The Definitive Fall TV Survival Guide

By  · Published on September 11th, 2017

Let us be your (TV) guide.

The season of so much goddamn TV is upon us. And as we brace with excitement for the incoming avalanche of small-screen content the barrage can also feel pretty overwhelming. Fall TV is like the time-suck Hydra that keeps on giving. Every year it seems to mutate and multiply.

Your attention is precious and not to be wasted. If you’re going to blow off social engagements, doom your work-life balance, and crisp your corneas best to put some thought into it. Plugging “hole up and sever ties with reality” into a google calendar never hurt anybody. Probably.

To make the struggle a little easier we’ve cobbled together some hyped-up highlights from this year’s fall roster as well as a comprehensive list of what will be vying for your attention in the coming months. For a more manageable game plan, check out our own Karen Gomez’s breakdown of this week’s must-see TV, including the premieres of David Simon‘s porn period piece The Deuce and Seth MacFarlane‘s live-action sci-fi effort The Orville, as well as the return of Broad City and The Mindy Project.  

Caution: with some exceptions, we’ve left out reality TV, kids shows, and TV movies.

Godspeed, and don’t forget to hydrate.

American Horror Story: Cult (FX)

September 5th

feat: Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Allison Pill, Frances Conroy, and Billy Eichner.

Set in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, season seven of Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology takes timely aim at the terror of present-day U.S. politics, calling to task that crushing sense of dread we’ve all been enjoying so much lately. And if for whatever reason “the rise of a cult of personality…in a divided society” doesn’t make your skin crawl don’t worry, there’s plenty of trypophobia bait and murder clowns. 

BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

September 8th

feat: Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, Paul F. Tompkins, and Aparna Nancherla.

Last we saw, our self-loathing equine anti-hero was driving out of Los Angeles in his Tesla fresh from the loss of Sarah-Lynn. Seemingly in search of some literal incarnation of “the end of the road.” In interviews showrunner Raphael Bob-Waksberg has said that Season 3’s finale marked “the end for a certain chapter” of BoJack spiraling; of his behaving badly, exhibiting self-awareness, being forgiven, and fucking up again. Unlike its predecessors, Season 4 begins at rock bottom and tries to claw its way to somewhere not necessarily better, but different; to not only unearth the brokenness of its characters but to “[take] a deep breath and [jump] in to discover how they broke.

The Deuce (HBO)

September 10th

feat: James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Margarita Levieva, and like the entire cast of The Wire

Taking place during the rise of Manhattan’s sex industry during the 70s, The Deuce sees renaissance-man James Franco as the opportunistic and mob-affiliated brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino. Co-created by The Wire’s David Simon and frequent collaborator George Pelecanos, The Deuce intertwines the histories of Times Square and sex work. “What I stumbled into,” explains Simon, “seemed to be a ready-made critique of market capitalism, and what happens when labour has no collective voice…I think a lot of the lessons of the 20th century are going to have to be learned all over again.” Groovy. 

Broad City (Comedy Central)

September 13th

feat: Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, and Hannibal Buress.

Everyone’s favorite raunchy female stoner comedy is back with new and improved production value and a de-lightful roster of guest stars featuring the likes of Shania Twain, RuPaul, Wanda Sykes, and Steve Buscemi. Brace for un-inhibited capers, Illana’s politically-significant orgasm drought, and for the president’s name to be bleeped because “there’s no airtime for this orange (person).” While Glazer and Jacobson admit post-election malaise “had to be infused into the show as an overall undertone,” cheeky censorship might “make it feel a little better.”

Transparent (Amazon)

September 22nd

feat: Jeffery Tambor, Judith Light, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, and Gaby Hoffman.

The dysfunctional Pfefferman family is headed to Israel, or as Sarah says in the trailer: to “Orthodox Jewish Disneyland.” Maura is slated to speak at a conference and the rest of the family tag along, no doubt in search of some solace after three seasons of emotional upheaval. As seems to be the trend this fall, showrunner Jill Soloway has indicated that Transparent will be more intentionally political this season, with season 4’s trailer dropping a couple days after Trump’s military ban on transgender recruits.

Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)

September 24th

feat: Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Rainn Wilson, and Doug Jones.

Taking place a decade before the events of the O.G. 1966 Star Trek, Star Trek: Discovery is pegged to follow the cold war between the Klingons and Starfleet, focusing on a “lieutenant commander with caveats” in place of the typical captain/bridge officer. At Comic Con, now-departed showrunner Bryan Fuller spoke to the series’ long-standing commitment to present a diverse future, a commitment that has since been fulfilled and then some. “Our iteration of Star Trek has come specifically, expertly and wholeheartedly for a time such as this,” explained Sonequa Martin-Green. “It’s not just important, it’s vital.”

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

September 26th

feat: Edie Falco, Anthony Edwards, Miles Gaston Villanueva, and Heather Graham.

While we’re sitting on our hands waiting for January’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Law & Order’s new true crime anthology series is here to keep our itch satiated. The Menendez Murders dramatizes the highly-publicized trial of Lyle and Erik Menendez, accused of murdering their parents. Of particular note is the presence of the indomitable Edie Falco as take-no-shit defense attorney Leslie Abramson. The show, which will focus on the molestation the brothers are alleged to have suffered, “has an agenda…that I think will change a lot of people’s attitudes,” explained producer Dick Wolf. “After 27 years of Law & Orders…we’ve made some great shows ripped from the headlines [but] this is on a different level.

This is Us (NBC)

September 26th


feat: Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, and Milo Ventimiglia. 

Last year, This is Us was the new kid on the network block that went on to score the first network show nomination for the best drama Emmy since 2011. It also seems to have been created with the express purpose of making me ugly cry. The second season will pick up in the present day a couple of months after last season’s finale, with the Pearson siblings being tugging in different directions; be it embarking on an adoption process or moving to LA for an acting gig. This is Us’s power is in its simplicity, drawing from the family drama formula to navigate the complex ways in which relationships are tested, unfold, and strengthen. Prepare your tissues.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

October 1st

feat: Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, JB Smoove and Susie Essman. Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen

Larry David’s meta-comedy of errors is back and our favorite self-righteous misanthrope is as grumpy as ever. “It really thematically follows Pirates of the Caribbean,” joked co-executive producer and returning cast member Jeff Garlin. “It’s more like the last one than the first few.” According to Variety, the new season will pick up five years later, where Larry will sling hot takes on everything “from Uber drivers to oyster shuckers,” with guest stars like Elizabeth Banks, Nick Offerman, Bryan Cranston, Ted Danson, and Judge Judy in tow. Having had a sabbatical to perfect the Art of the Cringe, we’re antsy to see what everyday indignities will enter the line of fire this season.

The Mayor (ABC)

October 3rd

feat: Brandon Michael Hall, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Lea Michele.

A network comedy that hints at something a little less predictable (and a little more optimistic), The Mayor follows Courtney Rose, a rapper who runs for mayor in an attempt to publicize his mixtape, only to accidentally win. Reportedly inspired by Chance the Rapper’s early life, The Mayor will feature original music from executive producer/‘Hamilton’ breakout star, Daveed Diggs. From the trailer, it looks like a very sweet and funny take on what it means to compromise your dreams for the betterment of your community. And like The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee says, “if there’s a time for a show about the need for an inspirational and inclusive political figure, it’s now.”

Riverdale (The CW)

October 11th

feat: KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, and Cole Sprouse.

Get ready for more Tween Peaks. We may have cracked the case of who murdered Jason Blossom but Season 1’s finale left with a whole new whodunnit: who shot Archie’s dad in, quoth Jughead, “an act of violence that was anything but random.” We’ll have 9 additional episodes to solve the mystery this season, which showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has promised will feature a civil war type situation between the north and south sides of Riverdale. No word yet on when the series will fulfill its destiny and become the ‘Archie’s Weird Mysteries’ adaptation I desperately want it to be.

Mr. Robot (USA)

October 11th

feat: Rami Malek, Christian Slater, B.D. Wong, and Bobby Cannavale.

fsociety is back! Last time we saw him, Elliot wasn’t doing so hot, what with the gunshot wound inflicted by the super-not-imaginary Tyrell Wellick and the world spiraling out of control. While it would appear that Elliot survives, the turmoil of his multiple personalities is becoming more unstable, particularly with the impending deadline of “Phase 2.” Things are bleak as ever but there’s going to be more of The Dark Army which means more of B.D. Wong so we’ve got that going for us which is nice.

Mindhunter (Netflix)

October 13th

feat: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv.

David Fincher’s factual thriller about the FBI’s elite serial killer crime unit is slated to roll into Netflix queues this fall. Where Fincher typically deals with the catching of one baddie, Mindhunter’s scope is somewhat larger, with two fictional agents (played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) studying a slew of convicted killers to try and catch future potential murderers. Netflix is so confident in the blessed combo of Fincher and serial killers that the show has already been renewed for a second season before the first has even aired. And can you blame them? True crime is so hot right now.

Lore (Amazon)

October 13th

feat: Caroline Arapoglou, Mark Ashworth, and John Byner.

This past fall, it was announced at NYC Comic-Con that Amazon had picked up Aaron Mahnke’s spooky (and oddly soothing) podcast for a 10-episode series. The immensely popular podcast, a campfire story-esque examination of real-life accounts of the paranormal, has always felt like a natural fit for television. And as our own Paola Mardo notes, the “transmedia storytelling” created by adapting podcasts is rich with possibility, for better or for worse (where worse equals more Mothman on your twitter feed than usual).

Stranger Things (Netflix)

October 27th

feat: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, and Millie Bobby Brown.

Okay listen up. You’re going to have a hot four days to wrangle up a relevant Stranger Things Halloween costume. You’ve been warned. The incoming season is said to be “bigger and darker,” and that’s great but honestly the second season of Stranger Things could have been one long breach episode and I’d still tune in. Among the new cast is Sean Astin (The Goonies), who will play “a kind-hearted former nerd who went to high school with Joyce” and Paul Reiser (Aliens) who plays a potential baddie on a ‘clean up’ assignment. The Demogorgon is out! Towering Lovecraft Kaiju is in! Time to play S U R V I V E on loop until October 27th.

Alias Grace (Netflix)

November 3rd

feat: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft, Anna Paquin, and Zachary Levi.

With The Handmaid’s Tale still warm, comes another Margaret Atwood adaptation courtesy of Mary Harron (American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol). Alias Grace is based on the true story of the notorious “inhuman female demon” Grace Marks, who was accused of murdering Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Upper Canada in 1843. With the help of a spiritualist, hypnotist, and alienist, a doctor in the burgeoning field of mental health tires to discern whether or not Grace is innocent.

The Crown (Netflix)

December 8th

feat: Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, Victoria Hamilton and Jeremy Northam.

Brace yourselves monarchists, Christmas is coming a little early. The first season of the lavish period drama signaled The Crown as Netflix’s entry into prestige television to the tune of 13 goddamn Emmy Nominations. Round two sees our royals in the 60s, where we’ll get to spend more time with our favorite queen, the Princes Philip and Charles, and (heaven forfend) John mother fucking Kennedy (Dexter’s Michael C. Hall). Oh yes, and the Suez Crisis.

September 1st

Narcos, Season 3 (Netflix)


September 5th

American Horror Story: Cult (FX)


September 6th

You’re the Worst, Season 4 (FXX)

EPICLY LATER’D, Season 1 (Viceland)


September 8th

BoJack Horseman, Season 4 (Netflix)

Fire Chasers, (Netflix)

The Confession Tapes (Netflix)

One Mississippi, Season 2 (Amazon)


September 9th

Con Man, Season 1 (Syfy)


September 10th

The Deuce, Season 1 (HBO)

The Orville, Season 1 (Fox)

Outlander, Season 3 (Starz)

Fear the Walking Dead, Season 3 (AMC)

Top of the Lake: China Girl, Season 2 (Sundance TV)


September 11th

Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories, Season 2 (Adult Swim)

Newton’s Law (Acorn TV)


September 12th

The Mindy Project, Season 6 (Hulu)


September 13th

Broad City, Season 4 (Comedy Central)

South Park, Season 21 (Comedy Central)


September 14th

Better Things, Season 2 (FX)

Bong Appetit, Season 2B (Viceland)

The Pizza Show, Season 2 (Viceland)

Riviera (Sundance Now)


September 15th

American Vandal, Season 1 | September 15th (Netflix)

Mission Saturn | September 15th (NatGeo)


September 17th

69th Primetime Emmy Awards (ABC)

El Chapo, Season 2 (Univision)

The Vietnam War: Miniseries (PBS)

Vice Principals, Season 2 (HBO)


September 18th

Dancing With the Stars, Season 25 (ABC)

The State (NatGeo)


September 19th

Jerry Before Seinfeld (Netflix)


September 20th

The Good Place, Season 2 (NBC)


September 21st

Gotham, Season 4 (Fox)


September 22nd

Transparent, Season 4 (Amazon)

Fuller House: Season 3 (Netflix)

Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father (Netflix)


September 23rd

Ducktales (Disney XD)

September 24th

Star Trek: Discovery, Season 1 (CBS All Access)

Keeping Up with the Kardashians: 10 Year Anniversary Special (E!)

60 Minutes, Season 50 (CBS)


September 25th

Kevin Can Wait, Season 2 (CBS)

The Big Bang Theory, Season 11 (CBS)

The Good Doctor, Season 1 (ABC)

Me, Myself, and I, Season 1 (CBS)

Scorpion, Season 4 (CBS)

The Brave, Season 1 (NBC)

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper (Comedy Central)

Young Sheldon, Season 1 (CBS)


September 26th

Lethal Weapon, Season 2 (Fox)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season 5 (Fox)

NCIS, Season 15 (CBS)

NCIS: New Orleans, Season 4 (CBS)

Bull, Season 2 (CBS)

This is Us, Season 2 (NBC)

The Mick, Season 2 (Fox)

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


September 27th

The Goldbergs, Season 5 (ABC)

Survivor: Heros v. Healers v. Hustlers (CBS)

Empire, Season 4 (Fox)

The Blacklist, Season 5 (NBC)

Modern Family, Season 9 (ABC)

SEAL Team, Season 1 (CBS)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Season 19 (NBC)

American Housewife, Season 2 (ABC)

Designated Survivor, Season 2 (ABC)

Criminal Minds, Season 13 (CBS)

Chicago P.D., Season 5 (NBC)

Star, Season 2 (Fox)

Speechless, Season 2 (ABC)

Liar, Season 1 (Sundance TV)


September 28th

Will & Grace, Season 9 (NBC)

Grey’s Anatomy, Season 14 (ABC)

Superstore, Season 3 (NBC)

Great News, Season 2 (NBC)

How to Get Away With Murder, Season 4 (ABC)

Chicago Fire, Season 6 (NBC)

Nathan for You, Season 4 (Comedy Central)

The Good Place, Season 2 (NBC)

Gotham (Fox)

Mary Mary (WE)


September 29th

Marvel’s Inhumans, Season 1 (ABC)

Big Mouth, Season 1 (Netflix)

The Exorcist, Season 2 (Fox)

MacGyver, Season 2 (CBS)

Hell’s Kitchen, Season 17  (Fox)

Hawaii Five-0, Season 8 (CBS)

The Magic School Bus Rides Again, Season 1 (Netflix)

Club de Cuervos, Season 3 (Netflix)

Real Rob, Season 2 (Netflix)

Dateline NBC, Season 27 (NBC)

Z Nation, Season 4 (Syfy)

Blue Bloods, Season 8 (CBS)


September 30th

Versailles (Ovation)


October 1st

Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 9 (HBO)

The Toy Box, Season 2 (ABC)

Bob’s Burgers, Season 8 (Fox)

Shark Tank, Season 9 (ABC)

The Simpsons, Season 29 (Fox)

Wisdom of the Crowd, Season 1 (CBS)

Ghosted, Season 1 (Fox)

Family Guy, Season 15 (Fox)

Poldark, Season 3 (PBS)

NCIS: Los Angeles, Season 9 (CBS)

The Last Man on Earth, Season 4 (Fox)

Ten Days in the Valley, Season 1 (ABC)


October 2nd

The Gifted (Fox)

9KJL, Season 1 (CBS)

Lucifer, Season 3 (Fox)

The Halcyon (Ovation)


October 3rd

The Mayor (ABC)

The Middle, Season 9 (ABC)

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 4 (ABC)

black-ish, Season 4 (ABC)

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, Season 1 (ABC)

Cyberwar, Season 2 (Viceland)

Finding Your Roots (PBS)


October 5th

Van Helsing, Season 2 (Syfy)

Scandal, Season 7 (ABC)


October 6th

Suburra, Season 1 (Netflix)

Once Upon a Time, Season 7 (ABC)

Superstition, Season 1 (Syfy)


October 8th

Madam Secretary, Season 4 (CBS)

To Tell the Truth, Season 3 (ABC)

October 9th

Supergirl, Season 3 (The CW)

Valor, Season 1 (The CW)


October 10th

The Flash, Season 4 | October 10th (The CW)

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Season 3 (The CW)

Adventure Capitalists, Season 2 (CNBC)


October 11th

Riverdale, Season 2 (The CW)

Chance, Season 2 (Hulu)

Dynasty, Season 1 (The CW)

Mr. Robot, Season 3 (USA)

The Shannara Chronicles (Spike)


October 12th

Supernatural, Season 13 | October 12th (The CW)

Arrow, Season 6 | October 12th (The CW)

I Love You, America, Season 1 | October 12 (Hulu)


October 13th

Mindhunter, Season 1 (Netflix)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Season 3 (The CW)

Jane the Virgin, Season 4 (The CW)

Lore, Season 1 (Amazon)


October 14th

Queers, Season 1 (BBC America)

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Season 2 (BBC America)


October 15th

Berlin Station, Season 2 (Epix)

The Durrells in Corfu, Season 2 (PBS)

Good Behavior, Season 2 (TNT)

White Famous (Showtime)


October 16th

Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, Season 2 (VH1)


October 17th

Weediquette, Season 3B (Viceland)


October 18th

Freakish, Season 2 (Hulu)


October 22nd

The Walking Dead, Season 8 (AMC)

Graves, Season 2 (Epix)

Talking Dead, Season 7 (AMC)


October 24th

The Last OG, Season 1 | October 24th (TBS)

At Home with Amy Sedaris, Season 1 | October 24th (truTV)


October 27th

Stranger Things, Season 2 (Netflix)

Blindspot, Season 3 (NBC)


October 30th

Superior Donuts, Season 2 (CBS)


November 1st

Stan Against Evil, Season 2 (IFC)


November 2nd

Back, Season 1 (Sundance Now)

Mom, Season 5 (CBS)

Life in Pieces, Season 3 (CBS)

S.W.A.T., Season 1 (CBS)


November 3rd

Alias Grace, Season 1 (Netflix)


November 5th

The Girlfriend Experience, Season 2 (Starz)

Shameless, Season 8 (Showtime)

SMILF, Season 1 (Showtime)


November 7th

Teachers, Season 2 (TV Land)


November 10th

Lady Dynamite, Season 2 (Netflix)


November 14th

Future Man, Season 1 (Hulu)


November 15th

Mythbusters, (Science Channel)

The Trixie & Katya Show (Viceland)

Most Expensivest (Viceland)


November 19th

Search Party, Season 2 (TBS)


November 21st

Marvel’s Runaways, Season 1 (Hulu)


November 22nd

Godless, Season 1 (Netflix)


November 23rd

She’s Gotta Have It, Season 1 (Netflix)

Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars (PBS)


November 26th

America’s Funniest Home Videos, Season 28 (ABC)


November 28th

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, Season 2 (Viceland)


November 29th

Vikings, Season 5 (History)

Happy!, Season 1 (Syfy)


November, TBA

The Punisher, Season 1 (Netflix)


December 1st*

East Lost High Finale Special (Hulu)


December 6th

Shut Eye, Season 2 (Hulu)


December 8th

The Crown, Season 2 (Netflix)


December 17th

Last Tango in Halifax: Holiday Special Part 1 (PBS)


December 24th

Last Tango in Halifax: Holiday Special Part 2 (PBS)


December 25th

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time, Christmas Special (BBC America)

Call the Midwife: Holiday Special (PBS)


*I’m not a ding dong I know December is winter not fall. But at the end of the day, I just couldn’t leave it dangling. Sue me. 

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).