Teen Vogue is excited to debut its Fall Preview of shows and films that we're obsessed with. We're highlighting a diverse range of programming that touches on love, family, friendships, trauma, curiosity, and innovative perspectives about the world around us.**
Listen. There’s a lot of programming that’s about to hit you all at once. Streaming platforms and network television are full of comedies, dramas, sci-fi, and superhero shows that will keep you on the edge of your seat — or make you tap out after one episode. It’s a risky game one has to play to figure out what’s worth those precious hours you could be binging Gossip Girl for the 8th time.
So, to help you out, we did all the work.
We’ve watched a copious amount of TV to narrow down what new shows you should watch this fall/winter. Some will feel akin to Riverdale and have you questioning every character’s intention, while others are just good for a laugh, which, not to get all dark, we need during this perilous time.
We get that TV is an outlet to escape and to disconnect from the world and dive feet-first into the deep end of someone else’s drama. Just consider us your Oodles of Noodles foam floaties — and watch what we gathered below.
Series: The Politician
Premieres: September 27
Ryan Murphy has done it again. The director’s new dark comedy on Netflix, The Politician, tells the story of Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), an overly-ambitious high school senior who’s running for class president. Payton’s true motivation behind winning the election is to be more desirable to Harvard University, the institution that has produced the most U.S. presidents. Surrounded by a devoted circle of friends — including Broadway actor Laura Dreyfuss; Theo Germaine, a nonbinary actor from Chicago; and newcomer Julia Schlaepfer who plays a Hillary Clinton-esque girlfriend — Payton’s desire to be the future president of the United States is the sole driving force behind his intensity. But it becomes clear in episode one, with the untimely death of a fellow student, that this journey to the White House will be treacherous.
Mirroring the real-life unpredictability and external influences of modern-day elections, the show portrays the one-percent in a ruthless, masochistic, and spectacularly conceded way.“The unique thing about our show is, we comically present a progressive reality where social issues like gender fluidity, sexual fluidity, social liberalism exist, and is assumed,” Ben Platt said to journalists after a screening last July. “It’s kind of the subliminal way of saying that we hope our world and our society is headed toward [this].”
Falling in line with Ryan’s previous projects, The Politician gives you musical scores (leaning into Ben’s vocal abilities as a former Dear Evan Hansen star and Tony-award winner) and complex characters — who all have their own storylines that delve into Munchausen by proxy, loneliness, identity crisis, and more. By no means, an easy watch, The Politician is truly a binge-worthy deep-dive into the mess that occurs when privilege and ambition mix with insincerity. — Danielle Kwateng-Clark
Premieres: November 15
Friendships both new and old can be hard to navigate, especially when you've been prioritizing your love life. For Jules (Kat Dennings), it gets even more complicated after being dumped by said lousy boyfriend within the first couple of minutes of Hulu’s Dollface. After being cut loose, Jules finds herself trying to reconnect with former best friend Madison (Brenda Song) but finds out that her old BFF isn't going to easily let her back into her life after being neglected. Throughout the first season, viewers get to see the two rebuild their friendship all the while balancing their professional lives and growing as people. Along for the ride is Madison's other old friend Stella (Shay Mitchell), the quintessential party girl but with a razor-sharp wit and Jules's co-worker "other Alison B." (Esther Potvinsky).
Dollface is sort of Girls meets Broad City with a Los Angeles spin. It's a fresh approach to female friendships, hilariously commenting on everything from the house of worship known as brunch and the pseudo-feminist/woke culture of today's world. Between seeing Kat's journey as Jules, Brenda flexing her acting chops, Shay's impeccable comedic timing, Esther's perfected neuroses, and some of the surreal sequences that feature a half-cat half-human therapist giving Jules advice, Dollface is a must-watch. — Gabe Bergado
Premieres: September 13
If you haven't gotten to Netflix's Unbelievable yet, you must ASAP. The gut-wrenching limited series is based on the real events reported on by The Marshall Project and ProPublica’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.” There are two timelines, one set in 2008 and the other in 2011. The first follows Marie (impeccably played by Kaitlyn Dever), a teenager who reports that she was raped by a masked home intruder. But as she's forced to recount the experience over and over to various investigators, the men looking into the report and even those closest to her begin doubting her story. The second timeline takes place in Colorado as Detective Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) works with Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) after the two realize that they’ve been investigating separate rape cases with similar chilling details, including one involving a college student named Amber (Danielle Macdonald).
Unbelievable can be difficult to watch at certain points, but Karen and Grace's commitment to finding the sexual assailant grounds the series. It also demonstrates how the system has flaws and how it initially failed someone like Marie. Meanwhile, the detectives on Amber's case portray those who are working hard to get justice for survivors of sexual assault and make the world a safer place. — Gabe Bergado
Platform: DC Universe
Premieres: September 6
The criminally overlooked Titans is back for a second season with new heroes, more dangerous villains, and an entire Titans tower in the San Francisco skyline. Tucked away on the DC Universe app (and available on Netflix in some countries), it took a moment for Titans to get the justice it deserved before reviews sang its praises as one of the best superhero shows around. The first season followed Dick Grayson aka Robin (Brenton Thwaites) as he helped a young empath with dark powers named Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) fend off a slew of evil forces hunting her. Along the way, they team up with Kory Anders (Anna Diop), an alien with the ability to take in the sun’s energy and redirect it as beams of fire, and Garfield "Gar" Logan (Ryan Potter), who can shapeshift into various green-tinted animals. Turns out, it was Rachel’s demon father Trigon that was searching for her.
Season two’s premiere wraps up the Trigon conflict, eventually hopping six months into the future. Dick’s training Rachel, Gar, and the new Robin (Curran Walters) in the Titans Tower, Kory has teamed up with Donna Troy aka Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie) to take out metahuman baddies in Chicago, and Hawk and Dove (Alan Ritchson, Minka Kelly) are figuring things out at a remote ranch. But after the evil Dr. Light breaks out of jail and tries to take out Hawk and Dove, the team reassembles. Also joining the group, begrudgingly, is Rose Wilson (Chelsea Zhang), a young woman on the run and who is the daughter of none other than iconic DC villain Slade (Esai Morales). There’s a bit of exposition to flesh out the new drama of season two, but we can’t wait to see the Titans come together — and the new costumes. — Gabe Bergado
Premieres: October 24
Netflix’s Daybreak is a zany, fresh approach to the post-apocalypse teen genre. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the TV adaptation follows Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford) as he searches for his girlfriend Sam after they were separated when nuclear warfare decimated their city of Glendale, California. Anyone over the age of 18 was turned into a Ghoulie, essentially a zombie that can only say the last uninspired thought they had before the bomb hit, and left all the teens from the high school to run amuck.
What’s left behind is a world that’s Mad Max meets Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide The various cliques of Josh’s high school have become survival groups, with the jocks now becoming a villainous crew that rounds up stragglers and makes them play American Ninja Idol (yes, it’s a combination of the two beloved reality competitions), the cheerleaders are Amazon-inspired warriors, and various other tribes roam the land. Josh eventually teams up with his former babysitting charge Angelica (Alyvia Alyn Lind), who has now become a pyromaniac that loves a stiff drink, and bully-turned pacifist samurai Wesley (Austin Crute) who’s attempting to atone for his sins. Come for the action, stay for the jokes as sharp as knives. — Gabe Bergado
Premieres: September 26
Garrett Modi (Kal Penn) wanted to bring change to his neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens when he was elected city councilman. But he eventually lost his way and wasted his time in office before ultimately being ousted due to drug charges. While trying to get back on his feet, a group of immigrants tap him for help on their civics test to gain citizenship. Suddenly, he has a second chance to do things right.
Sunnyside’s ensemble cast also help punch up the show’s themes about immigration and what it means to be American. The endless-number-of-gigs-having Griselda (Diana-Maria Riva), millennial bro Brady (Moses Storm), taxi-driving Hakim (Samba Schutte), and wealthy Asian siblings Jim Hao (Joel Kim Booster) and Mei Lin (Poppy Liu), all paint a picture of New York City’s diversity. The voice of reason comes in the form of Garrett’s sister Mallory (Kiran Deol), balancing out his outlandish ideas and bringing a charismatic sibling dynamic to the comedy. It can feel a little heavy with the fear of deportation looming in the background, but Sunnyside does more to highlight these various types of people that make the melting pot of New York City so wonderful. — Gabe Bergado
Series: Nancy Drew
Platform: The CW
Premieres: October 9
Classic teen mystery-solver Nancy Drew has seen several memorable screen iterations over the years, from Emma Roberts’ tidy 2007 Nancy to the more recent freewheeling, rambunctious version played by It star Sophia Lillis. But on October 9, enter Kennedy McMann as 18-year-old Nancy Drew, a curious teen in the quaint seaside town of Horseshoe Bay who has foregone her detective work (and college) while grieving the death of her mother — until a murder throws the bay into chaos.
It’s hard to avoid the inevitable comparison between the soapy drama Nancy Drew and The CW’s hit show Riverdale, a similarly dark and mysterious small town full of suspicious characters, red-boothed restaurant hangouts, and incompetent police. But it’s none the worse for the similarities: Nancy and her cohorts (Tunji Kasim’s Ned Nickerson, Maddison Jaizani’s Bess, and Leah Lewis’s George) get up to all manner of mischief and local lore in the first episode as they band together to solve the whodunnit...and find unexpected suspects. Fans of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Stranger Things will feel right at home in the noir-y thriller sheen, and amateur sleuths will enjoy Kennedy’s Veronica Mars-esque narration of the familiar, though complex Nancy. Stylish teens taking the law into their own dramatic hands? Count us in. — P. Claire Dodson
Series: High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Platform: Disney Plus
Premieres: November 12
It’s 2019, and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is a string of words that actually exist. Disney+’s forthcoming High School Musical spinoff has an extremely meta premise: at the real East High where they filmed the movie, theatre students prepare to perform the stage version of the iconic Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens-led film. Of course, the students themselves are caught up in fresh drama of their own (and there are even original songs to accompany their covers of HSM classics).
The show stars relative newcomers Olivia Rodrigo as Nini (auditioning for the role of Gabriella Montez) and Joshua Bassett as Ricky (auditioning for Troy). Their friends Kourtney (played by Dara Renee) and Big Red (Larry Saperstein) support Nini and Ricky as they compete against ambitious types like Gina (Sofia Wylie) and E.J. (Matt Cornett). But while the plot, of course, contains throwbacks to the original movies, different conflicts ensue; it’s a bit like watching the later seasons of Glee after Kurt and Rachel move to New York. And there’s plenty of new cast to enjoy alongside the familiar musical numbers. Altogether, the slightly surreal reimagining (complete with documentary-style interview outtakes) manages to feel both nostalgic and incredibly sincere. — P. Claire Dodson
Series: Looking for Alaska
Premieres: October 18
The first thing you might notice about Hulu’s John Green adaptation Looking for Alaska is that Charlie Plummer, who plays protagonist Miles a.k.a Pudge, looks and sounds an awful lot like Chad Michael Murray. His character isn’t too far off from some of CMM’s early work either — Pudge does love books a la One Tree Hill's Lucas Scott, but what he loves more are last words. Like his novel counterpart, Pudge is obsessed with finding his own “great perhaps,” pulled from the last words of 16th-century French writer François Rabelais before he died.
The series, created by Gossip Girl showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, follows his quest for purpose at an Alabama boarding school in the mid-2000s. While there, he meets his friends — The Colonel (Denny Love), Takumi Hikohito (Jay Lee), and the titular mystery Alaska Young (Sierra Burgess Is a Loser’s Kristine Froseth) — and his enemies, including Riverdale star Jordan Connor’s Kevin and Girl Meets World alum Uriah Shelton’s Longwell. As prank wars and rumors abound, Pudge, Alaska, and their friends confront their own mortality to a perfect soundtrack of moody alternative rock and an indie movie vibe akin to the video game Life Is Strange, only to discover that maybe the “great perhaps” was the friends they made along the way. — P. Claire Dodson
Series: Katy Keene
Platform: The CW
Premieres: Early 2020
The success of Riverdale has spawned iterations of dark-mystery-based-one-hour shows that portray young people as flawed but highly aspirational individuals. Katy Keene technically exists in the same universe, but takes a lighter approach. The CW’s newest drama follows a young woman, played by Lucy Hale, who aspires to be a designer while traversing the concrete jungle with her squad of three ride-or-dies.
If this sounds akin to The Carrie Diaries, minus all the '80s references, that’s because it feels like a younger version of Sex and the City with clearly defined characters who all bring different backstories to series: There’s Josie McCoy, played by Ashleigh Murray, whose character has recently left the “murder capital of America” otherwise known as Riverdale to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. Newcomer Jonny Beauchamp plays Jorge, a dancer and drag queen with incredible talent who struggles with being typecast. British actor Julia Chan closes the quartet as Pepper Smith, the well-connected New Yorker with a penchant for modelesque men (read: Samantha Jones).
Originally introduced to the Archie Comics in 1945 by Bill Woggon, Lucy truly leans into the character of Katy, who was dubbed "America's Queen of Pin-Ups and Fashions.” Her character works in a luxury retail store, dresses impeccably, has a handsome boyfriend, upbeat personality, and a huge shabby-chic apartment in lower Manhattan. Watching the show, one becomes desperate for a flaw, upset, or, really, anything that shows a bit of relatability to Katy’s character. Trials and tribulations do come, but each episode concludes with a good laugh and strong martini. This show is best for escapism; Katy Keene allows us to fall into someone else’s world, get as close as they’ll allow, and walk away feeling content that happy endings are inevitably around every corner. — Danielle Kwateng-Clark
Related: 7 Rising Actors With Famous Parents
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue