Get ready for a slew of new TV shows premiering this fall. After watching more trailers and reading more reviews than I can count, I’ve decided to give these 12 shows a shot. Here’s why you should check them out too.
Looking for shows with diverse characters? Make sure to read the diversity statement on each show!
1. Atlanta (FX)
Tuesdays. Started at 10 ET/9 CT on Sept. 6.
Donald Glover’s new comedy Atlanta is off to a fantastic start. The series follows Glover’s character Earnest “Earn” Marks and his cousin Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) in their attempt to break into the Atlanta rap music scene. With strong writing and refreshing characters, Atlanta easily stands out from all the other comedies on TV right now. And while it’s a comedy, Atlanta excels in blending moments of laughter, drama, and essential issues all in its half-hour runtime.
Diverse characters? If you’re looking for a show with a non-white main cast, this show is an easy pick.
2. Better Things (FX)
Thursdays. Started at 10 ET/9 CT on Sept. 8.
Like Atlanta, Better Things is able to separate itself from the traditional comedy. The show stars Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox, a divorced actress and single mother of three. Created by Adlon and Louis CK, Better Things is bolstered by the performance of its lead actresses, especially Adlon, and its exploration of single motherhood. The show manages to add in plenty of snarky and smart comedy while providing a genuine realization of the struggles of being a single parent.
Diverse characters? While this show’s main cast is all white, it is also all female. It may not be a diverse cast, but the focus on female characters give the show a chance to make a point about gender.
3. The Good Place (NBC)
Premiering at 10 ET/9 CT on Monday, Sept. 19. Then airs regularly at 8:30 ET/7:30 CT Thursdays starting Sept. 22.
The best part of The Good Place also has the potential to be its downfall. This comedy, created by Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Rec) takes us to “the Good Place” with Eleanor (Kristen Bell) after she dies. She quickly finds out that this is an accident; she isn’t a good person, but she has to keep this secret if she wants to avoid being sent to “the Bad Place.” The unique setting gives this show the chance to shine. It also puts the comedy on shaky ground. The success of the series will rely on how well it executes its heavenly concept.
Diverse characters? While Kristen Bell and Ted Danson are at the forefront of the cast, the main cast also includes multiple actors of color.
4. This is Us (NBC)
Tuesdays. Starting at 10 ET/9 CT on Sept. 20.
This is Us is one of the new shows getting the most buzz this season, so it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. Among TV’s numerous crime and law dramas, it’s always nice to see one that focuses on people’s normal lives. And from the trailer, This is Us looks like it’ll be emotional and heartfelt. Each of the characters has their own drama: Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) are expecting triplets, Kevin (Justin Hartley) is an actor who is tired of his lifestyle, Kate (Chrissy Metz) is hoping to get a new start by losing weight, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is searching for his biological father. The characters are connected by the same birthday, but they also have another connection that NBC is keeping under wraps.
Diverse characters? The eight-person main cast includes three actors of color: Randall, his wife, and his father. There’s also Kate, who could serve as a three-dimensional, diverse character of her own if her story evolves beyond the weight-loss cliché. If Kate’s story isn’t about anything besides her weight, however, she’ll be a problematic and disappointing character.
5. Designated Survivor (ABC)
Wednesdays. Starting at 10 ET/9 CT on Sept. 21.
Kiefer Sutherland of 24 plays Tom Kirkman, a secretary of housing and urban development suddenly forced into the role of president when a bomb hits the US Capitol. The premise itself is very interesting; there’s potential for a lot of powerful character development as Tom finds himself in a position he’s entirely unprepared for. Along with that, there’s the attack on the Capitol to contend with. With this suspenseful political drama’s strong base; it’s likely to be one of the season’s most successful series.
Diverse characters? The main cast does have a few actors of color, but Sutherland is undoubtedly the focus. The state of the show’s non-white characters is a toss-up.
6. Speechless (ABC)
Wednesdays. Starting at 8:30 ET/7:30 CT on Sept. 21.
What sets Speechless apart is its exploration of a character with cerebral palsy — and an actor with cerebral palsy plays the part. This decision makes the show much more authentic, and I’m thankful for the casting choice. And while Speechless is another family sitcom, based on the trailer, it seems to be full of depth. Rather than exclusively focusing on J.J, (Micah Fowler) dealing with cerebral palsy, the show also explores how this impacts the rest of the family, especially J.J.’s mom Maya (Minnie Driver) and his siblings Dylan (Kyla Kenedy) and Ray (Mason Cook).
Diverse characters? Having a character with cerebral palsy played by an actor with cerebral palsy is enough diversity to make this show work. It also includes a few other diverse characters in the background and one character of color in the main cast — Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough)
7. Pitch (Fox)
Thursdays. Starting at 9 ET/8 CT on Sept. 22.
My top pick for this season is undoubtedly Pitch, which looks to be a powerhouse of a show. Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) is Major League Baseball’s first female player, a role full of challenges and criticism. Bunbury knocks the role out of the park (despite the pun, she’s actually a pitcher) in the trailer. She’ll likely be a force to be reckoned with in this sports drama. This show stands on its own with its plot and characters — plus, it breaks the mold of the typical drama we’re seeing on TV nowadays.
Diverse characters? The main cast is composed of a variety of characters, and with a black woman as the first MLB pitcher, this show has a clear diverse focus.
8. Westworld (HBO)
Sundays. Starting at 9 ET/8 CT on Oct. 2.
This show is often called HBO’s next Game of Thrones — not a comparison I agree with, but I will say this series is full of potential. Based on the 1973 sci-fi thriller Westworld, the show takes place in a futuristic Western theme park filled with life-like androids. In this gritty, intriguing genre mashup, some of the androids begin to realize that they were created solely for the use of the massive theme park’s patrons. It’ll be interesting to see these androids come to a greater understanding of their role in the park. The tension between Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), creator of Westworld, and Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), one of the androids, is powerful and palpable in the trailer. The conflicts between the artificial humans, visitors, and creators of the park have loads of potential, and so far it looks like Westworld is going to use that potential to the fullest.
Diverse characters? The show has a massive main cast, so there are sure to be some diverse characters. But in all likelihood the main exploration of diversity will be the differences between the humans and the artificial people that inhabit Westworld.
9. Timeless (NBC)
Mondays. Starting at 10 ET/9 CT on Oct. 3.
Time travel is always tricky to work with, so the way Timeless handles its rules could make it or break it. When a criminal steals a time machine, Homeland Security recruits history professor Lucy (Abigail Preston), soldier Wyatt (Matt Lanter), and scientist Rufus (Malcom Barrett) to stop him and prevent American history from changing. The show seems to be taking full advantage of the historical settings when it comes to set and costume design. As long as Timeless can steer clear messy time travel issues, the characters and plot should set up the show for success.
Diverse characters? The main cast includes a few non-white characters, with Rufus at the forefront. This is going to be very tricky for the show; as Rufus says in the trailer, “I am black. There is literally no place in American history that will be awesome for me.” While this provides plenty of opportunity for plot and character development, the trailer tries too hard to use this concept to make an impact. Hopefully Timeless can keep this balanced and avoid overdoing it.
10. Frequency (CW)
Wednesday. Starting at 9 ET/8 CT on Oct. 5.
Like Westworld, Frequency is based on a film of the same name. While the show uses the same plot as the 2000 film, Frequency changes the gender of the lead character, replacing John with Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List). In 2016, twenty years after the death of her father Frank Sullivan (Riley Smith), NYPD detective Raimy finds that she can communicate with him via his old ham radio. Since he’s still in 1996, Raimy must use this link to solve a murder case decades in the making. And of course, she tries to find a way to save him, triggering a “butterfly effect” that will change her life as she knows it. It’s an exciting plot with a well-built trailer, so I have high hopes for this one.
Diverse characters? This show certainly doesn’t have the most diverse cast, but at least the main cast isn’t all white.
11. Insecure (HBO)
Sunday. Starting at 10:30 ET/9:30 CT on Oct. 9.
This smart HBO comedy is sure to have much more impact than a few laughs. Slightly based on Issa Rae’s web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Insecure seeks to authentically explore “the friendship, experiences and tribulations of two black women,” according to the show’s HBO page. The mix of snappy comedy and look at critical issues gives Insecure a strong foundation. Rae’s webseries was praised for portraying black women authentically; hopefully Insecure will do the same.
Diverse characters? Issa Rae is no doubt planning to build upon the praised portrayal of black identity in her web series Awkward Black Girl. Insecure is high on the list of this season’s diverse shows.
12. Falling Water (USA)
Thursday. Starting at 10 ET/9 CT on Oct. 13.
In this supernatural drama, three strangers are dreaming different parts of one dream. Tess (Lizzie Brocheré), a trend spotter, Take (Will Yun Lee), an NYPD detective, and Burton (David Ajala), head of security for an investment banking firm soon discover their connection. Their shared dream may hold secrets that could save the world. What makes this show most interesting is just how different it is from the rest of the season’s TV. The exploration of dreams gives it an Inception vibe, but the plot stands on its own. Falling Water could be hit or miss at this point, but thanks to its original plot, it’s worth a shot.
Diverse characters? The three characters at the forefront of the series are mixed in gender and race, giving this show a good, diverse base.
What series are you most looking forward to? Let me know if you think there’s a show I should add to the list.