Even though we’re in the midst of a crazy heat wave here in Western New York, it’s still the official first day of fall. And although I love all the same cliche things about the season as everyone else—the pumpkin spice lattes, the clothes, the apple cider—my favorite thing about fall is that it brings some much-needed renewal to my fangirl soul. My favorite sports (football and hockey) are back, the fall movie season begins with blockbusters mixed in with early Oscar contenders, and, of course, new television shows and seasons are found everywhere you look.
The return of this most wonderful time of the year means the return of our longest-running feature here at NGN. Whether this is your first time visiting this post or your sixth (Time flies when you’re writing about good TV!), very little has changed. Below you’ll find my fall TV viewing schedule with premiere dates (or next episode dates for shows that returned early), times, and networks included to help make your scheduling easier. And as always, new pilots I’m checking out will be highlighted in pink (because of course they will be). I’m also going to stick to scripted shows and leave out reality TV and variety shows because there’s just too many of those to keep track of!
After you finish perusing my picks, tell me what your fall in TV Land looks like in the comments. I always love comparing viewing schedules with my fellow fans!
The Gifted (9 p.m. on FOX)
The X-Men were my first favorite group of superheroes (I learned all about them from my comics-loving cousins as a kid.), so media about mutants and young people with special powers will always be a kind of catnip for me. For being someone who adores superhero movies, I haven’t found a ride-or-die superhero show yet (especially after The Flash disappointed me in Seasons 2 and 3), so I’m trying a couple of new ones this season and hoping one will stick. This one looks like it has a great cast (Amy Acker!) and an intriguing premise (What happened to the X-Men?), which might finally be enough to satisfy my superhero-loving heart.
Series Premiere October 2
black-ish (9 p.m. on ABC)
This is one of the returning shows I’m most excited about. The way this incredible cast blends humor, real conversations about real issues, and just enough sincerity to tug at your heartstrings is unlike anything else on television, and I can’t wait to see where this next season takes one of my favorite TV families.
Season Premiere October 3
This Is Us (9 p.m. on NBC)
I’ve stocked up on plenty of tissues in preparation for this season premiere. Although I’m ready to put the focus on Jack’s death behind us (the uncertainty surrounding it made me incredibly anxious last season) and I know the show is certainly not, I’m still looking forward to seeing what this incredible cast brings to the table every week. With two-time Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown leading the way, my emotions are certainly going to get a workout.
Season Premiere September 26
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9:30 p.m. on FOX)
I feel like I start every season of this show wondering how the writers are going to work their way out of the corner they backed their characters into, and they have yet to disappoint me in how they do it. In fact, I have loved every season opener of this show, and I expect this premiere to be no different. The Nine-Nine has been my TV “happy place” for years now, and I’m read to be back there among one of the funniest casts on television and a writing crew who has managed to outdo their own brilliance year after year.
Season Premiere September 26
The Mayor (9:30 p.m. on ABC)
This is the new show I’m most looking forward to trying out this season. First and foremost, my love for Lea Michele and the characters she plays is well-documented around these parts, so even though I still wish she’d return to Broadway, I’m excited to see what she does in this role. But even more than my support of former Glee cast members, what drew me to this show was the heart the trailer showed. This seems like more than a satire; it seems like a show about someone who learns to become a part of something bigger than themselves, which is my favorite kind of story. There’s a real story to be told here about neglected communities, civic engagement, and what it takes to make real change—and I’m hopeful that this show will be brave enough to tell those stories with laughter and love.
Series Premiere October 3
Speechless (8:30 p.m. on ABC)
I may only have one show to watch on Wednesdays for now, but it’s a winner. The first season of Speechless was incredible—funny and unflinching and emotionally affecting without being emotionally manipulative—and I can’t wait to see what this show has in store for us in Season 2. I may have started it last season out of my love for Minnie Driver and desire to see fresh new stories told on television, but by the end of the year, I tuned in every week because every member of the cast is perfect in their roles and the story was more than just “important;” it was good. I have every reason to believe it’s going to avoid a sophomore slump and deliver another stellar season this year.
Season Premiere September 27
Superstore (8 p.m. on NBC)
This one comes with a caveat: I haven’t watched the first two seasons yet, but I have them queued up for a weekend in early November when I’ll be recovering from very minor dental surgery and will need some comfort TV to watch. Therefore, I won’t be starting this season right away, but I plan to jump in as soon as November rolls around and I get caught up. I know I’m missing something special, and I don’t want to be on the outside looking in anymore! (Especially not after my “shipper” heart saw what happened at the end of last season—I don’t even watch the show, and it made me melt!)
Season Premiere September 28
The Good Place (8:30 p.m. on NBC)
This is one of my favorite shows currently airing on television, and it started Season 2 off with a bang this week. It’s smart and silly at times, but it’s also a show that somehow manages to be about both the worst things that can happen to people and the best at the same time. I won’t say anything else out of fear of spoiling people who somehow missed Season 1 (WATCH IT NOW!), but the fact that this show already has such a strong voice and theme (Our ability to connect with each other can save us from the bad places in this world and the next.) speaks to a kind of storytelling confidence and bravery that has me willing to go along on this crazy ride for every twist and turn and NSYNC dance party along the way.
Next episode airs September 28
Will & Grace (9 p.m. on NBC)
I was a huge fan of Will & Grace when I was in my teens, so I’m approaching this revival with cautious optimism. It’s going to be so nice to see all these actors back in their roles, and I’m excited to see how their characters and the writing for them have grown and evolved with the changing times. I’m also slightly nervous about revisiting a piece of media that spoke to such a specific time in both the country and in my life. No matter what happens, though, Debra Messing’s hair is as beautiful as ever, and we all know that’s what really matters.
Series Premiere September 28
Once Upon a Time (8 p.m. on ABC)
It’s worth a shot, right? There’s potential for this story (featuring adult Henry, cursed Regina/Rumple/Killian, and a host of new fierce female leads) to refresh the series and bring back the gloriously magical feeling of Season 1. However, there’s also potential for it to be like Season 8 of Castle (aka the Lost Year), and I will immediately regret giving it a chance. For now, I’m choosing to be hopeful because in truth, the show hasn’t really let me down yet. It’s had its ups and downs, but it’s never stopped wearing its hearts on its sleeve and preaching that belief can change the world. That’s something I think the television world still needs, and as long as this show keeps that central theme, I’ll still keep coming back for more. (Unless something bad happens to Emma, her parents, or her relationship with Killian—then consider this show dead to me. I know Henry’s the lead now, but this will always be Emma’s story to me—and her happy ending is the one I will always be most invested in.)
Season Premiere October 6
Jane the Virgin (9 p.m. on The CW)
I had to take a break from this show for a little while after Michael’s death because it made me too sad to keep watching, but that break was exactly what I needed to remind me that something is missing in my TV viewing life without the Villanueva women. And as a Jane/Rafael shipper from basically the pilot, I’m excited to see what becomes of their relationship this season.
Season Premiere October 13
Outlander (8 p.m. on STARZ)
To paraphrase Stefon from Saturday Night Live, this show has EVERYTHING—time travel, Scottish history, gorgeous scenery, gorgeous people, incredible acting, sweeping romance, and some of the best sex you’ll ever see on television. As soon as the first words of the theme song started again a couple of weeks ago, I was instantly transported back into this beautiful world, and I remembered how lovely it feels to escape into a piece of fiction as completely as this show allows viewers to do. It’s so easy to get swept away and swept up in this grand love story, and it satisfies my inner romantic like little else.
Next episode airs September 24
Ghosted (8:30 p.m. on FOX)
I can never say no to Adam Scott, and Craig Robinson always makes me laugh. This show looks like it will be a fun way to end the weekend, and it has a great Ghostbusters-meets-X-Files vibe that sold me in the trailer.
Series Premiere October 1
Fuller House (Netflix)
Last year, this show brought something happy into my life when I was looking for some joy, so I’m incredibly excited to start watching it tonight. It’s cheesy and sappy and by no means a perfect show, but it does its job perfectly—and that job is to warm hearts with a story of female friendship and family. It’s nostalgic and unashamedly ridiculous at times, but it also managed to get me invested in multiple storylines last season, which I’m excited to see play out in Season 3.
Begins Streaming September 22
Alias Grace (Netflix)
Am I mostly checking this one out because of my crush on Zachary Levi? Yes. But am I also checking it out because it looks like a strong piece of historical fiction? Yes. I haven’t read Alias Grace, but the track record with streaming service of adaptations of Margaret Atwood works is pretty good right now. (I loved Season 1 of The Handmaid’s Tale.) This looks wonderfully cinematic and atmospheric, and it seems like nothing else on television—in a good way.
Begins Streaming November 3
Marvel’s Runaways (Tuesdays on Hulu)
I know very little about this show beyond the fact that it’s about kids and is supposed to connect to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fortunately, that’s enough for me to at least give it a shot. As I said when writing about “The Gifted,” I’m still on the hunt for a superhero show, and my mind is open to the possibility that this could be the one to snag my heart.
Series Premiere 11/21
The Crown (Netflix)
I binged the first season of this acclaimed drama based on a recommendation from my best friend, and I’m so happy she texted me incessantly to tell me how good it was—because she was right. Not only is this show absolutely beautiful, it’s a compelling examination of a woman in power and what that means for those around her, especially her husband. I’m ready for my heart to continue to be broken by this close look at a troubled time in a marriage between two strong and strong-willed people, and I’m ready to continue to learn more about a government I know embarrassingly little about. (Because if fall isn’t the time to get excited about learning, then what is?)
Begins Streaming December 8