The 20 TV Shows You Can’t Miss This Fall

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The 20 TV Shows You Can’t Miss This Fall

The Emmys are my Super Bowl.

The fall is my holiday season.

Yes, the idea of a TV “season” is as dated as having to watch commercials. Yet there’s still something special about fall, when the traditional networks roll out their new series and returning favorites come back from their long summer’s nap.

But it’s more daunting than ever to sort out what to watch, what to fold laundry to, and what to skip. (Think of it as the TV version of “Fuck, Marry, Kill”). Fortunately, we are here to help. We’ve waded through all the new and returning shows coming your way over the next three months and have for you, in chronological order, the 20 TV shows you can’t miss this fall.

1. Maniac

Network: Netflix
Premieres: September 21

The last year has proven that Netflix’s MO is “go big or go bigger.” The streaming platform has attracted big-name producers like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy and big stars. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill headline this series about two strangers whose whole lives have been affected by their mental health struggles. They believe pills created by Dr. James K. Mantleray (Justin Theroux) will solve all their problems. “Things do no go as planned” is how the Netflix’s press release puts it. As some of Netflix’s bigger hits, including Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, begin to fade, and its revivals, such as Arrested Development, return with apparently little interest, the platform clearly is looking for its next big hit. Could this be it? —Amy Amatangelo

2. 9-1-1

Network: FOX
Premieres: September 23

Sometimes you need television that makes you think, that challenges you, that changes the way you see the world. Other times you need a show that puts rebar through someone’s head and he still survives. 9-1-1, the ridiculous and ridiculously addictive Ryan Murphy drama that premiered early this year, falls into the latter category. The show is over the top, bombastic and confounding. (What is Angela Bassett doing here? I don’t know, but she’s amazing.) This season, Jennifer Love Hewitt returns to FOX for the first time since her Party of Five/Time of Your Life days to star as 9-1-1 operator Maddie Kendall. Sadly, that means Connie Britton’s Abby Clark with her fabulous hair, giant glasses and oversized overalls won’t be on the series anymore. But everyone else, including Oliver Stark’s Buck, will be. The two-night premiere finds the crew dealing with crises all over town on the hottest day of the year. —Amy Amatangelo

3. Murphy Brown

Network: CBS
Premieres: September 27

I’m not necessarily a fan of the revival craze sweeping Hollywood. The specialness of shows like Will & Grace gets diluted: Now, the groundbreaking—and, yes, still entertaining—series is just another comedy. And the legacy of Roseanne is forever ruined, overshadowed by its headlining star’s vile remarks. So I’m conflicted about how to feel about Murphy Brown. It seems almost sweet now that then-Vice President Dan Quayle got so upset about a fictional character’s pregnancy. (I mean, would that this were the only thing someone in the White House was getting up in arms about.) But he did, and Murphy Brown spoke up for women then. Now, the series returns, on the heels of a Senate hearing that found prospective Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh seemingly not understanding the difference between birth control and abortion. We need Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) more than ever. Most of the FYI team is back, including Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford), Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud), and Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto). Tyne Daly joins the cast as the new owner of Phil’s Bar, and Jake McDorman comes on board as Avery, Murphy’s son, who started the controversy all those years ago. —Amy Amatangelo

4. The Good Place

Network: NBC
Premieres: September 27

It’s been too forking long since we’ve seen The Good Place, which ended its second season way back in February. Last season’s finale seemed to indicate that the gang, granted a do-over on Earth, would now be roaming the Earth trying to find each other (one of the many reasons this show is like a comedic version of Lost). But if we learned anything from last season’s premiere, it’s that The Good Place doesn’t not conform to conventional TV wisdom, and rarely unfolds as we expect it to. I can’t forking wait. —Amy Amatangelo

5. Into the Dark

Network: Hulu
Premieres: October 5

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Everyone loves a good horror anthology, right? American Horror Story has been around since, I believe, cavemen times, the cult hit Channel Zero is quietly scaring the bejeezus out of everyone online, and the spooky episodes of Black Mirror always inspire great Halloween costume ideas and sometimes-great think pieces. Hulu’s upcoming Into the Dark is ready to enter into that cultural canon. It’s got the Blumhouse bona fides and has a cool streaming schedule that makes it event TV. It’s releasing its episodes on the first Friday of every month, and they’ll all link with that month’s holiday. For those of us that love Christmas and leprechaun-themed horror films, this is a great opportunity to see campy, twisty horror outlive Halloween. Plus: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s White Josh (David Hull) is starring in the first episode! —Jacob Oller (Photo: Hulu)

6. Fresh Off the Boat/Speechless
Premieres: October 5

If you’re of a certain age (ahem!), you remember TGIF. That’s when ABC focused their programming on comedies the whole family could watch. The network is trying for that again as it moves two of its best comedies to Friday night. Fresh off the summer blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, Constance Wu returns as the take-no-prisoners matriarch of the Huang family. The third season of Speechless kicks off in London (the cast filmed on location) with John Cleese guest starring as Maya’s (Minnie Driver) father. Ben Savage will also guest star in the two-part premiere. If you aren’t watching these terrific shows, you are missing out .—Amy Amatangelo

7. Dancing with the Stars Junior

Network: ABC
Premieres: October 7

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The debut season of Dancing with the Stars Junior is set to premiere on October 7, but with a feel-good reality titan like Dancing with the Stars as its progenitor, favorite DWTS pros set to mentor the young pro dancer cast, and previous DWTS competitors and champions booked to both judge (Adam Rippon) and host (Jordan Fisher and Frankie Muniz), it won’t be surprising if you feel like it’s a show you’ve already been watching for years. This year especially, television has seemed to reserve October for its spookiest premieres, but with Dancing with the Stars Junior kicking off each week (and DWTS’ Season 28 following each Monday on its junior partner’s glittering heels), October is also set to be month of good, razzle-dazzle fun. —Alexis Gunderson (Photo: ABC)

8. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Network: The CW
Premieres: October 12

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In its crazy brilliant third season, Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna’s endlessly inventive musical comedy pulled off its greatest feat of derring-do: a darkly funny, deeply felt portrait of Rebecca Bunch (Bloom) spiraling down into psychological crisis, followed by a second act focused, with the series’ usual wit, on her halting recovery. Culminating in its surprising, self-referential, dark-hearted masterpiece, “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Is Crazy” and its catchiest number to date, Donna Lynne Champlin’s ABBA-inspired “First Penis I Saw,” the season sets up a farewell tour for the West Covina crew that explores “starting from scratch,” but not without a few Crazy Ex-Girlfriend-esque twists. (For example, Skylar Astin will star as Rebecca’s longtime love interest, Greg, formerly played by Santino Fontana.) It’s a bittersweet moment, to realize that a series you thought would be canceled years ago still feels like it’ll be gone too soon. I guess that’s what happens when your bubbly tale of a woman who moves across the country for an old flame becomes one of the medium’s most ambitious works of art. —Matt Brennan

9. The Romanoffs

Network: Amazon Prime
Premieres: October 12

Matthew Weiner’s follow-up to Mad Men is exactly the sort of auteurist “passion project” I’d normally be wary of: The eight-part anthology series features eight distinct stories, in eight distinct locales, linked only by the fact that the characters believes themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family. (It will also, per Weiner’s preference, be released weekly, not all at once.) But Weiner created my favorite TV series of all time, and brings back Mad Men stalwarts Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Cara Buno and Jay R. Ferguson among a sprawling, star-studded cast, so let’s just say he has the benefit of the doubt. —Matt Brennan

10. Deutschland 86

Network: SundanceTV
Premieres: October 19

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When I reviewed Deutschland 83 in 2015, I warned that its more conventional elements heralded “the end of an era in TV drama.” Now that the “Golden Age of Television” is officially over, though, with the end of another 1980s-set spy drama, the German-language thriller, about an East German man (Jonas Nay) recruited by his aunt (Maria Schrader) to infiltrate the West German army, has fresh appeal. At minimum, it’ll feed my Americans-made addiction to the cloak-and-dagger routine. —Matt Brennan (Photo: SundanceTV)

11. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Network: The CW
Premieres: October 22

What will it take for the pop culture-loving world to realize that DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is the best DC show on television and appreciate that fact accordingly? If our lord and savior Beebo hasn’t done it yet, I have to believe nothing can. (Fun in a live-action comic book show. Who could’ve imagined?) But when it comes to Legends of Tomorrow, I know anything is possible. When the team whose motto is “Sometimes we screw things up for the better” returns this fall, they’ll have to contend with the fact that after defeating the demon Mallus last season, they screwed things up even more. And not necessarily for the better. (At least according to Constantine, you know, of NBC’s Constantine and the newest crewmember of the Waverider). I can’t wait until this show returns. I miss happiness. —LaToya Ferguson

12. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Network: Netflix
Premieres: October 26

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Imagine all the camp and circumstance of creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s other series, The CW’s Riverdale, but with more blood and without the stringent Standards and Practices limitations that network TV requires. Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka stars as the titular half-witch in this horror series based on Aguirre-Sacasa’s own comics—someone much more in line with Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger than the bubbly and bright version of the character that Melissa Joan Hart played on the sitcom, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. While our Sabrina grapples with whether to embrace her destiny and align herself with the Dark Lord’s sinister plot, she has to jockey for screen time with some other scene-stealing characters. Homeland’s Miranda Otto and Shaun of the Dead’s Lucy Davis portray her bickering aunts. But the real breakout stars are a trio of sorcering sisters played by The 100’s Tati Gabrielle, Stranger Things’ Abigail F. Cowen, and newcomer Adeline Rudolph. —Whitney Friedlander (Photo: Netflix)

13. Busy Tonight

Network: E!
Premieres: October 28

Look, I’ve loved Busy Philipps ever since she played Kim Kelly on Freaks and Geeks. I was there for it when she popped up on Dawson’s Creek as Joey’s roommate (and began her friendship with Michele Williams, which gives us all #friendshipgoals). And she was just the best on Cougar Town. If you follow her on social media, you know she’s relatable, funny, insightful and forthright. So she’s the perfect person to take on hosting a late-night talk show. And here’s what else I know: We need women on the late-night talk show scene. I can’t wait to see how Phillips takes on Hollywood. I don’t see her settling for canned, rehearsed interviews. —Amy Amatangelo (Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

14. Tell Me a Story

Network: CBS All Access
Premieres: October 31

Kevin Williamson leans into his Scream roots with this anthology series that gives classic fairy tales a modern horror spin. The first season takes on “Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Three Little Pigs,” and “Hansel and Gretel.” The series stars Kim Cattrall (!!), Paul Wesley, Michael Raymond-James, Dania Ramirez and James Wolk. This is Cattrall’s first TV series since Sex and the City, and I’ve been waiting for James Wolk (Zoo) to become a household name since the short-lived FOX series Lonestar, so I’m hoping this series is pretty great, Bob. —Amy Amatangelo

15. Homecoming

Network: Amazon
Premieres: November 2

I mean, do we need to know more than the fact that Julia Roberts is starring in a TV series? Julia. Freaking. Roberts. OK, you want more. Based on a popular podcast, Roberts stars as a counselor who helps soldiers returning from war re-assimilate into society. She sees them as real people, while those above her may have more nefarious intentions. Executive producer Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) knows how to weave a complicated tale. Oh, did you need more reasons to tune in? I give you Sissy Spacek as Roberts’ mother and Dermot Mulroney, Roberts’ My Best Friend’s Wedding co-star, as her boyfriend. —Amy Amatangelo

16. Outlander

Network: Starz
Premieres: November 4

The Droughtlander will finally come to an end this fall! Fans of the popular series have been waiting on pins and needles for their favorite books by Diana Gabaldon to return to the small screen. With Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) shipwrecked in America, fans were left with a massive cliffhanger and have waited impatiently for some resolution. This season will include many familiar faces, as well as introduce fans to Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers). This fourth installment will follow the 880-page “The Drums of Autumn,” so maybe it’s fair to assume that fans have waited to just watch the show. —Keri Lumm

17.Escape at Dannemora

Network: Showtime
Premieres: November 18

The truth, as we know, can be stranger than fiction. And the 2015 escape of two inmates from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, is definitely one of them. Ben Stiller directs and executive produces the eight-hour miniseries, which follows prison tailor Tilly Mitchell (a nearly unrecognizable Patricia Arquette) as she befriends and becomes sexually involved with Richard Matt (Benicio del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano). Tilly eventually helps both men escape, leaving a community in terror and her husband and her family confounded by her actions. —Amy Amatangelo

18. Little Drummer Girl

Network: AMC
Premieres: November 19

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Alexander Skarsgård headlines this six-part miniseries based on the John le Carré novel. Florence Pugh stars as an actress who meets Skarsgard’s Becker on vacation. Soon she’s pulled into a world of espionage and international conspiracies. The last time AMC took on le Carré, the result was the stellar The Night Manager, so expectations are high. Michael Shannon also stars. —Amy Amatangelo (Photo: AMC)

19. My Brilliant Friend

Network: HBO
Premieres: November TBD

Elena Ferrante’s deft, lovely, fully realized epic of female friendship—and of the politics of class, work, and gender in 20th century Italy—comes to HBO this autumn, the start of a planned 32-part adaptation of the four-book series. The first in the cycle—and the first eight episodes in the series—My Brilliant Friend, introduces us to Lenù Greco and Lila Cerullo during their childhood in impoverished postwar Naples. The TV series comes from the producers behind the highly popular Italian mob drama Gomorrah. Taken together, the Neapolitan novels are the finest work of fiction I’ve read this decade. I’ll be tuning in. —Matt Brennan

20. Dirty John

Network: Bravo
Premieres: Fall TBD

No reason to be sad about Connie Britton leaving 9-1-1. She’s headlining this new Bravo series, based on a true crime podcast, about a woman (Britton) who gets pulled into an unhealthy and terrifying relationship with John (Eric Bana). Jean Smart plays Britton’s mother and Keiko Agena is her co-worker. The show has already been picked up for a second season, but will follow a new crime in its sophomore outing. So make sure to enjoy Britton’s fabulous hair while you can. —Amy Amatangelo

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 .