distant past, we wondered if the pandemic was going to lead to a dried-up well of TV content. Going through my notes to figure out what to include on this fall TV preview, I tabulated several hundred things premiering in just the next three months. No one likes using hyperbole more than me, but that’s not an exaggeration. Actual hundreds of shows—and, again, just in the next 90 days. Even my more curated running list of “these things seem worth mentioning” was so long I had to cut 35 of them just to keep this at 50.
On the one hand, let’s thank the television industry for the public service of keeping us all inside until this pandemic gets under control. On the other hand, TV makers could slow the hell down with all this.
All that said, here are 50 new and returning series premiering this fall. I’ve seen a bunch of them and they’re great! Some of them are things that have intriguing talent involved. A few are based on really good source material that I’m curious to see translated to screen. And others just seemed absolutely hilarious when I read what they were about and so I included them for the mess of it all.
Here they are: 50 shows, organized by premiere date.
Impeachment: American Crime Story
Sept. 7 on FX
All of the wigs and prosthetics in Hollywood are unearthed to bring a new perspective to the biggest political scandal of the 20th century. Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones are finally given a voice, Linda Tripp is humanized, and Clive Owen tries out an Arkansas accent as Bill Clinton. There’s a lot to unpack, and a lot of it is good.
Doogie Kameāloha, M.D.
Sept. 8 on Disney+
It delights no one to be at an age when they are forced to crack that their doctor, younger than them, “must be Doogie Howser.” Thirty years later, the joke is getting an update courtesy of Disney+ and a new medical wunderkind who, to add salt to the elderly wound, is nicknamed “Doogie” because of the original show’s pop-culture imprint.
Sept. 10 on Amazon
Remember when everyone you went to high school with was trying to sell you leggings on Facebook? This new documentary series chronicles the rise and fall of LulaRoe, a multi-level marketing scheme wrapped up in athleisure wear.
Sept. 12 on Showtime
At some point, someone will nail the chronicling of modern life in the skeleton manufacturing towns that the country invested in and then abandoned. Based on the well-reviewed book, this attempt stars Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney, so at the very least you know the acting is going to be good.
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
Sept. 12 on Bravo
After an iconic first season, the series was in production when cast member Jen Shah was arrested on charges related to a telemarketing scam—and the cameras were there. There are icky feelings surrounding the excitement for drama that is mined from crimes with victims, but, as anyone who watches Real Housewives of Beverly Hills knows, such is the crisis of conscience that accompanies being a reality-TV fan in 2021.
Scenes From a Marriage
Sept. 12 on HBO
If you’re gonna redo Ingmar Bergman’s formative ’70s TV miniseries, you should do it with Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac in the leads. It’s about the pressures put on a couple by the simple fact that they’re in a relationship, as they bond, fight, makeup, breakup, and grapple with it all. In other words, it’s about your pandemic relationship.
Y: The Last Man
Sept. 12 on FX on Hulu
This is one of those where it’s based on a comic book series and people are going to arrive with Very Firm Opinions before even a frame is shown. So, why the last man? It turns out some wild event eradicated every mammal with a Y chromosome except for one dude and his monkey. Not a Ross and Marcel spin-off, but a very serious adaptation of an extremely beloved IP.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol
Sept. 16 on Peacock
In what will inevitably be the reason your dad learns what Peacock is and how to subscribe to it, the new series is a prequel to those Tom Hanks films (and, of course, book series that inspired them) that seemed to be made for the expressed purpose of watching on airplanes.
Sept. 16 on Hulu
This is an anthology series from B.J. Novak (Ryan from The Office, but also a talented writer in his own right) that, according to its marketing, “challenges our shared morality tales” as it chooses “art over argument” and “engages with the most relevant and meaningful issues of the modern era.” I’ve never read anything so meaningless, but the clips I’ve seen look really good. [Insert shrugging emoji.]
The Morning Show
Sept. 17 on Apple TV+
America’s foremost series on shout-y monologues finally returns for a pandemic-delayed season two. The first season was one of those “I don’t know about this, but wait, now that I’ve seen four episodes I’m absolutely obsessed” series. Jennifer Aniston and Billy Crudup are acting their asses off, and it looks like they finally fixed Reese Witherspoon’s horrible wig, so I’m all-in.
Sept. 17 on Netflix
This is one of those clever and deceptively insightful series that, if we gave any credence to the teenage experience and art’s attempt at reflecting it, would win every award there is. (Gillian Anderson’s trophy run should be for this, not that Margaret Thatcher drag.) But we constantly discount teens, even on TV, and therefore this must settle for being an absolutely delightful, if woefully underappreciated, Netflix show.
Sept. 19 on PBS
Ken Burns is doing his big documentary thing with Muhammad Ali for PBS, and that means it’s important.
The Big Leap
Sept. 20 on Fox
This is a show about a reality series that is casting a modern reinterpretation of Swan Lake that stars Teri Polo, Piper Perabo, and Scott Foley (a who’s who of “who is that person and what do I know them from?”). I do not see a situation in which it is not an abject disaster, and I also do not see a situation in which I do not watch every single episode.
Sept. 20 on NBC
Not a rejected Biden 2020 campaign video, but yet another attempt at making the whole Sliding Doors concept work in pop culture. In this case, a guy faces a pivotal decision at college graduation and the series follows the three different outcomes that could have happened. That the guy is played by America’s Most Handsome Man (James Wolk) ensures that we’ll at least watch the pilot.
Our Kind of People
Sept. 21 on Fox
A new series from Lee Daniels that finally isn’t something that is described as “it’s like _____, but also a soap opera” and just an unapologetic soap opera.
Sept. 22 on Fox
Alanis Morissette, Grimes, will.i.am, and Nick Lachey… it’s not a “walk into a bar” joke, but inexplicably the judging panel for Fox’s new singing competition. The show will have aspiring singers perform not as themselves, but as digital avatars. That is also, unfortunately, not a joke.
Dear White People
Sept. 22 on Netflix
I’m not sure why this isn’t the most talked-about show on Netflix. Years before we started talking about diversity and inclusion in entertainment, this show, based on the movie of the same name, was setting the bar. The final season is going balls to the wall—there’s going to be a musical—and we are here for it.
The Wonder Years
Sept. 22 at ABC
I’ve long wondered how a generation too young to know the powers of Winnie Cooper could possibly survive. For them, there’s now going to be a series inspired by the 1988 hit, this one centered around a Black family living in 1960s Alabama. Don Cheadle will be the narrator.
Sept. 24 on Apple TV+
Isaac Asimov’s popular sci-fi books are getting the TV treatment, and that is definitely exciting information for many people who are not me. That said, it looks good!
Sept. 24 on Netflix
Writer-director Mike Flanagan is on a horror hot streak at Netflix, with the Haunting of Hill House and Haunting of Bly Manor being huge hits. Midnight Mass will do the creepy cat-and-mouse thing with a troubled man and a community’s new priest. Friday Night Lights’ Matt Saracen, actor Zach Gilford, stars, and to that we say, “Amen.”
Sept. 26 on Starz
Curtis Jackson/50 Cent continues his prolific reign producing series for Starz with this one, about Detroit’s notorious Black Mafia Family. But it’s when your eyes scan down the credits sheet and see that Eminem is playing White Boy Rick that things really get interesting.
Sept. 28 on NBC
This is a series about a massive sinkhole that appears in Los Angeles. The hundreds who disappear into it emerge in a primeval universe, replete with creepy beasts. And here you thought your idea for a TV series was ridiculous.
The Problem With Jon Stewart
Sept. 30 on Apple TV+
Jon Stewart is coming back with a new topical news series, which means we’re in for at least a month of “Jon Stewart Is Returning to Save Us All” headlines… but I do genuinely hope it is good! Episodes will run every other week, solidifying my theory that really rich people really have figured out the right way to work.
Oct. 1 on Netflix
A single mom becomes a maid to escape an abusive relationship and provide for her daughter. It stars Margaret Qualley, who is one of the most interesting screen presences we have right now among young Hollywood. Her real-life mother Andie MacDowell also appears, which will allow us all the satisfying opportunity to sigh in admiration: “Her hair…”
The Baby-Sitters Club
Oct. 11 on Netflix
It is without a lick of snark that I say this was one of my favorite TV shows of 2020 and I cannot wait for it to be back.
Oct 12. on Syfy/USA
The only certainties in life are death, taxes, and another shot at reviving the Chucky franchise. I have heard that Jennifer Tilly will appear in this series, so, for that, we are all grateful.
Oct. 13 on Hulu
Danny Strong, the talented writer behind Recount, Game Change, The Butler, and Empire, adapted the book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company That Addicted America for this Hulu limited series. The overarching view and indictment of the opioid crisis counts Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosario Dawson, and Kaitlyn Dever in its cast, so you can already calculate its Emmy Awards campaign budget in your head.
Oct. 14 on Paramount+
We will not rest until Kate Beckinsale is cast in a star vehicle worthy of her deceptive range of talents, and therefore we will watch this dark comedy about a disgraced journalist trying to salvage her career by latching onto an imprisoned murderer who swears her innocence.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Oct. 15 on Amazon
The beloved-movie-to-TV-series pipeline is so active these days that this whole thing was greenlit and shot without any of us even knowing.
Oct. 19 on ABC
We are in the golden age of TV shows about ’90s girl groups reuniting under unlikely circumstances and attempting to rekindle their glory days. While Girls5eva lived staunchly in the Tina Fey absurd-and-funny universe, Queens is an hour-long drama about the “Nasty Bitches,” a former hip-hop group with baggage to unpack before they can achieve stardom again. The casting is *chef’s kiss*: Brandy, Eve, Naturi Naughton (real ones remember her from 3LW), and Nadine Velazquez.
Oct. 22 on Apple TV+
It’s about an invasion.
Colin in Black & White
Oct. 29 on Netflix
The drama series from Ava DuVernay and Colin Kaepernick centers around his high school years and the experiences that led to the football player becoming a lightning-rod activist that charged an entire movement. Mary-Louise Parker and Nick Offerman will play his adoptive parents, the equivalent of hearts-emoji casting.
Oct. TBD on HBO
I am still in denial that a time may come that there will be no more new episodes of my favorite HBO comedy in years, but until then we have this final season of Insecure and the confidence that Issa Rae shepherded a suitably hilarious and emotionally devastating run to the finish line.
Oct. TBD on HBO
Because the rich white assholes in our real world simply won’t do, we’ve all been craving the Shakespearean drama of the rich white assholes in Succession. The show that everyone thought was “meh” and then all of a sudden acted like it was the greatest art ever to grace our screens finally comes back this fall, after a long COVID delay.
Taste the Nation With Padma Lakshmi: Holiday Edition
Nov. 4 on Hulu
The first season of Taste the Nation might have been the best docuseries, especially in the food genre, of last year. As someone who has watched every episode of Top Chef and can reference episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives by restaurant and Guy Fieri’s sunglasses color, I consider myself an expert on such matters.
Dexter: New Blood
Nov. 7 on Showtime
Never has a series fostered as much fan ill-will as Dexter did when it introduced the sibling-incest storyline, but never has a pesky thing like that ever stopped Hollywood from attempting to revive a dormant intellectual property. So, welcome back, Dexter!
Nov. 7 on Paramount
Set a Google Calendar reminder to let your dad know.
Home Sweet Home
Nov. 12 on NBC
Ava DuVernay’s first primetime unscripted series explores what it’s like to live in another person’s shoes. Two families from different walks of life swap for a week, bringing up issues of race, privilege, and assumptions we make. Is it basically just classy Wife Swap? Yes, which is why we are already setting our DVR.
The Shrink Next Door
Nov. 12 on Apple TV+
Not about your nosy neighbor who you run away from when you see her in the lobby, The Shrink Next Door actually stars Paul Rudd as a celebrity psychiatrist and Will Ferrell as his patient. I haven’t discerned yet if they’re going the “madcap wacky” or “surprisingly serious” route, but Kathryn Hahn and Casey Wilson co-star and now I’m wondering why this series isn’t just about them.
Mayor of Kingstown
Nov. 14 on Paramount+
I look forward to months of people confusing this with Mare of Easttown. The “eh” of Hollywood himself, Jeremy Renner, stars.
Nov. 14 on Showtime
Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis star as former high-school soccer teammates who survived a plane crash and are now grappling with what went down while they were waiting to be rescued. Rumors are that the alternate title was Fuck Yeah: The Series.
Nov. 19 on Netflix
This is one of those shows that everyone wants so desperately to kick absolute ass that anything short of that will be a cataclysmic disappointment. John Cho stars in the live-action adaptation of the popular anime series, and, basically, it just better be good.
Nov. 19 on Hulu
The Great had no business being so crude, rude, funny, and yet so terrifying. Elle Fanning was fabulous. Nicholas Hoult should have won every award. Everything about it was so sumptuous, but also so vile. I can’t wait for the new season.
The Wheel of Time
Nov. 19 on Amazon
I generally find critics’ and reporters’ obsession with pinpointing the “next Game of Thrones” to be a fool’s errand. That said, I think this could be the next Game of Thrones.
Nov. 24 on Disney+
This is on here as a perfunctory service to Marvel fans who care about such things.
The Beatles: Get Back
Nov. 25 on Disney+
Never one to shy away from making things that are impossibly, some might say unbearably, long, Peter Jackson had planned to make a feature film documentary about The Beatles but went over to the extent that it is now a six-part series. But, hey, it’s The Beatles. I think we’re all fine with that.
And Just Like That…
Fall TBD on HBO Max
My hottest take is that all the talk about how the Sex and the City reboot shouldn’t exist without Samantha is outrageous. Assuming that the show would pick up with the exact tone and vibe that it ended with in 2004 is wild. I don’t know if it will be good or bad or if it desperately needs Kim Cattrall, but if my behavior with the original series is any indication, I will watch each episode 37 times.
The Great British Baking Show
Fall TBD on Netflix
My God, we deserve this.
Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip
Fall TBD on Peacock
Finally, we’re getting an all-stars season of Real Housewives. With all due respect to the Oscars, this is the Gay Super Bowl.
Fall TBD on Netflix
A bomb when it originally aired and then a star performer once Netflix scooped it up, You’s journey is aspirational for all us flops out there. So good for You on its third season, its intense fanbase, and the promise of a fruitful post-Gossip Girl career.