This month, Amazon doth bestride the not-so-narrow TV world like a colossus. If the streaming service’s aim was to steal the networks’ thunder during one of their biggest months, mission accomplished: In September, Amazon drops the third season of its flagship show, Transparent, plus Woody Allen’s first-ever TV series, Crisis in Six Scenes — not to mention two new creator-driven comedies, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag and Tig Notaro’s One Mississippi. September also sees the premiere of two exciting new FX comedies, a Netflix superhero saga, and an NBC drama that I sincerely hope will make us all weep in unison. Nothing like a good cry to kick off the fall TV slate. Go ahead, get messy! I won’t judge.
9/6: Atlanta (FX)
This dreamy FX series is creator and star Donald Glover’s attempt to show white America what it feels like to be black — a fitting thesis statement for the man Lena Dunham hired to counter attacks that her show, Girls, was too white. Atlanta — set in Glover’s eponymous hometown — is about two cousins trying to break into the music business. The show has an all-black writing staff, which is incredibly rare for television, and for most of them, Atlanta was their first TV writing gig. You feel that rule-book-tossing irreverence in the series, which has a definite narrative arc but still feels loose and uninhibited by traditional sitcom tropes.
9/6: Queen Sugar (OWN)
The Oprah Winfrey Network scored a hit earlier this summer with Greenleaf, about a family who owns a mega-church in Memphis; now, the network is unveiling Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar, based on the novel by Natalie Baszile about estranged siblings brought back together by tragedy (True Blood’s Rutina Wesley is a standout.) Set in a less flashy version of New Orleans than we’re used to seeing, the show — which boasts a writing staff made up of mostly women and people of color, and an all-female directing team — is visually striking and deliberately paced. OWN is quickly making a name for itself as a destination for quality programming that delves into contemporary black life in America.
9/8: Better Things (FX)
Better Things is basically a spinoff of Louie: It’s an autobiographical series starring Louie’s Pamela Adlon as Sam, a single mother of three daughters and a working actor in Los Angeles. Adlon created the series along with Louis C.K., an executive producer; in many ways Better Things — about a harried, hilariously unfiltered single parent who works as a performer in a major city — feels like a gender-flipped Louie.
9/9: One Mississippi (Amazon)
Lots of standup comedians end up playing versions of themselves on their own TV series; not many have forged a path to television quite like Tig Notaro. One Mississippi is based on a very real and particularly shitty time in Notaro’s life, about four years ago, when her mother died, she contracted a serious intestinal illness, broke up with her girlfriend — and was then diagnosed with breast cancer. The show, set in a fictional version of Notaro’s Mississippi hometown, is surprisingly breezy despite its heavy material, mostly thanks to Notaro’s deadpan composure.
9/16: Fleabag (Amazon)
Fleabag creator, writer, and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has already earned comparisons to Lena Dunham for her show’s unflinching portrayal of sex — the good, the bad, and the funny. Fleabag began as a one-woman play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before the BBC ordered it as a half-hour comedy; now, Amazon has picked up the six-episode first season. Waller-Bridge plays a struggling café owner with a tumultuous relationship with her family and even more tumultuous relationships with men. It’s hilarious and irreverent and a little sad. I loved it.
9/16: High Maintenance (HBO)
High Maintenance is one of two former web series that HBO has picked up this fall (the second is Insecure, based on Issa Rae’s The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which premieres in October). Created by husband-and-wife team Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, High Maintenance is about a Brooklyn weed dealer (Sinclair) who serves a diverse clientele, allowing us to peek into the lives — and apartments — of a wide swath of New Yorkers. The half-hour series shakes up the format of the original web series, with multiple stories told in each episode.
9/19: This Is Us (NBC)
This is the trailer that garnered a gazillion views when it was first released in the spring, racking up between 70 and 80 million hits in under two weeks when you factor in Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms. This Is Us, about a group of interconnected strangers who are all turning 36, is the kind of drama the networks are sorely lacking: A broad, multi-generation comedy-drama hybrid that isn’t a by-the-numbers procedural or tear-your-eyeballs-out reality show. Plus, it’s got a stellar cast, including Sterling K. Brown, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Ron Cephas Jones. Get out the tissues now.
9/23: Transparent (Amazon)
You’ve got this one, right? I’m going to assume you’re all aboard the Transparent train and just eagerly awaiting its departure from the Amazon station. I don’t know about you but it seems like approximately twelve days ago that Amazon released the second season of its breakout hit about a father of three grown children (Jeffrey Tambor) who comes out as transgender in his 70s, and yet here we are, less than a month away from the third season premiere. Family dysfunction never goes out of style.
9/30: Crisis in Six Scenes (Amazon)
Remember when Woody Allen agreed to make a TV series for Amazon, and then complained that he didn’t wanna make a TV series for Amazon, and then went ahead and made that TV series for Amazon? Well, here we are. Crisis in Six Scenes is about a middle-class suburban family in the 1960s; Allen wrote and directed all six half-hour episodes, and he stars alongside Miley Cyrus and Elaine May; guest stars include Becky Ann Baker, Lewis Black and Joy Behar. Quite the stew!
9/30: Luke Cage (Netflix)
Marvel’s Jessica Jones spinoff Luke Cage caps off a premiere-stuffed September. Luke Cage stars Mike Colter as the eponymous hero, whose super-human strength and unbreakable skin makes him a mighty force to be reckoned with, as these poor bastards learn in the above teaser trailer. Colter was a highlight of Jessica Jones, so I’m stoked to see him kicking ass in his own series — after Jessica Jones and Daredevil, it’s third of four Netflix/Marvel original series — which will all culminate in a miniseries called The Defenders, because of course they will.