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HomeFashion NewsThe spring renewal is out. It's all about fall TV energy.

The spring renewal is out. It’s all about fall TV energy.

In a new monthly column for ELLE, R. Eric Thomas takes the floor on all things culture. Find out here what you can read, watch, listen to and discuss in detail.

I can’t wait to tell my grandkids that we had to wait all summer for new TV. I don’t have grandchildren or children so I’m not sure how this will happen, but I’ve never been bound by the tyranny of reality. However, I was bound by the pain and ecstasy of the old TV schedule. New content would end in mid-May and the TV would tell you, “Go outside! Find a pool! Develop a personality!” Hard love Ah, but then fall would roll around, the TV Guide would debut its super-sized Fall Preview issue, and the channels would be filled with NCISs in a variety of cities, townships, and unrecorded countries.

Today, TV comes at you all year round in all sorts of ways. Late last winter and into the spring, largely due to COVID production delays, we saw a huge wave of new shows and new seasons, just as the traditional TV season would have ended. Fan favorites such as Barry, The Flight Attendant, and Hacks garnered attention with new scholarships such as Abbott Elementary, Heartstopper, and Severance. It was a lot and I went into the summer months a little confused. Was the TV season over? Did it just start?

I know fall isn’t the time we think about starting something new outside of the TV and school schedules. But, as I’ll be telling my grandchildren shortly, I don’t think that’s right. I’ve had it with the tyranny of the spring renewal. As the winter months draw to a close, everything from the natural world to our own internal drive is believed to be infused with fresh energy, a verve, a drive to create from the darkness and barrenness of the coldest season. I think this is propaganda – a Big Plant disinformation campaign.

Yes, I love that first day when you can leave the house without a coat or drive around with your windows down. Sure I will; I’m not a monster. But I just don’t think spring is the logical time to start over. It just seems like spring isn’t ready for me yet and all my “this time it will be different” energy. I’d have to start over, bloom, bloom, reinvent, and I don’t even have a base tan yet? Seems impractical. Spring shows up and is like “dust your shelves, you idiot. Take your resolutions seriously. Be a different person!” Meanwhile the sun is still setting around 2:45 pm and it’s raining all the time.Take care of your own house, spring.

I’d have to start over, bloom, bloom, reinvent, and I don’t even have a base color yet?’

How am I supposed to see a new vision for my life if my eyes are puffy from allergies? Shoot me that. Spring wants to know why you don’t get up early like you said you would and do that jogging and meanwhile every part of your respiratory system is broken and you keep googling “Seriously, this is all just because the trees are having sex?” You become a tree puritan. Going to ginko trees and yelling, “Abstinence only!”

Of course, autumn is not innocent either. It’s not a perfect season either. (The only perfect seasons are when McDonald’s brings back the Monopoly game, the times when Jennifer Lawrence has a movie to promote, and Happy Honda Days.) Fall has its downsides: Every plant is like “goodbye forever! I’m serious.” !”; the temperature plays games, making you sweat through your thick knit; bobbing for apples is repulsive. But fall always seemed like a better launching pad for turning a new leaf than any other season. Even if that sheet is un feuille morte.

Think of the energy you bring in the fall versus the energy you bring in the spring. In an ideal summer you have seen those you care about, you have enjoyed hours and hours of sun, you have eaten under the stars. Maybe you had a flirt. Something cute. Nothing permanent, but no hard feelings. You might connect again later. Who knows.

A carefree but loaded “Who knows?” is the mascot of autumn. That’s exactly the energy of that old fall TV guide. “Want a show about a paranormal DJ who solves cold cases using remixes? Who knows!” This is the hopeful, wild energy we are building right now.

As a pop culture addict and future young grandfather, the TV season’s cadence appeals to me on an emotional level and body rhythm. TV, like school, launches as temperatures drop and leaves fall deadly as participants in Legendary, inviting you to explore and change within. Then they end just as the scent of cut grass fills the air again and the days get longer, so you can relax in the summers to recharge in the sun, like a crystal.

TV, like school, launches as temperatures drop and leaves drop dead as participants in Legendary.

For me, the only beacon of clarity was the announcement by ABC that the standout throwback-y sitcom Abbott Elementary — Quinta Brunson’s bright, sharp, and clever mockumentary sitcom about a struggling Philadelphia public school — would be moving to a prestigious new night of new episodes in the fall, as God and an old network manager from the ’60s intended. Finally some order in my chaotic viewing life!

I think that longing for the old rhythm—of TV, of school, of renewal in these dark seasons—is why Abbott caught my attention last spring. And that’s why I’m so happy to have it back in my life this fall. Abbott follows an old model in structure, in joke frequency and in broadcast. It airs on ABC with one new episode per week. It resists the binge model many shows on streaming platforms use, instead inviting viewers to come back weekly — the same time, same place — to see the school world reset and the hijinks begin again. While it feels so fresh and current, in some ways it’s also a pleasant kind of relic. In a tense spring it was a balm. And now it is one of the gifts of autumn.

There are times when it feels like we’re living in a perpetual ‘now’, where days bleed into each other and even seasons don’t really have a defined shape. But what I look forward to every year, what I’m looking forward to this year, is that one perfect fall day that reminds me that the heat is at my back, the natural world goes quiet in anticipation, the TV gets right again, and – who knows? ? – maybe in a small part of my life I have the energy to start over.

A version of this article appears in the September 2022 issue of ELLE.

R. Eric Thomas is a columnist for, where he intersperses politics, pop culture, celebrity shadow and glee. He is also the author of Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America, a memoir-in-essays.

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