TV

What Are The Must-See TV Shows For September 2021?

Devilish detectives, vampire roommates, hedge-fund-king drama, and misfit superheroes. September is stacked with new TV shows, so that you don’t even have to go outside for entertainment, given that it’s markedly safer in your living room these days. With that in mind, there’s a lot of variety coming your way on television with productions in full swing and another month stuffed with goodness on streaming services and cable. FX on Hulu goes particularly strong this month with the return of What We Do In The Shadows and the launch of Y: The Last Man. Apple TV+ stays robust with Jon Stewart’s return to television, more of The Morning Show, and an anticipated sci-fi series. Netflix continues to pull out the stops, particularly with Lucifer‘s final season, and Showtime brings back Billions while debuting a Jeff Bridges show.

The networks come in with items of interest as well. NBC brings back the Law & Order universe, including the spinoff affectionately nicknamed around these parts as Law & Order: Meloni, along with a sci-fi series that should appeal to Manifest fans. And ABC doles out a dose of nostalgia with a reboot, and these options are only the beginning.

Here are the biggest shows worth noticing in September:

Dug Days (Pixar/Disney+ series streaming 9/1)

Surely, you remember the tearjerking Up. You know, one of those “kids’ movies” that adults loved, too? Well, lovable dog Dug is back with a series of short features that take place in his very own backyard, so expect your heart-strings to be pulled, along with your funny bone. That’s especially the case now, given that recently departed Ed Asner can be heard again here as Carl, the man who originally hitched his house to every balloon possible and took one of the most eye-popping Pixar journeys in cinematic history. Your soul might just take off like Carl’s house, too. Embrace it.

Q-Force (Netflix series streaming 9/2)

A gathering of LGBTQ+ intelligence-agency geniuses come together, finally, to show some representation in the rogue-agent sub-genre because the people demand it. All of this magic happens at the behest of Steve Maryweather, AKA Agent Mary. He comes out as gay within the American Intelligence Agency (AIA), only to be relegated to West Hollywood, and then this fired-up agent really does the thing. Eventually, the whole Q-Force transforms into Active Secret Agents status, but first, they’re tasked with dealing with Agent Buck, a straight-dude within their ranks.

What We Do in the Shadows: Season 3 (FX series returning 9/2)

Well, well, well. Guillermo turned out to be a vampire killer, which sure as heck came as a surprise to Nandor, Nadja, and Laszlo, and Colin. The four Staten Island roommates must figure out how to handle this Guillermo problem, along with tackling the other challenges of this season. Those include dealing with wellness cults and gym culture, along with gargoyles, werewolves who play kickball, casinos, and more. In addition, the vamps also receive a higher level of powers while Nandor experiences an eternal-life crisis, which forces him to examine whether he should be a bachelor for eternity. Yep, this remains still one of the funniest shows on TV.

Billions: Season 5, Part 2 (Showtime series returning 9/5)

There ain’t no drama quite like hedge-fund-king drama, and it remains to be seen whether Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades will ever decide to stop wasting so much time hating the hell out of each other. Probably not? Yeah, that’d be no fun at all, and everyone on this show ends up getting yanked into the beef that may very well destroy them all. Everyone’s got a reason to love this show, and mine just happens to be watching Maggie Siff and Asia Kate Dillon, rather than the warring dudes, and an extra special treat’s on tap: Janeane Garafalo will recur as the owner of a cannabis venture. I hope she gets everyone super high.

Lucifer: The Final Season (Netflix series streaming 9/10)

The Devil is back for one last dance-of-a-rodeo in Season 6, and naturally, Lucifer Morningstar is still a total pain in the ass, and you’ll love him for it. Fortunately, he’s no longer attempting to be a detective, but here’s the complicating detail: Lucifer is now God, and he’s not sure that he wants to do the job. It’s so much more fun to be naughty, after all, yet if Lucifer doesn’t get with the new program, he’s liable to trigger the apocalypse. This is one last hurrah for a Netflix-resurrected series, and Neil Gaiman’s creation will live on in fans’ hearts and, most likely, their pants as well. (Also, I must say this: dump the bad man, Chloe!)

American Rust (Showtime series debuting 9/12)

Jeff Daniels can swing between being comedic and dramatic, and in his new Showtime series, American Rust, he’s decidedly the latter. The chameleon-like Dumb and Dumber and Pleasantville actor is the latest star to take on a complicated cop role after Kate Winslet’s turn in Mare of Easttown. And notably, Bridges’ new role is also set in Pennsylvania and unravels a murder, this time in a Rust Belt town where he struggles to make the right move in a town overstuffed with people making the wrong moves. American Rust is based upon Philipp Meyers’ acclaimed novel of the same name and examines the crumbling American Dream. Moral ambiguity abounds, and fires explode multiple times in this trailer, which is also heavy on the gloomy atmosphere. This feels like a great show in which to get lost while focusing on other people’s problems.

Y: The Last Man (FX on Hulu series streaming 9/13)

The acclaimed graphic novel will get its due as a dystopian TV drama starring Diane Lane as the globe’s de facto president. Her son becomes, as the title suggests, the very last man on Earth following an apocalyptic event that pretty much obliterates the Y chromosome. FX recently made it known that although the Y appears to refer to the chromosome, the show will take a nuanced approach. That is to say, the show’s not operating on a merely gender-binary level. And the show won’t adhere to the biological definition of gender and, instead, will also represent trans characters in accordance with a GLAAD collaboration and a clear affirmation (as showrunner Eliza Clark recently declared) “that trans women are women, trans men are men, nonbinary people are nonbinary, and that is part of the sort of richness of the world we get to play with.”

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (Netflix series streaming 9/16)

Kevin Smith’s recent Masters of the Universe: Revelation sequel series sparked some overwrought backlash after continuing He-Man and Skeletor’s story in a way that some nerds didn’t enjoy, given that there was plenty of focus (like the original series) on other characters. Well, here’s a kid-appealing update of the classic ’80s cartoon, and this one has a much different feel with a He-Man-focused story, so maybe that will make the angry people happy? It’s got a whole lot of dude-on-bony-dude battling, looks like, while they fight for the ultimate control of Eternia and Castle Grayskull.

The Morning Show (Apple TV+ series streaming 9/17)

The gang (Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Billy Crudup, at least) is back for a new round of attempting to evade the scandal-plagued nature of their business. This season, we’ll not only see more of Steve Carell but also Hasan Minhaj and Julianna Margulies as everyone’s vying for more airtime, and they’re clawing at each other on their way to stay at the top. Alex and Bradley still can’t stand each other, despite a certain level of begrudging respect. There’s still plenty of humor along with the social commentary, yet one can expect a meaty followup on that rather explosive season finale. Things will get intense, as well, with the continued #MeToo theme and also some edging into the systemic racism issue while barbs are thrown, both on-and-off camera.

Sex Education: Season 3 (Netflix series streaming 9/17)

This Gillian Anderson-starring series returns, so that the X-Files and The Crown actress can continue embarrassing the heck out of her TV son, Otis (Asa Butterfield), who is apparently now having casual sex. Jemima Kirke is officially onboard, too, as a headteacher named Hope, who desperately wants to restore Moordale Secondary School to its former sterling reputation. Uh, good luck with that? The same goes for the announcement that Anderson’s character is pregnant. Oh, Mom.

The Wonder Years (ABC series debuting 9/22)

At the very least, it’s worth tuning into this reimagining to see whether the different perspective (from the Fred Savage-starring original show) will be a successful one or, well, not so much. Savage is executive producing and (sometimes) directing here, and the focus here is on an African-American family and their home base in 1960s Montgomery, Alabama. Don Cheadle narrates as the adult version of Dean (played as a 12-year-old by Elisha “EJ” Williams), who’s not only going through the usual tween ordeals but also the experience of being part of a Southern Black family that’s, of course, navigating vastly different circumstances than the franchise’s white O.G. family. Things should get tumultuous here while still dabbling in nostalgia.

Doom Patrol (HBO Max series streaming 9/23)

DC’s struggling misfit superheros are back for another round of being portrayed by an incredible cast. Brendan Fraser has received plenty of raves for his fury-filled Cliff Steele/Robotman, but don’t count out the rest of the crew. There’s Matt Bomer as the bandage-wrapped Negative Man and repeat appearances from Danny the Street, but the real kudos should go to Diana Guerrero (Orange is the New Black) as Crazy Jane, which is actually a role that requires Diane to play dozens of incarnations, including a very timely take on a Karen. This season, these lost souls are all starting to come to grips with their place in the group (a support group of sorts) and their own identities, but then the sh*t hits the fan with a time machine. Cue a catastrophic crossroads. Man, I’m excited to hear and see Brendan Fraser freak out again.

Law & Order: Organized Crime (NBC series returning 9/23)

A decade after Chris Meloni’s SVU departure, his return to the Dick Wolf-created universe is everything that fans hoped it would be. Elliot Stabler got mercilessly dragged as the spinoff dismantled those good-ol’-boy tendencies that won’t (and can’t) fly with cops on TV anymore. Season 2 will definitely bring back Dylan McDermott, who’s been portraying the greatest Law & Order villain of the franchise. Let’s hope the evil octopus make a return as well while mafia-brat, Bond-baddie-esque Wheatley continues to antagonize Stabler, who’s googly-eyes for Olivia Benson keep reaching new heights. It’s gonna be awful if they actually do it, right? I can’t wait.

Foundation (Apple TV+ series streaming 9/24)

Isaac Asimov’s classic novel gets a heady adaptation starring the always great Jared Harris and Lee Pace. The sci-fi story revolves around exiles who are working to rebuild civilization even as the galaxy falls apart, and surely, there will be plenty of parallels to real-life history here. As one can also see, a great deal of attention has been paid to the epic scale of the show, which Apple TV+ appears to want to be its Game of Thrones. The good news here, though, is that the story won’t closely adhere to the books, which should at least prevent the same sort of finale-season conundrum that we saw with Thrones, if the show makes it that far.

Midnight Mass (Netflix series streaming 9/24)

Get ready, The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor addicts, because creator Mike Flanagan’s back to cause us more horror fits. This happens to be his favorite project so far and revolves around an isolated community that lives on spooky Crockett Island, which gets even spookier due to a charismatic priest’s arrival. Naturally, a whole lot of supernatural shenanigans are afoot, but human nature (as we are currently experiencing in-real-life these days) can often be scarier than the ghosts that people can dream up. It’s dark, real dark.

Goliath: Season 4 (Amazon Prime series streaming 9/24)

If it’s taken you this long to consider testing out this show, then get with the freaking program. It’s got Billy Bob Thornton smoldering through a hard-boiled character who was once a force to be feared in the courtroom, but nowadays, he’s not such a prestigious attorney. This season, Thornton’s Billy McBride is going up not only against Big Pharma but also J.K. Simmons. That seldom turns out well for characters who aren’t played by J.K. Simmons, and both men have just the right degree of “I’m over this sh*t” to make it feel believable. Be careful, because the show is an overall smooth binge that will make you wonder when that viewing time disappeared, it’ll go so fast.

La Brea (NBC series debuting 9/28)

Natalie Zea deserves some appreciation, dammit, and the Justified actress gets to sink her teeth into a glorious madhouse here. An enormous sinkhole, which looks to be at least one-square-mile in area, opens in the middle of LA and sucks her into some primeval hellhole, where pterodactyls and bad CGI reside. It looks absurd and preposterous and like probably the kind of show that could find a hopelessly devoted audience. Can NBC allow this sci-fi selection to blossom into its own brand of strangeness and let it stick, unlike that they’ve done with Manifest and Debris? If anyone can pull off the humor and the adventure that this role requires, it’s Zea, and if the writers can lean into preposterous setups while embracing the hot-mess, Manifest-like vibe, maybe, just maybe, the leading lady will get her due.

The Problem With Jon Stewart (Apple TV+ series streaming 9/30)

Jon Stewart’s return to TV fast approaches, and it could be argued that he’s never been needed more on TV than this particular moment. The former The Daily Show host will be doing the current-events thing with an episode every two weeks, which isn’t as frequent as fans might prefer, but we’ll trust the process. According to Apple TV+, viewers can expect Stewart to go deep on a single subject per episode with a “solutionary” approach, and yes, there will be lots of jokes. Hopefully, they’ll be less confusing than the moment when Stewart recently appeared to go all-in on the controversial “lab leak” theory (while noting that COVID may have originated in a Wuhan lab and somehow escaped) as Stephen Colbert maintained a skeptical stance. That gave the right-wing plenty of conspiracy-theory fuel, though Stewart still hasn’t clarified his (surely?) satiric stance on the subject. Jon Stewart moves, as Bono would say, in mysterious ways.

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