Between long-running series giving their last bow and sophomore efforts from acclaimed freshmen half-hours, you have nothing to worry about: May will give you plenty to catch up on while social distancing.
What it is: Showtime’s Billions dramatizes the high-stakes world of Wall Street when Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), a U.S. attorney, sets his sights on bringing down hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (Homeland‘s Damian Lewis) for insider trading and other illegal proclivities. In other words, all this real-world talk about one-percenters is rejiggered for some A-grade entertainment with some of the best actors working today.
Why you should watch it: Giamatti has built a career on playing the everyman, and here, he’s fighting for him. The actor’s turn as the hard-hitting U.S. attorney would be reason alone to watch (scenes of surprise BDSM and all), but Billions also boasts a timely, engrossing premise and firecracker performances from Lewis, Maggie Siff, Condola Rashad, Asia Kate Dillon, and a bevy of other supporters that meet Giamatti mark for mark. Season 5 premieres May 3 on Showtime.
Commitment: Approx. 48 hours (for the first four seasons)
What it is: The hapless and hopeless crew at the Reno, Nevada sheriff’s department are the befuddling subject of this mockumentary series as improv comedians at the top of their game run around the biggest little city in the world stopping crime in its tracks — to less than satisfactory results.
Why you should watch it: “Reno 911!” was one of the first of its mockumentary, workplace comedy kinds upon its Comedy Central premiere in 2003. Plus, it launched the comedy careers of by-this-point industry vets, including Niecy Nash, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Thomas Lennon, and Cedric Yarbrough. The season 7 reboot premieres May 4 on Quibi.
Commitment: Approx. 32 hours (for the first six seasons)
What it is: Christina Applegate stars as Jen with Linda Cardellini as Judy, two widows who bond in a group therapy session through their opposing outlooks on life (the former hardened and angry, the latter new-agey and optimistic). Things in their friendship take a turn, however, when it’s learned that Judy isn’t exactly who she says she is — and she might know something about Jen’s husband’s hit-and-run death.
Why you should watch it: From creator Liz Feldman and co-producers Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Jessica Elbaum, Dead to Me was the must-watch, pitch-black comedy of last summer and went on to earn industry vet Applegate a surprise (and well-deserved) Emmy nomination later that year. Plus, with 30-minute episodes, it’s a binge that goes down easy. Season 2 premieres May 8 on Netflix.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: After Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) is rescued from an underground bunker where she was being held captive by a brainwashing cult leader, she does what any young woman who wants to see the world would do: She moves to New York City! The Netflix comedy is from creators Robert Carlock and Tina Fey, and though it wrapped its acclaimed four-season run early last year, this interactive special is sure to pass the time while in quarantine. Think of it as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, but funnier.
Why you should watch it: Kimmy, her new roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), her new boss Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski), and her landlady Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane) are sure to put a little pep in your step (and for more reasons than the titular hero’s incessant optimism) through their New York misadventures (and misunderstandings). Catch up on the whole thing before the special, which sees our hero face off with her arch nemesis in lead-up to her wedding, drops May 12 on Netflix.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 25 hours (for all four seasons)
What it is: Here’s another intelligent, original take on the post-nuclear apocalypse from Jason Rothenberg for the CW. Set 97 years after nuclear war wiped out humanity, the mere thousands remaining survived by escaping on an ark-like spaceship that remained within Earth’s orbit. The twisty caveat? The series’ title represents the 100 juvenile prisoners who, against their will, are forced out of the Ark and back to Earth to learn if it’s habitable. To their surprise, it turns out that some humans lived through the nuclear war from the century prior — and not all of them are ready to befriend the young visitors.
Why you should watch it: As is the case with much of the CW’s slate of programming, The 100 is led by an impressive ensemble of young, breakout actors who are made all the more impressive by their series’ meatier material. Plus with an air-tight, high-concept foundation, there’s a reason we’ve been coming back for six seasons and counting. Season 7, its final outing, premieres May 20 on the CW.
Commitment: Approx. 60 hours (for the first six seasons)
What it is: Based on the original podcast of the same name and from creators Micah Bloomberg, Eli Horowitz, and Mr. Robot mastermind Sam Esmail, Homecoming stars Julia Roberts as Heidi, an employee at the titular government facility meant to transition soldiers back into daily life post-combat. Told partially through flashback memory, the action of the series picks up when the Department of Defense comes knocking, asking why she left.
Why you should watch it: Craftily told and featuring a behemoth performance from Roberts and If Beale Street Could Talk breakout Stephan James, Homecoming is for anyone who likes their conspiracy dramas served with a twist. Season 2, which stars James and Janelle Monáe, premieres May 22 on Amazon Prime.
Commitment: Approx. 5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: S.H.I.E.L.D. is the kind of agency you want at your back. Led by fan-favorite Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, who caused uproar upon his character’s death in 2012’s The Avengers), Marvel Comics’ fictional Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division fights the behind-the-scenes battles that the average human wouldn’t dare face (see: Project Centipede and more). It’s wild, it’s crazy, and it’s been a heck of a fun time for Marvel superfans going for seven seasons strong.
Why you should watch it: Sure, this puzzle piece within the Marvel Cinematic Universe maintains the franchise call-backs and tonally checks all the boxes of what we look for in a Marvel romp, but you don’t have to be a die-hard lover of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and company to fall for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s extraterrestrial adventures and the now-beloved ensemble of characters it has built throughout its 100-plus episodes. Season 7, it’s final installment, premieres May 27 on ABC.
Commitment: Approx. 92 hours (for the first six seasons)
What it is: “Ramy” tells the story of a millennial Muslim trying to balance the expectations of his culture and family with his innate desires for something different.
Why you should watch it: This semi-autobiographical dramedy series from comedian Ramy Youssef (who took home a surprise Golden Globe award for his performance on the first season) is a coming-of-ager unlike any other. Drenched in the cultural and religious implications of a Muslim 20-something trying to find his way, it intelligently cuts to the heart of contemporary life in the city (including religion- and race-based prejudice) while still landing a joke. Season 2 premieres May 29 on Hulu.
Commitment: Approx. 5 hours (for the first season)
These 10 series are just the thing to bring you from winter to spring this March, whether you are craving wars between gods, unlikely romantic comedies, badly behaved rich folk, or the corrupt getting their due. Catch our monthly binge guide below.
What it is: The gods are out to play — and out for blood — in this cult favorite series on Starz. Based on the fantasy novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, American Gods follows recently released convict Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), who’s employed by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) as a bodyguard. Diving into a world of dark magic and gods new and old, it is soon revealed that Mr. Wednesday is on a mission to unite the Old Gods against the rise of the New.
Why you should watch it: Few series are quite as engrossingly strange and ambitious as American Gods, and that’s what has us hooked. It’s a timely commentary on the world we live in today but set against the backdrop of a dark and lurid fantasy epic. Season 2 premieres March 10.
Commitment: Approx. 8 hours
What it is: Here’s a romantic comedy squarely for adults. Amazon’s very funny London-set Catastrophe shows what happens when a no-strings-attached week of sex between a visiting American businessman (Rob Delaney) and an Irish schoolteacher (Sharon Horgan) turns into an unexpected pregnancy, a move overseas, and a proposal. And that’s just in the first episode.
Why you should watch it: Co-creators and stars Horgan and Delaney perfectly blend comedy and heart in their utterly original spin on the classic sitcom. Plus, their airtight scripts full of rat-a-tat-tat dialogue are about as joyously quippy and naturalistic as they come. (Judging from the pair’s famous Twitter accounts, that comes as little surprise.) And did we mention the late, great Carrie Fisher co-stars? The fourth and final season premieres March 15.
Where to watch it: Amazon
Commitment: About 8.5 hours
What it is: Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) gets the leading lady treatment with CBS All Access’ hit spin-off of The Good Wife. Set one year after the events of that acclaimed series’ finale (and picking up on the morning of President Donald Trump’s inauguration), The Good Fight follows Lockhart after she’s forced out of her own firm and teams up with goddaughter Maia Rindell (Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie) and The Good Wife‘s Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo).
Why you should watch it: Sure, if you loved The Good Wife, you’ll love The Good Fight — but believe it or not, Baranski is even more astounding here and finds exciting new shades to the beloved Diane Lockhart. Season 3 premieres March 14.
Commitment: Approx. 19.5 hours
What it is: The early aughts’ hit, boundary-pushing reality series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, gets a makeover of its own with this charming, three-time Emmy-winning reboot on Netflix.
Why you should watch it: If any other series captured the world’s collective heart over the last year like Queer Eye did, we haven’t heard of it. Yes, its main hook lies in the fashionable, fabulous, and heartwarming makeovers the Queer Eye guys give Georgia men (and the occasional woman), but you’ll stick around for the playful banter and true, deep friendship between the main cast of industry experts. It all packs a surprisingly emotional punch, so stock up on tissues! Season 3 premieres March 15.
Where to watch it: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 12 hours
What it is: Showtime’s Billions dramatizes the high-stakes world of Wall Street when Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), a U.S. attorney, sets his sights on bringing down hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (Homeland‘s Damian Lewis) for insider trading and other illegal proclivities. Talk about one-percenters.
Why you should watch it: Giamatti has built a career on playing the everyman, and here, he’s fighting for him. The actor’s turn as the hard-hitting U.S. attorney would be reason alone to watch (scenes of surprise BDSM and all), but Billions also boasts a timely, engrossing premise and firecracker performances from Lewis, Maggie Siff, Condola Rashad, and a bevy of other supporters that meet Giamatti mark for mark. Season 4 premieres March 17.
Commitment: Approx. 36 hours
What it is: It comes as no surprise that a series as sprawling and ambitious as Jane the Virgin has taken on many forms over the last four seasons, but the family-driven hourlong series begins when Jane, the titular character, is accidentally artificially inseminated.
Why you should watch it: More than just a star-making vehicle for the incomparable Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin is a dramedy like no other, rolling out bits of magical realism, vital cultural representation, female empowerment, and plenty of charm. It’s a series that wears its heart on its sleeve, and we can’t wait to see what its final installment has in store. Season 5 premieres March 27.
Commitment: Approx. 57 hours
What it is: A small-screen adaptation of Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s graphic novel of the same name, Happy! follows a crooked, alcoholic cop-turned-hitman Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni) who inexplicably begins seeing his kidnapped daughter’s imaginary friend: a blue winged horse named Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt). Together, they set out on a mission to find a Santa-dressed kidnapper on-the-loose.
Why you should watch it: “Happy” is one word for it, another is “weird.” Other words for it are “transporting,” or “hallucinogenic,” or “wild” — all meant in the best way. Unlike just about anything else on TV, Happy! demands your attention and promises a crazy ride. Season 2 premieres March 27.
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours
What it is: We’ve seen the modern-day American layperson satirized to no end on the small screen, but we’ve never seen them with zombies. That’s where Santa Clarita Diet comes in. Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel Hammond (Timothy Olyphant) are happily married real-estate agents living in the titular Californian town when Sheila unexpectedly becomes a bloodthirsty, flesh-craving, card-carrying member of the living dead.
Why you should watch it: Any excuse to watch Barrymore is A-OK in our book, but it’s even better when it’s a series as unique, fun, and — pardon the pun — biting as Santa Clarita Diet. Driven by its central mystery as much as it is its core cast of characters, it’s a suburban satire for all, not just fans of The Walking Dead. Season 3 premieres March 29.
Where to watch it: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 10 hours
What it is: Bill Hader stars as Barry Berman, a Midwestern hitman who, when traveling to Los Angeles for a job, unexpectedly takes an acting class and considers a career change.
Why you should watch it: Henry Winkler is gifted the kind of late-career role that the Happy Days TV veteran has long deserved in washed-up acting coach Gene Cousineau. (And he’s got the Emmy to prove it!) That in itself is reason enough to tune into Barry, but then there’s the title character himself. Hader has never been better as the hitman-turned-aspiring actor: circumstantially funny as a fish out of water, boasting leading-man gravitas as a morally torn hero, and even exuding an unexpected sex appeal as a kickass former Marine. Season 2 premieres March 31.
Commitment: Approx. 4 hours
What it is: Selina Meyer is an anti-heroine for the ages as a former senator and now Vice President of the United States who curses like a sailor and handles the things her predecessor never bothered to attend to.
Why you should watch it: There are few comedic performances as decorated as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ turn in HBO and creator Armando Iannucci’s Veep (a record-tying five Emmy wins for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the same role, to be exact). But still, she and the series seem to get better year after year. While Veep started out as a hilarious satire of the goings-on in our country’s capitol, it’s proven over the last few seasons to be more of a premonitory look at what’s to come in the West Wing — making it as relevant and darkly funny as ever. The seventh and final season premieres March 31.
Commitment: About 29 hours
Thumbnail photo courtesy Patrick Ecclesine/CBS; Isabella Vosmikova/HBO; Jan Thijs/Starz/Fremantle
(Photo by © Amazon)
Julia Roberts’ turn in the mind-bending Amazon series Homecoming marked the A-list actress’ debut as a series lead. She’s not the only big-screen actor drawn to the TV and streaming boom in serialized entertainment: Benicio Del Toro makes his debut in the Ben Stiller–directed Showtime miniseries Escape at Dannemora, and Avengers: Infinity War star Elizabeth Olsen is getting raves as a grieving widow in Facebook Watch’s Sorry for Your Loss.
Upcoming projects include Helen Mirren’s Catherine the Great miniseries, Jennifer Connelly in FX’s Snowpiercer, Henry Cavill in Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher, Russell Crowe in Showtime’s Roger Ailes miniseries, and Chris Pine’s TNT drama collaboration with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, I Am the Night. Even three-time Oscar winner (out of 21 nominations) Meryl Streep joins Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman in the upcoming second season of HBO’s Big Little Lies. And that’s just the shortlist.
Below, find Rotten Tomatoes’ accounting of the best small-screen debuts for A-list movie stars from the past few years, ranked by season 1 Tomatometer scores (that is, the season on which they made their TV or streaming debut). A note: Many actors got their start on TV, and while we included stars with a few guest parts on their resume, anyone with a significant number of TV credits (or a series regular or recurring role on a show, no matter how short-lived) got cut.
How She Fared on TV: While the Oscar winner has filmed a few one-off TV guest spots (a 1999 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the two-part former series finale of Murphy Brown) and starred in Ryan Murphy’s HBO movie The Normal Heart, Roberts’ starring role in Sam Esmail’s podcast-turned-streaming drama Homecoming, Certified Fresh with a 99% Tomatometer score, is her first true venture as a lead in a series. Critics agree that Homecoming is “an impressive small-screen debut for the actress, balancing a haunting mystery with a frenetic sensibility that grips and doesn’t let go.”
How She Fared on TV: The ’80s superstar first dipped her toe into TV with the Oscar Isaac–starring HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, but made a splash as the grieving mother of a missing son in Netflix’s nostalgia-heavy phenomenon Stranger Things. Both seasons of the horror series are Certified Fresh at 96% and 94%, respectively, but the first garnered fan and critical attention with a performance that the Village Voice’s Alan Scherstuhl described as “continually inventive in her grief” and Vulture’s Jen Cheney described as “grounded and convincing in Joyce’s moments of anger and quiet resolve.”
How She Fared on TV: The actress’ feature film debut, Martha Marcy May Marlene, was Certified Fresh with a 90% Tomatometer score, and she’s now a critical success in her TV debut as well. The Facebook Watch series — yes, Facebook — was Certified Fresh at 95%, with Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic saying that Olsen “anchors the story with her extraordinary portrayal of Leigh, a writer and barre instructor in Los Angeles whose husband has unexpectedly died.” Olsen is an executive producer of the series, which premiered in September 2018, and was actively involved in its development.
How She Fared on TV: With her production company, Hello Sunshine, Witherspoon shepherded her TV debut Big Little Lies through the development process to the small screen. The first season featured the actress’ performance as a Type-A mom in “a precise turn with sharp, informed decisions made time and time again, in a role perfectly built for Witherspoon’s talent,” wrote Indiewire’s Ben Travers. She’ll next star in the series’ second season, as well as in Apple’s first TV series, a morning-show drama alongside Jennifer Aniston.
How She Fared on TV: Gyllenhaal’s first TV outing, 2014 miniseries The Honorable Woman, was Certified Fresh with the Critics Consensus that she gave an “enthralling performance.” In HBO’s The Deuce, both seasons of which are Certified Fresh at 93% and 99% respectively, critics say she carries the series in “a tour de force performance.”
How She Fared on TV: Cruz got real-life friend Donatella Versace’s blessing to portray her in the second season of FX’s American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Playing the slain fashion designer’s grieving sister, Cruz’s small role was overshadowed by a career-defining performance for star Darren Criss, who went on to win an Emmy for his role. Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield called Cruz “simply fearsome” and “no caricature” as the designer. Her version of Versace is “ruthless in her resolve to keep the House of Versace alive as an aesthetic.”
How She Fared on TV: One of the first major stars to jump to TV in the peak TV era, Dern starred in the before-its-time HBO series Enlightened as a woman who returns to her life after a public breakdown and time at a mental-health retreat. Both seasons of the canceled-too-soon series were Certified Fresh. “I was blown away by how Dern is able to keep Amy on this knife’s edge between maniacal optimism and seething anger, and there’s no telling which direction she might go at any moment. It’s exhilarating to watch,” wrote Meredith Blake of The AV Club.
How He Fared on TV: The first season of the anthology series starred McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana detectives investigating a murder over a 17-year span. NPR’s Eric Deggans said the series, which debuted the same year the actor won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, “has the feel of an indie film spread over eight episodes starring two of the best character actors in the business.” Season 2 of the series — which again mined the film community, starred Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel McAdams — did not live up to the first.
How He Fared on TV: Murphy, whose only other TV credit is the 2001 miniseries The Way We Live Now, takes the lead as a crime boss hoping to move up in the world, in this 1919-set period drama that streams on Netflix in the United States. Chris Barton of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “This BBC effort set in post-WWI Birmingham, Britain, has more direct pleasures than the departed Boardwalk Empire thanks in part to a fresh, hellish setting and the reliable chill of Cillian Murphy, whose icy stare pairs well with the show’s grim Nick Cave soundtrack.”
How She Fared on TV: Though she appeared in a few episodes of Weeds in 2006 and an episode of her sister’s series Bones in 2009, Deschanel didn’t fully commit to a lead role on TV until 2011’s New Girl. This is the performance that brought the world the adjective “adorkable,” and the first season was Certified Fresh at 86%. Critics Consensus is that “Deschanel ‘s offbeat style gets a worthy showcase in New Girl, and while It can get awfully cutesy at times, the show benefits from witty writing and a strong supporting cast.”
How He Fared on TV: Aside from just a couple of one-off roles in the late ’80s and early ’90s on shows like Miami Vice and Tales from the Crypt, Del Toro has made his career in the movies. The Oscar winner (for 2000’s Traffic) stars in the Ben Stiller–directed Showtime miniseries Escape at Dannemora, about a real-life 2015 prison break. Carlos Valladares of the San Francisco Chronicle said the series, which debuts November 18, “proves yet again that the miniseries is the site of the most engaging long-form storytelling in television today.”
How He Fared on TV: After starring in HBO’s John Adams miniseries (and a guest role on Downton Abbey and the memorable 12 Angry Men spoof on Inside Amy Schumer), Giamatti returned with his first true series in Showtime’s Billions, the first and third seasons of which are both Certified Fresh. Regarding Giamatti’s portrayal of the founding father, Tom Shales of the Washington Post wrote, “Nearly throughout, Giamatti’s performance is captivating, often poignantly so.”
How He Fared on TV: Though Law’s TV debut encouraged plenty of bad jokes — you’ll never believe just how young this pope is! — the actor’s performance as the American-born, cigarette-smoking, Cherry Coke Zero-drinking pontificate (previously known as Lenny Belardo) earned plenty of praise. RogerEbert.com’s Brian Tallerico lauded Law’s “magnetic lead performance” and Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen wrote, “I’m transfixed by the sumptuous visual storytelling of creator and director Paolo Sorrentino and mesmerized by Law.”
How She Fared on TV: Ryan Murphy recruited the two-time Oscar winner (and six-time nominee) for his horror anthology American Horror Story, for which she won a Golden Globe and two Emmys. While the actress, who debuted on the small screen alongside Drew Barrymore in HBO TV movie Grey Gardens, left the series after four seasons, she returned in the latest, Apocalypse, and worked with Murphy again as Joan Crawford in the creator’s anthology series Feud: Bette and Joan. Lange’s first four seasons of AHS and Feud were all Certified Fresh, with Salon’s Melanie McFarland saying of Feud, “Lange and Sarandon hold the center with stunning likenesses of the legends they’re portraying, but the actresses also bring their inspirations down to Earth, tempering their decadent rages and vengeful spats with a gutting sense of loneliness that tempers its lightness in solemnity.”
How She Fared on TV: Kidman won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her portrayal of ritzy California mom Celeste in HBO’s Big Little Lies, but her TV series debut came alongside Elisabeth Moss in the second season of Sundance Channel’s Top of the Lake. The Sydney-set series featured Kidman as the recently separated mother of a troubled teen girl. Slate’s Willa Paskin called Kidman “resplendent,” though the season itself got mixed reviews. Kidman also appeared alongside Clive Owen in the 2012 HBO movie Hemingway & Gellhorn.
How She Fared on TV: Aside from short stints on Friends and Entourage, Mom was Faris’ first leading role on TV. While costar Allison Janney has gotten most of the praise (and the award-season hardware), Andy Greenwald’s Grantland review noted that the “perfectly cast” Faris “kills from the opening scene,” and that the series was “the first multi-cam comedy to crack me up in a decade.”
How He Fared on TV: The two-time Oscar winner (and five-time nominee) has filmed (or voice recorded) cameos on comedies including Family Guy, Two and a Half Men, Friends, and The Larry Sanders Show (and, fun fact, was on two episodes of Little House on the Prairie as a kid). But his true TV commitment came in 2018 as an astronaut in the Hulu series about the first manned mission to Mars. While the series itself got mixed reviews, its Critics Consensus was that Penn “gives an intensely poignant performance as the driven but conflicted Tom Hagerty” in the slow-moving first season. He’ll next hit the small screen as the star of an HBO miniseries about seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson.
How He Fared on TV: Though Vaughn appeared in cameos in Sex and the City and Mr. Show (and appeared in a few bit TV parts in the earliest days of his career), his true TV debut came in the second season of HBO’s True Detective. The season didn’t garner the same acclaim as the first, with critics split on the season as a whole but praising its performances. Chuck Barney of the San Jose Mercury News wrote,“All of the lead actors dig deeply into their roles, with Farrell playing the wary, weary burnout to perfection, and Vaughn shifting into full-throttle intensity.”
How She Fared on TV: Aaron Sorkin brought Fonda to the small screen with his TV news drama The Newsroom, in which she played the strong-willed owner of cable news network ACN. But the real critical acclaim for her TV work comes with Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie, where, alongside Lily Tomlin, she plays the jilted wife of a husband who leaves her for the man with whom he’s been having an affair for decades. The first season got mixed reactions as a whole, but critics credited its “stellar cast” with bringing the series an “undeniable appeal.”
How He Fared on TV: Now a small-screen veteran, with Hulu’s 9/11 drama Looming Tower and Netflix’s Western miniseries Godless under his belt (both Certified Fresh, by the way), Daniels first made the jump to the small screen with Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Critics were mixed on the series, saying it had “good intentions and benefits from moments of stellar dialogue and a talented cast.”
How He Fared on TV: Critics were not kind to the controversial writer and director’s TV debut, the 2016 Amazon series Crisis in Six Scenes. Among the scathing reviews were Dana Schwartz of the Observer’s critique that, “Woody Allen setting a new show in the sixties feels a little desperate, like he’s trying to physically yank back his glory days.” Wrote Sonia Saraiya of Variety, “it is hard to see the 80-year-old auteur as charming in the harsh light of the present.”
Some of 2017’s best new series are finally returning for round two this month, and we can’t wait to see what’s next. Catch up on those — plus a handful of favorite long-running offerings — below with our monthly roundup of what to binge.
What it is: Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) gets the leading lady treatment with CBS All Access’ hit spin-off of The Good Wife. Set one year after the events of that acclaimed series’ finale (and picking up on the morning of President Donald Trump’s storied inauguration), The Good Fight follows Lockhart after she’s forced out of her own firm with Maia Rindell (Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie) and joins up with Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo).
Why you should watch it: Sure, if you loved The Good Wife, you’ll love The Good Fight — but believe it or not, Baranski is better than ever here and finds exciting new shades to our beloved Lockhart. Season 2 premieres March 4.
Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours
What it is: If you’re up to no good, Jessica Jones is the last person you’d want to bump into in a dark alleyway. The super-strong P.I. has thrown in her towel as a superhero and instead taken to bringing justice to New York City’s most nefarious by more traditional means — until a super-villain from her past named Kilgrave comes back into her life, that is.
Why you should watch it: Even if you’ve already seen Season 1 of Jessica Jones, and even if you got a much-needed fix from Marvel’s The Defenders last year, Krysten Ritter alone is worthy of repeat viewing for a quick catch-up before season 2 on March 8. Daring, crass, and ball-busting, she and her Jones take on a whole new significance in the era of Times Up and #MeToo. But most importantly, she’s addictively watchable, now more than ever.
Commitment: Approx. 12 hours
What it is: This half-hour comedy from Judd Apatow and Lesley Arfin charts the unlikely relationship of goofy everyman Gus (Paul Rust) and the beautiful-but-flawed Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), both of whom live and work in Hollywood.
Why you should watch it: They say don’t judge a book by its cover, and particularly with Love, it’s best to not judge a series by its title, either. More a darkly comic look at 20-30something aimlessness, addiction, and the things we do to make a connection in the modern world, Love likely won’t leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. What is worth loving, though, are stop-you-in-your-tracks performances from Community vet Jacobs and Rust. Season 3 premieres March 9.
Commitment: Approx. 11 hours
What it is: Longtime character actor and standout supporter Giovanni Ribisi gets top-billing as “titular” conman Marius who, once out of prison, takes on the identity of his cellmate, Pete. On the run from a coldblooded mobster, Marius holes up with Pete’s unsuspecting small-town family.
Why you should watch it: This Amazon original series from creators David Shore and Bryan Cranston (who also co-stars as mobster Vince) will sneak up and floor you — and we don’t say that simply as a play on words. Each ensemble member (but especially Ribisi and series breakout Marin Ireland) delivers lived-in and moving dramatic turns with fast-paced scripts that don’t skimp on nuance of character. Sneaky Pete doesn’t have to con its way onto your must-watch list; it deserves to be there. Season 2 premieres March 9.
Commitment: Approx. 7.5 hours
What it is: This time-hopping, sci-fi adventure series from creators Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke stars Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, and Matt Lanter as a history professor, a scientist, and a soldier, respectively, who travel through time to stop another more sinister time traveler from altering the course of history.
Why you should watch it: Oftentimes, high-concept big swings from the networks take a little while to find their footing, but Timeless on NBC stormed out of the gate in fall 2016 as an admirably audacious drama with tricks up its sleeve to spare. Season 2 premieres March 11.
Commitment: Approx. 12 hours
What it is: Showtime’s Billions dramatizes the high-stakes world of Wall Street when Chuck Rhoades, a U.S. attorney, sets his sights on bringing down hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod for insider trading and other illegal proclivities.
Why you should watch it: Paul Giamatti has built a career on playing the everyman, and here, he’s fighting for him. Giamatti’s turn as the hard-hitting U.S. attorney Rhoades would be reason alone to watch (scenes of unexpected BDSM and all), but Billions also boasts a timely, engrossing premise and firecracker performances from Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff that meet Giamatti mark for mark. Season 3 premieres March 25.
Commitment: Approx. 24 hours
What it is: This decorated HBO comedy from creators John Altschuler, Mike Judge, and Dave Krinsky is the story of wunderkind coder Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) as he and partner Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller) struggle to to get their startup off the ground during Northern California’s tech boom.
Why you should watch it: Few shows pack as many laughs-per-episode as Silicon Valley. Through its hilarious portrayal of a company on the rise, it also taps into the real-world “brotopia” of the West Coast’s tech industry in more than just name with an assortment of memorable (and in the case of Middleditch, Emmy-nominated) performances across the board.
Commitment: Approx. 19 hours
What it is: Now entering its sixth and final season, this slow-burning espionage series stars real-life couple Keri 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’ve heard enough about Russia in today’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 slew of Emmy and Golden Globe nominations over its five-year run. Season 6 premieres March 28.
Commitment: Approx. 48 hours
What it is: Those poor, poor Baudelaire orphans — always getting caught up in events that are, well, unfortunate. Netflix’s whimsically dark series follows Violet, Klaus, and Sunny who, after they’re parents’ death, are put in the care of an evil distant cousin, Count Olaf, who’s set on getting his hands on their sizable inheritance.
Why you should watch it: Here, Neil Patrick Harris is doing more than just stealing the show here, as he did on for nine seasons on How I Met Your Mother. He is the show, making each master-of-disguise get-up as the menacing Olaf more beguiling than the one before it. It’s just an added bonus that the sets, music, and just about everything else about this series is technically dazzling.
Where to watch it: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours
What it is: While Legion is among the most original — and, as a result, undefinable — series on TV today, in the simplest of terms, it’s the story of psych-ward patient David Haller (Dan Stevens) and his sidekick-turned-nemesis Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) as David more fully becomes what he’s always known himself to be: a mutant.
Why you should watch it: To anyone who says they’re tiring of the superhero genre overtaking film and TV, we say, “Have you seen Legion?” Noah Hawley’s absolutely singular X-Men–based vision is a mind-bending and engrossing head-scratcher that’s well worth committing to. And committing is exactly what Stevens and Plaza do with their no-holds-barred, fearless performances. Season 2 premieres April 3.
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours
As we ramp up into summer, we reflect upon the 2016 winter/spring season, which brought with it a handful of top-notch TV shows worthy of Certified Fresh status. Whether they be series premieres or new seasons of returning shows, we’ve got all of them here in one place for you. Did your favorites make the list? Sound off in the comments below.
It’s time for our weekly countdown of the Winter TV premieres! Here are the best new shows for the week of Friday, January 15th. See how this week’s shows Colony, Mercy Street, Shadowhunters, Second Chance, Billions, Teachers, and Angie Tribeca stack up against each other on the Tomatometer!
Here it is: the ever-growing list of mid-season premieres for winter and spring, 2016. Included here are series and season premieres, as well as returns of shows that will have been on hiatus for a couple of months or more. So mark your calendars now. Will “peak TV” continue peaking in 2016? You be the judge.
Friday, Jan. 1
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride special event, 9 p.m., PBS
Sunday, Jan. 3
Galavant season two premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Downton Abbey season six premiere, 8 pm, PBS
Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life series premiere, FOX
Bordertown series premiere, 9:30 p.m., FOX
Wednesday, Jan. 6
American Idol season 15 premiere, 8 p.m., FOX
Mike & Molly season six premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
American Crime season two premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia season 11 premiere, 10 p.m., FXX
Man Seeking Woman season two premiere, 10:30 p.m., FXX
Thursday, Jan. 7
Angel from Hell series premiere, 9:30 p.m., CBS
Beyond the Tank season two premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Shades of Blue series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Todd Margaret season three premiere, 10 p.m., IFC
Sunday, Jan. 10
Shameless season six premiere, 9 p.m., SHO
Friday, Jan. 15
Hell’s Kitchen season 15 premiere, 9 p.m., FOX
Tuesday, Jan. 19
Marvel’s Agent Carter season two premiere, 9 p.m., ABC
Thursday, Jan. 21
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow series premiere, 8 p.m., CW
The 100 season three premiere, 9 p.m., CW
Baskets series premiere, 10 p.m., FX
London Spy series US premiere, 10 p.m., BBC America
Portlandia season six premiere, 10 p.m., IFC
Dark Net series premiere, 11 p.m., Showtime
Sunday, Jan. 24
The X-Files season 10 premiere, 10 p.m., FOX
Monday, Jan. 25
The Fosters season three return, 8 p.m., Freeform
American Dad! season 12 premiere, 8:30 p.m., TBS
Lucifer series premiere, 9 p.m., FOX
The Magicians series premiere, 9 p.m., SyFy
Recovery Road series premiere, 9 p.m., Freeform
Tuesday, Jan. 26
Outsiders series premiere, 9 p.m., WGN
Thursday, Jan. 28
You, Me and the Apocalypse series premiere, 8 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Jan. 31
The Venture Bros season six premiere, midnight, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim
Monday, Feb. 8
Castle season eight return, 10 p.m., ABC
Thursday, Feb. 11
Grey’s Anatomy season 12 return, 8 p.m., ABC
Scandal season five return, 9 p.m., ABC
How to Get Away with Murder season two return, 10 p.m., ABC
Those Who Can’t series premiere, 10:30 p.m., TruTV
Friday, Feb. 12
The Amazing Race season 28 return, 8 p.m., CBS
Thursday, Feb. 18
Vikings season four premiere, 8 p.m., History
Friday, Feb. 19
Love series premiere, Netflix
Thursday, Feb. 25
Prey miniseries premiere, 10 p.m., BBC America
Friday, Feb. 26
Fuller House series premiere, Netflix
Thursday, Mar. 3
The Family series premiere, 9 p.m., ABC
Friday, Mar. 4
House of Cards season four, Netflix
Thursday, Mar. 10
60 Days In series premiere, 9 p.m., A&E
Wednesday, Mar. 16
Happy Valley season two premiere, Netflix
Schitt’s Creek season two premiere, 8 p.m., POP
Nashville season four return, 9 p.m., ABC
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders series premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
The Americans season four premiere, 10 p.m., FX
Friday, Mar. 18
Marvel’s Daredevil season two premiere, Netflix
Sunday, Mar. 20
Crowded series premiere, 9:30 pm, NBC
Monday, Mar. 21
Dancing with the Stars season 22 premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Thursday, Mar. 24
The Catch series premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Sunday, Apr. 3
Call the Midwife season five premiere, 8 p.m., PBS
Thursday, Apr. 7
The Odd Couple season two premiere, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Friday, Apr. 8
Catastrophe season two premiere, Amazon
Saturday, Apr. 9
Outlander season two premiere, 9 p.m., Starz
Sunday, Apr. 10
The Girlfriend Experience series premiere, 8 p.m., Starz
House of Lies season five premiere, 9 p.m., Showtime
Dice series premiere, 9:30 p.m., Showtime
Fear the Walking Dead season two premiere, 10 p.m., AMC
Wednesday, Apr. 13
The Last Panthers series premiere, 10 p.m., SundanceTV
Monday, Apr. 18
12 Monkeys season two premiere, 9 p.m., SyFy
Wednesday, Apr. 20
Deadbeat series 3 premiere, Hulu
Sunday, Apr. 24
Game of Thrones season six premiere, 9 p.m., HBO
Rebellion miniseries premiere, 9 p.m., Sundance
Silicon Valley season three premiere, 10 p.m., HBO
Veep season five premiere, 10:30 p.m., HBO
Monday, Apr. 25
Turn season three premiere, 10 p.m., AMC
The Last Man on Earth season two return, FOX