Sean Penn heads to Mars, Jim Carrey loses his mind. Lena Dunham goes ‘Camping’ and Matthew Weiner makes a royal comeback. This season is loaded with risk-taking, genre-busting, happy-making entertainment. Here, our picks for fall’s can’t-miss shows.
Even in the era of Peak TV, fall has largely remained broadcast television’s time to shine. Cable and streaming outfits typically save their best material for the dead of summer or early winter, when the traditional networks have hit the snooze bar, and their big awards plays for March and April, which is to Emmy season what December is to Oscar season. But if there’s one principle that defines the TV landscape these days, it may be “more is more.” Meaning that over the next few months, the HBOs and Netflixes of the world are unloading a ton of new content, almost all of it hugely ambitious — evidence that they intend to cede no ground in their quest to run the prestige TV game.
That said, old-school networks aren’t lying down just yet. From headline-making spin-offs (ABC’s The Conners) to nostalgia-tapping revivals (CBS’ Murphy Brown) and feverishly anticipated returns (NBC’s The Good Place), the big three are putting up a healthy fight for our eyeballs. In the opposite corner: glamorous movie stars doing their first TV work in years (Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner), embattled auteurs returning with high-concept gambles (Matthew Weiner) and new installments of our most recent favorites (welcome back, Big Mouth). There’s so much small-screen entertainment coming down the pike this fall, a single day could feasibly deliver 24 hours of brand-new episodes. See: the Streamageddon that is September 14th, which will offer the return of Netflix darlings BoJack Horseman and American Vandal plus the debuts of Amazon’s quirky comedy Forever and Hulu’s space-set drama The First.
All of which is to say: Don a chunky knit, grab a hot toddy and embrace those early sunsets. You are hereby mercifully freed from the obligation to be “active” and instead released into the great indoors to explore the wilds of TV.
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