September is the traditional start of the fall TV season, but there’s nothing traditional about the blockbuster slate of shows set to grace the small screen this month. In fact, with House of the Dragon and Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law still releasing new episodes throughout the month and the addition of new series from the the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars franchises, it’s hard to imagine Peak TV getting any more peak.
Also this month: Atlanta, Cobra Kai and The Good Fight kick off their final seasons, last year’s smash hit Abbott Elementary returns for Season 2, and Modern Family creator Steve Levitan takes his act to streaming for a meta TV series about the staging of a TV reboot. Here are the shows Primetimer’s editorial staff can’t wait to watch on TV this September:
Premieres September 1
Five years ago, then-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tasked the execs behind Amazon Studios with creating "the next Game of Thrones." Within a year, they’d bought the television rights to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in the most expensive TV deal ever.
Set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (and based on Tolkien’s LOTR appendices) the long-awaited new series follows an ensemble cast of characters beginning at a time of relative peace as they confront the re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. Critics who’ve seen the show’s two episodes say LOTR fans won’t be disappointed. (Read our review.) — Jed Rosenzweig
Premieres September 5
Reality TV tends to be varying degrees of "real," but Real Girlfriends in Paris feels surprisingly authentic. The new series follows six American expats in Paris who rely on one another as they look for love, advance their careers, and discover who they really are. Beyond the shared experience of navigating a foreign country and culture, it’s easy to see why these 20-somethings are drawn to one another, and what each brings to the group: there’s the free spirit with a vulgar sense of humor, a high achiever with an impressive knowledge of the local sex club scene, anda motherly figure who makes home-cooked meals and tends to her "bébés."
Real Girlfriends isn’t without drama, of course, but it’s rooted in the ladies’ desire to uplift one another, making it a welcome addition to a network better known for drink-throwing and table-flipping. —Claire Spellberg Lustig
Premieres September 8
How in the world are Robert and Michelle King going to wrap up the final season of The Good Fight, the series that started as a straightforward spinoff of The Good Wife and evolved pretty quickly into one of our most temperamentally accurate reflections of life in the Trump era (and beyond)? Diane Lockhart’s journey can’t just end quietly; it has to end in apocalyptic fury or microdosing bliss and absolutely nowhere in between.
Based on casting alone, it looks like we’re in for a doozy of a final season. Emmy winner Andre Braugher is bringing his considerable talents to the table as the firm’s latest big-name partner. Mad Men’s John Slattery is playing what might be a love interest for Diane. And returning to the Good Wife/Fight universe are Alan Cumming as peerless political strategist Eli Gold and Carrie Preston as peculiar legal dynamo Elsbeth Tascione. All the ingredients are there to go out with a bang. — Joe Reid
Premieres September 9
“Following the shocking results of the All Valley Tournament, Sensei Terry Silver is expanding the Cobra Kai empire and trying to make his No Mercy style of karate the only game in town,” says Netflix. Also, Sean Kanan from Karate Kid III makes his cast debut as Mike Barnes. — Aaron Barnhart
Premieres September 14
For those of us still gritting our teeth as we doombinge our way through Margaret Atwood’s dystopian soap, Season 5 is upon us. Serena has already gained a number of admirers over the years, but Yvonne Strahovski’s character gains one on the show in the form of a wealthy Toronto benefactor played by Genevieve Angelson (New Amsterdam). Also, Elisabeth Moss (as June) is a mess. — Aaron Barnhart
Premieres September 15
After a remarkable and pot-stirring Season 3, Donald and Stephen Glover are back for one last spin. And although the momentum in hip-hop-life comedies seems to have shifted to Issa Rae’s Rap Sh!t on HBO, it’s a safe bet that the Glovers will go out strong, with head-nods all around. — Aaron Barnhart
Premieres September 20
You’ve got to appreciate a Hulu series that makes a joke about Hulu right there in the trailer. In this comedy about a Step By Step-style sitcom that gets a prestige reboot, we follow a group of washed up actors trying their best to recapture their glory in a culture that has passed them by. Happily, the jokes appear to go both ways: For every gag about an oldster not grasping how to talk like a contemporary cool guy, there’s a joke about how, say, none of the twentysomething execs at streaming networks understand what’s funny.
The show’s creative team is top-notch. Steven Levitan (Modern Family) created the show, and the cast includes Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer, Rachel Bloom, Paul Reiser, and Johnny Knoxville. You could hardly ask for a better comic pedigree. — Mark Blankenship
Premieres September 21
2016’s Rogue One was the best of the latest batch of Star Wars feature films, so there’s good reason to be excited for Andor, a prequel that will follow Diego Luna’s character from that film, Cassian Andor, in his journey to becoming a spy for the burgeoning Rebel Alliance.
Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) is helming the series after he stepped in during Rogue One’s troubled production, and alongside Luna, the cast includes Genevieve O’Reilly, who reprises her role as rebel senator Mon Mothma. Also onboard are Stellan Skarsgard, Under the Banner of Heaven star Denise Gough, and Killing Eve’s Fiona Shaw.
The series is said to be both a refugee story (Andor’s home planet is destroyed by the Empire) as well as one of an agnostic being radicalized towards revolution. — Joe Reid
Premieres September 21
For its 43rd (!) season, Survivor has once again gathered a diverse and fascinating cast to its island setting, including a former gang member turned PhD student, a woman with an artificial leg, and a guy who’s angling to be the youngest Survivor winner yet.
What will immediately be interesting is to see how host and executive producer Jeff Probst has adjusted the game between seasons. When the show returned from an extended COVID hiatus last fall, the game was tweaked in several fundamental ways. Some of those changes, like the shorter 26-day time span on the island, ended up aiding the show. But others — including myriad twists and shake-ups — were met with varying degrees of disapproval by the audience. Since Seasons 41 and 42 taped back to back, this will be the first time Probst and the show’s other producers will have an opportunity to respond to fan reaction and either make adjustments or double down. Seeing where they land could end up being just as fascinating to follow along with as the game itself. — Joe Reid
Premieres September 21
Abbott Elementary was the show no one saw coming. The mockumentary-style comedy debuted relatively quietly in January, but it quickly became a word-of-mouth hit, and by the time the finale aired in April, creator and star Quinta Brunson was well on her way to becoming a household name.
Seven Emmy nominations later, Abbott returns as one of the biggest shows of the fall. In Season 2, the teachers of Abbott Elementary will face new challenges in and outside the classroom, as Janine (Brunson) explores being single after a 10-year relationship, Gregory (Tyler James Williams) embraces full-time teaching — and navigates a budding relationship with Barbara’s (Sheryl Lee Ralph) daughter — and Principal Ava (Janelle James) finds new ways to avoid working. Executive producer Justin Halpern also teased that there will be "some special guest stars" this season, "specifically in the premiere." — Claire Spellberg Lustig
Premieres September 28
Blonde is hardly the first Hollywood property to explore the dichotomy between the public and private lives of Marilyn Monroe, but the early buzz on this film (both good and bad) makes it feel like a must-see. Some people are loving how writer-director Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford) has adapted the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, and Dominik himself has given tantalizing quotes about the film’s non-linear, expressionistic dive into Marilyn’s inner life. Others have protested the casting of Cuban actress Ana de Armas to play the Caucasian icon, while others have worried that the NC-17 rating means Monroe’s memory will be exploited by raunchy storytelling.
Even if it doesn’t add much to the cultural understanding of Marilyn — and really how could it, considering how much has already been said — Blonde promises to be a provocative watch. — Mark Blankenship
TOPICS: Netflix, Hulu, Abbott Elementary, Atlanta, Blonde, The Good Fight, The Handmaid's Tale, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Real Girlfriends In Paris, Reboot, Star Wars: Andor, Survivor, Cobra Kai