Everything You Need to Watch on TV This Fall—From 'Orville' to 'Punisher'

Ah, fall. A wonderful time of football, things inexplicably getting pumpkin spice flavoring, and way more new TV than anyone could ever possibly watch. Seriously, there are a gajillion channels and streaming networks now, how can anyone dream of knowing what to turn on? Between all the superheroes, strictly-for-adults animated programs, and 1990s reboots out there it’s impossible to keep up. But we have some ideas. Below are WIRED’s picks for what you should watch (or at least DVR) this season—and one or two suggestions for what you can easily skip.

The Orville (Fox)

By far the funniest part of this science fiction adventure comedy is when the opening credits say “created by Seth MacFarlane,” because longtime Star Trek fans will immediately recognize everything else as the DNA (and proteins, bones, musculature, and central nervous system) of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It might be the weirdest thing on television—produced by a Trek stalwart, Brannon Braga, The Orville is a gleaming exploratory starship that seeks out weirdly foreheaded aliens with moral quandaries. Just find-and-replace the preachiness with a little snark. And you know what? It works. I liked TNG, and flying aboard the Orville feels like coming home. —Adam Rogers

Watch: Thursdays, 9pm/8pm Central

American Horror Story: Cult (FX)

By now, you know if you’re an American Horror Story person or not. Now in its seventh installment, FX’s anthology series has collected many devoted acolytes. If you’re in that camp, Cult is here and waiting for you, complete with all of the usual Ryan Murphy players: Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Billie Lourd, etc. If you’re not on the AHS train, though, its latest incarnation likely won’t make you a convert. A twisted look at life in America after the 2016 election, it’s got all the usual scares and camp, but—as Entertainment Weekly rightly noted—it can occasionally devolve into muddled satire. Perhaps not as strong as the series’ highpoints like Asylum or Hotel, Cult has its moments (or at least has in its first few episodes), but isn’t yet totally firing on all cylinders. But give it time, it could come around. If nothing else, it’ll be there for everyone to binge when they finally join the AHS movement. —Angela Watercutter

Watch: Tuesdays, 10pm

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (NBC)

Less than two years after FX’s Emmy-winning The People v. O.J. Simpson, NBC makes its own journey to the era of peak tabloid-TV with a limited series focusing on the brutal 1989 double-murder of wealthy Los Angeles couple Jose and Kitty Menendez. The prime suspects? Their own rich-kid sons, Lyle and Erik, whose subsequent trials—full of tales of big spending, and allegations of abuse—would rattle LA and fuel a gazillion episodes of A Current Affair. Edie Falco plays defense attorney Leslie Abramson, alongside a that cast includes Josh Charles, Lolita Davidovich, and Heather Graham. Expect plenty of of cross-examinations, a perhaps a few tent-sized double-breasted suits. —Brian Raftery

Watch: Tuesdays, 10pm/9pm Central

Big Mouth (Netflix)

After Nick Kroll and John Mulaney became kinda-household names with improv-show-turned-recurring-sketch-turned-Broadway-sensation Oh Hello, they took their talents where so many other comedy vets have been as of late: Netflix. Rather than starring as crusty old Manhattanites all over again, this time the pair voices hyperhormonal proto-teens coming of age in the New York suburbs—with all the basketball-playing-penises fantasy sequences that entails. Friend-of-every-pod Jason Mantzoukas is a regular, along with Jordan Peele and enough SNL alums for a “Californians” episode, so if your dream stream is a mashup of Comedy Bang Bang, Freaks and Geeks, and Bojack Horseman, get your Emmy write-in pencil ready. —Peter Rubin

Watch: September 29

Inhumans (ABC)

If you were one of the handful of people who paid to see The Inhumans in IMAX, then you already know: This show is pretty bad. Like, not campy, comic-book-adaptation bad, actually hard-to-watch bad. And if you didn’t pay to see it in IMAX, then you probably still know it’s not great because you’ve seen, well, any of its production stills and/or Friday night time slot. Set simultaneously on Hawaii and the moon colony Attilan (just go with it), it sets up the kind of us-vs.-them dynamic that has been at the core of any story about people with special abilities, except it seems to do it with little or no blood in its veins. It’s hard to place exactly where it goes off the rails—is “everywhere” an acceptable answer?—but when it does, it’s not worth following. Also, most of its heroes’ superpowers aren’t that super. (See here.) Not everything to come out of the Marvel TV universe has been knock-down stellar, but coming from the same family that produces Jessica Jones and even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s pretty inhumane. —Angela Watercutter

Watch: Fridays, 8pm/7pm Central, starting Sept. 29

Punisher (Netflix)

The beauty of the Marvel Netflix shows has always been that they can get away with everything the summer tentpole movies and ABC shows can’t: Sex! Drinking! Cursing! Punisher promises to turn that up to 11. Based on the trailer alone, the show has more blood and gunplay than any of the Defenders’ shows have offered up so far. Starring Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal as the titular antihero, Punisher goes deep and dark on the story of Frank Castle, a man who becomes a vigilante after the death of his wife and children. Sure it’s another “gritty crime show in New York,” but, hey, if you haven’t tired of those yet, why start now? Also, based on his fired-up appearance at Comic-Con International this year, Bernthal is ready to go all-in and all-out on this one. It’ll be fun to watch. —Angela Watercutter

Watch: Date TBD

Ghosted (Fox)

Clearly, Adam Scott and Craig Robinson had their eyes on each other during the Parks and RecreationThe Office softball games on the NBC lot, because they’ve eloped to one of the weirder paranormal comedies that TV has. Co-created by Scott and his wife Naomi, the show stars the two ensemble vets as strangers recruited by a—stop me if you’ve heard this one—clandestine government agency in order to investigate the disappearance of another agent. The odd-couple dynamic feels forced in the pilot, but the two actors have enough experience and chops to develop things further. Even if things err toward the broad and kinetic early on, it’s probably worth a close encounter of the second kind, if not the third. —Peter Rubin

Watch: Sundays, 8:30pm/7:30pm Central, starting Oct. 1

The Deuce (HBO)

David Simon, architect behind HBO’s cult favorite The Wire, creates with the flair and patience of an attentive carpenter—which is to say it’s all in what he sees. Thematically, Simon has always had a creative fetish for how institutions work: the way, say, a school system operates or a city government falls apart. With The Deuce, Simon sets his sights on a nascent 1970s porn boom and prostitutes who stalk the sidewalks of Times Square. With frequent collaborator George Pelecanos, and veterans like Michelle McLaren and Richard Price attached to the project, Simon gathered the precise blend of ingredients for a slow-simmering, high-stakes drama. There’s crime and porn and drugs and the atmospheric charm of a disco-era period piece. James Franco plays the part of twin brothers, Frankie and Vincent, whose fates are eternally intertwined; there’s also Gbenga Akinnagbe’s slick-tongued Larry Brown, a hard-nosed pimp with a heart, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Candy, a sex worker and single mother with big dreams. There’s corrupt cops, soulless mobsters, wayward college students, and women just trying to survive the lure of a New York City night. The show’s sleek prowess is a sure credit to Simon & Co.’s deliberately downplayed thesis; it never over explains or feels like cultural voyeurism. The Deuce simply says: This is Vincent and Larry and Candy. And this is how they live. (Davis Simon pro-tip: Wait until the show concludes and binge watch the series over the course of a weekend—it’s more delectable in one long bite.) —Jason Parham

Watch: Sundays, 9 pm

The Gifted (Fox)

Super-powered mutants go on the run in a world that hates and fears them. But because The Gifted is on Fox, owner of the rights to the X-Men, this Marvel Comics-based show actually gets to use the word “mutant,” and the characters are a delightful scrape of the X-books. Hey, it’s the teleporting Blink! And Polaris, Mutant Mistress of Magnetism! But let me sweeten the pot: Garret Dillahunt is the bad guy. Genially hilarious in Raising Hope, laconically terrifying in Justified and Deadwood … Dillahunt is the best. And the showrunner is Matt Nix, whose show Burn Notice was the spy version of MacGyver, and if you hate that, we’re not friends. —Adam Rogers

Watch: Mondays 9pm/8pm Central, starting Oct. 2

Lore (Amazon)

The first ever podcast-to-Prime adaptation, Lore is a six-episode anthology series based on Aaron Mahnke’s hit horror show, bringing together re-enactments and archival footage to dramatize (supposed) real-life tales of spookiness. The cast includes ex-X-Files star Robert Patrick and Teen Wolf‘s Holland Roden, but the real star might be the trailer’s creepy, dead-eyed doll, who looks kind of like a Motherboy costume come to life. Arriving just in time for Halloween, Lore will at least give folks something new to dig into after they’ve rewatched A Nightmare on Elm Street for the gazillionth time. —Brian Raftery

Watch: Oct. 13

Back (Sundance Now)

Even if comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb hadn’t given us the absurd perfection that is “Numberwang,” they’d still deserve a lifetime achievement award for sitcom Peep Show, which lasted for nine seasons of perspective-shifting bliss. (Seriously, everyone, watch Peep Show.) And now, they’re back! The new sitcom—in which a beleaguered man (Mitchell) is reunited with a long-lost, and insufferably smarmy, foster brother (Webb)—reprises the superego-vs-id dynamic the pair is so beloved for. Granted, it’s on Sundance’s streaming platform, Sundance Now, meaning you’d have to pony up for yet another subscription, but if you have a VPN you can watch it for free on the site for UK network Channel 4. And if not … well, what would Superhans do? —Peter Rubin

Watch: Nov. 5

Future Man (Hulu)

Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg have taken on just about every genre out there, from disaster movies (This Is the End) to comic-book adaptations (Preacher) to animation (Sausage Party), but it’s taken them until now to bring their filthy comedic lens to sci-fi. A janitor (Josh Hutcherson) finds out his favorite video game is actually a recruitment tool—and now he’s conscripted by the game’s heroes (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson) to put those skills to use, time-hopping through his family’s history in a bid to stave off global disaster. At least, that’s the masturbation-joke-free version; the real version is exactly what you’d expect, if Rogen and Goldberg had shared a Back to the FutureLast Starfighter-psilocybin smoothie. —Peter Rubin

Watch: Nov. 14

The Runaways (Hulu)

Super-powered teenagers go on the run in a world that hates and fears them. But because The Runaways is on Hulu and made by Disney-Marvel, this Marvel Comics-based show does not have mutants or X-Men. Nosiree. Maybe some Inhumans. Thing is, the comic was created by Bryan K. Vaughan, and its X-Manly premise is that the millennial kids find out their Gen-X parents are super villains. Which seems right. Like the Netflix Marvel shows, Runaways is nominally set in the same universe as the Avengers, but, shyyeaah, whatever. Oh, remember James Marsters, who was so yummy as bad boy Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Well, he’s the dad now, so let that sink in. —Adam Rogers

Watch: Nov. 21

She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix)

Movie-to-TV remakes are one of the hardest gambles in television. Which is not to say there haven’t been successes; Fargo and Friday Night Lights are as equally beloved as their cinema archetypes. It’s just that it can be difficult to live up to the film’s original glory. (The cynic in me would do away with TV remakes altogether; creators have a duty to construct modern ideas not rework used concepts). Spike Lee’s episodic update of his 1986 debut feature falls somewhere in the middle. It’s got a phenomenal score, mouthfuls of beautiful camera work, and emerging talents like Anthony Ramos as Mars Blackmon, who is nothing but electricity and charisma. But it’s still a 2017 Spike Lee joint, which means the seasoned auteur is regrettably going to rely on some of his old habits—mainly, the heavy-handed approach to storytelling. He rarely lets the viewer do any of the labor, or arrive at their own conclusions. Even so, She’s Gotta Have It is a treat to watch, especially its small, digressive conversations about gentrification or white privilege or sexual hypocrisy. It’s here, in the intimate space between lovers and friends, where Lee hits his stride. —Jason Parham

Watch: Nov. 23

Happy! (Syfy)

Of all the Grant Morrison comics you can imagine as a TV show, Happy—his 2013 miniseries about a cop-turned-hitman who changes his ways when he finds himself saddled with a tiny imaginary talking blue unicorn—might be the last. Then again, you’re not Syfy. With Chris Meloni as the hired gun in question, and Patton Oswalt as the titular unicorn, this one is poised to be a holiday miracle. Assuming it’s a faithful adaptation, hope you don’t mind some psycho Santas and sex crimes with your eggnog! Not for the faint of heart, but it might be just the thing to get you in the state of mind for some time with the family. —Peter Rubin

Watch: Dec. 6

Will & Grace (NBC)

It’s been 11 years since Will & Grace went off the air. But after the cast reunited for a get-out-the-vote video during last year’s election, America—or rather, NBC and show creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick—decided it was time to bring Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Jack (Sean Hayes), and Karen (Megan Mullally) back to TV. Although the showrunners have promised W&G v. 2.0 will address the current political climate the way its previous Bush/Cheney-needling seasons did, they’ve also sworn it won’t be all-Trump-jokes-all-the-time. A lot has changed in the queer rights movement and in the TV landscape since Will & Grace ended in 2006, and its hard to tell if the show can be as revolutionary now as it was when it first aired in 1998. But even if it doesn’t change the world, watching it reclaim its magic will be a hoot. —Angela Watercutter

Watch: Thursdays, 9pm/8pm Central

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