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50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

Like it or not, but we’re about to have more content than we can handle...

50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021
Anticipated TV Shows of 2021
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    While the film industry took a hard hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to empty theaters and a shaky transition to streaming for even the most expensive blockbusters, TV kept chugging along, keeping us sane in the craziness that was 2020.

    Now, 2021 is upon us, with the prospect of a new political dawn and the (hopeful) end of the pandemic in sight by at least the middle of the year. We’ve still got a ways to go, but TV might just have to be our savior once again.

    Luckily, there’s a mix of returning favorites and new potential classics on the horizon, whether it’s continuations of long-dormant series (Gossip Girl, Friends, Dexter) or the beginnings of Disney+’s burgeoning onslaught of Star Wars and Marvel content.

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    Even as movie studios rend their garments, figuring out when to release their biggest offerings, TV will be there for us, plugging new, exciting stories into our eyeballs right on schedule. Or, you know, if production permits (see: Stranger Things 4).

    Like it or not, we’re about to have more TV than we know what to do with, even as we have more time at home to consume it. Still, we’re excited about a good deal of it, and we’ve got a murderer’s row of recommendations to guide your viewing habits.

    –Clint Worthington
    Senior Writer


    Better Call Saul

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    Better Call Saul (AMC)

    Season: 6

    Premieres: TBD via AMC

    Here’s the rub about Season 6 of Better Call Saul: Not only is this the final season of the Breaking Bad spinoff series, but more than likely the final go-around in Vince Gilligan’s Albuquerque universe. So, yeah, the bar is pretty high for this last batch, and Gilligan and co-creator Peter Gould are well aware of the circumstances. Fortunately for them, the proverbial chess pieces are all in order: Jimmy Saul and Kim are curiously on the same page, Gus and Mike are ready to cook, Nacho is dangling over molten lava, and Lalo is ready to bring a sandstorm back to New Mexico. “We’re going to learn things about the fates of a lot of these characters that may surprise people or certainly throw them into a different light,” Gould recently teased to Deadline. With shooting slated to begin in a matter of months, here’s hoping we can break out the Zafiro Añejo before December. –Michael Roffman


    Black Monday

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    Black Monday (Showtime)

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    Season: 3

    Premieres: TBD via Showtime

    The last season of Black Monday dramatically altered the series’ status quo, with each big shift coming at a price. Mo gained his freedom, but it came without credit and, more importantly, sans Dawn. Dawn herself is locked up but finally gained the recognition she so richly deserved. Blair has the power he’s been after for so long, but at the cost of everything else in his life. Even Keith finally has a friend … who’s nuts. How these characters will bounce off one another once again, when so much of their landscape has shifted, is cause for plenty of excitement and anticipation for Season 3 of TV’s most underrated comedy. –Andrew Bloom


    The Book of Boba Fett

    Boba Fett Returns! The Mandalorian, Explained

    The Mandalorian (Disney+)

    Season: 1

    Premieres: TBD via Disney+

    The bajillionth new Star Wars show to hit Disney+ is also the only one we have real teaser footage for, as the end of the Mandalorian season 2 finale showed us. Temuera Morrison is back as the OG Mando, this time aided by reformed sniper Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), last seen killing Bib Fortuna and taking his place as the head of Jabba’s crime gang. What can we expect here? Odds are more bounty-hunting mayhem, but my money’s on a Sopranos-like crime drama where Boba grapples with the futility of his life of larceny and gets therapy from Salacious Crumb. –Clint Worthington


    The Boondocks

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    The Boondocks (Cartoon Network)

    Season: 5

    Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

    Season 4 of The Boondocks is mostly remembered for missing the show’s sharp, satirical drive and the input of creator Aaron McGruder. Now, it may be a footnote given this Sony-assisted reboot that offers a considerable amount of breathing room: a 55-minute special, two 12-episode seasons, and, yes, the return of McGruder’s direction. Of course, that’s not to discount the rich setup of material today’s culture has already accrued. After all, McGruder himself vowed to seize the opportunity, and considering the new series’ current logline — the Freemans’ new Maryland community being terrorized by Uncle Ruckus and his “bizarre neo-fascist regime” — it seems we’ll be able to take him up on that promise. –Sam Mwakasisi


    The Boys

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    The Boys (Amazon)

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    Season: 3

    Premieres: TBD via Amazon Prime Video

    Fans of Homelander, Starlight, and Billy Butcher rejoice because everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed superheroes will be returning for a third installment of Amazon Prime Video’s hit series, The Boys. Coming off one hell of a Season 2, The Boys has carved its own place in our superhero-fuelled culture thanks to its willingness to get as violent, obscene, or as vile as it chooses. It’s essentially the ideological antithesis to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And with Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles joining the cast as Homelander’s mentor Soldier Boy, The Boys is setting itself up to be bigger (and badder) than ever. –Lauren J. Coates


    Creepshow

    The Creepshow Halloween Special

    Creepshow (Shudder)

    Season: 2

    Premieres: TBD via Shudder

    Get ready for more Creepshow, kiddies. After being forced to shutdown production last year due to COVID-19  — to their credit, they still managed to eke out two holiday specials — Shudder’s series adaptation of George A. Romero and Stephen King’s iconic anthology horror film will return with a second bag of tricks and treats in 2021. Once again, the show is opening up the graveyard gates to a slew of genre legends and comics, most notably Keith David, Ashley Laurence, Barbara Crampton, C. Thomas Howell, Denise Crosby, Ted Raimi, and even rock ‘n’ roller Marilyn Manson. With a third seson already ordered by the horror network, it would be wise to find a plot to plant yourself in as there are plenty of scares to come. –Michael Roffman


    Curb Your Enthusiasm

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    Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

    Season: 11

    Premieres: TBD via HBO

    By the end of Season 10, Larry David was well prepared for the pandemic. Latte Larry’s was fully stocked of combustable hand sanitizer, the likes of which would certainly prove useful in the months ahead. We’ll never know, though, because Season 11 of Curb Your Enthusiasm will take place in a post-pandemic world. Showrunner Jeff Schaffer confirmed the news in a recent op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter, writing: “COVID definitely happened and we definitely talk about it…And Larry [the character] has opinions on all of it. I can’t tell you which characters got COVID, but I can definitely tell you that we do examine peoples’ behavior during the COVID era.” Start speculating now over a scone and some piping hot coffee, preferably not from Mocha Joe’s. –Michael Roffman


    Cursed Films

    CursedFilms horizontal 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

    Season: 2

    Premieres: TBD via Shudder

    Some curses are hard to shake, and such is the case for Cursed Films. Back in August, Shudder confirmed a second season of Jay Cheel’s docuseries on cursed productions. “Since its debut, the number one question we’ve been asked is: Will there be more, and how soon?” GM Craig Engler stated in a press release, adding that Season 2 “will be even bigger and better than the first.” No telling what titles he’s alluding to, but Cheel did tell us back in April 2020: “We had a list of movies that, off the top, we always knew had to be a part of the series, but there were some that we were juggling and I could always see us returning to some of those films and digging into them.” Well, looks like horror hounds have their homework cut out for them. –Michael Roffman


    Dave

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    50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

    Dave (FX)

    Season: 2

    Premieres: TBD via FX

    Hi, I’m Dave. FX’s white-rapper dramedy starring Lil Dicky was one of 2020’s most surprising shows, so it’s great to see the aspiring rapper back for more self-deprecating, sophisticatedly raunchy adventures. Season 1 ended with a reenactment of Dicky’s famed appearance on The Breakfast Club, where he ended up charming Charlamagne tha God with his tight bars and talked his way into a place at the adult’s table of rap music. Now, in Season 2, we can’t wait to see what other ways Lil Dicky draws from his real-life climb to viral stardom — and the trainwrecks that will ensue. –Clint Worthington


    Dexter

    dexter revival details showtime second finale 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

    Dexter (Showtime)

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    Season: TBD

    Premieres: TBD via Showtime

    All good things come to an end, but not all endings are good. Write that down. Of course, nothing truly ever ends in Hollywood, a truth that will certainly benefit Dexter. The once-beloved crime drama is back for a new 10-episode miniseries, one that will (hopefully) right all the wrongs that went down in that godawful Season 8. Details are scarce, but here’s a logline: “Set 10 years after Dexter Morgan went missing in the eye of Hurricane Laura, the revival sees the character now living under an assumed name in a world away from Miami.” That world is a small upstate New York town called Iron Lake, where Dex is (probably) chopping more than wood. Here’s hoping the huggable serial killer finds the ending he deserves. “Deb…” –Michael Roffman


    Documentary Now!

    Documentary Now! (IFC)

    Documentary Now! (IFC)

    Season: 4

    Premieres: TBD via IFC

    Anything featuring comic masterminds like Seth Meyers, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, and Bill Hader is worth our attention. But the fourth season of Documentary Now! is truly a cause to rejoice over. The first three seasons of this incredibly specific and hilarious parody TV series have managed to lovingly skewer everything from Grey Gardens to The Thin Blue Line to the behind-the-scenes documentary of Stephen Sondheim’s iconic musical Company. Though it may help somewhat for the viewer to know their documentaries before watching the satires of Documentary Now!, it’s clear that the SNL alums behind the show are doing wonders with finding new documentary styles to mock week by week. We can only hope that the fourth season of this IFC show is equally intelligent as its predecessors. –Josh Spiegel


    Doom Patrol

    How HBO Max's Doom Patrol Mastered the Art of the Misfit Superhero Show

    Doom Patrol (HBO Max)

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    Season: 3

    Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

    Doom Patrol has managed to do something that’s rarely been captured on camera: they have showcased just how damn weird comic books can be when given the chance. More importantly, the series continues to do so with heart and humor. Season 2 ended on a cliffhanger, so we’re sure to get our resolution before bounding into more oddities and found-family dynamics. From the get-go, the show has been a surreal thrill ride, and last season hinted at a bounty of exciting possibilities, such as Danny’s transformation from tire to ambulance and an introduction of The Brotherhood of Dada and Rebis. –Ryan Larson


    Euphoria

    Zendaya in Euphoria

    Euphoria (HBO)

    Season: 2

    Premieres: TBD via HBO

    Though fans will have two special episodes to tide them over between waiting for seasons, the second installment of HBO’s hit teen melodrama Euphoria should be at the top of everyone’s 2021 watchlist. With its trendsetting hair and makeup, decadent and often dizzying visuals, and penchant for exploring all sorts of controversial and attention-grabbing subject matter, Euphoria is the type of TV that blurs the lines of what is and isn’t ‘prestige’. Anchored by the Emmy-winning performance of Zendaya as teen addict Rue, Season 1’s massive musical cliffhanger makes tuning in for Season 2 a must. –Lauren J. Coates


    Friends Reunion

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    Friends (HBO Max)

    Season: N/A

    Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

    Could we be any more excited for this reunion special? Originally, the plan was simple: When the new streaming service HBO Max went live in the early summer of 2020, one of its launch-date offerings would be the first-ever official reunion of the six cast members of Friends, one of the biggest TV series ever. Of course, the best-laid plans were upended by the pandemic — the special hadn’t yet been filmed when quarantine kicked in around mid-March. For now, the Friends reunion remains TBD, and has yet to be filmed. (A couple months ago, Matthew Perry publicly said the plan was to film in mid-March 2021.) Though many of the cast members have appeared in someone else’s project, getting them all together after more than 15 years apart should be thrilling (even if the reunion isn’t going to portend a new story featuring the friends). Let’s just hope the pandemic doesn’t push this back any further. We’ve been on enough of a break. –Josh Spiegel


    Gossip Girl Spinoff

    50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

    Gossip Girl (HBO Max)

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    Season: 1

    Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

    Attention Upper East-siders, everyone’s favorite muckraking fashionistas are back in business with the upcoming reboot of the seminal 2000s teen drama Gossip Girl. Though we don’t know much about what to expect from the Gossip Girl reboot, a number of tantalizing Instagram pictures featuring some truly impressive outfits should be enough to get any fashionista or fan of the original series excited. To some it may be sacrilege to replicate the singular magic of Blair, Serena, and the rest of the uber-rich gang, but with original creator Joshua Safran returning as showrunner, and Kristen Bell lending her voice once again, it could turn out to be an exciting new chapter of a beloved show. –Lauren J. Coates


    The Handmaid’s Tale

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    The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

    Season: 4

    Premieres: TBD via Hulu

    The great Elisabeth Moss returns as June Osborne for the fourth season of Hulu’s critically-acclaimed dystopian tragedy television series. To recap, Season 3 ended last year with June finally gaining her freedom, only to be seriously injured in the process. The story of her journey, and her subsequent decisions as a free woman, will certainly make for tantalizing television. What’s more, it should help shake things up as the series continues to live beyond the source material. –Okla Jones


    His Dark Materials

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    His Dark Materials

    His Dark Materials (HBO)

    Season: 3

    Premieres: TBD via HBO

    HBO’s big-budget attempt to fill the Game of Thrones-shaped hole in its lineup has been a modest, if muted, success, at least enough for the BBC co-production to greenlight a third season. This time around, showrunner Jane Tranter is set to adapt the third book in Philip Pullman’s universe-hopping steampunk series, The Amber Spyglass, as Lyra Belacqua (Logan’s Dafne Keen) continues to explore the many worlds ruled by the Magesterium and avoid the grasp of the villainous Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson). Lin-Manuel Miranda is set to return as aeronaut Lee Scoresby, Andrew Scott as Col. John Parry, and James McAvoy as Lyra’s adoptive father Lord Asriel. –Clint Worthington


    It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

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    Season: 15

    Premieres: TBD via FX

    If there’s one takeaway to be had of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it’s that there’s really no stopping the Gang of Paddy’s Pub. That’s why FX is not even trying, having greenlit the veteran series for not one, not two, but three additional seasons. “We’re going to keep doing it forever if people keep watching,” creator/Ronald “Mac” McDonald Rob McElhenney joked to Deadline. Look, it’s not like they’re short on ideas. With Season 15, which will certify the series as the longest-running live-action comedy of all time, McElhenney plans on tackling all the “bullshit” under Trump’s America. And yes, that may include Philly’s latest historical landmark: the wonderful Four Seasons Total Landscaping. So, yeah, don’t be surprised to see Range Rover parked outside in the near future. –Michael Roffman


    I Think You Should Leave

    I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)

    I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (Netflix)

    Season: 2

    Premieres: TBD via Netflix

    Tim Robinson stole 2019 with I Think You Should Leave. Ever since it dropped on Netflix, his breakneck variety show has birthed countless memes, mostly from diehards who continue to mine every line from every character in each and every sketch. Revisit it enough and you find yourself quoting the most innocuous moments, it’s just that rich. Yet it also seems so singular, too, which is why a sophomore season runs the risk of being a total miss. After all, how the hell do you follow that up? Go weirder? Go wilder? Go whackier? Perhaps Robinson calls Jeff Chris in for the assist. We’ll hopefully (and finally) find out in 2021. –Michael Roffman


    The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

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    The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

    Season: 3

    Premieres: TBD via Shudder

    By all accounts, Joe Bob Briggs won quarantine. At a time when nobody could go to the theaters — let alone host TV parties in our own living rooms — The Last Drive-In brought the Mutant Family all throughout 2020. With delectable wit and palpable heart, both Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl kept us entertained amidst the sleepy months of the year and later on for the holidays. They told jokes, they brought out guests, hell, they raised over 40 grand in charity. Rest assured, the gates to the drive-in will remain open in 2021 with another exciting season and a glutton’s worth of holiday specials (including a new Valentine’s Day soiree, as you can see above). So, stock up on the Lone Star, folks. –Michael Roffman


    Lisey’s Story

    50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

    Lisey’s Story

    Season: N/A

    Premieres: TBD via Apple TV+

    Everyone wants a piece of Stephen King, and Apple TV is no exception. To their credit, they picked one of his best novels in Lisey’s Story, and they even got the fucking guy to adapt it for them. Yes, King is writing every episode, which will no doubt be lensed to perfection by Jackie director Pablo Larraín. That not enough? Academy Award winner Julianne Moore is playing the titular role, topping a supporting cast that includes Clive Owen, Joan Allen, Dane DeHaan, and Sung Kaan. As for the story, well, there are technically two: Lisey’s tale in the present, and the other about her dead husband’s life, as remembered by Lisey during the course of the novel. So many arcs, no wonder J.J. Abrams got involved. –Michael Roffman


    Loki

    Loki, Marvel

    Loki (Marvel)

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    Season: 1

    Premieres: TBD via Disney+

    Alternate timelines. Multiverse enforcers. Trickster gods. Loki promises to be one of the most appetizing limited series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not only because it puts a fan favorite villain in the title role for the first time, but because its dimension-hopping premise is one of the most comic book-y ideas for a superhero show on offer. With Owen Wilson joining Tom Hiddleston for the series, and the show’s creator Michael Waldron having honed his talents for writing timeline-scrambling stories on Rick and Morty, there’s plenty to look forward to when Thor’s (adopted) brother takes center stage. –Andrew Bloom


    The Lord of the Rings

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    Season: 1

    Premieres: TBD via Amazon Prime Video

    Though no official premiere date has been set and nary a trailer or Tom Bombadil official single released (just kidding), anticipation remains high for Amazon Prime’s upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel series. The studio has remained pretty tight-lipped save for a handful of casting announcements and COVID-related production updates from New Zealand, but we DO know it will be set during the Second Age of Middle Earth, which chronicles Sauron’s first rise to power and subsequent downfall. Given the Second Age spans some 3441 years, there’s plenty of material and characters to work with. And with a reported $1 billion (!) budget, a 20-episode order, and a Tolkien scholar among its supervising crew, it’s safe to say this is going to be one fantasy series to rule them all. –Emmy Potter


    The Mandalorian

    Mandalorian Season Finale

    The Mandalorian (Disney+)

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    Season: 3

    Premieres: December via Disney+

    Sky’s the limit for The Mandalorian. For Christ’s sake, they brought back Luke fucking Skywalker at the end of Season 2. So, at this point, Mando could run down the hallway with Lando, Han, Chewie, and, sure, even Watto, and none of us would bat an eye. After all, Disney just cracked open the universe in a big, big way, promising nearly a dozen new shows, most notably the aforementioned Book of Boba Fett. That one will take precedence over all, according to showrunner Jon Favreau, who confirmed the second spinoff will go into production before Season 3. Nevertheless, fans should still expect to see both before year’s end. –Michael Roffman


    Master of None

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    Master of None (Netflix)

    Season: 3

    Premieres: TBD via Netflix

    Master of None lives on. According to a new report, a third season of Aziz Ansari’s dramedy series is well on the way. They state that Ansari and co-creator Alan Yang began shooting last year, that the season will be set in London, and will also star Naomie Ackie. It’s a surprising move, to say the least, seeing how the show has been MIA for nearly four years and follows controversies surrounding the star. So, what can we expect? Well, as Collider points out, Ansari told Vulture way, way back in 2017: “I’ve got to become a different guy before I write a third season, is my personal thought, I’ve got to get married or have a kid or something. I don’t have anything else to say about being a young guy being single in New York eating food around town all the time.” Given those sentiments, Season 3 is likely to be ripe with soul searching — not a bad idea. –Michael Roffman


    Midnight Mass

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    50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

    Midnight Mass (Netflix)

    Season: N/A

    Premieres: TBD via Netflix

    Riding high on the success of his Haunting series, Mike Flanagan is set to terrorize Netflix yet again with Midnight Mass. Written and directed by the filmmaker, the spooky new series focuses on a small island community that’s disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious priest. Expect all of his spooky and emotional trademarks, but don’t go seeking connections to Hill House or Bly Manor as the director recently confirmed via Twitter. Having said that, we will see familiar faces as Kate Siegel, Rahul Abburi, and Henry Thomas will star along with Flanagan newcomers Zach Gilford and Hamish Linklater. After an initial shutdown, filming tentatively resumed last summer and, thanks to diligent adherence to strict protocols, production concluded on target after 83 uninterrupted days. That this religious horror story will premiere in 2021 at all is nothing short of a miracle. –Jenn Adams


    The Old Man

    Jeff Bridges 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

    Jeff Bridges, photo by Audrey Hall

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    Season: N/A

    Premieres: TBD via FX

    Have a feelin’ 21 is gonna be a good year for Jeff Bridges. The Dude himself is not only kicking cancer in the ass, but he’s about to also bust some heads on television. Yes, the Oscar winner is making his small screen debut in FX’s series adaptation of Thomas Perry’s 2017 novel, The Old Man. Bridges will play the titular force, a former CIA officer whose off-the-grid lifestyle comes to a halt when he’s targeted for assassination. Jericho creator Jonathan E. Steinberg developed the series alongside Robert Levine with a supporting cast that includes fellow veteran John Lithgow, Judging Amy mastermind Amy Brenneman, and Search Party star Alia Shawkat. No word yet on whether Bridges’ puppy will also tag along. –Michael Roffman


    Ozark

    ozark 50 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2021

    Ozark (Netflix)

    Season: 4

    Premieres: TBD via Netflix

    Jason Bateman’s award-winning crime drama Ozark will return for its fourth and final season this year. Without spoiling too much, Season 3 ended with a bang, leaving the Byrds (Bateman and Laura Linney) in deeper than ever with the Navarro Cartel and Ruth (Julia Garner, fresh off of her Emmy win for the role) considering a move to the Snell operation. Two key deaths set the stage for what should be an explosive conclusion, but one fans will have to wait a bit longer for as Season 4 will be split in two seven-episode halves. Production began in November, but given the current pandemic, delays are possible. The first half of 4 will likely hit Netflix late this year. When the second half will drop remains to be seen. –Jenn Adams


    Pose

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    Pose Season 2

    Pose (FX)

    Season: 3

    Premieres: TBD via FX

    Like a lot of shows this year, FX’s Pose has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve filmed individual scenes with fewer characters, but the production halted in March and will have to wait until it’s safe to film the iconic balls around which the ‘80s-set queer show is centered. Still, if there’s one show that can heal this wounded nation, it might well be the Ryan Murphy-produced ode to found family and queer/trans pride. Season 2 ended with a time jump to 1991 with house mother Blanca (Mj Rodriguez) bringing in new members to the House of Evangelista; one wonders what fabulous directions Season 3 will take us, and what searing reads Billy Porter’s Pray Tell has in store. –Clint Worthington


    Raised By Wolves

    Raised by Wolves TV Review

    Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)

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    Season: 2

    Premieres: TBD via HBO Max

    HBO Max’s high-concept sci-fi series was one of the weirdest, most fascinating shows of last year, and we can’t wait to find out just how much crazier it will all get. At the end of the first season of the Ridley Scott-produced show, the android Mother (Amanda Collin) had given birth to a floating alien snake baby and attempted to kill it by flying it into the core of the planet she and the remnants of humanity are stuck in. (Long story.) But the finale implies she and Father (Abubakar Salim) are alive on the other side of the planet, as is the rapidly-growing snake baby; meanwhile, their kids are left on their own, and the increasingly-fanatical Marcus (Travis Fimmel) has just rendezvoused with a new group of humans, ready to take his orders. The stakes seem to be ratcheting ever higher in Season 2, as these disparate groups battle for the fate of humanity — and maybe, their very literal souls. –Clint Worthington


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