Network TV's standard fall season got completely shaken up in 2020, and is largely being spearheaded by animated projects that were able to continue production throughout COVID filming lockdowns. However, Netflix continues to be a source of new entertainment on a weekly basis, and that plan isn't changing at all for October. In fact, the streaming giant announced an abundance of original TV shows that will be making promising debuts and highly anticipated returns throughout the month. No tricks here; it's all treats.
Below, you can check out the twelve most exciting TV premieres coming to Netflix in October 2020, and stick around afterward to hear a few more suggestions that didn't quite make the cut.
Emily In Paris - 10/2
The Mortal Instruments and The Last Tycoon vet Lily Collins is making her return to television for the new dramedy Emily in Paris, which was created by Beverly Hills 90210 and Sex and the City mastermind Darren Star. This fish-out-of-water tale sees Collins' character as an American who takes a job opportunity in Paris and faces all the challenges and culture shock that can be expected. Given how well Star's projects tend to do, especially with sharp female leads, Emily in Paris could be an excellent streaming sojourn for viewers wishing for their own trips around the globe.
Song Exploder - 10/2
Based on the excellent podcast created by (and hosted by) Hrishikesh Hirway, Song Exploder is bringing its in-depth music exploration to the small screen. With 20 Feet from Stardom director Morgan Neville also behind the scenes, Song Exploder's first season will feature episodes delving into the creative process behind hit songs such as Alicia Keys' "3 Hour Drive," R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," Ty Dolla $ign's "LA," and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton track "Wait for It." Hirway is known for getting great stories from his guests, so expect no less from this live-action expansion.
Deaf U - 10/9
The docuseries Deaf U – whose punny title somehow went over my head for far too long after it was first announced – centers on a core group of deaf students at Washington D.C.'s Gallaudet University, which is a private college that specifically provides education for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The show itself doesn't necessarily look too different from other reality shows of this nature, but it's the subject matter that makes it stand out. It should be interesting and informative to see how the show handles all the stereotypical "talking head" shots that are inherent to the documentary format.
The Haunting of Bly Manor - 10/9
Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House is one of the greatest and most methodically crafted horror TV shows of all time, and creator Mike Flanagan is back (albeit in a lesser capacity) with the second season of this delightfully ghastly anthology. The Haunting of Bly Manor takes place in 1980s England and focuses on an American nanny who gets hired to care for a pair of siblings in the titular residence, only nothing is as it seems with this location and its inhabitants. With returning Hill House cast members such as Henry Thomas and Victoria Pedretti, this new season is inspired by the works of Henry James, and will likely be exactly what the Halloween season needs.
The Cabin with Bert Kreischer - 10/13
Stand-up comedian and travel TV star Bert Kreischer has already bolstered his ever-growing audience with previous Netflix stand-up specials, but his next project The Cabin is a completely different kind of show. In the five-episode docuseries, Kreischer attempts to cleanse his mind, body and soul with a cabin retreat, where celebrity guests join him in taking on weird therapy treatments, the wonders of nature, and strenuous physical challenges – all in the name of laughter, of course. Guest will include black-ish's Anthony Anderson, Harley Quinn's Kaley Cuoco, Caitlyn Jenner and lots of other stand-up faves.
Social Distance - 10/15
While many TV viewers are no doubt tired of seeing remotely produced projects involving celebs staring directly into webcams, Netflix's upcoming anthology series Social Distance might reverse that specific sense of fatigue. (Or possibly inflame it, I guess.) Social Distance will be a darkly comedic look at people's need to stay connected to one another while also needing to stay apart, and will feature such stars as Scandal's Guillermo Díaz, Evil's Mike Colter, Love, Victor's Isabella Ferreira, Orange Is the New Black's Danielle Brooks and many more. For my (monthly subscription) money, the more absurd things get, the better.
Grand Army - 10/16
On paper, Grand Army is set up to be one of Netflix's biggest diversity-focused projects of the year. The teen-skewing drama centers on five students attending the largest public high school in Brooklyn, and digs into the respective and shared struggles that are often inherent with being born as a minority in the U.S. But only time will tell how powerful this project might be, since it has already faced some backlashing. Not only was the trailer widely criticized online for only using its minority characters for "poverty porn," but several writers of color went public over quitting the show due to alleged racist exploitation and abusive behavior. Expect more drama both on and off the screen from Grand Army.
The Last Kids on Earth: Book 3 - 10/16
Based on the bestselling YA novels from author Max Brallier, The Last Kids on Earth's TV show is a fun and frantic sci-fi adventure for viewers of all ages, and the highly anticipated Book 3 will follow up on the twists that capped off Book 2, no doubt in ways that will put Nick Wolfhard's Jack and his friends in monster-filled peril. With a voice cast that also includes such greats as Mark Hamill, Bruce Campbell, Catherine O'Hara, Rosario Dawson, Keith David and more, The Last Kids on Earth is solid October fare for those who don't like to overload on the horror.
Unsolved Mysteries Volume 2 - 10/19
Following the successful launch of its first batch of newly formatted episodes, Unsolved Mysteries is returning to Netflix for a handful of new-to-viewers cases that will again turn audiences into amateur sleuths. The first season was initially a mainstay in Netflix's Top 10 TV shows, no doubt capitalizing on Netflix's growing library of true crime originals that was heavily influenced by the success of Making a Murderer. Though not quite as creepy as the Robert Stack-hosted original run, Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries will definitely still bring the chills for Volume 2.
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman Season 3 - 10/21
This next entry needs no special reason for being included here, as the David Letterman-hosted interview series has offered some of the most interesting celebrity discussions out there. Eschewing the promotion-heavy nature of late night talk shows, My Next Guest digs deeper into the lives and motivations of its guests, and Season 3 will put the beard-friendly Letterman up close and personal with beloved entertainers such as Dave Chappelle, Robert Downey Jr., Lizzo and more. I hope to all that is holy that Lizzo gets Letterman to team up on a "Tempo" karaoke performance.
Barbarians - 10/23
Even though Vikings creator Michael Hirst already has his Valhalla spinoff coming to Netflix after the flagship series' end, audiences can't get enough of properly budgeted historical epics that go heavy on the action. It's not quite clear yet if the upcoming German drama Barbarians will quench that particular TV thirst, but the show's centers on Germanic warriors fighting to limit the Roman Empire's spread across Europe, and directly focuses on three different characters who are tied into the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Too bad Travis Fimmel and Katheryn Winnick aren't involved.
The Queen's Gambit - 10/23
I know, I know, everybody expects lists like these to contain a 1950s set drama from an Oscar-nominated writer/director that focuses on a young woman's dual talents for playing chess and getting fucked up. So yes, The Queen's Gambit is indeed that show. From Minority Report and Logan screenwriter Scott Frank, and based on Walter Tevis' novel, this limited series stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the glamorous and issue-laden Beth Harmon, who attempts to disrupt the status quo in the male-dominated world of competitive chess, all while dealing with far less elegant obsessions and addictions.
Netflix's October slate also contains other potentially great releases such as: the violent drama Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood (10/1); Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts' third and final season (10/12); the alt-history mystery La Révolution (10/16); the dancing docuseries Move (10/23); the stand-up special Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine (10/27); and Phil Rosenthal's food & travel show Somebody Feed Phil Season 4. It's almost strange that there aren't more adult-geared Halloween releases, but maybe the real world has been scary enough in 2020 that we don't need anything else.