Succession will be back, Barry will be back, and we’ll get another season of The Mandalorian at some point. There will still be cop shows, Chicago shows, Chicago cop shows, shows about every possible branch of law enforcement imaginable, and (of course) reality shows.
We will be just fine when it comes to television in this post-Game of Thrones era.
Now, I don’t think we’ll ever have another consensus show like Game of Thrones again; one that captures the zeitgeist with the unrelenting grip of a Wildling clutching a nice cup of warm hot chocolate. It’s going to take a lot for a show to reach the dizzying heights that Thrones did.
Everyone watched Game of Thrones, and frankly, it was fun having a show around that was so universally viewed. You could have a carefree conversation about it with damn near everyone anywhere and anytime you wanted.
It was wonderful.
Sadly, it’s much more complicated when it comes to virtually every other show out there.
Who’s watching it? Who isn’t? Who’s caught up? Who isn’t? Who has what streaming service? Who doesn’t?
Conversations about nearly every other television show out there require a disclaimer and it can be annoying. That was not the case with Game of Thrones. You were either caught up or you could care less.
So, while I’m not sure any of the shows listed below are up to the task of becoming a show everyone is talking about, I’d at least give them a shot at trying when they make their grand entrance in 2020.
The Outsider (HBO)
A word of advice to HBO: if you want to keep cranking out these dark, creepy mysteries starring big-name actors that (at least initially) are sold to us as limited series, I’m in. I’m in for all of them.
Missing kid? In. Murdered kid? Still in.
Is there Pagan chicanery involved as well as woods cleaved by long, desolate roads patrolled by beaten-down cops just trying to figure out what the hell is going on?
If so, let’s do this.
HBO’s latest offering is The Outsider, a new ten-part miniseries based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Ben Mendelsohn stars as a small-town cop looking to solve the murder of a young boy. He suspects Jason Bateman is the culprit, and while there’s plenty of evidence suggesting he did it, there’s also an alibi that appears to check out.
I know, crazy, huh?
The Outsider premieres on January 12.
High Fidelity (Hulu)
The original High Fidelity stars John Cusack as a lovesick sad-sack of a record store owner and premiered all the way back in 2000 which, by most accounts, was a long time ago. It was, in fact, so long ago that it is apparently prime time for a reboot.
Should they have done Grosse Point Blank first? Probably. However, I’m sure that somewhere in the annals of the home offices of Netflix or Hulu or some streaming service that we don’t know about yet someone is hammering out a pilot.
Whenever it’s reboot time for a choice piece of good old intellectual property, it’s always fun to see what kind of twist is put on it. As far as the High Fidelity reboot goes, they went with one of the oldest tricks in the books: gender swap!
Zoë Kravitz is now in the Cusack role and sees herself as the owner of a record store as well as a participant in a string of failed relationships. I feel like we’ve been scratching the surface of Kravitz’s talents for a while now so it’ll be interesting to see if starring in her own show allows her to flex a bit more.
All ten episodes of High Fidelity drop on February 14.
The North Water (BBC)
We’ll start here.
Colin Farrell plays a harpooner named Henry Drax, who is apparently “a mindless killer who appears more animal than human.”
At this point, we’re all familiar with just how much fun it is when Farrell plays a lunatic and this Henry Drax fellow definitely seems to be somewhat of a lunatic type.
Set to air on the BBC later this year, The North Water is based on the novel by Ian McGuire and is about a whaling expedition en route to the Arctic in the late 1850s. Guess what? Things don’t go as planned for the crew. In fact, things get downright gnarly.
In addition to Farrell, the show stars Jack O’Connell of Godless and Stephen Graham, who most recently stole scenes in The Irishman. It also stars beards. Lots and lots of beards.
The Plot Against America (HBO)
HBO and David Simon are teaming up again, and for enthusiasts of The Wire such as myself, that’s pretty great news.
Their past projects include The Corner, Generation Kill, Treme, Show Me A Hero, and The Deuce. In each, Simon digs down deep into the subject matter, wrenching out the ills of society and calling attention to various systematic problems in this country of ours. His shows aren’t always super enjoyable to watch and (if anything) are a tough hang but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable.
Based on the 2004 Philip Roth novel, the miniseries imagines an alternate history for America where Charles Lindbergh, the noted aviator and one-time spokesman for the America First Committee, wins the election in 1940 and becomes president, which is great until he soon steers the country towards fascism.
Simon was initially approached by HBO to tackle the book a few years ago but didn’t shine to the idea until recently, saying he felt the themes that Roth’s text explores have become especially relevant in light of how the political climate has shifted in America and other countries around the world in recent years.
The series stars Winona Ryder, John Turturro, and Zoe Kazan, all of whom will reportedly begin to grace your television sets early in the spring.
Impeachment: American Crime Story (FX)
Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story anthology series has so far tackled the O.J. Simpson trial and the murder of Gianni Versace. There were initially talks about following those up with a series revolving around the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina but Murphy ultimately opted to focus on the impeachment of Bill Clinton instead (an idea Monica Lewinsky endorsed before she came on as a producer).
In the show, Lewinsky will be played by Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein while Sarah Paulson (a Murphy staple) will star as Linda Tripp, who was friends with the intern up until she blew the whistle in an act of betrayal that rocked a nation.
Murphy originally optioned Jeffrey Toobin’s book on the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal in 2017. However, he was reluctant to do the show and approached Lewinsky before proceeding, saying, “‘Nobody should tell your story but you and it’s kind of gross if they do. If you want to produce it with me, I would love that; but you should be the producer and you should make all the goddamn money.'”
A helpful primer for the show would be the Slate podcast Slow Burn, which dedicated its second season to the scandal.
Impeachment: American Crime Story is slated to premiere in the fall, which means you’ll be able to bring even more politics into your life if the hoopla surrounding the election isn’t enough.
“God damn Nazis”
Okay, Al Pacino. You want to go hunt down some Nazis hiding out in America? Let’s go. Let’s go right now.
Produced by Jordan Peele, Hunters draws from real-life events back in the 1970s in which a group of Nazi hunters tracks down some of their prey after discovering they’re hiding in plain sight in New York City.
Did I say a handful of Nazis? Oh. I meant a hundred Nazis.
There are a hundred Nazis hiding in New York City and this group—led by Pacino’s character, who is a survivor of a concentration camp—is hunting them down. Does it matter that they are resorting to violence to punish others for their violent acts? Yeah, maybe. That sounds like something to deal with around episode seven if you ask me.
The ten-episode series premieres on February 21.
Ever since that first season of Twin Peaks, I get very interested when someone finds a dead body on a beach or in a body of water near a beach. I don’t know what that says about me—nor do I want to know—but I’m interested.
Let’s just leave it at that.
In Hightown, a new series from Starz, the dead body in question is found in Cape Cod Bay by a federal fishery agent from Provincetown. Monica Raymund, who was on Chicago Fire for most of the last decade, plays the agent while James Badge Dale (The Departed and The Pacific) portrays another officer.
This isn’t just a murder mystery though. I mean, it is, but it’s more than that.
Finding the dead body floating in the bay eventually exposes the region’s growing heroin epidemic and the plot only thickens from there.
Again, though, you had me at “they found a dead body floating in the water.”
Wondering what Phoebe Waller-Bridge would do next has been a hot topic ever since people first started watching Fleabag. It’s incredibly clear from that show’s first few minutes that she’s talented and someone to keep an eye on.
So what would her next move be?
Well, first, did you know that Waller-Bridge was one of the brains behind Killing Eve? Did you also know she voiced a droid in Solo: A Star Wars Story?
I did not and I’m mad at myself for not knowing either of those things.
Waller-Bridge was the head writer for Killing Eve‘s first season but didn’t return for the second, which was markedly worse. I don’t know if we can pin this on her or not but I do think we can all agree that Solo was just straight up not very good (I don’t think a droid was in a position to make or break that movie).
However, I’m looking forward to Run, which is Waller-Bridge’s latest television project. She teamed up with Vicky Jones, who was tapped to write the series after earning her stripes as a collaborator on Fleabag.
If you’re wondering what to expect from Run, you can reportedly prepare youself for a “romantic comedic thriller” that stars Merritt Weaver, who was great in Godless and Domhnall Gleason.
We’ll get a chance to see how this compares to Fleabag when it premieres later this year.
Hey! Look! It’s another adaptation of a novel!
This time it’s an interpretation of a 1984 work by Ross Thomas that is being brought to television by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and Andy Greenwald, who pivoted pretty well after making a name for himself hosting podcasts on The Ringer. However, it seems as if only the show’s first season will be based on the source material as it’s being structured as an anthology series.
Did Thomas write another good book? If so, perhaps that could be the second season.
As far as the inaugural one goes, Rosario Dawson plays Allegra Dill, an investigator who returns home to a small Texas town after her sister is murdered. I don’t know how the giraffe fits in, but dude, there’s a giraffe. Giraffes are cool. Are there a lot of giraffes in Texas? I should look into that.
In addition to Dawson, the show features Jay R. Ferguson (Mad Men), Kim Dickens (Fear the Walking Dead), Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live), and Brian Geraghty (Boardwalk Empire and The Hurt Locker).
Briarpatch premieres on February 6, and if it’s as dope as giraffes are, we should be in for a treat.
Perry Mason (HBO)
A few years ago, Robert Downey Jr. started expressing interest in playing Perry Mason, a crackerjack criminal defense lawyer hailing from Los Angeles and the eponymous protagonist of the famed television program that first aired in 1957.
Nic Pizzolatto, who created True Detective, was slated to join Downey Jr. in 2017 but everything fell apart and neither of them remained attached to the project.
Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones were eventually brought in as showrunners and Matthew Rhys of The Americans was tabbed to replace Downey.
I could now very easily go on a long rant about how great The Americans was and how amazing Rhys was in it, but I’m not going to. I’ve done that before. Let’s just say it was one of the best shows of the last decade and it’s a damn travesty more people didn’t watch it.
With that out of the way, HBO’s take on Perry Mason will be retconning the original series a bit and traveling back in time a few decades to envision how well he’d fare in La La Land at the start of the 1930s.
Here’s what we can expect according to Deadline:
“While the rest of the country struggles through the Great Depression, the City of Angels has oil, the Olympic Games, talking pictures, evangelical fervor, and a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong.”
Rhys is joined by John Lithgow, Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire), and Stephen Root (Barry.)
Perry Mason premieres this spring while my love for The Americans springs eternal.
Mrs. America (FX)
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth Banks, Rose Byrne, Niecy Nash, Sarah Paulson, and (somehow) more star in this limited series that tells “the true story about the Equal Rights Amendment and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly (Blanchett).”
Ask any friend of yours who has or currently does dabble in feminism about Schlafly. Things get real dark real quick.
The Falcon & The Winter Soldier (Disney Plus)
As Marvel shifts gears and enters new and unchartered territory, the studio is taking advantage of its new and special relationship with Disney Plus to give some of its lesser-known characters a chance to (ahem) spread their wings.
Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will reprise their roles as Falcon and Winter Soldier while engaging in some banter and doing some hero stuff while waiting for the movies to call so they can come running.
A year or so ago, a story broke about an ex-cop turned security guard auditor who got busted after a decade of rigging McDonald’s famed Monopoly game. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon quickly swooped in and have plans to make it into a movie (with the former directing and the latter starring), but in the meantime, HBO is rolling out a six-episode documentary series about the case.
Space Force (Netflix)
Remember when Donald Trump introduced his ingenious plan to create a branch of the military dedicated to bringing the United States one step closer to intergalactic domination? The idea tickled the funny bone of Steve Carrel in addition to Greg Daniels, the man who reimagined The Office for an American audience. They eventually teamed up to create a workplace comedy for Netflix about the poor souls tasked with making Space Force a thing.
In addition to Carell, we’ll also be treated to performances from John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, and Tawny Newsome. It’s hard to go wrong with that.
This FX limited series comes from Alex Garland, the man behind Ex Machina and Annihilation. It stars Nick Offerman as the CEO of a Silicon Valley-based tech company who may or may not have had something to do with the death of the man Sonoya Mizuno’s character called her boyfriend.
According to Garland, the project feels like “one long movie” and (as with his previous endeavors) will get into some heavy concepts like artificial intelligence and quantum computing, which I’m pretty sure is actually a made-up technology that nerds like to talk about to make normal people feel dumb.