A psychologist, a near-priest and a contractor walk into a church… The premise of this new paranormal mystery series could be the set up for an off-colour joke. Instead, it’s the starting point for a horror-infused twist on the procedural. The seemingly incongruous trio join up to investigate who or what’s really behind certain spiritual disturbances (possessions, hauntings, etc). From the creators of The Good Wife and The Good Fight, Michelle King and Steve King, count on Evil being highly addictive from the get-go. And if the trailer is any indication, there’s a decent scare factor for class-A scaredy cats like me.
Premiere: Sept. 26
The Politician (Netflix)
American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy’s first series for Netflix promises to offer “everything”, and the glossy, movie-like trailer suggests that vow pans out in broad, darkly comic strokes. The series, billed as a satire, stars Tony/Emmy/Grammy winner Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) as a self-obsessed rich kid running for student class president in a win-by-any-means-necessary environment. The show, which also stars Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lucy Boynton, paints a dark portrait of small stakes political machinations that may resonate deeply in the current high stakes, dark days climate.
Premiere: Sept. 27
Rhythm & Flow (Netflix)
Billed as Hip Hop’s “first legit TV competition,” Rhythm & Flow is Netflix’s upmarket answer to the X-Factor and American Idol. The talent competition sees Cardi B, T.I. and Chance the Rapper scouring NYC, Atlanta, Chicago and LA for undiscovered talent. The teaser trailer is just that—a tease—with little eye (or ear) candy to reveal what’s in store. But brief glimpses of Cardi B’s day glo hair and T.I. in suits so sharply tailored you might just get a paper cut from his lapels, indicate this series has genuine swagger. Cardi B has told fans on her Instagram to prepare for a “fun, real ass show, nothing like no other music competition,” and until proven wrong, I tend to believe her.
Premiere: the first four episodes are available to stream on Oct. 9
Living with Yourself (Netflix)
Paul Rudd is Miles Elliott, a man so miserably unhappy that he decides to undergo a spa treatment that promises to bring out his best self. (Address, please?) Unfortunately, the magical service sees an actual perfect Miles emerge fully formed and walk away with Miserable Miles’ life, wife and work (the moral here: always read the fine print on the disclaimer). The show is the creation of Timothy Greenberg, a former producer of The Daily Show, and is directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Battle of the Sexes), so the absurd yet oddly relatable premise—who among us hasn’t battled the demon of self-hatred?—is in capable hands.
Premiere: Oct. 18
Along with the upcoming His Dark Materials, Watchmen is HBO’s big-deal adaptation in our post GoT world, and it’s already stirred controversy. Based on the iconic graphic novel about all-too-human superheroes, the series’ very existence has divided the novel’s creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (Gibbons is for the series, Moore against). Regardless, showrunner Damon Lindelof says the show will “remix” the tale for TV—in his Watchmen, the superheroes, including a seriously cool-looking Regina King, are outlaws attempting to survive in a world dominated by a terrorist organization. Lindelof is the mind behind Lost and The Leftovers, so viewers are all but guaranteed head-spinning twists and turns.
Premiere: Oct. 20
Catherine the Great (HBO)
Helen Mirren. Period drama. Eighteenth century Russia. Bring. It. On. Mirren laces up her corset (again) to play era-defining empress Catherine the Great. (Psst, she’s the one who overthrew her own husband, took his gig and led Russian into its “Golden Age”.) The series focuses on the last years of her reign and her affair with military leader Grigory Potemkin (Jason Clarke). This is yet another limited series (there are only four episodes) that brings film quality production values to episodic storytelling—how spoiled we 21st century streamers are. In short, it looks dreamy with palatial interiors and gloomy battlefield bonfires. Mirren gets all the best lines in the trailer, but Clarke’s howling “Never forget I waded through blood for you,” suggests he gets to chew some of that pricey scenery too.
Premiere: Oct. 21
The Morning Show
Apple TV throws itself into the streaming ring with this starry ripped-from-the-headlines comic drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell as morning show co-hosts rocked by scandal (Carell’s character is fired for sexual misconduct a la Matt Lauer). Reese Witherspoon plays the straight-talking journo brought in as Aniston’s new co-host. It’s a #MeToo-inflected series that aims to offer a nuanced portrait of men and women at work. It’ll be as interesting to see whether the series is up to the complex conversation it’s jumping into headfirst as it will be to see how Apple sets up its brand of prestige streaming with its first outing. #curious
Premiere: Canadians can subscribe to Apple TV Nov. 1
Back to Life (Crave)
Back to Life is a U.K. comedy that’s being billed as a Fleabag 2.0 (mainly because its star/showrunner is a woman). Written by actor Daisy Haggard and comedian Laura Solon, the dramedy centres on the possibility of second chances for hopeless people. Haggard plays Miri Matteson, a woman who returns home to her seaside English community after spending 18 years in jail for a violent crime. There’s no hot priest to swoon over, but you’ve got to admit 40-something ex-con seeking a do-over at life is kind of a rich concept for comic drama. The show was a word-of-mouth sleeper hit in the U.K., so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Premiere: Nov. 10
The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park (Sundance/AMC)
Revisiting every major crime story that dominated the culture in the 80s and early 90s is becoming something of a cottage industry for documentarians. The true crime docuseries, The Preppy Murder relitigates our understanding of the killing of 18-year-old Jennifer Levin by 19-year-old Robert Chambers in Central Park in 1986 (if you grew up in the era, the case was a sensation). The series presents new evidence deemed inadmissible at trial and reveals how a combination of sexism, prurience and tabloid exploitation of the incident shaped the dominant cultural view of the tragedy. (Chambers was eventually convicted of manslaughter, not murder.) The true crime docuseries is being shown jointly over three consecutive nights on AMC and Sundance Channel. Setting PVR now.
Premiere: Nov. 13-15