As has been written about many times already, we are living in a golden age of television. Of course, that is about the only golden part of the time we’re living in, but this season’s crop of shows stands out by addressing topical issues like the presidential election, mental health, sexual identity, and whatever Larry David’s issue is. And so, without any further ado or fanfare, here is an opinionated guide to the finest TV this fall.
American Horror Story: Cult
Ryan Murphy’s anthology series keeps on truckin’ with a scenario torn from our own horrifying reality: an election-themed season that unfolds in different circles of Hell. AHS regulars Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters return, along with Cheyenne Jackson and Billy Eichner. Lena Dunham also joins, which is perfect because one of the circles of Hell is her writing.
Sept. 5, FX
You’re the Worst
The cheerfully misanthropic comedy—a story of two “unlikable” couples who are more likable than anyone on TV—is back, delightfully tackling everything from chronic depression to cuckolding.
Sept. 6, FXX
David Simon’s The Wire has been called the best TV series ever made, so hopes and fears abound for his new, highly anticipated show, which traces the seedy porn-and-prostitution scene in 1970s Times Square. Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco star, and expectations run high that he’ll get naked.
Sept. 10, HBO
Will & Grace
Despite its surprisingly provocative plots and dialogue, the pioneering series never really got the credit it deserved for making network TV safe for gay characters, perhaps because it became the ultimate sitcom comfort food. The entire main cast, looking disturbingly ageless, makes a welcome return for a 12-episode season, transporting us back to a world in which Anastasia Beaverhausen was a household name and Donald Trump was just a shitty game-show host who came on afterward.
Sept. 28, NBC
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Speaking of cheerful misanthropy (see The Deuce), the world does not deserve another season of Larry David’s glorious dark comedy, but we’re getting it. After a six-year hiatus, the ninth season sees the main cast return with a ton of guest stars, from Elizabeth Banks to Carrie Brownstein. David will reveal nothing about the show other than that it takes “an unexpected turn.” That probably doesn’t mean he’ll stop being a glorious fuckup.
Oct. 1, HBO
The saga of Krystal and Alexis is remade by the producer of The O.C. with two actual gay characters. Patriarch Blake Carrington is played by 90210 pretty boy Grant Show (weird!), stepmother Krystal is now named Cristal (Nathalie Kelley), and the new gays include the Carrington’s son Steven (James Mackay) and Sam Flores (Rafael de la Fuente), a queer Hispanic version of Heather Locklear’s Sammy Jo. Plus: One of TV’s great bitches returns in the person of the spoiled daughter, Fallon. Her portrayer, Elizabeth Gilles, has big shoulder pads to fill. Sadly, no sign of Alexis—yet.
Oct. 11, CW
The most horrifying development in season two of this breakout thriller is that poor, dead Barb will not be coming back to life. The wonderful Millie Bobby Brown will be back, however, and the season will also include a number of nostalgic touches: more secrets about the Upside Down will be revealed; the kids dress up as Ghostbusters; and, in a nifty pairing of two ’80s child stars, Winona Ryder’s Joyce starts dating Sean Astin from The Goonies.
Oct. 27, Netflix