Fall is here and with the change of seasons, you get to choose if you want to spend your nights and weekends frolicking among the auburn leaves or stay inside watching the numerous good television shows returning in September. Maybe try to acquire an iPad (perhaps through one of those online survey contests to save money?) and then you can do both on a park bench. But the point is, there are way too many good shows restarting to actually keep up with.
The list below only features shows that are returning with new episodes. That means it doesn’t include promising new shows like Netflix’s “The Spy” or Amazon’s “Undone.” So factor that into your time budget when deciding whether to stick with any of the shows recommended here.
If you want a summary to this cheat sheet of an article: I’m most excited about the return of “Between Two Ferns,” “Abstract,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “South Park,” “The Good Place” and “Saturday Night Live.” I don’t think you’ll go wrong with those, at least. You can read more about everything below, though.
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“Mayans M.C.” ― Sept. 3
Season 2 on FX
Sum-up: This is a sequel series of sorts for “Sons of Anarchy,” the popular series that ended in 2014. “Mayans M.C.” follows a motorcycle gang on the California and Mexico border. Much like the gang in the first series, this Latino gang uses acts of violence to assert power.
“The Deuce” ― Sept. 9
Season 3 on HBO
Sum-up: This is the third and final season of this show about the nascent porn industry in the United States, with a particular focus on New York City. Through this story about the rise of porn in the 1970s, other city-centric tales of politics and crime also unfold. George Pelacanos and David Simon (“The Wire”) created this together. James Franco plays two characters in the show, while Maggie Gyllenhaal also stars.
“Mr. Mercedes” ― Sept. 10
Season 3 on Audience Network
Sum-up: Based on a crime novel trilogy by Stephen King, this story follows a supposedly retired detective as he investigates the cold case of an incident in which someone drove a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of people. The person who did this ― Mr. Mercedes ― starts a cat-and-mouse game with the detective, and the two become obsessed with each other. Brendan Gleeson stars as the detective. David E. Kelley (most recently of “Big Little Lies”) developed this show and writes a few of the episodes.
“Room 104” ― Sept. 13
Season 3 on HBO
Sum-up: The Duplass brothers (Jay and Mark) created this anthology show about different, unconnected stories taking place in the same New York hotel room. The episodes vary wildly in tone and genre episode-to-episode.
“American Horror Story: 1984” ― Sept. 18
Season 9 on FX
Sum-up: Clearly taking a cue from the 1980s nostalgia-fest of “Stranger Things,” this new season of “American Horror Story” takes place in 1984 and will feature references from the era. Emma Roberts stars while Sarah Paulson will appear, but with a smaller role than she normally has in “AHS” seasons.
“Between Two Ferns: The Movie” ― Sept. 20
Movie premiering on Netflix
Sum-up: This isn’t exactly a returning “show,” but since “Between Two Ferns” started as a show, I’m making an exception here. In this movie, Zach Galifianakis (playing the bad-reporter version of himself that he developed in the series) travels the country interviewing celebrities. The co-creator of the original series, Scott Aukerman (“Comedy Bang Bang”), directed the movie, while Galifianakis and Aukerman wrote the script together.
(No trailer yet)
“Disenchantment” ― Sept. 20
Season 2 on Netflix
Sum-up: Matt Groening created this animated series that’s set in a medieval time of fantasy. Abbi Jacobson (“Broad City”) voices the protagonist, a teenage princess who doesn’t want to spend her life going through the boring machinations of royalty.
“Abstract: The Art of Design” ― Sept. 25
Season 2 on Netflix
Sum-up: In this underrated documentary series, each episode focuses on a different “artist” in varying creative fields. So while one episode may focus on an illustrator, the next may be about an architect. Not much is known about this second season, but given the quality of the first batch of episodes, I’ll be watching the new ones regardless of who gets the feature treatment.
“Crank Yankers” ― Sept. 25
Season 5 on Comedy Central
Sum-up: This show originally ended in 2007, but now it’s back over a decade later. Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla (“The Man Show”) co-created this with Daniel Kellison and Kimmel’s brother, Jonathan Kimmel. The premise centers on celebrities and comedians prank-calling real people, but then having goofy puppets acting out these conversations.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” ― Sept. 25
Season 14 on FXX
Sum-up: This 14th season makes the show tied for the longest-running live action sitcom in terms of season count (tying it with the 1950s and ’60s sitcom “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” which I have never seen but I imagine is quite different). Unlike most shows that run for a long time, “Sunny” has found ways to stay creatively ambitious and not dip in quality. The actors have also barely aged since the beginning (despite the characters’ hard drinking), which helps this maintain a cartoon-like quality.
“South Park” ― Sept. 25
Season 23 on Comedy Central
Sum-up: “South Park” has remained relevant by always having a surprising comedic take on current events. Last season, the show had a recurring bit in which the “South Park” school had nearly constant school shooters, with bullets flying at all times and the characters just ignoring them as a normal part of their day. This absurd visualization served as a perfect representation for the rapid mental adjustments Americans have made over the last few years, as events that once caused outrage have become commonplace.
“The Good Place” ― Sept. 26
Season 4 on NBC
Sum-up: The fourth season of the popular sitcom about philosophy and the afterlife will also be the final season. Kudos to the writers for calling it quits while the show is still on top instead of dragging out the storyline. In any case, the characters will presumably continue their quest for heaven as the narrative wraps. Ted Danson and Kristen Bell star, while Michael Schur (“Parks and Recreation,” “The Office”) created this.
“Transparent: Musicale Finale” ― Sept. 27
Special on Amazon Prime
Sum-up: The sexual harassment allegations against star Jeffrey Tambor seemed to mean the abrupt end of the critically lauded “Transparent” in 2017. But now the show will end with an absurdist close ― a musical special in which Tambor’s character won’t appear.
“Saturday Night Live” ― Sept. 28
Season 45 on NBC
Sum-up: Earlier this week, “Saturday Night Live” announced the first hosts for this new season: Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, David Harbour, Kristen Stewart and later in December ... Eddie Murphy. Although I’m particularly excited for Waller-Bridge, it’s notable that Murphy will return to the “SNL” stage to host, as he feuded with the show (over a David Spade joke) for decades after the last time he hosted more than 35 years ago. Murphy did appear in the 40th anniversary special in 2015, but this hosting gig marks a more notable return to Studio 8H.
(No trailer yet)
“Bob’s Burgers” ― Sept. 29
Season 10 on Fox
Sum-up: Bob will keep on making burgers while his family does everything they can to distract him. A “Bob’s Burgers” movie will come in 2020, so it’s unclear whether the writing team gave this upcoming season the same level of focus as earlier seasons.
(No trailer yet)