I watch TV for a living, which means therefore I watch a lot of TV. But because there are so many shows being produced now, there are some good ones I have to let go by the wayside. Thus, it is possible that you could watch as much TV as I do, but none of the same shows, but still be equally fulfilled. Nevertheless, I demand that you watch all of the following programs that I am definitely planning on consuming in 2017.
There are both new and returning entries on this list, but in the interest of novelty, I have favored new shows over returning shows. And among those returning that I have picked, I have favored ones with longer hiatuses.
1. Man Seeking Woman (FXX) – Premiered January 4
This show about Josh Greenberg’s (Jay Baruchel) fantastical misadventures in dating is one of my favorite sitcoms right now, but its viewership is pretty miniscule, so I feel the need to keep singing its praises.
2. Portlandia (IFC) – Premieres January 5
Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are back for a seventh season of lampooning Pacific Northwest hipsters and putting birds on things. Portlandia does not quite get the same intense buzz it got in previous years, which is a shame because it continues to innovate on its own formula.
3. Emerald City (NBC) – Premieres January 6
Yes, it’s another Wizard of Oz reboot, and I don’t know if this one will actually be any good or not, but I do know that every episode is directed by Tarsem Singh, the auteur behind The Cell and The Fall, so it will at least be pretty to look at.
4. The Young Pope (HBO) – Premieres January 15
This miniseries featuring Jude Law as a controversial youthful pontiff belongs to the genre of “high trash,” i.e., wildly opulent melodrama mixed with social consciousness and thought-provoking ideas.
5. Baskets (FX) – Premieres January 19
Zach Galifianakis’ saga about a clown struggling to perfect his craft and earn a living in the clowning arts was my pick for the best show of 2016. Watching it requires getting in touch with your weird side, which is well worth it.
6. Powerless (NBC) – Premieres February 2
This action comedy about non-superpowered heroes features Danny Pudi in his first starring role since Community, so obviously I’m excited. The rest of the cast – including utility player supreme Alan Tudyk and teddy bear Ron Funches – is also getting me hyped.
7. Legion (FX) – Premieres February 8
Set in the X-Men film series, Legion focuses on David Haller (Dan Stevens), one of the most powerful mutants ever whose abilities have been confused for schizophrenia. (Or is he both crazy and a mutant?) Noah Hawley (the man behind Fargo the TV show) is the creator; Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, and Katie Aselton co-star.
8. The Good Fight (CBS All Access) – Premieres February 19
This spinoff of The Good Wife will be the first big test for CBS’s streaming service. (The first episode airs on CBS proper, then the rest of the season moves to CBS All Access exclusively.) The leads are Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo), and newbie Maia, Diane’s goddaughter (Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie).
9. Marvel’s Iron Fist (Netflix) – Premieres March 17
Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell from Game of Thrones) is the star of the next Marvel Cinematic Universe Netflix series. It has a been a good long while since we have had a decent kung fu series; hopefully Jones’ work as billionaire Buddhist monk Danny Rand will fill that niche.
10. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) – Premieres April 26
Margaret Atwood’s 1985 piece of dystopian fiction is probably my favorite required reading from high school. Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss is donning the red robes and getting into a life of breeding for this latest adaptation.
11. Star Trek Discovery (CBS All Access) – Premieres May TBA
The recent reboot film series has reinvigorated Gene Roddenberry’s brainchild, but it just feels wrong that there hasn’t been a Trek TV series for over a decade. But that darkness will soon end, thanks to series creators Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller (the mastermind behind Hannibal). Like The Good Fight, Discovery will premiere on CBS proper, and remaining episodes will air exclusively on CBS All Access.
12. Doctor Who (BBC America) – Premieres Spring TBA
I started Nu Who when Jenna Coleman’s Clara stepped into the role of companion. So I’ve already survived the debut of a new Doctor (Peter Capaldi taking over for Matt Smith), but now I must brace myself for the newest full-time partner, a role to be filled by British theater vet Pearl Mackie.
13. Fargo (FX) – Premieres Spring TBA
Season 3 of Noah Hawley’s take on the Coen-verse makes its way to this decade, with Ewan McGregor playing two brothers in 2010. The sure-to-be-entertaining supporting cast includes Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scoot McNairy, and Jim Gaffigan.
14. Marvel’s The Defenders (Netflix) – Premiere Date TBA
Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist are graduating from their own original series and teaming up for a take on one of Marvel’s superteams known for its fluctuating membership.
15. Making History (FOX) – Premiere Date TBA
Adam Pally plays a professor who invents a time travel device that allows him to change the course of history. This includes falling in love with Leighton Meester as the daughter of Paul Revere. If all that does not sound incredible to you, then I’m not sure I want to be your friend.
16. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Netflix) – Premiere Date TBA
Thanks to the wonders of Kickstarter, a hapless man will once again be shot into space to make fun of bad movies with the help of his robot pals. New host Jonah Ray will be donning the jumpsuit, comedians Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn will be taking over as the voices of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, and Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt will be playing the villainous mad scientists, aka “Mads.”
17. Orphan Black (BBC America) – Premiere Date TBA
Season 5 will be the last for Orphan Black, Clone Club. How many more characters will Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany add to her repertoire? Probably at least 100.
18. Rick and Morty (Adult Swim) – Premiere Date TBA
It’s been nearly a year and a half since the Doc Brown-style mad scientist Rick Sanchez was imprisoned for his intergalactic misdeeds, sacrificing himself so that Morty, Summer, Beth, and Jerry could get on with their lives. I know our anticipation is as painful as Mr. Poopybutthole’s gunshot wound, but we must accept that it takes time to put together the most innovate animated sci-fi comedy series of all time.
19. Twin Peaks (Showtime) – Premiere Date TBA
Confession time: I still haven’t watched the original run of David Lynch’s landmark surreal mystery series. But I promise I’ll get to it in time for the revival! It’s only two seasons, after all. Although, knowing Lynch, it might make just as much sense to go the new episodes completely unfamiliar.
20. Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (Netflix) – Premiere Date TBA
Which camper, counselor, or other kooky character are you most excited to catch up with in this second TV spinoff of David Wain and company’s spoof of coming-of-age camp films? For me, it’s Miss Patty Pancakes.
And also keep an eye out for Comedy Central’s Nathan for You and Review, which have been renewed but without any announced premiere dates. They both last aired in 2015, so they should be due to return.