Has there been a more spot on skewering on the current state of television than this bon mot from Saturday Night Live?
It does seem like Netflix is debuting a new show every minute. Just by reading this sentence, you are probably already behind on the next big thing. Between the Netflix deluge this month and the continuing onslaught of Christmas movies (will the big time corporate exec who returns to her small hometown fall for the fire fighter? We need to know!), there’s a lot to sift through.
But, once again, we are here for you. Here are the five new shows you can’t miss this month.
1. America’s Mississippi
Executive Producers: Brian Armstrong, Tria Thalman and David Royle
Premiere Date: December 5 at 8 p.m. on Smithsonian Channel
This three-part series begins at the start of the Mississippi River in Lake Itascas, and winds into New Orleans and completes its journey at the Gulf. Along the way, viewers will see all that the river traverses, from a family of beavers that are busy preparing for winter to the bald eagles that fly above the frozen water. During this holiday season, take a break from the shopping and the stress and watch in awe at all nature has to offer. (Photo: Smithsonian Channel)
2. Champaign Ill
Executive Producers: Daniel Libman, Matthew Libman, Jordan Cahan and David Caspe
Stars: Adam Pally and Sam Richardson
Premiere Date: December 12 on YouTube Premium
You had me at “from the team behind Happy Endings.” Jay Pharoah guest stars as a famous rapper who dies suddenly, leaving his entourage without anyone to follow around. They’ve gone years without having to care for themselves and now find themselves back in their hometown of Champaign, Illinois without any life skills. Suffice it to say, it does not go well.
3. The Innocent Man
Executive Producers: John Grisham, David Gernert, Clay Tweel and Ross Dinerstein
Premiere Date: December 14 on Netflix
If a buzzed about documentary series returns for a second season and nobody talks about it, did it exist at all? Netflix’s follow-up to Making a Murderer premiered to little fanfare this fall, so perhaps the streaming service is hoping this series, based on John Grisham’s nonfiction book of the same name, will get people talking. The six-part series follows two murders in Ada, Oklahoma in the 1980s. Grisham appears, along with interviews with the victims’ family and friends and the journalist who covered the story at the time.
4. Springsteen on Broadway
Premiere Date: December 16 on Netflix
The iconic singer weaves his life stories in and out of his songs in this taped performance of his hit Broadway show, which ends it run at the Walter Kerr Theater in New York on December 15. The special is based on his autobiography Born to Run (which, of course, he will sing), and has Springsteen telling the story of his childhood, his early career and his lasting legacy. His wife Patti Scialfa also appears. Other hits include “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Dancing in the Dark.”
5. Vanity Fair
Executive Producers: Damien Timmer, James Strong, Gwyneth Hughes, Tom Mullens
Stars: Olivia Cooke, Tom Bateman, Charlie Rowe and Claudia Jesse
Premiere Date: December 21 on Amazon
Based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic 1848 novel, this seven-episode series, which has already aired in Britain, follows Becky Sharp (Olivia Cooke) as she tries to move her way up into wealth and society. Like any good soap opera, there’s star-crossed love, bad marriages, and shocking deaths. The story is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, which means you’ll be seeing the Battle of Waterloo—but the story’s themes are timeless. (Photo: ITV)
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and the Assistant TV Editor for Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal) or her blog .