Fall television preview: The good, the bad and the unwatchable

Surviving Utopia
Utopia: Reality TV goes after the niche communalist demographic in this FOX series.

This summer I watched every iteration of The Real Housewives, so needless to say a fresh crop of TV shows this fall is exciting. A few trends seem to be emerging, which include weird police mysteries where children die, comic book adaptations and sitcoms that attempt to bring more racial and ethnic diversity to the airwaves. Some of the shows seem promising, others seem downright ridiculous and most of them will be cancelled within a few episodes regardless.

To start, CBS has two new, interest-piquing dramas. Stalkers features Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott as police officers in the Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD. If you didn’t guess from the title, the unit deals with catching stalkers and addressing issues of cyber crime, voyeurism and romantic fixations that go too far. There has been a good amount of industry gossip about the opening scene of this pilot being particularly gruesome and scary, so hopefully the show doesn’t veer off into the territory of gratuitous violence. The second show, Madame Secretary, which seems like a new version of Geena Davis’ short-lived Commander in Chief, features Tea Leoni as the new, free-thinking U.S. Secretary of State who, according to the trailer, doesn’t just think outside of the box, she “doesn’t even know there is a box.”

There are a handful of other programs to check out, too. The creator of Happy Endings has a new—and potentially hilarious—romantic comedy on NBC entitled Marry Me, featuring Ken Marino and Casey Wilson. M. Night Shyamalan (I know, I know) is the executive producer of a new FOX mystery drama that seems like a combination of The Truman Show and The Dome: Wayward Pines. It’s basically a crazy town where citizens are not only under constant surveillance, they also have no way of escaping. Also of note is Rainn Wilson’s new FOX show, Backstrom, where he plays a “self-destructive, overweight, offensive and irascible” police detective (so, basically, he sounds like any of my ex-boyfriends, if they suddenly started working as police detectives).

Other shows will be worth watching out of morbid curiosity. ABC, in a clear attempt to showcase its commitment to diversity and multiculturalism, is launching three new family sitcoms: Fresh Off the Boat, Cristela and Black-Ish. Each sitcom features, respectively, an Asian family, a Latino family and a Black family. The trailers make the shows seem like they will all be post-racial trainwrecks that treat race like it no longer matters, and say, “Hey, look at how funny these racial stereotypes are!” For instance, the pilot of Black-Ish focuses on a father’s anxiety over his son not being “Black enough.” When the son asks to have a Bar Mitzvah, the father instead throws him a Bro-Mitzvah that looks like a generic rap video. Oy vey. Additionally, FOX is launching a new reality program called Utopia, which they are marketing as the “purest form of reality.” Basically 15 people dedicate a year of their lives to building a dream society together on three (only three?) acres of land. They create their own government, build their own houses, and of course, ideologically disagree over absolutely everything.

Finally, there are a bunch of shows to skip entirely: ABC’s Forever features a medical examiner in New York City who cannot die, so, obviously, as he solves the deaths of others. The long story arc in this show will be him figuring out why he keeps coming back to life (and, for some reason, keeps coming back to life naked in a river). Pass.

NBC’s State of Affairs marks Katherine Heigl’s return to TV, and promises to be an even bigger waste of time. Heigl plays a renegade CIA analyst trying to take down different terror groups, not unlike Homeland, Person of Interest or Covert Affairs. I’m bored already.

But the show I predict will be the biggest waste of time is ABC’s Galavant. The fairytale-themed show is a comedy and a musical! It might be interesting to lovers of Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, or if you were a fan of the infamously corny style of the 1990 police musical Cop Rock. But, if we’re being real, nothing will ever live up to the glorious awkwardness of Cop Rock.

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