The 14 New TV Shows We’re Most Excited to See in 2018

Including the latest series from Matthew Weiner, JJ Abrams and Ryan Murphy

(Clockwise from top left) The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Waco, Castle Rock, Black Lightning, LA to Vegas and Grown-ish are among 2018's most promising new shows. Sources: FX, Freeform, Paramount Network, Fox, Hulu, The CW
Headshot of Jason Lynch

If you didn’t spend the holidays catching up on all the TV you missed last year, or at least the 10 best shows of 2017, you’re out of luck, because the wave of new 2018 shows is already upon us.

With Netflix prepared to spend as much as $8 billion on original content this year, TV output is expected to surpass the 500 or so scripted series (and more than 750 unscripted series) released in 2017. And while Peak TV leaves seemingly no time to fit any new shows into your schedule, these 14 upcoming series are worth keeping an eye on this year. (Last year’s rundown of most anticipated shows included many of last year’s best new shows, including The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies.)

Note that this list includes new series only, not returning shows (I’m particularly thrilled for the return of Atlanta or the final seasons of Veep and The Americans) nor revivals that are expected to make big waves, such as Roseanne and American Idol, which will soon be coming to ABC.

Here are the 14 new series you should watch this year, in order of their premieres:

LA to Vegas (Fox, Jan. 2)

Fox’s new comedy about the crew for a low-budget airline and its passengers who take a roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas each weekend is as entertaining as its marketing campaign, which included spoofs of in-flight safety videos. Dylan McDermott isn’t known for comedy, but his hysterical turn as Captain Dave is the actor’s best work since The Practice.

Grown-ish (Jan. 3, Freeform)

TV schedules used to be crammed with successful comedy spinoffs in the ’70s and ’80s, but there have been few fewer attempts since Joey bombed a decade ago. However, this new Black-ish offshoot, which follows oldest daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) as she begins her freshman year of college and bonds with an unlikely group of students, could be a standout. The show will also feature cameos from Black-ish cast members like Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross.

The Chi (Showtime, Jan. 7)

Lena Waithe, who won an Emmy for writing one of last year’s best episodes (Master of None’s “Thanksgiving”), has created this compelling drama about a group of people living in Chicago’s South Side. While the show, which is Showtime’s strongest freshman series since Billions, doesn’t officially debut until Sunday, it’s already available to watch via Showtime’s on-demand and streaming sites.

Black Lightning (The CW, Jan. 16)

Cress Williams stars as Jefferson Pierce, a former superhero—he has the power to harness and control electricity—who retired to focus on his family and work as a high school principal. Now, he’s pulled back into his former profession as a local gang threatens his community, and his family. While this is The CW’s fifth superhero series (though the network won’t air more than four at once) it’s a refreshing chance of pace from the others. For starters, it’s not set in the same universe as those are, and Black Lightning’s stakes are far more personal.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX, Jan. 17)

Ryan Murphy’s follow-up to The People v. O.J. Simpson delves into another famous ’90s crime: the shocking 1997 murder of fashion icon Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) on the steps of his Miami mansion by Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss); Penélope Cruz costars as Versace’s sister Donatella. The series examines how law enforcement’s indifference to Cunanan’s nationwide killing spree—all of his victims were gay—allowed the body count to rise. Like People v. O.J., expect this one to be another critical and commercial success for Murphy and FX.

Waco (Paramount Network, Jan. 24)

Later this month, Viacom is rebranding Spike as the Paramount Network, as the company looks to create its own version of a mass-appeal basic cable networks like USA and TNT. Its first big swing is Waco, a six-episode limited series that looks at the events leading to the 1993 government siege on David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch) and his Branch-Davidian compound outside of Waco, Tex., in which more than 75 people were killed. Much like Manhunt: Unabomber, which aired on Discovery last year, this is a captivating look at both sides of a standoff between the FBI and a man who rejected society’s norms; Waco is a strong first step for the fledgling network.

Altered Carbon (Netflix, Feb. 2)

As usual, Netflix has several new shows in the pipeline for 2018, but none are more intriguing than Altered Carbon, based on Richard K. Morgan’s cyberpunk noir novel about a man who has managed to live for more than 300 years—transferring his consciousness into a new body—before hiring a warrior, whose mind has been imprisoned for centuries, to find his killer.

Rise (NBC, March 13)

Jason Katims, the man behind Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, returns to NBC with a new heart-tugging drama about a high school teacher (How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor) who takes over his school’s theater department, and attempts to bring his struggling Pennsylvania steel town together. Buyers have been eagerly anticipating this one since May’s upfront, and NBC has equally high hopes: it will be slotting the series in Tuesdays at 9 p.m., taking over for This Is Us after its biggest hit signs off for the season.

The Terror (AMC, March 26)

AMC, eager to provide scares beyond The Walking Dead, is launching this new thriller executive produced by Ridley Scott about the Royal Navy’s attempt to discover the Northwest Passage. The Terror, which will blend real-life historical events with a supernatural element, is AMC’s first anthology series and stars Mad Men’s Jared Harris and Game of Thrones’ Ciaran Hinds.

Trust (FX, March)

If All the Money in the World whetted your appetite about the Getty family, this new FX series from director Danny Boyle will be more like a 12-course meal. While the story will span multiple seasons and the 20th century, the first season begins in 1973, as John Paul Getty III, an heir to the Getty oil fortune, is kidnapped in Rome, but his oil tycoon grandfather J. Paul Getty Sr. (Donald Sutherland) refuses to pay his ransom.

Barry (HBO, Spring)

In his first major project since leaving Saturday Night Live, Bill Hader co-created and stars in this comedy about a disillusioned hitman who decides to change careers and become an actor after following his latest mark to an acting class. With Girls having wrapped last year and Veep set for its final season this spring, HBO is eager to create its next generation of comedies, and Barry could be just that for the network.

Castle Rock (Hulu, TBD)

Stephen King has enjoyed a pop culture renaissance, between It, Audience Network’s Mr. Mercedes and the King-influenced Stranger Things. Now he’ll get his most expansive spotlight yet in this Hulu series set in the fictional Maine town that was featured in so many of his books. Castle Rock will pull from characters and locations (like Shawshank prison) that appeared in several of King’s best-known works. The series is executive produced by JJ Abrams, who knows a thing or two about pulling off pop culture homages.

Jack Ryan (Amazon, TBD)

As Amazon attempts to pivot toward shows with broader appeal, its strongest play on that front this year will be the latest reinvention of Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst. While the post-Harrison Ford iterations of the character have faltered, this TV version executive produced by Lost and Bates Motel’s Carlton Cuse and starring John Krasinski could be just what the character needs and will allow for a more natural transition from mild-mannered analyst to CIA badass.

The Romanoffs (Amazon, TBD)

Matthew Weiner
Getty Images

Matthew Weiner’s first series since Mad Men also made last year’s list of most anticipated TV shows, but it will finally make its way to Amazon this year. Weiner is directing all episodes of the anthology series, which is set in the present day and will feature separate stories about people around the world who believe they are descendants of the Russian royal family. The cast included Diane Lane, Aaron Eckhart and Andrew Rannells, as well as a pair of Mad Men alums, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.