It feels like in the space of a single full moon, October snuck up behind us to jump out and yell, “Boo!” There’s been no growing chill in the air (at least where I live) nor a single turned leaf to hint at this change of year, and heck, it’s only just now growing darker in the late afternoon. I call shenanigans (tricks, even)! Nevertheless, we do seem to have slipped into the year’s tenth month, and with it comes a festival of fun in the form of a few frightful new series — and some that simply look great. So after you’re done with these shorter days, slip into the evenings with the best of this month’s new series.
October 1, 2021 (Netflix)
Wow, wow, wow. If you’re ready to let out all your emotions, this miniseries starring real-life mother and daughter Margaret Qualley and Andie McDowell might just do the trick. Qualley (The Leftovers, Fosse/Verdon) takes on single motherhood and battling the system in this story based on Stephanie Land’s acclaimed memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. With Molly Smith Metzler (Shameless, Orange Is the New Black, Casual) as writer, creator, and showrunner, and a great supporting cast — Billy Burke, Anika Noni Rose, Tracy Vilar, and Nick Robinson — Maid looks like a superb addition to your watchlist.
October 2, 2021 (Discovery+)
Paranormal investigator and host of Ghost Adventures Zak Bagans collaborated with director Eli Roth to create this anthology series, a collection of stories based on the creepy items in Bagans’ Las Vegas Haunted Museum. Essentially “mini-films,” each hour features a scripted tale and commentary by Bagan on artifacts like Jack Kevorkian’s “death van” and mirrors purportedly belonging to Bela Lugosi and the Titanic’s Captain Smith. If spooky stories are the way to your black heart, turn down the lights and settle in.
October 6, 2021 (Disney+)
If outer space is your jam, join recently-retired NASA astronaut (and Navy SEAL) Chris Cassidy for this six-part look at his last mission. His joint expedition (62/63) to the international space station features tons of footage (filmed over two years), personal diaries, and a virtual ride-along with his fellow crew as they dig into the origins of our universe.
October 8, 2021 (Netflix)
Not for the littlest ones, here’s a modern animated take on Hansel and Gretel, with the fairytale pair heading out of their own dark story and bumping into other Grimm characters in the midst of theirs. As our heroes work out the truth behind their fellow adventurers’ — presumably Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc. — experiences, Hansel and Gretel work on finding a new ending for themselves. With folks like Raini Rodriguez, Andre Robinson, Tom Hollander, Jonathan Banks, and Adam Lambert voicing the characters, this looks like a delightful treat!
A Ghost Ruined My Life
October 8, 2021 (Discovery+)
Who better to present the true nightmare of hauntings than Eli Roth? (Probably a lot of people.) Okay, so in lieu of anyone better, let’s not focus on the presenter — these are real people sharing their real ghost stories — and if you’re a horrorphile, this is the way to go. Sit by the campfire and grab your s’more-makings; just don’t choke on a marshmallow as you listen to these tales of terror.
October 12, 2021 (SyFy)
This being Spooktober, I’m contractually obligated (total lie) to mention horrific offerings and I can’t imagine anything more terrible than a Chucky series (another lie, but you get my drift). Still, retro is in and this sequel to 2017’s Cult of Chucky fits right into the film franchise, with Don Mancini running the show and originals Brad Douriff (Chucky’s voice), Jennifer Tilly, Christine Elise McCarthy, and Alex Vincent all returning. This time around, Chucky hitches a ride from a yard sale with Jake (Zackary Arthur) to wreak murderous havoc in yet another town.
October 13, 2021 (Hulu)
Michael Keaton leads an impressive cast down the all-too-true lane in a look behind the scenes of big pharma and America’s opioid addiction. Created by Emmy-Award winning (and Buffy and Gilmore Girls’ alumnus) actor, writer, director Danny Strong, based on Beth Macy’s Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America, and also starring Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Rosario Dawson, Kaitlyn Dever, and Will Poulter, this limited series is directed by Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Diner, The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam). I mean, we pretty much have to watch, don’t we?
October 13, 2013 (Disney+)
From writer Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter) comes a horror-anthology series based on R.L. Stine’s (Fear Street, Goosebumps) graphic novel about young adults facing supernatural and paranormal events. From monsters to witches and haunted objects and places, eight tales of terror wind their way through the lives of kids and townspeople alike. SNL’s Nasim Pedrad and comedian Tim Heidecker join McKenna Grace, Lexi Underwood, Gabriel Bateman, Rachel Marsh, Hannah Kepple, and Izabela Vidovic in what looks to be a fun adaptation.
October 15, 2021 (SyFy)
Tired of The Walking Dead’s never-ending drudgery? Take a break from the zombies you know for a new crew meet and greet with this highly comedic series’ take on the Romero film about the first 24-hours of an outbreak and the six young strangers fighting to stay alive. Starring iZombie’s Keenan Tracey, Natalie Malaika, Kevin O’Grady, and a bunch of other people you’ve probably never heard of, what better way to celebrate Halloween month than with campy apocalyptic horror?
October 21, 2021 (Hulu)
Chances are that if you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain, somewhere along the line you also became a David Chang aficionado. The longtime friends shared a love for food and cooking, and they’ve a similarly frank way of delivering their opinions — to the point that some consider Chang Bourdain’s logical successor. Following the success of his Netflix show, Ugly Delicious, Chang takes on this six-part series that looks at how technology affects food production — meaning robot chefs and lab-grown fish and meat. This (and Amazon’s Astro) is clearly Skynet’s kickoff and we can blame it all on vegans, right? (Just kidding!)
October 22, 2021 (Apple TV+)
Sam Neill heads up a new science fiction outing created by The Martian producer Simon Kinberg (Legion, Deadpool, Logan, Chappie, X-Men: Apocalypse/Days of Future Past/First Class) and David Weil (Solos, Hunters). With a nod to War of the Worlds and the Wachowskis’ Sense 8, an alien invasion is simultaneously experienced through the lens of people across the globe. Shamier Anderson (Wynonna Earp, Destroyer, John Wick Chapter 4), Golshifteh Farahani (The Pear Tree, The Patience Stone), Firas Nassar (Sirens), and Shioli Kutsuna (Deadpool 2, Unforgiven), Tom Cullen, Michael Harney, and Noah Bean, round out the excellent cast who’ll be reacting to the arrival of a hostile species on different continents in real-time.
October 27, 2021 (Shudder)
What better way to celebrate Spooktober than with a new series about all our favorite creepers? Horror streamers already know about Shudder’s dedication to thrillers and chillers, but if you need an introduction (free trial available), this six-parter will do the trick. Dig into the bones of Halloween’s Michael Meyers, Hellraiser’s Pinhead, Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, and Candyman and Chucky in interviews with writers, actors, directors, and effects designers. Yes, please!