Flavorwire’s Big-Ass Summer TV Preview

By
Share:

Summer TV used to be synonymous with re-runs, but that train has left the station. If you were hoping to use the season to play catch-up, you’ll have to work around the dozens of new and returning series premiering between May and August. For this summer preview, we’ve left off shows that have yet to confirm their premiere dates, like Season 3 of Halt and Catch Fire, AMC’s ’80s-set drama about the early days of personal computing, and Donald Glover’s new FX comedy Atlanta. But we’ve included a whopping 30 series you should keep your eye on this summer — whether you’re looking for a comedy fix, a meaty new drama, or the return of your favorite warm-weather reality show, we’ve got you covered.

COMEDY

May

5/20: Lady Dynamite (Netflix)

Maria Bamford’s first series is pretty much what you’d expect if you’ve seen her standup — one-of-a-kind and a little hard to describe. Bamford plays herself, and the show swings between different periods in her life as she attempts to get her shit together. Created by Arrested Development’s Mitch Hurwitz, Lady Dynamite is billed as a “mockumentary,” but it feels more like a surreal sitcom — not unlike Arrested Development, actually. Fans of Bamford’s standup will be pleased; newcomers may be slightly baffled.

5/31: Maya & Marty (NBC)

Definitely the summer series with the coolest origin story — it all began at the SNL40 anniversary show in 2015 — Maya & Marty is a live variety sketch show starring former SNL cast members Maya Rudolph and Martin Short, plus current cast member Kenan Thompson. NBC has experimented with other variety shows in the past, including the one-off Maya Rudolph Show in 2014. With SNL stuck in a years-long rut, here’s hoping Maya & Marty can help shake up live TV.

June

6/6: Angie Tribeca (TBS)

I’m a sucker for the silly slapstick of Angie Tribeca, the TBS sitcom created by Steve and Nancy Carell and starring Rashida Jones as a hapless LAPD detective — kind of like a hotter, younger, female version of Leslie Nielsen’s Frank Drebin from the Naked Gun movies. The second season premieres amid a big rebranding at TBS, focusing on a new slate of comedies that include Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The Detour, and the upcoming Wrecked. Hopefully all that activity will help steer viewers toward Angie Tribeca.

6/7: Casual (Hulu)

This funny, caustic Hulu original about modern dating stars the wonderful Michaela Watkins as a newly single mother who lives with her brother and teenage daughter. Watkins shines, and the first season had its moments, but I could do with more laughs and less clichéd angst in Season 2. I’ll be watching with the hope that the show ups the ante; there’s just too much competition in the high-wattage streaming game right now.

6/13: BrainDead (CBS)

This new CBS series has a few things going for it: It comes from The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King (it got a straight-to-series order); it has a stellar cast, including Tony Shalhoub, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Nikki M. James, Danny Pino, and Johnny Ray Gill; and it’s about a perky young Hill staffer who arrives in Washington to discover that alien spawn have been feasting on the brains of congressmen. The Kings describe it as a cross between The West Wing and The Strain. Sold.

6/14: Wrecked (TBS)

Another promising new TBS sitcom, Wrecked is a comedy version of Lost, charting the adventures of a group of passengers whose plane crashes on a remote island. The result is kind of like if Survivor were a half-hour comedy — there’s no sense of real danger and the greatest threat to the survivors’ safety is their own stupidity.

6/17: Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

You got this one, right? I don’t need to explain why you should be watching the show that made us realize that Netflix meant business. The fourth season of Orange is the New Black finds the inmates of Litchfield living in a newly privatized prison, with some extra bunkmates. In the immortal words of Aleida, “It’s sardine time, bitches.”

July

7/12: Difficult People (Hulu)

Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner could read the dictionary together for half an hour and I’d probably enjoy it. In their Hulu comedy Difficult People, they play delightfully jaded New York comedians. In addition to series regulars James Urbaniak and Andrea Martin, the first season featured a parade of guest stars, including Amy Sedaris, Fred Armisen, Ana Gasteyer, Seth Meyers, and Kathy Najimy; no doubt Season 2 will feature even more.

7/17: Vice Principals (HBO)

I’m particularly excited for the latest collaboration between Eastbound and Down creator Jody Hill and its star, Danny McBride. Hill and McBride created Vice Principals, a dark new HBO comedy starring McBride and Walton Goggins as rivals vying for the position of VP at a South Carolina high school. “Get back to class, you savages!” I’ve missed you, Danny McBride! (Also, Busy Phillips!)

August

8/31: You’re the Worst (FX)

The first season of this spiky rom-com flew below the radar, but by Season 2, viewers were on board with the misadventures of Gretchen and Jimmy, two commitment-phobic Los Angelenos who hook up at a wedding and decide to make a go of it. The last season went to a dark place, delving into Gretchen’s depression, but it ended on a sweet note, with the two of them finally saying the “L” word. But don’t worry, we’re not about to skip ahead to their wedding day: Season 3 will pick up right where Season 2 left off.

Next up: Drama

DRAMA

May

5/22: Preacher (AMC)

The latest DC comic to get a small-screen adaptation, Preacher is about a small-town Texas preacher (Dominic Cooper) with a strange and mystifying superpower, courtesy of a sort of demon (or angel?) that’s possessed his body. Preacher should be at least a little funny, considering its executive producers are Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg — the writing team behind Superbad, Pineapple Express, and This Is the End — plus Breaking Bad writer Sam Catlin.

June

6/1: Cleverman (Sundance)

From the New-Zealand-set Top of the Lake to the French series The Returned to the pan-European The Last Panthers, Sundance likes its drama global. Its latest series, the genre thriller Cleverman, is an Australian/New Zealand co-production (it was commissioned by ABC Australia’s Indigenous Department) set in the very near future, where super-fast creatures from ancient mythology called “Hairypeople” have reemerged and are immediately blamed for a string of murders. Cleverman stars Australian actor Hunter Page-Lochard and Game of Thrones’ Iain Glen (Jorah, a.k.a. Lord Friendzone).

6/5: Feed the Beast (AMC)

This AMC original is about two besties from the Bronx, Tommy and Dion (David Schwimmer and Jim Sturgess), who fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant on their home turf. With Tommy still grieving the loss of his wife, who died a year earlier in a hit-and-run, and Dion fresh out of prison, their plan to open an upscale eatery in the Bronx is met with skepticism. Judging from the trailer, Feed the Beast looks like a cross between The Sopranos and Top Chef; there are flashes of violence and the only woman we see appears to be ready to take off her clothes, but there are also food-porny glimpses of shrimp sautéing in pans and glasses of wine being carefully sniffed.

6/6: UnREAL (Lifetime)

“We don’t solve problems,” Rachel says in the Season 2 trailer for UnREAL, “we make them and point cameras at them.” The first season of UnREAL, last summer’s hit about the backstage machinations of a Bachelor-esque reality dating show, exposed the manipulation, lying, and soul crushing behind the scenes of Everlasting. The second season raises the stakes: Rachel (Shiri Appleby) has been promoted, for one thing, and for the first time, the show has cast a black man as the new “suitor” — which the real Bachelor has so far failed to do in its 20-season-long run.

6/21: Greenleaf (OWN)

This new drama from Oprah’s network is centered on a predominantly black mega-church in Memphis and the family that owns it. Greenleaf follows Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge), who returns home after two decades away when her sister dies under mysterious circumstances. Creator Craig Wright has a long history producing meaty dramas like Six Feet Under, Lost, and Brothers & Sisters, which bodes well for this juicy-looking family saga.

6/21: Queen of the South (USA)

Like Lifetime, the USA Network had a surprise hit on its hands last summer with Mr. Robot; this summer, they have Queen of the South, a new series about the drug wars based on the best-selling 2002 novel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Brazilian actress Alice Braga stars as Teresa Mendoza, who leaves Mexico after her drug-dealer boyfriend is murdered — and winds up in the States, working to bring down the leader of the trafficking ring she’s just fled.

6/26: Roadies (Showtime)

If Roadies is half as entertaining as Tenacious D’s “Roadie,” I’ll be satisfied. An ode to the people who “brought you the show, but you will never know,” Roadies looks like it may be the show for those of us who were disappointed by Vinyl (so, all of us). Judging by the trailer, Roadies promises a blend of drama, spectacle, and heart. Centred on the crew of an arena-touring band, the series boasts an impressive cast, including Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, and Imogen Poots. Oh, and it’s Cameron Crowe’s first foray into TV.

July

7/10: The Night Of (HBO)

Last summer, Show Me a Hero, the HBO miniseries about the fight for public housing in 1980s and ’90s Yonkers, aired to great acclaim. It appears the cable giant is hoping to recreate the magic with The Night Of, an eight-episode series about a fictional murder case in New York City starring John Turturro and Riz Ahmed that promises to take an unrelenting look at the criminal justice system in general and Riker’s Island in particular.

7/13: Mr. Robot (USA)

Mr. Robot took the summer of 2015 by storm: An ambitious, slippery series about hacker Elliot Alderman (Rami Malek), the show returns for a highly anticipated second season in July. We don’t know much about Season 2 yet, but the Season 1 finale pointed us in the direction of the mysterious, gender-shifting Whiterose, a Chinese-American transgender hacker who is shown briefly at the end of the first season, with the implication that she may know Elliot is behind the financial meltdown triggered by a cybersecurity hack.

August

8/12: The Get Down (Netflix)

The Get Down better live up to the hype, because we’ve been hearing about this Netflix original from Baz Luhrmann and Shawn Ryan for over a year. To be fair, it does sound pretty great: A musical drama set during the birth of hip-hop in 1970s Bronx, The Get Down features a cast of largely unknown actors, which is appropriate considering most of them are playing young, talented upstarts. I’m trying really hard not to knock Vinyl yet again, but the show’s trailer indicates that The Get Down may just be everything that series was not. Ok, I’m not trying that hard.

Next up: Unscripted

UNSCRIPTED

May

5/17: Coupled (Fox)

On Coupled, a “fresh, modern” new dating series, Fox will whisk 12 smart, successful women to a Caribbean island to fix them find them husbands — who will appear before the women via helicopter, of course. Think of it like The Bachelorette, except each woman has a potential match. Also, there’s a Tiki bar.

5/20: Masters of Illusion (CW)

Masters of Illusion has gone through several permutations, first as a live broadcast aired on PAX TV from 2000 to 2001, then as a revived series on MyNetworkTV, then as a series of syndicated specials. Since 2014, the magicians’ showcase has lived at the CW, where it returns for another season of mind-blowing tricks, ahem, “illusions.”

5/20: Secret Lives of Americans (Pivot)

Pivot’s documentary series Secret Lives of Americans returns for a second season of soul-searching. The show takes 20 Americans of all ages and stages and documents them as they confront their deepest secrets; many of the subjects are leading double lives, and there’s something cathartic about watching them pull back the curtain on their true selves.

5/23: The Bachelorette (ABC)

We’re just one week away from annual summer mating ritual The Bachelorette, this time featuring damsel JoJo Fletcher, who was burned by Ben Higgins in brutal fashion on The Bachelor last year. But fear not: host Chris Harrison assures us she’s “ready to move on” — possibly with 27-year-old Jordan Rodgers, the brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers!

5/24: Virtually in Love (Oxygen)

Oxygen’s new reality dating show has a contemporary twist: The would-be couple have “dated” online but never met in person. Virtually in Love follows couples as they travel to meet for the first time, getting to know each other’s family and friends and ultimately deciding whether to continue their relationship IRL.

5/30: So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation (Fox)

The long-running dance competition series/ Cat Deeley fashion show returns for a 13th season with a different slate of contestants than usual: kids. Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler joins the judges to assess the skills of these incredibly talented 8-13-year-old dancers, and if this first look is any indication, it’s going to be freaking awesome.

June

6/1: MasterChef (Fox)

Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi are back to judge the 40 home cooks who will leave their kitchens and travel to Los Angeles to compete for the title of MasterChef. For the show’s seventh season, the third judge will rotate among celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck, Aaron Sanchez, Edward Lee, Kevin Sbraga and Richard Blais.

6/1: American Ninja Warrior (NBC)

I don’t know why this 2014 video of gymnast Kacy Catanzaro becoming the first woman to complete the American Ninja Warrior course makes me cry, but it does, every time, and I won’t apologize. Let’s see if any of the more than 100 competitors can top it on this year’s installment, set in Oklahoma City.

6/11: O.J.: Made in America (ESPN)

This eight-hour 30 for 30 doc arrives in the wake of the hugely successful FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Series, which proved we’ve still got an appetite for this story more than 20 years after the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The ESPN series expands on the Juice, exploring O.J.’s life and career in the context of the relationship between L.A.’s police force and its black citizens.

6/23: BattleBots (ABC)

Robot wrestling, anyone? Last year, ABC revived this former Comedy Central series in which competitors design remote-controlled robots and then send them into battle, and it was a ratings hit. And no wonder: Watching the meticulously designed bots smash each other to bits is surprisingly therapeutic. BattleBots, activate!

August

8/2: Bachelor in Paradise (ABC)

If you can stomach yet another reality dating competition this summer, make some room for Season 3 of Bachelor in Paradise, The Bachelor’s chill cousin who just wants to hang around and drink by the pool. Bachelor in Paradise sticks a bunch of former Bachelor and Bachelorette rejects together in a warm climate to get hammered and (fingers crossed!) mate. We’ll have to wait till bachelorette JoJo Fletcher finds love before the full cast is confirmed.

BONUS ROUND: Also, these!

Bloodline (May 27, Netflix)

IFC Shark Half-a-Day with Jason Alexander (May 30, IFC)

Outcast (Cinemax, June 3)

Tony Awards (June 12, CBS)

The Jim Gaffigan Show Season 2 (June 19, TV Land)

American Gothic (June 22, CBS)

Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons (June 22, HBO)

The A Word (July 13, Sundance)

Stranger Things (July 15, Netflix)

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (July 31, Syfy)

Gomorrah (August 24,Sundance)

MTV Video Music Awards (August 28, MTV)