Streaming service: Apple TV+
When you can watch it: Jan. 17, 2020
Following the success of The Morning Show, which earned two Golden Globe nominations and Critics' Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards, Apple TV+ continues its slate of original programming with Little America. The eight-part anthology series tells the stories of immigrants living in the United States and was already renewed for a second season in December before the show had even started streaming. The episodes are based on a collection of true stories published in Epic Magazine.
While Little America details the lives of immigrants, including a Nigerian college student in Oklahoma and a gay man from Syria living with his husband in Idaho, there is no explicit mention of Donald Trump and the show doesn’t address anything overtly political.
“We want these stories to stand on their own,” executive producer Kumail Nanjiani told the Washington Post. “We don’t want this to be a medicine show, a message show. It seems like immigration’s a big topic now, but obviously immigration’s always been a big topic.”
According to Nanjiani, this was an intentional decision from everyone involved in creating the series, including Nanjiani’s wife, Emily V. Gordon, Master of None co-creator Alan Yang, and The Office’s Lee Eisenberg. Its 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes shows that Little America is resonating with people by telling real stories about immigrants’ experiences living in America.
“We didn’t conceive of this show as a brick through anyone’s window,” Yang also told the Washington Post. “The show is an observed portrait of eight people. The narrative of human experience is not as different as you might think.”
Streaming service: Hulu
When you can watch it: Feb. 14, 2020
Hulu’s adaptation of High Fidelity, which was originally supposed to stream on Disney+, is a departure from Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel and the 2000 film adaptation that starred John Cusack. The new 10-episode series, which starts streaming on Valentine’s Day, is flipping the gender of the story’s main character — Rob Brooks is now played by a woman: the one and only Zoe Kravitz.
Co-creator Veronica West told television reporters last Friday at a Television Critics Association (TCA) panel that she didn’t want to retell the story for television “without making this change.”
“We have so much respect for the book and the film and I think they are perfect iterations of that story. But to say that, like, it’s weird, we watch a lot of romantic comedies with female leads and the problem always seems to be, you can’t find the right man, or you’re desperate to get married, or you’re self-destructive in some ways,” West said. “And when a man gets to be the lead, the problems are internal. And it was interesting for us to put that in a woman’s point of view and let her issues with romance really just be about learning how to figure out herself and not finding Mr. Right. You know, there’s lots of Mr. Rights in the show, which is part of what makes it so much fun.”
Kravitz plays a record store owner in Crown Heights, a gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, who thinks back on her past relationships through music while also attempting to get past her one true love.
“I lived in New York for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of neighborhoods change. In terms of creating Rob in her environment, I drew upon my own experience,” Kravitz said.
Da'Vine Joy Randolph also stars in the series as Rob’s friend Cherise, akin to Jack Black’s character in the 2000 film.
“Two black women get to tell this story,” Randolph said. “There are many different variants within the black culture. I feel like what’s so beautiful is that we got to represent the other side of that girl that you haven’t seen.”
Streaming service: Netflix
When you can watch it: Feb. 21, 2020
America Ferrera and Wilmer Valderrama are executive producing the new Netflix series Gentefied about three Mexican American cousins living in Los Angeles who are trying to balance chasing their own dreams while staying true to the traditions of their neighborhood, including their immigrant grandfather and the local taco shop their families own.
Creators Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez are adapting Gentefied from its original iteration as a short film, which premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017.
Ferrera and Valderrama will guest-star in the dramatic comedy series, and Ferrera directed two of the half-hour episodes.
“As a producer, it’s a thrilling opportunity to support incredible talents like Linda Yvette Chávez and Marvin Lemus. As a Latinx millennial it’s a rare treat to see our lives, families, and neighborhoods depicted with such humor, heart and style,” Ferrera told BuzzFeed News in a statement.
Described as “a love letter to the Latinx and Boyle Heights communities,” Gentefied stars Joaquín Cosío, Karrie Martin, JJ Soria, and Carlos Santos. The bilingual series also explores intergenerational and cross-cultural family dynamics, like the younger characters needing to translate memes for their parents, and other themes like class and identity.
“In Gentefied, we get to peek through the lens of bold Latinx storytellers as they celebrate the lives of a Latinx community navigating self-identity, class, and culture,” Ferrera said. “We’re so proud of the show, and hope you enjoy!”
Streaming service: Amazon
When you can watch it: Feb. 21, 2020
Oscar-winning actor Al Pacnio, who was most recently nominated for his ninth Academy Award for his role in Netflix’s The Irishman, stars in yet another streaming project with Amazon’s Hunters.
The new show, created by David Weil and produced by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, is about a group of justice-seeking Nazi hunters in 1977 New York City who have learned that hundreds of high-ranking Nazi officials live among everyday citizens and are planning another uprising. The Hunters, played by Pacino and Logan Lerman, set out to stop the Nazis by any means necessary.
During a TCA panel in Pasadena, California, Weil told reporters he had been inspired to create Hunters because of his family’s history as Holocaust suvivors, calling the TV show “a love letter to my grandmother.”
“My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and she told me about her experiences during the war,” Weil said. “Hearing this felt like the stuff of comics books and superheroes.”
Weil also said the show speaks to “the [current] rise of anti-Semitism and xenophobia.”
“The purpose of the show is an allegorical tale to draw the parallels between the ’30s and ’40s in Europe, the ’70s in New York, and what we’re seeing today,” Weil said. “This show is really a question: What do you do? For this group of vigilantes, the question it poses: ‘If you hunt monsters, do you become monsters yourself?’”
Pacino said what appealed to him when he first read the script of the series, which he referred to as a “10-hour film,” is the fact that “things are not what they seem.”
“There’s an originality in this show. It’s somewhat eccentric,” Pacino said. “You’ll see it from certain angles where it’s not a dry thing. They’ll catch you off guard, and you really can’t believe it … you never know when a joke is going to come.”
I Am Not Okay With This
Streaming service: Netflix
When you can watch it: Feb. 26, 2020
The producers of the popular original series Stranger Things and the director and executive producer of the hit series The End of the F***ing World are bringing a brand-new coming-of-age series to Netflix: I Am Not Okay With This.
Originally based on the Charles Forsman graphic novel of the same name, Sophia Lillis stars as high schooler Sydney, who’s grappling with complicated family dynamics and her sexuality, all while discovering she has mysterious superpowers. Lillis is known for her past roles in Sharp Objects, the It franchise, and Gretel & Hansel.
I Am Not Okay With This executive producer Jonathan Entwistle told BuzzFeed News in a statement that he’s particularly excited about this new Netflix series compared to other shows he’s worked on because of its supernatural element.
“Yes, there is adventure, heartbreak, high school and everything in between along the way, but what this story has that is different to my other shows is that magic,” Entwistle said. “Oh, and some EPIC dance moves!”
The YA series will consist of seven 30-minute episodes and also stars Wyatt Oleff from the It and Guardians of the Galaxy franchises as Stanley, Sofia Bryant from The Good Wife as Dina, Kathleen Rose Perkins from Episodes and You’re The Worst as Maggie, Aidan Wojtak-Hissong from The Mission and Falling Water as Liam, and Richard Ellis as Brad Lewis.
“I want viewers to come away from I Am Not Okay With This absolutely in love with the characters,” Entwistle said. “And maybe the thought that things that feel impossible to overcome when you are 17 do get easier.”
Streaming service: Hulu
When you can watch it: March 6, 2020
Hillary Clinton is the subject of a four-part documentary series coming to Hulu this March, following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25. The Hillary docuseries follows Clinton along the 2016 presidential campaign, when she lost the Electoral College to Donald Trump but still won the popular vote.
At a TCA panel, Clinton told reporters she sat down for about 35 hours of interviews to make the docuseries and that “nothing was off limits.”
“It’s really hard watching yourself for four hours. Thank god it was only four hours,” Clinton said.
The project was directed and executive produced by Nanette Burstein, who said the documentary’s original focus was Clinton’s campaign, but because of the outcome of the election, it became about the history of women’s rights and how Clinton “has been the tip of the spear in various ways.”
“More than anything, I wanted people to understand that this is a historical figure who is incredibly polarizing and why,” Burstein said. “When you actually get to know her and really understand the intimate moments of her life … you realize how misguided we can be in the way that we understand history and media. That is the beauty of documentary filmmaking: that you get to know the personal and the intimate and the details, and that sort of washes all of this other stuff away.”
The docuseries includes unprecedented access to Clinton and footage from the 2016 campaign that’s never been seen before, as well as interviews with her husband, her daughter, her friends, and journalists.
Clinton also noted that the series starts streaming three days after Super Tuesday in the middle of the primary elections.
“This is an election that will have such a profound impact,” she said. “I want people to take their vote really seriously. Lord knows what we’ll do if we don’t retire the current president and his henchmen.”
Little Fires Everywhere
Streaming service: Hulu
When you can watch it: March 17, 2020
Based on the 2017 novel by Celeste Ng, an eight-episode adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere is coming to Hulu from Hollywood royalty: Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. The actors are costarring as two mothers in Shaker Heights, Ohio, whose lives and families become intertwined through secrets, and also serving as executive producers.
At a TCA panel discussion, Witherspoon said she’s especially happy to be able to adapt this story because she doesn’t think it would’ve been possible eight years ago.
“I wasn’t happy with the choices that were being made for me, and I didn’t see a place to exist within the industry that we had. There just wasn’t a spectrum of storytelling for women that was reflective of the world that we walked through,” Witherspoon said.
Washington said her character in the series adds an important element of race to the story in a way that the book doesn’t address.
“The book really does delve into class and sociopolitical differences and cultural differences, so I think adding the level of race to that really enriches the storytelling,” Washington said. “We are stepping away from this binary idea we have of race in this country, of black and white, because we’re also dealing with Asian American identity and immigrant identity.”
In the first trailer for Little Fires Everywhere, an urgent Mia Warren (Washington) tells Elena Richardson (Witherspoon), “You didn’t make good choices. You had good choices.”
Showrunner Liz Tigelaar said the line was written by Attica Locke and explained this was why it was important to have a well-rounded, diverse writers room for the series.
“Everybody had these multiple connectivity points for the show. I can’t necessarily write Mia’s character because that wasn’t my experience,” Tigelaar said. “And the parts I couldn’t write to, what was so great was I got to bring in seven other people who could write to those parts and then write to parts I didn’t even know.”
Making the Cut
Streaming service: Amazon
When you can watch it: March 27, 2020
After hosting Project Runway together for 16 years and then announcing they’d be leaving the show in 2018, television hosts and fashion icons Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are following the show’s 18-season legacy with a brand-new fashion competition show, Making the Cut. The unscripted Amazon series will air two episodes weekly for five weeks starting on March 27.
Klum and Gunn explained why they left Project Runway and took their talents to Amazon during a TCA panel, saying they wanted to grow and evolve beyond the limits that were set for them by Bravo and Lifetime.
"Our imagination was bigger than what we were allowed to do," Klum said. "Everything kind of fell apart."
Amazon’s sizable budget provides for even more creative freedom, and viewers will be able to shop for the fashion pieces that are featured on each episode.
"We couldn’t break out of it because there was a fear,” Gunn said. “Not among us — we’re the ones who were thinking creatively and innovatively about what we wanted to do."
When it comes to body positivity and including a range of sizes on the new iteration of their show, Klum said, “For us, it’s not really a thing anymore.”
Gunn echoed Klum’s sentiments, saying plus-size models are an important part of inclusivity on the new show, following the legacy of Project Runway which also included a variety of sizes.
"It’s the real world. It’s fully integrated into Making the Cut, as it’s fully integrated into a good deal of the fashion industry because it’s the way things should be,” he said.
While Making the Cut has big shoes to fill, Klum and Gunn’s expertise and longevity on Project Runway — not to mention their built-in viewership and fanbase — shows promise.
"Project Runway is the undergraduate program and Making the Cut is the graduate and PhD program," Gunn said.