Taking a chance on a new TV series is akin to a new relationship in many ways. And it’s almost normal to feel the commitment-phobia settling in each fall as the networks churn out their new pilots and hope something sticks.
With the vast catalog of content at viewers’ fingertips, the idea of committing to a show that might not make it past its fifth episode hardly seems like the best use of time. Well, fear not, since we recently spent way too much time watching all the pilots for the upcoming fall TV season and are here to separate the wheat from the chaff.
SHOWS TO WATCH
Donald Glover is the writer/creator/star of FX’s “Atlanta,” a show that follows two cousins as they attempt to make in the music business. Glover stars as Earnest “Earn” Marks, an Ivy-league drop out turned credit card sales man, who convinces his cousin Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) to let him manage his burgeoning rap career. The series premiered on Sept. 6, but the pilot episode is available to watch online.
“Atlanta” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on FX.
Also from FX this season is “Better Things,” starring Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox, a 40-something actress and single mother to three daughters. “Better Things” is the network’s first comedy with a female lead and offers a darkly humorous look at motherhood, aging and Hollywood bullshit. The pilot episode is a bit of a slog to get through, but viewers will be rewarded if they stick with it.
“Better Things” premiered on Sept. 8. You can watch the first episode online and catch the rest Thursdays at 10 p.m. on FX.
Kylie Bunbury stars as Ginny Baker, a rookie pitcher who becomes the first woman to play in Major League Baseball when she signs with the San Diego Padres. The Fox show, also staring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Ali Larter, is garnering a lot of buzz among critics and has the potential to be one of the standout shows of the season.
“Pitch” premieres Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. EST on FOX.
The ABC sitcom stars Katy Mixon as Katie Otto, a sarcastic mother of three who sticks out among the Stepford-esque mommies in the wealthy town of Westport, Connecticut. The pilot episode sets the tone for the series, humorously dealing with body image and class as viewers join Katie on her quest to make sure that she not become “the second-fattest housewife in Westport” after her neighbor who held the title moves out of town.
“American Housewife” premieres Oct. 11 at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC.
Get ready to cry. NBC’s “This Is Us” comes from writer Dan Fogelman and directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, who were behind 2011’s “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” And without giving too much away, by the time you’ve watched the first episode, you’ll understand why it’s important to know that ― or at least why it makes sense.
“This Is Us” follows four people with very different lives who just happen to share a birthday, and so far it’s our guess for the season’s breakout hit. It stars Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley, and Chrissy Metz.
“This Is Us” premieres Sept. 20 at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.
Kristen Bell is incredibly charming as Eleanor Shellstrop, an obnoxious and self-centered narcissist, who is hellbent on reforming herself now that she’s dead. When she accidentally ends up in Heaven, aka The Good Place, she must learn to fit in for her sake and everyone else’s. The NBC sitcom also stars Ted Danson and William Jackson Harper.
“The Good Place” premieres Sept. 19 at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.
HBO is so sure they have a hit on their hands with “Westworld,” they’ve already planned the next five seasons of the western sci-fi series from J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. Based on the 1973 film by Michael Crichton, the series is about a futuristic theme park where guests can play out their creepy sex fantasies with extremely realistic-looking androids, until they, you know, revolt and start killing everyone.
“Westworld” premieres on Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.
SHOWS TO SKIP
“Conviction” - Just what TV needs: Another procedural.
“Notorious” - Meh, and still more lawyers.
“Bull” - The title of this show really says it all — and yet even more lawyers.
“Pure Genius” - The medical revolution will be hokey and overly sentimental.
“The Great Indoors” - This show is basically “How to Write the Worst Possible Column About Millennials,” the series ― participation trophy jokes and all.
“Man With a Plan” - Somehow, CBS execs greenlit a show in 2016 where the premise is about a dad realizing that parenting is hard when mom goes back to work.
“Kevin Can Wait” - We’ll wait for something else.