After a bit of a slow start to the year, TV comes out swinging this month, with plenty of new and returning series on deck — including FX’s first Marvel property, a zombie comedy from Netflix, and the final season of Girls. And that’s on top of one-off events like the Super Bowl (and concurrent Puppy Bowl) on February 5; the Grammys on February 12; the Independent Spirit Awards, hosted by John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, on February 25; and, of course, the Oscars, on February 26. Start marking your calendars now — it’s going to be a busy month.
2/3: Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)
This new zombie comedy is a familiar look for Netflix: A fairly lighthearted romp through white, suburban Southern California. Married real-estate agents Sheila and Joel Hammond (Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant) find their ho-hum lives torn apart when Sheila suddenly starts craving raw meat — first in packaged, then human, form. Barrymore and Olyphant dial up their characters’ earnestness, which provides an occasionally funny but sometimes forced contrast to the flesh-eating mayhem.
2/7: Detroiters (Comedy Central)
For anyone who’s delighted in Sam Richardson’s bumbling congressional aide Richard Splett on Veep and wondered why he doesn’t have a show of his own, Detroiters is for you. Co-created by Richardson and co-star Tim Robinson (formerly of SNL), along with Joe Kelly and Zach Kanin, Detroiters is about two small-potatoes ad men hoping to polish the show’s title city until it gleams like the sparkling gem of American commerce it once was. Having seen the first episode, this one’s at the top of my list of new shows for one simple reason: It’s really funny.
2/8: Legion (FX)
Marvel plants its flag on cable territory with Legion, a new FX series based on the comic books of the same name. Legion stars a nearly unrecognizable Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey’s Cousin Matthew, always and forever) as David Haller, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia as a boy and shut up in a mental hospital as an adult. Aubrey Plaza and Rachel Keller play his fellow patients; The League’s Katie Aselton plays his sister. I’ve never been too enamored with superhero series but I will say that the opening sequence of Legion’s pilot is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Keep your eye out for this one.
2/12: Girls (HBO)
They’re back, and they really ought to be called women by now, no? Girls returns this month for its sixth and final season, so dust off your final #hottakes before they’re irrelevant. I assume if you’re planning on watching the Season 6 premiere you don’t need any incentive to do so; if you do need a little nudge, though, how’s this — the premiere features The Night Of’s Riz Ahmed.
2/14: The Mindy Project (Hulu)
As The Mindy Project returns for the second half of its fifth season — it’s been on hiatus since mid-November — Hulu has yet to announce that it’s cancelled or renewed the show, which originally aired on Fox. That news, together with the recent announcement that Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy have sold a pilot to NBC, suggests this may very well be the final batch of Mindy Project episodes. (Or not! Who knows! Life is weird.) In the last episode, Mindy had a change of heart and at the last minute decided against her plan to stop Danny (Chris Messina) from marrying another woman. The show is in a good place to tie things up neatly, which I think at this point is probably the way to go. I love The Mindy Project, but it’s been faltering for a while now and should aim to go out on a high note.
2/18: Planet Earth II (BBC America)
If ever there was a time when we needed to be reminded of the marvels of our planet, it is now. This follow-up to the BBC’s much-lauded Planet Earth series, which aired a decade ago, is just as gorgeous and awe-inspiring as the original. It’s also a good deal more depressing, since narrator David Attenborough ends the episodes with a subtle but devastating update on the accelerated destruction of the planet and its inhabitants. Hopefully this series will inspire more of us to do our part to mitigate climate change and to get outside and explore the world beyond our screens.
2/19: Big Little Lies (HBO)
Big Little Lies, based on the 2014 novel by Liane Moriarty, has all the hallmarks of “prestige” TV: It’s a miniseries, with all seven episodes written by David E. Kelley and directed by filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée (like the first season of True Detective, which was written by creator Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga); it boasts a high-wattage cast, including Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, and Alexander Skarsgård; and it’s set in the wealthy California enclave of Monterey, where a violent incident during a school fundraiser implicates three women and sheds a light on their domestic dramas. Kelly and Vallée are an odd but well-matched pair, and they bring the material to life in nuanced, believable ways.
2/19: Crashing (HBO)
In December, comedian Pete Holmes premiered his first standup special for HBO, a sort of trial run for his new half-hour series, Crashing, which is executive-produced by Judd Apatow. The standup hour, Faces and Sounds, was funny; Crashing, I’m afraid, less so. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Crashing, but judging by the first episode, there’s nothing particularly right with it, either. Holmes plays a version of himself, a white male comic in New York City who finds his life upended when — get this — he catches his wife (Lauren Lapkus, in desperate need of better material) with another man. The show follows Pete’s attempt to rebuild his life with the help of his friends and no thanks to that cheating whore.
2/20: The Breaks (VH1)
Last summer, Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down tracked the story of hip-hop’s birth in the Bronx in the 1970s (still waiting on the second half of that first season, Netflix). The buzzy series likely overshadowed another narrative of hip-hop’s ascendency, The Breaks, a TV movie that VH1 later announced it was turning into a series. Set in New York City in 1990, The Breaks is a fictionalized account of three friends trying to make their music dreams a reality. The show was inspired by Dan Charnas’s 2011 nonfiction book, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.
2/21: The Detour (TBS)
This TBS comedy created by husband-and-wife team Jason Jones and Samantha Bee (Jones stars; Bee’s busy with her own TBS show) had an excellent debut season over the summer. The Detour’s first season followed the Parker family on an ostensible road trip to Florida for a vacation — which, by the end, was revealed to be a cover for Nate (Jones), who was really heading down south to try to save his job. (It’s a long story.) Season 2 of this none-too-family-friendly sitcom moves the action to New York City.