Are you still guilty of not watching The Americans (even after all those Emmy noms)? Or have you still not had a go at breakout freshmen series like Underground and Love? Not to worry: there is still time to catch up before these series — and four Fresh others! — return to your small screens and laptops later this month. Catch our rundown of what to binge before April showers bring us into spring.
What it is: Now entering its fifth season, this slow-burning espionage series stars real-life couple Kerri Russell and Matthew Rhys as married KGB spies infiltrating the nation’s capital at the height of the Cold War.
Why you should watch it: We know, we know: you’re hearing enough about Russia in the day’s headlines, so why should you want to watch a show about KGB spies infiltrating the States? Trust us; The Americans isn’t just any show. In Russell and Rhys, the FX critical darling boasts two of television’s finest performers matched with airtight scripts and sublime direction and cinematography well deserving of its outstanding drama series Emmy nomination last year. Tune in and find out why The Americans has slowly but surely gained a dedicated, impassioned following and become subject of the thinking-man’s water cooler talk each Wednesday morning. Season 5 premieres March 7.
Commitment: About 40 hours
What it is: Creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski’s Underground follows a group of slaves led by Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s Rosalee as they flee Georgia and make their way along the historic and storied Underground Railroad.
Why you should watch it: A traditional slave narrative, this is not. In a thrilling reflection of its heroes’ dire circumstances, Underground plays out at a breakneck pace, more like a cat-and-mouse thriller than a somber prestige project of America’s darkest hour. The gamble works, making audiences practically taste the sweat on Smollett-Bell’s brow while enduring the elements of the hot Georgian son. Season 2 premieres on March 8.
Commitment: About 7.5 hours
What it is: The Catch, ABC’s latest Shondaland production, comes from creators Jennifer Schuur, Kate Atkinson, and Helen Gregory and stars Mireille Enos (The Killing) and Peter Krause (Parenthood, Six Feet Under). Enos is Alice Vaughan, an L.A.-based private investigator who learns her fiancé, Benjamin Jones (Krause), is a world-class conman.
Why you should watch it: You know what you’re getting with most Shondaland projects, and if you’re a fan of what’s come before, you’ll be a fan of The Catch. Chock full of sexy, twisty fun, the series is escapist entertainment with a leading pair of memorable characters and a particularly excellent performance from Enos — but no surprise there. Season 2 premieres on March 9.
Commitment: About 7.5 hours
What it is: From creators Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, and Paul Rust (who also stars as the affable Gus), Love is the unlikely friendship-turned-L.A. love story of Rust’s hero and the troubled girl next door, Mickey (Community’s Gillian Jacobs).
Why you should watch it: While the elevator pitch — “opposites attract and fall in love in the City of Angels” — is more likely to cause eye rolls than guarantee contracts, Love navigates its characters’ winding hearts with nuanced precision — and circumvents cliché along the way. While production assistant and aspiring screenwriter Gus is perfectly likable, it’s Jacobs as Mickey that steals the show. Playing a recovering sex addict and alcoholic, she nails the nuances of destruction and dependency in all its forms to both heartbreaking and hilarious effect. Season 2 premieres on March 10.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: About 8.5 hours
What it is: From Academy Award winner John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), American Crime on ABC is an anthological series tackling timely sociopolitical matters head-on through compelling characters and dramas.
Why you should watch it: No, you don’t have to watch the first two seasons of the Emmy-winning American Crime to know what’s going on in Season 3, but you’ll be glad you did. Top-tier, thought provoking writing and career-best performances from Regina King, Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Lilly Taylor, and countless others elevate the acclaimed series from primetime soapbox to must-watch TV. Season 3 premieres on Sunday, March 12.
Commitment: About 16 hours
What it is: An original scripted drama from Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, Greenleaf stars Merle Dandridge as Grace, a pastor who returns to her estranged family — megachurch bishop James Greenleaf (Keith David) and Lady Mae Greenleaf (Lynn Whitfield) — after a 20-year absence. The occasion? The mysterious death of her sister, Faith.
Why you should watch it: Greenleaf packs an emotional punch, thanks largely due to its trio of lead performances and a hearty supporting turn from Ms. Winfrey herself. The drama in this Tennessee family runs thicker than their shared blood, and it makes for savory, soapy television you can’t keep your eyes off of. Season 2 premieres on March 15.
Commitment: About 10 hours
What it is: In a spin on the classic odd couple set-up, Netflix’s Grace and Frankie stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the titular pair, who are forced to put their differences aside and become housemates after their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) come out as gay and leave them for one another.
Why you should watch it: Who says they don’t make good roles for actresses over a certain age? In Grace and Frankie, screen icons (and former 9 to 5 costars) Fonda and Tomlin have their best roles in years. It may seem at first like a case of stunt casting for nostalgia’s sake, but as the series goes on, these characters grow and develop in unexpected, complicated, and heartwarming ways. It’s utterly watchable. Season 3 premieres on March 24.
Commitment: About 13 hours