Fall: For many, it’s the season of corn mazes, pumpkin spice, apple-picking, and, far more important than all of those things, the return of good TV.
The sheer quantity of old shows coming back and new shows premiering in the next few months can feel overwhelming. In this age of “peak TV,” there’s just too much content for any one person to consume. And the act of sifting through all that content to figure out what’s worth watching can be exhausting.
We’re here to help.
The Quartz TV Brain Trust assembled to recommend 10 fall TV shows (four returning, six new) that we’re excited about, some of which are already airing. We’ve included their networks and premiere dates. Happy fall TV season!
In so many ways, The Good Place is a relic. It’s a true sitcom. Episodes are less than 30 minutes long. You have to wait a week to find out what happens next. And you can’t even bypass the ads! But there’s something about this madcap, philosophical show that feels like a new chapter in television history. If last week’s premiere was anything to go by, there’s much to look forward to in this final season. Props to the writers, too, for opting to close it off with a bang after four seasons, instead of fizzling out over twice as many. —Natasha Frost, travel reporter
Technically, Our Boys debuted over the summer, but its finale is next week, so we’ll consider it a fall show for these purposes. Our Boys is a crime drama that makes you feel how inseparable the personal and political are in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It follows the investigation into the real-life murder of a Palestinian teenager in 2014 by young Israelis—a revenge slaying for the murder of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinian militants. (It’s been criticized in Israel for focusing on the killing of the Palestinian boy, drawing a harsh rebuke from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.) The co-creators themselves are Israeli and Palestinian: Joseph Cedar, who is Israeli, directed the parts from the Israeli point of view while Tawfik Abu Wael, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, directed the Palestinian perspective. The complex story shows how everyone’s pain is politicized. —Marc Bain, fashion reporter
If you are a fan of Glee, Wes Anderson movies, Cruel Intentions, or Gwyneth Paltrow, then you’re likely to find something to love in The Politician. I am just two episodes in and honestly would probably keep watching for Gwyneth’s Millicent Rogers-meets-Anjelika Huston wardrobe alone. But I’m also drawn in by the “teenage” stars (they’re not actual teenagers)—especially the aspiring high school class president and songbird Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) and his team of political strategists. —Jenni Avins, global lifestyle correspondent
The Simpsons is back for an unfathomable 31st season. The first episode premiered on Sept. 29 and was as memorable as many from the last decade or two. I am not one of those people that say the show should’ve ended after nine seasons—I kind of love that I can tune into the same characters I’ve known and loved for almost as long as I’ve been alive. The struggle now, after so long on the air, is staying relevant and fresh. The first episode of the season takes jabs at YouTube, Netflix, and viral internet videos. —Mike Murphy, tech editor
First things fist: I have an insatiable craving for big-budget HBO shows. I used to pay by the hour at an internet cafe to watch early seasons of Game of Thrones, and I am perhaps the last remaining Westworld superfan. So from the very first teaser released in January, I’ve been anticipating HBO’s take on Alan Moore’s legendary graphic novel. When I learned that the showrunner from my beloved The Leftovers (also HBO), Damon Lindelof, was behind the series, that anticipation only heightened. I’m particularly fascinated by the decision to create a new story that takes place 30 years after the events of the original comic. It’s a whole new world that I can’t wait to visit. —Max Lockie, platform editor
Prepare for emotional gut punches sprinkled with animal puns and zany shenanigans. A former 90’s sitcom star—a washed-up, self-loathing humanoid horse voiced by Will Arnett—struggles to find happiness, connection, and meaning in an animated black comedy about the human condition. Bojack Horseman tackles insecurity, narcissism, sexism, depression, fame, and addiction through the over-the-top antics of a melancholy horse, an ambitious pink cat, a carefree dog, and a handful of humans. It’s often devastatingly real—again-and-again, it exposes the pain of existence in achingly authentic prose. —Amanda Shendruk, things reporter
A TV series starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell can’t possibly be bad, right? Right?! The crown jewel of Apple’s upcoming streaming service, Apple TV+, is The Morning Show, a dramedy that takes us behind the scenes of an American morning TV talk show. It’s reportedly one of the most expensive TV series ever (those stars aren’t going to pay themselves). While I’m certainly curious about the show itself, I’m more interested in it as a litmus test for Apple’s grand TV ambitions. Can the tech company really be an entertainment company too? The Morning Show will give us a good idea. —Adam Epstein, culture reporter
Featuring a truly bonkers cast (Carl Weathers, Bill Burr and Werner Herzog?) the highly anticipated Disney+ Star Wars streaming show is a dark and violent tour through the world of bounty hunters and galactic outlaws in the aftermath of the fall of the Galactic Empire (as seen in Return of the Jedi). This is a big expansion of the franchise that features no main characters from the previous films. More than the blaster shoot-outs, I’m interested to see how creator Jon Favreau will conceive a world of lawless disorder after the second Death Star was destroyed. —Johnny Simon, photo editor
The first two seasons of The Crown were audacious TV, helped by Claire Foy’s intense, blue-eyed stare and strange but apparently realistic accent. That said, I truly cannot wait for what Academy-Award winning actor Olivia Colman will bring to the portrayal of the middle-aged Queen Elizabeth. But the blue eyes will be gone! —Hanna Kozlowska, reporter
Okay, sure, while the main draw of The Witcher is seeing Henry Cavill in a long gray mane reminiscent of a young Gandalf (or more accurately Raiden from Mortal Kombat, but with an impossibly angled jawline), there’s plenty else to get excited about. The show, based on the book series of the same name by Andrzej Sapkowski, is Netflix’s answer to Game of Thrones: a sweeping, deeply R-rated fantasy adventure story about good-looking people murdering things. Perhaps fans will be more pleased with this one’s ending. —Adam Epstein, culture reporter