We are comfortably removed from the days when summer television programming was a desert, populated solely by re-runs and lackluster mid-season replacements. Still, it can be relatively hard to find a show to sink your teeth into during the dog days of the season.
So let this list be your guide. Here are thirteen shows – some brand new, and some we are welcoming back into our lives – to get you through the next three months. Crank the air conditioning, grab a remote, and settle in; there are great television series that need watching.
Here are The 12 Most Anticipated TV Series Of Summer 2016.
September Bonus: Luke Cage
Yes, it’s comes out a couple weeks after labor day, but we would be remiss not to mention that Luke Cage hits Netflix on September 30th. It will be the streaming service’s third superhero series on the way to an eventual Defenders installment, after Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
Fans of those series are already familiar with Luke Cage (Mike Colter), as he played a sizable role on last year’s Jessica Jones. This fall, we will see Luke’s origin story, as well as what the future holds for him after the events of Jessica Jones season 1.
There isn’t a ton of confirmation about what Cage’s solo series holds in store – Rosario Dawson is going to appear in her Daredevil role of Claire Temple, and Actress Simone Missick will be appearing as NYC detective Misty Knight. Rumors abound that Iron Fist will also make an appearance on the show, but at this point they are just that – rumors.
Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, continues to bring screams to the small screen with Outcast. The show – based on Kirkman’s comic of the same name – follows a tormented small town loner named Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), as he navigates the landscape of horrors that is becoming his universe.
Barnes teams up with Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) to confront a series of “cases,” encountering a new one each episode. The show will strike a smart balance between the procedural model of weekly stories and the serial model of a continually expanding universe with characters that develop over time. Outcast reportedly gets the scares right as well, using its premium cable platform to spread its horrifying wings. If fright is your goal, this show looks to be a quality early summer offering.
11. O.J.: Made in America
Judging by the success of FX’s American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, the O.J. Simpson saga still seems to have a hold on the American consciousness – despite having been hashed and rehashed countless times over the past two decades. And yet, ABC and ESPN are asking audiences to table any reservations they may have about the freshness of this disturbing real life tale with the release of O.J.: Made In America. This particular telling of the Simpson story is a 7 ½ hour documentary, which ESPN is breaking up into a 7 episode mini-series.
Made In America will investigate Simpson’s story in a way that we haven’t seen before; looking beyond just the crime, the car chase, and the acquittal and broadening its scope to really unpack Simpson’s entire life, the state of American culture at the time of this crimes, the role of media and authority, and the very nature of the black experience in the U.S.
If you are wondering whether you should tune in to yet another O.J. Simpson program, consider that ESPN released the 7 hour documentary in its entirety for a one week theatrical run – solely so it could meet Academy Award qualifications. Clearly, they believe that this is a vital retelling of a story you thought you already knew.
10. Animal Kingdom
Despite being seen by relatively few people, the 2010 Australian film Animal Kingdom made a sizable impact – look no further than its award consideration (including an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress) and the fact that TNT deemed it worth of a U.S. television adaptation. Given the current trends with adaptations – caped heroes, 80s buddy cops, live action Disney productions – it speaks to the quality of the source material that the network took a chance on a relatively unknown foreign property.
Like the film, this show will embed viewers with the Cody family – a seedy group that doubles as a criminal outfit lorded over by their matriarch, “Smurf” Cody. Smurf, the role that Jacki Weaver earned award recognition for six years ago, will be played in show by Ellen Barkin. Trailers for the show suggest that the tone won’t waver much from the original – intense, dark, gritty, and extremely compelling.
9. Orange Is the New Black
The cast and crew of Netflix’s hit prison dramedy have been tight lipped about what to expect this season – but based on early previews, and one particularly dark trailer (for this show), it seems we can expect Orange Is the New Black’s new season to bring as much tension and drama as ever to complement the humor the show does so well. Last season’s finale showed us new prisoners arriving, and bunk beds being built, which all point to some serious overcrowding at Litchfield.
Look for season 4 to continue the trend of shifting focus from the nominal protagonist, Piper, to the rest of the series’ impressive ensemble cast. And despite her story being left as a cliffhanger last season, all the early promotional material this year points to the return of Laura Prepon as Alex, Piper’s love interest.
8. Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons
Sports fans have been waiting for Bill Simmons, ESPN’s one-time golden goose, to reenter the world of sports on a regular basis ever since his bitter departure from ESPN. Simmons, responsible for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series as well as the now-defunct website Grantland, has been active since leaving the company, launching a podcast network and an email newsletter featuring contributors to his new website, which has been under construction.
In addition, it was long ago confirmed that his big new venture would include a weekly program on HBO. The format and content of the show haven’t exactly been established, although the closer the air date comes, the more it sounds Any Given Wednesday will look like classic talk show. Expect interviews, pre-taped segments, and commentary. Whatever shape the show takes, Simmons’ fans are ready for his unique voice and distinct brand to reenter the conversation.
Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Singles, Jerry Maguire) will be the next feature film director to take his talents to the small screen when his series Roadies debuts on Showtime at the end of this month. The show’s ensemble cast is anchored by Luke Wilson and Carla Cugino, as tour managers who are in charge of a rag tag group of young roadies.
Like a lot of his filmography, Roadies looks personal, character driven, and exceedingly earnest. Showtime’s own language describes the show as “an insider’s look at the reckless, romantic, funny, and often poignant lives of a committed group of ‘roadies’”. Crowe can be cloyingly sweet at times, but is just as often a refreshingly optimistic a filmmaker that is completely devoid of cynicism. That makes Roadies a potentially perfect counterweight to some of the more self-serious prestige programming that will crowd the airwaves this summer.
6. The Night Of
Game of Thrones viewers will recognize The Night Of from the haunting and mystifying trailers that HBO has been airing this year. The show’s premise is immediately engaging – a man wakes up after partying with a girl he doesn’t know, only to find her stabbed to death. He is subsequently charged with murder, but the audience will have to wait and see the truth about what happened. Even more attractive is that the network ordered only eight episodes, so we can assume the storytelling will be tight, and that a conclusion of some sort won’t have to wait for a second season.
A couple notes on the show’s pedigree – The Night Of is based on Criminal Justice, a very highly regarded 2008 British series. It was written by Richard Price, a The Wire alum and the author of the classic crime novel Clockers. And it stars John Turturro, a beloved character actor in his own right.
5. Stranger Things
Stranger Things, coming next month to Netflix, has been described by creators Matt and Ross Duffer as a close relative of iconic 70s and 80s science fiction. The brothers modeled the show in part after Spielberg stories like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind – small town settings where the supernatural intersects with the mundane.
The Duffers only a few major credits of note. Namely, the 2015 thriller Hidden and a few episodes of M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines. That didn’t stop them from landing established names like Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine in Stranger Things, which follows the bizarre disappearance and ensuing search for a young boy in a small town.
As part supernatural mystery, part coming of age story, part ode to past classics, Stranger Things looks like it will be extremely bingeable comfort food.
4. Vice Principals
Very few shows coming out this summer look like they have the potential to be as side-splittingly funny as Vice Principals, the new offering from the creative team behind Eastbound and Down. Like Eastbound, Vice Principles features Danny McBride in a leading role. He stars alongside Walton Goggins, as two vice principals in a power struggle to determine who runs their high school.
Eastbound and Down wasn’t exactly broad, and Vice Principals doesn’t seem to be either – early trailers feature some tonal similarities, with humor that tends to skew dark or at least disconcerting, to go with a healthy dose of irreverent absurdity. Fans of McBride’s earlier work on HBO know what to expect – but even if you don’t count yourself among that group, Vice Principals could be a satisfying comedic offering after shows like Veep and Silicon Valley are done for the year.
3. The Get Down
Shawn Ryan is remembered favorably by fans as the showrunner behind The Shield, and the short lived but well-received Terriers. Baz Luhrmann is remembered somewhat favorably as the creator of films like Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and The Great Gatsby. The two came together to create The Get Down, which debuts on Netflix in August.
It’s tough, but fascinating, to imagine what kind of a television series exists in the Venn Diagram of these two creators. The Get Down is going to be a musical period drama about the Bronx in the 1970s, and the creation of hip-hop, punk, and disco. Expect some of the visual bombast that Luhrmann is rightly associated with; hopefully balanced with a dose of the grit, realism, and sense of place that have highlighted much of Ryan’s work.
The series is crazy television chemistry experiment, and the combination of these disparate elements has the potential to be explosive. With a notably diverse cast, and a creative team with a strong vision, it will be more than worth tuning in to see what The Get Down truly is.
2. You’re the Worst
“Anticipated” is an adjective that doesn’t exactly describe You’re the Worst, which has been on the air since 2014 but hasn’t made much of a substantial footprint ratings wise. As a result, it’s been bounced between its original network, FX, and sister channel FXX. Despite middling ratings – like many single camera comedies that have come before it – the show has been an overwhelming hit with critics.
What this means is that, if you aren’t actively anticipating You’re the Worst, it’s very likely that you have entirely missed it thus far, which needs to change this season. The show has been consistently sharp, poignant, and funny, and will be a breath of fresh air as summer sadly winds down.
1. Mr. Robot
Few shows last year generated collective hype and carved out a following like Mr. Robot did. USA Is not exactly known as a destination for trendy programming – but Mr. Robot, with it’s incredibly stylistic presentation, breakneck pace, and disorienting plot, immediately made an impact as water-cooler television.
The network has been nearly silent about what to expect from the show’s sophomore run, and discussing what may happen is impossible without spoiling the first season of the show (which you should absolutely watch if you haven’t.) We do know that the second season picks up shortly after the first left off, and the cast and crew have confirmed that it is going to be just as wild. We also know that new cast members this season include rapper Joey Bada$$, and The Office star Craig Robinson.
Mr. Robot returns July 13, at 9 PM ET, on USA
What are you looking forward to this summer? Let us know in the comments!