We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it once more with feeling: This is a bad fall for new television. A combination of otherwise-committed talent, shifting debut schedules, and plain old lackluster ideas has resulted in a blah crop of shows that will struggle in the coming weeks to keep audiences tuned in.
There are a couple of notable exceptions. HBO’s 1970s-era porn drama The Deuce — from The Wire creator David Simon — has broken through the pack as a worthy contender. Hulu’s adaptation of the popular Marvel comic series Runaways has promise, and ABC’s new comedy The Mayor is warm and funny. On the nonfiction side of things, Ken Burns’s newest series The Vietnam War may indeed be one of the documentarian’s greatest works to date.
But otherwise, well, it’s bleak out there, folks. To illustrate exactly how bleak, we ranked the freshman TV series of fall 2017 fall on the quality spectrum. (Note that we did not include any show we haven’t seen at least one episode of.) Then we cross-referenced that assessment with each show’s level of silliness or seriousness, because no comedy/drama split could ever reconcile the fact that two of the season’s worst new shows — Fox’s The Orville and ABC’s Inhumans — are both ostensibly dramas that, despite their best intentions, are really pretty silly. The result is the following matrix that should give you an idea of which new shows to check out and which ones to skip this fall.
(For more information on each new show, check out the summaries below the matrix.)