Though we’re living in the glut of Peak TV, the industry’s release patterns still follow a framework similar to the old days. As such, the summer season remains the leanest TV time of the year. There were some blips of activity — HBO’s surprising smash Succession (Matthew Macfadyen, we miss you), Sharp Objects, Better Call Saul, and the return of Insecure — but compared to other seasons, the summer months have been a dead zone. The scant highlights weren’t enough to fill out a TV-viewing schedule, and so we resorted to watching Bear Grylls drink his own urine.
Thankfully, fall is just around the corner, and with it comes a plethora of new and returning shows to be excited about. There’s a new show from Matthew Weiner, more of Fox’s 9–1–1, and a network show in which God uses social media. It’s going to be a lot of good and bad, in other words. To help you wade through the oncoming onslaught, here is a Fall TV Anticipation Index to categorize the season’s most notable shows into four sections of hype, ranging from extremely low to uncontrollably high. Let’s break it all down. (Oh also, if I didn’t mention your favorite show, make no mistake: It’s because I personally dislike you.)
Only If You Have Nothing Else to Do
Manifest (coming to NBC on September 24)
Cast: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez
We’d be talking if this had come out in 2003. But as it stands, NBC’s Manifest — about a group of passengers who deplane after an hours-long flight only to find out that five years have passed and that the rest of the world thought the plane had crashed — is such an aggressively transparent pastiche of Lost that J.J. Abrams might have grounds to sue. Even if Manifest’s execution is stellar, it’ll struggle to avoid comparisons with one of the best dramas of the century. That’s a losing battle in and of itself.
The Conners (ABC, October 16)
Cast: Laurie Metcalf, John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson
ABC has dumped Roseanne Barr, but it’s not ready to let go of the fictional Roseanne’s family. The Conners, arriving in October, will try to siphon the Roseanne reboot’s monstrous ratings on its Barr-less spinoff. The show should inevitably command some eyeballs — though at this point, we should just release Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman from the burden of any Barr-adjacent property. Please go star in an A24 movie together instead, you guys.
God Friended Me (CBS, September 30)
Cast: Brandon Micheal Hall, Violett Beane, Javicia Leslie, Suraj Sharma
… Yeah, just read the title. Or don’t — maybe condemning modern popular culture would be more sensible.
Magnum P.I. (CBS, September 24)
Cast: Jay Hernandez, Perdita Weeks, Zachary Knighton, Stephen Hill, Sung Kang
This is an impossible situation for Jay Hernandez, a fun, charismatic actor who now has to step into the shoes of an iconic Tom Selleck character. (For obvious reasons, Hernandez has not dared to try to pull off the ’stache.) The rebooted Magnum P.I. will share a small-screen universe with CBS’s Hawaii Five-O, though this could’ve been a perfectly suitable cop procedural had they simply set it in Hawaii — a beautiful island — and let Hernandez do his beating-up-bad-guys thing.
Worth a Shot
The Walking Dead, Season 9 (AMC, October 7)
Cast: Andrew Lincoln (for now!), Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Hear me out: If you’ve stuck with The Walking Dead this long, you might as well reward your masochism with one more season. The AMC series’ ninth year comes with the shocking departures of Rick Grimes and Maggie Greene, two of the show’s biggest staples. That The Walking Dead is losing Rick, just a year after dumping his pudding-loving son Carl, means the unthinkable: Our survivors are roaming the apocalypse Grimes-less. (Barring a surprise cameo from Elon Musk’s girlfriend, though she seems too busy, what with Azealia Banks being trapped in Musk’s mansion and all.) Rick, for better or worse, was the center of The Walking Dead’s universe: Imagine Breaking Bad without Walter White and you get the idea. If nothing else, Rick’s imminent exit should force the formulaic series to get creative — and maybe get out of its rut. I’m the furthest thing from a Walking Dead superfan, but I plan to see how they handle the Rick Grimes send-off.
The Rookie (ABC, October 16)
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Afton Williamson, Eric Winter, Richard T. Jones
If we can’t get Nathan Fillion in a feature-length Uncharted movie — yet! — The Rookie is the next best thing. May it live in perpetual mediocrity and withstand as many seasons on network TV as Castle did.
House of Cards, Season 6 (Netflix, November 2)
Cast: Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Cody Fern, Constance Zimmer
Netflix’s first original series has slowly but surely turned into a poster child for the streamer’s most nagging issues. Over the years, the show has become bloated, increasingly irrelevant, and unable to meaningfully pivot once the initial goals of its characters were achieved. House of Cards has also had to deal with much more serious problems off screen. In December, the show’s star, Kevin Spacey, was fired by Netflix after 26 people said that the actor had either sexually assaulted or harassed them. With the future of the show hanging in the balance, Netflix decided to produce one final season. Spacey’s departure has necessitated a move to put Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood at the center of the series, a change that many have long clamored for. It will be interesting to see what kind of show House of Cards will become in its final season. Perhaps Netflix’s once-fledgling prestige drama can go out on a high note.
Mayans MC (FX, September 4)
Cast: JD Pardo, Edward James Olmos, Richard Cabral, Jacqueline Obradors
I’ve got nothing against Sons of Anarchy, but let’s just say I didn’t realize the show lent itself to spinoff series. Still, with a renewed focus on the Mayans Motorcycle Club — and with FX on a bit of a hot streak lately between the likes of Atlanta and The Americans — there’s little reason to doubt that Mayans MC will be an enjoyable, if familiar, ride.
Camping (HBO, October 14)
Cast: Jennifer Garner, David Tennant, Janicza Bravo, Arturo Del Puerto
This half-hour comedy marks Jennifer Garner’s first starring role in a TV series since Alias, which is a big deal in and of itself. Plus, she gets to share the screen with David Tennant. The biggest element of intrigue surrounding Camping, however, is what occurred behind the scenes: Its creators, Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham, had a dramatic, postproduction falling out. (Konner insistent there’s no drama, meaning: There’s drama.) That bit of drama may not come through in the final product — though everybody already knows camping with friends is a dramatic, shitty experience — but there will be a little added spice to watching Camping, knowing that it may be Konner and Dunham’s last collaboration.
You Should Definitely Watch This!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix, October 26)
Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Jaz Sinclair, Michelle Gomez, Chance Perdomo
Borrowing from the CW’s Riverdale formula, Netflix’s take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch looks darker, moodier, and a bit more adult-oriented. Salem, the talking cat, is nowhere to be seen! That is a crime, and while a cat-less Sabrina sounds like it’d be disappointing, Riverdale is apparently the only thing teens will still watch in droves. Should Sabrina strike the same chord, it’ll be a big hit. Either way, Kiernan Shipka Hive, activate.
The Good Place, Season 3 (NBC, September 27)
Cast: Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, D’Arcy Carden
Network TV’s best comedy — which also doubles as our finest mystery box show; sorry, Westworld — returns for a third season that will ostensibly begin with our flawed human souls thrust back into the real world. Are Chidi and Eleanor really in Australia? I haven’t got a clue, but I can’t wait to find out.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 2 (release date not announced)
Cast: Rachel Brosnahan, Michael Zegen, Tony Shalhoub, Alex Borstein
Amazon Prime’s best bet at Emmys love next month, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, is sending its eponymous comedienne to the Catskills for Season 2. Tony Shalhoub will be wearing an old-timey bathing suit — what more could you want? Given Amazon’s inclination to dump all of a show’s episodes at once, the lean, remaining weeks of summer are as good a time as ever to catch up on Amy Sherman-Palladino’s hit comedy.
Maniac (Netflix, September 21)
Cast: Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, Sally Field
The new Netflix series from Cary Fukunaga looks like a non-superpowered version of Legion — not that that’s a bad thing — and serves as a bizarre reunion for Superbad alums Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. Maniac is also, blessedly, a piece of work that Fukunaga actually finished, after the mercurial director dropped out of Stephen King’s big-screen It adaptation and TNT’s The Alienist. (Perhaps it helped that Maniac is a miniseries, and thus a smaller commitment.)
The Romanoffs (Amazon Prime, October 12)
Cast: … a lot of people (see below)
Who is a Romanoff? In Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s new anthology series — about a bunch of people from across the globe who believe they’re descendants of a royal Russian family — it could be Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Cara Buono, Marthe Keller, Aaron Eckhart, Corey Stoll, Kerry Bishe, Janet Montgomery, Isabelle Huppert, Diane Lane, Amanda Peet, Paul Reiser, Clea DuVall, Kathryn Hahn, Ron Livingston, and more. Yeah, this is basically the Golden State Warriors roster of prestige TV shows.
The Little Drummer Girl (release date not announced)
Cast: Florence Pugh, Michael Shannon, Alexander Skarsgard, Charles Dance
After AMC and BBC collaborated for an adaptation of John Le Carré’s The Night Manager to Emmy– and Golden Globe–winning highs, both networks are returning to mine more Le Carre IP with The Little Drummer Girl. Like The Night Manager, which starred Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, and Elizabeth Debicki, The Little Drummer Girl promises a star-studded cast — led by Florence Pugh, Michael Shannon, Alexander Skarsgard, and Charles Dance. Plus, the six-part miniseries is directed by Park Chan-wook, the singular auteur behind Oldboy and The Handmaiden. Wook heads like myself have been gearing up for this all year. Between Sharp Objects and The Little Drummer Girl, the 2019 Emmys race for Outstanding Miniseries is already shaping up to be massive.
I Will Clockwork Orange You Into Watching This
9–1–1, Season 2 (Fox, September 24)
Cast: Peter Krause, Angela Bassett, Oliver Stark, Aisha Hinds, Kenneth Choi, Jennifer Love Hewitt
9–1–1 is far from the best show on TV, but there is perhaps nothing else that is more unabashedly entertaining. The show exists in an alternate reality where every emergency call sent to firefighters in Los Angeles is a matter of life or death; last year’s pilot opened with a newborn baby stuck in a pipe, and it was, somehow, the most quaint emergency of the season. What do we know about Season 2? There’s a huge fucking earthquake, and Jennifer Love Hewitt is now answering the line in place of Connie Britton. It’s going to be perfect chaos. 9–1–1 needs to be seen to be believed.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.