[Editor’s Note: Typically, we recommend six or seven series newly available on Netflix in the coming month, but this September is chock full of choices — in part because fall shows are starting up again and networks want to make sure fans are caught up on prior seasons. So, this month, we’ve selected 17 high-priority choices and have highlighted our favorites. Choose for yourself, or settle in for the ultimate binge.]
1. “Easy” Season 1 (available September 22)
Why Should I Watch It? Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, Jake Johnson, Marc Maron, Dave Franco, Hannibal Buress, Emily Ratajkowski, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Aya Cash and Elizabeth Reaser star in this new eight-episode anthology series, but even that kind of star power can’t compete with a brilliant creator. Good thing “Easy” springs from the mind of indie favorite Joe Swanberg. The “Uncle Kent” and “Drinking Buddies” writer-director is taking on his first TV series with a comfortable setting — Chicago — and subject — “love, sex, technology and culture.” We can’t wait.
Best Episode: Every episode Aya Cash appears in will be the best, so hopefully she’s in every single one.
2. “Call the Midwife” Season 5 (available September 19)
Why Should I Watch It? I know, I know. We badger you about this every year, but that’s because “Call the Midwife” is a rare example of top-notch TV made for the whole family. That’s right. It’s as good as just about anything out there, and you don’t have to wait for the kids to go to bed or — if you’re a young, hip, childless fan of the small screen — suffer any conflicted moral dilemmas while rooting for the central characters. It’s a refreshing change of pace, and one that may make you want to keep stepping its way.
Best Episode: We picked the Christmas special last year, so we’ll go with the finale (Episode 8). Without getting too spoiler-y for the season you may not have watched yet, we’ll just say you should brace yourself for some real shit. Don’t worry: “Call the Midwife” always earns its darker dramatic moments, but it’s best to be prepared for one of the series’ more emotional finales.
3. “Gotham” Season 2 (available September 19)
Why Should I Watch It? “Gotham” took a big leap forward in Season 2, moving past the procedural elements that bogged down the first year and elevating the best characters above the rest. The writers also introduced some compelling and complex story arcs, including a particularly challenging moral dilemma for James Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Overall, it worked incredibly well, and this cop drama/superhero show hybrid finally felt like a worthy addition to the Batman franchise.
Best Episode: We’ve got to go with a twofer, here. “Gotham” Season 2’s most fascinating story tracked Gordon’s boldest decision yet; one that proved to be quite the game-changer. The choice is made in “Worse Than a Crime,” but it’s not fully dealt with until “Prisoners.” And while the former offers up high stakes drama with a shocking conclusion, it’s that “Gotham” delved into the arc’s ramifications. That’s why we’re coming back for Season 3 (and why you should catch up, so you can, too).
4. “New Girl” Season 5 (available September 20)
Why Should I Watch It? It’s difficult to make a strong case for “New Girl.” At times, it falls firmly into the “guilty pleasure” category, as the fun and romantic antics of Jess (Zooey Deschanel), Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and the rest of the True American crew only make for justifiable viewing because of the cast’s charming performances. But then there are moments when it’s the best ensemble sitcom on TV for more reasons than, “Hey, this episode had a lot of Schmidt!” And creator Elizabeth Meriwether finally figured out how to balance the many storylines within each episode…until the finale.
Best Episode: “Wedding Eve,” the penultimate Season 5 episode, showcases everything good about “New Girl”: Schmidt, an ensemble with top-notch chemistry, Schmidt, screen time weighted by significance, Schmidt and romance — namely, Schmidt and Cece’s romance, the only successful coupling to date. Yes, “Landing Gear” (the finale) did everything it could to ruin this perfect set-up, but that only diminishes the season (OK, and the series) — not this episode. Enjoy it, savor it and never forget: Schmidt & Cece > Nick & Jess (as if it’s even a debate).
5. “Penny Dreadful” Season 3 (available September 17)
Why Should I Watch It? “Penny Dreadful” is a horror series for the romantically-inclined. Hopes for characters coupling don’t drive the recently-concluded Showtime drama, but creator and writer John Logan infuses such love into every element — from his characters to the elegant production design — viewers can’t help but be swept up by the series’ passion.
Best Episode: “No Beast So Fierce” (Episode 6) — I had to list the episode without any suspense, because it’s impossible for me to discuss “No Beast So Fierce” without spoilers. So be warned, as they’re a’ comin’…right…now! I mean, has there been a more paternally satisfying episode ending than when Ethan’s (Josh Hartnett) de facto dad, Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton), shoots down his vicarious son’s actual father, Jared Talbot (Brian Cox), a man who’s been the biggest daddy dickhead in the history of daddy dickheads. OK, maybe he’s not that bad, but his demise was still unbelievably satisfying and an excellent ending to an episode that built up to it so well.
6. “Marvel’s Luke Cage” Season 1 (available September 30)
Why Should I Watch It? If you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then you can’t afford to miss the latest addition to their Netflix superhero lineup. Following up on the critical success of “Jessica Jones,” “Marvel’s Luke Cage” aims to expand the world established in previous series — just in time for “The Defenders,” which will unite Jones, Cage and Daredevil for Netflix’s own “Avengers”-style super-team series.
Best Episode: We can’t say yet, as reviews are still under embargo, but the pilot brings a new look and feel the pre-established Netflix/Marvel world. And hey, we’ll take Mike Colter in anything.
7. “Last Man Standing” Season 5 (available September 23)
Why Should I Watch It? You shouldn’t. We lost a bet to our social media coordinator, so we had to “recommend” Tim Allen’s shockingly long-running ABC sitcom (no, not the good one). But that doesn’t mean we have to lie, here, in this body copy that no one really reads. So for the few of you out there who are reading these words, trust in what we’re saying, here, now, and certainly don’t trust anything on Twitter or Facebook about this awful show.
Best Episode: “The Ring” (Episode 14) takes a simple misunderstanding and blows it way out of proportion. It’s… fine, and certainly speaks to the throwback vibe that keeps “Last Man Standing” on the air — presumably.
10 More Intriguing Alternatives
“The IT Crowd” Season 5 (available September 1)
Best Episode: N/A (there’s only one episode)
“Chef’s Table: France” (available September 2)
Best Episode: Unknown
“Narcos” Season 2 (available September 2)
Best Episode: 201 (premiere)
“The Blacklist” Season 3 (available September 7)
Best Episode: “The Director: No. 24 (Conclusion)” – Episode 10
“Galavant” Seasons 1 & 2 (available September 7)
Best Episode: “A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear” – Season 2, Episode 1
“Supergirl” Season 1 (available September 10)
Best Episode: “Falling” – Episode 16
“The Walking Dead” Season 6 (available September 15)
Best Episode: “Not Tomorrow Yet” – Episode 12
“Luther” Season 4 (available September 17)
Best Episode: Episode No. 4.1
“Portlandia” Season 6 (available September 24)
Best Episode: “TADA” – Episode 6
“Wallander” Season 4 (available September 22)
Best Episode: “The Troubled Man” – Episode 3
The Rest of Incoming TV:
“Game Winning Hit” Season 1 (available September 1)
“Heartland” Season 7 (available September 1)
“Hellevator” Season 1 (available September 1)
“I Am the Ambassador” Season 1 (available September 1)
“Lucky Days” Season 1 (available September 1)
“Shameless” (U.S.) Seasons 5 & 6 (available September 1)
“The Womanizer” Season 1 (available September 1)
“The Year of Happiness and Love” Season 1 (available September 1)
“Baby Daddy” Season 5 (available September 2)
“Young & Hungry” Season 4 (available September 2)
“Hawaii Five-O” Season 6 (available September 13)
“Goldie & Bear” Season 1 (available September 14)
“Bones” Season 11 (available September 22)
“Longmire” Season 5 (available September 23)
“VeggieTales in the House” Season 4 (available September 23)
“Family Guy” Season 14 (available September 25)
“The Fosters” Season 4 (Part A) (available September 28)
“Scream” Season 2 (available September 30)