If you spent part of the holidays catching up on all the TV you missed last year—455 scripted series were released in 2016—there’s no time to take a breath, because a fresh deluge of new shows is here.
Netflix plans to double its output this year. And FX Networks CEO John Landgraf predicted that 500 scripted shows could air in 2017, in addition to roughly 750 unscripted series, proving that “Peak TV” has yet to peak.
While carving out time to watch more shows is tougher than ever, a dozen new ones have the most potential to be worth your time. Note that I’m excluding returning series—including Curb Your Enthusiasm (Larry David is making new episodes for the first time since 2011), Fargo (Ewan McGregor will play two brothers in Season 3), and SundanceTV’s Top of the Lake (with Nicole Kidman joining Elisabeth Moss)—but I’m just as enthusiastic for that trio as anything listed below.
Here are the 12 new series you should watch this year, in order of their premieres (I’ve already had a chance to see the first six on the list):
One Day at a Time (Netflix, Jan. 6)
We’re not even a week into the new year, and the multicamera comedy genre has already been successfully revived! Norman Lear updates his 1975-1984 sitcom about a single mom raising two teens—there are now three generations of Cuban Americans living together (and yes, the superintendent is still named Schneider)—and the result is the best new multicam comedy in several years.
While Justina Machado (Six Feet Under) solidly anchors the new cast, the true standout is Rita Moreno as her mother, who steals scenes as deftly as she did six decades ago. After several years in which seemingly every network but CBS gave up on multicams, One Day at a Time proves they can be just as topical, compelling and, most importantly, funny as they were back when the original came out.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix, Jan. 13)
Netflix is on a roll so far in 2017, going two-for-two with this entertaining series based on the darkly comic, 13-book children’s series from “Lemony Snicket” (actually Daniel Handler). Neil Patrick Harris, who lost a bit of his mojo hosting NBC’s Best Time Ever in 2015, is back in fine form as Count Olaf, who is trying to steal the inheritance of three inventive kid relatives after their parents die in a fire. The series is a rollicking, visual feast, thanks to director Barry Sonnenfeld, who is channeling his Addams Family heyday.
Sneaky Pete (Amazon, Jan. 13)
I had this in last year’s 2016 TV preview as well, but it just missed the cutoff. This story about a recently paroled con man (Giovanni Ribisi) who passes himself off as his former cellmate, hiding out with a family that runs a bail bond business as he is on the run from a crime boss, was initially going to be a CBS procedural. Now it’s something far more interesting, with executive producer Bryan Cranston taking his first post-Breaking Bad TV series role as the man hunting down Ribisi. Margo Martindale plays the grandmother who is hiding secrets of her own, and Justified creator Graham Yost takes the reins as showrunner.
24: Legacy (Fox, Feb. 5)
A 24 without Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer once seemed as unthinkable as a James Bond movie without Agent 007, but Corey Hawkins breathes new life into the franchise. He plays an Army Ranger whose squad is in federal witness protection after killing a terrorist leader six months earlier; now the man’s followers have tracked them down. Hawkins seamlessly steps in for Sutherland, who has given the project his blessing and is on board as an executive producer. Buyers and execs have been buzzing about this one since upfronts, which is why Fox is debuting it after Super Bowl LI.
Legion (FX, Feb. 8)
FX and Marvel: Just like chocolate and peanut butter, these are two great flavors that taste even better together. Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley oversees this series, set in the X-Men Universe and based on the Marvel Comic about David Haller (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens), who was diagnosed as schizophrenic as a child but realizes he might have special abilities. Jean Smart and Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza also star.
Big Little Lies (HBO, Feb. 19)
HBO hit a rough patch with its A-list projects (Vinyl was last year’s most disappointing show), but the network is back on track with this limited drama series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman (who also executive produce) based on Liane Moriarty’s bestseller about three well-to-do first grade moms and a mysterious murder. That’s more like it, HBO.
The Good Fight (CBS All Access, Feb. 19)
The Good Wife ended its run last spring, but its story will continue in this spinoff from showrunners Robert and Michelle King. It is set a year after the Good Wife finale, where Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) loses her savings after her goddaughter (Rose Leslie) is embroiled in a financial scam; the pair join up with Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) at another Chicago law firm. Spinoffs can be dicey, but with Baranski and the Kings, the show is in excellent hands. The Good Fight will debut on CBS, but all subsequent episodes will air exclusively on CBS All Access.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, April 26)
Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel—about a dystopian future in which the U.S. government has been overthrown by a fundamentalist regime in which women are enslaved—takes on a new poignancy in today’s uncertain political climate. Elisabeth Moss stars as Offred, one of the last remaining fertile women, who is trying to survive in a horrific new world.
American Gods (Starz, Spring)
How does one possibly turn Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed yet seemingly unfilmable novel into a series? There are few people I’d trust with the task more than Bryan Fuller, who resurrected Hannibal Lecter with NBC’s Hannibal and turned it into something simultaneously gorgeous and horrifying. (Meanwhile, Fuller’s co-showrunner, Michael Green, is bringing Blade Runner back to life later this year.) With a cast that includes Ian McShane, Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth, whatever that duo comes up with, the series will certainly be memorable.
Feud (FX, Spring)
Ryan Murphy is starting yet another anthology series for FX (his third, after American Horror Story and American Crime Story). This one will look at epic battles, starting with the making of the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, and the legendary behind-the-scenes clashes between Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon). If the result is half as good as The People v. O.J. Simpson, it will be better than almost everything else on TV this year.
Twin Peaks (Showtime, TBD)
While I excluded returning shows like Fargo from this list, I’m making an exception for the first episodes of Twin Peaks we’ve seen since 1991. Showtime still hasn’t released a frame of footage, but that doesn’t make me any less excited for whatever insanity David Lynch, who directed all the episodes, has in store for us.
Matthew Weiner’s Untitled Series (Amazon, TBD)
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner won’t say a word about his new series, telling me last month, “It’s not like, ‘Oh, it’s so amazingly top secret!’ It’s more like, I can’t work and have people saying, ‘Whatcha doing?’” All we know for now is that his eight-episode series will be set in present day. But given that it’s Weiner’s followup to one of the best TV series of all time, attention must be paid.