After months of summer hiatuses and reality-stuffed schedules, we’re finally back to the good stuff. We’re deep into Fall TV Season, when the networks roll out their most promising material … in theory, at least. Don’t worry – there are still plenty of duds to go around, which is why we’ve created this guide to help you maximize your precious TV time this month. Here’s what you should watch (and what you should skip!) in October.
Best Returning Drama: Fargo
Premieres Monday, Oct. 12, on FX
We know, we know – Fargo is technically a miniseries and, with a whole new cast and story, also technically not a “returning” anything. But it’s still one of the most off-beat, fun, and engrossing shows on air, and that’s why it tops our list of what to watch this month. The new cast, which features Kirsten Dunst, perpetual favorite Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, and a host of other all-stars, should be enough to get any TV fan excited, don’tcha know. The second season is again set in a small Minnesota town with an outsized murder rate. Come for the accents, stay for the mystery and the Ronald Reagan cameos.
Worst Returning Drama: Reign
Premieres Friday, Oct. 9, on the CW
The CW is good at what it does: campy teen soaps and superhero dramas, often decked out in flashy fashion. Unfortunately, Reign – the story of the 16th century English ruler Mary, Queen of Scots – doesn’t quite fit the mold, though not for lack of trying. Mary (Adelaide Kane) goes through suitors like Blair Waldorf goes through purses, and medieval court offers plenty of gossipy goodness. But the politics are dull, and Reign can’t quite spice up the 1550s enough to make life before cell phones seem like the soapy fun it tries so hard to be.
Most Promising New Drama: Supergirl
Premieres Monday, Oct. 26, on CBS
Audiences have been drowning in superhero stories for a decade, and yet we remain parched when it comes to tales of ladies who don capes. Enter Supergirl, the baddest genetically-superior life form to lead her own show since Wonder Woman. We’re looking forward to Supergirl for more than just the gender equality factor, though. The series looks light, fast, and fun, and not bogged down in the morality of all mankind, unlike some other superhero sagas we could name.
Least Promising New Drama: The Last Kingdom
Premieres Saturday, Oct. 10, on BBC America
Everything about this show feels dated—and not just because it’s set in the ninth century. From what we can tell, the meat of The Last Kingdom’s scenes involved hoards of dirty, beardy soldiers galloping toward one another and screaming. “Many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Vikings, only the great Kingdom of Wessex stands defiant under its visionary King Alfred the Great. It is the last kingdom,” reads the plot description. With Game of Thrones, Vikings, and The Bastard Executioner all still in production, it feels unnecessary to add The Last Kingdom to the mix.
Best Returning Comedy: Please Like Me.
Premieres Friday, Oct. 16, on Pivot
If only anyone knew what channel Pivot was on, we’re convinced Please Like Me would be a mainstream hit. This Australian show – a nominee for Best International Comedy Series at last year’s Emmys – combines witty, real-sounding dialogue, emotionally moving moments, and a touch of physical comedy to create something really special. As it heads into its third season, main character Josh (Josh Thomas) finally has a boyfriend he actually likes (which brings its own challenges), his mother is still in psychiatric care, and his best friend Tom is embarking on romantic adventures of his own. As Please Like Me matures, it only grows into a stronger series.
Worst Returning Comedy: Undateable
Premieres Friday, Oct. 9, on NBC
Ah yes, how droll and mirthful are the foibles of annoying, unpleasant people. That seems to be premise behind Undateable, a half-hour comedy about a group of friends who can’t find love—not because of bad luck or stacked odds, but simply because none of them are very appealing to be around. For the show’s third season, the production is switching to a live format in front of a studio audience. While it’s undeniably kind of cool that we’ll be able to watch TV being made before our very eyes, this switch will almost certainly lead to awkwardness and mishaps, not more laughs.
Most Promising New Comedy: Red Oaks
Premieres Friday, Oct. 9, on Amazon
Red Oaks stars Craig Roberts as David, a teenager who’s trying to figure out his first step into adulthood while working at a fancy country club. Look out for Jennifer Grey as David’s mother. A send-up of raunchy 80’s comedies, Red Oaks looks able to balance nostalgia with a tongue-in-cheek tone. This show has the potential to become an indie fave in the same vein as Wet Hot American Summer, without the absurdist bent.
Least Promising New Comedy: Truth Be Told
Premieres Friday, Oct. 16, on NBC
Currently sitting at a depressing 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Truth Be Told might be the least promising new comedy of the year, not just of October. Its premise is that two couples hang out and discuss edgy current issues (politics, race, sex, etc.), but keep things funny by saying how people “really feel.” Unfortunately, none of these characters are amusing enough to endure for thirty minutes, and the issues they address aren’t well served by the format.
Let us know what you think of October’s new and returning shows, and come back soon to see what November TV has in store!