The 20 Best Shows Coming to TV and Streaming in Fall 2021
From highly anticipated limited series to returning favorites, these are the shows you don't want to miss
We’re barely a week into September, and while we’re still waiting for sweater weather to arrive, fall TV season is already off and running. Shows like Hulu’s goofy murder mystery Only Murders in the Building and the significantly more dramatic but equally enigmatic Nine Perfect Strangers already have us hooked, and last night, FX’s American Crime Story: Impeachment made its highly anticipated debut with Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Clive Owen as Bill Clinton and Sarah Paulson (in a regrettable fat suit) as Linda Tripp.
But there are plenty of fall premiere dates still ahead of us, including some high-profile miniseries, a couple reboots of some childhood classics and a slew of returning favorites. (New seasons of Succession and Curb Your Enthusiasm in the same month? Well-played, HBO.) To help you make sense of it all, we’ve rounded up 20 of the new and returning TV shows we’re most looking forward to this fall below. Set your DVR accordingly.
Scenes From a Marriage (HBO)
A slo-mo video of stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain canoodling on the red carpet broke the internet earlier this week, but be warned: the new HBO remake of Ingmar Bergman’s classic miniseries they were promoting won’t be nearly as uplifting. It’s obvious Isaac and Chastain have chemistry, but Scenes From a Marriage will depict said marriage as it crumbles. It’s a harrowing account of how two people can fall out of love, and while we’ll definitely get to see the pair share some of those famous flirty glances at the beginning when their characters are still in happier times, it’s only a matter of time before things unravel.
Y: The Last Man (FX)
Based on the comic book series of the same name by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man asks a simple question: what if every mammal with a Y chromosome — humans included — suddenly died, save for one man? The post-apocalyptic series follows this mysterious survivor, Yorick Brown (Ben Schnetzer), the last cis man on Earth, and his mother Jennifer (Diane Lane), the new president of the United States as they grapple with this strange, sudden new world order.
The Premise (Hulu)
This half-hour anthology series is created and hosted by B.J. Novak (best known as Ryan on The Office), and it’s described as “a collection of character-driven stories that challenge our shared morality tales, choosing art over argument, as it engages with the most relevant and meaningful issues of the modern era.” If that doesn’t sound intriguing enough on its own, it features a slew of talented guest stars, including Lucas Hedges, Kaitlyn Dever, Jon Bernthal, Ben Platt, Tracee Ellis Ross, Daniel Dae Kim, Lola Kirke, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Soko, Ed Asner, George Wallace, Jermaine Fowler, Ayo Edebiri, Boyd Holbrook, Eric Lange, Beau Bridges and more.
Sex Education (Netflix)
There are big changes in store for the students at Moordale this season. There’s a new headteacher (played by Jemima Kirke), a new non-binary student named Cal and a new, ill-advised mustache atop our hero Otis’s lip. And according to the synopsis provided by Netflix ahead of the third season, Eric and Adam are finally officially dating, Aimee has discovered feminism, and we can all “prepare for commitment animals, alien phenomena, vulva cupcakes, and much more of Madam Groff.”
Chicago Party Aunt (Netflix)
Hide your malort: Chicago Party Aunt is coming. Based on the popular Twitter account, the Windy City-based animated series follows the hard-partying, middle-aged Wrigleyville resident (and diehard Cubs fan, naturally) Diane Dunbrowski and her nephew Daniel, who moves in with her after deciding to take a gap year before attending Stanford. It’s the brainchild of Chris Witaske — who created the formerly anonymous Twitter account that inspired the series and also voices Kurt, Diane’s second ex-husband — and features fellow Chicago natives Ike and Jon Barinholtz.
Muhammad Ali (PBS)
Earlier this year, he released a revealing three-part series about the life of Ernest Hemingway, and this month Ken Burns sets his sights on another icon. Muhammad Ali is a four-part docuseries about the legendary boxer, who Burns describes as “the greatest athlete of the 20th century, whose life intersected with every theme we’re wrestling with today,” including but not limited to “politics and war, religion and faith, race, sports and the way sports reflects us in so many ways.”
The Wonder Years (ABC)
Reboots of classic, beloved TV shows are rarely as good as the originals, but this one has promise. ABC’s new reimagining of The Wonder Years is centered around a Black family in Montgomery, Alabama in 1968, and in addition to all the usual coming-of-age preteen angst we saw in the original Fred Savage series, it will follow 12-year-old Dean Williams and his family as they must cope with segregation and other racism. Don Cheadle will narrate the show as the adult version of Dean.
Foundation (Apple TV+)
This is a big one for sci-fi fans: Isaac Asimov’s classic Foundation novels are finally being adapted for the screen. The series will follow a group of exiles as they work to save humanity in the face of the failing Galactic Empire, and it stars Jared Harris as Dr. Hari Seldon and Lee Pace as Brother Day. The first three episodes will drop on September 24, and the remaining seven episodes will roll out once a week after that.
Midnight Mass (Netflix)
If you, like me, often find yourself thinking, “This show is good, but what if it also had Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights?” you’re in luck: just in time for spooky season, Netflix’s new supernatural horror series Midnight Mass is here, and it stars Zach Gilford (who stole hearts as the Dillon Panthers’ QB1) as Riley Flynn, a “disgraced young man” returning to his small island community. The show — which comes from the creator of the streaming service’s recent Haunting of Hill House series — centers around Flynn and the bizarre events that start occurring after the arrival of a mysterious, charismatic priest (played by Hamish Linklater).
The Problem with Jon Stewart (Apple TV+)
Jon Stewart makes his highly anticipated return to TV this month after stepping down as host of The Daily Show in 2015. The Problem with Jon Stewart is the first project in Stewart’s multi-year deal with Apple TV+, and it will reportedly be a “multi-season, single issue” series in which each hour-long episode is devoted to a single topic. According to Apple, it will feature Stewart “in discussion with the people who are impacted by the issue — as well as those who have a hand in creating the impact. Together, they will discuss tangible steps that can lead to a solutionary path forward.”
Legends of the Hidden Temple (The CW)
If you happened to grow up watching this classic Nickelodeon game show during its original run in the ’90s, you’ll be thrilled to know that adults will compete in the new CW reboot, meaning you can potentially live out your childhood dream of one day donning the jersey of the Blue Barracudas, the Purple Parrots, the Orange Iguanas, the Red Jaguars, the Silver Snakes or the Green Monkeys. The new show will still feature many of the original’s iconic features, including Olmec the giant talking Mayan head, the moat, the Steps of Knowledge and the Temple Run, an obstacle course where the final remaining team had to avoid the Temple Guards and assemble the Shrine of the Silver Monkey in order to win, but other aspects of the game will be scaled up for adult competitors.
Based on the New York Times best-seller of the same name by Beth Macy, Hulu’s Dopesick will examine the opioid crisis and the role that pharmaceutical companies played in triggering the addiction epidemic — “from the boardrooms of Big Pharma to a distressed Virginia mining community to the hallways of the DEA,” as the streaming service describes it in a press release. It’s got a stacked cast that includes Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Poulter, John Hoogenakker, Kaitlyn Dever and Rosario Dawson.
The fifth and (sadly) final season of Insecure will have plenty of loose ends to tie up before the show departs for good. Will Issa (Issa Rae) and Lawrence (Jay Ellis) be able to patch things up after they learned at the end of last season that he’s the father of Condola’s (Christina Elmore) child? Will the recently reunited Issa and Molly (Yvonne Orji) be able to fully repair their friendship? We’ll have to tune in to find out.
Colin in Black & White (Netflix)
From Colin Kaepernick and Academy Award-nominated director Ava DuVernay, Colin in Black & White is a limited series that explores the former NFL quarterback/current activist’s childhood. As Netflix describes it, it will chronicle “Kaepernick’s coming-of-age story, tackling the obstacles of race, class, and culture as the Black adopted child of a white family.” Jaden Michael will play young Colin Kaepernick, while Nick Offerman and Mary-Louise Parker will portray his parents Rick and Teresa.
When we last saw Kendall Roy, he was blowing up his life by betraying his father, revealing his role in Waystar Royco’s cruise department scandal in a televised press conference and thus starting an all-out war within the Roy family (with Cousin Greg at his side). We don’t know much yet about what exactly that will entail, but we do know what we won’t see in the show’s third season: the series will reportedly ignore the COVID-19 pandemic because wealthy people were largely unaffected by it.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
We don’t know much about the forthcoming 11th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm yet, either, other than that it’s slated to premiere sometime in October. Will it feature our favorite “social assassin” Larry David coping with a post-pandemic world? That remains to be seen, but we do have some good news: after some health issues, Richard Lewis will in fact be back for one episode. “Although I’m still recovering from three surgeries and missing Season 11 of Curb, LD called me and asked if there was any chance if I felt strong enough to do one episode!” Lewis tweeted back in April. “I am and here I’m on the set to shoot it. I’m so grateful.”
Dexter: New Blood (Showtime)
Dexter‘s 2013 series finale stands as one of the most divisive endings to a TV show in recent years, and with Michael C. Hall returning as the titular vigilante serial killer for a 10-episode revival, the show has a second chance to stick the landing. “Set 10 years after Dexter went missing in the eye of Hurricane Laura, the series finds him living under an assumed name in the [fictional] small town of Iron Lake, New York,” a Showtime press release explains. “Dexter may be embracing his new life, but in the wake of unexpected events in this close-knit community, his Dark Passenger beckons.”
The Shrink Next Door (Apple TV+)
The Shrink Next Door is an Apple TV+ dark comedy miniseries based on the true-crime podcast of the same name by Joe Nocera about Isaac Herschkopf, a psychiatrist who took advantage of his patients, inserting himself into their lives and exploiting them for his own gain. Paul Rudd stars as Herschkopf, and Will Ferrell plays his patient Marty Markowitz. Kathryn Hahn and Casey Wilson also star.
Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is the latest Marvel hero to get his own spinoff TV series, and while there’s no trailer yet, the series will reportedly feature the Avenger teaming up with a new archer named Kate Bishop. Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Edge of Seventeen) steps in as Bishop, and the show will also feature Vera Farmiga as Eleanor Bishop (Kate’s mother), Fra Fee as Kazi and Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez.
The Beatles: Get Back (Disney+)
Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated Beatles project was originally slated to hit theaters in August, but the director wound up with so much footage that The Beatles: Get Back is now a six-hour, three-part docuseries that will air on Disney+ over Thanksgiving (and feature a lot of very cool instruments). The series follows the Beatles as they gear up for their iconic rooftop concert, and it’s culled from more than 60 hours of previously unseen footage shot in January 1969 by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and more than 150 hours of unheard audio, all of which has been restored by Jackson and his team.
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