1. “Gentefied” (available February 21)
Why Should I Watch? From executive producer America Ferrera comes a half-hour comedy about a family trying to preserve their heritage, their neighborhood, and their livelihoods in a rapidly changing Los Angeles community. Yes, at its core, “Gentefied” sounds a lot like “Vida,” but a) that’s not a bad thing, given how damn good the Starz show remains, and b) this has a fresh look, larger ensemble, and its own ideas. The new original series is based off the 2017 Sundance web series of the same name, and focuses on three Mexican-American cousins whose big dreams conflict with established ideals: How does a family-owned taco stand adapt to meet modern customers’ demands without losing its cultural appeal? How do you become your own person without separating from the family identity? How do you pronounce Latinx? “Gentefied” promises to address all of these questions in bright, spirited, and authentic fashion.
Bonus Reason: With “One Day at a Time” gone and “Dear White People” set for its final season, some of Netflix’s most diverse comedies — and some of its best — are in the streaming giant’s rearview mirror. Watching “Gentefied” helps inform the algorithm (and those reading it) that audiences crave various perspectives from a variety of voices. So yes, it’s important to support this show for reasons beyond any initial appeal, but it also just looks good — a smart, fun, and clever show! This is, after all, still about entertainment.
2. “Locke & Key” (available February 7)
Laysla De Oliveira in “Locke & Key”
Why Should I Watch? Continuing in the rich tradition of children’s stories that start with a dead parent, “Locke & Key” is Netflix’s latest teen adventure story aimed at courting that coveted Disney+ audience. Still, in line with the streaming giant’s roots in making prestigious, award-winning kids fare (looking at you, “Stranger Things”), the latest big-budget original comes from veteran drama creators Carlton Cuse (“Lost,” “Bates Motel”) and Meredith Averill (“The Haunting of Hill House”). These showrunners-of-a-certain-age should add just enough legitimacy to lure adults into an otherwise very silly-sounding series: Three kids and their mom move into a house called Keyhouse that has, you guessed it, a bunch of magical keys that can open doors to magical powers. Could this be the key to Netflix’s next four-quadrant hit? Only time will tell, but the pieces are certainly in place.
Bonus Reason: With one of the worst posters I’ve ever seen in real life, “Locke & Key” simply has to be better than its on-the-nose first impressions — Cuse and Averill can do just about whatever they want, and it’s based on the award-winning graphic novels from Joe Hill. Maybe once we open the door and see what’s inside, the marketing push will make more sense.
3. “Better Call Saul” Season 4 (available February 9)
Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in “Better Call Saul”
Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
Why Should I Watch? It’s time. For anyone who’s fallen behind on “Better Call Saul” or decided to put off the “Breaking Bad” prequel until the end was nigh, consider this your first heads up: Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould announced in January their critically acclaimed spinoff series will be ending with Season 6 — that means you’ve got roughly a year to get through four seasons, plus the upcoming Season 5 (set to air on AMC later this month), so you can watch the final set of episodes in real-time. And, given the strength of this show on its own as well as the potential tie-ins to “Breaking Bad’s” ending, you’re going to want to watch the final season in real-time. So start now, take in the episodes at an easy pace, and be prepared for another momentous ending.
Bonus Reason: For those of you keeping up with Jimmy McGill’s early aughts exploits already, there is always more to learn from “Better Call Saul.” Each episode is dense with details, whether they’re period-appropriate nuggets for nerds or series-specific easter eggs for the puzzle-solving fans in the audience. So give Season 4 another peak before Season 5 hits. Odds are it’ll help.
4. “Babylon Berlin” Season 3 (available February 28)
Why Should I Watch? If a German, subtitled, neo-noir Netflix series is getting any attention whatsoever, it must be doing a lot of things right — and “Babylon Berlin” has built a cult fanbase and critical acclaim over two fascinating seasons. Based on the books by Volker Kutscher and co-created by Achim von Borries, Hendrik Handloegten, and Tom Tykwer — the latter of whom wrote “Run Lola Run” and co-wrote the “Cloud Atlas” screenplay — “Babylon Berlin” follows Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch), a police detective, and his partner Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries), a typist and wannabe homicide detective, as they navigate vast political conspiracies in 1929 Berlin. With class warfare and a feminist revolution underway, the hourlong drama tells a stylish, wild, and engrossing tale that’s impossible to explain succinctly. So if you’re curious about any of the above, give it a try.
Bonus Reason: As the great Bong Joon Ho said, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films” — and that goes for television, too. (That being said, depending on your settings, “Babylon Berlin” may play the dubbed version automatically, so make sure you flip it over to the original German.)
5. “I Am Not Okay With This” (available February 26)
Sophia Lillis and Aidan Wojtak-Hissong in “I Am Not Okay With This”
Courtesy of Netflix
Why Should I Watch? In case you need any more evidence that the Netflix algorithm has become sentient, look no further than “I Am Not Okay With This,” an original series about a teen girl simultaneously developing sexual feelings and superpowers, told by the director and executive producer of “The End of the F***ing World” (Jonathan Entwistle) and producers of “Stranger Things” (namely, Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen). As hard as I tried to fit in all the “Netflix success story” buzzwords into one sentence, there’s more: “I Am Not Okay With This” is based on a graphic novel by Charles Forsman, who also wrote the comic book that inspired “The End of the F***ing World.” (OK, maybe I could’ve fit that into the first sentence, but come on: This show feels like it was manufactured in a server room, where the glowing red eye of Netflix spat out everything from the names of who should make it to the seven-syllable title.)
Bonus Reason: For the less jaded souls out there, Forsman’s comic series launched too close to “The End of the F***ing World” TV series premiere for his new story to be any kind of cash-grab, carbon copy of his first work. (He actually wrote two other comics in between, both bound to be adapted in a millisecond if “I Am Not Okay With This” also proves a hit.) Also, unlike “The End of the F***ing World,” this series about a teenage girl actually has a woman writing the character behind the scenes. Christy Hall joins Entwistle as the co-creator and writer, giving hope to all those who believe women can bring a valuable perspective to a show about a woman.
6. “Altered Carbon” Season 2 (available February 27)
Why Should I Watch? Just over two years since the first season premiered, “Altered Carbon” is back — and totally different… on the outside. Set over 300 years in the future, consciousness can be digitized, human bodies are interchangeable, and death is no longer permanent. Season 2 follows the same lead character, Takeshi Kovacs, only this time he’s played by Anthony Mackie instead of Joel Kinnamon. (Remember: In the future, you can swap bodies.) Kovacs is still looking for his long lost first love, Quellcrist “Quell” Falconer, and this time, the warrior-detective must solve a murder-mystery that directly connects to finding his lady love. Based on the books by Richard K. Morgan, “Altered Carbon” is a pretty weird sci-fi adventure series, told on a grand scale for an adult audience. It’s a bit too obsessed with its body-swapping premise, but its high-minded aims could find a smoother landing after two years of work. Hopefully Season 2 represents more than just superficial changes.
Bonus Reason: Those of you on board with Season 1’s physical fixations don’t need another reason — and, to be fair, Season 1 got its fair share of favorable reviews — but for those still skeptical, take note of the new showrunner: Alison Schapker was a producer and writer on “Alias,” “Lost,” “Fringe,” and, perhaps most significantly, “Almost Human.” Here’s hoping she can alter things just enough to satisfy everyone.
7. “Narcos: Mexico” Season 2 (available February 13)
Matt Biedel and Scoot McNairy in “Narcos: Mexico”
Courtesy of Netflix
Why Should I Watch? Scoot McNairy is moving in front of the camera for “Narcos: Mexico” Season 2. After narrating the first season, the “Halt and Catch Fire” star was revealed in the final scene, setting the table for his starring role in Season 2. That, really, should be all you need to know. McNairy has been in a few bad shows, sure, but he’s never starred in a bad show — “Halt and Catch Fire,” “Godless,” “True Detective” (Season 3), and even a small but featured role in “Fargo” constitute all of the actor’s post-breakout TV roles, so if he’s willing to put his hot streak on the line, it’s gotta be worth checking out.
Bonus Reason: If you waited this long to start “Narcos,” you’ll need a little backstory before diving. First of all, “Narcos: Mexico” is not “Narcos” — the original series stars Wagner Moura as the cocaine-peddling Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, chronicling his rise to power and the aftermath of his fall. It ran for three seasons before the spinoff was announced as a one-season limited series, but in success, “Narcos: Mexico” was then renewed for a second edition. So do you have to watch all four seasons of “Narcos” and “Narcos: Mexico” in order to start watching Scoot McNairy on Valentine’s Day weekend? No, not at all. Just try “Narcos: Mexico” Season 1, and go back to the others if you like the series enough to want to watch without Scoot.
The Rest of Incoming TV
“The Pharmacist” (available February 5)
“They’ve Gotta Have Us” (available February 5)
“My Holo Love” (available February 7)
“Captain Underpants Epic Choice-o-Rama” (available February 9)
“Love Is Blind” (available February 13)
“Cable Girls” Final Season (available February 14)
“Chef Show” Volume 3 (available February 19)
“Spectros” (available February 20)
“Puerta 7” (available February 21)
“Followers” (available February 27)
“Formula 1: Drive to Survive” Season 2 (available February 28)
“Queen Sono” (available February 28)
“Restaurants on the Edge” (available February 28)
“Unstoppable” (available February 28)
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