Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Clockwise, from left: Gentefied (Photo: Netflix), Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet (Photo: Apple TV+), Duncanville (Image: Fox), Hunters (Photo: Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios)

Locke & Key, High Fidelity, and 18 other new shows to watch this February

Clockwise, from left: Gentefied (Photo: Netflix), Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet (Photo: Apple TV+), Duncanville (Image: Fox), Hunters (Photo: Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

February is the month of love (or so we hear), which means there are dozens of opportunities to fall for a new show, from the latest adaptation of a classic sci-fi novel to the story of big city strivers to the handsome new visage of Altered Carbon. The A.V. Club has made a bouquet of February’s premieres to go with your valentines and conversation hearts.


February 3

McMillions (HBO)

The story of the McDonald’s Monopoly game fraud of the 1990s—which saw nearly a decade’s worth of million-dollar-winning game pieces for the fast food giant’s annual board game promotion stolen by an inside man, then sold off to a network of accomplices—is one of the strangest in the annals of fast food lore. Now HBO is telling the story of the bizarre scandal that touched pretty much every American who ever held a carton of french fries up to the light, hoping for a bit of divine intervention from Ronald himself. Directed by James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte, and produced by Mark Wahlberg, the six-part docuseries lays out the whole strange tale, from the FBI agents who suddenly found themselves investigating multi-million-dollar “fast food crime” to the participants who accepted the offer of the mysterious “Uncle Jerry” for a quick and easy path to wealth. [William Hughes]


February 5

They’ve Gotta Have Us (Netflix)

They’ve Gotta Have Us, the ambitious three-part docuseries from creator, producer, and director Simon Frederick, is as much a retrospective on Black cinema as it is a testament to the latest renaissance in Black art. The series is made up of extensive interviews with multiple generations of Black actors, directors, and creators—legends like Harry Belafonte and Diahann Carroll, luminaries like John Singleton and Barry Jenkins, and bright new stars like John Boyega and Nathalie Emmanuel. Veteran actors and directors like Debbie Allen and Kasi Lemmons share their setbacks and dreams, while also looking back at big developments in Black cinema, including the rise of Blaxploitation films. They’ve Gotta Have Us combines stories of personal struggle with filmmaking victories years in the making, like Allen’s road to Amistad. Ava DuVernay’s Array Releasing is releasing the docuseries, as if it needed any more star power. [Danette Chavez]


February 6

Katy Keene (The CW)

The CW continues churning out frothy young adult dramas: On the heels of Nancy Drew and Riverdale comes Katy Keene, Lucy Hale’s latest attempt at a post-Pretty Little Liars comeback. Fortunately for Hale, Katy Keene is pretty charming, as Katy and her friends pursue their various aspirations in New York: Katy’s a wannabe designer; her roommate, Jorge, dreams of Broadway; journalist Pepper wants to own a club; and Riverdale vet Josie is still trying for that music career. Also familiar: Archie Comics twin siblings Alexandra and Alexander Cabot as moguls who somehow weave into the lives of Katy and her pals. Yes, the outfits and adorably cluttered apartment belie the incomes these urban twentysomethings would likely have. But when Katy has another work setback, Jorge blows another audition, and Pepper winds up living in her unheated, pre-renovation club loft, there’s something stirring about the way these strivers just keep pushing forward. [Gwen Ihnat]

Indebted (NBC)

With Indebted, Dan Levy (no, not that one) attempts to spin comedic gold from the healthcare crisis and the sandwich generation. The erstwhile Goldbergs writer gets some help from a great cast, including Adam Pally and Abby Elliott, who play a married couple who find themselves raising their children while also looking after Dave’s (Pally) suddenly penniless parents, Stew (Steven Weber) and Linda (Fran Drescher). That premise practically demands jokes about the generation gap and cramped-quarters living, which, we’ll note, Grace And Frankie has managed to find in abundant supply. Indebted looks like it owes a lot to other intergenerational comedies like the One Day At A Time reboot and, obviously, The Goldbergs. But Levy recruited Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm alum Andy Ackerman along with an old co-worker, Doug Robinson, to co-produce the sitcom, so Indebted could very well wade into more (intentionally) wince-inducing comedy territory. [Danette Chavez]

Briarpatch (USA)

Fans of Ross Thompson’s 1984 Edgar-winning crime novel, Briarpatch, may want to brace themselves—a lot has changed in its move to the small screen. For starters, the lead character is now a woman: Allegra Dill (Rosario Dawson), to be specific, and while the tough-talking professional is still following the basic contours of the original story (coming back to her odd little hometown of Saint Disgrace, Texas to investigate the murder of her sister), the pulpy crime yarn has received some clever updates thanks to creator Andy Greenwald and executive producer Sam Esmail. It’s the first time for Greenwald developing and running a series; he spent most of his career as a pop culture and TV journalist before logging time as a producer on Legion. But the show looks good—thanks both to a talented cast (joining Dawson are reliable presences like Edi Gathegi, Brian Geraghty, and Kim Dickens) and a deliciously over-the-top aesthetic shaped by pilot director Ana Lily Amirpour. [Alex McLevy]

Tommy (CBS)

Edie Falco and Paul Attanasio try to put a different, more compassionate face on law enforcement with Tommy. In the CBS drama, Falco stars as the eponymous Tommy (short for Abigail Thomas, because that’s how some nicknames work?), a New York expat who’s asked to give up good pizza and serviceable public transportation to head up the Los Angeles Police Department. Tommy is the first woman to serve as chief of police, a fact she (and the audience) are regularly reminded of—she even laments to a subordinate that if she fails at the gig, “it’ll be another 20 years” before a woman is given the opportunity. What’s left unsaid in this trailer, except for a vaguely flirtatious glance on an elevator, is the fact that Tommy is also the first queer woman to lead the LAPD. Falco and Tommy showrunner Tom Szentgyorgyi highlighted the importance of LGBTQ+ representation, including hiring queer writers, at the 2020 Television Critics Association winter tour, so there’s hope that Tommy’s queerness will be handled thoughtfully. [Danette Chavez]


February 7

Locke & Key (Netflix)

After a long, serpentine road to production—including a change in medium, from film to TV—it’s finally time to unlock the mysteries of Locke & Key. The series, from Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill, is based on Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s time-leaping, Eisner-winning comic book series. Adaptations were previously in development at Fox and then Hulu before Netflix finally locked in on Cuse and Averill’s vision. A pilot was even shot for Fox in 2011, but the network decided not to pick it up. In the show, the Locke kids—older siblings Tyler (Connor Jessup) and Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and moppet Bode (Jackson Robert Scott)—move into their “ancestral home” after their father’s murder, but the healing process is held up by assorted enigmas, including a bunch of keys they both are and aren’t supposed to use. Like the source material, the series will grapple with grief, the concept of home, and oh yes, lots of demons and spirits. If Cuse and Averill dig into intergenerational trauma, it could be the key to another Haunting Of Hill House-level hit for Netflix. [Danette Chavez]

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (Apple TV+)

Much like how Silicon Valley satirized the tech industry by (just barely) ratcheting up the absurdity of what happens behind the scenes of companies like Google and Facebook, Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet looks to do the same for video games—even if it seems a little less “ripped from the headlines” than the literal blood-sucking CEOs and vicious backstabbing of the HBO show. Executive-produced by It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day, the series stars McElhenney as an extremely self-obsessed game designer who doesn’t care how many of his employees he steps on if it means creating the ultimate expression of interactive media. Said employees include Danny Pudi, Imani Hakim, Charlotte Nicdao, and David Hornsby. The series is also produced by some executives from real-life game development studio Ubisoft, which adds a bit of authenticity to the wackiness. [Sam Barsanti]

The Category Is… Mexico City (Revry)

To answer the question that’s already formed in your mind, Revry is an app with a focus on LGBTQ+ programming. It’s also the home of originals like The Category Is..., an anthology series that documents ballroom culture all over the world. The first season of the series is set in Mexico City, where we get an inside look at the House of Mamis, just one of the houses/found families helping the ballroom scene flourish in CDMX. House mother Mendoza is a trans activist, who spends part of her time looking after her students/children, eager disciples like Negraconda and Ponyboy. This international docuseries, already renewed for season two, will explore discrimination, gender identity, culture, dance, and of course, drag. The charming young cast of The Category Is... Mexico City makes this the perfect complement to FX’s Pose, which will be back for a third season in (we hope) 2020. [Danette Chavez]


February 11

For Life (ABC)

After Destin Daniel Cretton’s Just Mercy showed moviegoers the resilience of people unfairly caught up in the criminal justice system, ABC’s For Life aims to give the wrongfully convicted a voice once more. The drama, from Hank Steinberg (The Last Ship), is co-executive-produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and stars Top Boy’s Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron, a man railroaded by a district attorney and sentenced to life in prison. For Life is also inspired by a real-life story, that of Isaac Wright Jr., who was wrongfully accused and convicted of drug crimes in 1991. Like Wright Jr., Aaron earns his law degree and gets to work trying to free other innocent men, despite (or perhaps because of) his own bleak plight. The series also stars Joy Bryant as Marie, Aaron’s wife who’s left to pick up the pieces after his trial, and Indira Varma, who’s traded the kookiness of Carnival Row for more austere surroundings. [Danette Chavez]


February 14

High Fidelity (Hulu)

Hulu’s High Fidelity takes the 2000 movie starring John Cusack (based on Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel) and shifts the locale from Chicago to Brooklyn, the protagonist from male to female. Zoë Kravitz—whose mom, Lisa Bonet, appeared in the original—steps into the role of the unlucky in love record store owner, who mainly hangs out with her two employees (the appealing David H. Holmes and Da’Vine Joy Randolph). Send-ups of original scenes, just with the genders reversed or a new song inserted, blur the line between reboot and remake, but when High Fidelity veers from the original, it kicks into high gear. Kravitz, so woefully underused in Big Little Lies, makes for a compelling, flawed heroine (just like Cusack, actually). [Gwen Ihnat]

Visible: Out On Television (Apple TV+)

Hoping to do for television what The Celluloid Closet did for film, Visible uses its five-part docuseries to study the history of LGBTQ+ representation on TV, tracing the arc of historical depictions through the decades up to the present. But whereas Closet couldn’t help but end up a little facile given its brief runtime, this deeper dive into the small screen should reward viewers with a more robust and penetrating look at what TV did (and all too often didn’t) do to represent the full scope of sexuality in American life. Featuring interviews with everyone from Rob Reiner to Lena Waithe, Visible looks to do justice to the breadth and depth of its subject matter, from All In The Family’s famous portrayal of a gay man, to the cultural earthquake generated by Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out, to modern-day depictions of trans characters like Supergirl’s Nia Nal. It’s a searching portrait of progress made—and the roadblocks yet to be overcome. [Alex McLevy]

Utopia Falls (Hulu)

Illustration for article titled iLocke  Key/i,i /iiHigh Fidelity/i, and 18 other new shows to watch this February
Photo: Hulu

Welcome to New Babyl, the last remaining bastion of the society we know. Utopia Falls drops audiences hundreds of years into the future, where 24 teenage contestants compete in an annual music competition, The Exemplar. While others may see this as a chance to be jettisoned into certain fame, Aliyah (Robyn Alomar) will discover a long lost culture called hip-hop, which will guide her through unmatched lessons of freedom and cause her to question and rightfully challenge the world she’s always known. With music from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Notorious B.I.G., The Roots, and the voice of Snoop Dogg, this Afro-futuristic Hulu original aims to center the enduring legacy of a genre that was founded on activism, politics, and a community’s demand to have their voices heard. Like the spirit of the music it canonizes, Utopia Falls aims to spark change and speak truth to unequivocal power. [Shannon Miller]


February 16

War Of The Worlds (Epix)

We’re not sure any adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds can top Orson Welles’ radio broadcast in terms of sheer notoriety, but this Fox/Canal+ production wants to give other iterations, including Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film, a run for their money. Starring Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern, War Of The Worlds takes place in the aftermath of first contact with an extraterrestrial species, which proves disastrous for humanity—the population is decimated, and survivors are left to figure out why these alien spaceships didn’t come in peace. The series premiered in France last fall, and Epix is bringing it Stateside. This trailer for the eight-episode series features the kind of ravaged landscape and ragtag bands of people that are all over post-apocalyptic shows like The Walking Dead. It’ll be interesting to see if this War Of The Worlds picks up on the Victorian novel’s critique of imperialism or if it’ll bungle the “invasion” metaphor. [Danette Chavez]

Duncanville (Fox)

Expectations are high for any new animated series on Fox: For every new hit like Bob’s Burgers, there’s a dozen Allen Gregorys or Son Of Zorns that just didn’t make it. Duncanville has a few things those shows didn’t have, though, specifically Amy Poehler and Mike and Julie Scully, who all have years and years of good TV comedy under their belts thanks to their respective work on Parks And Recreation and The Simpsons. The series stars Poehler as a teenager named Duncan who is always getting into wacky trouble, as well as his cheery mother, Annie, and though it looks like it’ll hit a lot of the familiar sitcom beats as some other shows in Fox’s Animation Domination canon, the gag in this trailer of there being an actual murderer hiding in the backseat of a car is a nicely dark and playful joke that hints at something a little more clever. [Sam Barsanti]


February 19

Year Of The Rabbit (IFC)

Few actors on the planet have a better grasp on playing bull-headed, semi-psychotic buffoons than Matt Berry, who transplants his tried-and-true tendency to shout, “FuuuUUuuck!” and then hit a guy—so familiar to fans of shows like Toast Of London and What We Do In The Shadows—to Victorian England for this IFC import. Created by former Veep writers Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil, the series (which originally aired last year on the U.K.’s Channel 4) co-stars Freddie Fox and Susan Wokoma as junior detectives to Berry’s drunken, seen-it-all superior officer, who cheerfully blunders his way from crime scene to crime scene while imparting such wisdom as “Don’t call the bodies of murder victims ‘beautiful’; it comes off as kind of weird.” [William Hughes]


February 21

Hunters (Amazon)

Amazon gets into the Nazi-busting business with the Jordan Peele-produced action thriller Hunters. Hunters follows a motley crew of Nazi hunters in 1970s New York who have discovered that hundreds of Nazis are living in the U.S. and conspiring to create a Fourth Reich. Led by Al Pacino, fresh off of his first Oscar nomination in 27 years, and Logan Lerman, whose Jonah serves as our entry point into this world, the Hunters have made it their bloody mission to track down those remaining Nazis. The trailer, set to Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” forecasts familiar thematic beats from stories involving vigilantism, namely the morality of revenge and taking justice into one’s own hands—Jerrika Hinton’s Agent Morris, in particular, seems to contrast the chaotic-good energy of the Hunters with lawful-good energy of her own. But it’s also sure to make clear where the show stands: “Revenge. Is. Righteous.” [Baraka Kaseko]

Gentefied (Netflix)

Like Starz’s Vida, Netflix’s Gentefied will take a closer look at the flip side of aspirations, uncovering the costs to individuals and communities in pursuit of the American dream. This single-cam dramedy comes from Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, who have adapted their 2017 webseries of the same name. Executive-produced by America Ferrera, Gentefied follows three Mexican American cousins trying to keep their families together and businesses afloat in Boyle Heights, a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Los Angeles. The twist? The displaced and the displacers share the same culture and multiple languages, adding another layer to the usual tales of gentrification. Gentefied is poised to serve up biting comedy and heartwarming moments in equal measure (sometimes “cabrona” is a term of endearment), while also offering up some important historical context in these fact-lite times—as a character reminds us in the trailer, Mexicans and Mexican Americans “have been here, fool.” [Danette Chavez]


February 26

I Am Not Okay With This (Netflix)

Sofia Bryant, Wyatt Oleff, and Sophia Lillis
Sofia Bryant, Wyatt Oleff, and Sophia Lillis
Photo: Netflix

Netflix adds yet another coming of age story to its growing catalog—this time from The End Of The F***ing World director Jonathan Entwistle and the producers of Stranger Things. Based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel series, I Am Not Okay With This follows Sydney (portrayed by It’s Sophia Lillis), a teenager navigating the ups and downs of high school while dealing with her budding sexuality, grieving family, and newly discovered superpower. The seven-episode series will also feature Lillis’ It co-star Wyatt Oleff, Sofia Bryant, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Aidan Wojtak-Hissong, and Richard Ellis. The origin story appears to combine the charm and awkwardness of Sex Education with the supernatural flair of Stranger Things. [Angelica Cataldo]


February 27

Altered Carbon, season two

It may seem odd to find Netflix’s cyberpunk murder mystery on this list, what with season one having aired over two years ago, making it a strange return indeed. But creator Laeta Kalogridis’ show is getting a facelift: The lead role of reborn mercenary turned revolutionary turned private eye Takeshi Kovacs has passed from Joel Kinnaman to Anthony Mackie. For those who skipped the uneven but visually hypnotizing first season (reportedly the most expensive first season of TV ever made), the basic premise is both simple and dizzyingly complicated: Hundreds of years in the future, humanity has the ability to upload our consciousnesses into new bodies called “sleeves,” creating the potential for eternal life of sorts—but as is nearly always the case, the rich control most everything. Netflix hasn’t released any footage yet, but given the long delay between seasons, there’s a good chance viewers will be able to tune in as though it were a new series altogether—new Kovacs, new show. [Alex McLevy]


Returning shows

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season seven; The Sinner, season three (2/6); High Maintenance, season four (2/7); Homeland, season eight (2/9); Survivor, season 40 (2/12); Outlander, season five (2/16); Star Wars: The Clone Wars, season seven (2/21); Better Call Saul, season five (2/23); RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 12 (2/28)

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