Unlike many New Year’s resolutions to spend more time unplugging and disconnecting — my own involves spending more time focusing on the screen, not less. 2019 was largely a mixed bag for television. Some shows like “Fleabag” and “Succession” broke out from first-season success stories to become second-season award darlings, while others like “Game of Thrones” failed to provide a satisfying conclusion that fully resonated with fans. Regardless of whether or not you believe (spoiler alert — Bran) should sit upon the Iron Throne, 2020 provides a fresh slate of new originals, adaptations and many others from across streaming everywhere. Don’t worry, favorites like “BoJack,” “Ozark,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Westworld” will be returning too, but for now, these are just a few of the newbies you should check out in the coming months.
The Outsider — premiered on HBO (January 12)
Following a forgettable 2019 for Stephen King adaptations, this HBO miniseries starring Ben Mendhelson and Jason Bateman hopes to reverse the trend and remind viewers of the shocking power his stories can still provide if properly translated for the medium. Mendhelson, known for villainous roles in both “Rogue One” and “Ready Player One” in recent years, plays against-type as small-town Georgia detective Ralph Anderson — a man struggling to piece together the supernatural forces behind the murder of a young boy seemingly at the hands of beloved community member Terry Maitland, portrayed by Bateman. With the first two episodes helmed by the Emmy-winning “Ozark” director and teleplay adapted by “Wire” alum Richard Price, the adaptation provides a heap of prestige and should do justice towards some of King’s best work in recent years. Fans of “True Detective” will definitely feel at home in the unsettling Southern atmosphere, and they can even find the first few episodes available on streaming right now.
Avenue 5 — premiered on HBO (January 19)
Despite breaking away from “Veep” two seasons before the show concluded in 2019, show creator Armando Iannucci makes his triumphant return to the HBO comedy scene with space-styled series “Avenue 5.” The show features Hugh Laurie (“House MD”) and Zach Woods (“Silicon Valley,” “The Office”) as crew members of a luxury space cruise that encounters issues upon a routine trip to Saturn, as well as includes Josh Gad (Olaf from “Frozen”) as the ship’s bothersome billionaire owner Herman Judd. If Iannucci’s snarky satire from characters like Selina Meyer serve as indication, plenty of hilarious happenings will ensue.
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens — premieres on Comedy Central (January 22)
A recent Golden Globe winner and Oscar snub for her dramatic role in Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” Awkwafina returns to her comedy roots and imagines a world in which she remained Nora Lum rather than pursuing Hollywood stardom. Based upon a mixture of personal experiences and creative design, this half-hour sitcom from Comedy Central portrays Awkwafina’s misadventures among her family and friends living in Queens, and even features supporting work from those like Bowen Yang, a breakout performer of recent “Saturday Night Live” fame. Like many other things Awkwafina typically does, expect a lot of the unexpected.
High Fidelity — premieres on Hulu (February 14)
While some recent film-to-TV adaptations from Hulu failed to translate the charm of the original (looking at you, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”), a ten-episode miniseries based upon the original 1995 Nick Hornby novel looks to take a stronger approach towards a tired gender-swapping trope. This time Zoë Kravitz, mainly known for her role as Bonnie on “Big Little Lies,” steps into the shoes of pop-culture obsessed, now-Brooklyn-record-store-owner Rob Brooks. Kravitz looks to bring some of the punky energy provided in her own personal persona into the role that John Cusak made famous through the 2000 film. Fanatically making “top five” lists and reflecting upon her failed romantic endeavors in the trailer, Kravitz seems to bring exactly the right mood for the source material and could quickly become a household name with success in her first starring role in a television series. If you need something to resonate with while sitting alone in your apartment on Valentine’s Day Eve, look no further than right here.
Hunters — premieres on Amazon Prime (February 21)
A new decade always brings new surprises, but Oscar winner Al Pacino starring in a new Amazon Prime series may be one that none of us expected. Taking on the role of an elder rabbi who leads a secret group of Jewish Nazi hunters in 1970’s America, this ten-episode drama produced by Jordan Peele — a figure anyone who has watched television (“Key and Peele”) or seen horror films (“Get Out, “Us”) over the past decade should be wholly familiar with — looks to make the legendary actor’s first starring role on television a worthy one. Other familiars like “Percy Jackson” star Logan Lerman and “How I Met Your Mother” funny man Josh Radnor round out the supporting cast, each portraying a member of Pacino’s eclectic team. Genre fans who like action, suspense — and especially hate Nazis — should definitely check this one out.
Dispatches from Elsewhere — premieres on AMC Network (March 1)
After a few years away from television, “How I Met Your Mother” alum Jason Segel turns towards the dramatic in this mysterious new anthology series, coming to AMC in early March. In “Dispatches,” Segel co-stars as a lonely Philadelphia man named Peter, who discovers a mysterious puzzle beyond his everyday life that involves an alternate reality governed by a menacing organization called the Jejune Institute. Even though plot details remain rather slim, the high-minded concept and genre-swap from traditional Segel work should invoke a sense of curiosity from anyone who’s enjoyed the mystery-box style of shows like “Lost” in the past, as well the process of following a new story each season. Oscar-winner Sally Field and André Benjamin, better known as André 3000, also serve as members of the show’s star-studded cast.
Dave — premieres on FX on Hulu (March 4)
If the wacky vibes felt through his “Pillow Talking” music video didn’t provide a close enough look into the mind of rapper-comedian Lil Dicky for you, then perhaps a Kevin Hart-produced comedy series coming to FX on Hulu may do the trick. Co-created by Dave Burd (Dicky) alongside “The League” showrunner Jeff Schaffer, “Dave” is a half-hour sitcom based on Burd’s real-life experiences trying to make a name for himself in the music industry — much to the chagrin of his kindergarten teacher girlfriend, played by Taylor Misiak. Burd has proven to fans that he’s got much more to offer than just his funny persona through previous releases like “Earth,” and FX’s track record of allowing creative, musically-minded individuals to develop original stories based upon their own lives (like comedy-drama “Atlanta”) should speak for itself.
Devs — premieres on FX (March 5)
In another forthcoming series from FX on Hulu, TV’s most famous government employee trades his libertarian views and mustache for a blonde wig and existentialism, all through the mind of science fiction master Alex Garland. Nick Offerman, best known for his role as Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation,” plays the reclusive founder of a Silicon Valley software company that becomes the target of an investigation by a young computer engineer played by Sonoya Mizuno, searching for answers upon the disappearance of her boyfriend. With the mind-bending themes and visually dazzling style of previous films like “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation” under his belt, Garland may be another in a long line of filmmakers who can successfully translate their creative talents toward small screen storytelling. Think Netflix’s 2018 “Maniac” on steroids — if you don’t believe me, look up the trailer and decide for yourself.
Little Fires Everywhere — premieres on Hulu (March 18)
Following “Big Little Lies,” Reese Witherspoon seems poised to take on the role of yet another disgruntled suburban mother in “Little Fires Everywhere” — an eight-episode limited series adapted from the 2017 novel written by Celeste Nge. Trading her modern Monterrey beach home for the 1990’s suburbs of Cleveland’s Shaker Heights, Witherspoon’s Elena Richardson clashes with a new, unorthodox mother in Mia Warren, played by former “Scandal” star Kerri Washington, as both women grapple with the consequences of privilege and opportunity through their own intersecting lives and the lives of their children. If you’ve been craving eight more hours of “May I speak to your manager?” behavior from Witherspoon since the second season of “Lies” wrapped back in July — consider this appointment viewing come mid-March.
Fargo (season four) — premieres on FX (April 19)
Okay, it’s not quite a new series, but the fourth installment of Noah Hawley’s Coen Brothers-inspired crime anthology should be exactly what fans of the black comedy genre are looking for when the FX series returns towards the end of April. Featuring world-famous comedian Chris Rock in a rare dramatic role, the upcoming season follows African American crime leader Loy Cannon (Rock) as he clashes with forces in 1950’s Kansas City — including members of the Italian Mob, whom he’s allowed to raise his own son as one of their own. Like previous seasons, the show boasts another wonderful cast of supporting characters — including Timothy Olyphant, Jessie Buckley and Jason Schwartzman — and the trailer features a great mixture of the dark, yet comedic undertones that made prior installments critical hits.