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2017 Pop Culture Preview

The 31 Most Anticipated TV Premieres of 2017

From 'Stranger Things' to 'Better Things,' from 'Bill Nye and 'DuckTales' and 'Star Trek' and 'Twin Peaks' revivals to new series like 'The Defenders' and 'The Handmaid's Tale,' here are all the shows you'll need

1 / 31

'A Series of Unfortunate Events' (Jan. 13)

List is chronological.

First, some facts: No project has ever deserved a reboot more than A Series of Unfortunate Events. The novels are filled with twists, turns, nuance—a word which here means "much too subtle for the big screen"—clues and an ongoing storyline that lasts a full 13 books. It was never meant to be a movie, and it's best we all forget the monstrosity that was Jim Carrey's 2004 adaptation. 

Netflix's upcoming series consists of eight episodes to start, covering only the first four books. The marketing for Unfortunate Events has been phenomenal, and early reviews are raving. The scripts are written by author Daniel Handler* (Lemony Snicket himself) and, from what we've seen so far, carry much of the delightfully dreary and cleverly convoluted feeling of the original source material. 

Casting has already been announced for future books, so we know we're getting more than one season. In a time when we need hope more than ever, our TV screens are ripe for a series that finds a way to make dread uplifting and darkness endearing. That's A Series of Unfortunate Events. –Sarah Maloy

*If you're here to tell me that Daniel Handler wrote the movie too, congratulations. You're as wrong as Mr. Poe was when he thought the Baudelaires would be safe at Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Handler wrote several drafts of the movie, yes, but he was eventually replaced for the final screenplay.

2 / 31

‘Riverdale’ (Jan. 26)

Your favorite childhood comic book just got a dark spin. CW’s Riverdale (based on the classic Archie series) plans to strip away the laughs and instead give the show a deathly plot. Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper try to solve a murder-mystery all while being caught in a messy love triangle. This definitely won’t be your typical high school drama. –Bianca Gracie

3 / 31

‘Scandal’ (Jan. 26)

Season 6 of Shonda Rhimes’ popular Scandal series promises even more political drama, where we will finally find out who won the presidential election: Republican Mellie Grant or Democrat Francisco Vargas. The premiere was pushed back a week due to a post-inauguration special, but the show’s fictional presidency will probably give you more comfort than the real one we have to suffer through. –Bianca Gracie

4 / 31

‘Detroiters’ (Feb. 7)

Detroit has been the backdrop of quite a few productions in the past couple of years; the ill-fated Detroit 1-8-7, the documentary Detropia (two thumbs DOWN). Lately the image portrayed of Detroit has been a dying giant, but this Jason Sudekis–produced Comedy Central show looks to be a breath of fresh air, giving the city a lighter, more realistic portrayal. Starring Detroit native Sam Richardson and Metro Detroit native Tim Robinson, Detroiters looks to make the town not only a backdrop, but a character itself, full of life, vibrancy and, hopefully, fun. –Malikah Shabazz

5 / 31

‘Girls’ (Feb. 12)

Although the past five seasons of Lena Dunham’s Girls have had their maddening moments, it’s been a pleasure following the four main characters’ slightly sociopathic paths to finding their places in New York City. Like, the same kind of satisfying-but-bad-for-you pleasure you get from staying up until 3 a.m. going through your ex’s tagged photos on Instagram. The common conversation when discussing this show usually goes as follows: “Are you gonna watch the last season of Girls?” “I don’t want to, but I feel like I have to.” “Yeah, I hate all the characters. But I want to see what happens to them.” 

This probably goes to show Dunham’s subtle brilliance in crafting a cast of players that we deliciously love to hate and identify with deep down, as much as we don’t want to. Leading woman Hannah Horvath, after starting and stopping a writing career, seems to be heading back in the direction where the show first marked her destiny: Trying, maniacally, to be the voice of a generation, even if it means the white, privileged, problematic generation of 20-somethings infesting Brooklyn today. Or something. –Brooke Bunce

6 / 31

‘Bates Motel’ (Feb. 20)

There are few TV shows that get better with age, but Season 4 of Bates Motel saw its best acting, writing and directing yet. We all know how it’s going to end—the show’s premise is to dig into the life of Norman Bates before we find him in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic, Psycho—but seeing how the series has masterfully fused its original storyline with its predetermined fate has been a huge payoff. Freddie Highmore, who plays Norman, has only sunk deeper into his character, portraying him with both deft grace and sinister evil, so much so that we feel sympathy for the boy we know is going to evolve into a murderer (well—spoiler alert—who already IS a murderer, according to Bates). Highmore’s also been lending a hand with writing and directing episodes of the series, and who better to show us the inside of Bates Motel than the actor that’s been living there for the past four years?

The trailer is just a taste of the creepiness that’s to come, with the calm, serene Norman busying himself with household chores while his mother’s corpse chills out (literally) in the basement freezer. It’s nice to know Vera Farmiga, who plays Norma Bates, isn’t going anywhere (again, literally). Plus, Rihanna’s playing Marion Crane, the woman from the original Psycho’s shower scene of your nightmares. Highmore has been coy about whether the iconic scene will be included, but we’d sit through an entire season without it just to see how Bates Motel concludes. –Brooke Bunce

7 / 31

'RuPaul's Drag Race' (Winter/Spring TBA)

RuPaul's Drag Race is one of those shows that only hit its stride later down the line, and this year’s looks to be its biggest yet. After a major 2016 that included a popular Season 8 and even more popular Season 2 of the All-Stars spinoff, the franchise is expected to return soon. We're looking forward to excellent guest stars, creative challenges and, of course, the most fabulous queens yet. –Jeff Benjamin

8 / 31

'The Handmaid’s Tale' (April 26)

Arguably Hulu's most exciting original series yet, the adaptation of Margaret Atwood's 1954 novel of a criminally patriarchal dystopia will star Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) and Samira Wiley (Orange Is the New Black). And in Trumpworld, it's chillingly prescient. –Zach Dionne

9 / 31

'The Leftovers' (April TBA)

HBO/The Leftovers on Facebook

The announcement came just after HBO's Season 2 finale that Damon Lindelof (Lost) & Co. would wrap up the confounding, probing, stunning series with one more arc. Part was filmed in Austin, Texas, but much was made in Melbourne, Australia. These final eight episodes will reach across the entire globe, still communally reeling from the now-and-forever-unexplainined instantaneous "departure" of 2 percent of the world's population. –Zach Dionne

10 / 31

'Orphan Black' (April TBA)

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06:  Actress and star of 'Orphan Black' Tatiana Maslany discusses the Canadian science fiction thriller t
Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Now that Tatiana Maslany has finally won her Emmy (yassss queen), it's time to bring Orphan Black home with an epic fifth and final season. Last we left the sestras, life on the beach was going to shit and we had just learned that both Delphine and the over-a-century-old founder of Neolution were still alive. Spoilers have started to leak for the new season, so we know that Suits star Patrick Adams is probably returning as Helena's love interest, Krystal is expected to return, and Rachel is ready to be "stabbier" and more narcissistic than ever. The end draws near for Orphan Black fans, with the final season premiering in April on BBC America. –Sarah Maloy

11 / 31

'Sense8' (May 5)

Intense, refreshing and richly diverse, Netflix's wildly successful sci-fi drama left a heap of questions unanswered at the end of Season 1. How were the eight sensates chosen? Why are they being hunted down? What does the future hold for Riley and Will? Will other sensates meet one another? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Although Season 2 doesn't drop until May, there's at least the exciting combo of margaritas and ass-kicking this Cinco de Mayo. –Tina Xu

12 / 31

'Twin Peaks' (May 21)

It is happening again.

Twin Peaks is coming back, and it’s going to be glorious. Show creators David Lynch and Mark Frost have produced 18 new hours (starting with a two-hour premiere) and the president of Showtime described it as “the pure heroin version of David Lynch.”

Almost all of the original cast is returning, including Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn and even Ray Wise, whose character died in the original. (Of course Sheryl Lee’s Laura Palmer died in the first episode, was in the series throughout, and she’s back too.) The only story tidbit Lynch will reveal is that the last seven days of Laura Palmer’s life (seen in the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me) are key to the revival. It all sounds very promising, although the absence of Michael Ontkean’s Sheriff Harry Truman is a major disappointment. But we are ready for more of Agent Cooper, and a damned fine cup of coffee.

Counting the days... –Laurie Ulster

13 / 31

'Star Trek: Discovery' (May, TBA)

Star Trek fans have been waiting for this one…and waiting…and waiting. We got a little freaked out by the sudden departure of showrunner Bryan Fuller, who really seems to get what’s special about Trek, but the cast has given us hope. Michelle Yeoh, Anthony Rapp, Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones are among them, promising us some diversity (including our first gay main character).

Here’s what else we know: Discovery starts 10 years before Captain Kirk takes command of the Enterprise. The first episode will premiere on CBS, and the rest will be on their CBS All Access online service. Thirteen episodes total for the first season, with standalone stories but a narrative thread that continues in all of them. There will be Klingons, new alien species, and for the very first time, the main character will not be the ship’s captain.  

Make it so! –Laurie Ulster

14 / 31

'United Shades of America' (Spring TBA)

W. Kamau Bell, a true hero of activism-as-comedy, returns to CNN to explore places he (a TK black man) and others who look like him are likely to feel unwelcome, under-represented, and even unsafe. It'll be even more essential this year than it was when it debuted in 2016. –Zach Dionne

Listen to Bell talk United Shades of America on the Back of the Class podcast at the 37:40 mark below:

15 / 31

'Bill Nye Saves the World' (Spring TBA)

What’s better than 90’s nostalgia and saving the world? Nothing. That’s what you’ll get when Bill Nye and Netflix team up for their new series. Everyone’s favorite elementary school science teacher is back to fight the doubters with empirical facts about some hot button issues affecting the world today. In a world where our President-elect doubts global warming, it’s safe to say not all heroes wear capes. –Ari Shabi

16 / 31

'Fargo' (Spring TBA)

Getty Images

I'm not a scientist or genius, so I can't tell you how a show based on the tone and ideas of the movie Fargo became a hall-of-fame TV institution. It's the apotheosis of "movie stars come to TV" and has already gifted new career highlights to a string of *That* Guys and *That* Gals including—deep, frosty Minnesota winter breath—Billy Bob Thornton, Nick Offerman, Brad Garrett, Martin Freeman, Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Colin Hanks, Jean Smart, Jesse Plemons, Ted Danson, Keith Carradine and Oliver Platt.

This year we'll get to see what Noah Hawley has in store for Ewan McGregor, Jim Gaffigan, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Carrie Coon (The Leftovers). You don't really need to know anything about the anthology series' next premise to get appropriately thrilled, but it's set in 2010 and will in fact tie in with earlier tales. –Zach Dionne

17 / 31

‘Big Freedia Bounces Back’ (Summer TBA)

Aldo Chacon for Fuse Media Inc.

Big Freedia is back with a reignited passion and drive like never before! Newly sober after some legal battles, the Queen Diva is determined to bounce back on track and take her career to the next level. In Season 6, Freedia’s newfound clarity has the star hungry to land her first major-label deal and elevate the production value of her music, live shows and everything we've come to love about her. On top of an all-new title, fans will be happy to hear Big Freedia Bounces Back episodes will be an hour long. –Mark Sundstrom

18 / 31

'Fluffy's Food Adventures' (July 11)

Anthony Nunez/Fuse

He's baaack—and he's hungrier than ever.

Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias will serve up more surprises and even more food this summer, as Fuse brings back the stand-up comedy star's series for a third season under a new title, Fluffy's Food Adventures (formerly Fluffy Breaks Even). Tracking down all the best local eats in places like Harlem, Atlanta and New Orleans, Fluffy and his crew go coast-to-coast for yet another epic food tour. –Tina Xu

19 / 31

'Game of Thrones' (Summer TBA)


The pieces were perfectly set in Game of Thrones' Season 6 finale, and now its final two seasons—abbreviated ones, depressingly—will topple the pieces. Year seven will only run seven episodes, and it's starting a little later than usual, but glory is guaranteed. #teamdanyandtyrion –Zach Dionne

20 / 31

‘BoJack Horseman’ (Summer TBA)

There’s been an equine-shaped hole in my heart since Season 3 of BoJack Horseman ended. The show beautifully handles depression, anxiety, fame and love in ways that no other animated series and, frankly, few other live-action series can do. At the same time, the gags in BoJack are enough to remember that you’re supposed to laugh. Season 3 brought us the underwater episode, and even if you’ve never seen a single episode of BoJack, I urge you to log into Netflix and watch this one. 

Will Arnett voices BoJack with both pain and sensibility, and Aaron Paul brings us the devastatingly lovable sidekick Todd. Season 4 might be a real turning point for the series—we ended the last one with BoJack staring at a pack of wild horses, contemplating where his life might take him next. And every time he’s tried to make a change, it never sticks. Maybe we’ll see BoJack truly turn a corner soon. –Brooke Bunce

21 / 31

'DuckTales' (Summer TBA)

DisneyXD (@DisneyXD on Twitter)

Scrooge McDuck and the fam are back! The much-beloved cartoon is getting the reboot treatment this summer on Disney XD, introducing the series to the new generation, and coaxing older fans to tune in and see if the new version will live up to its predecessor. Launchpad McQuack has been confirmed to be back, so that’s a great start. –Juan Cadavid

22 / 31

'Broad City' (August TBA)

CANNES, FRANCE - APRIL 07: (L to R) Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson pose during the photocall of 'Broad City' at MIPTV 2014 at
Didier Baverel/WireImage

The universe is just, insofar as we're getting a fourth season of Broad City. Things might be a little different this time, as the show filmed in winter for the first time ever, and Season 3 set a new standard for narrative throughlines between episodes. Oh, and this is all happening after the presidential defeat of Hillary Clinton, one of Abbi and Ilana's several queens, who cameoed last year. (So did Whoopi Goldberg, Vanessa Williams, Melissa Leo, Tony Danza, Cynthia Nixon, Adam Levine and Tracee Ellis Ross. The City's a hot spot.) –Zach Dionne

23 / 31

'Insecure' (Fall TBA)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Writer/actress Issa Rae attends the 2015 BET Awards Debra Lee Pre-Dinner at Sunset Tower Hotel on
Mark Davis/BET/Getty Images for BET

Insecure’s season finale was truly one for the books, leaving us all simultaneously screaming “OH MY GOD” at our televisions. But Insecure's perfectly imperfect Season 1 ending is what makes this show genius. It’s an authentic slice of life that viewers from multiple backgrounds can relate to. The juicy goodness of the debut season has everyone anxiously waiting for the next. Are Issa and Molly truly friends again? Is Lawrence really gone? Who knows what Issa Rae’s imagination has in store for us, but I’m sure we’re all ready for it. –Malikah Shabazz

24 / 31

'Better Things' (TBA)

Pamela Adlon's semi-autobiographical single mom/working actress series is another new one from 2016, and another we can't imagine 2017 without. We'd love if Adlon's co-creator and longtime collaborator Louis C.K. comes back to write (they penned nine of the 10 episodes together), but we're far beyond having to describe Better Things as "Pamela from Louie's own show." –Zach Dionne

25 / 31

'The Defenders' (TBA)

Marvel is continuing its quest for total domination by releasing a healthy handful of shows this year. The Defenders brings Marvel’s current Netlix superhero roster together for an ultimate battle of epic proportions. Whether or not this means the end of the characters’ standalone series is unknown but highly improbable given the news that Luke Cage has been green-lit for Season 2 and Iron Fist also debuts in 2017. The reveal of Sigourney Weaver being cast as the Defenders supervillain proves that Marvel is not here to play with anyone. They will continue to dominate and we will continue to like it. –Malikah Shabazz

26 / 31

Dave Chappelle’s Netflix comedy specials (TBA)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 25:  Dave Chappelle performs to a sold out crowd onstage at the Hollywood Palladium on March
Lester Cohen/WireImage

All hail Dave Chappelle. After a decade-long absence, he made his triumphant return to television with his historic appearance as a Saturday Night Live guest host in November. The success of the episode (thanks also in part to performances by A Tribe Called Quest) was undeniable, and Netflix announced that Chappelle would be releasing three—count 'em, three—comedy specials on its platform. For a comedian who only began popping up on comedy club stages again a mere two years ago to receive a deal of this magnitude speaks toward the genius of Chappelle, and proves that talent still reigns supreme. –Malikah Shabazz

27 / 31

'Top of the Lake: China Girl' (TBA)

Programme Name: Top Of The Lake 2 - TX: n/a - Episode: First Look (No. First Look) - Picture Shows: ++HELD BACK FOR COMS++ Ju
Sally Bongers/SundanceTV/BBC Pictures

Don't call it a revival, but do call it an outlier: Four years after Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion teamed with Australian novelist Gerard Lee to create a new benchmark in auteur television, it's got a second season. Elisabeth Moss and her accent are back, this time joined by Nicole Kidman and Game of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie. –Zach Dionne

28 / 31

'Mega Man' (TBA)

Dentsu Entertainment USA/DHX Media

Did anyone else miss our favorite cannon-armed hero? Well, Mega Man is back just in time for the franchise’s 30th anniversary with a new series. The show won’t be like others in the past, since it will have the feeling of Clark Kent/Superman story, as Mega Man now has a new schoolboy alter ego in the form of Aki Light. With reimagined, humorous characters and great visuals this show is set up to light a spark in a classic franchise that has been in a lull recently. –Ari Shabi

29 / 31

‘High Maintenance’ (TBA)

If you’ve been with High Maintenance from the beginning, when it was just a baby Vimeo web series, you’ll be happy to know it’s coming back to HBO for a second season of its half-hour format. The longer episodes allowed us to explore more about its unnamed weed-dealing main character, The Guy, and saw us revisiting some of the best characters of webisodes past. Hopefully Season 2 will continue to sharpen its storytelling skills even further. The beauty of High Maintenance’s single-episode vignettes were how aptly they could present a complete story in such a short amount of time. We’re looking forward to seeing how show creators Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair will continue bringing new adventures, speckled with familiar characters, to life via The Guy and his always-moving bicycle. –Brooke Bunce

30 / 31

'Preacher' (TBA)

Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC/Preacher on Facebook

AMC finally did it, successfully adapting Preacher and getting it on our TVs in 2016. And while the roving 1990s graphic novel was penned into Jesse Custer's Texas town for the first 10 episodes, the next 13 (!) will take them to New Orleans. And NOLA's Times-Picayune reports that AMC's spending $66.7 million on Season 2, so... –Zach Dionne

31 / 31

'Stranger Things' (TBA)

There is still no official premiere date for Netflix’s Stranger Things, which leaves us with even more grueling anticipation about what’s to come in Season 2. Along with all the things we need to see, there are questions that remained unanswered. Will Barb make a return? Who will be the next kid to be sucked into the Upside Down (which is still open, by the way). And how will new characters Max, Roman and Billy fit in with the already tight-knit crew? Please Netflix, just drop the date! –Bianca Gracie

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Photo of the day

Apr 2: Basket-Bros

Currently on his 'The Man of the Woods' tourJustin Timberlake brought out a special guest for his Cleveland show. LeBron James surprised concertgoers by showing up alongside Timberlake and taking a shot on stage. On Friday, the singer was also seen cheering on LeBron during the Pelicans and Cavaliers game. James gave a shout out on Instagram, "My brother @justintimberlake showed up and showed out last night at the Q! One of the greatest to ever do it in my lifetime and still going strong."