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The 24 Most Anticipated New TV Shows of 2016

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The 24 Most Anticipated New TV Shows of 2016

This year in TV will bring us, in many ways, more of the same. More superheroes, more adaptations and more big names coming to the small screen. And within all this sameness, we’re about to be hit with some groundbreaking narratives that could change TV—and the culture—forever. We will enter the world of the underground railroad, as we’ve never understood it before. We’ll meet the bizarre creatures of NYC in an HBO series that will have us inexplicably rooting for sewer rats. And hip-hop and rock will take us back to the ‘70s, with two of the most highly-anticipated shows of the year. Here are our picks for the absolute must-watch new TV shows of the year, including a few gems that have already premiered.

The shows are not ranked according to our anticipation, but presented by premiere date.

This post has been updated to celebrate four shows we were definitely excited about, but definitely left off during editing: American Gods, Preacher, Young Pope and Outsiders.

1. The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
Creator: Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, Courtney B. Vance, Sterling Brown, Selma Blair, and Nathan Lane
Premiere Date: February 2

Never has the expression “You think you know, but you have no idea” been more applicable. This 10-episode miniseries delves deep into the trial of O.J. Simpson, who was accused of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The hook of the series is that, even though we all know how things ended (if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit), the show manages to create nail-biting drama and provide unique insight and perspective. Set against the backdrop of fractured race relations and a burgeoning news-obsessed culture, The People vs. O.J. Simpson captures a specific and incredibly significant time in American history. And the performances are amazing—most notably Gooding Jr., who fully humanizes Simpson, and Paulson who brings depth and empathy to Marcia Clark. Throw in a peek at the young Kardashians, and like the vision of the infamous white Bronco ride all those years ago, you won’t be able to look away.—Amy Amatangelo

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2. Animals
Creators: Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano
Stars: Varies by episode, but includes Phil Matarese, Mike Luciano and Meghan O’Neill
Premiere Date:February 5

Sometimes new shows arrive and we don’t know what to expect. But Animals has had various shorts available online for ages, and its first two episodes premiered last year at Sundance to critical acclaim. As a result, we know exactly why we’re interested in the show’s subdued, observational comedy, and while the Animals isn’t 100% unique (Aardman’s Creature Comforts is extremely similar), that doesn’t mean that its humor is any less insightful. While Animals’ structure, with each episode focusing on a different animal, means it’s unlikely to be more than a cult hit, from the very first episode the show makes it abundantly clear that it doesn’t care about looking or sounding like anything else on television.—Sean Gandert

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3. Vinyl
Creators: Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter
Stars: Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano
Premiere Date: February 14

From the looks of the trailer and other pre-­release footage, all signs point to this new dramatic series, co­-created by Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger and auteur Martin Scorsese, being a brash, colorful, and expertly made trainwreck. Why I’m not counting it out until I sit down with a few episodes is, in part, the pedigree of the people behind the scenes, and the talent of the people in front of the camera. Bobby Cannavale, playing a coked up record executive trying to turn around his fortune via the late ‘70s New York rock scene, proved his ability to captivate viewers thanks to his turn as Gyp Rosetti in Boardwalk Empire. His electrifying acting could be the saving grace of Vinyl. And don’t count out what Ray Romano can do. Ever since the plug was pulled on his titular sitcom, he’s charged out of the gate with some impressive character roles in Men Of A Certain Age and Parenthood. I’m bracing myself for impact, but will be very happy to see this show stick the landing.—Robert Ham

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4. Love
Creator: Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust
Stars: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Dave Allen
Premiere Date: All episodes begin airing on Netflix on February 19

You might’ve heard this before, but Judd Apatow has produced some pretty great TV. The Ben Stiller Show, The Critic, The Larry Sanders Show, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared and Girls all make for a flawless resume so far, and his latest project, Love, seems like it’ll keep up his fantastic streak. Love features Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs as Gus and Mickey respectively, both navigating the craziness of single life. Gus was recently cheated on by his ex-girlfriend and Mickey’s life seems to mostly be a complete mess. The first trailer presents a hilarious cast that also includes Brett Gelman, Kyle Kinane, Rich Sommer and Andy Dick. Co-created by Apatow, Rust and his wife Lesley Arfin (who has written for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Girls, Love will likely be compared to Netflix’s last great romantic comedy Master of None. Apatow knows how to get to the core of difficult relationships and this, the first series he’s created in almost a decade-and-a-half, should absolutely be one of the best new shows of 2016.—Ross Bonaime

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5. 11.22.63
Creator: Bridget Carpenter
Stars: James Franco, Chris Cooper, Cherry Jones
Premiere Date: February 15

I love history. I love mystery. I love drama. I love presidents, like Obama. (Sorry, that last one was a stretch, but I wanted to rhyme.) Considering all of these loves, it won’t surprise you to learn that I’m very excited for 11.22.63, the upcoming Hulu show based on a book of the same name by Stephen King. The story: A teacher is offered the chance to go back in time to the late ‘50s, and spend the next five years attempting to prevent the assassination of JFK. James Franco stars as the teacher, Jake Epping, and Chris Cooper is the diner owner who discovers the portal that sends him back in time. The only problem is that he starts to enjoy his life in America’s golden age, and gets attached to the people he meets. And just look at that trailer: It’s awesome! Recently, I was thrilled that alternate history was getting a spot on TV with The Man in the High Castle, only to discover that the show was a major disappointment. I have a much better feeling about 11.22.63, and if it’s as good as it looks, it could be a huge moment for Hulu.—Shane Ryan

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6. Fuller House
Creator: Jeff Franklin
Stars: Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber, Soni Nicole Bringas, Michael Champion, and Elias Harger
Premiere Date: All episodes begin airing on Netflix on February 26

Let’s be honest. This could be a total train wreck. It’s not like the original series, which ran from 1987-1995 was an Emmy winning, tour-de-force. But for those of us who grew up watching the Tanner clan, seeing DJ (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and Uncle Jesse (guest star John Stamos, who also serves as a producer on the series) together again is a nostalgic blast from the past. In Fuller House DJ, now widowed, returns to her childhood home with her three sons. Enter Stephanie and Kimmy (Andrea Barber) to help DJ raise her boys. It’s likely that corny jokes and exaggerated reaction shots will ensue. And fret not—Bob Saget, Dave Coulier and Lori Loughlin are all set to make guest appearances. This trailer set to Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” perfectly captures how most fans are feeling—we all can go home again.—Amy Amatangelo

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7. Underground
Creators: Misha Green, Joe Pokaski
Stars: Aldis Hodge, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Adina Porter, Theodus Crane, Christopher Meloni, Marc Blucas
Premiere Date: March 9

Upon first hearing of WGN America’s period drama Underground, you may question whether or not the world needs another slave narrative. Happily, there’s a simple answer to that question: yes. Yes we do. Much like the Holocaust or other mass-scale historical human atrocities, the world will never run out of stories to tell about American slavery, but it’s not too much to hope that slavery yarns look and sound as good as this one, is it? At a glance, Underground looks like closer kin to Django Unchained (possibly mixed with a cup of Inglourious Basterds) than 12 Years a Slave, or perhaps an intersection of the two; it’s about a group of slaves who plan an escape from a Georgia plantation, and are aided along the way by an abolitionist couple in charge of a station on the Underground Railroad. But if you’ve watched teasers for the show, that synopsis alone doesn’t seem to quite do showrunners Misha Green and Joe Pokaski’s material justice. The strength of the series’ concept should be enough to draw an audience, but the cast—comprised of Aldis Hodge, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Adina Porter, Theodus Crane, Christopher Meloni, Marc Blucas, and Mykelti Williamson, among many others—will make that audience stay.—Andy Crump

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8. The Catch
Creator: Jennifer Schuur
Stars: Mirielle Enos, Peter Krause, Sonya Walger, Alimi Ballard, Damon Dayoub, Jay Hayden, Jacky Ido
Premiere Date: March 24

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Shondaland has roped us into the lives of several compelling women over the years, and The Catch looks like it will fall in line. Alice Vaughn (Enos) works in forensics and specializes in finding and exposing financial fraud. She’s an expert at investigating and spotting criminal minds, but she remains blind to the betrayals in her own life. When her fiancé disappears with all of her money, the plot thickens. Shonda Rhimes has proven time and again that she understands her audience and what makes a character compelling. If the trailer is any indication, The Catch will live up to the hype.—Keri Lumm

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9. The Path
Creator: Jessica Goldberg
Stars: Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan, Sarah Jones, Hugh Dancy, Rockmand Dunbar
Premiere Date: March 30

Few television shows take a serious look at the role religion plays in our lives, and even fewer do it well. While we don’t know much about The Path beyond its premise of exploring a couple’s complicated relationship dynamics as it joins a controversial religious movement, what we’ve seen in the show’s first trailer looks promising. Better yet, The Path, is being produced by the people behind Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and is Aaron Paul’s first serious post-Breaking Bad series. From what we’ve seen, The Path looks like it’s focused on character and storytelling, rather than courting controversy, and if it holds true to this we’re excited to see what else is in store.—Sean Gandert

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10. Preacher
Creators: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Sam Catlin
Stars: Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joe Gilgun, W. Earl Brown
Premiere Date: May, 2016

Released onto an unsuspecting world in the mid-90s, Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a small-town preacher who is possessed by an enigmatic entity and granted superhuman powers. With the help of his ex-girlfriend, Tulip, and an Irish vampire named Cassidy, Jesse goes on a journey to (quite literally) come face-to-face with God. It’s awesome. Go read it now. Needless to say, the road to a live-action adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s comic has been fraught with starts and stops. Filmmakers as diverse as Kevin Smith and Sam Mendes have been attached to feature film attempts, while Daredevil director Mark Steven Johnson pursued a failed HBO pilot in the mid-2000s. The latter was reportedly dismissed after execs found the material too dark and controversial, which is certainly saying something when the network behind Game of Thrones dubs something as “too much” for them. Now, at long last, the project comes to life under the creative guidance of Breaking Bad writer/producer Sam Catlin and—wait for it—the writing/directing team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Sure, it seems like an odd couple pairing, but it’s worth pointing out that, besides being insanely violent and blasphemous, Preacher is also one of the funniest comics to ever hit the shelves. If Rogen and Goldberg can meld their brand of irreverent, yet colorful humor with the sense of character and dramatic escalation that Catlin no doubt honed on Breaking Bad, it will be a match made in heaven. So far, early reports from critics have been tentatively positive, with the caveat that the pilot episode deviates from the comic in several areas (all with Ennis’ blessing, according to the creative team). At the risk of outraging fanboys, certain changes might be for the best, given it would be near-impossible to execute a straightforward Preacher adaptation. So, can all of these oddities form together, Voltron style, into something worthy of the source material? Let’s watch and find out.—Mark Rozeman

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