Fall for these TV thrillers in 2021
They're sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The return of early sunsets and cool, crisp evenings calls for dimming the lights and indulging in new and returning TV thrillers this fall. Tense interpersonal relationships and betrayal in Impeachment: American Crime Story satisfy those looking for the highest levels of office gossip, Wakefield questions what it is like to lose one's sanity as part of the job, and I Know What You Did Last Summer once again haunts from the past. Protective blankets and hot beverages are recommended.
American Horror Story: Double Feature
Even after 10 seasons, American Horror Story is still finding ways to keep things fresh. In its latest season, which has been dubbed Double Feature and is currently airing on FX, viewers get two stories for the price of one. The first half of the season is devoted to pill-popping vampires terrorizing a New England coastal town, and the second half will tackle a separate story somehow involving aliens. Both feature some AHS-fan favorites, including Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, Finn Wittrock, Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Angelica Ross, and more. The season so far has felt more cinematic and uniquely atmospheric than it has in recent years, and there's a little bit of something for every AHS fan to revel in. —Lauren Huff
It's not surprising David E. Kelley has managed to produce another thriller we can't get enough of in prime time. Big Sky gives us some more badass women to root for, private investigators Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) and Cassie (Kylie Bunbury), seeking to bring justice and fight for the vulnerable around their home state of Montana. The ABC drama hooked us from the shocking cliffhanger of its pilot, but it kept us hanging on with more twists and turns than the Montana roads. It returns for a second season Sept. 30 with new faces (and one mysterious familiar one in John Carroll Lynch) and cases for Jenny and Cassie to probe. —Maureen Lee Lenker
The Blacklist is entering a whole new era this fall! With last season's game-changing finale, star Megan Boone has left the series, and Reddington (James Spader) and the special Task Force family will have to move forward without her. Red entered Elizabeth Keen's life for a reason, and his surrender is why the Task Force exists, so the work will look very different when the NBC thriller returns this fall. Liz's chapter of the story may have closed, but Red's will continue, because there's still one huge question: Who the hell is Raymond Reddington? —Alamin Yohannes
This is not only one of fall's best new thrillers — it's one of the best new shows of 2021. Period. Cruel Summer is an incredibly addictive whodunnit told over the same days on three consecutive summers as popular small-town sweetheart Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) goes missing, and awkward, dorky Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) somehow takes her place as the new it girl — until Jeanette is accused of being involved with Kate's disappearance and becomes the most hated girl in America. The show keeps you guessing all the way until the final few seconds of the season 1 finale (now streaming on Hulu). Series stars Holt, Aurelia, and Blake Lee were handed some sensitive, heavy material throughout the season, but the brilliant writing combined with their careful acting delivered a series that everyone should — or rather, needs — to watch. Catch up now before season 2 begins! —Sydney Bucksbaum
Now streaming all eight of its episodes on Peacock, Dr. Death features a chilling Joshua Jackson as real-life surgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch, who was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice when it came to light that his patients were leaving their routine spinal surgeries dead or permanently maimed. The drama, which also stars Christian Slater and Alec Baldwin as the odd couple of surgeons who attempt to stop Dr. Duntsch, is based on Wondery's podcast of the same name, which in turn is based on a terrifying true story that feels like something taken straight from a Hollywood horror film. Like the podcast, though, the series seeks to answer the "why" behind Duntsch's crimes, while peeling back the layers of the broken healthcare system that enabled him to slip through the cracks, which makes for a much more compelling drama — and serves as a stark warning to patients and medical providers alike. —Lauren Huff
Evil isn't just one of the best thrillers on television right now. It's one of the best shows, period. Created by The Good Fight Michelle and Robert King, the unsettling show follows cynical psychologist Kristen (Katja Herbers) as she teams up with a priest-in-training, David (Mike Colter), and a contractor, Ben (Aasif Mandvi) to investigate unexplained phenomena (demonic possessions, miracles, etc…) for the Roman Catholic Church. The show constantly finds new and clever angles on timely topics and it's not afraid to get strange, creepy, or just downright scary. It's currently in the middle of its second season, which has tackled Christian and Muslim exorcisms, the inherent evil of cop shows, a silent episode, and so much more. There's no better time than now to subscribe to Paramount+ and catch-up. —Chancellor Agard
The Flight Attendant
2020 was a weird year, to say the least. So, there's a chance you may have missed on the breakout thriller: The Flight Attendant. Executive produced by and starring Kaley Cuoco, the Emmy-nominated show follows an alcoholic stewardess named Cassie Bowden who wakes up in Bangkok next to a dead body and has no idea how it got there. Hungover and confused, Cassie cleans up the crime scene and flees — and that's just the beginning of a long string of bad decisions she makes over the course of the 10-episode first season. Fast-paced and funny, the show will keep you on the edge of your seat as Cassie tries to find her way out of this mess. So check it out now before it returns for its second season sometime next year. —Chancellor Agard
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Amazon Prime Video reboots the I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise Oct. 15, once again following a group of hunted teenagers after a deadly accident on their high school graduation night. The modern take has been in the works for some time, with names including James Wan (Saw), Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum), Neal H. Moritz (The Fast and the Furious), Pavun Shetty (The Boys), and Sara Goodman on as EPs adapting Lois Duncan's 1973 suspense novel, and features rising stars Brianne Tju, Ezekiel Goodman, Ashley Moore, Madison Iseman, Sebastian Amoruso, Bill Heck, Fiona Rene, Cassie Beck, and Brooke Bloom. Nearly 50 years after the original page-turner was released, we're still interested in terrified teens on the hook for their crimes. —Sarah Sprague
Impeachment: American Crime Story
The third season of FX's Emmy-winning drama American Crime Story (now airing on FX every Tuesday) doesn't have to do much to hook in viewers. You've got Beanie Feldstein channeling Monica Lewinsky, Sarah Paulson in prosthetics as her wire-tapping confidante Linda Tripp, and Clive Owen uttering "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" as President Bill Clinton. But Impeachment, written by executive producer Sarah Burgess with consultation by Lewinsky herself, forces us to reconsider these events and our role as Americans in them. It's a story about how three women became pawns to the political animals of Washington, D.C. Those pawns include Annaleigh Ashford's surprisingly meaty turn as Paula Jones, the woman who sued Clinton for harassment. It's about paranoia. As secrets come to light, the players are backed into corners that force them to make impossible choices. And, in the end, it's about us. After years of our collective culture cracking jokes at Lewinsky, Tripp, and Jones' expense, who have we become as a country? —Nick Romano
After the Pogues stole our hearts (along with over $400 million in lost gold) in the first season of Outer Banks, they're back again for another season of wild treasure hunts, dramatic romance, and of course, partying Pogue-style. Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix and follows presumed-dead John B (Chase Stokes) and Sarah (Madelyn Cline) as they continue on to the Bahamas in search of the stolen Royal Merchant gold, while their friends back home JJ (Rudy Pankow), Kiara (Madison Bailey), and Pope (Jonathan Daviss) mourn them. But the sad times don't continue for very long, because there's even more treasure to be found by these plucky teens, and the question soon becomes not if these teens can find long lost treasure but rather can they keep it once they do — and how far others will go to take it from them. The stakes have never been higher! —Sydney Bucksbaum
An inmate is running the asylum in Showtime's new eight-episode Australian series (premieres Oct. 18). Psychological drama Wakefield takes a comedic look at the mystery of why psych ward nurse Nik Katira (Rudi Dharmalingam), known as the sanest person in the most unstable environment, begins to lose his own sanity. But why is this happening to him — and why now? Creator Kristen Dunphy drew on her own personal experiences to explore mental illness with both humor and heart… with an added intriguing mystery thrown in. —Sydney Bucksbaum
The story of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) is a simple one. He's just a guy who falls in love easily … and then stalks the woman he loves and sometimes kills those who stand in his way. But he does it all for love! Based on Caroline Kepnes' addictive book series, You follows Joe as he discovers just how far he'll go to keep everyone he loves safe and/or just how much he's able to explain away. With its upcoming third season hitting Netflix on Oct. 15, Joe's journey continues, this time following him into fatherhood. If Joe's great obsession is love, what will being a parent mean for him? —Samantha Highfill
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