10 Essential TV Events for March

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Spring is in the air, and so are plenty of long-awaited midseason premieres. March brings the return of House of Cards, Empire, and the less universally hyped but still excellent Carmichael Show; it’s also a time for ambitious new series, both comedy (a new Saturday night sketch show!) and drama (of the cult variety). Click through for a guide to this month’s must-sees as TV emerges from hibernation with the rest of us.

March 4: Underwood vs. Underwood

In the spirit of all true soap operas, House of Cards’ plot is largely irrelevant; some things sure happened last season, but we couldn’t tell you what — especially with the job/Russia/other presidential stuff. The major exception, however, was the finale’s dramatic and possibly final rupture between the series’ central couple. When House of Cards’ fourth season hits Netflix this Friday, we’ll get to see some of the repercussions, epic scenery-chewing by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright both surely among them.

March 9: WGN Goes Underground

The fledgling network intends to make a splash with this one, which really has it all: big names! (Well, one big name; John Legend serves as producer and contributed music to the soundtrack.) Period detail! Topical themes! As the title suggests, this series follows the Underground Railroad; after Manhattan‘s brief run and Outsiders’ status as a modest hit, this is WGN’s chance to keep the momentum going.

March 9: The Carmichael Show Returns

The first season of Jerrod Carmichael’s attempt to revive the critically acclaimed multi-cam — the second in two years, and the first successful one — was as solid as it was brief. This month, the Norman Lear-influenced, issue-heavy sitcom returns for what’s technically its second installment, but its first that’s longer than a miniseries. After Black-ish‘s recent police brutality episode, which itself recalled Carmichael‘s summer finale, it couldn’t come at a better time.

March 11: Netflix Doubles Down on Its Comedy Brand

Characters are traditionally USA’s thing, but in this post-Mr. Robot era, Netflix has apparently taken up that mantle. In one day, the service is launching two major comedy series: The Characters, a sketch series from an ensemble cast of eight up-and-coming comedians, and Flaked, the first non-Arrested product of Mitch Hurwitz’s development deal, starring Will Arnett. Both series continue to serve the cult comedy fan base, which flocked to the likes of With Bob and David and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, that is one of the service’s core demos — Fuller House aside.

March 12: The Lonely Island Moves the Party to Fox

Saturday night has another late-night sketch show, from a crew that knows how to do it: SNL alumni The Lonely Island, along with veteran comic and current Fresh Off the Boat cast member Paul Scheer, are behind a new (non-live) sketch show. In front of the camera are Nicole Byer, Jessica McKenna, and Alison Rich, making March a good month for young comedians getting their first big break on television.

March 18: Netflix Debuts My Beautiful Broken Brain

A documentary about recovering from a brain injury — more specifically, a hemorrhagic stroke — sounds like nice-enough viewing for a night on the couch. Which it is, hence the Netflix pickup, but filmmaker Lotje Sodderland’s account of her own recovery also has an endorsement from one David Lynch, who served as executive producer. Should be trippier than your average story of a mind in revolt!

March 24: Shondaland Keeps Expanding…

… this time with The Catch, a new series from Hannibal writer Jennifer Schuur that’s squarely in producer Rhimes’ wheelhouse. Adapted from a novel by Kate Atkinson, it’s about a fraud investigator (Mireille Enos) who’s — reversal of fortune alert! — conned by her own husband (Peter Krause of Parenthood and Six Feet Under). Lots of murder, quivering lips, and reunions/re-breakups will likely follow. Plus, you know, monster ratings.

March 24: Seeso Releases Cameron Esposito’s First Special

NBC’s new comedy-only streaming service releases its second wave of programming this month. All due respect to Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ and its always-reliable premise of skewering Bravo/HGTV-style reality shows, but Esposito’s Bobcat Goldthwait-directed hour is definitely its highlight. The Chicago native boasts serious chops and an excellent haircut to boot; her period joke alone might be worth the price of admission.

March 30: The Lyons Are Back

Empire has lost some critical and even ratings steam in its second season, but that’s like saying The Life of Pablo was a step down for Kanye: it’s still a juggernaut with the power to stop the world in its tracks. Also, a four-month hiatus was hopefully enough time for Lee Daniels and Danny Strong to right the ship and return this soap to the ideal level of crazy for the midseason premiere.

March 30: Hulu Sets Us on The Path

Alumni of three of television’s most acclaimed series in recent memory — Hugh Dancy of Hannibal, Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad, and Michelle Monaghan of True Detective — headline Hulu’s first real drama, about a cult leader (Dancy), a newfound skeptic (Paul), and the hardcore devotee he’s married to (Monaghan). Intense stuff for a network whose previous critical hit was a sepia-toned dramedy about middle-aged dating in LA.