If you can remember when summertime TV meant an endless slog of network reruns, interspersed with the occasional made-for-TV movie, baseball game, and maybe a lazy Saturday or two spent dozing off in front of some Tour de France coverage, failing to witness a spectacular pileup, then congratulations on being old. Nowadays, the age of Peak TV welcomes a year-round cycle of scripted programs, meaning summer isn’t the dead zone it once was for those who classify themselves as indoor kids. Instead, summer is teeming with scores of new and interesting programs spread far beyond the realm of networks and into the increasingly nichified territory of cable channels and streaming platforms.
This year welcomes back several series that made a name for themselves quite recently, with both Mr. Robot and UnReal returning for their second seasons. There’s also season 4 of Orange is the New Black to look forward to, as well as the debut of Baz Luhrmann’s hip-hop drama The Get Down. Cameron Crowe makes his television debut staying well within his musically inclined wheelhouse with Roadies, while Danny McBride and Walton Goggins wage war in Vice Principals.
There is more than enough new television to keep everyone entertained and air conditioned as the mercury rises. Here is the list of the new and returning shows you should keep an eye out for as we head into summer.
Sunday, May 1
Top Pick: Penny Dreadful Season 3 – 10 p.m. on Showtime (read our review)
Yes, Penny Dreadful season 3 has already premiered, but if you haven’t checked out the latest installment of John Logan’s beautiful gothic horror series it’s not too late. Season 3 kicked off by expanding the show’s scope in impressive ways, giving Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) a potential new suitor (or is he something else?), while sending Sir Malcolm into New Mexico territory in search of the lycanthropic Ethan. The show continues to excite with its visual style and its love of reinvigorating classic horror monsters within this unique setting.
Monday, May 2
- Houdini & Doyle Series Premiere – 9 p.m. on FOX (read our review)
Tuesday, May 3
- Person of Interest the Final Season – 10 p.m. on CBS (read our review)
Wednesday, May 4
- Maron Season 4 – 9 p.m. on IFC
Thursday, May 5
- Marseille Series Premiere (Netflix)
Friday, May 6
- Grace and Frankie Season 2 (Netflix)
Sunday, May 8
- Wallander – 9 p.m. on PBS
Tuesday, May 10
- First Impressions Series Premiere – 10:30 p.m. on USA
Wednesday, May 11
- Chelsea Series Premiere (Netflix)
Thursday, May 12
- Submission Series Premiere – 11 p.m. on Showtime
Wednesday, May 18
- Royal Pains Season 8 Premiere – 10 p.m. on USA
Friday, May 20
- Lady Dynamite Series Premiere (Netflix)
- Master of Illusion Season 3 Premiere – 8 p.m. on The CW
Saturday, May 21
- All the Way – 8 p.m. HBO
Sunday, May 22
Top Pick: Preacher Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on AMC
Funnymen Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have teamed up to bring Garth Ennis’ famously foul comic book series Preacher to life on AMC. After years of false starts, the story of Jesse Custer and his merry band of misanthropes is finally getting the live-action treatment, with Dominic Cooper in the lead role. This is an easy pick for anyone who enjoyed the comic series, and for those who just want to see whether or not this darkly comic drama will manage to be as edgy as its printed counterpart. Either way, Preacher should make for some must-see TV in late May.
Monday, May 23
- Whose Line is it Anyway? Season 12 Premiere – 9 p.m. on The CW
Wednesday, May 25
- Wayward Pines Season 2 Premiere – 9 p.m. on FOX
Friday, May 27
Top Pick: Bloodline Season 2 – Netflix
Netflix’s slow-paced Florida noir Bloodline was a decent hit with critics and audiences when it debuted last year. Since then, co-star Ben Mendelsohn has gone on prove he can wear an Imperial cape as well as he does a thick patina of sweat, making this series even more attractive for Star Wars fans eager to see just how much range one of the best actors working today actually has. And with a cast that includes the infinitely watchable Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, and Sissy Spacek – along with new addition John Leguizamo – season 2 should have more than enough to bring viewers new and old to the series. If you haven’t already seen season 1, start your binge-watch now.
Monday, May 30
- The Dresser TV Movie– 9 p.m. on Starz
- Roots Miniseries Premiere – 9 p.m. on History, Lifetime, and A&E
- Mistresses Season 4 Premiere – 10 p.m. on ABC
Tuesday, May 31
- Powers Season 2 Premiere – PlayStation Network
- Maya and Marty in Manhattan Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on NBC
- Scream Season 2 Premiere – 10 p.m. on MTV
Wednesday, June 1
- Young & Hungry Season 3 Premiere – 8 p.m. on Freeform
- Baby Daddy Season 5 Premiere – 8:30 p.m. on Freeform
- Kingdom Season 2 Premiere – 9 p.m. on DirecTV
- Cleverman Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on Sundance
- The Night Shift Season 3 Premiere – 10 p.m. on NBC
Thursday, June 2
- Beauty and the Beast Season 4 Premiere – 9 p.m. on The CW
Friday, June 3
- Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 5 Premiere – 11 p.m. on IFC
Top Pick: Outcast Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on Cinemax
Another television adaptation of a Robert Kirkman comic, Cinemax’s Outcast aims to tell a story that will do for the world of demonic possession what The Walking Dead did for zombies – or sweaty people prone to following a dude named Rick. With a terrific cast that includes Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl), Wrenn Schmidt (The Americans), and Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards), this series might be the new watch-with-the-lights-on show that horror aficionados have been waiting for. Cinemax has recently become a destination for some top-notch genre fare, and with the series facing fewer restrictions in terms of content, and a pilot episode directed by You’re Next and The Guest director Adam Wingard, Outcast could find itself accepted into the arms of many a genre lover.
Sunday, June 5
Top Pick: Feed the Beast Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on AMC
David Schwimmer follows up his meme-worthy performance as Robert Kardashian in FX’s superlative The People v. O.J. Simpson with AMC’s newest scripted drama not based on a comic book. Co-starring Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas), Feed the Beast is set in the fast-paced world of restauaranteering, and if the scintillating IMDB synopsis of “Two friends open up a restaurant together” is any indication, we’re all in for one hell of a wild ride. All joking aside, the workplace drama has the makings of a great series, with its strong cast and dynamic setting, as well as the pedigree of creator Clyde Phillips (Dexter) who will serve as executive producer.
Monday, June 6
- Angie Tribeca Season 2 Premiere – TBS
- Devious Maids Season 4 Premiere – 9 p.m. on Lifetime
- Rizzoli & Isles Season 4 Premiere – 9 p.m. on TNT
Top Pick: UnReal Season 2 Premiere – 10 p.m. on Lifetime
Last summer, UnReal defined itself as a top-tier television show. An incredibly dark, biting satire of dating shows and reality TV in general, the series, starring Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer as producers on a Bachelor-esque series called Everlasting became a critical darling. It offered many layers of fiction playing at reality that’s also selling a pretty humungous fiction. The show was at times alternately hilarious and frightening in the sociopathic tendencies that are on display. Often, it was both at the same time. Now that the show has established itself with a strong first season, look for even more diabolical fun in season 2.
Tuesday, June 7
- Animal Kingdom Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on TNT
- Casual Season 2 Premiere – Hulu
Saturday, June 11
- Hell on Wheels Season 5 Premiere – 9 p.m. on AMC
- O.J.: Made in America Miniseries Premiere – 9 p.m. on ABC
- The American West Miniseries Premiere – 10 p.m. on AMC
Sunday, June 12
Top Pick: Difficult People Season 2 Premiere – Hulu
Hulu has been developing a strong slate of original content as of late, with shows like The Mindy Project, The Path, and Casual (which also premieres its second season in June), but one of its earliest remains one of its funniest. Starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner as, well, pretty much themselves (although their names have been changed from Klausner to Kessler and from Eichner to Epstein), Difficult People is executive produced by Amy Poehler and tells the story of two struggling actors/comedians/writers who must balance the desires and hopes they have for their careers with the fact that success may never come. And while the show revolves around two ostensibly loathsome, highly critical people, there exists just enough heart in them that it’s difficult not wind up liking these otherwise difficult people.
- Ride with Norman Reedus Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on AMC
- The Last Ship Season 3 Premiere – 9 p.m. on TNT
Monday, June 13
- Guilt Series Premiere – 9 p.m. on Freeform
- BrainDead Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on CBS
- Major Crimes Season 5 Premiere – 10 p.m. on TNT
Tuesday, June 14
- Uncle Buck Series Premiere – 9 p.m. on ABC
- Wrecked Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on TBS
Thursday, June 16
- Aquarius Season 2 Premiere – 9 p.m. on NBC
Friday, June 17
Top Pick: Orange is the New Black Season 4 Premiere – Netflix
Netflix’s breakout hit from Jenji Kohan is set to premiere season 4 this summer, but fear not, the streaming giant has ensured this will be far from the last, as it renewed the series for seasons 5, 6, and 7 earlier this year. Season 3 ended with a surprising cliffhanger that intimated a certain bespectacled inmate at Litchfield Penitentary had met her end after running afoul of a drug dealer’s assassin. Recent photos have seemed to suggest otherwise, but who knows? Besides, the ending also promised there would be plenty more new (to Litchfield, anyway) inmates coming in to give the series’ diffuse style of storytelling many new characters to explore.
Sunday, June 19
- The Jim Gaffigan Show Season 2 Premiere – 10 p.m. on Netflix
- Murder in the First Season 3 Premiere – 10 p.m. on TNT
Monday, June 20
- The Fosters Season 3 Premiere – 8 p.m. on Freeform
- Odd Mom Out Season 2 Premiere – 10 p.m. on Bravo
Tuesday, June 21
- Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Premiere – 8 p.m. on Freeform
- Queen of the South Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on USA
Wednesday, June 22
- American Gothic Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on CBS
Thursday, June 23
- Thirteen Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on BBC America
Friday, June 24
- The Fundamentals of Caring Movie – Netflix
Sunday, June 26
- Ray Donovan Season 4 Premiere – 9 p.m. on Showtime
Top Pick: Roadies Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on Showtime
Following Ray Donovan’s season 4 premiere, Showtime will debut Roadies, its newest comedy/drama from acclaimed write/director Cameron Crowe. The show is a return to form of sorts for Crowe, who seems interested in exploring some of the same themes he did in 2000 with Almost Famous. The tone of the series is similar, too; it’s kind of a comedy, kind of a drama, and filled with characters who have a knack for appreciating the power of a particular moment with some sharp dialogue. The series also packs an impressive cast with Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Imogen Poots, Rafe Spall, and the always-great Luis Guzmán. Crowe’s work has always had an interesting relationship with music, and this looks to be no different.
- Impastor Season 2 Premiere – 10:30 p.m. on TV Land
Tuesday, June 28
- Dead of Summer Series Premiere – 9 p.m. on Freeform
- Zoo Season 2 Premiere – 9 p.m. on CBS
Thursday, June 30
- Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll Season 2 Premiere – 10 p.m. on FX
Friday, July 1
- Marcella Series Premiere – Netflix
- Marco Polo Season 2 Premiere – Netflix
- Killjoys Season 2 Premeire – 9 p.m. on Syfy
- Dark Matter Season 2 Premiere – 10 p.m. on Syfy
Wednesday, July 6
- Tyrant Season 3 Premiere – 10 p.m. on FX
Sunday, July 10
Top Pick: The Night of Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on HBO
HBO’s The Night of has had to travel a long, winding road in order to finally make its way to television screens. An adaptation of the British crime series Criminal Justice, this miniseries was written by acclaimed author Richard Price (Clockers), with several episodes directed by Steve Zaillian – who is perhaps best known for writing such films as Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York, and David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While that’s certainly the sort of acclaim-ready pedigree that HBO tends to gravitate towards, the miniseries faced seemingly insurmountable complications early on when star James Gandolfini passed away. Those complications were compounded when his replacement, Robert De Niro, also left the series. The Night of finally netted John Turturro in the lead as lawyer Jack Stone, who finds himself embroiled in a bizarre homicide investigation. If anything, the miniseries will be a return to form for HBO, which is in need of some acclaim after Vinyl and True Detective season 2 failed to live up to expectations.
Monday, July 11
- Penn & Teller: Fool Us Season 3 Premiere – 8 p.m. on The CW
Wednesday, July 13
- The A Word Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on Sundance
Top Pick: Mr. Robot Season 2 Premiere – 10 p.m. on USA
What can be said about Sam Esmail’s summer 2015 breakout hit Mr. Robot that hasn’t already been said? The series made a star out of Rami Malek, but more than that, it became the rare example of a television program capable of inspiring an impassioned dialogue from those watching. That’s a feat typically reserved for Game of Thrones and silly fake-out deaths on The Walking Dead. But the series struck a chord with its compelling storytelling told through the lens of the most fascinating unreliable narrator in a long time, and its odd ability to be prescient without being too precious about the state of the world and the plight of those tired of answering to the one percent. It’s a rare socially conscious series born of pop culture that’s equally intelligent in its merging of the two.
Friday, July 15
- East Los High Season 4 Premiere – Hulu
- Stranger Things Series Premiere – Netflix
Sunday, July 17
- Ballers Season 2 Premiere – 10 p.m. on HBO
Top Pick: Vice Principals Series Premiere – 10:30 on HBO
As prestige dramas continue their cyclical decline, the half-hour comedy is quickly rising to take their place as the most interesting thing on TV. And HBO looks to have another comedic hit with the series Vice Principals, starring Danny McBride and Walton Goggins as a pair of educators (a thought that is already comedy gold) running a high school in the sort of fashion that makes one cringe for the American education system. The trailer alone is filled with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments – and with the promise of cameos from Will Ferrell and Bill Murray, it seems Vice Principals can’t miss.
Sunday, July 31
- Sharknado: The 4th Awakens TV Movie – 8 p.m. on Syfy
Friday, August 12
Top Pick: The Get Down Series Premiere – Netflix
Baz Luhrmann is well known for his audacious films that typically glitter with graphic lavishness. His films – especially the 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby – border on ostentatious, but the director’s deliberate use of flash and spectacle often allows his films to offer something more complex than a simple gilded veneer. This August, Luhrmann will turn his sometimes-divisive vision to TV with Netflix’s The Get Down, an exploration of music and life amongst a group of teenagers living in the South Bronx during the 1970s. Like HBO’s Vinyl, the series looks at music during a time of change, but rather than explore it through the lens of the wealthy executives, the series intends to examine the cultural and social influences that gave rise to hip-hop, punk, and disco. If the above sizzle reel is anything to go by, The Get Down is going to be one of the highlights of 2016.
Wednesday, August 24
- Gomorrah Series Premiere – 10 p.m. on Sundance
There you have it, all the entertainment you could want for a summer of television watching. Screen Rant will update the list as more premiere dates are announced. Let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments section.
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