1. “Grace and Frankie” Season 3 (available March 24)
Why Should I Watch It? If Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda aren’t reason enough — not to mention the rest of the cast, including Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston, and June Diane Raphael — then know this: “Grace and Frankie” is a living embodiment of progressive beliefs. Not only does the show cover an array of taboo topics from the dramatic weight of right-to-die debates to casually breaking cultural stigmas surrounding post-menopause sex, but “Grace and Frankie” consists of half-hour episodes that don’t adhere to comedic or dramatic formulas. The tone is unique to the series, respecting the characters and building to moments of great power and great humor. So give it a try.
Best Episode: We haven’t seen Season 3 yet — Netflix, please send screeners at your earliest convenience — so we’ll simply say this: Midway through last year, when debating the best TV episodes of 2016, no season sparked a more fervent debate than “Grace and Frankie.” We ended up choosing “The Party,” but “The Boar” and the season finale, “The Coup,” had adamant support. That’s how good Season 2 was: Picking just one episode was damn near impossible.
2. “13 Reasons Why” (available March 31)
Why Should I Watch It? Kate Walsh! How can you say no to Kate Walsh? OK, fine. Just keep denying your love for “Grey’s Anatomy” Seasons 1-3, “Fargo” Season 1, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” If I can’t get you with Kate, perhaps your ears will perk up when learning Oscar-winning “Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy directed the first two episodes of “13 Reasons Why.” That’s right. An Oscar winner is behind this teen suicide drama. So maybe check your attitude at the door.
Best Episode: The premise of “13 Reasons Why” is that a high school student commits suicide and leaves 13 tapes addressed to 13 different people. Each tape explains how that individual was connected to her death (and, perhaps, responsible for her choice), and the building mystery as more and more information is revealed should lead to revealing episodes near the series’ end. That being said… the best episode has to be either the first two episodes or whichever hour has the most Kate Walsh. It just has to be.
3. “Archer” Season 7 (available March 28)
Why Should I Watch It? We love “Archer” — all of “Archer” — and we’re not ashamed to say it. Whether exchanging dirty innuendos (see above) or touting twisted romance between its two leads (see above), the FXX comedy been one of the best series running for years now. But since creator Adam Reed went “Vice” in Season 5, his spy spoof has been a consistently fascinating and increasingly bold adventure. Season 7 took the former secret agents — now banned from spy duties — to Hollywood, as Archer, Lana, and the rest of The Figgis Agency adopted new roles as private investigators. What unfolded was an enticing mystery that pushed the envelope in terms of what we’re accustomed to seeing in an animated comedy; starting the season with Archer floating dead in a pool and not explaining how he got there until the finale.
Best Episode: Setting aside the beautiful set-up in Episode 1 and wild conclusion in the finale, “Liquid Lunch” was my favorite episode of Season 7 for pure, gleeful enjoyment. The return of Slater (voiced, of course, by Christian Slater) threw a wonderful wrench into Lana and Archer’s relationship, and there’s a waterboarding gag that deserves elite status among “Archer’s” many, many, many pain-based jokes.
4. “Love” Season 2 (available March 10)
Why Should I Watch It? For as vague as its title is, Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust’s Netflix rom-com is a very specific story of two possibly incongruous partners. Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Rust) don’t find love at first sight or even immediately click after their first date. Very few cliched romantic follies pop up in this L.A.-centric love story, distinguishing “Love” from other couple-centric series out there, while the emotions maintain its universal appeal.
Best Episode: IndieWire’s TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller got a sneak peek at the new season, and she’s chosen Episode 5 as the best of the lot: “By serving largely as a two-hander, the episode cements Gus and Mickey’s relationship dynamic as interesting, unique, and worth watching,” Miller said when prodded for an answer by yours truly. What’s a “two-hander,” you say? Well, in this case, it’s an episode of television focusing on just two people.
5. “Better Call Saul” Season 2 (available March 27)
Why Should I Watch It? “Better Call Saul” is the ideal spin-off series: Distinct in presentation yet still tonally connected to its predecessor “Breaking Bad,” Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould are creating a fascinating backstory for the man who will become Saul Goodman. Season 2 sees Jimmy McGill encounter success at work and at home, but the knowledge of where he ends up — still foreshadowed by haunting black-and-white footage of his future at Cinnabon — casts a disparaging shadow over this tragic story.
Best Episode: As noted in IndieWire’s Best Episodes of 2016 list (by IndieWire’s Liz Shannon Miller), “‘Fifi’ (Episode 8) was rich with incredible moments for its supporting players: Rhea Seehorn especially shone as she struck out for herself and went hard after the client she knew she deserved. Plus, there’s one of those great ‘Saul’ sequences where we’re forced to sit and watch Jimmy do something we know will ruin everything, one which proves impossible not to watch. And yes, there’s that staggering single-take cold open. We’re still obsessed with it, not because it was doing something beyond revolutionary, but because it did it so well, with a seamless flow.”
6. “Julie’s Greenroom” (available March 17)
Why Should I Watch It? It’s Julie Andrews. Hosting a Netflix show. With muppets. How do you say no to that? Answer: You don’t.
Best Episode: OK, OK: To get into the nitty gritty of the simple, sure-to-be lovely series, “Julie’s Greenroom” is an arts-focused educational program starring Andrews and a slew of helpers from Jim Henson Studios. (Technically, they’re not muppets, as Muppets are a specific cast of characters led by Kermit the Frog.) We haven’t seen any episodes yet, but considering Andrews and Henson’s creations are guaranteed to be in every entry, they all are sure to be gold. Guest stars include Alec Baldwin, Sara Bareilles, Joshua Bell, Tituss Burgess, Carol Burnett, Chris Colfer, Robert Fairchild, Josh Groban, David Hyde Pierce, Bill Erwin, Ellie Kemper, Idina Menzel, Tiler Peck and Stomp.
7. “The Carmichael Show” (available March 31)
Why Should I Watch It? “The Carmichael Show” is one of the few remaining broadcast sitcoms very much worth your time. Yes, it’s a multi-cam setup. Yes, it’s shot in front of a live studio audience. Yes, it’s got a laugh track. But Jerrod Carmichael’s series is anything but dated in content. Important issues are raised throughout the first two seasons, in the vein of Norman Lear’s classic sitcoms, and the enthusiastic cast throws themselves into the debates to fun and funny extremes. It’s a rare example of comedy with commentary that never lacks in laughs, which means even more given its wide-reaching platform on NBC (and now Netflix).
Best Episode: While Carmichael smartly tackles Bill Cosby and Donald Trump in Season 2, I’m rather partial to Episode 3, “The Funeral.” When Joe’s father dies, the family gets into a heated debate over how to remember a man Joe (David Alan Grier) doesn’t feel is worth remembering. After a less-than-flattering person dies, how should he be discussed? The idea of automatically honoring someone, no matter their reputation, proves deep conversational fodder for this group, and the conclusions aren’t as easy as many want them to be.
Bonus: “Marvel’s Iron Fist” (available March 17)
Of note: It’s not that we’re disinterested in the final Marvel series to hit Netflix before all the TV characters unite for “The Defenders.” It’s just that there are shows we’re more excited to see, as illustrated above. And let’s face it: Do we really expect “Iron Fist” to topple “Jessica Jones”?
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Greenleaf” Season 1 (available March 3)
“Senora Acero” Season 3 (available March 5)
“Buddy Thunderstruck” Season 1 (available March 10)
“One More Time” Season 1 (available March 10)
“Lucha Underground” Seasons 1-2 (available March 15)
“Beau Sejour” Season 1 (available March 16)
“The Vampire Diaries” Season 8 (available March 18)
“El Reemplazante” (available March 20)
“How to Get Away With Murder” Season 3 (available March 23)
“Bottersnikes & Gumbles” Season 2 (available March 24)
“Ingobernable” Season 1 (available March 24)
“Life in Pieces” Season 1 (available March 30)
“Bordertown” Season 1 (available March 31)
“Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life” Season 1 (available March 31)
“Dinotrux” Season 4 (available March 31)
“Rosewood” Season 1 (available March 31)
“Trailer Park Boys” Season 11 (available March 31)