The 11 Best New TV Shows Coming This Fall

In the streaming age, there are always new shows. But this fall in particular has some unique treats. (Hello, Disney+!)

HBO's Watchmen could be the superhero show we need right now.Photograph: Mark Hill/HBO

Fall television isn't what it used to be. In the olden days, couch potatoes would eagerly await the autumn because it meant tons of new shows hitting the airwaves, along with the return of old faves. Now, with streaming services popping up everywhere, that doesn't happen so much any more. Every season is a new season for TV. That said, this fall there are a lot of awesome new shows coming to the small screen, both on streaming services and good ol' network and cable channels. Here are the best of the best.

Undone (Amazon, Sept. 13)

Raphael Bob-Waksberg's beloved (and pun-riddled) animated Netflix series BoJack Horseman has only spawned one descendant thus far, Lisa Hanawalt's single-season joy Tuca and Bertie, but Undone leaves the animals and anthropomorphism behind in favor of a more human darkness. Bob-Waksberg and BoJack writer Kate Purdy share the reins on this series about a young woman (Rosa Salazar) who comes out of a car accident with the seeming ability to manipulate time … not to mention talk to her dead father (Bob Odenkirk). Crew, cast, and concept all check out; add in the fact that rotoscoping is truly rare on episodic television, and the show seems likely to be Amazon's next gotta-see curveball. Even without puns. —Peter Rubin

A Little Late With Lilly Singh (NBC, Sept. 16)

For many, late-night television has become next-morning YouTube. Jimmy Fallon has made a career out of tailoring his televised antics for optimal sharing on smaller screens, gaining 20 million YouTube subscribers for his often-viral efforts. His network, NBC, has clearly been taking note. When it was time to replace Carson Daly, they tapped an established celebrity YouTuber, Lilly Singh, to bring her own brand of virality to the network. And she'll likely do just that. Her wildly popular YouTube channel, IISuperwomanII, has already proven she can do just about anything—rap, act, write skits, hobnob with celebrities like Zendaya and Will Smith, spread awareness for mental health issues, amuse and inspire The Youth—all while being relatably wacky. Details about the exact format of Singh's upcoming show are still scant, but it's already making history: When she hits the air tonight, Singh will be the first openly bisexual (let alone Indian-Canadian woman) to host a late-night television program. Jimmy Fallon better watch his subscriber count. —Emma Grey Ellis

American Horror Story: 1984 (FX, Sept. 18)

At this point, you know if you’re an American Horror Story person or not. Nine seasons in, the anthology series has built a cult following with serious devotees and fairweather fans alike. But the brilliant thing about Ryan Murphy's campy-scary world is that it always welcomes new followers; you can literally join any time. And 1984 promises to be a good entry point for old hands and new. Built around the premise of a summer camp in the 1980s (obvi), it’s everything schlocky horror should be—plus lots of Aqua Net and gross-out humor. It's like Stranger Things with less sci-fi and more gore. Camp, camp, and more camp! It's amazing the series took this long to get here. —Angela Watercutter

Stumptown (ABC, Sept. 25)

OK, I get it. It’s a network show. A procedural. The promotional teaser commodifies a Blondie song. I know! Prosaic. But even if Stumptown ends up being just another punch-drunk action show about a tough PI with a heart of gold, I'm still down with it. It's based on a comic book from small-press darling Oni and written by Greg Rucka, one of the finest purveyors of detective and genre fiction working today. (Are you reading Rucka's Lazarus? You should read Lazarus, unless you hate prescient dystopian science fiction about a bioengineered living weapon and her oligarchic family intrigue.) And in Stumptown, the PI in question is played by Cobie Smulders, whom one always wishes got to do much more as Maria Hill, assistant director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel movies. Smulders can pull off the action and the noir patois a Rucka hero demands (he also wrote the definitive take on Batwoman, see below), and Jake Johnson, laconic voice of dadbod Spider-Man in Into the Spider-Verse, offers comedic support. So come on. Don't go all "I only watch streaming shows now" on me. Pretend it's Maria Hill, Ex-Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Greg Rucka, and climb on. This'll be fun, right? —Adam Rogers

The Politician (Netflix, Sept. 27)

Speaking of Ryan Murphy, the first series to emerge from his $300 million Netflix deal also drops this month. If anything, The Politician wears its influences on its sleeve. A little bit Election, a little bit Cruel Intentions, it’s all the way cerebral and funny in the ways most Murphy shows are. It is also very, very bleak. But thanks to brilliant turns from star Ben Platt and Jessica Lange (amongst others), this series about a wildly ambitious teenager (Platt) dead-set on becoming the next president of the United States is the perfect antidote to these politically volatile times. —Angela Watercutter

Primal (CN, Oct. 7)

"Genndy Tartakovsky" is a name animation nerds conjure with. Sure, yeah, you can have your Pixars and your Illuminations, but no animator—especially working on series television—reliably combines artistry, emotion, and flat-out action like Tartakovsky. It was true in the mad-science action comedy of Dexter’s Laboratory and Powerpuff Girls, true in his under-loved Clone Wars cartoon (not the terrific CG one that's coming back for a curtain-call season on Disney+; before that), and certainly true in Samurai Jack, which if the final season, on Netflix, doesn't make you cry at least five times you should just scroll away now. Now Tartakovsky's back with another great animated leap forward, a decidedly violent show about the toughest caveman on prehistoric Earth and his best friend, a dinosaur, killing the heck out of even tougher, evil dinosaurs. That’s it. No dialog, even. Just emotive facial expressions and big-ass dinosaur fights, executed in artwork that looks like Frank Frazetta's adventure design and Jack Kirby's ka-pow linework had a very productive meeting with Lynn Varley or Laura Martin's rapturous colors. Maybe throw a little Alex Toth in there, too. I saw the pilot episode at Comic-Con International, and it had the densest feelings-per-second metric I've ever seen in a cartoon—suspense, love, loss, tragedy, excitement, fear. This is the work of an artist in total command. Also, dinosaur fights. —Adam Rogers

Batwoman (The CW, Oct. 10)

Let’s get this out of the way first: Batwoman is a comics-based show on the CW. If that doesn't paint a picture for you, let me explain. Shows like Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl—all of them sprung forth from the mind of super-producer Greg Berlanti—are tidy packages. They’re well-done, a little too tidy in their execution and dialog (no one talks like that), and, well, kinda corny. Batwoman is no different. The pilot feels a little forced—as superhero origin stories often do—but there's promise. If series like Supergirl have shown us anything, it's that sometimes CW comic-book shows need to grow out of their awkward phase before coming into their own. Batwoman, about Kate Kane and her quest to take over her cousin Bruce Wayne's cowl and protect Gotham City, is no different. If nothing else, this Batwoman, based partly on the version of the character masterminded by comics writer Greg Rucka (see above), is the first openly gay superhero to have her own show, and watching her thrive is a historic moment for television. Tune in. —Angela Watercutter

Living With Yourself (Netflix, Oct. 18)

Here's what we officially know: Paul Rudd, like so many movie actors these days, has taken on his first TV leading role, and it's for a streaming service. (Though it was originally for IFC.) We also officially know, thanks to Netflix's official description, that he plays "a man who's burned out on life and love [and] undergoes a mysterious treatment, only to find that he's been replaced by a better version of himself." Unofficially, Netflix very helpfully has given me a long list of things I'm forbidden to disclose until sometime in October—including the premiere date, but someone else already spilled those beans so journalistically it's fair game—so I will instead tell you some other things. Yes, Paul Rudd plays two people and also really just one person. No, he's not insane. Yes, it would be very simple to tell you what's going on in as few as three words. No, it's not a twist. Yes, you should watch it. It's dark and funny and pathetic and, despite looking like a riff on every Michel Gondry movie ever, is very much its own thing. I just wish I could live with myself for being so needlessly opaque about it all. —Peter Rubin

Watchmen (HBO, Oct. 20)

It was one of the most influential comics of the 1980s, a violent analysis of the fundamental fascism in superhero stories—embedded in everything from how those stories talk about power to their rectilinear graphic design. Writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons prosecuted their case mercilessly and purified the pernicious influence of comics from popular culture. Now there are no superhero comic books or movies anymore.


Well, with one or two exceptions. Like, before Zack Snyder made movies about Batman and Superman, he directed an adaptation of Watchmen loyal to the source material in every way except its criticisms of the genre. And also Marvel. But other than that … well, there's the alternate universe in which the new Watchmen series takes place, apparently a present-day version of the 1980s of the original comic, a world dealing with the aftermath of costumed vigilantism run rampant and an apparent alien invasion. But it's maybe not a sequel to the movie, or to any of the follow-on comics? Damon Lindelof (of Lost and The Leftovers) is credited as creator, and he knows his way around pulp, genre, and existential dread. Don't get me wrong; I love a good Marvel movie. But the modern dominance of the superhero genre asks for more thoughtful thinkery than The Boys provides. Moore and Gibbons' take never bloomed into the superhero analysis we deserve; maybe Lindelof can make the show we need right now. —Adam Rogers

His Dark Materials (HBO, Nov. 4)

The worst thing about 2007's The Golden Compass wasn't its cast (which was excellent) or it's source material (ditto), it was its tone. In the hands of studio execs, Phillip Pullman's beloved fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials, transformed from a sharp, sometimes bleak coming-of-age story with strong anti-religious, anti-autocratic themes into a confusing, spunky coming-of-age story with few stakes and lots of special effects. HBO's highly anticipated adaptation, despite the presence of Lin-Manuel Miranda and his friend the armored polar bear, promises to bring back the darkness fans craved. It's beautiful, it's grim, and, in fact, between the sprawling cities, the epic score, the magical animals, the political intrigue, and the talents of James McAvoy, Dafne Keen (Logan), and Ruth Wilson (Luther), it's poised to fill the hole left by Game of Thrones. —Emma Grey Ellis

The Mandalorian (Disney+, Nov. 12)

This will be no bloodless space romp where the doomed fade to nothing or careen into space to die out of frame. When The Mandalorian's stormtroopers miss, their heads end up on spikes. Showrunner Jon Favreau wanted to get away from the upbeat pew! pew! action that's become the Star Wars universe norm, and back to the bleak grit of the Westerns and samurai movies that inspired George Lucas so long, long ago. The result is a show based around someone more at home in the galaxy's wretched hives of scum and villainy than on the floor of the Galactic Senate: the Mandalorian, a bounty hunter played by Pedro Pascal, who you might recognize from his eye-popping turn as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones. No news yet on who the Mandalorian might be hunting, but the trailer suggests it will be complicated … don't you agree? —Emma Grey Ellis

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