If you’ve been anywhere near a tv or the internet lately, you know there have been a ton of new shows premiering this fall. But how’s a person to figure out which ones to watch? Well, you could quit your job and watch one after another until you run out of money to pay your rent/mortgage and have no food to eat.
Or you could just let me make suggestions. Cause I’m helpful like that. For me, a few new shows stand out from the rest. Let me break down my top three for you. (All air times are in EDT. Cause, East Coast girl here.)
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World – charming, heartfelt dramedy (think Brothers and Sisters meets Eureka or Parenthood meets Good Witch)
Tuesdays at 10 pm on ABC; Hulu
Premise: guy who can’t get his life together ends up with the power to save the world. It’s a common enough premise but that’s because it’s a good one. Add the fact that the lead is Jason Ritter (who legit proved his acting capabilities to me in Parenthood) and I was willing to give it a shot.
What I love: I seriously underestimated this show. Fifteen minutes in and I was already telling my husband he needed to watch it. It surprised me with nuance and warmth. The humor is honest, the characters relatable. As others have pointed out, the mystical black woman as spirit guide can be a cliché, but the creators have promised they have given the character more depth and plot that will ensure they avoid cliché land, and Kimberly Hébert Gregory absolutely sparkles in the role. Add Joanna Garcia Swisher (who has that Sandra Bullock-esque quality of being likable in every role she tackles) and I’m so invested already.
The Brave – military drama with a strong, complex ensemble (think NCIS meets Chicago Fire or Quantico meets The Closer)
Mondays at 9 pm on NBC; Hulu
Premise: a Special Ops squad and a team of analysts work together to protect and defend American citizens. Unlike a lot of military action dramas, this one shows both sides of the spectrum, giving the analysts their own recognition. And each character has complexity and a backstory that unfolds throughout.
What I love: you mean besides the fact that there’s a female sniper? While there are certainly some cowboy moments, this show stands out from other cop or military shows in the way it focuses on tactics and intel. Both sides of the team have to be adaptable, making quick decisions to achieve the best outcomes, instead of just bursting in with guns blazing. The head of the ops team isn’t your usual over-the-top alpha male (thank goodness), but a perceptive leader who values his team, and the director of the analysts is an intelligent, decisive woman with her own tragedies to process. There’s a lot to explore, so I’m interested to see where this show goes.
The Good Doctor – emotionally complex medical drama (think House meets Switched at Birth or The Night Shift meets Monk)
Mondays at 10 pm on ABC; Hulu
Premise: as he begins a new job, a surgical resident’s autism and savant syndrome provide both advantages and disadvantages, helping him see the world in a unique way while also making it difficult for him to communicate and understand human behavior.
What I love: I was entirely unprepared for the way this show would casually reach in and rip my heart out. In my experience knowing people with autism, this show is one of the few to express it accurately (although, I have to point out, autism is a broad spectrum that varies widely in characteristics). This protagonist, played brilliantly by Freddie Highmore, is no emotionless, robotic character, but a young man who clearly feels deeply while having difficulty processing or expressing those emotions. The struggles of his past, revealed through flashbacks, provide context and show more of his humanity, while the present day storyline shows him adapting to life in the medical world. He’s underestimated, misunderstood, wholehearted, and brilliant, exactly the kind of character I want to root for.
There you have it, folks. Three solid options that range across genres and styles. What do you think? What new shows are you watching this fall?
I can’t help myself—I’m like a personalized TV/movie/books recommendation service sometimes. Not because I know so much (what I wouldn’t give to be The Oracle!), but simply because I have an excellent memory and widely ranging preferences. And let’s be honest, who couldn’t use a little help when it comes to digging through Netflix to find the true gems? Do allow me to lend a hand . . .
I’ve taken my top recommendations, all currently available on Netflix, and sorted them by the tone of the show (quirky, heartwarming, or suspenseful) and then narrowed them by time period or genre.
Quirky and . . .
Death in Paradise
Although the title makes it sound dark, it’s actually quite a light, even humorous, mystery show. Set in the Caribbean, it follows a British detective and his team as they solve murders. But instead of going all dark and creepy, it’s got a light style in a classic who-dun-it type of way. And as a bonus, the murders are never straight-forward, so the plots are actually intriguing as well.
Hart of Dixie
Oh the South, a region entirely misunderstood by those outside it and lovingly tolerated or embraced by those who know it well. Set in small town Alabama, this show follows the missteps of a well-intentioned New York City doctor. With a quirky sense of humor and a full-on portrayal of Southern culture, it’s charming and occasionally absurd, but in the sweetest way possible, bless its heart.
This show centers on a sheriff in a town full of geniuses whose inventions often go awry. I have to admit—I’m not an avid SciFi watcher, but the SciFi elements are secondary to the interesting characters, which this show has in spades. Add a quirky, witty sense of humor and it’s just refreshing when you want something light.
Heartwarming and . . .
Call the Midwife
As you can probably discern from the title, this show follows a team of midwives/nurses/nuns as they provide healthcare to the South End of London in the 1950s. One warning: it can occasionally be a bit graphic. You know, childbirth and all that. But it’s a sweet, emotional show. If you emotionally connect to shows, you will probably cry at some point. Consider yourself warned.
If you have any kind of social media account, you’ve probably heard about this show. Produced by Netflix, it begins with the early days of Elizabeth II’s reign. I’ll admit, I had low expectations, but I was impressed. Instead of wandering into the all-too-common caricature land, where most based-on-a-true-story shows end up, these actors manage to portray their subjects in complex, and seemingly authentic, ways. (Major shoutout to John Lithgow for his nuanced portrayal of Churchill.) One season in and I’m already hooked.
Switched at Birth
Let’s be honest, while the premise is interesting, I kind of assumed the show would lose steam after a season (how long can you expect the premise to carry it?). But it managed to dig deeper than the switch to the complexities of transitioning into adulthood while balancing two families. Add to that the fact that one of the girls switched at birth is hearing impaired and it’s one of the most respectful representations of hearing impairment and the Deaf community that I’ve ever seen.
It’s not exactly award-winning quality, but this charming Hallmark show offers beautiful scenery as it follows a judge in a small coastal town in Washington. It is the definition of a heartwarming family drama, complete with relationship and work problems. It’s never scary or creepy. It’s like a marshmallow–sweet, airy, pretty.
Suspenseful and . . .
The Bletchley Circle
I cannot say enough good things about this show. Somehow I missed it until last summer, and I cannot imagine how. It follows a group of wonderfully intelligent British women who worked as codebreakers during WWII. In spite of their attempts to settle into simple, boring lives after the war, their abilities end up pulling them into investigations of complex crimes.
Who cares about murders during a war? DCS Foyle, that’s who, although he often acknowledges the irony of investigating single deaths while Great Britain is engaged in bloody WWII. Cerebral, subtle, and witty, this show will force you o pay attention in the best kind of way as Foyle uncovers complex motives with the help of his delightfully quirky driver/assistant, Samantha Stewart.
Death Comes to Pemberley
I’ll be honest—I’m not generally a fan of retellings or continuations of classic stories. But in this case, I made an exception. Because, murder. We meet Elizabeth and Darcy years after their wedding when someone is killed in that gorgeous estate called Pemberley. With masterful performances, this mini-series is well worth the time.
The Shannara Chronicles
Based on the description on Netflix, I assumed this would be kind of weird and juvenile, but I decided to risk it. I’m glad I did. While it does certainly have a seasoning of teen angst, this show, based on a series of books, follows an Elvin princess who finds herself responsible for basically saving the world. And it’s set in the future rather than an alternate world, which is refreshing departure from the standard urban dystopian future. The plot is complex, the characters authentic (the main character Amberle was a particular favorite of mine). If you like fantasy, this one’s worth a shot.
Waking up with no memory of your past is a bit of an overdone premise, but set it in space and it becomes much more compelling. This show explores the secrets and histories of six individuals aboard a starship. They have to deal with current problems while attempting to figure out who they were in the past, although they may not like what they discover. I found each character to be unique and, in some way, relatable, which sucked me in and kept me watching.
And there you have it, folks: my top recommendations for Netflix. Maybe you will find a new favorite among them. Any shows you think I should add?