The Most Hotly Anticipated TV Shows of Fall 2021, from ‘Succession’ to the Return of Larry David
Yes, there are more exciting shows coming out this fall besides “Squid Game.” Here are the ones we’re most looking forward to, from the return of Larry and Carrie to a killer doll.
In case you were anxious about it: No, pandemic shutdowns did not cause us to run out of TV shows. It barely even slowed the relentless pace with which they’re produced and, now, premiering. In fact, I laughed to keep from crying while I made this list. There’s so much! And surprise hits like Squid Game? They weren’t even on our radar yet.
We were so innocent then, in that not-so-distant past, when 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 25 of them just to keep this at around 50. By the time you read this, I have no doubt that even more will have been announced.
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.
With all that said, here are the most anticipated 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. Judge Judy is back, y’all! She’s got a new show on something called IMDb TV, and I’m just as excited as the rest of you to learn what that is. Larry David’s returning, too, and I can’t imagine more catharsis in these times than some crankiness and complaining.
A few of these picks 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.
The Great British Baking Show
Sept. 24 on Netflix
My God, we deserve this.
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 list 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…”
Oct. 6 on CBS
Hollywood crime scene investigators did the forensics and determined that the original CSI, as in the show that launched a phenomenon back in 2000 and ended in 2015, is not actually dead. CSI: Vegas is a sequel to that series, with both William Petersen and Jorja Fox reprising their roles. My beloved Marg Helgenberger, however, is not returning and I want to know WHO is going to investigate that crime!
Oct. 7 on CBS
It’s the kind of sitcom premise other sitcoms might make fun of in a joke about fake sitcom premises, which makes it all the more remarkable that, to the best of my knowledge, it hasn’t been done: A couple inherits a dilapidated mansion, and it is haunted by sassy, quippy ghosts. Moreover, the trailer for the aptly named Ghosts actually looks pretty fun.
Oct. 11 on HBO
Anyone missing their uncontrollable weeping fix in between seasons of Queer Eye or RuPaul’s Drag Race is in luck with the return of We’re Here, a gorgeous series that combines the best elements—and excises the most annoying—of both.
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 by her innocence.
Oct. 14 on CBS
Maybe because the last hugely popular multicam sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, was so overexposed that it became hip to hate it, the genre has gotten a bad rap. But CBS has been slyly making some great ones that marry surprising pathos with the laugh-track nyuks, like Mom, which ended last season. B Positive, which, like both of those series, hails from Chuck Lorre, is a worthy successor. It’s about unlikely friends who grow unexpectedly when one agrees to donate a kidney to the other, a premise made all the richer because the brilliant Annaleigh Ashford plays the donor.
Oct. 15 on Netflix
Television’s least SEO-friendly series is back for a third season. I do not watch it, though I have had several people describe to me what it’s about and I refuse to believe it’s true. Tons of people are obsessed with it, though, so congrats to them on season three!
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. 17 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.
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.
The Next Thing You Eat
Oct. 21 on Hulu
Who doesn’t like David Chang (other than, you know, his workers)? Who doesn’t like food? Who doesn’t like fantasizing about what they’re going to be eating next? The team behind Ugly Delicious, including Chang, is taking that last question to the extreme, exploring how the changing world and advancing technology will impact the food of the future. Like, future-future. The premiere will investigate what eating might be like in 2050—which, sorry to traumatize all of you, is closer to today than 1990.
Oct. 22 on Apple TV+
It’s about an invasion.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Oct. 24 on HBO
In such uncertain and unsettling times, it is comforting to know that there is always a new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm coming. Season 11 of Larry David’s show is coming back, pandemic be damned. As the teaser trailer says, “The world has changed. He has not,” which leaves just about all of us titillated and in total fear of how Larry might handle masks and social distancing.
Oct. 24 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.
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.
Nov. 1 on iMDB TV
Millions of devoted Judge Judy fans will find out what, exactly, it means to have a television show on IMDb TV. National treasure Judy Sheindlin wrapped her 25-year run in syndication earlier this year, and by the power of Jeff Bezos, will now be even richer. According to the judge herself, Amazon, the company behind IMDb TV, topped her previous $47 million per year haul. Whatever else there is to say about Amazon, she is worth every penny.
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.
The Sex Lives of College Girls
Nov. 18 on HBO Max
Mindy Kaling, who co-created this with Justin Noble, nailed the teenage coming-of-age-and-sexuality experience with Netflix’s Never Have I Ever, so it’s exciting to see what she’ll do with this, which focuses on four roommates randomly assigned to the same dorm navigating their first year of university.
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.
The Hot Zone: Anthrax
Nov. 28 Nat Geo
Who would have guessed how prescient NatGeo’s 2019 series The Hot Zone would be? The series was about the effort to stop the global spread of an Ebola virus outbreak and, at one point, led to me speaking with star Julianna Margulies at length about the proper way to wash your hands and why it’s important not to touch your face. Who’d have known!? This new edition in the anthology series is, thankfully, not about the pandemic, but instead the spate of mailed anthrax attacks in 2001. You know, calming stuff.
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.
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.