Fall is a time for fresh beginnings, and that’s been traditionally true with the official start of the new TV season. Once upon a time, September was when virtually all shows returned after summer break. Cable, streaming, and even broadcast networks have spread that wealth throughout the year — but there’s still a large chunk of long-running hits and recent favorites coming back in the coming weeks, and there’s plenty of gold in that batch.
Among IndieWire’s picks for the most notable returning series on the fall schedule are comedies, dramas, talk shows, fake documentaries, anthology horror shows, animated puberty journeys, and genre hybrids set on another planet. And there are a few shows making their grand farewell.
(For our entire Fall TV Preview, check the homepage here.)
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FXX, Sept. 5)
After a hiatus dominated by the possible departure of one of its central cast members, “Always Sunny” returns with at least 80 percent of its core Paddy’s crew intact. As the most recent trailer shows, Dennis is certainly represented in this 13th season — in some ways more than others. But with this milestone in the series comes the show’s trademark mix of timely topics and timeless horrible behavior from the Reynolds family and their associates. Will there be an Eagles joke in every episode? Will Mac be shirtless in every episode? And will they ever figure out what’s happening with that yuck puddle? It’s a show that somehow managed to persist since 2005, so they’ll probably figure something out.
“I Love You, America” (Hulu, Sept. 6)
Over the first 10 episodes of Sarah Silverman‘s weekly Hulu show, “I Love You, America” was able to adjust to some of the weekly headlines and shifts in national attitude. But a lot of what made Season 1 worth tuning in for came from the independent pre-taped segments that took Silverman and some other contributors across America to get them out of their respective comfort zones. A new batch of those field pieces, combined with a new slate of interview subjects, should make this a show still worth checking out when it drops new episodes every Thursday.
“The Deuce” (HBO, Sept. 9)
With both disco and punk in the mix, this season of “The Deuce” has the potential to become downright apocalyptic — while the concept of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character of Candy becoming a for-real power player in the realm of pornography should be more than enough reason for anyone to tune in, there is the added bonus that “The Deuce” is yet another gift from TV god David Simon, whose track record with “The Wire” ensures that we’re paying attention. Add in the rest of the fascinating cast here, and it’s impossible not to want to trip back to the 1970s and spend time in this world.
“Shameless” (Showtime, Sept. 9)
Would we be so interested in this season if Emmy Rossum, arguably the show’s real star (or certainly at least equal to William H. Macy, who would agree) hadn’t just announced that it would be her last? Perhaps not. But the tale of badly-behaved Gallaghers will likely continue delighting its fanbase even after her departure, as after nine seasons the show has become an ensemble drama full of fascinating folks. Without a doubt, the struggles of cable TV’s favorite working-class family has the potential to drive further seasons (and at the very least, “Shameless” becoming Showtime’s longest-running series is definitely worth noting).
“American Horror Story: Apocalypse” (FX, Sept. 12)
“American Horror Story” has been a series cloaked in secrecy since the surprise reveal of Season 6’s theme did wonders for publicity. Fans liked it, too, but now they’re paying the price: Subsequent entries aren’t sharing much info, though the much-hyped “Apocalypse” has revealed more than most. FX has confirmed it’s a crossover of Season 1, “Murder House” and Season 3, “Coven.” Most of the cast have returned, including Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Sarah Paulson (who’s also directing an episode), and Jessica Lange. Some of Ryan Murphy’s recent favorites are also in the cast, including Evan Peters (who did appear in Season 1 before going on to star in “Pose”), Billy Eichner, and Joan Collins. Murphy has posted a number of behind-the-scenes shots on his Instagram, but the full scoop on “Apocalypse” won’t be known until its September 12 debut.
“American Vandal” (Netflix, Sept. 14)
How do you follow up one of the greatest first seasons in recent TV memory? With another eight-part fictional documentary, tackling a different unspeakable crime at a new high school. Documentarians Peter and Sam are back to dig through a fresh mystery, but this collection of episodes is more than just a repeat of the same format and circumstances as the stellar Dylan Maxwell investigation. This season centers on a dire “poop crime” that leaves most of the school reeling. The evidence wall may be back, but with Peter and Sam looking at circumstances outside their own school, the show takes time to consider some fresh new issues of what it means to be a high-schooler these days.
“BoJack Horseman” (Netflix, Sept. 14)
A great show about a man trying to figure out if he’s any good. He also happens to be a horse, struggling to wade through the not-so-great nature of modern-day Hollywood Hollywoo… And yes, that might also sound insane, but it also happens to be the only way to capture the basic premise of one of television’s most ongoing brilliant shows. That’s because the basic premise is essentially just an entry point for this smart and insightful character study that’s not afraid of existentialism or the darkness that an existential crisis might invoke.
“9-1-1” (Fox, Sept. 23)
Michael Becker / FOX
Some viewers undoubtedly took some perverse delight in finding out what horrible fates befell Angelenos every week on this medic/police/firefighter drama. The Season 2 stakes seem just as high as ever — just take a look at those earthquake cracks in the pavement from the latest trailer — but it will be interesting to see if the show can keep up that threaded procedural element and make it as personal as it had been before. Either way, more episodes means more time to spend with Angela Bassett, Peter Krause, Kenneth Choi, and the rest of a cast that should benefit from TV vet Jennifer Love Hewitt joining the ranks.
“Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” (CNN, Sept. 23)
David Scott Holloway
The final episodes of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” take on extra poignancy following the host’s death earlier this summer. The Season 12 premiere, which is also the last episode to feature Bourdain’s narration, follows the host as he takes fellow CNN star W. Kamau Bell (“United Shades of America”) to Kenya. There are believed to be seven episodes total in this last batch, which reportedly will take place in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the U.S.-Mexico border, the Big Bend area of West Texas, Indonesia, and the Asturias region of Spain. The final two episodes are expected to pay tribute to Bourdain by featuring behind-the-scenes footage, as well as a look at his impact on the world.
“Lethal Weapon” (Fox, Sept. 25)
Ray Mickshaw / Fox
The boys are back in town — well, one of them, anyway. After a seemingly unending airing of grievances, Clayne Crawford was canned from “Lethal Weapon” and replaced by Seann William Scott. He’ll join returning star Damon Wayans Jr., but Murtaugh won’t be joined by another Riggs. Scott plays Wesley Cole, an ex-CIA agent who’s seen a lot of action overseas. Cole is surrounded by chaos to the point he thinks it follows him, which could spell trouble as he tries to settle down in Los Angeles to be close to his daughter. Still, chaos is exactly what the show is trying to escape — off-screen, at least — so what matters most is how the new partner dynamic plays to a divided audience. Some are team #TeamClayne, others on Damon’s side, and still more just want their old show back. If Season 3 can make them feel like everything is back to normal, it’ll be a success. Otherwise, chaos may ensue again.
“This Is Us” (NBC, Sept. 25)
As Season 3 begins, some of the action shifts to earlier in the life of Jack (Milo Ventigmilia) and his time in Vietnam. Among new faces this season: Michael Angarano, who has been cast as Jack’s younger brother Nicky, who died in the war. Viewers will also see the beginning of the relationship between Jack and Rebecca (Mandy Moore). Back in present day, Kevin (Justin Hartley) attends his movie premiere, and his relationship with Beth’s Cousin Zoe (played by Melanie Liburd, now a series regular) continues to grow. Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) are married, but face new challenges as a result of Toby’s depression. Then there’s Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), whose lives continue to be upended, particularly now that Deja (Lyric Ross, also now a series regular) is a permanent fixture in their lives. In other words, more tugging at the heartstrings in pure “This Is Us” fashion.