Have we hit peak TV?

Grace Yu, Campus Life Editor

Clear your calendars! Fall is coming and along with it, new television programs. Some of the best shows currently running aren’t airing on traditional TV networks, but are being released in new and innovative ways by streaming giants Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. With this in mind, here are some premieres of new upcoming shows that push the envelope, lead the pack in distribution methods, or somehow or another challenge the industry status quo.


New Series

“Queen Sugar” (OWN)

Creators: Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey

Series premiere (two nights): Sept. 6 and 7 at 9 p.m.  on the Oprah Winfrey Network

Cast: Dawn-Lyen Gardner in the role of Charley Bordelon West; Rutina Wesley (who you may have seen previously on “True Blood”) and Kofi Siriboe as Charley’s siblings.

What to expect: Based on the novel by Natalie Baszile, “Queen Sugar” centers on the story of a Los Angeles woman named Charley who has inherited a sugarcane farm in Louisiana from her father, receiving an opportunity for a fresh start in life. The show will be Ava DuVernay’s TV debut, so expect lots of “Black Girl Magic” from DuVernay and fellow industry entertainment and media queen Oprah Winfrey. Ava and Oprah are also collaborating again for “A Wrinkle in Time,” to be released in 2017, for a budget of $100 million (DuVernay will achieve an industry first for a woman director of color). Ava was, of course, made famous by 2014’s “Selma,” but before widespread recognition, she had also made documentaries and lesser-known indie films such as “Middle of Nowhere” (2012) and “I Will Follow” (2010).

Available now: “Selma” is available for Amazon Prime subscribers, and the movies “Middle of Nowhere” and “I Will Follow” are streaming on Netflix.


“Easy” (Netflix)

Creator: Joe Swanberg, Chicago local

Release: Sept. 22 at 12:01 a.m. PT on Netflix

Length: eight episodes

Cast: including Orlando Bloom, Malin Akerman, Jake Johnson (a frequent Swanberg collaborator), Marc Maron, Dave Franco and Hannibal Buress.

What to expect: According to the official Netflix press release,

“‘Easy’ is an anthology series from creator Joe Swanberg that explores diverse Chicago characters as they fumble through the modern maze of love, sex, technology and culture.”

Swanberg (who according to a 2014 Chicago Tribune story makes his home in Lincoln Square) is known for micro budget films such as “Digging for Fire” (2015), “Happy Christmas” (2014) and “Drinking Buddies” (2013).  He is known as a “mumblecore” filmmaker, among a group of filmmakers named so for their actors’ improvisation of dialogue and tendency “to mumble” their speech. Swanberg is also known to frequent Revolution Brewing in Logan Square for both personal patronage and for filming projects. I am eager to see if this new series will accurately represent Chicago – or at least certain facets of Chicago life (and to see if any places that were shot in the series are recognizable).

Available now: Swanberg’s movie “Digging for Fire” is available on Amazon Prime, and “Happy Christmas” and “Drinking Buddies” are streaming on Netflix.


“Crisis in Six Scenes” (Amazon Studios)

Creator: Woody Allen

Release: Sept. 30 on Amazon

Length: six episodes

Cast: Allen himself, Rachel Brosnahan, Miley Cyrus, Elaine May

What to expect: DuVernay, Swanberg, and now Woody Allen! Welcome to television, filmmakers! Another noted movie director is trying his hand at programming for the small screen. Allen’s new series is a period comedy set in 1960s America, with the prospects of an eclectic cast (Miley Cyrus and Elaine May). The trailer promises plenty of characteristic Allen-esque awkwardness, as displayed in a scene in which Allen’s character, an aging  barbershop client tries to get a haircut like James Dean’s.


“Goliath” (Amazon Studios)

Creator: David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro

Release: Oct. 14 on Amazon

Length: 10 episodes

Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Tania Raymonde, William Hurt

What to expect: This show was ordered straight-to-series by Amazon. If at first confusion strikes over who the eff David E. Kelley is (and why Amazon didn’t consider taking him on as a huge gamble), know that he is a master of the legal drama, and the creator of numerous legal shows from the 90s and early 2000s, the best-known of which are “Ally McBeal,” “The Practice” and “Boston Legal”. We can expect solid stuff from Kelley and seasoned leading man Thornton, who plays a disgraced lawyer hoping for redemption.


“Good Girls Revolt” (Amazon Studios)

Creator: Dana Calvo (and executive produced by Lynda Obst)

Release: Oct. 28 on Amazon

Length: eight episodes

Cast: Genevieve Angelson, Anna Camp, Erin Darke, Chris Diamantopoulous, Grace Gummer as Nora Ephron, Joy Bryant as Eleanor Holmes Norton (formerly a lawyer with the ACLU, and today a House of Representatives delegate from D.C.) and Jim Belushi as Wick McFadden, an old-timey (and a little misogynistic) news magazine exec.

What to expect: Loosely based on real events and inspired by the book “The Good Girls Revolt” by Lynn Povich (who became Newsweek’s first woman senior editor in 1975), this newsroom drama features a strong female cast starring Angelson, Camp, and Darke as young news professionals going through feminist awakenings. Joy Bryant (previously seen on Parenthood) plays a very pregnant attorney, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who helps a group of 46 newswomen sue their employer, the fictional News of the Week magazine, for sexual discrimination. Grace Gummer plays the late writer Nora Ephron (as in: “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally” Nora Ephron) in her journalist days (fun fact: Gummer’s mother, Meryl Streep, played a fictional version of Ephron in Ephron’s 1986 movie “Heartburn”).

Available now: The Season one pilot episode is up on Amazon.

Best quote from the pilot (in a confrontation between Ephron and McFadden):

“Well, your name is all you have in journalism. So. Good luck, Nora Ephron.”