The Paste TV Guide: Our 24 Most Anticipated Series Premiering This Fall

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The <i>Paste</i> TV Guide: Our 24 Most Anticipated Series Premiering This Fall

TV is back! For the first time since early 2020, if not before, this really feels true. From COVID-bubble shows to regular series ready to return after an almost two-year hiatus, fall of 2021 is stocked with promising new shows and established favorites. Our Paste TV writers have picked 24 of the series we’re most excited for in the coming months, but it’s really only the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. Love it or hate it, we’re not out of the Peak TV era yet. Check back with us in early 2022 to decide if that’s a good thing….

To be eligible, TV series need to premiere between September 6th and, well, the end of the year. Technically the fall season ends in November, but we’ve made a few exceptions for some favorites dropping in December. To give a broader view of what’s to come, we omitted series that we’re almost concurrently publishing reviews for, including Impeachment, Doogie Kamealoha, and Y: The Last Man. There are also a handful of series that didn’t announce fall premieres until after our cutoff, including our beloved Dickinson—so keep an eye out for more coverage to come.

Basically, there’s a lot of TV, and this guide is not meant to be a listing of all of the fall shows that are to come. But, for now, these are 24 that we’re looking forward to seeing:

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Scenes from a Marriage

Network: HBO
Premiere Date: September 12
Status: New Series

It’s fall, which means it’s time for another contentious and depressing look at a marriage falling apart! All jokes aside, Scenes from a Marriage has shades of 2019’s Marriage Story and stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain as two members of a dissolving union, trying desperately to hold the pieces together and convince their partner to see their point of view. Adapted from Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 Swedish drama, the limited series on HBO promises to tread the same dramatic themes as the original, while updating the setting and the characters. Isaac and Chastain are an interesting pairing that resemble the original cast, and both typically bring depth and charisma to their roles. While not for everyone, these types of dramas that interrogate human connections and romantic ideals are always fascinating if done properly. The legacy of the original is tied to its realistic portrayal about the complications of adult relationships and intimate conversations that occur between partners, and I’m hopeful that this updated series approaches the subject matter with the same amount of openness.  —Radhika Menon


Back to Life

Network: Showtime
Premiere Date: September 13
Status: Season 2

Like so many series returning this fall, Back to Life has been on a two-year pandemic break. The quiet, soulful, and devilishly funny BBC series (airing on Showtime in the U.S.) didn’t get much attention when it first premiered, which is why it’s so essential to champion it now. It’s easy to catch up—the show, created by and starring Daisy Haggard—runs a mere six episodes a season. In them we meet Miri (Haggard), a woman returning to her hometown after serving 18 years in prison. In the first season we see that all was not, of course, as it seemed regarding her alleged crime, but the show is not a mystery so much as an exploration into the idea of whether you can ever really go home again. In that way it’s similar to SundanceTV’s Rectify, and is both sweet and acidic in the way Miri confronts the stares and the gossip and, tentatively, a relationship with Billy (Adeel Akhtar), who is a caretaker for her elderly neighbor. Make sure this gem is on your watch list. —Allison Keene


The Premise

Network: FX on Hulu
Premiere Date: September 16
Status: New Series

What if you caught evidence of an injustice happening outside the window while you made a sex tape? What if your new coworker at a pro-gun agency just lost their daughter to gun violence? What if you had the chance, as an adult, to craft an corporate-backed humiliation against a childhood bully who made your life hell?

In B.J. Novak’s new series, these provocative ideas are considered to their fullest extent within in a single episode. It’s not exactly Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone, but there is an uncanny extension of our world examined here, with fascinating and sometimes emotional results. Novak has said that he doesn’t consider the series a morality play of any kind, and it’s not meant to definitively answer what’s right or wrong about any given scenario. But with an excellent cast that includes Jon Bernthal, Lucas Hedges, Lola Kirke, Daniel Dae Kim, Kaitlyn Dever, The Premise—with its intriguing quandaries—is certainly setting itself up to be one of the fall’s most talked-about series. —Allison Keene


Sex Education

Netflix:
Premiere Date: September 17
Status: Season 3

Prestige TV has had its time to shine, but Pleasant TV is all the rage now. We’re knee-deep in global crises, so it’s only fitting that our small screens project something more cheerful than raw reality. And between new seasons of feel-good shows like Ted Lasso, Never  Have I Ever, and now Sex Education, it’s a great time to be a Pleasant TV connoisseur! The latter has found popularity on Netflix as a coming-of-age story starring Asa Butterfield as one of a legion of students experiencing high school (and all the sexual joys and frustration that accompany it) in the British countryside. Butterfield’s Otis is first embarrassed by his mother’s (the eternally delightful Gillian Anderson) career as a sex therapist, but is then enlightened by a chance to use his secondhand knowledge as an underground sexual helpdesk to his classmates. But the show has never been as much about sex as about kindness, friendship, community, inclusivity and facing one’s fears. The third iteration of the delightfully pleasant show promises more of the charming anecdotes that make Moordale High so lovely to visit; its diverse swath of Gen Z inhabitants feel like old friends, an we’ll also get appearances from new faces like Girls veteran Jemima Kirke, who’s set to shake things up as the school’s new headmistress Hope. And the final selling point: All of that goodness is wrapped up in a colorful cinematic package that’s something like a Wes Anderson-movie-meets-The Good Place. —Ellen Johnson


Ordinary Joe

Network: NBC
Premiere Date: September 20
Status: New Series

James Wolk, James Wolk, and James Wolk star in this new NBC dramedy framed around a question all of us have probably asked ourselves: What if that one decision we made ages ago has forever altered the rest of our lives? In Ordinary Joe, which comes from House alums Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend, Wolk plays Joe Kimbreau, a guy who makes a split decision just a few minutes after he graduates college. It creates three different outcomes for both his career and his love life. The Stand’s Natalie Martinez, Once Upon a Time’s Elizabeth Lail and Russian Doll’s Charlie Barnett also star. —Whitney Friedlander


Midnight Mass

Network: Netflix
Premiere Date: September 24
Status: New Series

If you’ve watched and enjoyed any horror on Netflix in the last… ever, you probably owe a debt to filmmaker and showrunner Mike Flanagan. Flanagan’s deal with Netflix has been especially productive when it comes to adaptations (he’s tackled both Stephen King and Shirley Jackson to great success, not an easy thing), but his latest project is 100% original. Midnight Mass, a limited series about spooky islands, spooky religions, and spooky small town secrets, looks to continue the horror creator’s streaming supremacy. In fact, it sounds a little like Flanagan is trying his hand at his own King tale, especially considering the demonic/otherworldly force so clearly at play. This one’s on my radar as prime binging, keep-you-up-all-night TV. —Jacob Oller


Foundation

Network: Apple TV+
Premiere Date: September 24
Status: New Series

There’s a lot more to Foundation, Apple TV+’s upcoming Asimovian epic, than “Jared Harris leads a revolution in space,” but if you’re someone who’s kept up with Syfy/Prime Video’s similarly epic The Expanse since the beginning, “Jared Harris leads a revolution in space” might be all you need to hear. What can we say! The man knows his way around a coolly considered galactic social uprising!

Still, you needn’t be a fan of The Expanse or Jared Harris (in space) to be excited for Foundation. Expansively cast, expensively produced, and filled to the galactic brim with dramatically framed (and CGI-perfected) shots, the forthcoming Apple series, which creator and showrunner David Goyer (Dark City, the Dark Knight trilogy) has confirmed will eventually tell a story that spans a full 1,000 years, is launching with its ambition dial cranked to eleven. Honestly, with For All Mankind already killing the cosmic game on the genre’s more grounded end, if the first season of Foundation turns out to be as exciting as both trailer and source material are setting us up to think they will be, Apple TV+ just might turn out to be the most ambitious sci-fi storyteller in the prestige streaming space.

But, you know, no pressure. —Alexis Gunderson


Nancy Drew

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Network: The CW
Premiere Date: October 8
Status: Season 3

I know what you’re thinking. Nancy Drew? In this economy? I used to be one of you, but once I got past the fact this wasn’t the story of the teen detective I had grown up loving, I was able to embrace the show for what it is: an entertaining supernatural mystery series with a flawed but whip-smart heroine and a well-balanced narrative. Set in Maine, the show follows a nearly twentysomething Nancy (Kennedy McMann) who, with the help of her ragtag group of friends, solves cases in a small seaside town where encounters with the supernatural are the norm. In Season 2, the show moved away from season-long mysteries—Season 1 involved a ghostly urban legend, an angry sea witch, and some genuinely scary moments of horror wrapped up in a deeply personal story—to embrace a case-of-the-week format. This not only made Nancy Drew more accessible, but it also made it stronger and gave the writers a chance to have some fun. Add in a subtle, slow-burning love story and you’ve got all the pieces of a really enjoyable genre show that absolutely deserves your attention. —Kaitlin Thomas


The Baby-Sitters Club

Network: Netflix
Premiere Date: October 11
Status: Season 2

It’s never a good idea, at least when it comes to popular media, to set one’s expectations too high—a long-awaited sequel might turn out to be a confounding mess after all, or a Christmas special might split your TV section in two.

That said, I have every expectation that the Season 2 return of Rachel Shukert’s Gen Z take on The Baby-Sitters Club will clear my skin, chase away my insomnia, and, quite possibly, put the world on the path to achieving world peace. A tall order, sure, but between the series’ perfectly pitched first season and the core cast’s palpable, fizzy chemistry, it’s one that Shukert and crew seem more than ready to meet. The only disappointment I anticipate at this point, honestly, is the loss of Xochitl Gomez as the club’s wokest member, Dawn. But if the delightful baton-passing video above is anything to go by, Gomez exiting to join the MCU (as America Chavez in the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel) has only opened the door for another dynamic actress to add to the Stoneybrook legacy. Welcome, Kyndra! We can’t wait to see what you bring to the BSC. —Alexis Gunderson


Dopesick

Network: Hulu
Premiere Date: October 13
Status: New Series

I am going to go out on a limb here and say this series, based on the New York Times bestselling book, is going to be 2021’s Chernobyl. Examining the origins of an opioid crisis that shows no signs of slowing down across our nation, and the craven participation of members of the Sackler family (who are, along with Purdue Pharma, being litigated against on the matter), Dopesick appears to be an integral work that shows how a system meant to help people in pain completely broke down. Like The Wire, this limited series gives us personal perspectives from a number of key players (played by an exceptional cast), from the doctors and the addicts to the sales teams, attorneys, and FDA officials, promising to be a sprawling work that tells a very timely and haunting story about the consequences of targeted lies and overwhelming greed. —Allison Keene


Queens

Network: ABC
Premiere Date: October 19
Status: New Series

Evidently I cannot get enough of series about (fake) former pop groups reuniting. First we had Peacock’s excellent Girls5Eva, and now ABC is giving us Queens, where the now-estranged members of legendary ‘90s hip-hop group “Nasty Bitches”—Naomi a.k.a. “Xplicit Lyrics” (Brandy), Jill “Da Thrill” (Naturi Naughton), Brianna a.k.a. “Professor Sex” (Eve), and Valeria “Butter Pecan” (Nadine Velazquez)—reunite in their 40s to try and reclaim some of their former fame. I can’t wait. The series comes from Scandal writer Zahir McGhee, so expect plenty of juicy drama. But given the vocal talent on display here, I am also hoping for some excellent songs (even if they are just to remind us about the foibles of that musical era). This one looks to be a great ride. —Allison Keene


Insecure

Network: HBO
Premiere Date: October 24
Status: Season 5 / Final Season

Insecure, the excellent HBO comedy about Black friends in LA, has been a consistent source of laugh-out-loud comedy and tear-jerking moments for four seasons. When the show returns for its fifth and final season this fall, the stakes will be high as Issa Rae wraps up the storylines for Issa, Molly, Lawrence, and the whole host of supporting characters that we’ve come to love and root for. Season 4 tested the strength of Issa and Molly’s central friendship and played with the idea of an Issa and Lawrence reunion before throwing them one last curveball in the finale, and the final season has a lot riding on it as it wraps up the personal and professional growth of all of the main characters. Insecure is one of the funniest, swaggy, and addictive comedies in years, and has always been notable for its realistic portrayals of life, love and friendship, approaching even the messiest of situations with honesty. So while little has been released about what Season 5 will look like, I’m certain that it will be as enjoyable as the rest of the show’s excellent run. —Radhika Menon


All American

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Network: The CW
Premiere Date: October 25
Status: Season 4

The CW show that everyone should be watching returns for its fourth season in October and promises to up the ante even higher. All American is a perfect mix of your favorite teen dramas; there are shades of The OC, One Tree Hill, and Friday Night Lights, but the characters and situations feel updated to belong in today’s world. As the fourth season approaches, Season 3’s cliffhangers loom overhead and threaten the stability of the Crenshaw and Beverly Hills communities: Coop has been shot, Jordan and Spencer are on Coach Baker’s shit-list after practicing while injured, Layla’s rehab friend is swerving into One Tree Hill Nanny Carrie territory, and college decisions will likely shake up the core relationships on the show even further. All American succeeds in its soapiness while also remaining grounded, and with a few public cast departures on the horizon, the fourth season promises to pick up the drama right where it left off while also pushing the envelope on conversations about race, addiction, infidelity, and more. —Radhika Menon


The 4400

Network: The CW
Premiere Date: October 25
Status: New Series / Reboot

Gather around, children, and let me tell you of a Ye Olde TV Show that premiered in 2004. The first iteration of The 4400 aired on USA for four increasingly unhinged but very bingeable seasons, telling the story of a group of people who had each disappeared between 1946 and the present day. They all suddenly reappear at once, with no memory of where they had been or what happened—and some began manifesting powers. A kind of sci-fi X-Men-lite, the series was notable for an excellent cast, featuring an early role for none other than Mahershala Ali, as well as a great theme song. Now, The CW is rebooting the series, and not much is known about it except that it seems to generally follow the premise of the original. We’ll see how long it takes this one to go off the rails… (but hopefully it’ll have a fun, engaging run first). —Allison Keene


Succession

Network: HBO
Premiere Date: October TBD
Status: Season 3

After The White Lotus’s successful reign as the show of the summer, HBO is looking to keep that streak alive this fall. Succession, another satirical series about the absurdly rich airing on the same network, finally returns after the pandemic delayed production by an entire year. The last time we saw the dysfunctional Roy clan, Kendall had just dropped a major bomb on live TV, exposing the dark truths his family’s company has spent years covering up. With Season 3 premiering this October, we’ll finally get to see just how brutal the retaliation against him will be. A trailer for the series’ third season promises a triumphant return for our favorite toxic people; from Greg and Tom’s uniquely deranged relationship to Logan Roy’s unending tirade against his children, we just can’t wait to see what’s in store. —Kristen Reid


The Shrink Next Door

Network: Apple TV+
Premiere Date: November 12
Status: New Series

Adapted from the podcast of the same name, Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd reunite for a drama with tinges of black comedy, about a man named “Marty” Markowitz (Ferrell), who finds his therapist (Rudd) embedding himself into every aspect of his life with ghastly results. The chemistry of these two comedy legends is already enough for the price of admission, but then you add the comedic genius of Kathryn Hahn and Casey Wilson as their respective spouses and there’s never been a more “all in” reason to see what they do with this potent material.—Tara Bennett


Yellowjackets

Network: Showtime
Premiere Date: November 14
Status: New Series

Sometimes all you need is a killer cast. Putting Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci, and Tawny Cypress (as well as a boatload of fresh talent) in a psychodrama with a pilot directed by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, The Invitation) is a surefire way to get me on board. Focused on a high school soccer team that survives a plane crash—and, as we know, all good TV drama involves surviving a plane crash—Yellowjackets looks like a Lord of the Flies before-and-after: survival, madness, and a sloppy, imperfect attempt to return to society with all that baggage. Seeing these women navigate the sins of their past, and actually watching it play out in the flashbacks, sounds awfully compelling even if it wasn’t a group I’d watch do basically anything. Lynskey 4 Lyfe. —Jacob Oller


The Great

Network: Hulu
Premiere Date: November 19
Status: Season 2

Huzzah! When I sent out the call for our writers’ most-anticipated series of the fall, The Great was the most popular pick. Everyone wanted to write about it, so of course I took it all for myself like a good despot. Speaking of absolute rulers, Season 2 of Hulu’s excellent quasi-historical series returns with a pregnant Catherine (Elle Fanning) having cornered Peter (Nicholas Hoult) and ready to stage her coup to take control of Russia. But nothing is simple in love (or hate) and war, and thus the royal spouses will continue to spar with delightfully witty dialogue, scrumptious costuming, and violent punctuations throughout. The Great is not a thin work, though, and part of what will fuel Catherine’s decision-making this season will be her reaction to the loss of Leo (Sebastian de Souza) which ended Season 1. The series continues to get to the emotional truth of the situation if not always the facts, and we love it dearly. —Allison Keene


Wheel of Time

Network: Amazon Prime Video
Premiere Date: November 19
Status: New Series

Robert Jordan’s epic story sprawls over the course of 14 novels—the last three co-written by Brandon Sanderson from Jordan’s notes after his death. It’s a delightfully imaginative series that was in desperate need of a more merciless editor. Here’s hoping the TV adaptation from Amazon can capture the best of the series with far fewer tugs on braids and better written women characters in general. I’m optimistic. The bones for the next great TV fantasy series are there. Rosamund Pike strikes me as perfect casting for Moraine. On the other hand, showrunner Rafe Judkins and most of the rest of the cast are mostly unproven on a project this big. But with the might of Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios behind them, they’ll be given every opportunity to succeed. —Josh Jackson


Hawkeye

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Network: Disney+
Premiere Date: November 24
Status: New Series

Disney+’s latest “minor Avenger who now gets their own TV shows” chapter will spend six episodes focusing on Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) by introducing his #1 fan and eventual protégé Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who is being trained to take over his superhero spot. It’s a more overt handing over of the torch than some of the other recent Marvel movies and series that are ushering in a new age of heroes, and it has the makings of something good. There’s Steinfield, of course, who is a treasure, but also the promise of more of Florence Pugh’s Yelena, as introduced in the Black Widow movie. Comic book fans are surely hoping for a return to the Clint Barton of the page as well, rather than what we’ve seen on screen, so perhaps Hawkeye will bring that much-needed boost for a character who has often gotten the short end of the stick in the MCU. —Allison Keene


The Beatles: Get Back

Network: Disney+
Premiere Date: November 25, 26, 27
Status: New Series

Director Peter Jackson is known for his epic storytelling, and once you’ve covered Tolkien, what else is there to cover but The Beatles? As a huge fan of the seminal band, Jackson was able to take the 55 hours of footage and 140 hours of audio collected from director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s Let It Be project and turn it into a three-part definitive look at the band’s final album and last days collaborating with one another. The project has been sanctioned by McCartney, Ringo, and the families of Harrison and Lennon, so this is potentially as big a Beatles offering as The Beatles Anthology (2000) which was also a TV event.—Tara Bennett


The Witcher

Network: Netflix
Premiere Date: December 17
Status: Season 2

Toss a coin to Netflix, as our favorite monster hunter of few words, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), is finally headed back to our screens this December. After a first season that featured everything from epic monster battles and complex character origin stories to multiple timelines and stone-cold musical bangers, Season 2 promises a slightly more straightforward adventure as the show’s primary narrative begins to coalesce around Princess Cirilla of Cintra (Freya Allen). In the show’s first season, Ciri was often forced to spend most of her time running away from various bad guys as her entire world literally burned down around her, but it appears as though she’s more than ready to claim her own power in Season 2. Or at least learn to beat the crap out of the people who wish to do her harm. (To which I say: It is about time. Rise, Lion Cub of Cintra!) 

Geralt, now Ciri’s de facto guardian, is charged with training her in the arts of witchering at the ancient keep of Kaer Mohren, and the two must learn to trust each other as dangers of all sorts invariably lurk around them. As for Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), the sorceress whose dramatic magical sacrifice at the Battle of Sodden Hill closed out The Witcher’s first season finale, we don’t have much to go on when it comes to her Season 2 journey. The teaser trailer has confirmed she’s still alive (which we all pretty much knew already, thanks for nothing, Netflix) and little else about what might be ahead for her. But since showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich has pretty much already admitted that our three faves will finally meet face-to-face this season, the only real question is how her path and Geralt’s will somehow cross again. —Lacy Baugher Milas


Cobra Kai

Network: Netflix
Premiere Date: December TBD
Status: Season 3

Cobra Kai will return to a world where Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) are working side-by-side, and we can’t wait for the knucklehead fireworks. With the pair acknowledging that their real enemy is Kreese (Martin Kove), they’ve put their students together to train and hopefully finally overcome his influence once and for all in the All-Valley Karate Tournament. With three seasons of great character arcs, well-used nostalgia, and genuine heart, going back to the dojo with everyone in this cast is always a win.—Tara Bennett


And Just Like That…

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Network: HBO Max
Premiere Date: Fall TBD
Status: New Series

I couldn’t help but wonder… will it be any good? And if it’s not, will I even care? Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis reprise their iconic Sex and the City roles for this 10-episode HBO Max continuation. Familiar faces abound as Chris Noth, Mario Cantone, David Eigenberg, Will Garson, and Evan Handler are all slated to return as the men who orbit their world. One notable exception, of course, is Kim Cattrall, who will not be back as Samantha. (I legit would watch a show just about what went down behind the scenes that made Cattrall’s participation a no-go. It could be an anthology series, with Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi being the next episode). We haven’t seen the ladies since 2010s problematic-but-I-still-watched-it-anyway Sex and the City 2. What will life be like for them in their 50s? Is Carrie still married to Big? (It is my fervent hope that the answer to that question is “no.”) Has Miranda found a work/life balance? How is Charlotte handling the teen years? Is brunch still a thing? Sara Ramirez, Nicole Ari Parker, Sarita Choudhury, and Alexa Swinton all join the cast with Michael Patrick King back as showrunner. No matter what the outcome it has to be better than when they went to Abu Dhabi, right? Right??? —Amy Amatangelo



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