With Preacher, The Leftovers, and Amazon’s recent pilot I Love Dick, there seems to be an unusual bounty of Texas represented on television these days. That should come as no surprise; ours is a state with a rich cultural history that people love to idealize, romanticize, and sometimes exploit.
But you may be pleased to learn that this fall we’ll also see more actual Texans on the small screen than just the ones that come from the minds of writers with a western fetish. The 2016–2017 television season will premiere a number of new shows starring or costarring actors with real Texas bona fides. Whether they were born, raised, or born and raised in the Lone Star State, we can officially consider each of these actors one of our own. Here’s how you can support them in their small screen endeavors this fall.
The Good Place
As producer and writer Mike Schur’s follow-up to Parks and Recreation, The Good Place has long been at the top of my must-see list for this fall’s premieres. Imagine my joy to learn that the series would costar Fort Worth native Tiya Sircar. The Good Place is an afterlife comedy—the title comes from the name of the heavenly town where all good people go when they die—and stars Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, a selfish schemer who is sent to “the good place” by mistake, and Ted Danson as Michael, a St. Peter–like figure who was recently promoted to middle management and is responsible for the oversight that got Shellstrop in the door.
Details of Tiya Sircar’s role are still unclear, but Deadline is reporting that it is “pivotal.” Sircar is a UT-Austin grad and relatively unknown; she’s had bit parts in everything from The Vampire Diaries to the Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn flop The Internship, but a substantial role in a Mike Schur comedy could put her on the map. Schur’s previous series have made stars of their ensemble players, and Sircar just may end being the next Aubrey Plaza or Nick Offerman.
Preview the first two episodes of The Good Place on NBC Monday, September 19, at 8 p.m. Central. (Episodes will start screening during their normal Thursday 7:30 p.m. slot later that week)
Son of Zorn
Son of Zorn is going to be a weird one. This hybrid cartoon from the minds of former Wilfred writers Reed Agnew and Eli Jorne tells the story of an animated barbarian’s attempts to reconnect with his suburban, teenaged, live-action son. The cast is promising: Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis voices Zorn, and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines plays his ex-wife, Edie. Rounding out the ensemble is the Ladies Man himself, Tim Meadows, and well-known character actress Artemis Pebdani, a Texas native and SMU grad.
You may not recognize her name, but many will know her face. Artemis has had memorable roles on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Scandal and her IMDB filmography lists practically every notable television sitcom from the past decade. In Zorn, Artemis will play yet another supporting role, but the absurdist cartoon will surely showcase her comedic talents more than her current gig as Scandal’s vice president Susan Ross does. For those of us who were introduced to Artemis as this perfect character, that’s a good thing.
Son of Zorn premieres on FOX this Sunday, September 11 at 7 p.m. Central.
It’s been too long since anyone on television has saved lives and solved crimes with items you could find in your junk drawer, so CBS decided to reboot MacGyver, this time placing Fort Hood’s Lucas Till in the title role. Till was a good casting choice for the show’s producers (which include the Fonz!). Not only does he have appropriately luscious, flowing locks, but he’s made a name for himself with some coveted demographics thanks to his work in the X-Men: First Class trilogy and Hannah Montana: The Movie. Lucas Till is cute in a way that appeals to tweens and grandmothers alike (see him in the photo above).
Chuck Lorre sitcoms (such as this extremely successful one starring that other Texan) and quirky crime serials are CBS’s bread and butter, so MacGyver will fit right in on the Eye Network. I’m guessing with its built-in fan base, MacGyver will be able to pull off at least a season or two, which means you have plenty of time to set up your MacGyver DIY Pinterest inspiration board. (Note: An eagle-eyed reader pointed out that Till isn’t the only Texan on MacGyver‘s call sheet. His co-star George Eads, of CSI fame, was born and raised in Belton, Texas.)
MacGyver premieres on CBS Friday, September 23 at 7 Central.
Whether or not it lasts, FOX’s new series Pitch will go down in history as the first television series officially associated with Major League Baseball. That’s only cool because of the show’s premise: Pitch follows Ginny Baker, the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues. She’s fictional of course, which makes the show a genius branding strategy for the MLB, allowing the league to pretend it’s cool with female players without actually having to be cool with female players.
The cast is exciting, with Under the Dome’s Kylie Bunbar as Ginny, and a bearded Mark Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris!!!) beneath a catcher’s mask. But what’s the Texas connection, you ask? Well, that comes via Dallas-native Tim Jo, who’ll play Eliot, the awkward but social-media-savvy manager brought on to help build Ginny’s online presence. Jo hasn’t been in much, though he was a series regular in Pitch creator Dan Fogelman’s last TV series, The Neighbors. Perhaps a memorable role on a hit FOX show will open more doors.
Pitch premieres on FOX Thursday, September 22 at 8:00 pm CST.
No, this new Notorious is not a remake of the 1946 Hitchcock thriller or of the 2009 Biggie Smalls biopic. It’s a legal serial based on the lives of celebrity defense attorney Mark Geragos and Larry King Live producer Wendy Walker, starring Dallas’s own Piber Perabo as Julia George, Walker’s fictional counterpart. Perabo is kind of the opposite of Artemis Pendabi: many know Perabo’s name and face but have a hard time recalling her actual work (with the exception of her breakout role in 2000’s Coyote Ugly, which was unforgettable). She most recently starred in USA’s Covert Affairs, another crime serial, so Notorious will be a good fit for her.
The show’s tagline— “a charismatic defense attorney and a powerhouse television producer work together to control the media following a high-profile incident” —makes Notorious sound like the love child of Scandal and Newsroom. Notorious has actually been given Scandal’s old time slot (Kerry Washington’s pregnancy has pushed the Shondaland tentpole to a midseason premiere), sandwiched between established hits Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder. If Notorious can take advantage of the timeslot, as well as our current obsession with high-profile true crime (The Jinx, all the OJ stuff), Piper Perabo may just have a hit on her hands.
Notorious premieres on ABC Thursday, September 22 at 8:00 p.m. CST.