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Cozy Up with 13 Movies and Shows That Are Overflowing with Fall Vibes
Crunching leaves. Chunky sweaters. Coffee so hot you can see the steam. There’s something undeniably cozy about fall and all that the season brings, which is why it’s the perfect backdrop for some of our all-time favorite movies and shows.
Cozy TV Shows and Movies To Stream This Fall
Pumpkin spice latte and chill.
Beyond the obvious reasons — gorgeous sepia-toned foliage, envy-inducing outerwear — there’s this autumn-specific sense of excitement and opportunity that comes across the screen. Maybe it’s because you never really outgrow that back-to-school feeling, even long after you graduate. Maybe it’s an acute awareness of holidays around the corner. Maybe it’s the fact that some of the greatest rom-coms of all time are set during the months that end in “-ber.” In any case, the best fall movies and TV make us feel like anything is possible… falling in love, starting something new, winning the big game. And yet, we’re perfectly content to watch those possibilities unfold for someone else, from the comfort of our couch, at the first sign of an IRL chill in the air.
Accordingly, let us be the first to invite you to banish the FOMO of summer, and make you feel downright ecstatic about staying in. Curl up with your fuzzy socks, a box of warm apple cider donuts and this watchlist of 13 titles with the coziest and/or fall-iest vibes.
Despite what its name and “Look Away” theme song would have you believe, A Series of Unfortunate Events is a delightful watch with fall influences everywhere. From vintage costumes to moody lighting to its scary-adjacent themes of misery and misfortune, the black comedy–drama series couldn’t possibly be set in any other season. The plot unfolds with the help of narrator Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton), and follows the (mis)adventures of the Baudelaire children, Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and Sunny (Presley Smith). When their parents (Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders) ostensibly perish in a fire, bank employee Mr. Poe (K. Todd Freeman) takes the kids to live with their “closest” living relative, Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), who’s three miles away. Unfortunately (you knew that was coming), Count Olaf is the worst — a failed actor and greedy egomaniac who’s after the Baudelaires’ fortune and refuses to wait until Violet comes of age to get it. Based on the beloved children’s book series of the same name, the show stays true to its source material and also boasts a rotating door of incredible guest stars — Joan Cusack, Aasif Mandvi, Alfre Woodard, Catherine O’Hara and Tony Hale, to name a few.
Basketball season starts in the fall, and it’s all 14-year-old Terron Forte (Michael Rainey Jr.) can think about. After a video of his b-ball skills goes viral, Terron is recruited to an elite high school by Coach Gaines (Josh Charles), who offers him a full-ride scholarship to play on the Liberty Prep team. When the season arrives, Terron is a phenom, and soon sponsors and the NCAA come calling, promising a bright future filled with dollar signs. But Terron realizes a career in amateur sports isn’t all fun and games. There’s a whole world of corruption, exploitation, greed and uncertainty he has to contend with — and that’s on top of all his homework. Terron’s parents Nia (Sharon Leal) and Vince (Brian J. White) become rightfully concerned about their boy and the possibility that Coach Gaines might be more interested in his own gains than those of Terron. You’ll want to see how it all plays out, on and off the court.
You really can’t find a more gothic, autumn-esque energy than the one given off by the spellbinding world created in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The teenage half-witch, half-mortal Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka), her aunties (Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto) and her cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) live in a mortuary, for goodness’ sake. This supernatural horror series is a much darker adaptation of the iconic ’90s sitcom, and doesn’t shy away from blood, satanic rituals and other images that’ll haunt you later. Its setting is the fictional Greendale, which feels like if the essence of Halloween were turned into a town, thanks to its mysterious woods and witchcraft-inclined inhabitants. Fighting both evils of the normal (high school bullies) and the paranormal (hell-sent demons) sort, Sabrina’s coming-of-age tale — not to mention its bold, dark costumes — screams “spooky season.”
In the fall-inspired category of “strong academia vibes,” we find Dear White People, a dramedy about Black college students — including Sam (Logan Browning), Joelle (Ashley Blaine Featherson), Troy (Brandon P. Bell), Lionel (DeRon Horton), Coco (Antoinette Robertson) and Reggie (Marque Richardson) — at fictional Ivy League institution Winchester University. The series was originally adapted from a 2014 comic-satirical drama of the same name, and the film’s writer and director, Justin Simien, returned to write and direct several episodes. Most of these half hours-or-so present us with a different classmate’s perspective (alongside some of the best seasonal fashion around). And while Winchester seems to think of itself as “post-racial,” the daily lives of each of the characters suggests otherwise. Tackling topics of race relations, class hierarchy, politics, microaggressions, unconscious biases and more, DWP balances social commentary with incisive humor and the type of gut-punching storytelling that leaves you thinking long after the episode ends.
Perhaps the coziest, most fall show in existence, Gilmore Girls ticks all the boxes — charming small town setting perpetually covered in fallen leaves, fuzzy sweaters under good-looking coats and “coffee, coffee, coffee!” as Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) would say. Single mother Lorelai and her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) have always been best friends first, parent-child second — probably because, for most of Rory’s life, it’s been just the two of them. But when Rory’s accepted to prestigious prep school Chilton — to her, a necessary stepping stone on her way to Harvard — Lorelai can’t afford the tuition and is forced to request financial assistance from Richard (Edward Herrmann) and Emily (Kelly Bishop), the rich, New England parents she ran away from as a teen mom. The elder Gilmores agree, on the condition that Lorelai and Rory have dinner with them every Friday so they can get to know their granddaughter. If you’re new to the series, don’t be surprised if, after spending some time in Stars Hollow (seriously — how fall of a name is that?), you start craving maple lattes and talking at the speed of light. It’s just a GG thing.
Ah, young love. This coming-of-age romantic comedy from across the pond tells the story of Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), a gay English boy who falls in love with his classmate Nick Nelson (Kit Connor). What follows is a very tangled web of crushes, secrets, betrayals, reconciliations and the roller coaster of emotions that is the high school experience. (There’s also roughly one million “hi”s.) The show (which has already been renewed for a second season) is an adaptation of a webcomic and graphic novel of the same name, and incorporates animation and other fun cinematographic nods to its source material. And that back-to-school, anything-can-happen, love-is-in-the-air feeling we were talking about earlier? This series has it in spades. It’s called Heartstopper, but other appropriate titles include Heartwarmer, Heartlifter, Heartfiller — you get the idea.
Speaking of back to school, this film stars Rebel Wilson as Stephanie Conway, a 37-year-old who wakes up from a coma after a varsity cheerleading accident and decides she wants to return to Harding High and finish her 2002-set senior year. But things have really changed in the 20 years Steph’s been unconscious. Cheerleaders are no longer popular or allowed to dance. Prom queen and king nominations have been canceled due to student complaints. It’s like all of Stephanie’s high school dreams have been dashed yet again. But then she meets classmate Bri (Jade Bender), the daughter of her former rival Tiffany (Zoë Chao) and her ex-boyfriend (Justin Hartley), who teaches her about the power of social media. Meanwhile her adult friends Martha (Mary Holland) and Seth (Sam Richardson) just want her to be herself, unfiltered. Will Stephanie graduate? Will she end up with another shot at prom queen? Will she successfully perform the cheer routine that took her out so many years before? Watch now for these answers and an Alicia Silverstone cameo that’s exactly as amusing as you want it to be.
In New York City, fall notoriously lasts approximately five minutes between scorching summer temps and the harsh chills of winter. So how lucky are we that Someone Great managed to capture it so perfectly in all its transitional glory? First, there’s the fashion: blazers, cropped jackets, waist flannels, thigh-high boots with sweaters and skirts. Then, there’s the plot: about how starting a new chapter requires the finishing of an old one. Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) is a music journalist who’s been offered her dream writing job in San Francisco, but is still reeling from a breakup with her boyfriend of nine years, Nate (LaKeith Stanfield). The only cure for her spiraling depression? Lizzo sing-alongs and one last adventure with her two best friends, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow), before she moves across the country. The girls set off to secure tickets to a pop-up concert called Neon Classic, and we’re treated to hilarious snafu after hilarious snafu, as well as flashbacks from Jenny and Nate’s epic love story. But the best takeaway of the film? The realization that sometimes finding someone great doesn’t require you to look any further than yourself.
If we’re assigning seasons to school subjects, winter is math, spring is science, summer is history and fall is, without a doubt, English. In The Chair, Professor Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh) is appointed as the new chairwoman of a failing English department at a small liberal arts college called Pembroke University. As the first woman to hold this position, Ji-Yoon is determined to turn things around. She commits to securing tenure for her colleague, Yaz (Nana Mensah), meeting the never-ending demands of other colleagues Joan (Holland Taylor), Elliot (Bob Balaban) and the dean (David Morse). She keeps her crush on colleague Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass) under control and under wraps. In addition to more of those strong academia vibes we mentioned earlier, the autumn feel of this comedy-drama series is largely derived from its setting. Campus feels distinctly New England, with the region’s famous fall foliage on full display and the buildings loaded with mahogany furniture, leather-bound books and cozy fireplaces. Not to mention, we grade Ji-Yoon’s fall-appropriate work wardrobe a 10/10.
In Squahamish, the fictional Pacific Northwest town in which this movie is set, fall is extra cold and extra cozy. There’s a quiet optimism that shines through, though the atmosphere is kinda muted and grayish, and it keeps you hoping for a happy ending even when things get a little sad. High schooler Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) runs an essay-writing side hustle so she can use her classmates’ money to take care of her widower father (Collin Chou). One day, a football player named Paul (Daniel Diemer) approaches her with a different sort of request: to help him write a love letter to the girl of his dreams, Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire) — not realizing that Ellie is a lesbian and not everything she’s going to put in those letters to Aster is fake. You can probably guess a lot of what happens next, but the true love story of the film isn’t a romance. It’s the friendship that develops between Ellie and Paul as they realize that truly getting to know someone is messy, but ultimately worth it. Because usually what you see at first is only, well, the half of it.
Know what else takes place in the fall? Election season. Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) has dreamed of becoming president of the United States practically since birth. In pursuit of that career path, he decides to run for student body president of his Santa Barbara high school. To help him defeat his popular and athletic opponent, Payton assembles a team of his equally ambitious friends — McAfee Westbrook (Laura Dreyfuss), James Sullivan (Theo Germaine) and Alice Charles (Julia Schlaepfer) — to serve as advisers on his campaign. Making things complicated? Payton and his rival, River Barkley (David Corenswet), used to be a “thing.” And now River has Payton’s archnemesis, Astrid Sloan (Lucy Boynton), helping strategize how he can secure the win. She starts by naming Skye Leighton (Rahne Jones), a gender-nonconforming Black classmate, as River’s vice-presidential nominee. In response, Payton’s crew picks Infinity Jackson (Zoey Deutch), a cancer patient and victim of Munchausen by proxy disorder. Need even more reasons to watch this series? Acting powerhouses Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, Judith Light and Bette Midler all guest star.
If you were on the internet at all during the late summer of 2018, then you remember the chokehold this back-to-school movie had. Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) has a habit of writing letters to every gentleman for whom she develops affection (hence the film’s title). Afterwards, she locks the letters away in her closet so no one will ever read them... until her younger sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart), finds and mails the entire collection. The following week at school, Lara Jean is confronted by former crush Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) and his letter, so naturally she faints. When she comes to, she sees another letter recipient approaching. This guy is Lara Jean’s childhood pal, Josh (Israel Broussard), who used to date her older sister, Margot (Janel Parrish). In a panic, she kisses Peter and darts away to avoid an awkward conversation with Josh. When Lara Jean runs into Peter at a diner later and explains the situation, Peter suggests they keep playing pretend. He has an ex-girlfriend (Emilija Baranac) he’d like to make jealous, you see. Pretty soon, they’ve convinced everyone — classmates, friends, even families — that they’re a real couple. Any guesses as to why? *wink, wink*
Looking for a fresh start after a tragedy, nurse practitioner Mel Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) moves from LA to a remote town called Virgin River. Set in Northern California, but technically filmed in British Columbia, Canada, the show’s breathtaking scenery is the definition of cozy, evoking peak comfort and relaxation. But Mel didn’t come for R&R; she came to work. Hired by Mayor Hope McCrea (Annette O’Toole), Mel’s job is to assist the town physician Vernon “Doc” Mullins (Tim Matheson), mainly acting as a midwife. However, Mel quickly discovers that she and the doc have very different opinions on the right way to run a medical practice. In the romance department, Mel meets local barkeep Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson), a former US Marine who suffers from PTSD. Gentle, soft and heartwarming, Virgin River is like a blanket you’ll never want to throw off.