This Fall 2019 TV Watchlist Will Help You Conquer Peak TV Season
The hottest months of the year are behind us, but September doesn't just mean the return of cooler weather and scarves and pumpkin spice lattes: it also means the return of the perennially packed fall TV season. If you find yourself overwhelmed and in need of a Fall 2019 TV watchlist to help navigate the overcrowded landscape, then look no further. No one person could possibly consume all the content out there, but this list should help break the onslaught down to a manageable size.
According to research done by FX Networks, Peak TV hit a new high in 2018, with nearly 500 original scripted series — 495, to be exact — airing across all platforms that year, up from 487 in 2017. That number is undoubtedly up again in 2019, so unless you don't have to go to work or school or go to the bathroom or sleep ever, there's no way you can watch it all. But how to choose which shows deserve your attention?
In the "old days," one might break down the shows on offer by genre — comedy or drama? — or by runtime — 30 minutes or an hour? — but those distinctions are quaint now. Our dramas are comedic and our comedies are dramatic and runtimes are unpredictable. The biggest distinction these days isn't what people what but where they watch it. Are you still a cable subscriber or are you a cord cutter? Do you enjoy scheduled appointment viewing, or streaming on your own time?
In order to cater to everyone's differing needs, here are the best new shows not to miss this fall, broken down by platform.
Did you know there are TV channels you can get for free?? Just hook up an antenna and tune into a primetime network show, which is definitely a form of entertainment that still exists:
Fans of black-ish shouldn't miss the premiere of mixed-ish (Sept. 24, 9:00 P.M.), the popular sitcom's second spinoff (after Freeform's grown-ish). This one follows the childhood of young Rainbow, and is loosely based on the life of creator Kenya Barris' own wife.
15 years since its debut, ABC is still looking for the next Lost. Their latest sci-fi mystery series is Emergence (Sept. 24, 10:00 P.M.), starring Allison Tolman (Fargo) as a police chief bewildered by the case of a young girl found near the site of an inexplicable accident.
What happens when you take two sitcom stars and put them in a crime drama? You get Stumptown (Sept. 25, 10:00 P.M.), starring Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) as a Marine-turned-private investigator alongside Jake Johnson (New Girl) in this show based on the graphic novel series of the same name.
Entering its whopping 16th season, Grey's Anatomy (Sept. 26, 8:00 P.M.) will now have been on the air one season longer than ER, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Before Disney comes out with its own live-action Little Mermaid remake starring Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy, ABC will air its own broadcast of The Little Mermaid Live! (Nov. 5, 8:00 P.M.), starring Auli'i Cravalho (aka Moana herself) and Queen Latifah.
Th new CBS procedural All Rise (Sept. 23, 9:00 P.M.) shines a spotlight on women working in the justice system, from judges to prosecutors and public defenders all the way down to legal assistants. The cast is headlined by CSI's Marg Helgenberger and Luke Cage's Simone Missick.
You've never seen Walton Goggins like this before! The star of FX's acclaimed Western crime drama Justified moves to the wacky CBS sitcom The Unicorn (Sept. 26, 8:30 P.M.), on which he plays the rarest of specimens in the dating pool: an attractive, stable, employed, single dad!
Robert and Michelle King, the couple who created The Good Wife and The Good Fight, are trying something totally different with the creepy supernatural procedural Evil (Sept. 26, 10:00 P.M.). The stacked cast includes Katja Herbers (Westworld), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Michael Emerson (Lost), and Oscar nominee Christine Lahti.
Fans of CW's superhero shows like Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl are undoubtedly looking forward to the premiere of Batwoman (Oct. 6, 8:00 P.M.), starring Ruby Rose as the caped crusader, a role which she debuted in the Arrowverse's epic "Elseworlds" crossover event last year.
The network's fresh take on Nancy Drew (Oct. 9, 9:00 P.M.) pulls a Riverdale on that classic book series, giving the titular detective her own dark and spooky small town mystery to solve.
Whether you've been a loyal fan since the beginning or stopped watching at some point, you'll want to tune into Season 15 of Supernatural (Oct. 10, 8:00 P.M.)… which will also be its last.
Just when you thought you'd seen every permutation of the classic cop-and-killer team up formula, FOX finds a new one: in Prodigal Son (Sept. 23, 9:00 P.M.), the cop… is the killer's son! Starring Thomas Payne (The Walking Dead) as the genius profile and Martin Sheen (Masters Of Sex) as his murderous dad.
Couldn't get enough of Peacock, Monster, Unicorn, and their friends last year? The Masked Singer (Sept. 25, 8:00 P.M.), the world's most bizarre singing competition series, returns this year with contestants like Ice Cream, Tree, Egg… and Thingamajig. (I swear they're trolling us at this point.)
Pitch Perfect's Brittany Snow stars in the drama series Almost Family (Oct. 2, 9:00 P.M.) as a young woman who finds out that she has over 100 sisters she never knew about — thanks to her fertility doctor dad, who insemniated his patients with his own… you know.
At this point, NBC's heartwarming family drama This Is Us (Sept. 24, 9:00 P.M.), heading into its fourth season, is the closest network television gets to appointment viewing anymore.
The West Wing star Bradley Whitford and True Blood star Anna Camp headline new sitcom Perfect Harmony (Sept. 26, 8:30 P.M.), about a music professor who somehow finds himself directing a small town church choir.
They say nothing good can last, and The Good Place (Sept. 26, 9:00 P.M.) is proof of that, with the delightful comedy ending after its upcoming fourth season. At least it's going out on its own terms.
At least NBC is giving The Good Place fans something else to look forward to; that show's creator, Michael Schur, is also producing new sitcom Sunnyside (Sept. 26, 9:30 P.M.), starring Kal Penn (House) as a disgraced city councilman who takes a job teaching immigrants about civics.
If you're a cable customer, you'll want to get your money's worth by checking out these series:
Season 10 of The Walking Dead (Oct. 6, 9:00 P.M.) is a milestone in a lot of ways: not only has the show now been on the air for a decade (!!), but it's also the first season without original star Andrew Lincoln, and it's the last season for longtime cast member Danai Gurira.
After the world-ending crossover event that was Season 8's Apocalypse, Ryan Murphy's horror anthology returns for a throwback ninth season set in a summer camp. American Horror Story: 1984 (Sept. 18, 10:00 P.M.) is a tribute to '80s slasher films, and stars Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Cody Fern, Matthew Morrison, Gus Kenworthy, and more.
When it premiered back in 2015, this twisty hacker drama helped put future Oscar winner Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) on the map, and now Mr. Robot (Oct. 6, 10:00 P.M.) is returning for one final, sure-to-be mind-bending season.
While the Jeremy Renner-starring Bourne spinoff film was a non-starter, the franchise is trying to expand its scope beyond Matt Damon once again, this time on TV. Treadstone (Oct. 15, 10:00 P.M.) goes behind-the-scenes of the shady CIA project that birthed Bourne and his fellow assassins, starring Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) and Michelle Forbes (The Killing).
It's not TV, it's HBO. You might not even watch it on your TV anymore; maybe you watch it on your tablet or your smartphone or your Apple Watch or your Google Glass. However you get your premium content, here's what you shouldn't miss:
New crime drama Godfather Of Harlem (Sept. 29, 10:00 P.M.) tells the true story of 1960s crime boss Bumpy Johnson, played by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker. The stacked cast also includes Vincent D'Onofrio (Daredevil), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (Luce).
Damon Lindelof returns to HBO after the critically acclaimed run of The Leftovers to shepherd this new "remix" of the popular Alan Moore graphic novel to the screen. Watchmen (Oct. 20, 9:00 P.M.) stars recent Oscar winner Regina King alongside Jean Smart, Jeremy Irons, and Tim Blake Nelson.
Helen Mirren is no stranger to playing monarchs, having won an Oscar for portraying Queen Elizabeth II of England. In the miniseries Catherine The Great (Oct. 21, 10:00 P.M.), she'll tackle the role of the titular Russian empress.
Five months after Veep aired its series finale, another long-running HBO comedy comes to an end. The upcoming sixth season of tech satire Silicon Valley (Oct. 27, 10:00 P.M.) will be its last.
Adapted from a book by author Tom Perrotta (whose novels have previously been turned into films and TV shows like Election, Little Children, and The Leftovers), Mrs. Fletcher (Oct. 27, 10:30 P.M.) stars Kathryn Hahn (Transparent) and comes from acclaimed screenwriter Nicole Holofcener (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).
After the 2007 film The Golden Compass failed to start a franchise, HBO is trying its hand tackling Philip Pullman's classic series His Dark Materials (Nov. 4). This take on the saga stars James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The long-awaited second season of Fleabag was one of the most acclaimed television projects of the year, and now the producers of that show are back with another British comedy. Back To Life (Oct. 6, 8:30 P.M.) tells the story of a woman who returns to her seaside town after serving a sentence for murder. And it's funny!
Showtime's long-running comedy Shameless (Nov. 3, 9:00 P.M.) will look very different when it returns for its milestone tenth season, since it will be the show's first season without original star Emmy Rossum.
Best-selling Irish mystery writer Tana French is finally seeing her books translated to the screen with the upcoming series Dublin Murders (Nov. 10), which will adapt the first two entries in her Dublin Murder Squad series, In The Woods and The Likeness.
The streaming wars have intensified. What used to be a battle of two fronts between Netflix and Amazon has exploded into a full on melee, with Apple and Disney both joining the fray this fall. Here's what they're offering to subscribers:
In this mind-bending animated series Undone (Sept. 13), a young woman (Alita: Battle Angel's Rosa Salazar) is visited by the specter of her dead father (Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk) after a near-fatal accident, and embarks on a reality-warping adventure to save him.
The Transparent Musicale Finale (Sept. 27) will bring the award-winning series to a showstopping close, as the characters grapple (through song!) with the passing of central character Maura Pfefferman — who was written out of the show after allegations against star Jeffrey Tambor.
Based on the popular New York Times column of the same name, Amazon's new anthology series Modern Love (Oct. 18) will tell a different romantic story every week. The all-star cast includes Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, John Slattery, Dev Patel, Cristin Milioti, Catherine Keener, Andrew Scott, and more.
When Apple rolls out its streaming service at the beginning of November, one of its inaugural offerings will be Dickinson (Nov. 1), which paints a surprisingly punk portrait of Emily Dickinson as portrayed by Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit).
What if the Soviets had won the Space Race? For All Mankind (Nov. 1) imagines a world where the Russians beat America to the moon, with Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) starring in this alternative-history drama.
Apple TV+'s buzziest new series is undoubtedly The Morning Show (Nov. 1), starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. The surprisingly dramatic trailers promise an intense behind-the-scenes look at a daily morning talk show as it's rocked by scandal.
Post-apocalypse? Check. Mysterious disease? Check. Popular action movie star? Check. See (Nov. 1) feels like it was created by algorithm, with Jason Momoa (Aquaman) starring in this drama about a future world where all humans have gone blind… except for two newborn babies who must be protected at all costs.
While Disney+ subscribers will have to wait a bit for any of the streaming service's exciting slate of Marvel shows, The Mandalorian (Nov. 12) — the first live-action Star Wars series ever made — will be available on day one. It stars Game Of Thrones alum Pedro Pascal as the titular bounty hunter.
Don't stick to the status quo. If the start of something new is what you've been looking for, then get your head in the game and watch High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Nov. 12). We're all in this together!
Did you even know Facebook had original programming? New horror series The Birch (Oct. 11) will adapt the popular spooky YouTube short film about a protective but vengeful woodland spirit.
Based on the popular podcast of the same name, Limetown (Oct. 16) stars Jessica Biel as a journalist for an NPR-like radio show who finds herself drawn into a conspiracy at a neuroscience research facility.
John Green novels The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns have already been turned into feature films; now another of his works, Looking For Alaska (Oct. 18) is getting the series treatment, starring Charlie Plummer (All The Money In The World).
Hulu's anthology original series based on the works of Stephen King returns for a second season. This time around, Castle Rock (Oct. 23) will tell the story of a miserable nurse named Annie Wilkes, played by Lizzy Caplan (Masters Of Sex), and her daughter, played by Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade).
Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls, Thor) stars in the comedy series Dollface (Nov. 15), which also features Pretty Little Liars alum Shay Mitchell in her first comedic role.
Written by Susannah Grant, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Erin Brockovich, and starring Toni Collette (Hereditary), Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie), and Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart), Unbelievable (Sept. 13) tells the essential story of a rape victim and the two female detectives determined to bring her justice.
Criminal (Sept. 20) is a new take on the crime anthology genre. Consisting of 12 episodes, every three episodes will tell a self-contained arc, taking place in four different locations around the world (UK, France, Spain, Germany), with each story told in a different language and set entirely within the four walls of an interrogation room. The UK arc stars David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter).
The first series to emerge from Ryan Murphy's multi-million dollar deal with Netflix, The Politician (Sept. 27) stars Tony winner Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) as a student who finds himself in the midst of a cutthroat student election. The series also stars frequent Murphy collaborators Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Lange, Dylan McDermott, and Judith Light, as well as exciting newcomers like January Jones and Bette Midler.
Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) produces and stars in this new take on the superhero genre. Raising Dion (Oct. 4) tells the story of a single mother raising her son after the death of his father, only for the child to manifest unexpected… abilities.
In El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Oct. 11), the Emmy-winning series returns for a one-off feature film that tells the story of what happened to Jesse Pinkman after he escaped from those Nazis at the end of the Breaking Bad series finale.
How about two Paul Rudds for the price of one? The Ant-Man star headlines the comedy series Living With Yourself (Oct. 18) as a sad sack who volunteers for a mysterious treatment… only to suddenly find himself burdened with a clone of himself who's better at everything than he is.
After two seasons starring Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth, The Crown (Nov. 17) returns for its third with a new queen. Recent Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) assumes the mantle of regent alongside Tobias Menzies (replacing Matt Smith as Philip) and Helena Bonham Carter (replacing Vanessa Kirby as Margaret).
STILL TO COME
If that's not enough, there are even more shows to look forward to this year. Here are the highest-profile shows with TBD premiere dates, or that will be arriving in the month of December:
Former Pretty Little Liar Lucy Hale stars in the CW's Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene (premiere date TBD), which takes the titular aspiring fashion designer to the Big Apple. Amazon's award-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returns for its third season on Dec. 6. Timeless star Abigail Spencer headlines Hulu's new revenge drama Reprisal, which also drops on Dec. 6. Showtime's hotly-anticipated sequel series The L Word: Generation Q will launch on Dec. 8. After being cancelled by the Syfy channel, The Expanse will find a second life on Amazon, with its fourth season premiering on Dec. 13.
Hot Girl Summer may be over, but Peak TV Fall is clearly just beginning…