23 TV shows to watch in the second half of 2018

Let's get to the good stuff

Fall and TV go together like nudity and HBO, which means we're entering the best time of year for culture vultures. Also the busiest time — with all the shows returning and premiering in the next several months, it's easy to get a little overwhelmed.

Thankfully, the pickings are good and there is plenty to be excited about, from the return of Insecure to the premiere of the Charmed reboot to the debut of a new George R.R. Martin show, an Amy Poehler-backed sitcom, and a new Les Mis miniseries. Let The Week be your guide for what is worth your time.

1. Wynonna Earp (Syfy, July 20)

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Wynonna Earp is the little show that could, netting itself a third season thanks to its small but intensely devoted audience. This supernatural Canadian sci-fi Western takes its cues from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Justified, with the titular "heir" Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) tasked with sending the 77 demonic bandits killed by her gunslinging great-grandfather back to hell. Despite its small budget, Wynonna Earp takes huge risks — incorporating Scrofano's real-life pregnancy into the plot of season two — although the creators don't hesitate to admit that it's not for everyone. "In a world of 500 [scripted] shows, if nothing else, you have to say, 'Well, I haven't seen that before,'" showrunner Emily Andras tells The New York Times. Saddle up — there are a whole lot of new monsters in town that need to make their peace.

2. Castle Rock (Hulu, July 25)

Executive producers Stephen King and J.J. Abrams are a match made in someone's nightmares, and this late summer series looks assured to make the autumn chill come early. Following up the 2016 miniseries 11/22/63, Hulu dips its toes back into King's multiverse with Castle Rock, which isn't based on a particular story but rather draws from the author's entire oeuvre. The pilot begins with death row lawyer Henry Matthew Deaver (André Holland) returning to his hometown of Castle Rock, Maine, where he gets a mysterious call from an unregistered inmate at — where else? — Shawshank Prison. Sissy Spacek (Carrie) and Bill Skarsgård (It), both King alums, also star.

3. Better Call Saul (AMC, Aug. 6)

Better Call Saul will reportedly have its "biggest crossover yet" this season when it intersects with the Breaking Bad timeline — and while showrunner Vince Gilligan isn't big on giving away details, we do know that Jimmy McGill first appeared in the second season of Breaking Bad in an episode called "Better Call Saul," so that might be a good place to start speculating. You can also expect the death of Jimmy's brother, Chuck, to weigh on him this season as he moves closer and closer (or downward and downward) to his full transformation into the Saul Goodman we know so well.

4. Insecure (HBO, Aug. 12)

Critical darling Insecure is back this summer, with creator Issa Rae continuing to upend the trope of the "confident black woman" in her fantastic half-hour comedic antidote to Girls and Friends. In the first two seasons, the characters Issa (Rae plays herself) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) uncomfortably — and relatably — try to figure out what exactly they want, an issue that is clearly still ongoing in season three, as Issa is shacked up with Daniel and fans are rampantly speculating about what Lawrence's absence from the trailer means. While the show isn't based directly on Rae's life, it is still is equipped to tackle real issues, like the stigma of therapy in the black community, all through Issa's intensely personal point of view. A final word to #TeamLawrence fans: It's worth sticking around, as Newsweek observes that actor Jay Ellis is still listed as a regular cast member.

5. Disenchantment (Netflix, Aug. 17)

Alright, confession — I struggle with adult animated comedies, so Disenchantment isn't exactly my usual cup of tea. But if anyone is going to do it right, it's creator Matt Groening, whose accomplishments (The Simpsons, Futurama) speak for themselves. Set in the medieval fantasy world of Dreamland, Disenchantment follows the adventures of the alcoholic Princess Bean (voiced by Broad City's Abbi Jacobson) and her pals, Elfo the elf (Nat Faxon) and the demon Luci (Eric Andre). It sounds like a more inappropriate version of Adventuretime, which means I am definitely sold.

6. Ozark (Netflix, Aug. 31)

Netflix raked in Emmy nominations this year, and Ozark's Jason Bateman is to thank for two of its most prestigious. Performing as family patriarch Marty Byrde, Bateman earned a nod for lead actor in a drama series, and a directing nomination for helming the season one finale (Ozark gathered five nominations in total). This violent, beautifully shot crime drama — about a Chicago family that gets tangled up with a drug cartel after moving to Missouri — promises new twists and turns in its sophomore season. Bateman will reprise his role behind the camera too, directing two episodes.

7. The Deuce (HBO, Sept. 9)

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The second season of David Simon (The Wire) and George Pelecanos' 1970s porn drama The Deuce is back on HBO this September, with James Franco returning as twins Vincent Martino and Frankie Martino. Like several TV shows this year, The Deuce's future had been called into question after Franco was accused of sexual misconduct. HBO seems to be tip-toeing around the scandal — Franco isn't in the promo, and there is no trailer yet — but there are plenty of other reasons to watch the series, including a Golden Globes-nominated performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays the prostitute Candy.

8. Shameless (Showtime, Sept. 9)

Going into its ninth season, Shameless will finally surpass Dexter as Showtime's longest-running original scripted series. Even the cast seemed surprised by the renewal last year: William H. Macy, who plays single dad and deadbeat addict Frank Gallagher, has hinted that the dramedy might at last be winding down. That's reason enough to watch this season — Macy, at 68, remains one of the best actors around, and his role as Frank has earned him not nearly as many trophies as it deserves. Macy has even floated retiring entirely from acting soon, meaning Shameless could be one of his last major works. While there is always the threat that this (really) might be the last season, Shameless will have at least one more go: This time, Fiona (Emmy Rossum) has the apartment building squatter-less, a sober Lip (Jeremy Allan White) takes in Xan, and Frank apparently gets involved in campaigning by ... pretending he's Latino? Make America Gallagher again indeed.

9. American Horror Story (FX, Sept.12)

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American Horror Story is starting to sound a little redundant — what about America isn't a horror story, these days — and showrunner Ryan Murphy is apparently thinking the same thing: This season is called Apocalypse. The follow-up to the election-themed Cult, the eighth season of this popular horror anthology is apparently something of a crossover between the first season (Murder House) and the third season (Coven). Murphy has teased that each season is linked to one of the nine circles of hell, and all that remain on his list are "lust" and "violence." Which will Apocalypse be?

10. Doctor Who (BBC, Sept. 23)

Fans' pleas for a female Doctor were finally answered during last year's Doctor Who Christmas special, when actor Peter Capaldi regenerated as the 13th Time Lord, now played by Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch). When the teaser for the 11th season aired during the World Cup final, Whovians were also introduced to a trio (!!!) of new companions, played by Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill, and a full trailer (above) was subsequently released at Comic Con. People involved in the show have stressed that the 11th season will be a new starting point, so don't be daunted if you've skipped recent seasons. Executive producer Chris Chibnall confirmed: "This year is the perfect jumping on point for that person in your life who has never watched Doctor Who … There is no barrier to entry this year."

11. Manifest (NBC, Sept. 24)

CNN was rightfully excoriated when it speculated in 2014 that missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 might have been sucked into a black hole, although you have to admit it made for good TV. Apparently taking its inspiration from those MH370 conspiracy theories, Manifest is about a plane that goes missing for five years before suddenly turning up again — except to all the passengers on board, it feels as if no time has passed at all. This is a Lost-like mind-bender, with time-warp expert Robert Zemeckis attached as executive producer. Melissa Roxburgh (Valor), Josh Dallas (Once Upon a Time), Athena Karkanis (Low Winter Sun), and J.R. Ramirez (Power) are set to star.

12. This is Us (NBC, Sept. 25)

Grab the nearest Kleenex box: The third 18-episode season of family tear-jerker This Is Us returns after a doozy of a second season, which revealed how Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died and saw Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) tie the knot. The third season is not likely to slow down — just take it from showrunner Dan Fogelman, who described it as "a big Vietnam season for us." I'm not crying, you're crying.

13. The Good Place (NBC, Sept. 27)

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One of the most enjoyable and hilarious shows on TV is back for season three. The philosophical afterlife comedy returns this fall with an hour-long premiere, and while we don't know much just yet, Kristen Bell (who plays Eleanor Shellstrop) and creator Michael Schur have both confirmed that our heroes are "meandering on Earth" in this third installment. One of the most delightful parts of watching The Good Place is the genuinely fun twists and surprises, so at risk of saying too much more, Eleanor and her pals are continuing to strive to be better people, however against their nature that might be. Just don't forget to stock up on clam chowder and margarita mix while you wait on the return of this "forking" good show.

14. I Feel Bad (NBC, Oct. 4)

Family comedies are usually a lock for an Emmy nomination, although the subgenre took a hit this year when Modern Family was snubbed in the comedy series category. Based on what I've seen so far, I Feel Bad will give a much needed breath of fresh air to a genre with plenty of tired jokes about parenting. Actress Sarayu Blue plays guilty career mom Emet, who has a litany of relatable reasons she feels bad — from "I don't want to turn into my mom" to "I hate other people's children," to "I eat meat," to "I say no." Madhur Jaffrey — who plays Emet's mother — is especially fun. Amy Poehler is producing.

15. Riverdale (CW, Oct. 10)

We have the huge success of "noir Archie" to thank for its spinoff, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, coming later this year, but while we wait, Riverdale is back with 23 new episodes. The teens of Riverdale will apparently be returning to school as juniors in Chapter Thirty-Six, meaning there has been a bit of a time jump since the conclusion of season two. If you haven't hopped aboard the Good Ship Riverdale yet, read about its genius here.

16. All American (CW, Oct. 10)

Airing after Riverdale this fall is All American, which is rightfully drawing comparisons to Friday Night Lights. Inspired by the life of NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger, the story follows a talented black football player as he is recruited out of Crenshaw to play for the richer, whiter — and "safer" — Beverly Hills High. Created by April Blair, it stars Daniel Ezra (The Missing) as Spencer James.

17. The Romanoffs (Prime Video, Oct. 12)

No one seems quite sure what is going on with The Romanoffs, a new anthology series about modern day people who believe they are descendants of the Russian royal family, the Romanovs, created by Mad Men showrunner Matthew Weiner. Amazon, though, has been wary about getting anywhere near #MeToo scandals — Transparent was pushed back after allegations emerged about Jeffrey Tambor, and now Weiner is facing the same. Still, the premise of the eight-episode series sounds intriguing and it has a star-studded cast including Diane Lane, Isabelle Huppert, Christina Hendricks, and John Slattery; the rumor mill even says Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss might be included too. Several industry publications still have its premiere listed as 2018, though, so we might yet see this before the end of the year. Update 7/30: Amazon confirmed the show will premiere on Oct. 12.

18. Charmed (CW, Oct. 14)

Charmed is back, but not everyone is thrilled; news of the reboot has drawn repeated criticism from actress Holly Marie Combs, who played Piper Halliwell in the classic early-aughts series about demon-fighting witch sisters. Yet nostalgia is in, and Jane the Virgin creator Jennie Snyder Urman has tapped three Latina actresses to lead this Sunday night show: Madeleine Mantock will play the telekinetic oldest sister, Macy; Melonie Diaz will be the time-freezing middle sister, Mel; and Sarah Jeffrey will be the youngest sister, Madison, who can read minds. Whether you love the idea of the reboot, or wish they would just leave everything from your childhood alone, this will be one of CW's major anchors in its stacked back-to-school season.

19. The Rookie (ABC, Oct. 16)

The Rookie is a based-on-a-true-story crime drama starring Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly), who plays John Nolan, a 40-year-old man who becomes the Los Angeles Police Department's oldest rookie. The series appears to center on John's struggles as a "walking mid-life crisis" to earn the respect of his younger partner and boss (and put his personal life back together after what looks to be a damaging divorce). The body cam footage mixed into the trailer might be something of a Chekhov's gun — will Nolan do something that causes his badge to be called into question?

20. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix, Oct. 26)

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Sabrina, the Teenage Witch is getting the Riverdale treatment, and I could not be more on board. While there is plenty to love about the classic live-action series, which ran from 1996 to 2003, Netflix is ditching the laugh track and giving us a moody reboot, with Kiernan Shipka playing Sabrina Spellman and Ross Lynch as Harvey Kinkle. The appearance of Sabrina's sarcastic familiar, Salem, on the poster just makes it all the more exciting. Here's to hoping we can all binge watch soon. Update 7/30: Netflix confirmed a premiere date of Oct. 26.

21. The Grand Hotel (ABC, exact fall date TBD)

Actress Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) is the executive producer of this sizzling new English-language version of the Spanish soap opera The Grand Hotel. Scandal abounds at the last family-owned hotel in Miami Beach, where guests, staff, and owners mingle — and do more than mingle. Demian Bichir stars as owner Santiago Mendoza and Roselyn Sanchez as his wife, Gigi.

22. Nightflyers (Syfy, exact fall date TBD)

A decade before he published the first installment of Game of Thrones, author George R.R. Martin wrote the novella Nightflyers, which he describes as "a haunted house story on a spaceship" and "Psycho in space." In the lead-up to the release of the full trailer (above) at Comic Con, Syfy teased terrifying, bloody glimpses of the show. Now we can glean that a crew of astronauts are traveling aboard a ship called the Nightflyer in the hopes of saving the dying planet, but once in space the ship malfunctions — "it wasn't an accident," one character cryptically explains. Or, as another understates it: "There is something wrong with this ship." I think it's safe to assume that Nightflyers will make 2001: A Space Odyssey's Hal look downright friendly.

23. Les Misérables (PBS, exact fall date TBD)

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It is apparently time, once again, to adapt Les Misérables, although with this knockout cast it seems hard to believe PBS's Masterpiece Theatre and the BBC are making a mistake. Dominic West (The Wire) stars as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo (Selma) as Javert, and Lily Collins (Rules Don't Apply) as Fantine, and the first set pictures are gorgeous (don't worry, they won't sing this time). The series is written by Andrew Davies, who also did the vibrant 2016 War & Peace miniseries. A premiere date should be announced soon.

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