9/14: South Park Season 20 (Comedy Central)
Season TWENTY, you guys! Can we just pause for a minute and acknowledge how incredible it is that this show is still going strong? [Beat.] If you want a reminder of just how trenchant this show’s analysis of American pop culture and politics has been over the years, Comedy Central is airing South Park marathons every Wednesday afternoon this summer leading up to the premiere. If you’re able to work from home on occasion, pick a Wednesday.
9/14: Documentary Now! Season 2 (IFC)
The second season of this documentary spoof series kicks off with The Bunker, a pitch-perfect riff on the 1993 election campaign doc The War Room. Co-stars Fred Armisen and Bill Hader are true chameleons in Documentary Now!, which is hosted by Helen Mirren herself and features a new “doc” each week. Season 2 will also satirize the 2011 doc Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Juan Likes Rice and Chicken), the 1968 Maysles Brothers’ doc Salesman (Globesmen), and more. You don’t have to watch the original docs to appreciate the parodies, but it helps. Catch up now before Season 2 premieres on September 14.
9/16: High Maintenance (HBO)
HBO’s been pretty quiet on the new episodes of this one-time web series about a Brooklyn weed dealer and his diverse set of clientele. Co-creators Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld have promised the new episodes will be “a continuation” of the previous ones, so expect to see some familiar faces. If you haven’t seen the web series, you’ll have to wait till they’re added to HBO Now or HBO Go — sadly, they’re no longer available on the show’s Vimeo page.
9/19: This Is Us (NBC)
When the trailer for this new NBC hour-long comedy/drama was released back in May, it set a record for a new series trailer, garnering a staggering 50 million views on Facebook alone; in total, it’s estimated the trailer was viewed between 70 and 80 million times in just 11 days. (You do see Milo Ventimiglia’s bare ass in literally the first second, so is it any wonder?) This Is Us is a series of interconnected stories about a diverse group of people who are turning 36. Creator Dan Fogelman has called it a “dramedy version of Lost,” but the real draw here is the cast: Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore, Susan Kelechi Watson, Katey Sagal, Justin Hartley, and more.
9/19: The Good Place (NBC)
Ted Danson and Kristen Bell star in this sitcom about a woman (Bell) who dies and is accidentally sent to heaven instead of hell — “the Good Place” and “the Bad Place,” respectively. Danson plays a kind of god who helps her maneuver this new world. The Good Place comes from Parks and Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Mike Schur, which bodes well for the volume and quality of the show’s jokes.
9/22: Pitch (Fox)
Fox is pushing this drama about the first woman to join a Major League Baseball team hard, largely, I assume, because the show is made in association with MLB — protagonist Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) joins the San Diego Padres, not a fictional team, and the premiere episode will be screened at 43 different Minor League stadiums around the country throughout August and September. If you’re not into baseball, how’s this: The series features Mark-Paul Gosselaar, a.k.a. Zack Morris himself.
9/22: Superstore Season 2 (NBC)
This sitcom about a group of employees at a Walmart-like superstore in St. Louis really hit its stride about halfway through its (relatively short) first season, which ended on a cliffhanger (I won’t spoil it; Season 1 is on Hulu, so you have time to watch it before Season 2 premieres). The cast, including America Ferrera, Ben Feldman, Lauren Ash, and Mark McKinney, really began to gel, and the show’s critique of soulless corporate hegemony sharpened as the season progressed. Plus, funny jokes!
9/23: Transparent Season 3 (Amazon)
It’s baaack! The third season of our beloved Transparent returns in September, less than a year after Amazon premiered the second. Season 3 will continue to follow Maura’s (Jeffrey Tambor) transition: Her hair is more stylish, she’s looking at her options for plastic surgery, and she’s asked her kids not to call her “Moppa” but “Mom” — to Shelley’s (Judith Light) surprise. Get ready to welcome the delightfully neurotic Pfefferman family back into your lives.
9/30: Luke Cage (Netflix)
If your favorite part of Netflix’s Jessica Jones was the ass-kicking Luke Cage, played by the charismatic Mike Colter, Luke Cage is the Marvel property for you. Cage’s superpower is simple: He’s really, really strong. Watch him wreak havoc all over New York City in September.
9/30: Crisis in Six Scenes (Amazon)
Judging by the teaser, your enjoyment of Woody Allen’s new Amazon series will depend heavily on your desire to see Woody Allen in front of the camera. There’s no hint of Miley Cyrus, Elaine May, Becky Ann Baker, Joy Behar, or the other members of this series’ very eclectic cast. Last year Allen told a reporter he regretted ever agreeing to do the series — his first work for television since the 1950s — but now here we are. Let’s hope it was worth the anguish (and better than his last few films).
10/1: Versailles (Ovation)
Versailles is an ambitious, English-language period drama set in 17th-century France, during the construction of the Palace of Versailles. A British-Canadian-Franco co-production, the show has already aired in those countries to positive reviews; if you loved the Paris episodes of Outlander’s second season, Versailles is for you.
10/2: Westworld (HBO)
Lisa Joy (Pushing Daisies)and Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar, The Dark Knight) co-created this sci-fi thriller that was inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and Jeffrey Wright, Westworld takes place in a futuristic, same-named theme park in which people immerse themselves via artificial consciousness.
10/3: Timeless (NBC)
More sci-fi: Timeless is a new NBC drama starring ER hunk Goran Višnjić as a time-traveling criminal who attempts to change the course of American history. Timeless is one of several new series featuring time travel (methinks we have Outlander to thank for that), and its executive producers have promised that the show will not attempt to “sugarcoat” America’s past, particularly in terms of race and gender.
10/3: Riverdale (CW)
Folks are excited about the CW’s Riverdale, which puts a dark spin on the world of Archie Comics. Frankly, I’m a little worried — must every show be a “dark spin” on something? Archie Andrews is a buffoon, not a slick bad boy! The show begins with the death of Cheryl Blossom’s brother, Jason, and will apparently feature a “forbidden relationship” between Archie and his teacher, Ms. Grundy, who’s not an elderly biddy here but a hot 30-something. Gadzooks! Egad!
10/4: The Mindy Project Season 5 (Hulu)
The last season of The Mindy Project ended on a cliffhanger: Will Mindy go back to Danny, or end up with Jody? The Season 5 premiere is called “Decision 2016,” so expect the series to pick up right where it left off. (Although Chris Messina, who plays Danny, is not a series regular in Season 5, so that might be your answer right there.)
10/4: No Tomorrow (CW)
Expect plenty of whimsy — perhaps a little too much whimsy? — in No Tomorrow, a new CW series about a woman whose boyfriend who convinces her the world is about to end and they need to start making an “apocalyst.” The CW appears to be banking on the high-quirk appeal of Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend here — a tricky tightrope to walk. It looks like it’ll be up to star Tori Anderson to anchor this one. We’ll see.
10/9: Divorce (HBO)
Sarah Jessica Parker is back at HBO, this time playing a well-off New Yorker battling her husband (Thomas Haden Church) in a vicious divorce. I’m excited to see these two ’90s-era TV stars back on the small screen, and even better: Divorce was created by Catastrophe’s Sharon Horgan, and also stars Molly Shannon, Talia Balsam, and Jemaine Clement. All good omens.
10/9: Insecure (HBO)
Finally, HBO has set a premiere date for this long-gestating comedy from Issa Rae, creator of the hit web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Insecure stars Rae as Issa Dee, a woman in her late twenties who works at an after-school mentoring program called “We Got Y’all” in L.A. It’s also the first premium cable comedy created by and starring a black woman. Yeesh.
10/11: Fresh Off the Boat Season 3 (ABC)
This reliably funny ABC sitcom returns this fall with a change of scenery: The Season 3 premiere will be shot on location in Taiwan as the Huang family attends the wedding of Louis’s (Randall Park) younger brother, Gene, played by Ken Jeong. Showrunner Nahnatchka Khan teased that the episode will be a callback to the series’ pilot, a “fish out of water” story in which the Huangs moved from D.C. to Orlando: While Louis and Jessica (Constance Wu) were born in Taipei, their kids have never left the U.S.
10/14: Goliath (Amazon)
Another one from Amazon: Goliath is a new legal drama from David E. Kelley (creator of Chicago Hope, Ally McBeal, Boston Public, Boston Legal, etc.). Billy Bob Thornton stars as the “David” in this series, a down-and-out lawyer who battles a “goliath” aerospace company represented by a big, powerful law firm.
10/14: Haters Back Off (Netflix)
The latest YouTube star to get a series of her own is Colleen Ballinger, a.k.a. Miranda Sings (ask your kids/nephews/nieces). The series explores the life of Ballinger’s character Miranda, a passionate but terrible singer determined to “fail upwards.” The Office’s Angela Kinsey plays Miranda’s mom, with Eastbound and Down’s Steve Little as her uncle.
10/17: Jane the Virgin Season 3 (CW)
Despite this show’s title, star Gina Rodriguez has hinted that poor Jane will finally lose her pesky virginity in the upcoming third season of Jane the Virgin. Jane wed Michael in the Season 2 finale, but just before they could consummate the damn thing, Michael stepped out for ice and was shot. But is he dead?! We’ll have to wait till October to find out.
10/19: Chance (Hulu)
Hugh Laurie and Gretchen Mol (yum!) star in this rather somber-looking Hulu drama based on the novel by Kem Nunn. Chance is a psychological thriller about a forensic neuroscientist (Laurie) sucked into a shady underbelly of San Francisco by an unstable patient (Mol). The creative team includes Room director Lenny Abrahamson, who will direct several episodes; Hulu has already greenlit two ten-episode seasons.
10/21: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2 (CW)
This musical comedy about a group of friends with various low-level mental illnesses may have seemed like a tough sell, but its first season won over audiences — and Golden Globe voters — with its hilarious musical numbers and star Rachel Bloom’s explosive performance. Season 2 will deal with the fallout from Rebecca’s (Bloom) decision to admit to Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) that she moved to his small California town just for him.
10/21: Black Mirror Season 3 (Netflix)
The third season of this anthology sci-fi series hits Netflix in October, and will feature episodes that take aim at video-game culture (“Playnet”) and identity in the age of social media (“Nosedive”). Executive producers Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones have also loosened their grip on the show’s writing duties this season: One episode was written by Parks and Recreation’s Rashida Jones and Mike Schur.