This spring, COVID-19 brought about an industry-wide shutdown of television production. But enough was already in the can—or has recently been able to safely wrap—to make for a rich and compelling slate of new and returning shows hitting the airwaves and streaming services this fall.
New shows will arrive from some of the biggest names in the business: Ridley Scott returns to TV as a director for the first time in 50 years with Raised by Wolves; Sex and the City’s Darren Star is showrunner for Emily in Paris; and Ryan Murphy is debuting Ratched, based on the iconic character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The likes of Nicole Kidman, Chris Rock and Queen Latifah will all be in front of the camera on new shows.
And while fans will have to wait a little longer for the much-anticipated Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which was originally set to drop on Disney+ in August but now has been delayed indefinitely, they will get to spend more time with Baby Yoda in a second season of The Mandalorian.
Here are the buzziest shows set to debut or return in fall 2020.
Raised by Wolves (Sept. 3 on HBO Max)
Though he’s worked on the small screen as a producer of shows like The Good Wife and The Man in the High Castle, Ridley Scott hasn’t directed television since 1969. Now, the Alien director returns for a sci-fi series about two androids, named Mother and Father, who are tasked with raising a colony of human children. The show takes place on a mysterious planet that, as it turns out, is threatened by some pretty scary looking creatures.
Away (Sept. 4 on Netflix)
Hilary Swank stars as an astronaut who is leaving behind her husband (Josh Charles) and teenage daughter (Talitha Bateman) for three years for a mission to Mars. The trailer suggests the show will offer the excitement of a movie like Gravity and the tear-jerker moments of dramas like Friday Night Lights (which Away producer Jason Katims also executive produced).
The Boys, Season 2 (Sept. 4 on Amazon)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Aya Cash (You’re the Worst) join the cast of the irreverent, obscene and ridiculously bloody superhero series that deconstructs the genre that has come to dominate pop culture.
Pen15, Season 2 (Sept. 8 on Hulu)
The wonderfully awkward middle school drama created by and starring Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle returns for a slightly darker second season, which explores how the friends handle the divorce of Anna’s parents.
Woke (Sept. 9 on Hulu)
New Girl star Lamorne Morris plays a cartoonist who experiences a rude awakening about racism after an encounter with police officers. The dramedy is based on the real life and work of artist Keith Knight.
Coastal Elites (Sept. 12 on HBO)
It was only a matter of time until we got narrative content about life under quarantine: Coastal Elites is a comedy with a stacked cast (Issa Rae, Dan Levy, Sarah Paulson, Kaitlyn Dever and Bette Midler) who all play, well, coastal elites dealing with their own set of pandemic-related frustrations—trying to continue filming their YouTube meditations, talking virtually with their therapists, etc.—with varying degrees of competence.
The Third Day (Sept. 14 on HBO)
Jude Law, Naomie Harris and Katherine Waterston star in a mystery about an island off the British coast with some seriously creepy Midsommar vibes. The trailer doesn’t give away much about the show except that the series is divided into two parts, “Summer” and “Winter.”
We Are Who We Are (Sept. 14 on HBO)
Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino tackles another coming-of-age story, this time about two American teenagers who live on an American military base with their families in Italy. The series explores issues of identity and the messiness of first love.
Ratched (Sept. 18 on Netflix)
Sarah Paulson has long been a regular in Ryan Murphy’s projects, including his eerie American Horror Story series. Now the two are re-teaming for an origin story of one of the most iconic characters in pop culture: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest villain Nurse Ratched. Cynthia Nixon, Sharon Stone, Corey Stoll and Vincent D’Onofrio join the cast of a show that looks at once fun and foreboding.
Filthy Rich (Sept. 21 on Fox)
Kim Cattrall’s new show is a soapy succession drama that owes its twists (and accents) to Dallas. Cattrall plays the wife of a wealthy televangelist who dies in a plane crash. When the lawyers review the famous man’s will, they find that he fathered three children outside his marriage and left a hefty sum for each. Skirmishes over the fortune ensue.
Utopia (Sept. 25 on Amazon)
Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn ventures into sci-fi with Utopia, a new drama about a group of graphic novel fans who realize that the conspiracy outlined in their favorite comic are real—and it’s up to them to save the world. Say Anything‘s John Cusack, The Office’s Rainn Wilson and American Honey breakout Sasha Lane star.
Fargo, Season 4 (Sept. 27 on FX)
The fourth installment in the anthology series, originally set to debut in the spring but delayed because of coronavirus, will be set in Kansas City in 1950. Chris Rock plays the head of a Black crime family whose uneasy alliance with the Italian mafia gets disrupted. As usual, Fargo attracts an impressive cast, which this time around includes Jason Schwartzman and Ben Whishaw. The show will be available to stream on Hulu the next day.
The Comey Rule (Sept. 27 on Showtime)
Just in time for the height of election coverage, Jeff Daniels stars as James Comey and Brendan Gleeson as Donald Trump in a two-night drama based on the former FBI director’s memoir, A Higher Loyalty. Showrunner Billy Ray (Richard Jewell) has said he believes that the political series will irk those on both the right and the left side of the aisle. The all-star cast includes Holly Hunter as Sally Yates, Michael Kelly as Andy McCabe and Kingsley Ben-Adir as Barack Obama.
The Good Lord Bird (Oct. 4 on Showtime)
Ethan Hawke will play abolitionist John Brown in a limited series based on the James McBride novel of the same name about his raid of Harper’s Ferry in 1859. The story will be told from the point of view of an enslaved child named Onion (Joshua Caleb Johnson) and aims to challenge the typical white-savior narrative of antebellum stories.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond (Oct. 4 on AMC)
The Walking Dead has been on the air for so long (10 seasons and counting) that the latest spinoff focuses on a new generation of children who have grown up knowing nothing but the zombie apocalypse. Think: Walking Dead meets the world of dystopian young adult fiction.
Soulmates (Oct. 5 on AMC)
This anthology series is set 15 years in the future, when scientists have created a test that tells each person their soulmate (a premise reminiscent of the Black Mirror episode “Hang the DJ”). Each entry follows a different person as they decide to discover (or opt out of discovering) their match and learn how their choice impacts their relationships. Succesion’s Sarah Snook, Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton and High Fidelity’s Kingsley Ben-Adir star.
The Right Stuff (Oct. 9 on Disney+)
Leonardo DiCaprio is producing this National Geographic series about the Cold War space race based on Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book of the same name. (Phil Kaufman’s Oscar-winning 1983 movie of the same name was also based on Wolfe’s book.) The show, which will focus on the men recruited to test the first experimental space aircraft, has all the makings of classic adventure tale.
Star Trek: Discovery, Season 3 (Oct. 15 on CBS All Access)
The series is jumping far into the future—930 years, to be exact—freeing the starship Discovery and Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) from the burden of past Star Trek stories to create its own future.
Helstrom (Oct. 16 on Hulu)
With many of the planned Marvel movies and TV series on pause (Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had to pause filming because of COVID-19), Helstrom will scratch an itch for comic fans. The horror series follows the adult children of a serial killer who have become detectives and hunt down murderers and demons.
The Queen’s Gambit (Oct. 23 on Netflix)
Coming off an impressive performance in this year’s Jane Austen adaptation Emma., Anya Taylor-Joy stars in another stylized period drama. Based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel, the series is about an orphan girl in Kentucky who aspires to rise through the ranks of the male-dominated world of competitive chess. But as she ascends, she struggles with a growing addicting to the tranquilizing drugs that were given to her and other orphaned children when they were wards of the state.
The Undoing (Oct. 25 on HBO)
Writer David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) teams up with Nicole Kidman and HBO once more for this limited series, which centers on a New York therapist, played by Kidman, and her husband, played by Hugh Grant. The couple’s seemingly perfect lives begin to fracture when they are faced with a very violent and very public death.
The Mandalorian, Season 2 (October on Disney+)
The hotly-anticipated second season of the first Star Wars live-action television show is set to return in October. Last we saw Pedro Pascal’s Mando and the adorable Baby Yoda, they were in search of Baby Yoda’s home with Giancarlo Esposito’s villainous Moff Gideon in hot pursuit. Many mysteries surrounding Baby Yoda, as his powers and his origins have yet to be revealed. Let’s just hope he hasn’t aged a day between seasons.
The Crown, Season 4 (Nov. 15 on Netflix)
Princess Diana finally arrives in The Crown’s fourth season. Emma Corrin will play the princess whose vibrant life and tragic end enraptured the world. Meanwhile, the legendary Gillian Anderson will tackle the role of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. The show promises to get juicier as the events covered by the series inch closer and closer to modern day.
Genius: Aretha (TBA on National Geographic)
Cynthia Erivo has quickly jumped from lauded stage actor and musical artist to Hollywood star with her roles in Widows and Harriet. Now, she will play the iconic queen of soul Aretha Franklin in National Geographic’s Genius series.
Grand Army (TBA on Netflix)
Netflix is adapting Katie Cappiello’s hit 2013 play Slut into a drama with a new name. The play and series center on a 16-year-old named Joey Del Marco, who is sexually assaulted by three life-long friends. The story then spins out to tell a broader tale of the lives of a group of New York City teens who attend school near Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza and the repercussions of that night on the people in their community.
Emily in Paris (TBA on Netflix)
Remember the Paris jaunt at the end of Sex & The City? Now you can watch an entire series on dating in the city of lights. Lily Collins (Les Misérables) stars in a romantic comedy created by Darren Star (Sex & The City, Younger) about a Chicago marketing executive who lands her dream job in Paris but struggles to adjust to a new social life in a foreign city.
The Equalizer (TBA on CBS)
Queen Latifah is starring in the reboot of the action franchise The Equalizer, which ran as a show on CBS in the 1980s and was adapted into a film by Antoine Fuqua starring Denzel Washington in 2014. Latifah will play a woman who markets herself as a guardian-angel-for-hire.
The Haunting of Bly Manor (TBA on Netflix)
Netflix is turning its smash-hit horror show Haunting of Hill House into an anthology series. Rather than continuing to follow the Crain family, creator Mike Flanagan will focus on a new ghost story with a new set of characters. This new installment will take inspiration from Henry James’ classic gothic novel Turn of the Screw, which centers on a young governess who moves into an estate to care for two orphaned children.
Law & Order: Organized Crime (TBA on NBC)
This may not feel like the moment to be greenlighting more cop shows, but onetime Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Christopher Meloni is getting his own spinoff nonetheless. Organized Crime, which has promised plenty of crossover episodes with Mariska Hargitay-led SVU, will center on Meloni’s Elliot Stabler as he returns to the NYPD after a decade away from the force to fight organized crime after a personal loss.
Supermarket Sweep (TBA on ABC)
Now that finding cleaning supplies in the supermarket can feel like a competition (or at least it did, did some months ago), ABC is bringing back Supermarket Sweep. Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones will host the beloved 1960s and 1990s game show that’s equal parts quiz show and race down the aisles.
A Teacher (TBA on FX)
Kate Mara stars as a high school teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with her underage student, played by Nick Robinson (Love, Simon). The series is based on creator Hannah Fidell’s 2013 Sundance film of the same name, which gained new traction in the past several years after the #MeToo movement shone a new light on issues of power and consent.