Being a white American with a social circle the size of a penny and a spiritual unease the size of the Milky Way, I watch a lot of television. I have, for example, watched the entire extant run of Mad Men four separate times. From pilot to most recent episode, four times. By my estimation, I have seen every second of The Sopranos, The Wire, Family Tree, The Newsroom, Veep, Girls, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Eastbound & Down, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Enlightened, Luck, Life’s Too Short, How to Make It in America, Bored to Death, Hung, In Treatment, Flight of the Concords, John from Cincinnati, Big Love, Lucky Louie, Extras, Entourage, Deadwood, Carnivale, Six Feet Under, and–by sometimes arduous, sometimes glorious osmosis–Sex & The City. And those are just the HBO shows. In short: a fuck-lot of television. While my condition may seem depraved, it does uniquely qualify me to recommend shows to, say, a European friend whom, per her Parisian upbringing, has never seen much less watched a television before. Which is what I’ll do now. These are the ten television shows I’d recommend watching this fall.
The BPoFD Fall TV Watch List 2013 Edition
Group 1: The Must Watches
1. New Girl (Tuesdays on FOX)
Justification: With the cancellation of the perfect Happy Endings, New Girl stands unrivaled as the best post-HIMYM sitcom on television. Not since the delight duopoly of Kramer & Bing has any sitcom character conducted the voltage of New Girl’s Schmidt. He is blinding lightning in a slippery bottle, ungraspable, worth the call to DirecTV on his own. Additionally, the show features a super hot ethnic broad.
2. Derek (Streaming in full on Netflix)
Justification: Ricky Gervais writes, directs, and stars as Derek, an autistic worker in a struggling retirement home in post-recession England. What initially bodes a firestorm of handicapped gags, Office retreads, and soapbox lectures by the outspoken creator becomes anything but. The show is uncomfortably, movingly earnest; a seeming caricature that repaints itself instantly as portraiture, its brushstrokes entirely in grays, and somehow beautiful still.
3. Parenthood (Thursdays on NBC)
Justification: The show runner of this show was the show runner of Friday Night Lights. Move on.
Group 2: The Should Probably Watches
4. Sleepy Hollow (Mondays on FOX)
Justification: No new
friends show aspires to one thousandth of the bonkers that this show aspires to. It is truly gorgeous in the self-embrace of its rampant lunacy. And yet, the leads are both fitfully engaging, the cinematography top notch, the writing gleefully self-aware. In the pilot’s climactic scene, The Headless Horseman unloads on a cop car with an assault rifle, then rides into the mist atop the white horse of the apocalypse. Truly gorgeous.
5. Hello Ladies (Sundays on HBO)
Justification: 0:26 of the attached video.
6. Masters of Sex (Sundays on Showtime)
Justification: The pilot, which is available to watch in full on YouTube, is the so far best drama pilot of the season, demonstrating an admirable amount of restraint with respect to its creatively dicey subject matter. However, its female lead is a sentient woman whose identity isn’t constructed entirely out of her relation to her male counterparts, so audiences will most likely reject this show, leading to its cancellation. Lizzie Caplan is also the frontrunner to play Michelle in my biopic. There’s that too.
Group 3: The Should Maybe Probably Eventually Watches
7. Homeland (Sundays on Showtime)
Justification: After a very almost flawless first season, Homeland imploded in its second, with a central romance so forced it made your seventh grade AIM relationship look like the opening montage from UP! Last season ended with a hapless hook, and by all accounts the show has exchanged its once great narrative propulsion for its always mediocre character development. The one saving grace: Morena Baccarin, TV’s hottest ethnic broad. Give it three episodes and quit.
8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Tuesdays on FOX)
Justification: Comedy pilots are uniformly poor indicators for a show’s eventual quality. Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s pilot reinforced this fact nicely, as the pilot was flat, rushed, and continually promising. And this show was created by the same creator who created Parks & Recreation, your favorite half-hour comedy. Just because Lil’ Sebastian was lil’ doesn’t mean his heart was lil’. Same goes for this show moving forward.
9. The Birthday Boys (Sometime on IFC)
Justification: Every show on IFC is good, if not great.
Group 4: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
10. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Tuesdays on ABC)
Justification: The pilot received a standing ovation at Comi-Con, which is equatable to Hitler receiving a standing ovation at a Nazi rally. If this amounts to anything more than a tactless money-grab perpetrated by its fan boy slave creator whose art aspires to nothing, I will be pleasantly and begrudgingly surprised.