The Fall TV Guide
Summer is the season for big-name blockbusters, Fall, on the other hand, is all about the small screen. After scouring the lineups of the major networks, cable channels, and streaming outlets, we picked the most promising premieres and anxiously anticipated returning shows. It’s a lengthy list: queue up the DVR and ready your sweatpants.
New For Fall
American Horror StoryHotel, October 7, FX
As an anthology series from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, every season of American Horror Story is different, which means that it’s become a platform for a range of brilliant actresses who totally make the show, including Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, and Kathy Bates. This season, a few might return for cameos along with some fresh faces (Lady Gaga!), meaning Hotel promises to be excellent—character-wise anyway.
Scream QueensSeptember 22, FOX
We somehow managed to finagle a sneak peek of this sorority house murder mystery, which is kind of like Heathers meets Halloween. Being that the show’s created by the team behind American Horror Story and Glee, stars AHS alum Emma Roberts, horror vet, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Glee’s Lea Michele, copious amounts of blood and camp are pretty much guaranteed. It’s tracking to be the biggest show of the season so get excited.
Flesh & BoneNovember 8, Starz
Black Swan notwithstanding, this mini series challenges the notion that ballet is all ribbons and sugar plums. Written and executive produced by Breaking Bad writer Moira Walley-Beckett, it depicts a dark, gritty world that’s nothing like its powder-pink exterior. That said, like any good ballet performance, it’s visually stunning.
The GrinderSeptember 29, Fox
At first glance, the premise is simple: Rob Lowe’s Dean Sanders Jr. returns to his hometown to work alongside his brother (Fred Savage) at the family’s small-time law firm. The glitch? He’s not actually a lawyer, he just played one on T.V.
The CatchDate TBD, ABC
They invented soap operas to take you out of your life for an hour, and nobody manages this concept better for prime time than Shonda Rhimes, who has a pretty incredible knack for marrying fun, addictive, and just-outlandish-enough storylines with complicated female characters. Other than the promise of seeing Mireille Enos in something other than The Killing-era cable-knit sweaters, we’re excited to watch her to tackle the role of jilted fraud investigator, Alice Vaughan.
Crazy Ex-GirlfriendOctober 12, FX
Admittedly, a musical about a grown woman who moves across the country to chase her high school ex is a silly concept, but here, it works. The creators—Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Rachel Bloom (she’s also the lead)—embraced it full on with elaborate musical numbers and plenty of sass.
The Man in the High CastleNovember 20, Amazon
This “alternate history” show tackles one simple question: What would happen to America if the Axis powers won World War II? The story is based on a 1962 sci-fi novel by Philip K. Dick, and there’s no one better to bring it to life than history buff, Ridley Scott.
The Bastard ExecutionerSeptember 15, FX
Sons of Anarchy fans have been waiting for Kurt Sutter’s newest with bated breath. And while this historical drama about a troubled assassin promises to deliver just as much, if not more, bloody revenge and brooding drama as SOA, it also gives off serious Braveheart vibes on account of the 14th-century Welsh setting.
Binge Watch Before the New Season Starts
The Leftovers Season 2October 4, HBO
This is not the kind of show you can tune in to willy nilly. Like the Tom Perrotta novel that inspired it, the storyline is complex and requires you start from the beginning to truly grasp the nuance of the lead characters’ actions following the unexplained disappearance of 2% of the world’s population. The tone borders on depressing, but there are glimmers of hope leading up to season two.
Fargo Season 2October 12, FX
Technically, you don’t have to watch the first season to know what’s up as it’s an entirely new storyline and cast…but you really really should. It’s not often a remake meets—maybe even eclipses—the original but this Coen brothers film remake does just that. The success of the first season had a lot to do with the amazing cast, which this time around features Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, and Nick Offerman.
Empire Season 2 September 23, Fox
Sure it’s essentially an over-the-top dramatic soap opera, but the characters are deceptively complex (see: Cookie) and the storylines are as smart as they are addictive, so going back to catch up is a must. Word is, this season Vivica A. Fox makes an appearance as Cookie’s sister.
You’re the Worst Season 2September 9, FX
You’d think that a romantic comedy revolving around two inherently selfish, borderline-intolerable leads would leave you feeling down on relationships, but its sweetness kind of sneaks up on you. Season one follows the hilariously complicated road Jimmy and Gretchen took to coupledom. Watch season two to find out how they inevitably screw it up.
The Last Man on Earth Season 2 September 27, Fox
Will Forte (he honed his comedic chops over the course of 10 SNL seasons) paints a post-apocalyptic world unlike any you’ve ever seen—it’s uneventful and utterly lonely, that is until his Phil Miller stumbles on another survivor, Carol (Kristen Schaal). The first thirteen episodes were comedy gold, and we have high hopes for what’s to come.
Homeland Season 5October 4, Showtime
Five seasons in, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t gotten sucked into Homeland. It’s dark and heartbreaking, and Claire Danes as brilliant, sometimes mentally unstable CIA agent Carrie Mathison is spectacular. Spoiler alert: For those who stopped watching after season three due to heartbreak, know that the show endures without Sgt. Brody.
The Affair Season 2 October 4, Showtime
Smart, riveting, and sexy all at the same time, The Affair had us from minute one (thanks in no small part to the Fiona Apple theme song). After much unraveling the storyline proved to be a lot more complicated than the title suggests. Like season one, season two will reveal events from conflicting perspectives and is likely to introduce some fresh ones, too.
The Walking Dead—Season 6October 11, AMC
The cool thing about The Walking Dead is that you don’t have to be a horror junkie to appreciate it. The truth is, after six seasons, you kind of don’t notice the zombies anyway, which leaves lots of room to truly appreciate the twists and turns. Fair warning: They are not particularly precious about killing off lead characters.
The Knick Season 2October 16, Cinemax
Clive Owen has such a powerful grasp of his character that you kind of forget he’s not actually ambitious, drug-addicted, short-fused Dr. John W. Thackery. What’s more, this complexity is director Steven Soderbergh’s forte, so there’s nothing humdrum about the way he depicts hospital life in early 20th-century NYC.
Transparent Season 2December 4, Amazon
It’s hard to pinpoint what we like best about Transparent, but an off-the-charts performance by Jeffrey Tambor as a transgender father coming out and transitioning in his 60’s tops the list. To skip the critical moments from season one, particularly the family’s complex, quirky, and dark history, is to leave some of last year’s best television on the table.
Not New but Notable
Show me a HeroHBO
The book that inspired this HBO miniseries is based on a true story about a particularly turbulent time in New York’s history. The action revolves around a freshly elected young mayor (Oscar Isaac), tasked with facilitating Federal Court-mandated public housing in Yonkers in the late 80’s. What unravels over the course of six episodes is a messy tangle of political corruption, fear, and modern-day racism.
Being that he is one of the most notorious real-life villains of our time, Pablo Escobar is by default an endlessly interesting subject. This Netflix drama does an excellent job of diving into the nooks and crannies of the 1980’s drug epidemic and Escobar’s rise to infamy.
Set in the beautiful Florida Keys, the first half of this dark family drama keeps to a slow and steady pace only to pick up major steam toward the end. It’s essentially the classic “prodigal son returns” story, but with so many twists and turns that the narrative feels totally new. Then there’s the cast: Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Sam Shepard, and Sissy Spacek are all absolutely phenomenal.
This dark comedy depicting the daily happenings at a mismanaged geriatric ward has a way of making you thoroughly uncomfortable one minute, then hysterical the next. It’s also one of the most under-appreciated shows on the HBO roster, which explains why the third season will sadly be the show’s last. Like its predecessors, it will be just six-episodes long, so make the most of it by binge watching the first two.