What Are The Must-See Shows For October 2021?

A totally screwed-up, Shakespearean family, spooky delights, a romcom, and zombies. October is stacked with new TV shows and returning favorites, so you can settle in for fall and avoid people, which is especially handy if you’re still doing the social-distancing thing. Regardless, you’re definitely looking for entertainment if you’re reading this list, so let’s get down to business on what’s worth stuffing into your streaming queue and cable viewing plans. HBO brings a few of the bigger attractions here with the long-awaited return of Succession and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and HBO Max has a few more returning fan-favorite series. Apple TV+ also comes in strong with multiple entries on this list, which range from a sports-drama to a very spooky story.

Naturally, there’s a lot of spooking going on this month, as is customary, so Netflix, Discovery+, and USA Network are bringing those scares. Meanwhile, Hulu and AMC are not to be ignored for their offerings, including a Michael Keaton series and the return of Fear The Walking Dead respectively. Ignore the tricks, for this month is all about treats.

Here are the biggest shows worth noticing in October:

Selena + Chef: Season 3 (HBO Max series streaming TBA)

Selena Gomez has come a long way since her Disney days, including a recent turn in the terrific Only Murders In The Building. Here, she’s totally herself and in an environment that she loves while not pretending at all to be a chef (or have any type of formal training with food) or do anything besides love to eat. The first season landed on HBO Max as the perfect quarantine show, and the trend continues as Selena keeps things real while dabbling further into culinary adventures. It’s simply delightful stuff.

MAID (Netflix series streaming 10/1)

Margaret Qualley (a Once Upon A Time In Hollywood breakout and daughter to Andie MacDowell) stars in this heartbreaking adaptation of Stephanie Land’s New York Times best-selling memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. This will, clearly, be a difficult watch, but Qualley’s raw portrayal (of a woman who flees an abusive relationship to go through exceedingly difficult times to break the cycle for her daughter) yields a burgeoning star in a juicy role that could yield rewards, if the powers that be are paying attention to perspectives presented in projects like these.

The Haunted Museum: Season 1 (Discovery+ series streaming 10/2)

Eli Roth has so much going on over at Discovery+ this month (following his recent real-life horror/Shark-Week film on the streamer) that one has to wonder… is he running the joint? It’s a valid question, but more to the point, he’s teaming up with Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans for this scripted anthology series, in which they illuminate nine of the world’s most cursed artifacts. These relics are actually in display in Bagans’ Vegas museum, but here, you’ll get the historic commentary in addition to having the pants scared off of you. (When you’re done with that series, also check out Eli Roth Presents: A Ghost Ruined My Life, streaming on 10/7, to witness personal accounts on those who have survived feeling like they’re been dragged through hell and fought their way back.)

Chucky: Season 1 (SYFY and USA Network series streaming 10/12)

The good-bad news is that the O.G. homicidal doll shall never die. Granted, a mid-2020 teaser that kept things very mysterious regarding who would voice Chucky, but this trailer puts that mystery to rest. Mark Hamill may have been the most recent Chucky, but original voice actor Brad Dourif will return for this USA Network/SyFy sequel series. Also notably, Jennifer Tilly will return as Tiffany Valentine, but this trailer largely focuses on Zackary Arthur’s Jake, who makes the mistake of adopting Chucky at a garage sale. All hell breaks loose, and as Chucky puts it, this will be the “World Series of slaughter.”

Dopesick: Season 1 (Hulu series streaming 10/13)

Michael Keaton (who is still the greatest Batman in history, so don’t mess with him in any role) finally comes to TV beyond cameo mode. Here, he takes on Big Pharma as a physician whose patients are dying off amid an opioid epidemic, and Rosario Dawson portrays one of the heroes who want to take the makers of Oxycontin down. The title of the source material (Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America, the book by Beth Macy) tells you a lot, but this trailer promises an intense ride, and the cast includes Michael Stuhlbarg and Kaitlyn Dever, who’s in just about everything now and making Justified‘s Loretta proud here.

You: Season 3 (Netflix series streaming 10/15)

Nothing says (twisted) family bonding like two parents digging a grave for their murder victims while an infant sits in his car seat and does his best to amuse himself. Yikes. From the looks of things, this show somehow manages to sustain its own gimmick after a second season of barely containing its own crazy (and careening off a cliff). Near the end of that sophomore round, Stalker Joe (Penn Badgley) found himself trapped in a relationship with a woman, Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), who’s just as homicidal (if not more) as he is. Naturally, it seemed that Joe didn’t quite learn his lesson by the end of the season, and we saw him noticing that he’s got an attractive neighbor that perhaps he might stalk. This sounds like a good time for the ghost of Beck to deliver a lecture, and who knows what shall happen there, but in the Season 3 trailer, Joe appears to be scared out of his mind. (Good!) Love definitely has the upper hand, or so it appears, but Joe’s awfully nervous that his kid will follow in his parents’ footsteps.

I Know What You Did Last Summer: Season 1 (Amazon Prime series streaming 10/15)

Sure, you remember the 1997 film and perhaps you’re aware that that was based upon the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan, but this Amazon Studios collaboration with Sony Pictures Television wants you to relive the nightmare once more. Granted this version doesn’t have Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, or Freddie Prinze, but the trailer still looks sufficiently chilling for a new generation, and it’ll be interesting to see how they draw out the story to full-season form, rather than a feature-length movie. These teens, as well, seem more twisted by nature than the O.G. bunch, so perhaps that will add some shading to justify reviving their shared dark secret as they aim to survive.

Succession: Season 3 (HBO series premiering 10/17)

Well, well, well. Jeremy Strong’s Kendall lit this seriously screwed-up family on fire during the last season finale. As a result, Brian Cox’s Logan Roy is ready to go “full f*cking beast,” and that means a lot of things, but one important one: it’s time for everyone to f*ck off. Alexander Skarsgård and Adrien Brody join the club this season, and maybe the Pope (or a pope) is somehow involved, but one thing remains clear throughout this show: alliances are made to be broken. In other words, the familiar civil war is on. No other show besides Deadwood has been able to wield profanity with such adept rhythm, and it’s time to get Shakespearean again up in this motherf*cker while I keep on rooting for Shiv Roy to (finally) dominate all.

Fear The Walking Dead: Season 7 (AMC series premiering 10/15)

This show didn’t shy away from speculation that a possible time jump was in store for this spinoff, and maybe that could have been a way to tie some of The Walking Dead universe threads together. Well, the way that the season ended could have conceivably set up such a jump by sealing many characters into an underground-bunker setting, where presumably, they’d need to stay for years following a detonated nuke in Texas. Yet the way that the action played out seemed to rule out a logical set up to a time jump occurring. In the above teaser, things don’t seem too time-jumpy, at least not in what we’re seeing here. Morgan and Grace awaken in the bunker, and she heads out into the outside world while wearing a protective suit and gazing out into the immediate wasteland before walking past an incapacitated walker on the ground. All of this would lead one to believe that, nope, there’s no leap into the future here, but the good news is that this spinoff found fresh legs last year.

Invasion: Season 1 (Apple TV+ series streaming 10/22)

Apple TV+ has been crushing the outer-space game with All For Mankind, and with this Simon Kinberg sci-fi show, they’re bringing the (dubious) party to planet Earth. Kinberg, of course, has plenty of producing clout under his belt (The Martian, the Deadpool movies, Logan) and he’s teaming up here with procedural-minded director Jakob Verbruggen (The Alienist, The Fall) to focus on individual stories around the globe during the fallout of an alien invasion. There’s some Sam Neill flavor up in here, too, and if there’s a god, he’ll be wearing a hat in this show. Yes, it’s intense-looking show, and the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, but a hat can always help.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 11 (HBO series streaming 10/24)

The world needed more Larry David and, by god, he’s giving it to us, even if he’s never gonna drop those curmudgeon ways. Expect the Seinfeld co-creator to bring his usual flavor and more of the iconic theme, so this is pure comfort food for those of us who are weary of all the ways that the world has transformed over the past 20 months or so. Larry hasn’t changed on us, and thank god for that. Rather than focus on the massive problems that reality brings, let us all focus upon the tiny annoyances in life and find comfort in pretending they’re the biggest of problems.

Love Life: Season 2 (HBO Max series streaming 10/28)

Love Life ended up being the HBO Max original show to launch the service, and apparently, the numbers were pretty darn good. Although we don’t know the actual viewership numbers, they were high enough for executive producer Paul Feig to celebrate the show’s solo-act success while speaking with us, and Season 2 is upon us with Anna Kendrick’s Darby passing the baton to a new unlucky-in-love protagonist, Marcus, who will be portrayed by William Jackson Harper. He’s still best known for playing Jacked Chidi in The Good Place. Previously, we saw in a teaser that Darby (who’s still in the show a little bit) got married, and who knows if she’ll actually be happy (or found herself with another a-hole), but this season will mostly focus upon the divorced Marcus. He did the whole sunk-cost investment thing, apparently, and now, he’s finding himself in the hell hole known as the dating world. Godspeed, Marcus.

Apple TV+

Swagger: Season 1 (Apple TV+ streaming 10/29)

Get ready, sports-drama fans. This show’s inspired by Kevin Durant’s pre-NBA experiences, and more specifically, it examines early ambition and dreams and the fine line between those two things, along with the comparable delineation between opportunism and corruption on the grown-up side. The cast includes Isaiah Hill, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, all of whom are bringing some truths on the experience of coming in age in America. With the talent involved here, don’t be surprised to be sucked in, even if you aren’t exactly watching NBA games.