The 2013-14 TV season officially ends this week, but that doesn’t mean that television is taking the summer off. A handful of old favorites are returning, like Orange Is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, True Blood, and Teen Wolf. There are also plenty of new shows premiering during the next few months: intriguing horror dramas, guilty pleasure reality shows, NBC sitcoms, and Netflix binges. Sure, summer is the time to enjoy the great weather outdoors, but it’s also the time to spend lazy days on the couch in front of your TV with the air conditioner blasting. Here is a handy guide to the summer’s best small-screen offerings — and all of the rest.
Top Picks for May:
May 30: Crossbones (NBC, 10 PM) — In this show set in 1729, John Malkovich plays infamous pirate Blackbeard, who reigns over a nation of thieves and outlaws. Crossbones is from Neil Cross (the creator of Luther) and looks like a great, action-filled drama that should make for perfect summer viewing.
May 30: Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars (WE, 9 PM) — Summer is a lazy and fun season, so there’s less guilt about enjoying trashy reality television. Save the hard-hitting intellectual dramas for the fall and watch a bunch of reality stars (from Jersey Shore, Real Housewives, etc.) go to boot camp to save their dysfunctional marriages.
New Shows in May:
Monday, May 26 Petals on the Wind (Lifetime, 9 PM) — This TV movie is a sequel to last year’s mediocre Flowers in the Attic adaptation starring Rose McIver, Will Kemp, Heather Graham, and Ellen Burstyn.
Tuesday, May 27 Boundless (Esquire, 10 PM) — This docuseries chronicles two friends competing in some of the toughest endurance races around the globe.
Little Women: LA (Lifetime, 10 PM) — A reality series about a group of “smart, sexy, and funny girlfriends […] who all happen to be little people.”
Night Shift (NBC, 10 PM) — An ensemble medical drama about the workers and patients that populate the overnight shift, starring Freddy Rodriguez and Brendan Fehr.
The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy, 10 PM) — Wil Wheaton hosts a new weekly talk show that takes a topical look at pop culture and science fiction.
Wednesday, May 28 One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles (Spike, 9 PM) — This special, which includes stand-up performances and short films, features a ton of famous faces honoring Don Rickles: David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Tracy Morgan, Jon Stewart, and more.
Thursday, May 29 Undateable (NBC, 9 pm) — The latest sitcom about a group of friends hanging out at a bar and dating around. At least this one has Scrubs‘ Bill Lawrence’s name behind it.
Friday, May 30 Mystery Millionaire (WE, 10 PM) — A reality show in which wealthy bachelors/bachelorettes pretend to be “average” in order to find true love.
Saturday, May 31 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction (HBO, 9PM) — This special features performances by Hall & Oates and Nirvana (with various guests).
Sing Your Face Off (ABC, 9 PM) — A reality talent competition has celebrities “transformed and trained to perform as a legendary musical icon.” The judges are Darrell Hammond and Debbie Gibson.
Returning Shows in May:
May 26: Masterchef (Fox, 8 PM) May 27: Extreme Weight Loss (ABC, 8 PM) May 27: The Haves and the Have Nots (OWN, 9 PM) May 27: Heroes of Cosplay (Syfy, 9 PM) May 28: So You Think You Can Dance? May 30: Derek (Netflix, midnight) May 31: Bet On Your Baby (ABC, 8 PM)
Top Picks for June:
June 1: Enlisted (Fox, 7 PM) — Enlisted was one of the season’s best comedies but never had a chance at Fox. After being yanked from the schedule, the show remained in limbo until it was officially canceled. Thankfully, Fox will air the remaining four episodes this summer.
June 6: Orange Is The New Black (Netflix, midnight) — If you haven’t already cleared your entire weekend for Orange Is The New Black, what are you waiting for? The full second season will premiere on Netflix at midnight, primed for binge-watching.
June 29: The Leftovers (HBO, 10 PM) — Based on Tom Perrotta’s bestselling novel of the same name and starring Justin Theroux, The Leftovers is a drama series that explores what happens to those left behind after a Rapture-like event happens. The book is great, the trailers are eerie, and I have high hopes for the series.
New Shows in June:
Sunday, June 1Halt and Catch Fire (AMC, 10 PM) — AMC’s new drama series is set in the 1980s and centers on the race to build a rival computer to IBM’s PC. It stars Lee Pace, Scott McNairy, and Mackenzie Davis. The premiere episode — which is very good — can be viewed on AMC’s Tumblr for a limited time.
Tuesday, June 3 Famous in 12 (CW, 8 PM) — A reality show featuring an ordinary family moving to Los Angeles to try and become famous within 12 weeks.
Wednesday, June 4 Jennifer Falls (TV Land, 10:30 PM) — TV Land’s been churning out sitcoms left and right, with mixed results. Jennifer Falls could be great — it’s single-camera, stars Jaime Pressly and Jessica Walters, and executive producer Matthew Sweet previously worked on The Wonder Years and Malcolm in the Middle.
Saturday, June 7 Power (Starz, 9 PM) — Starz also has a not-so-great reputation for original programming. Power, produced by 50 Cent, follows the owner of a popular nightclub who must balance his legitimate life with working in an illegal drug ring.
Sunday, June 8 Frankenfood (Spike, 10 PM) — Reality food competition in search of the newest food craze that combines unexpected ingredients — basically, they’re all just trying to replace the cronut.
Monday, June 9 Murder in the First (TNT, 10 PM) — A new detective drama starring Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson that will follow one case throughout an entire season.
Tuesday, June 10 Chasing Life (ABC Family, 9 PM) — Sticking to the network’s love for soap opera dramas, Chasing Life follows a young woman who learns that she has cancer.
Thursday, June 19 Dominion (Syfy, 9 PM) — A supernatural TV series based on the film Legion that takes place 25 years after the events of the movie.
Funniest Wins (TBS, 10 PM) — A reality competition hosted by Marlon Wayans that will probably just be a clone of Last Comic Standing.
Seven Deadly Sins (Showtime, 11 PM) — Morgan Spurlock hosts this documentary miniseries that will explore one of the seven deadly sins in each of its episodes.
Saturday June 21 Almost Royal (BBC America, 10 PM) — BBC America’s first original scripted comedy will center on the privileged lies of distant descendants of the British royal family.
Sunday, June 22 The Musketeers (BBC America, 9 PM) — A period drama based on Dumas’ famous book and starring Luke Pasqualino (Skins).
Rising Star (ABC, 9 PM) — Yet another singing competition. It’s hosted by Josh Groban, and its “panel of experts” includes Brad Paisley, Kesha, and Ludacris.
Tuesday, June 24 Tyrant (FX, 10 PM) — From the creators of Homeland, Tyrant is a political thriller about the exiled son of a dictator who returns to his homeland after 20 years.
Wednesday, June 25 Young & Hungry (ABC Family, 8 PM) — Emily Osment plays a food blogger who gets hired by a wealthy tech guy to be his personal chef.
Mystery Girls (ABC Family, 8:30 PM) — Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth star in this comedy about former TV stars and best friends who have to work together as amateur detectives.
Taxi Brooklyn (NBC, 10 PM) — A police-procedural adaptation of Luc Besson’s Taxi that will star Chyler Leigh.
Friday, June 27 Girl Meets World (Disney, 9:45 PM) — The sequel everyone thought they wanted until the trailer was released! Girl Meets World focuses on central Boy Meets World couple Cory and Topanga’s daughter.
Sunday, June 29 Reckless (CBS, 9 PM) — This crime drama, directed by Twilight‘s Catherine Hardwicke, is a Southern soap opera about a “Yankee litigator” and a “Southern City Attorney” who clash over a sex scandal but also, surely, have sex with each other.
Returning Shows in June:
June 2: Beauty and the Beast (CW, 9 PM) June 2: Longmire (A&E, 10 PM) June 2: Mistresses (ABC, 10 PM) June 6: Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta (TLC, 9 PM) June 8: Keeping Up with the Kardashians (E!, 9 PM) June 9: Major Crimes (TNT, 9 PM) June 10: Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, 8 PM) June 10: Royal Pains (USA, 9 PM) June 11: Suits (USA, 9 PM) June 11: Graceland (USA, 10 PM) June 16: Switched at Birth (ABC Family, 8 PM) June 16: The Fosters (ABC Family, 9 PM) June 17: Rizzoli & Isles (TNT, 9 PM) June 17: Perception (TNT, 10 PM) June 18: Defiance (Syfy, 8 PM) June 18: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC, 9 PM) June 18: Rookie Blue (ABC, 9 PM) June 19: Rectify (Sundance, 9 PM) June 20: Cold Justice (TNT, 8 PM) June 22: Falling Skies (TNT, 10 PM) June 22: Wipeout (ABC, 7 PM) June 23: Teen Wolf (MTV, 10 PM) June 24: Covert Affairs (USA, 10 PM) June 24: NY Med (ABC, 10 PM) June 24: Sullivan & Son (TBS, 10 PM) June 25: Big Brother (CBS, 8 PM) June 25: Wilfred (FXX, 10 PM) June 29: Unforgettable (CBS, 10 PM) June 30: Under the Dome (CBS, 10 PM)
Top picks for July:
July 13: Masters of Sex (Showtime, 10 PM) — Last year, Masters of Sex quickly catapulted to the top of Showtime’s original programming. In Season 2, Betsy Brandt, Keke Palmer, and Sarah Silverman all join the cast.
July 13: The Strain (FX, 10 PM) — Carlton Cuse of Lost produced this series (which, funnily enough, will air opposite his Lost partner Damon Lindelof’s The Leftovers) that Guillermo del Toro adapted from his own vampire novels. Sean Astin, Francis Capra, and Regina King will all star.
July 17: Married (FX, 10 PM) — Finally, Judy Greer gets the sitcom lead she so clearly deserves. She stars opposite the hilarious Nat Faxon (Ben & Kate) in this FX comedy that focuses on the suburban married life of a couple. If there’s anyone who can liven up this premise, it’s Greer and Faxon.
New Shows in July:
Tuesday, July 8 Finding Carter (MTV, 10 PM) — Dramas aren’t exactly MTV’s strength, but the network is trying again. Finding Carter follows a teen girl (Kathryn Prescott, Skins) who discovers that she was abducted as a child. The TV series version of The Face on the Milk Carton.
Wednesday, July 9 Extant (CBS, 9 PM) — Halle Berry stars in this sci-fi drama as an astronaut who returns from a space mission suddenly and inexplicably pregnant.
Thursday, July 10 Welcome to Sweden (NBC, 9 PM) — Amy Poehler produced this fish-out-of-water sitcom starring her brother, Greg Poehler, as a guy who follows his girlfriend to Sweden.
Working the Engels (NBC, 9:30 PM) — NBC’s other summer sitcom stars Andrea Martin as a new widow. When her husband dies, the family must work together to run a law firm despite knowing nothing about practicing law.
Monday, July 14 Backpackers (CW, 8:30 PM) — Originally an online series on CW Seed about two friends backpacking across Europe, Backpackers comes to TV with a full ten-episode order.
Seed (CW, 9:30 PM) — Picked up from Canada, Seed is a half-hour comedy about a bachelor who connects with his newfound children, who are all the result of sperm donation.
Thursday, July 17 Dating Naked (VH1, 9 PM) — Just what it sounds like: a reality dating show where two people go on a date while completely naked.
Rush (USA, 9 PM) — Yet another USA drama about a doctor, though this one caters specifically to a rich and famous clientele.
Satisfaction (USA, 10 PM) — Centered on a couple at the midpoint of their marriage, this drama explores relationships but also… male prostitution? Why not!
You’re The Worst (FX, 10:30 PM) — FX’s other new comedy is about two toxic and self-destructive people (Aya Cash and Chris Geere) who fall in love with each other.
Sunday, July 27 Manhattan (WGN, 10 PM) — WGN’s second scripted drama stars Jon Benjamin Hickey and centers on the Manhattan Project during World War II.
Returning Shows in July:
July 6: Witches of East End (Lifetime, 9 PM) July 9: The Bridge (FX, 10 PM) July 11: Hemlock Grove (Netflix, midnight) July 13: Ray Donovan (Showtime, 9 PM) July 13: The Real Housewives of New Jerse (Bravo, 8 PM) July 21: Hotel Hell (Fox, 9 PM)
Top Picks for August:
August 8: The Knick (Cinemax, 10 PM) — Steven Soderbergh will direct every episode of this New York-centric show starring Clive Owen. Set in 1900, The Knick follows the groundbreaking staff of a hospital who “push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics.”
August 13: Franklin and Bash (TNT, 10 PM) — August is a pretty light month for television, so why not check out Franklin & Bash? It’s one of my favorite ridiculous shows on television, one that eschews the heavy legal dramatics in favor of former ’90s teen stars shotgunning beers in court.
New Shows in August:
Bachelor in Paradise (ABC, 8 PM) — Bachelor in Paradise takes previous stars from The Bachelor/The Bachelorette and gives them a second chance to find love, this time in an isolated romantic paradise.
Outlander (Starz, 9 PM) — Based on the Outlander novels, this time-traveling love story had a straight-to-series order, meaning Starz is confident it will catch on.
Returning Shows in August:
August 1: The Killing (Netflix, midnight) August 18: Dallas (TNT, 9 PM) August 18: T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle (VH1, 9 PM)