Now that we’re about a month into the fall TV season, I’m checking in to see where I’m at with the lineup of new shows. I put all the series I decided to give a chance in tiers below, from the New Favorites to the Already Eliminated Shows.
In each of the tiers, the series are listed in order from best to worst.
(Note: This list does not include new streaming series.)
Top Tier: New Favorites
This tier includes the shows that I have no doubt I’ll continue watching throughout the rest of the season, and likely even onto next season if they’re renewed.
Based on the 1973 sci-fi thriller of the same name, Westworld is one of the most complex and intriguing new shows this season. While the concept of artificial intelligence becoming more human-like isn’t exactly original, the rest of this show is. The Western themepark that the story takes place in is full of opportunity to expose character flaws and depth, making each character all the more complex. And the tension between the AI and the human characters is building, making for a high intensity and high-stakes plot.
There’s a lot of time travel on TV these days, but so far, Timeless is doing it right. The main cast is well developed, and the show’s look at history through a historian’s eyes make it all the more interesting. Beyond that, the series is littered with secrets. My curiosity for the answers to those questions — Who is really on the good side? Why is time travel changing Lucy Preston’s (Abigail Spencer) life so much? What is Garcia Flynn (Goran Višnjić) trying to accomplish? — is enough to keep me watching.
Designated Survivor (ABC)
I didn’t expect to enjoy Designated Survivor nearly as much as I do, but the series is truly excelling. The main cast is fitting perfectly into the well-written roles. And the political drama has tension coming from all angles, giving the plot numerous elements to tie it together. The show tackles many issues that are well representative of our nation today, and the way it tackles those issues is well-measured and compelling. Considering political dramas aren’t typically my kind of show, I think it’s telling that Designated Survivor is keeping me hooked.
Pitch without a doubt had one of the best premieres this season. And while the following episodes haven’t been quite as good as the first, they’re still high quality. The plot is interesting and so far the series hasn’t strayed from challenging issues. The show intelligently expplores the gender and race implications of Major League Baseball having it’s first female player, a young black woman. As Ginny Baker, actress Kylie Bunbury is a force to be reckoned with. She’s easily bringing the role to life, and she’s backed up with other strong performances.
Middle Tier: Solid Additions
This tier includes the shows that I’m really happy with, but a big mistake could always stop me from watching them.
This is Us (NBC)
In some ways, This is Us is one of the season’s best new shows. In others, it falls short. One of its biggest shortcomings so far is the character Kate (Chrissy Metz). In the first few episodes, her character was nothing more than her weight. All of her focus was on her weight loss struggle. And while the character is slowly breaking free from that focus in small ways, it isn’t happening fast enough. Otherwise, the show has brought to life interesting characters. Its concept of showing Kate, Kevin (Justin Hartley), and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) in both their youth and adulthood has a ton of potential.
The Good Place (NBC)
The Good Place thrives with its unique afterlife concept; it’s nice to see a comedy with a solid driving plot. The comedy manages to throw in twists often enough to keep the story moving forward, and the characters are developing along the way. Having a couple characters not meant to be in the “Good Place” surrounded by so many truly good people provides some good character depth opportunity. And, of course, as a comedy, The Good Place manages to provide a healthy amount of laughs.
Insecure is at its best when it doesn’t try too hard. It’s a feat that this show simply feels so real and believable. Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji lead the cast with their genuine, well-acted performances. The show also achieves a solid balance of comedy, drama, and thoughtful exploration of issues.
With an authentic representation of a character with cerebral palsy and some well-acted comedy, Speechless easily sets itself apart in the genre. It’s a comedy with depth, which is always appreciated. Minnie Driver also excels in her role as mom Maya, bringing both intensity and hilarity to the role. It’s nice to see the impact J.J. (Micah Fowler) having cerebral palsy has on the rest of the family; the show takes the time to explore all of its characters equally.
Low Tier: On the Chopping Block
These shows have some redeeming to do if I’m going to continue watching them.
I still have yet to decide if I think Frequency is excellent or shaky. The show has great moments between Raimy (Peyton List) in 2016 and her father Frank (Riley Smith) in 1996. Watching the past impact the present and vice versa is exciting and enjoyable, and the show plays up its tension well. There’s something about the show that isn’t quite as engaging as it should be; I can’t put my finger on it, but the Frequency just doesn’t grab my attention as well as the other shows on the list. It has a ton of potential and a strong premise though, which is why I’m still watching.
Better Things (FX)
There’s not much bad about Better Things, but it could be a bit more elevated. The show is a genuine and funny exploration of single motherhood, which is great, but the plot strings feel a bit thin. At the same time, the way it diverges from typical comedies makes it interesting. The show really just needs a more forward direction to keep me engaged. For now, the performance of Pamela Adlon as single mother Sammy Fox is enough to keep the show anchored.
Bottom Tier: Already Eliminated Shows
These shows, sadly, are already off my watch list.
This show may be on my eliminated list, but it’s in no way bad. In fact, I plan to binge the first season once it finishes airing. In the few episodes I watched, the show was thoughtful and funny. Series creator and lead cast member Donald Glover really does knock it out of the park; the show has received excellent reviews. Atlanta just isn’t necessarily my style. But maybe that’ll change after I watch the series in full.
Similar to Atlanta, Divorce isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just not my style. I watched the pilot out of curiosity, and it had a lot of funny moments. But as someone in my early twenties, it wasn’t easy to relate to. So Divorce isn’t bad. I’m just not the right audience for it.
Falling Water (USA)
I so wanted Falling Water to be good. I really did. But by middle of the second episode, I was ready to quit. The series fails to make the viewer care about the trio of main characters. By the end of the second episode, I only felt myself caring in the slightest about one of the three: Tess (Lizzie Brocheré). The show tries to use its strange plot to its advantage, using the confusion and distortion to engage viewers. But it isn’t engaging. It’s just muddled. I’d be really surprised if the show were renewed.