Critical and popular favorites come back on the scene (The Deuce! The Good Place! American Horror Story!); buzzy new series show off some famous faces (Jim Carrey! Lil Rel Howery! The grotesque facemasks of The Purge!); and — saints preserve us — Paddy’s Pub re-opens for business. Here’s what you need to tune into for your TV offerings this month. (Our streaming recommendations for September will go up tomorrow.)
American Horror Story: Apocalypse (FX, Sep. 12th)
Unofficial emperor of television Ryan Murphy is preparing for the end times — not of this bloodcurdling anthology series, which looks as if it could go on forever, but for Earth itself. The latest season samples bits of mythology from the “Murder House” and “Coven” arcs for a new nightmare centered on the birth of a Satanic baby. The show dips into its deep stable of past performers (Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Connie Britton, Lily Rabe and a triple-serving of Sarah Paulson in three different roles, for starters) in what promises to be a mash-up of The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby and Murphy’s patented anything-goes maximalism.
The Deuce, Season 2 (HBO, September 9th)
Even as the law starts to crack down on the Times Square flesh-peddlers of David Simon’s Seventies-era porno epic, the hustle continues. Streetwise working girl Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) continues to make inroads in the burgeoning business of skin flicks; her number-one star Lori (Emily Meade) wants to renegotiate her working relationship with her pimp; and the Mob has their own plans to extract a little green from everybody. James Franco, having fallen out of favor following sex abuse allegations, nevertheless returns as hot-and-cold twins Vincent and Frankie. They all pass through a teeming social ecosystem rendered in staggering period detail, where the business of pleasure can exact a high existential price.
The Good Place, Season 3 (NBC, Sep. 28th)
Sit the fork down, because Mike Schur’s existential-ethics-lesson-as-killer-sitcom is back! The sophomore season’s finale spat our heroes Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) out of the afterlife and back onto Earth. Round Three rejoins the gang as they gravitate towards one another in the land of the living, under the watchful eye of overseer Michael (Ted Danson) and his trusty anthropomorphic computer assistant Janet (D’Arcy Carden). We’re so excited that we just shirt ourselves.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Season 13 (FXX, Sep. 5th)
Congratulations, O Crew of Paddy’s Pub, on your second decade of recreational assholery. While early murmurs have confirmed that creator-star Glenn Howerton will not be entirely absent from this year’s episodes, sociopath lothario Dennis Reynolds will appear in a different capacity as he reckons with unexpected fatherhood. Meanwhile, Mac (Rob McElhenney) attends his first Pride parade after coming out of the closet; Dee (Kaitlin Olson) tries to capitalize on the #MeToo movements; and Charlie has his deranged little adventures in Charlieworld. Not to mention the ominous title of the new season’s premiere: “The Gang Makes Paddy’s Great Again.” The 13th time’s the, er, charm.
Jane Fonda In Five Acts (Sep. 24th)
Everything is on the table in this comprehensive, warts-and-all bio-doc about the one and only Jane Fonda: her relationship with her famous dad, the ardent Vietnam opposition that got her dubbed “Hanoi Jane,” the career turn to entrepreneurial fitness, all three of her marriages to industry heavy-hitters. Oh, and one of the richest filmographies held by any living actress. Fonda herself reflects on an outrageous life lived in the public eye, with the occasional peanut-gallery commentary from a host of familiar faces from her personal orbit (Robert Redford and Sam Waterston, to name only a couple). From Sixties sex kitten to Oscar-winner, counterculture activist to elder stateswoman, she’s played many roles — none of them more captivating than being Jane Fonda.
Kidding (Showtime, Sep. 9th)
Pagliacci meets Mister Rogers in Jeff Pickles, the host of a fictitious children’s program preaching a gospel of patience, understanding and kindness. To his nationwide viewership, Mr. Pickles has become synonymous with these values. The the slow collapse of his personal life, however, reveals the frightened, stunted, deeply unstable man behind the happy-face facade. Jim Carrey reunites with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry in this black comedy (written by former Weeds writer Dave Holstein) and what will most likely be the fall TV season’s only new program featuring a puppet-on-human hand job.
Magnum P.I. (CBS, Sep. 24th)
Forget Tom Selleck, the Hawaiian shirts and that lustrous, robust, mesmerizing mustache. Jay Hernandez takes over as the new incarnation of Hawaii’s toughest gumshoe — and brings a clean-shaven upper lip and a welcome dash of diversity to the CBS lineup — in this reboot of the seminal Eighties procedural. This time around, Thomas Magnum settles on Oahu after returning from a Navy SEAL stint in Afghanistan, using the intelligence-gathering skills he picked up from the military to put the kibosh on tropical crime. If you tune into just one Reagan-era-TV-hit-rehashed-for-today’s-nostalgia-addicted-audience, make it this one.
Mayans M.C. (FX, Sep. 4th)
Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter returns to his universe of tobacco-spit and chewed toothpicks with a spinoff shifting attention to a different club of rough-and-tumble bikers. The Mayans rule the Mexican-American border with a leather-gloved fist, placing them in direct conflict with the cartels. It’s personal for Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (J.D. Pardo), the heir apparent to the motorcycle-seat of power and whose family (Edward James Olmos and Jacqueline Obradors) has been subject to the drug-runners’ violent whims for ages. Cue an antihero reluctantly embracing his destiny, fending off outside forces and attacks on his authority from within the Mayans’ ranks. Adrenaline junkies, get your motor running.
The Purge (USA, Sep. 4th)
The franchise’s premise — “What if all crime was legal for twelve hours?” — has demonstrated impressive staying power, giving way to four outings on the big screen … and now a full-fledged series on the small one. Original director James DeMonaco stays on board for this chronicle of several lives intersecting with one another across one Purge night: a cult member preparing to make a bloody sacrifice; a masked vigilante protecting the innocents; a corporate ladder-climber who hires an assassin to clear the way up at her office; a Marine returning home to a country he barely recognizes. Their extraordinary circumstances test their empathy for one another, if not their basic humanity. Also: creepy masks!
Rel (Fox, Sep. 9th)
After his wholesale scene-thievery in Get Out, it was only a matter of time until comedian Lil Rel Howery got a vehicle of his own. Here, he goes the Seinfeld route and carves a half-hour sitcom out of indignities taken right from his own life: When the lightly fictionalized “Lil Rel” learns that his wife has been having an affair with his barber — the man’s barber, people! — his upbeat attitude takes some dings. This show follows his efforts to put his life back together as he gets on the dating scene, figures out the whole single-parent thing and tries to find someone who can give him a tight fade without all the betrayal. And yes, the inimitable Sinbad does indeed portray Rel’s father.