When it comes to summer’s most anticipated shows, most people think of the premium channels. HBO’s lineup of shows like Game of Thrones, Veep, and Silicon Valley are watched by many, and revered by most. Showtime has joined the fray lately with summer shows like Ray Donovan, House of Lies, and Penny Dreadful.
Throughout the year, other than a select few cable series like The Walking Dead and American Crime Story, television is dominated on two fronts by the premium channels and the broadcast networks. Since network television reaches the most audiences, it is fairly predictable that the majority of the most watched shows of a year land on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. The premium channel shows, on the other hand, dominate the awards circuit. How many times have we seen that HBO commercial commending themselves for having the most Emmy nominations? The fact of the matter is, premium cable allows shows to push the boundaries farther than any other medium – outside of film and streaming.
Lately, however, basic cable has begun to make quite the name for themselves. Shows like The Walking Dead consistently outperform the network lineup in terms of viewers. FX has put together a formidable lineup of shows like American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Archer, and The Americans. Premium cable seems to play their top shows around the same time as the networks – September through May. But with many of the summer’s premium channel offerings coming to an end, what are we to watch? Well, fate has it that basic cable has quite a few options for viewers during the summer months. The flagship shows (for the most part) may be off, but there is still plenty to watch.
So we have put together a list of some of the most anticipated shows of the summer on basic cable, so you’ll know just what to watch while withdrawing from Game of Thrones. This is a diverse list, so there should be something for everyone looking for a new show to watch (or catch up on). Some of these series have already premiered, but they are all ongoing, and available on demand – we suggest you catch up. These are not ranked, but ordered by release date – so don’t fret.
Here are the 15 Most Anticipated Basic Cable Series For This Summer.
Premier Date: May 22
Preacher was developed by the comedy team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and it premiered on AMC a little over a month ago. The series is an adaptation on the comic book of the same name published by DC Comic’s Vertigo Imprint. Like many shows on AMC, there is a fair share of gore, and a lot of excitement. Preacher is, not surprisingly, about a preacher on a mission to find God. That preacher, Jesse Custer (played by Dominic Cooper), has a mysterious past that is not what you would expect from a man of God.
Jesse Custer is joined by his newfound vampire friend, Cassidy (played by Joseph Gilgun), and a highly capable woman from his past, Tulip O’Hare (played by Ruth Negga). Aside from his violent past, Jess Custer is no ordinary preacher. He develops a gift – the Word of God. Put simply, he can control others’ actions simply by speaking to them. It is a tremendous power that Jesse must determine how best to use, given his faith.
Ultimately, Preacher is another solid addition to AMC’s already super-packed slate of shows. If you have not been watching this season, we suggest catching up on demand prior to the first season finale on July 31, 2016.
Premier Date: June 14
Since the announcement of their re-branding in 2015, TBS has made a concerted effort to increase their first-run programming. For the most part, they have been focusing on comedies and late-night talk shows. And so far, they’re doing a pretty good job. They have already found success with shows like Angie Tribeca and The Detour. They also have made a name for themselves in the late-night arena with Conan and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
TBS’s latest foray into original comedy is the show Wrecked. Anyone that watches TBS has seen the commercials – they do a lot of promos for their own shows. The premise is a simple, it is a parody of Lost. For the most part, being stranded on a deserted island is no laughing matter, but Wrecked packs the laughs. Between failed rescue attempts, and having to adjust to life without society’s material items, there is no lack of comedic moments.
13. Animal Kingdom
Premier Date: June 14
TBS’s sister station, TNT, has its fair share of quality programming as well. While their shows over the years have tended to skew towards police-procedurals like The Closer, TNT does offer some viewing options outside of the “cops and robbers” genre. One of those series is Animal Kingdom, currently in its first season. Animal Kingdom is based off of the Australian film of the same name, and follows Joshua “J” Cody (played by Finn Cole) who moves in with his estranged grandmother (played by Ellen Barkin) after the death of his mother.
The Codys, led by Janine “Smurf” Cody (Barkin), are not your average family. Their adrenaline filled and excessive lifestyle is fueled by their criminal activities, and their interpersonal relationships make for many dramatic situations. We suggest you catch up before the final six episodes of the season.
12. The Last Ship
Premier Date: June 19
Another show currently airing on TNT is the action-packed survival thriller The Last Ship. The Last Ship’s third season premiered on June 19, continuing Tom Chandler’s (played by Eric Dane) quest to save humanity. Eric Dane is joined by a solid supporting cast that includes Adam Baldwin (Chuck) and Rhona Mitra (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans).
For those that have not watched any of the show, it takes place after a global viral pandemic that wipes out eighty percent of the world’s population. The show follows the unaffected crew of the USS Nathan James as they try and find a cure for the virus and save human kind. While not competing for any awards, The Last Ship is a fun show that delivers action sequences worthy of the big screen. The season 3 finale airs on August 28 and the first two seasons can be streamed on Hulu.
11. Odd Mom Out
Premier Date: June 20
Bravo is known primarily for their reality programming, but they found a scripted comedy in Odd Mom Out that fits perfectly with their target demographics. The show, created by and starring Jill Kargman, is based on Jill’s life as a mom on the Upper East Side of Manhattan – and her own novel Momzillas.
Odd Mom Out is about Jill Weber’s (played by Kargman) relationships with her husband, children, and the wealthy moms who live near them. The show is not for everyone, but it packs a good amount of humor, and would be an enjoyable watch for any new parents – especially those who find themselves living in a cliquey neighborhood. Episodes highlight extremely relatable storylines, like finding the right kindergarten, play dates, and awkward interactions with other parents who you do not get along with.
Premier Date: June 21
It was only a matter of time before Oprah Winfrey created a scripted television show for her OWN network (look how that worked out). Prior to Greenleaf, scripted television on OWN was dominated by Tyler Perry shows like Love Thy Neighbor and The Haves and the Have Nots. Not surprisingly, Greenleaf debuted as the most watched premier on OWN with over 3 million viewers – there are quite a few popular network shows that often fail to reach that mark (Arrow to name one).
Greenleaf follows the highly immoral world of the Greenleaf family and their large church in Memphis. The series stars Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, and Lynn Whitfield as the matriarch of the family, Lady Mae Greenleaf. The protagonist of the series is the couple’s estranged daughter, Grace Greenleaf, played by Merle Dandridge.
Greenleaf features lies, deception, and the mysterious death of one of the Greenleaf daughters prior to the start of the series. For those interested in complex family dramas, or feel comfortable around secrets, we suggest you check out Greenleaf prior to its August 31 finale.
9. The Jim Gaffigan Show
Channel: TV Land
Premier Date: June 22
Jim Gaffigan, the latest Colonel Sanders in the KFC commercials, is known for his clean, deadpan humor, usually focusing on observations of fatherhood. His comedy routine garnered enough fans, that he now stars in, and created, a show on TV Land based on his life. That show is appropriately titled The Jim Gaffigan Show. TV Land has had some success as of late with shows like Hot in Cleveland and Younger, and The Jim Gaffigan Show is no exception.
In The Jim Gaffigan Show, Jim Gaffigan plays Jim Gaffigan (read that aloud at your own risk), a stand-up comedian raising his five children in a two bedroom apartment in New York City. And it can’t be too hard a role to play, since that describes his reality to a T. The show also stars Adam Goldberg and Michael Ian Black as Jim and his wife’s friends, respectively.
8. Dead of Summer
Premier Date: June 28
Dead of Summer premiered last week on Freeform, and is set in the 1980s at Camp Stillwater. While Camp Stillwater seems like an idyllic spot, it turns out it is shrouded by mystery and tragedy. The show follows seven camp counselors who must navigate the evil that has made its way back to the camp grounds, after something terrible occurred years prior.
The show features supernatural elements and does enough to differentiate itself from another camp-set horror film (Friday the 13th) and MTV’s own slasher series, Scream. While Dead of Summer is likely not for everyone, it packs enough mystery, suspense, and drama, to attract a loyal audience looking for some summer thrills. If you didn’t watch the premier, you can catch up on demand, as the show continues Tuesdays this summer.
Premier Date: July 1
Killjoys is a space adventure-drama produced by Syfy and Space (Syfy’s Canadian equivalent). The show stars Aaron Ashmore (Smallville), Hannah John-Kamen (Game of Thrones), and Luke Macfarlane (Brothers & Sisters), as interplanetary bounty hunters chasing dangerous criminals throughout the distant Quad system.
The bounty hunters must navigate a multi-planet war that threatens the existence of the entire Quad system. John, Dutch, and D’avin (played by Ashmore, Kamen, and Macfarlane respectively) swear to remain neutral during the war, but their complicated pasts eventually draw them closer to the conflict.
Killjoys has been largely praised by critics and fans alike, and is another option for any fan of sci-fi and space drama. Boredom is unlikely with a show that features high tech weaponry, elaborate space battles, and no shortage of secrets. The second season of ten episodes premiered July 1st on Syfy.
Premier Date: July 13
Suits is the USA Network’s highly popular legal drama about a hot-shot lawyer and his associate, who secretly never went to law school. Since its premiere in 2011, Suits has evolved from this simple premise to a show that highlights the personal and professional lives of the partners, associates, paralegals, and assistants who work at Pearson Specter Litt (the name has changed throughout the show).
The series primarily follows big law power player, Harvey Specter (played by The Spirit’s Gabriel Macht) and his associate, Mike Ross (played by Legends of Tomorrow‘s Patrick J. Adams), who has a photographic memory, but no law degree to back it up. The show features a stellar supporting cast that includes Sarah Rafferty, as Harvey’s assistant, Donna, and Rick Hoffman, as fellow attorney, and ballet enthusiast, Louis Litt.
A recurring theme throughout the show has been Mike’s struggle to keep secret the fact that he never went to law school – which in reality is a felony. Mike’s desire to help others, fueled by the unjust death of his parents, makes you quickly forget he is breaking the law every time he goes to court, and seeing Harvey Specter defeat every opponent with ease is a joy to watch.
For those that haven’t seen Suits, we will spare you of any spoilers, but season 5 ended in a big way, and fans have been waiting for months to see what will happen in Season 6, premiering on July 13th. If you have not seen Suits, we suggest checking out the previous seasons on Hulu.
5. Mr. Robot
Premier Date: July 13
With shows like Suits, Burn Notice, White Collar, and others, USA has been at the forefront of original programming for basic cable networks for quite some time. But those shows pale in comparison to the recent success of USA Network’s Mr. Robot. Mr. Robot dominated the awards circuit this past year, winning Best Drama and Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and added a Best Actor win to those two at the Critic’s Choice Awards.
Mr. Robot stars Rami Malek as the socially awkward, clinically depressed, vigilante hacker Elliot Alderson, and Christian Slater (now a Golden Globe Winner) as the eponymous Mr. Robot, an anarchist who recruits Elliot to an underground hacker group. The show, created by Sam Esmail, premiered to overwhelmingly strong reviews.
Premier Date: July 19
Speaking of USA Network’s string of success with original programming, they have a new show premiering on July 19th – so no need to catch up, you can get in on the ground floor. That series, Shooter, is based on the novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter, and the 2007 film of the same name, starring Mark Wahlberg.
Shooter stars Ryan Phillipe as Bobby Lee Swagger (the role originally played by Wahlberg), an expert marksman who is convinced to return from exile after learning of a plot to assassinate the President of the United States of America. The show also features Omar Epps (House) as Isaac Johnson, an ex-marine and current Secret Service agent, who seeks out Swagger for help orchestrating a clandestine operation.
The original film was directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), and failed to garner much support from critics and viewers. We will see on July 19th whether Shooter captures the thrills of Stephen Hunter’s novel, and improves upon the film. We have faith, as USA has consistently delivered high quality high paced action-dramas.
3. Halt and Catch Fire
Premier Date: August 22
AMC’s period drama, Halt and Catch Fire, about the dawning of the personal computer revolution, returns for a third season on August 22nd. Halt and Catch Fire features an ensemble cast including Lee Pace (Guardians of the Galaxy), Scoot McNairy (Argo), Kerry Bishé (Scrubs), and Toby Huss (King of the Hill).
The show follows Joe MacMillin (Pace), a former IBM Executive, who enlists two computer engineers to reverse engineer the IBM PC, and thus enter the personal computer race. Halt and Catch Fire is a unique fictional look into the motivations of innovators attempting to create something that will change the world.
The series is an interesting drama to watch, considering the start-up culture currently tackling new innovation. While it has not caught on like previous AMC dramas, like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, Halt and Catch Fire has been a solid addition to the network’s slate.
2. The Strain
Premier Date: August 28
FX’s vampire horror series The Strain returns for a third season on August 28th. The show is based on the novel trilogy of the same name by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, who also created the show. The first season adapts the first of the three books, and starred Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the CDC Canary Team in New York City. In the pilot, Dr. Goodweather investigates a disturbance on a plane that recently landed at JFK, where most of the passengers are seemingly dead.
Things are not all that they seem, as some of the deceased go missing, and the survivors begin displaying an odd array of symptoms. The Strain has been largely praised by fans and critics alike for its combination of gore, action, and supernatural thrills. The show is layered with political and philosophical subtext, which makes it much more than your average horror series, and can be enjoyed by more than just die-hard B-horror fans.
1. You’re the Worst
Premier Date: August 31
FXX’s (originally FX) comedy You’re the Worst is returning for a third season after a universally acclaimed second season. The show is about toxic relationships, and explores many culturally relevant themes affecting them, like clinical depression, PTSD, drug addiction and adultery.
You’re the Worst features Chris Geere as Jimmy Shive-Overly, an insensitive British writer living in Los Angeles, who meets Gretchen Cutler (played by Aya Cash) after being thrown out of a wedding they were both attending. The two start a relationship despite Jimmy’s selfish personality, and Gretchen’s struggles with depression.
While the first two seasons were revered by fans and critics, the second season, which dealt with the effects of mental illness on a relationship, was universally acclaimed. We can’t wait to see what is in store for season 3, and if you have not watched the first two seasons, there is no better time to catch up than now. The first two seasons of You’re the Worst can be streamed on Hulu.
Despite early summer premiers like Game of Thrones beginning their hiatuses, there is no shortage of options for television enthusiasts on basic cable. What shows are you watching this summer? Let us know in the comments!