If you, like me, “forgot” to work on your summer body this year and have an allergy to the sun, sweat, and summer people then, whoo-ee, do I have news for you. There are roughly a gabillion TV series airing this summer to keep you indoors, and some of them are even good!
And while there is already sufficient anticipation for the returns of Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black, and personal favorites like Insecure, Odd Mom Out, and Younger, we flagged 25 of the dozens of new series premiering this summer making the most interesting plays for your attention and biggest threats of inciting a nationwide bedsore epidemic.
I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime)
June 4 at 10 pm ET
Have you heard the one about the drama series produced by Jim Carrey about a group of L.A. comedians in the 1970s? (There’s a reason stand-up isn’t for everyone.) I’m Dying Up Here stars a brash-as-ever Melissa Leo as the owner of a comedy club and de facto den mother to a group of up and coming, flailing comedians struggling to find their big breaks, their comedic voices, and themselves—none more poignantly than the group’s sole female stand-up, played by a stellar Ari Graynor.
Daytime Divas (VH1)
June 5 at 10 pm ET
In an unprecedented attempt to elicit the loudest gay gasp in recorded history, Daytime Divas stars Vanessa Williams (!) as the creator and lead host of a View-like panel daytime talk show (!!) and is inspired by the book written by former View host Star Jones herself (!!!). A behind-the-scenes war of egos rages, Williams delivers catty one-liners, and Patti freaking LaBelle guest stars. High art? Hardly. Unapologetically salacious? Deliciously so.
June 11 at 9 pm ET
Claws centers on five women running a crime ring out of a Central Florida nail salon. Guys, “claws” refers to nails. And also ferocious women. And also my new favorite TV show. There is bona fide genius in the casting, including MVP of literally everything she is in Niecy Nash, the reliably hysterical Carrie Preston, and Scrubs and Devious Maids vet Judy Reyes. Listen, not all TV antiheroes wear capes. (OK, none really do.) But this is the first time we’ve seen them with manicures—and performances—this fabulous.
The Putin Interviews (Showtime)
June 12 at 9 pm ET
“If Vladimir Putin is indeed the great enemy of the United States, then at least we should try to understand him.” That’s what rabble-rousing filmmaker Oliver Stone says in the press release for his four-part Showtime miniseries. Stone interviewed Putin more than a dozen times over the course of two years. While the last session took place in February, Showtime certainly must be happy about the timing of its airing given how much Russia is dominating the news. The network is comparing the conversations to David Frost’s interviews with President Richard Nixon 40 years ago—exactly the kind of hyperbole you might expect from a series involving Oliver Stone and Vladimir Putin.
Boy Band (ABC)
June 22 at 8 pm ET
ABC’s new reality-competition features so many recycled ideas, washed-up stars, and meaningless buzzwords that it is destined either for nostalgic camp glory, or meticulously choreographed train wreck. Queen Who Rita Ora will host the series, which has hired former Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and Spice Girl Emma Bunton to be “architects,” described as “experts who will guide contestants throughout their journey to stardom.” It’s been close to a decade since a singing competition actually ended in stardom, but that doesn’t mean the journey can’t be silly and fun on its own.
The Gong Show (ABC)
June 22 at 10 pm ET
Serving as the chaser to ABC’s night of reality-TV lunacy is a revival of The Gong Show, which will be produced by Will Arnett. The network’s suite of revivals of other classic game shows have been genuinely fun, chiefly because they generally haven’t messed at all with the period kitsch of the original Celebrity Family Feud, Match Game, and $100,000 Pyramid. The big twist here is that The Gong Show retread will be hosted by “Tommy Maitland,” aka Mike Meyers so in character as a fictional game-show host that the network won’t even acknowledge it’s him. Clever? Insufferable? The gong awaits.
From blissfully dark, twisted, and wonderfully human minds of Nurse Jackie vets Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch and Orange Is the New Black mastermind Jenji Kohan is GLOW, a dramedy that goes inside one of the ’80s quirkiest pieces of pop culture: the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The low-budget, over-the-top TV show really existed. In this fictionalized Netflix show about its formation, Alison Brie stars as a struggling actress relying on G.L.O.W. to revive her career and give her purpose, with Marc Maron as the creative director.
Naomi Watts in a psychological thriller? That should pretty much be a sell for any project, especially this one, in which the Australian Oscar nominee plays a Manhattan therapist who develops intimate and illicit relationships with the people in her patients’ lives. (To be clear: that’s a not a good thing!) Promo photos show a juxtaposition of Watts’ Jean Halloway in a chaste, normal life with her husband (Billy Crudup) and in a redlight-soaked club about to make out with a young woman. (To be clear: That’s not a good thing!)
July 5 at 10 pm ET
In the battle for supremacy in the age of Peak TV, FX has, at least creatively speaking, been dominating: The Americans, Atlanta, Louie, People v. O.J. Simpson, Legion, American Horror Story, Fargo, Feud… That makes their next venture, Snowfall, all the more exciting. Created by John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood), the drama is set in 1983 Los Angeles against the burgeoning crack cocaine epidemic and, according to the official logline, “its ultimate radical impact on the culture as we know it.”
The animated series for Netflix is based on the 30-year-old popular Japanese video-game series, centered on a clan of vampire hunters who clash with Dracula. Early looks at Netflix’s promotional materials hint that the series will stay true to the original’s animation style, even if producers have teased everything from a “dark, satirical” adaptation that will “flip the vampire sub-genre on its head” to a dark and graphic storyline akin to Game of Thrones.
The Bold Type (Freeform)
July 11 at 9 pm ET
The Bold Type is a scripted series based on the life of Joanna Coles, the former editor in chief of Cosmopolitan who helped turned the glossy magazine into one of the largest media brands in the world. It all gets the Freeform treatment with a runway’s worth of young, glamorous actresses playing the young staff of the magazine, each with “outrageous lives and loves” in New York City that promise to sud the show up with soapy drama. The Office alum Melora Hardin will play the editor in chief based on Cole.
Friends From College (Netflix)
Literally all your faves are in this one. Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Fred Savage, and Nat Faxon (plus recurring star Billy Eichner) are college friends who are now in their forties and, for the first time in years, all living in the same city and trying to reconcile their decades-long bonds with the complications of their current lives and requisite mid-life crises. Adorably, of course.
Raven’s Home (Disney)
More than a decade ago, I had a vision: that one day we’d realize that That’s So Raven, even though it was on the Disney Channel, was one of TV’s most reliably entertaining comedies and Raven-Symoné one of the most underrated comedy stars. My vision has finally become a reality, with Disney producing a spinoff of the nostalgia-laden show called Raven’s Home that, a la the recent Fuller House spinoff, will reunite original BFFs Raven (Symone) and Chelsea (Anneliese van der Pol) now that they are divorced and have children of their own.
Midnight, Texas (NBC)
July 24 at 10 pm ET
The TV season and production cycle has gotten so laughably long and drawn out that Midnight, Texas, which will premiere at the end of July, was announced at a splashy NBC presentation over a year ago—last May. Nonetheless, the supernatural series finally arrives this summer, much to the relief of passionate fans of the books it’s based on. The Midnight, Texas book series was written by Charlaine Harris, who also wrote the books HBO’s True Blood series was based on.
Somewhere Between (ABC)
July 24 at 10 pm ET
ABC’s summer thriller boasts the perfect marriage of an underrated, exceptionally talented star in need of a great showcase (Paula Patton) and a chilling mindf**k of a premise. The series centers on a news producer named Laura who knows that her daughter is going to be murdered. She knows where. She knows when. She knows how. (And she thinks she’s not crazy.) But she doesn’t know why or by whom, which keeps her from ensuring her daughter is safe from her terrifying fate.
Manhunt: Unabomber (Discovery)
August 1 at 9 pm ET
Re-horrifying the public with new TV shows and documentaries about the grisly crime stories that captivated and made headlines two decades ago might be the most en vogue trend in TV right now. Following the umpteen projects resurfacing the details of the O.J. Simpson, JonBenét Ramsay, and Menendez Brothers cases is Discovery’s Manhunt: Unabomber, which will dramatize the FBI’s years-long search for “UNABOMer” Ted Kacyznski, who killed three people and injured 23 others in a bombing campaign between 1978 and 1995. Sam Worthington and Jane Lynch star, with Paul Bettany as Kacyznski.
The Sinner (USA)
August 2 at 10 pm ET
If you’ve been woefully marking the time since Jessica Biel’s last regular role on TV, you’re in luck! If you were hoping that it would be anything like her time as Mary Camden on the religious family drama 7th Heaven, your luck has run out. In The Sinner, Biel plays a young mother who commits a startling act of violence and works with an investigator (Bill Pullman) to figure out why she did it.
What Would Diplo Do? (Viceland)
August 3 at 10 pm ET
The race for weirdest new show of the summer was over before it even began. What Would Diplo Do? is not, as it sounds, a docuseries about the polarizing EDM superstar, but instead Viceland’s first scripted comedy series, starring James Van Der Beek, of all people, as the fictionalized version of Diplo. There’s no way your “huh!?” when reading that was louder than mine.
Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update (NBC)
August 10 at 9 pm ET
If the ever-growing maelstrom of ridiculousness that is the world of politics right now under the Trump administration has you already missing the satire of Saturday Night Live—“Covfefe Talk With Linda Richman,” anyone?—then take brief shelter from the storm when the sketch show begins airing prime-time versions of Weekend Update with Colin Jost and Michael Che in August.
Get Shorty (Epix)
August 13 at 10 pm ET
Give credit where it’s due: Ray Romano’s post-Everybody Loves Raymond career (Men of a Certain Age, Parenthood, the best part of Vinyl, extreme wonderfulness in the upcoming The Big Sick) has earned excitement for any project he gets involved in. And so that extends, even if cautiously, to Epix’s TV adaptation of Get Shorty, the Elmore Leonard comedy-crime novel turned 1995 movie. Romano co-stars with Chris O’Dowd (similarly exciting). The series itself is said to be as loosely based on the Get Shorty we know as FX’s Fargo series is on the Coen Brothers film.
August 16 at 9 pm ET
Self-titled, semi-autobiographical sitcoms based on the lives of male comedians have been wearing out their welcome for a while now. That, like Midnight, Texas, NBC has held the Marlon Wayans-fronted series for over a year only adds caution. And its tired boilerplate logline—“Marlon Wayans as a loving but immature dad committed to co-parenting with his ex-wife”—cements the trepidation. But… I think Marlon Wayans is funny! So maybe check it out.
Marvel’s The Defenders (Netflix)
Netflix’s suite of Marvel shows have run the gamut from spectacular and invigorating (Marvel’s Jessica Jones) to inexcusably tone-deaf and messy (Marvel’s Iron Fist). And so the release this summer of Marvel’s The Defenders, which unites all of the streaming service’s protagonists in an Avengers-like epic—Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Danny Rand—is as anxiety-inducing as it is exciting. But who cares, SIGOURNEY WEAVER IS IN IT!
There’s…. Johnny! (Seeso)
Everything about this seems to be a lovely homage: to Johnny Carson, to the time period, and to show business. Paul Reiser co-created the series with Mad About You writer David Steven Simon, about a teenager from Nebraska who stumbles into a job as a gofer on The Tonight Show in the 1970s. The behind-the-scenes comedy about the making of the iconic period of the talk show also stars Tony Danza and Jane Levy, with Johnny Carson played by none other than himself—through archival footage of the host with his guests.
Disjointed is a sitcom from Chuck Lorre and former Daily Show writer David Javerbaum starring Kathy Bates as the owner of a Los Angeles cannabis dispensary. That is about all you should need to know to make this your favorite show of all time.
The Tick (Amazon)
In 2001, Fox produced a wonderful, creative, funny sitcom adaptation of Bed Edlund’s cult comic series The Tick, with Patrick Warburton killing it in the starring role. No one watched it and it was canceled after eight of the nine episodes had aired. Yet there is nothing that today’s TV execs love more than reviving cult favorites and so Amazon is producing a second try at turning the comic into a comedy series, this time with Peter Serafinowicz in the blue suit and, because airing on a streaming service, no ratings pressure for people to watch.