It’s that time of year again where September is stacked with so many returning series across network and cable that we couldn’t possibly feature them all! The 12 series below are all the Certified Fresh returnees this month, including superhero fare, socially-tinged comedies, and primetime mainstays bowing out with their final seasons.
What it is: The series is centered on the titular group of young superheroes — led by none other than Nightwing (formerly Robin of Batman-sidekick fame) — as they save the world from forces that want to end it. This long-in-the-making effort is a welcome addition to DC Comics’ TV footprint.
Why you should watch it: Greg Berlanti is the mastermind behind DC Comics’ takeover of the small screen, so you know you’re in good hands for this streaming hit with him and co-creators Akiva Goldsman and Geoff Johns at the helm. The Titans action is slick and laid on thick, and buoyed by a stellar young-Hollywood cast, we can’t wait to see what superhero adventures are in store next. Season 2 premieres Sept. 6 on DC Universe.
Commitment: Approx. 8 hours (for the first season)
What it is: From creator David Simon (The Wire), The Deuce deep dives into 1970s Times Square — more specifically, the men and women who turn to sex work to make a living. The Golden Globe–nominated series is a true ensemble piece, with standouts Maggie Gyllenhaal as a prostitute named Candy and James Franco as identical twin brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino. The next two seasons jump ahead in time, but this is the series’ starting line.
Why you should watch it: By transporting us to a gritty world of sex, drugs, and an American Dream that’s foreign to most audiences today, The Deuce further proves Simon’s talent for creating series that are absolutely singular and authentic. Plus, with talent like Gyllenhaal and Franco attached, it certainly ranks within prestige TV’s must-watch club. Season 3 premieres September 9 on HBO.
Commitment: Approx. 17 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Now going into its ninth season, the spooky anthology series is a favorite of critics and audiences alike. Previous seasons featured haunted houses, witches, vampires, crazed killers, and every manner of unhinged human.
Why you should watch it: You don’t have to watch every season of American Horror Story to catch up for season 9, but don’t you want to!? The acclaimed anthology series is known for being as campy as it is horrific. The upcoming season, American Horror Story: 1984, is set in a summer camp that’s being devastated by a mental hospital escapee named Mr. Jingles. It’s also the first season in which AHS mainstays Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters are not expected to play a role. 1984 premieres Sept. 18 on FX.
Commitment: Approx. 78 hours (for the first eight seasons)
What it is: Funnyman Anthony Anderson stars as Dre Johnson, a black, upper-middle-class family man who — in a predominantly white neighborhood, school, and culture — still wants his kids to retain a sense of black identity.
Why you should watch it: Creator Kenya Barris is one of those writers who just goes there. Even in what some would call the confines of network TV, he has conjured stories the last five seasons in the sitcom structure that are resonant, timely, and fearless. Plus, they’ll make you laugh, too! Tracy Ellis Ross and Anderson are especially show-stealing. With Barris now at Netflix and Courtney Lilly promoted to showrunner, we expect more of the same high quality when season 6 premieres Sept. 24 on ABC.
Commitment: Approx. 43 hours (for the first five seasons)
What it is: Revisiting one of the most famous families on network TV after over 20 years off the air, The Conners stars Laurie Metcalf, John Goodman, and the rest of the original clan (minus Roseanne Barr) and is as insightful and heartwarming as ever.
Why you should watch it: The Conners is just one of the several series on this months’ list that’s been beleaguered by off-screen controversy. After the renewal and cancellation of original sitcom, Roseanne, this series found its groove and audience without Barr. Telling it like it is for working class, family-first Americans, it resonates wide in today’s times while making us laugh like always.
Commitment: Approx. 4 hours (for the first season)
What it is: A family drama of Shakespearean proportions, Empire charts the various rises and falls of the Lyon family — for starters, those of patriarch Lucious (Terrence Howard), a hip-hop mogul who’s in the process of choosing an heir to his musical throne.
Why you should watch it: Nothing short of a phenomenon upon its premiere in 2015, Empire is classic Lee Daniels: engrossingly soapy, slightly camp, meticulously performed, and endlessly entertaining. Taraji P. Henson does some of the best work of her career as the scene-stealing and wig-snatching Cookie Lyon. She alone is worth the watch, but it helps that she has an excellent ensemble at her back, led by Howard who acts as the very best foil to her scheming. You probably saw Empire catching capital-D Dramatic headlines earlier this year, and we’re sure there’s more due onscreen upon the season 6 premiere Sept. 24 on Fox.
Commitment: Approx. 63 hours (for the first five seasons)
What it is: Dan Fogelman’s hit family drama tells the story of siblings Kate, Kevin, and Randall in the present day while recounting their parents’ Jack and Rebecca’s own story through pregnancy and raising them in the early-to-mid 1980s.
Why you should watch it: Not since Parenthood has a network drama so broadly and successfully portrayed complicated family dynamics. Through its use of creative narrative devices and excellent ensemble performances, This Is Us earns its praise (and your tears). The series is already renewed through season 6, so now is the time catch up on its first three rounds before season 4 premieres Sept. 24 on NBC.
Commitment: Approx. 40 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: Talk about a creative spin on the afterlife! Kristen Bell stars as the recently deceased Eleanor Shellstrop, who by some glitch in the system ends up in the “Good Place,” a Utopian haven for those who served their lives on Earth with grace that was designed by Ted Danson’s Michael. Thing is: Eleanor doesn’t actually fit the bill of admittance and has to keep her righteous new friends fooled if she wants to stick around.
Why you should watch it: The Good Place is certainly among the best network comedies of recent memory. An always-charming Bell and TV royalty Danson play off of each other in a way that — what the fork!? — simply works. The series was this year recognized with an Emmy nomination for best comedy series for the first time. Season 4 premieres Sept. 24 on NBC.
Commitment: Approx. 5 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) is a criminal defense attorney and professor teaching a group of talented — and curiously attractive — law students how to defend the accused, all while tangling them up in a real-life murder mystery of their own. Buckle up!
Why you should watch it: Davis if one of the industry’s most heralded and decorated actors. The trailblazing Oscar winner, who was recently announced to play former First Lady Michelle Obama, became a household name with her role on ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder. Annalise is a complicated and complex antiheroine who has earned David an Emmy, and her performance, matched with the trademark twists and soap of Shondaland Productions (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) and an impressive, young ensemble, has been reason enough to come back year after year. The series’ sixth and final season premieres Sept. 26 on ABC.
Commitment: Approx. 55 hours (for the first five seasons)
What it is: We all know that The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon has a one-of-a-kind genius mind, but did you ever wonder just what he was like as a kid? Young Sheldon answers that question and then some while charting the nine-year-old boy-genius’s life.
Why you should watch it: Young Sheldon provides something that we haven’t seen before: a reinterpretation of a beloved multi-camera sitcom character as a single-camera, family-friendly, and heartwarming dramedy. Better yet, because this is a prologue series to Jim Parson’s Sheldon, our protagonist’s mother, Mary, is played by Zoe Perry, the real-life daughter of Laurie Metcalf, who, in a small-screen first, stars as the same character on The Big Bang Theory. Season 3 premieres Sept. 26 on CBS.
Commitment: Approx. 15 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Set in the 1990s and loosely adapted from celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name, Fresh Off the Boat follows a first-generation Taiwanese family who picks up from their Chinatown home in Washington, D.C., and heads south to Orlando, Florida, where father Louis Huang (Randall Park) opens a Country-Western steakhouse.
Why you should watch it: A refreshing take on Asian Americans for the small screen? Check. Well-earned laughs from a trio of talented young actors? Check. A heaping dose of ’90s nostalgia? Check. And the combined powers of the hilarious Park and Constance Wu (of Crazy Rich Asians fame)? Check and check. Need we say more? Season 6 premieres Sept. 27 on ABC.
Commitment: Approx. 37 hours (for the first five seasons)
What it is: Jill Soloway’s acclaimed family comedy is much more than clever wordplay. This affecting story of a father, Mort Pfefferman, who comes out as transgender and begins transitioning as Maura is about the transitory nature of life for all members of the Pfefferman clan (and, yes, the importance of being honest and transparent with those you love as well as with yourself).
Why you should watch it: Transparent is unlike anything you’ve ever seen on TV. It has been overshadowed in recent years due to an off-set controversy and eventual removal of star Jeffrey Tambor, but as an opening act to its musical series finale, the Pfefferman family is worth revisiting before their long-awaited return and feature-film length goodbye on Sept. 27 on Amazon Prime.
Commitment: Approx. 20 hours (for the first four seasons)