It’s Upfronts time! The time of year when the networks announce their TV line-ups for the fall, including numerous new acts. It’s the beginning of that thrilling yet arduous journey of deciding which new shows have the best chance of not breaking your TV heart by being cancelled right after you’ve taken the risk of falling in love with new characters! Oh, TV, you slippery minx.
Here are just a few I’m hopeful about:
The Mindy Project, FOX
Mindy Kaling is the writer and star of this new comedy that features a successful OBGYN trying to make her way through her 30s, and by "make her way" I mean perhaps "stumbling drunkenly." To be honest, I’m a little wary of the "falling-apart single-lady trying to get her personal life together" trope just because I feel like we’ve seen it so often in all forms of media in the recent past.
However, that said — Mindy Kaling is a rockstar. In everything I’ve read from her, she has a knack for being super funny while avoiding the overly-hip cynicism, just wittily honest and open and vulnerable. She’s remarkably relatable in a very human way. For an example of some of her writing, you can read a completely enjoyable diary she kept for Vulture about the experience of waiting to hear the news about the greenlighting of The Mindy Project. So I’m keeping faith in her, and really hoping this will be a success.
Okay, I have to admit that I know next to nothing about country music, but I don’t care, because TAMI TAYLOR IS IN THIS! Connie Britton, super-duper hot mama from Friday Night Lights, will star in this new drama as a successful singer struggling to stay in the spotlight against the rising fame of pretty little young thing Hayden Panettiere. It could just be me, y’all, but this show could be about pretty much anything and I’d still want to watch it for that knockout combo of lovely ladies. One of the executive producers, Callie Khouri, was the writer of Thelma & Louise, which is also something hopeful to go on.
The most important thing to know about this new comedy is that it’s from David Kohan and Max Mutchnik, the guys who brought us Will & Grace, and is in fact loosely based on their own working relationship and friendship. I want to refrain from using the word bromance because something about that word skeezes me out a lot, but — oh, whatever, this is a show about a bromance.
One of the two main characters, played by David Krumholtz, is straight, and the other, played by Michael Urie, otherwise known as the fantastic Marc St. James from Ugly Betty, is obviously gay. If you’re looking for a lady somewhere, Krumholtz’s girlfriend is played by Sophia Bush, and UGH, her voice! Why can’t I sound like that? As you can expect, the show deals with their friendship surviving alongside their romantic endeavors—or rather, their romantic endeavors surviving their friendship. Overall, it looks tentatively promising—this trailer didn’t make me laugh out loud too much, but, still — Will & Grace! It’s hard to say no to the Will & Grace guys.
The Goodwin Games, FOX
To continue some themes from Partners, this show comes from another more recently successful duo, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas of How I Met Your Mother, and features another former Ugly Betty star, the absolutely fabulous Becki Newton. (“I was winning, you fascist!”) Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good gimmick, but like How I Met Your Mother, this sitcom is also based around a premise — this time, it’s three siblings (plus one random dude?) fighting for their dead father’s inheritance. And how do they win it? By playing a game of Trivial Pursuit, of course. Oh, and all the questions are about themselves. Listen, just watch the trailer!
I have to say, this preview actually made me the most excited of all the ones I watched. It’s unique, it’s well-written, and it has heart. And any kind of storyline about falling back in love with your family always catches me right in the gut. Count me ALL the way in on this one. Plus, the whole concept of playing a game to win an inheritance reminds me of The Westing Game, and let’s all just take a minute to remember how badass that book is. (It is way badass. Ellen Raskin, people, look it up.)
So this is Sherlock Holmes, in modern day New York, and guess who plays Watson? LUCY LIU. UH, YEAH. While I obviously love this gender switch-up, I do have a few reservations: First of all, while this Holmes, played by Johnny Lee Miller, does seem adequately adorable and psychotic, it’s hard to live in such a recent shadow of the incomparable Robert Downey, Jr. In addition, it seems risky (yet perhaps typical?) to try an Americanized version of what was just done so successfully in Britain, with the BBC’s recent Sherlock, another modern day update. And while Lucy Liu’s role as Joan Watson is a wonderful quirk, I did inwardly cringe in this trailer when she describes her character as being the more "emotional" one, and I overall wish she didn’t seem as reserved or cautious as she does in these short clips. Basically, I hope that as we see more of the show being revealed, we can also see Joan Watson kicking a little more ass.
666 Park Avenue, ABC
Aaaand to finish out the reassignment of almost the entire Ugly Betty cast (where are you, America?), this new supernatural drama co-stars Vanessa Williams alongside JOHN LOCKE! I mean, Terry O’Quinn. If this pair isn’t enough to hook you, this show is also produced by the same group that brought us Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries. Basically, it seems to promise just as much complete ridiculousness as all of those previous gems. The set-up is The Drake, a posh apartment building in New York City that seems like the perfect find! Until, of course, the tenants realize it’s full of all sorts of creepy evil things. I have a hunch this will be one of those so-bad-it’s-good shows, meaning, of course, that we will all watch it religiously.
And as Heather Hogan posted about the other day, there is also Ryan Murphy’s new super-gay show The New Normal. If you missed her post, read it and watch the trailer here and join in the conversation in the comments. It’s clear that many of you obviously have many Feelings about Ryan Murphy, although I was personally with Heather — this trailer punched all of my right buttons, and I’m totally sold, too. Although maybe I’ll keep my receipt, just in case.
The other big buzz from the Upfront presentations was the reveal that Britney Spears and Demi Lovato will join Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid as judges on The X Factor. I admit that I’ve never watched The X Factor, but I view anything Britney does with an eternally anxious, partly concerned sideways glance, just hoping that she doesn’t embarrass herself too much. I mean really, I just wish she would sit quietly by the ocean and read a lot of books and drink tea or something at this point. But that said, I hope it works out for her.
So what do you all think? What’s going to bomb? What shows will we be creating amazing hashtags for in six months? (Can I make #IWasWinningYouFascist a thing right now?) What other shows did I miss?