Fall TV Preview

We asked our editors to take a look at the good and the bad of this week’s unfurling of the Fall TV line-up and to answer six prying questions. In short: we love The Good Place, are reservedly excited about Stumptown, we expect more from (because we love) Superstore, and don’t have much love for Bluff City Law (sorry, Mr. Smits). And if you want to write a show that Katherine will love, it does not hurt to put the word “bless” in its title. So, without further ado.

FallTVBlessMess

Katherine M. Hill

It’s finally fall on primetime, and I’m looking forward to my regular, returning comedies: Bless This Mess, which has plenty of heart to go with its humor, Superstore, which has plenty of timely episodes and ripped-from-the-headlines heartbreak, and all of the mid-week filler I’d never admit to watching. I’m optimistic that some of this year’s shows will fall in there somewhere, though Bluff City Law is unlikely to become appointment television. Mixedish appears to be the least likely to disappoint, and I enjoyed the preview.

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(1) What new show are you most excited about?

I’m looking forward to Bless the Harts–it comes with both pedigree and an amazing cast–and mixed-ish.

(2) What returning show are you most excited about?

I’ve been anticipating The Good Place so much that while binge-ing Netflix this month I created a series of motivational posts with quotes from Jason.

(3) Is there any show you hope will be better this year?

Superstore is in a unique position. After revealing one of its minor characters was undocumented (during an off-season, Olympics promo), Mateo has been captured by ICE. Superstore has been quietly fumbling (well, often succeeding) through confrontation about the issues that plague America and corporate culture (health insurance, family leave, wage disparity) and I think the show (produced and often directed by America Ferrera) has a chance to succeed in its examination of America’s dumbass immigration policies.

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(4) What new show looks like the biggest train wreck?

This Is Us will air its finale this spring. The promos are promising not just the same emotional cliffhangers week after week (ew), but to thoroughly gut its audience. Is everyone going to die at the end? And how? How long until they kill off the baby? Or will everyone be hit by a bus while listening to Bob Dylan in Alphabet City?

(5) What shows are you binge-ing right now?

I binged Unbelievable in twelve hours. I promise you’ll be rewarded with a happy ending if you can get past the rage and frustration of how those who are sworn to protect us (well, a teenage girl) can let you down.

(6) What shows are you next planning to binge?

I’m saving the second season of Derry Girls for a red-eye flight.

FallTVDerry

Navani Otero

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Labor day has come and gone, pumpkin spice has taken over and luckily we have our Fall TV lineup to console us. It’s an interesting time for TV right now. While we have some of our staples returning (happy 21st season, Law & Order: SVU, 28th season of SNL) there is a slew of new shows that are continuing to emphasize diverse stories and characters which is super exciting to me (Sunnyside). And it’s a pivotal time, one where I can still keep track of the number of streaming services – which may not be the case a year from now (I’m looking at you Disney + and HBO Max!). So, without further ado, let’s check out some personal picks for the new season ahead!

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(1) What new show are you most excited about?

Kinda tied here between mixed-ish which is the latest franchise spin-off from the black-ish family. I love a good origins story and this show would focus on the backstory of Rainbow Johnson, growing up biracial and moving from a Hippie commune into suburbia and all the obstacles that come with that. It premieres this Tuesday, September 24th, at 9pm on ABC.

In the latest trend of articles becoming shows enters Modern Love. Based on the NYT column of the same title the show casts everyone from Anne Hathaway to Tina Fey to reenact their love stories. Meet-cutes based in NYC? I live for this kind of thing. Watch on Amazon when it premieres on October 18th.

(2) What returning show are you most excited about?

Two words: Mr. Robot. I spent all summer stalking the show’s Instagram account just to get a trailer or a confirmed premiere date for its fourth and final season. Finally, it’s been released: October 6th it is. The final chapter will be set against Christmas season in 2015, which will help give it an even more reflective sentiment as Elliot takes on Whiterose one last time. Dom is forced to be a mole for the Dark Army now, Whiterose blackmails Elliot to move the plant to the Congo and Angela is Price’s daughter? So many lingering questions, I’m excited to get some clear-cut answers FINALLY. Is there hope for Elliott to reconcile with in himself? And to save the world?

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(3) Is there any show you hope will be better this year?

“This is us” is the one show I run home to watch live every Tuesday (until Pose season which works perfectly) and I enjoy the emotional purge it provides. But season three was rough to watch Toby’s depression and possibly the demise of his marriage to Kate. Then the addition and disappearance of uncle Nicky. Kevin and Zoe didn’t last and my hearts breaks for him. And #relationshipgoals Randall and Beth had their own trials and tribulations which landed them in a new address. So, hoping season four is a fresh start for everyone involved, with a little more answers and maybe new things to celebrate. This is Us premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

(4) What new show looks like the biggest train wreck?

Living with Yourself, starring Paul Rudd, on Netflix. I mean, not that I mind a world where there are more than one of Paul Rudd – huge fan since Clueless, but it’s giving me way too many Pet Cemetery vibes of having an evil clone. I’m supes skeptical about it. I prefer the comic-relief clones of Michael Keaton.

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(5) What shows are you binge-ing right now?

After Pose and Alternatino finished this summer I must admit there was a huge whole in my heart and soul. Those two shows are my current faves. But I found some other things to help distract me.

Just finished up the Hulu original Four Weddings and a Funeral which is a modern, diverse remake of the movie and executive produced by Mindy Kaling. Being that many of my fave, core shows completely ENDED this year it’s always comforting to see some of those actors in other projects to help soften the abandonment blow. This show has two faves for me: Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei from Game of Thrones) and Brandon Mychal Smith (Sam, You’re the Worst) This adaption is giving me all the rom-com feels, I really don’t know what it is about romance located in London that just does it for me. Also, there is a scene that is a head nod to Love Actually that is just soooo sweet. Props for the right amount of comic relief and a group of friends with more than one POC.

Still on that side of the pond, I’m currently binge-ing The Great British Bake Off which is giving me my Top Chef fill minus commercials. Here the judges are more the characters and I love that they have little bits and don’t take themselves too seriously. BUT don’t get it twisted, they will tear you down when your fine baked good is not up to par. I’m not sure how I lived my whole life without knowing what a Patisserie is but now there is no turning back. I think I watch more so to hear Prue say “This is NOT your best work” ouch, Prue!

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And Just when I think I will start to speak with a British accent, I switch over to Wu-Wednesdays on Hulu and watch Wu-Tang: An American Saga to get a dose of 90s NYC realness. The mini-series is based on the origins story of the Wu-Tang Clan and how they united to leave the drug game and become one of the most iconic American music groups. Created by RZA It features Dave East as Shotgun (Method Man), Shameik Moore as Sha (Raekwon) and T.J. Atoms as Ason (Ol’ Dirty Bastard). It’s nostalgic to reminisce on this time period but also, gives a deeper, introspective look at who the people are and what their struggles were before making it as hip-hop royalty. I have a whole new respect for Ghostface is all I can say.

(6) What shows are you next planning to binge?

Great question! I’m not sure yet and I am dreading this question. Any suggestions, please send them my way! Maybe I will give The Good Place another go since my comrades here on Screen Scholars still sing its praises and this is the final season. Or if I can handle it mentally, the docu-series The Family which is giving me Dan Brown, illuminati feels.

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Jason Thurston

Such a mixed bag of emotion. My feelings about the new Fall line-up are about as schizophrenic as the first two trailers I saw for The Unicorn — the prospect of a Walton Goggins sitcom both makes me giddy and leaves me with vicious hives. The Schur-iverse continues its unchecked (nor should it be checked) expansion, as does the -ish-iverse, and I wholeheartedly endorse both empires. There’s so many shows going off into the great beyond after this year, but none more exciting than TV’s smartest sitcom, The Good Place — where the situation part of the comedy is crime, punishment, and the concept of existence itself. So, here’s my one-and-a-half cents on what’s up with what’s going down in every city/every town on the television.

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(1) What new show are you most excited about?

Given my love of everything Michael Schur, it’s hard not to get excited about Sunnyside, the tale of Garrett Modi — one-time political prodigy, now disgraced NYC councilman. Modi is portrayed by the show’s co-creator and writer Kal Penn, who had a mid-career stint in politics himself as a member of the Obama Administration. The trailers have some promise, and I’m there for Joel Kim Booster in a supporting role, but let’s face it, Michael Schur could put his name on a program about a ham sandwich and I’d probably endorse it.

Emergence holds the promise of a quirky pedigree and I’ll usually give any conspiracy theory-inspired fiction a shot, as there’s usually a decent chance of good fun — and I like good fun. Alison Tolman gave an award-worthy turn in the first season of Fargo, so it should be thrilling to see her don the blue uniform again, and with a stout supporting cast including Clancy Brown and Donald Faison, it’s worth at least one watch.

(2) What returning show are you most excited about?

Will all the moms on Mom continue to navigate the tricky world of dating or will they… Just kidding, I’m on tenterhooks for one program and one program only. Like Lost, The Good Place was smart to lock down an end date for its complex tale on the nature of the afterlife and how good and evil are balanced and measured. However, in TGP’s case, they showed even greater wisdom by wrapping it up two seasons earlier. While I’m sad to see it go, it’s mind-bending to try to even attempt what Schur’s actual endpoint is for his remarkable experiment of a half-hour comedy. Besides, no show burns through arcs anywhere near NBC’s most side-splitting treatise on ethics.

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(3) Is there any show you hope will be better this year?

It’s not that Superstore was even that far off. Last year’s antics at the Cloud 9 box store were still hilarious, and hard not to love that the show does not shy away from the serious topic of such stores’ mistreatment of its employees — and the Mateo deportation arc was heartbreaking and even made me like his worm-like on-again, off-again Jeff. It’s just that it always seems thiiiis close to Parks & Rec-level ensemble brilliance, then Glenn or Dina’s idiosyncrasies become too pronounced or silly and it misses the mark. With the will-they-won’t-they Amy-Jonah nonsense out of the way, hopefully the fifth season is the charm.

(4) What new show looks like the biggest train wreck?

So many to choose from! While I’m always for more interracial couples on television, Bob Hearts Abishola, with its white guy falls for his African-American nurse feels like it’s courting exploitation, especially in Chuck Lorre’s hands. Billy Gardell can be charming, but this just feels like it could smack of colonialism and racial exploitation.

The Unicorn boasts an amazing cast, centered around Screen Scholar-favorite Walton Goggins, but few things can be as depressing as a talented cast stuck in a corny sitcom (see the mind-bogglingly bad Mulaney from a couple years ago). That Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins are a part of it is promising. That it’s from the creative force behind Caveman, a showcase for the Geico cavemen, is… less promising.

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Carol’s Second Act finds Patricia Heaton — whose acting is usually a bit more tolerable than her right-wing politics — starring as a woman who decides to go to med school late in life. How high concept! Evil is the product of the Kings, who gave us the ‘10s greatest melodrama in The Good Wife (and its spin-off The Good Fight is not too shabby either), but when they go off into heavier topics they can be a bit preachy and both-sides-style annoying, so while this stars Mike Colter, Michael Emerson, and Aasif Mandvi, I’m still a bit wary. It sounds a bit too much like the 30 Rock parody God Cop.

(5) What shows are you binge-ing right now?

Finally got through the devastating When They See Us. Having lived through that awful part of our history, as incredibly as this mini-series was structured, as amazing as the performances were, as Shakesperean as the story is, it was near-impossible to watch more than an hour without feeling something akin to PTSD. Just caught up with Succession, so my feelings about human nature are at an all-time low and The Good Place can’t come back at a better time.

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(6) What shows are you next planning to binge?

I’ve been hearing good things about the bizarre Lodge 49. Both of the Un- shows which came out the same day last week are on my list (Undone and Unbelievable). Finally, even though the 1st season’s unraveling is already spoiled, I definitely need to set my eyes on Big Little Lies.

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Brad Filicky

What I am most excited for this fall is the all the content coming to the new streaming services. Apple, Disney +, HBO Max.. TV’s place as the top cultural engine shows no sign of slipping. The problem may be that there is simply not enough time to watch everything. But I’m going to do my damnest to try and stay on top. None of the big network shows excite me except maybe Stumptown, but it’s really hard for them to compete when they can’t take the risks other channels and services can. No matter what, it’s a great time to be a fan of TV.

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(1) What new show are you most excited about?

Watchmen, The Mandolorian

(2) What returning show are you most excited about?

The Good Place, The Walking Dead, Big Mouth

(3) Is there any show you hope will be better this year?

Mayans M.C.

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(4) What new show looks like the biggest train wreck?

Bluff City Law

(5) What shows are you binge-ing right now?

Season 5 of The Flash and part 2 of Disenchantment.

(6) What shows are you next planning to binge?

Pennyworth, Swamp Thing

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Fiona Weidermann

I truly had to look at a list to remember what fall TV is coming our way. It’s been so long! With streaming series dropping at seemingly random intervals, it is even more difficult to keep up. Reflecting on the upcoming season has been like catching up with old friends. There are a handful of shows (Charmed, Legacies and Fresh Off the Boat to name a few) that I’ve forgotten about over the course of the year, but am delighted to watch again. There are those that I haven’t forgotten for a second (The Good Place!!) and then there are the newcomers that have inundated me with enough commercials that I almost think I’ve already seen them.

All in all, the fall line up is shaping up quite nicely. I’m really looking forward to Stumptown which is based on a graphic novel and features Cobie Smulders as an army veteran working as a PI in Portland, Oregon. It looks like it’s going to be funny and dark at the same time with some badass action sequences thrown in. I’m hoping for Alias vibes. I’m also looking forward to HBO’s upcoming adaptation of His Dark Materials, although I’m trying to keep expectations reasonably low. I’ve been burned with book adaptations one too many times to leap into this one without hesitation.

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(1) What new show are you most excited about?

Stumptown / mixed-ish / His Dark Materials

(2) What returning show are you most excited about?

The Good Place!!

(3) Is there any show you hope will be better this year?

Grey’s Anatomy

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(4) What new show looks like the biggest train wreck?

Perfect Harmony (what on EARTH is Bradley Whitford doing as a church choir director?!)

(5) What shows are you binge-ing right now?

She-Ra! I’m late to the party on this one, but I’ve just started watching it and I’m loving it!

(6) What shows are you next planning to binge?

Euphoria and Orange is the New Black (the final season)

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