From left: Better Things, One Mississippi, The Good Place, Amanda Knox and Marvel's Luke Cage.
September is a time for new beginnings. In the world of television, this is the time of year when networks and channels are trying hard to get your attention. From dark comedies like Better Things to the thrilling Marvel’s Luke Cage, here are some fledgling shows worth watching.
FX, premiering Sept. 8
Better Things is the latest comedy from FX, created by Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K. The show follows Adlon’s character as she tries to maintain her sanity while raising three daughters and working in Hollywood. On the surface, this show might seem like a female version of C.K.’s series Louie. But Better Things is not just a retread. You might recognize Adlon from her cameos on C.K.’s show, as well as her prominent voice roles in series including King of the Hill and Recess. She often plays cynical realists who don’t care what others think of them. I’m excited to watch a series featuring a mom with traits typically reserved for male characters. If you’re a fan of Louie or You’re the Worst, check out Better Things.
Amazon Prime, premiering Sept. 9
Amazon Prime’s One Mississippi comes from standup comedian Tig Notaro and writer-director Diablo Cody (Juno). The series chronicles what happened when Notaro returned home to Mississippi after her mother’s abrupt death. In 2012, Notaro was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, which she has addressed openly in her standup routines. The relatable and honest nature of her material helped her gain fans in the comedy world. Tig also finds comedic fodder in her eccentric Southern family. One Mississippi hits on all of that, as well as the hilarious moment when her wife (then-girlfriend) first meets her family. Tig has been on fire lately, and I can’t wait to see more.
The Good Place
NBC, premiering Sept. 19
The Good Place comes from Michael Schur, creator of Parks and Recreation and former writer for The Office. The show stars Kristen Bell (Frozen, Veronica Mars) playing against type as Eleanor, a cynical and not very nice woman who dies and goes to heaven by mistake. Bell typically plays bubbly and positive women, but this character is a departure from the norm. Eleanor tries to receive some guidance from Ted Danson (Cheers) about “the good place,” but struggles over whether to keep skating by in the afterlife or admit there’s been a mistake and risk going to “the bad place.” I think there’s an opportunity here for NBC to have a comedic success, something it once had in spades.
Netflix, premiering Sept. 30
There’s a lot of buzz circulating around this special, especially coming off the true-crime success of the O.J.: Made in America series. The documentary about the U.S. student accused of murder while studying abroad in Italy is bound to intrigue audiences. It’s a case that has interested the media and the rest of the world for years, and while lurid details abound, definitive answers have been few and far between. Audiences crave conclusions for mysteries, especially if the situations are real. It also is a huge score that the director got Knox to speak candidly on camera about the events leading to her arrest.
Marvel’s Luke Cage
Netflix, premiering Sept. 30
My final recommendation is Marvel’s Luke Cage, a spinoff from last year’s fantastic show Jessica Jones. Cage is an African-American man who is torn up by the senseless killing of his wife. His character is adapted from the Marvel comic universe and has impenetrable skin, which means fire and bullets can’t hurt him. Cage’s character was established on Jessica Jones as a quiet, powerful man and played to perfection by Mike Colter (The Good Wife). I’m looking forward to this series because of its sensitive portrayal of the reluctant superhero. Cage just wants to be left alone and he doesn’t feel the call to save people as some superheroes do. And as a black man, he experiences life as an outsider — both in the real world and the Marvel universe.