The arrival of September means the unfortunate combination of two phenomena: the beginning of classes and onslaught of fall television. It’s difficult to find time to study for midterms or write that poly sci essay when there are so many new compelling programs vying for network approval. The fall schedule can be complicated to navigate, so no matter how you’re trying to procrastinate, whether you’re looking for an HBO megadrama or a silly late night comedy to binge through, a new hit or an old favorite, we’ve got you covered.
To exercise your brain: “The Deuce,” HBO, 9/10
Who says television can’t be a thought-provoking medium? In the age of binge-watching, it’s often easy to forget the power art has to influence our thoughts and values. “The Deuce” examines the burgeoning pornography industry in 1970s New York, and, in a refreshing turn for HBO, it does so in a way that doesn’t glorify the sex industry it’s depicting. As with David Simon’s previous HBO drama, “The Wire,” look for intricate and provocative storylines, as well as intriguing, in-depth characters, in this case led by Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco.
For something entirely different: “You’re the Worst,” FXX, 9/6
Entering its unexpected fourth season, this underrated anti-rom-com is the best show on television you’re not watching. Despite its low ratings, FXX has thankfully greenlighted another season of the critical darling from creator Stephen Falk. Following the unlikely relationship between equally narcissistic Gretchen Cutler and Jimmy Shive-Overly, the show treads delicate grounds, exploring complicated topics such as depression, death and PTSD. Best of all, however, is Falk’s writing, which deftly discovers heart within the relationship of two otherwise morally abhorrent individuals.
For homework background music: “Broad City,” Comedy Central, 9/13
The eccentric comedy from Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer returns for its fourth season a week from tomorrow. Like many pot-fueled Comedy Central sitcoms, you don’t need to devote 100 percent of your attention to the screen in order to follow along.o, next time you’re feeling bored or lonely while studying or getting caught up on emails, let Abbi and Ilana’s wild NYC misadventures keep you company.
For late-night introspection: “BoJack Horseman,” Netflix, 9/8
Whenever trying to sell someone on Netflix’s animated dramedy, I find that “It’s about a washed-up, alcoholic, depressed, former sitcom star who’s also a horse” rarely works. I often have to resort to, “Just trust me.” What makes this program so special is the way it seamlessly navigates between absurdist comedy, biting social commentary and heart-wrenching drama, ironically finding humanity in a show focused on anthropomorphic creatures. Sprinkle in creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s incredible originality and designer Lisa Hanawalt’s gorgeously intricate settings and characters, and you’ve got one of the best shows on television.
For all your Halloween needs: “Stranger Things,” Netflix, 10/27
“Stranger Things” seemed to come out of nowhere last summer. Nobody knew much about the Netflix drama except that it starred Winona Ryder and a bunch of kids, and had some sort of supernatural element to it. Fast forward a couple months and you’ve got one of the biggest hits of 2016. Cultivating a beautiful 1980s aesthetic bolstered by Stephen King references, dark mythologies and even a delightfully chilling synthesizer score, the show tapped into cultural nostalgia while still offering an original narrative. Racking up 18 Emmy nominations, including the prized best drama and a well-deserved supporting actress nod for Millie Bobby Brown, the show is well-poised to take us deeper into the Upside Down in season two.
For Spotify inspiration: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” The CW, 10/13
There are so many reasons to watch Rachel Bloom’s musical comedy: the clever, fast-paced dialogue, the quirky yet relatable characters, the guffaw-inducing humor, the thoughtful exploration of mental illness. But no matter how good the storytelling is, the highlights of every episode are inevitably the two or three occasions in which the cast breaks out in song. Bloom covers every possible genre, from heavy metal ballads to country croons to Pitbull-esque pop jams, so you never know what to expect. For the best of the first two seasons, check out “JAP Battle,” “Settle For Me,” “Gettin’ Bi” and “Greg’s Drinking Song.”
To hate-watch: “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 9/25
If you’ve met me, you know I have a tendency to bring up my hatred for “The Big Bang Theory” in conversation. I could be out to eat, at a party, spotting at the rec, talking to a telemarketer — it doesn’t matter. I’ll never give up the opportunity to outline the distress the show and its wild popularity causes me. So you can imagine my horror when I heard about the prequel coming to CBS, following the kooky adventures of the show’s most insufferable scientist as a child. I don’t know much about the new series, but I can only assume it will explore such complicated mysteries as the origins of “Bazinga!” and the inspiration behind “Soft Kitty.” I haven’t yet decided if I’ll watch any of the new show, but if I do, it will solely be for the sake of reminding myself that literally anyone can make it as a television writer.