Amidst the hiatus of two of the largest shows on TV (fall’s The Walking Dead and late spring/summer’s Game of Thrones), I often find myself scrambling for new and fresh TV to watch.
Luckily, I didn’t have to look far, as this spring held some of my favorite new TV shows (and two are even available for binging!) this spring.
Building off the occult classic The Omen, creator Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) breathes new life into Damien’s story by enlisting Merlin alumnus Bradley James. Without giving too much away, Damien (Bradley) is a known war photographer who begins his immense inner conflict by accepting who he really is. With the help of mysterious forces both supernatural and not, Damien dredges up his past and illuminates his destiny as the Antichrist. Whether or not he will accept his destiny is to be seen and leaves us all the more reason to stay tuned to this edgy horror series. The series also features Arrow/Vixen alumnus Megalyn Echikunwoke (E.K.) who is determined to uncover the mysteries surrounding Damien. Damien airs Monday nights at 10/9c on A&E and you can catch up by streaming full episodes here!
4) ‘The Family’
ABC’s newest family drama is full of intensity, suspense, and enough twists and turns to keep even the most casual TV viewer invested. Featuring an impressive cast (Allison Pill, Joan Allen, Rupert Graves, to name a few) creator Jenna Bans maintains the perfect balance of questions and answers after a politician’s son is kidnapped and then returns a decade later. With a fresh take on the family drama genre, Bans delves deep into the relationships we maintain with our loved ones and even the lies we may tell to “protect” them. I would say more, but I really can’t without giving it away. I will say, however, that after just watching the seventh episode, the pace never slows. For those who like to try guessing where the plot might be headed, this series will certainly leave you scratching your head. The Family airs Sunday nights at 9/8c and episodes are available on Hulu or you can stream them online here!
3) ‘American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson’
Unless you’ve been living under a literal rock with no connections to the outside world, you’ve no doubt already heard of this one. Based on the infamous trial that took the world by storm (and Jeffrey Toobin’s book of the same name), Ryan Murphy with Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander document the entire story of The People v. O.J. Simpson. With an extraordinary ensemble including (get ready for some big names) John Travolta, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Schwimmer, Nathan Lane, Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown, Selma Blair, and Connie Britton, to name more than a few, the series supersedes the trial itself by encompassing the background and all the behind the scenes you didn’t see when the trial aired live back in ’94. The series holds just as much interest as the original trial and even became the most watched show this season. You can now binge the entire first season on FX and stay tuned for next season where American Crime Story will tackle Hurricane Katrina and the devastating aftermath.
2) ‘Better Call Saul’
Okay, I may be cheating a bit here. Better Call Saul technically isn’t “new,” seeing that its first season debuted last year, but season 2 feels much more like a new show than the last did. While I loved the Breaking Bad spinoff’s first season, the second is nothing short of incredible. Last season laid the groundwork for these characters and this season we see them making major decisions and dealing with all the consequences that shortly follow. Bob Odenkirk, Michael McKean, Johnathan Banks, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, and last but most certainly not least, Rhea Seehorn, are a dynamic and flawless cast that deliver exceptional performances each week. Special shoutout to Seehorn especially, who has more often than not taken the spotlight from Odenkirk and brightly shines as his morally composed love interest and equal partner in law. Better Call Saul’s season 2 finale airs Monday (4/18) at 10/9c on AMC and you can catch up on full episodes here! You can also watch the complete first season on Netflix!
1) ‘The Magicians’
Okay, apologies in advance to Syfy, but I didn’t expect one of my new all-time favorite shows (yes, it’s that good) to hail from their network. Synonymous with Sharknado and what most call The Walking Dead rip-off Z Nation (again, no offense, Syfy), their network hasn’t exactly been the prime station for quality entertainment. That was until Syfy cast a little spell and enchanted Lev Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy to life and brought us all to the magical Narnia-esque land of Fillory. With an extraordinary wave of new actors (and I mean extraordinary — this cast is crazy talented and so quick and easy to love) including Jason Ralph, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Stella Maeve, Arjun Gupta, Hale Appleman, and Summer Bishil (even including guest appearances from Game of Thrones’ Esmé Bianco), creators Sera Gamble and John McNamara stunningly form their vision of Grossman’s beloved novels.
The pitch for the series has commonly been called “Harry Potter for adults,” which was more than enough to get me to at least try the pilot. I was beyond immersed and impressed with the story, the characters and setting, but mostly the new-aged way the story was told. Being much more adult than Harry Potter allows the series to delve into powerful and complicated issues such as depression, suicide, rape, and even killing.
It also has a far different take on magic then Harry Potter’s enunciating Latin incantations and wand waving. In The Magicians, magic comes from pain. Not external pain but internal conflict and turmoil, making magic a far greater and more complicated force. In an interview with Lev Grossman, he compares his interpretation of magic to organic chemistry, saying it’s extremely difficult and factors in weather, star/planetary placement, and other intricate scientific details. Essentially, he believed magic must be earned rather than gifted. As if that didn’t make The Magicians unique enough, it’s also about a fantasy series within a fantasy series, allowing it to comment on the genre and deconstruct it as so.
If you take anything away from this list, let it be The Magicians. Fantasy lovers and skeptics will both find something they enjoy, whether it be the multifaceted and relatable characters, fantasy commentary, or even the coming of age (graduate student age, that is) story that is woven into this brilliant new series. The Magicians just wrapped up its first season (with immense high praises from critics all around) and you can binge it all on Syfy! Then, check out Grossman’s novels while you wait for season 2!
What have you been watching this spring? Let us know below!