The fall TV overhaul may be behind us, but, don’t worry, there are still plenty of must-see shows returning this month. From sitcoms to sex dramas, Westerns to medieval war sagas, there is something for everyone this November. Find out which series you should catch up on.
(Photo by CBS)
What it is: A family sitcom about recovering alcoholics, teen pregnancies, and other assorted curves life can throw may not sound like it’s mingling with laughing matters, but Mom works! Anna Faris leads as Christy, a mother of two who gets sober and moves to the Napa Valley to start her life anew. Allison Janney also steals the show as her mother, Bonnie, a fellow recovering addict who finally has the chance to be present for her daughter (and grandkids). In that sense, Mom is a comedy about making up for lost time.
Why you should watch it: This multi-cam sitcom from industry titan Chuck Lorre is five years strong thanks to the fact that it’s rough around the edges in a real-world way. It’s not too sweet, and it has standout (and, in the case of Janney, Emmy-winning!) performances across the board. They may not be a typical family, but for 30 minutes each week, they will be come a part of yours. Season 5 premiered November 2.
Commitment: Approx. 31 hours
What it is: Based on Steven Soderbourgh’s 2009 vignette-filled feature film of the same name, The Girlfriend Experience is an anthology drama series about the unexpected and complicated lives of sex workers. Season 1 follows a law student named Christine Reade (Riley Keogh) who moonlights in the profession. Season 2, which will follow two different story lines, premieres November 5.
Why you should watch it: While sex alone is likely a titillating enough calling card to pique many viewers’ interest, The Girlfriend Experience is about much more than its elevator pitch implies. Ultimately, it’s a meditation on feminist power, on the relationship between sex and manipulation, and the moral ambiguities of its protagonists’ careers (and those who employ them). Rich with finely realized performances and void of an imposing male gaze (Amy Seimetz is onboard as co-creator, co-director, and co-star), the series’ first season packed an emotional wallop while making you think. Season 2 will boast hourlong episodes (versus last year’s half-hours) and two parallel, concurrently running stories.
Commitment: Approx. 6.5 hours
(Photo by Showtime)
What it is: While this comedy series has been around for so long that it’s hard to define it without giving away seven seasons of spoilers, but at its core, it’s an hour-long dysfunctional family comedy-drama about six children (led by Emmy Rossum as Fiona) who were forced to grow up too fast while under the watch of their single, alcoholic father, Frank (William H. Macy).
Why you should watch it: It’s tricky to strike the balance between broad comedy and aching drama, but it’s a skill that Shameless has perfected since its 2011 debut. Credit where it’s due: Rossum is an absolutely fearless knockout who bests herself season to season. It’s an excellent ensemble, and you can’t help but love the Gallagher family (even when they don’t make it easy), but watching the actress and Oscar nominee Macy go toe-to-toe as the central headstrong daughter and father just gets better with age. Season 8 premieres November 5.
Commitment: Approx. 77 hours
(Photo by Netflix)
What it is: As an experienced comedian’s comedian, Maria Bamford finally gets the star treatment she deserves with Mitchell Hurwitz and Pam Brady’s half-hour semi-biographical comedy about a standup comedian who, after a breakdown and subsequent institutionalization, begins readjusting to an ever-changing world and ever-changing mental state.
Why you should watch it: Forgive the pun, but Lady Dynamite is explosive. It’s brave. It’s mental illness like you’ve never seen before — and in Bamford, it features a leading lady like you’ve never seen, either. With an eye for the surreal, the absurd, and the slapstick found in one standup comic’s everyday life, Lady is wacky, brilliant fun. Plus, it features a who’s who comedy roster of supporting players and cameos that will surely be even more impressive in Season 2, which bows November 10.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours
What it is: Set in Wyoming’s fictional Absaroka County, this crime drama fits right in with the Westerns of the world, from Unforgiven to Hell or High Water. (Better yet, we’ve gotten to enjoy it for five seasons instead of just two hours!) The pilot picks up one year after the death of our titular hero’s wife, and through his grief, he digs deep into his work and sets his sights on getting reelected to the gold star.
Why you should watch it: Based on the bestselling Walt Longmire Mystery series, this A&E-turned-Netflix original is built on nostalgia for the all-American hero, and star Robert Taylor as Longmire is up to snuff going into its sixth and final season. Like the very best of classic Clint Eastwood and other gunslinging heroes of yesteryear, Taylor’s Longmire is stoically gruff, reserved, and a helluva shot. Need proof? Look no further than his early-series comparison between the small Absaroka’s issues of crime, poverty, and racism and those found in New York City: “Corruption, violence, greed, and murder — but Absaroka County has something that New York City will never have: They have me.” Good luck to those who stand in his way. Season 6 premieres November 17.
Commitment: Approx. 45 hours
(Photo by TBS)
What it is: Part relationship drama, part coming-of-age comedy, part noir-tinged mystery thriller, Search Party is undefinable —but that’s what makes it so good. It’s the story of Dory (Alia Shaukat), Drew (John Reynolds), Elliot (John Early), and Portia (Meredith Hagner), who, on account of their own self-interest and general aimlessness, entangle themselves in the potentially sinister disappearance of their college classmate.
Why you should watch it: Brooklyn-dwelling millennials have been beguiling subjects for many a film and TV auteur since Lena Dunham’s Girls, but never before have they been so exactingly (and excruciatingly) brought to life than in Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, and Michael Showalter’s incisive TBS satire-crime mystery cocktail. Season 2 premieres November 19.
Commitment: Approx. 4 hours
What it is: In the mood for a meaty, generations-spanning period drama that has violence, politics, sex, and true-to-history recreations to spare? Look no further than Vikings, Michael Hirst’s brilliant follow-up to The Tudors. The heart of the series is legendary rags-to-riches viking Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), his rise to power, and how he passes that power to his children and their children thereafter.
Why you should watch it: Vikings is complex, calculated storytelling at its best. Gorgeous, lush sets and production design, committed and gritty performances all around — it is a wonder that the program doesn’t garner acclaim on par with Game of Thrones (though it certainly draws comparisons). But somehow, there’s a viewers’ pleasure to being in on a well-kept secret. Join the club before season 5 returns November 29.
Commitment: Approx. 36 hours
There aren’t a whole lot of noteworthy new additions to streaming services this week, but we’ve got a few worth checking out, including a handful of new and old acclaimed TV series and a couple of indie films. Read on for the full list.
Maria Bamford stars in this semi-autobiographical Netflix original comedy about an actress struggling with mental health issues who moves back to Los Angeles and tries to get her career back on track.
Available now on: Netflix
This psychological thriller revolves around a Vietnam veteran who becomes the victim of a sadistic nurse when he falls under her care after a stroke.
Available now on: Netflix
This drama follows a bullied high schooler who turns the tables on her tormenter with the help of her best friend, who secretly records evidence of the harassment.
Available now on: Netflix
Steve Buscemi stars in this HBO period drama about a corrupt Atlantic City politician’s bid to rule the criminal underworld during and after the years of Prohibition.
Available now on: Amazon Prime
Antony Starr and Ivana Milicevic star in Cinemax’s drama about an ex-con who assumes the role of town sheriff when the real sheriff is killed before anyone meets him.
Available now on: Amazon Prime
This week at the movies, we’ve got furious fowl (The Angry Birds Movie, featuring voice performances by Jason Sudeikis and Josh Gad), a neighborhood feud (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, starring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), and mismatched detectives (The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling). What do the critics have to say?
First the good news: at press time, The Angry Birds Movie is the best-reviewed video game film adaptation of all time. The bad news is that it’s still Rotten on the Tomatometer. It’s the story of Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), an oft-enraged bird who fears that a group of pigs want to invade his avian paradise. Critics say The Angry Birds Movie has a colorful look and a few decent gags, but it wastes a stellar voice cast on a script filled with lowbrow humor and mixed messages.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne squared off against an obnoxious fraternity in 2014’s Neighbors, and the result was a Certified Fresh hit comedy. This time around, Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) face a similar predicament when a sorority led by party girl Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) moves in next door, so they reunite with frat boy Teddy (Zac Efron) to fight fire with fire. Critics say Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising manages to squeeze enough fresh laughs out of its recycled premise to make it worth a watch, even if it doesn’t feel like a particularly necessary sequel.
Shane Black may not have invented the odd couple action/comedy, but he’s one of its greatest purveyors – he wrote the script for Lethal Weapon and directed Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Now he’s back with The Nice Guys, and critics say this wild and woolly comedy – about a private eye who teams up with an enforcer to find a missing woman – boasts terrific comic chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, along with a surfeit of groovy 1970s style.
A thrilling celebration of the bizarre, Preacher boasts enough gore, glee, and guile to make this visually stunning adaption a must-see for fans of the comic and newcomers alike.
Chelsea comes up short in its attempts to innovate the conventional talk show format — and even worse, it frequently fails to be smart or funny.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release
While not as chock full of premieres as the fall TV season, summer can churn out some doozies of its own. Like we did around this time last year, we’ll be treated to shows that draw immediate engagement (Mr. Robot, Penny Dreadful, Orange is the New Black, Wayward Pines), television movie premieres (Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, The Dresser, All The Way), and special events (Just Let Go – Lenny Kravitz Live, Every Brilliant Thing, SyFy Presents Live from Comic-Con). Add some anticipated series premieres (Roadies, Lady Dynamite, Outcast, Preacher) and miniseries (Roots, Houdini & Doyle, O.J.: Made in America) to the mix, and your DVR hard drives are sure to reach max capacity. So the questions is, which shows will you be deleting first, and which will rise to the pinnacle of your summer viewing list of faves? Check out the full (ever growing) list here:
Sunday, May 1
Penny Dreadful season three premiere, 10 p.m., Showtime
Tuesday, May 3
Person of Interest season five premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
Wednesday, May 4
Maron season four premiere, 9 p.m., IFC
Friday, May 6
Grace and Frankie season two premiere, Netflix
Sunday, May 8
Wallander season four premiere, 9 p.m., PBS
Monday, May 9
Every Brilliant Thing special event premiere, HBO
Tuesday, May 10
First Impressions series premiere, 10:30 p.m., USA
Wednesday, May 11
Chelsea series premiere, Netflix
Thursday, May 12
Submission series premiere, 11 p.m., Showtime
Friday, May 13
Just Let Go – Lenny Kravitz Live special event premiere, 8 p.m., Showtime
Wednesday, May 18
Royal Pains season eight premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Saturday, May 21
All the Way television movie premiere, 8 p.m., HBO
Sunday, May 22
Preacher series premiere, 10 p.m., AMC
Monday, May 23
Whose Line is it Anyway? season 12 premiere, 9 p.m., CW
Wednesday, May 25
Wayward Pines season two premiere, 9 p.m., FOX
Monday, May 30
So You Think You Can Dance season 13 premiere, 8 p.m., FOX
The Dresser television movie premiere (US), 9 p.m., Starz
Roots miniseries premiere, 9 p.m., History, Lifetime, and A&E
Mistresses season four premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Wednesday, June 1
Rock this Boat: New Kids on the Block season two premiere, 8 p.m., POP
Young & Hungry season four premiere, 8 p.m., Freeform
Baby Daddy season five return, 8:30 p.m., Freeform
Kingdom season two return, 9 p.m., DirecTV
Cleverman series premiere, 10 p.m., Sundance
The Night Shift season three premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Sunday, June 5
Feed the Beast series premiere, 10 p.m., AMC
Monday, June 6
Angie Tribeca season two premiere, TBS
Barbarians Rising miniseries premiere, 9 p.m., History
Devious Maids season four premiere, 9 p.m., Lifetime
Rizzoli & Isles season seven premiere, 9 p.m., TNT
UnREAL season two premiere, 10 p.m., Lifetime
Tuesday, June 7
Casual season two premiere, Hulu
Friday, June 10
Voltron: Legendary Defender series premiere, Netflix
Thursday, June 16
Aquarius season two premiere, 9 p.m., NBC
Friday, June 17
Orange is the New Black season four premiere, Netflix
Saturday, June 18
Mother, May I Sleep with Danger television movie premiere, 8 p.m., Lifetime
Sunday, June 19
Endeavour season three premiere (US), 9 p.m., PBS
The Last Ship season three premiere, 9 p.m., TNT
The Jim Gaffigan Show season two premiere, 10 p.m., TV Land
The Tunnel series premiere (US), 10:30 p.m., PBS
Tuesday, June 21
Pretty Little Liars season seven premiere, 8 p.m., Freeform
Wednesday, June 22
Big Brother season 17 premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
American Gothic series premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
Friday, June 24
The Fundamentals of Caring television movie premiere, Netflix
Saturday, June 25
Center Stage: On Pointe television movie premiere, 8 p.m., Lifetime
Sunday, June 26
Dancing on the Edge series premiere (US), 8 p.m., PBS
Ray Donovan season four premiere, 9 p.m., Showtime
Murder in the First season three premiere, 10 p.m., TNT
Roadies series premiere, 10 p.m., Showtime
Thursday, June 30
Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll season two premiere, 10 p.m., FX
Friday, July 1
Between season two premiere, Netflix
Marcella series premiere (US), Netflix
Marco Polo season two premiere, Netflix
Killjoys season two premiere, 9 p.m., SyFy
Dark Matter season two premiere, 10 p.m., SyFy
Sunday, July 3
The Hunt series premiere (US), 9 p.m., BBC America
Sunday, July 10
The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth season one return, 8 p.m., Showtime
DB Cooper miniseries premiere, 9 p.m., History
The Night Of series premiere, 9 p.m., HBO
Monday, July 11
Making of the Mob season two premiere, 10 p.m., AMC
Wednesday, July 13
Penn & Teller: Fool Us season three premiere, 8 p.m., CW
Suits season six premiere, 9 p.m., USA
The A Word series premiere, 10 p.m., Sundance
Mr. Robot season two premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Thursday, July 21
SyFy Presents Live from Comic-Con special event premiere, 8 p.m., SyFy
Friday, July 22
Bring It! season three return, 9 p.m., Lifetime
Saturday, July 23
Looking: The Movie television movie premiere, 10 p.m., HBO
Thursday, July 28
Ripper Street season four premiere (US), 10 p.m., BBC America
Friday, July 29
Home: The Adventures of Tip and Oh series premiere, Netflix
Sunday, July 31
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens television movie premiere, 8 p.m., SyFy
Friday, Aug. 12
The Get Down series premiere, Netflix
Thursday, Aug. 18
60 Days In season two premiere, 9 p.m., A&E
Sunday, Aug. 21
Fear the Walking Dead season two return, 9 p.m., AMC
Wednesday, Aug. 24
Gomorrah series premiere (US), 10 p.m., Sundance
Sunday, Aug. 28
The Strain season three premiere, 10 p.m., FX
Wednesday, Aug. 31
You’re the Worst season three premiere, 10 p.m., FX
Frontier series premiere, Netflix
Halt and Catch Fire season three premiere, AMC
Happy Valley season two premiere, Netflix
Masters of Sex season four premiere, Showtime (July)
Suits season six premiere, USA