Fall TV Preview 2019: 33 Shows to Watch Now - Rolling Stone
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Fall TV Preview 2019: 33 Shows to Watch Now

Disney+ launches with Star Wars spin-off ‘The Mandalorian,’ Ryan Murphy tackles politics. ‘Transparent’ says goodbye, Ken Burns goes country. This season is chock-full of reasons to stay glued to a screen

As vacations wind down and the days get shorter and your next case of Seasonal Affective Disorder starts creeping in, know that there’s one friend who’ll always be there for you (no, it’s not Rachel): TV. While “fall TV” doesn’t quite mean what it used to, the ever-expanding streaming universe means the coming season still offers a bounty of shows, new and returning, to keep you distracted and deliriously entertained through the holidays. From superhero spin-offs to spy thrillers, family sitcoms to coming-of-age dramas, political satires to deep-dive documentaries, and much, much more, here are the 33 fall shows we’re most looking forward to watching. All you need to do is stock your fridge — and your queue.

WU-TANG: AN AMERICAN SAGA -- Episode 103 -- Based on one of the most influential and important groups in hip-hop history, Wu-Tang: An American Saga is inspired by ìThe Wu-Tang Manualî and ìTao of Wuî, and based on the true story of the Wu-Tang Clan. Set in early '90s New York at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, the show tracks the Clan's formation, a vision of Bobby Diggs aka The RZA, who strives to unite a dozen young, black men that are torn between music and crime but eventually rise to become the unlikeliest of American success stories. Ason (TJ Atoms) and Bobby (Ashton Sanders), shown. (Photo by: /Hulu)


‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga’ (Hulu, September 4)

On the heels of Showtime’s intimate, four-part docuseries on the legendary hip-hop supergroup comes this dramatization of their story, from their formation on Staten Island in the early 1990s through the inevitable infighting that plagues them as they make it big. The 10-part series is inspired by RZA’s two books outlining the Wu philosophy — The Wu-Tang Manual and Tao of Wu — and the unofficial Clan leader also serves as a co-creator and co-producer. No complaints here. When it comes to self-mythologizing, no one does it better. M.F.


Axel Decis/Netflix

‘The Spy’ (Netflix, September 6)

It’s appropriate that in undercover-comedy genius Sacha Baron Cohen’s most notable dramatic role to date, he plays a man who dons a disguise and gets lost in a persona. Sporting a mustache that may briefly remind you of his most famous character, Cohen plays real-life Sixties Mossad agent Eli Cohen, who leaves behind his wife (no Borat jokes, please) and poses as a Syrian to infiltrate the government on behalf of Israel. A.P.


Beth Dubber/Netflix

‘Unbelievable’ (Netflix, September 13)

Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 ProPublica article about a years-long, multistate effort to track a serial rapist, this limited series unites unimpeachable talent both behind the camera and in front of it. Booksmart breakout Kaitlyn Dever stars as a young victim accused of falsifying her report, while Emmy winners Toni Collette and Merritt Wever play cops who team up to work the case. In the steady hands of Oscar-nominated writer Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and Oscar-nominated director Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), among others, the material is sure to be treated with sensitivity and rigor. It won’t be an easy watch, but it will be an essential one. M.F.


Amazon Studios

‘Undone’ (Amazon, September 13)

Between BoJack Horseman (which he created) and the unjustly canceled Tuca & Bertie (which he executive-produced), any show Raphael Bob-Waksberg touches moves to the top of our queues. This one, co-created by Bob-Waksberg and BoJack writer Kate Purdy, stars Rosa Salazar as a young woman who begins traveling through space and time in an attempt to reverse the death of her father (Bob Odenkirk). Bonus: It’s the first ongoing TV series to use rotoscope animation, incorporating various visual media, including oil painting on canvas, for backgrounds. A.S.

‘Country Music’ (PBS, September 15)

Documentarian Ken Burns takes the fine-tooth comb that he’s applied to everything from baseball to Vietnam and jazz to another American institution: country music. The eight-part, 16-hour series will stretch far back into the genre’s earliest roots in the immigrant and slave experience while also exploring the ways it overlaps with and influences other styles of music. Along the way, it will also dive into deep portraits of country legends from Johnny Cash to Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and more. M.F.

Lilly SinghNBCUniversal Upfront Presentation, Arrivals, Four Seasons Hotel, New York, USA - 13 May 2019


‘A Little Late With Lilly Singh’ (NBC, September 16)

Late-night is getting a little less straight, white, and dudely. Labeling Lilly Singh as an Indian-Canadian bisexual woman reduces a talented comedian to a list of descriptors, but man, we’re just thrilled it’s not another Jimmy. The former YouTube phenomenon will take Carson Daly’s old post-Late Night With Seth Meyers 1:37 a.m. slot, but it’s safe to guess where most people will catch clips of A Little Late. A.P.

Jose Haro/Netflix ©joseharo

‘Criminal’ (Netflix, September 20)

If you’re a Marvel junkie, you’ll look at this cop drama as a crossover that teams Kilgrave from Jessica Jones (a.k.a. David Tennant) with the title character from Agent Carter (a.k.a. Hayley Atwell). If you’re a fan of familiar genres deploying unconventional formats, you’ll appreciate that it takes place entirely inside police interrogation suites, bouncing among France, Spain, Germany, and the UK — with episodes in each locale deploying writers, directors, and actors from their respective countries. Blatant pandering to Netflix’s international audience? Yup. Worth watching? Yup. A.S.

EMERGENCE - A character-driven genre thriller, "Emergence" is about a police chief who takes in a young child she finds near the site of a mysterious accident who has no memory of what has happened. The investigation draws her into a conspiracy larger than she ever imagined, and the child's identity is at the center of it all. (ABC/Virginia Sherwood)ALLISON TOLMAN

ABC Studios

‘Emergence’ (ABC, September 24)

A girl appears at the site of a plane crash unharmed. She doesn’t know who she is. She’s taken in by the local police chief (played by the extremely winning Allison Tolman, who was evidently promoted after playing a deputy officer on Fargo Season One). She reveals supernatural powers that allow her to control rain, flip cars, and… take down an airplane? Think: Lost occult-aviation-disaster vibes surrounding a Stranger Things-esque “Get the special girl!” plot. A.P.

STUMPTOWN - Based on the "Stumptown" graphic novel series, "Stumptown" follows Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders) - a strong, assertive and sharp-witted army veteran with a complicated love life, gambling debt and a brother to take care of in Portland, Oregon. Her military intelligence skills make her a great PI, but her unapologetic style puts her in the firing line of hardcore criminals and not quite in alliance with the police. (ABC/Kailey Schwerman)COBIE SMULDERS


‘Stumptown’ (ABC, September 25)

Marvel alum Cobie Smulders returns to television for the adaptation of a different kind of comic. In Stumptown, based on the hard-boiled black-and-white series by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth, she plays Dax Parios, a military veteran turned private investigator in Portland. Smulders has more than proved her tough-guy bona fides by playing SHIELD agent Maria Hill (plus her turn in the otherwise underwhelming Jack Reacher: Never Go Back), and the strong supporting cast includes Jake Johnson, Michael Ealy, and Camryn Manheim. A.S.

"Pilot" - Forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard is hired by the Catholic Church to work with David Acosta, a priest-in-training, and contractor Ben Shakir, to determine whether a serial killer is possessed by a demon or merely a psychopath. Kristen finds that she has a taste for the work and is invited to join the team on a permanent basis, on the series premiere of EVIL, Thursday, Sept. 26 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.  Pictured  Katja Herbers as Kristen Bouchard  Photo  Elizabeth Fisher/ ©2019 CBS Broadcasting


‘Evil’ (CBS, September 26)

Fans of The Good Wife and/or The Good Fight will flock to the latest offering from creators Robert and Michelle King, an X-Files-ish drama in which a psychiatrist (Westworld‘s Katja Herbers), a priest-in-training (Luke Cage star Mike Colter), and a professional skeptic (Aasif Mandvi) investigate the Catholic Church’s backlog of unexplained phenomena, trying to differentiate human monsters from the allegedly supernatural kind. If that doesn’t sound promising enough, Lost star Michael Emerson plays the team’s archenemy. A.S.

SUNNYSIDE -- "Pilot" Episode -- Pictured: (l-r) Joel Kim Booster as Jun Ho, Poppy Liu as Mei Lin, Samba Schutte as Hakim, Kal Penn as Garrett, Diana Marie Riva as Griselda, Moses Storm as Brady -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

Colleen Hayes/NBC

‘Sunnyside’ (NBC, September 26)

Kal Penn co-created, co-wrote, and stars in this series, executive produced by The Good Place guru Mike Schur, which follows a disgraced Queens councilman who aims to repair his reputation (and maybe his karma) by helping a group of immigrants pass their citizenship test. The idea was actually hatched years ago, but given the timing of its realization (not to mention Penn’s two-plus years spent working in the Obama White House as an associate director of public engagement), it couldn’t be more relevant. M.F.

THE GOOD PLACE -- "Chidi Sees the Time-Knife" Episode 312 -- Pictured: (l-r) D'Arcy Carden as Janet, Ted Danson as Michael -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

Colleen Hayes/NBC

‘The Good Place’ (NBC, September 26)

Well, just fork it all. The wickedly smart and insanely creative comedy about the afterlife is coming to an end with this upcoming fourth season. So enjoy the punny restaurant names, Ted Danson’s delightfully off-kilter line readings, Janet’s boundless enthusiasm, Chidi’s high anxiety, Jason’s Florida shout-outs, Tahani’s obnoxious name-drops, Eleanor’s relentless oversharing, and all the rest of the joys that come from heavenly visits to this off-brand version of hell. A.S.

A tight-knit group of friends and family helps a widower move on following the most difficult year of his life, which includes being an ill-equipped but devoted single parent to his two daughters, and taking the major step of dating where, to his shock, he's a hot commodity, on THE UNICORN, premiering this fall (Thursdays, 8:30-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured:   Walton Goggins as Wade. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved


‘The Unicorn’ (CBS, September 26)

What looks to be one of the most watchable shows of fall has one of the simplest plots: A widower starts to date again. There’s no witch-hunting or child-snatching or nation-building here, just Walton Goggins shooting the shit with his friends (including a married couple played by Rob Corddry and the great Michaela Watkins) and trying to date while raising two adolescent daughters. Earnest? Sure. But hopefully The Unicorn’s charm and humor and warmth make this the rare family sitcom that doesn’t suck. A.P.


Courtesy of NETFLIX

‘The Politician’ (Netflix, September 27)

Ryan Murphy trains his satire guns directly on American politics with this series about a Tracy Flick-like high school student — Dear Evan Hanson Tony-winner Ben Platt — running for class president (with long-term designs on being actual POTUS), and the cutthroat campaigns he and his competitors wage against one another. With Gwyneth Paltrow and Bob Balaban as his distant, uber-wealthy adoptive parents, and Murphy go-to Jessica Lange as the unhinged mother of a running mate, the show promises star power aplenty — and faces no shortage of real-world material to skewer. M.F.

Amazon Studios

‘Transparent Musicale Finale’ (Amazon, September 27)

How do you continue an award-winning series when the actor who plays the title character (and has won most of the awards) has been fired for inappropriate workplace behavior? If you’re Transparent, you kill off Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura and make a movie-length funeral packed with songs and all the weirdness audiences came to love about the Pfeffermans before Tambor’s actions came to light. Will the Pfeffermans’ musical feting of Maura seem in bad taste, or like a smart way of making lemonade from a serving of sour, sour lemons? We’ll be there to find out. A.S.

Godfather of Harlem Season 1 Episode 101: By Whatever Means Necessary

David Lee/Epix

‘Godfather of Harlem’ (Epix, September 29)

Narcos co-creator Chris Brancato delivers this real-life story of mob boss Bumpy Johnson’s war with the Genovese crime family to control 1960s Harlem — and the alliance he makes with Malcolm X to do so. Brancato is adept at adding nuance to organized crime stories without drying out inherently dramatic material. And to sweeten the pot, Godfather is blessed with a cast that includes Forrest Whitaker as Johnson, Vincent D’Onofrio as gangster Vincent Gigante, and Giancarlo “Gus Fring” Esposito as Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. A.P.

Raising Dion


‘Raising Dion’ (Netflix, October 4)

Based on a comic book by Dennis Liu and co-executive produced by Michael B. Jordan (who also plays a small supporting role), Raising Dion is a rock candy-sweet series about the challenges of rearing a child with supernatural powers. Dion’s single mother, Nicole (Alisha Wainwright), helps him manage such magic-specific growing pains as how to avoid being caught using telekinesis. Don’t be surprised if the show’s overarching lesson is that she’s the real superhero, folks. A.P.

Daisy Haggard as Miri in BACK TO LIFE, "Episode 3". Photo Credit: Luke Varley/Courtesy of SHOWTIME.

Luke Varley/SHOWTIME

‘Back to Life’ (Showtime, October 6)

From the producers of Fleabag comes this BBC Three comedy about a thirtysomething woman trying to readjust to life after serving 18 years in prison for murder. English actress Daisy Haggard, who co-created, stars as mild-mannered Miri Matteson, who despite her time served is clearly no hardened criminal. As she moves back into her childhood bedroom, the show follows her struggles to get a job, find love, and navigate life with her parents, finding the laughter and the tender spots along the way. M.F.

Batwoman -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: BWN101d_0345.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Rachel Skarsten as Alice and Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman -- Photo: Kimberley French/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Kimberley French/The CW

‘Batwoman’ (The CW, October 6)

In case it wasn’t obvious, the premise of the show is literally spoken by a character in the trailer: “A female Bruce Wayne.” In a Batman-less Gotham, Bruce’s cousin Kate, played by Orange Is the New Black actress Ruby Rose, steps into the bat outfit. (After getting it tailored, of course.) In a fun twist, our hero is queer — she was kicked out of a military academy for being in a lesbian relationship. But all else is status quo: As always seems happens to the one in the suit, Kate’s love interest is kidnapped and must be rescued. A.P.

Nancy Drew -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: NCD101d_0047b.jpg -- Pictured: Kennedy McMann as Nancy -- Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Robert Falconer/The CW

‘Nancy Drew’ (The CW, October 9)

Why fix what ain’t broke? The CW has cornered the market on juicy teen dramas, and this adaptation of the classic 1930s girl-detective book series is the latest addition to its canon. This Riverdale-meets-Veronica Mars iteration sees Nancy (Alicia Silverstone lookalike Kennedy McMann) set her sleuthing skills to the murder of a local socialite — and whether it could be connected to the decades-prior death of a beauty queen who still haunts their seaside town — all while waitressing at a diner, attending high school, and, duh, kissing boys. M.F.


‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’ (Netflix, October 11)

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, sequels! Breaking Bad told a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end — but that end was about Walter White. Better Call Saul has already demonstrated that there’s more life in other corners of the Heisenberg-verse than we might have expected. Now, Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul re-team for a movie about Jesse Pinkman’s adventures as a fugitive post-“Felina.” Revisiting a classic is always risky, but if any creator’s earned that benefit of the doubt, it’s Gilligan. A.S.


‘The College Admissions Scandal’ (Lifetime, October 12)

This ripped-from-the-headlines dramatization, turned around with alarming speed, tackles the recently uncovered, um, college admissions scandal, wherein rich and sometimes famous parents — including the actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin — paid tutors, athletic coaches, and administrators hundreds of thousands of dollars to guarantee their kids entry into prestigious universities. (Penelope Ann Miller and Mia Kirshner star, though not as their acting-world compatriots.) Look for this TV-movie to combine the seriousness of Lifetime’s recent efforts in the docuseries space (Surviving R. Kelly) with the network’s pulpier roots. M.F.


Ricardo Hubbs/Facebook

‘Limetown’ (Facebook Watch, October 16)

Jessica Biel was a revelation as a disturbed young mother who stabs a man to death at the beach in last year’s USA Network limited series The Sinner. She wades into dark waters again for this show, based on a popular fiction podcast from 2015, about the sudden mass disappearance of test subjects and neuroscientists from a research facility in small-town Tennessee. Biel plays Lia Haddock, a public radio reporter investigating the mystery who becomes dangerously entangled with the few survivors she uncovers. Here’s hoping Biel’s pain is once again our gain. M.F.

Living With Yourself

Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

‘Living With Yourself’ (Netflix, October 18)

It’s two Paul Rudds for the price of one in this dramedy, which sees the beloved actor playing Miles, a married ad copywriter who’s in a personal and professional rut. After a trip to a mysterious spa, sad-sack Miles discovers he’s been replaced by a happier, peppier, creatively-energized clone of himself, and must find a way to get his life back. Anyone who’s ever fantasized about flipping a switch to make all your pain go away, proceed with caution. M.F.

Looking For Alaska -- Episode 101 - Miles Halter, seeking his Great Perhaps, enrolls at Culver Creek Academy.  On his first day, he gets a new nickname, a best friend, some enemies, and meets the wild, unpredictable, and enigmatic girl who lives down the hall: Alaska Young. Alaska (Kristine Froseth), Miles (Charlie Plummer), The Colonel (Denny Love), and Takumi (Jay Lee), shown. (Photo by: Alfonso Bresciani/Hulu)


‘Looking for Alaska’ (Hulu, October 18)

John Green’s debut novel, about a lonely boy (Charlie Plummer) developing a doomed crush on a classmate (Kristine Froseth) at an Alabama boarding school, came out in 2005, when Josh Schwartz was riding high with the success of his Fox teen drama The O.C. Schwartz has been trying to adapt Looking for Alaska ever since, and finally made it work, along with co-creator Stephanie Savage, as a miniseries at the home of his Marvel series, Runaways. The story is treated as a period piece, which means Schwartz gets to curate a soundtrack filled with tunes Seth Cohen would have loved. A.S.


Giovanni Rufino/Amazon Studios

‘Modern Love’ (Amazon, October 18)

John Carney (Once, Sing Street) tackles this anthological adaptation of the celebrated New York Times column. Episodes can cover straightforward romance, i.e. stories of the One Who Got Away. But they can also delve into less traditional relationships, like a single woman (Cristin Milioti) leaning on her doorman (Laurentiu Possa) for all her major life choices, or a bipolar attorney (Anne Hathaway) figuring out how to tell friends and family about her condition. With each episode hovering around a neat half-hour, a little love should go a long way. A.S.

‘Mrs. Fletcher’ (HBO, October 27)

While Damon Lindelof is trying to remake Watchmen for television, The Leftovers’ other co-creator, Tom Perrotta, is keeping things simpler, with an adaptation of his book about a single mother (Kathryn Hahn) and her son (Jackson White) adjusting to life without one another when he goes off to college. The book, loaded with unexpected conversations about MILF porn, consent, gender transitions, and more, seems as tailor-made for the limited series format as Hahn herself does to play the frustrated, then liberated, title character. A.S.

Ali-Paige Goldstein/HBO

‘Silicon Valley,’ Season 6 (HBO, October 27)

In the final season of Mike Judge’s epic tech sitcom, loser/genius Richard Hendrickson (Thomas Middleditch) completes his hero’s journey, finally gaining enough success with his compression software to… testify in front of Congress about data security. Whether Silicon Valley ends in victory or tragedy — the two always seemed to be as enmeshed as a rat king in this series — it will likely be our last opportunity to see Middleditch and Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, Martin Starr, and the rest of the gang in one singularly hilarious comedy of misfits. A.P.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN.

François Duhamel /Lucasfilm L

‘The Mandalorian’ (Disney+, November 12)

Sure, Apple’s new streaming service brings Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell back to television, but does it have Star Wars? Disney’s own subscription service breaks out the biggest of possible guns for its November launch with this series — created by Jon Favreau, with an eclectic cast including Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Carl Weathers, and… Werner Herzog?!?! — set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Game of Thrones alum Pascal plays a Boba Fett-esque gunfighter living on the edge of that galaxy far, far away. A.S.

The Crown


‘The Crown,’ Season 3 (Netflix, November 17)

After winning an Academy Award earlier this year for playing a rather more expulsive monarch in The Favourite, Olivia Colman puts on Queen Elizabeth II’s crown for the series’ Sixties-set third season. (In the first two, Elizabeth was played by Claire Foy.) Rather than focusing on the marriage of the Queen and Prince Phillip (now played by suddenly-everywhere Tobias Menzies), the show’s romantic center will be the breakdown of Princess Margaret’s union, portrayed with sure-to-be gleeful dramatics by all-time-great screen fighter Helena Bonham Carter. A.P.

Mark Hill/HBO

‘Watchmen’ (HBO, October 20)

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ 1985 comic-book deconstruction of superheroes has long been considered both a classic and fundamentally unadaptable. Zack Snyder gave it a go with his 2009 movie, but he utterly missed its self-lacerating spirit. Enter: this new version from Damon Lindelof, co-creator of Lost and The Leftovers. Set decades after the original story, it deals extensively with white supremacy, and has a cast that includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, and Don Johnson. It may not work, but it should be fascinating to watch. A.S.

‘His Dark Materials’ (HBO, Fall)

Based on Phillip Pullman’s expansive YA fantasy series, the BBC/HBO co-production follows Lyra Belacqua, a young orphan on a quest to find a group of kidnapped children while being pursued by an evil woman with great eyebrows, played by Ruth Wilson. (Lin-Manuel Miranda and James McAvoy co-star.) Lyra’s protector/companion is the physical manifestation of her inner self, which takes the form of a charismatic superweasel named Pantalaimon. In the “chosen child saves us all” pantheon, put His Dark Materials somewhere between Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Pokemon. A.P.

Hilary B Gayle

‘The Morning Show’ (Apple TV+, Fall)

Jennifer Aniston is an aging news anchor thrown into crisis when her longtime co-host, played by Steve Carell, is abruptly fired amid a Matt Lauer-like #MeToo scandal. The network’s solution: Send in a firebrand replacement — Reese Witherspoon, in extra-saucy mode — to shake things up. Billy Crudup rounds out the movie-star ensemble as a slick, ratings-obsessed executive. Originally inspired by media reporter Brian Stelter’s 2013 book about the network morning-show wars, Top of the Morning, this high-wattage series won’t fall short on juicy drama. M.F.

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