WHAT TO WATCH
Summer TV: The 30 Most Exciting New Shows
From a Ryan Murphy dance musical to Amy Adams’ HBO debut to John Krasinski’s take on Jack Ryan, here are 30 new series to add to the DVR. Vitamin D is highly overrated.
This summer, the chicest new sunscreen on the market is a Netflix subscription. Of course, there are necessary accoutrements to the UV ray-shielding regimen: an Amazon subscription, Hulu account, YouTube premium access, a full cable package, a DVR, and enough hours in the day to maintain them all.
With the idea of a traditional fall-to-spring TV season so 2013, there are more TV series than ever vying for your attention during the summer months.
In addition to returning favorites like GLOW, Queen Sugar, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Younger, The Affair, and more, there are dozens of new series wooing you back inside to the air conditioned bliss of your couch. We’ve surveyed them all: a Ryan Murphy dance musical with a historic LGBTQ cast, a Stephen King multiverse, Amy Adams’ TV debut, ’90s Nickelodeon nostalgia, John Krasinski’s take on Jack Ryan, and more.
Here, we’ve culled the 30 shows most worth your attention.
May 30 at 10 p.m. ET
Summer TV begins with a horror story for technology skeptics. Sarah Shahi plays a former hostage investigator recruited to rescue people whose minds are trapped inside a sophisticated virtual reality program. Bonus: Between this series and the word’s constant use in Westworld, we may actually come out of Summer 2018 knowing what “reverie” means.
C.B. Strike (Cinemax)
June 1 at 10 p.m. ET
It was only a matter of time, but it’s finally here: a television adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s popular books! Well, not those books. The magical whimsy of Hogwarts is swapped for the psychological thrills of Rowling’s series of detective novels, penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. This TV adaptation already aired in the U.K., starring Tom Burke as a war veteran second-lifeing it as a private detective cracking cases that have eluded police.
June 3 at 9 p.m. ET
There’s a Whitney Houston music cue at the end in the first episode of Pose that will have you out of your seat, forgiving the nearly hour-and-a-half it took to get there. (Hour-long dramas apparently now only view that first part as a suggestion.) All of that, of course, is hallmark Ryan Murphy, who is making history with this series about life in ’80s New York City set against the backdrop of ballroom culture, the transgender community, and, yes, Trumpian excess. Featuring the largest LGBTQ cast ever assembled, including breakout performances by transgender leading actors, you’ll start voguing as you wait for the next episode.
June 3 at 10 p.m. ET
We’re not saying Succession, in which a global media mogul’s children jockey for power and control of a massive conglomerate, is modeled after the Murdochs. But we’re not saying it’s not, either. The truth is it’s not hard to project any number of powerful families onto this show—the Trumps, anyone?—which infuses an Empire-like Shakespearean vibe into the world of the power-suit wearing .0001 percent.
June 4 at 9 p.m. ET
Plum Kettle (played by Joy Nash) is saving up for weight-loss surgery while ghost writing letters from the editor on behalf of a popular women’s magazine’s HBIC, Kitty Montgomery (Julianna Margulies, doing shades of Miranda Priestly). Everyone is slightly distracted, however, by the spate of men who keep disappearing and getting killed, all of whom happen to be accused sexual harassers. Timely enough for you?
There are many reasons to be intrigued by Condor. It’s adapted from the 1975 Sydney Pollack film Three Days of the Condor and the book it was based on, some of the most intriguing, mind-banging political thriller source material there is. (A CIA employee heads to lunch and returns to see his entire office has been killed.) But, folks, this co-stars Mira Sorvino, a beacon of the #MeToo movement and a fantastic actress whose career was derailed by the Monster Weinstein, a comeback we should all be cheering for.
Impulse (YouTube Red)
Proof that top talent is spread all over the million or so different content platforms, this series for YouTube’s premium service comes from Doug Liman, whose action-thriller pedigree includes launching the Bourne franchise and directing films like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Edge of Tomorrow. Tackling teleportation and sexual assault, Impulse might sound like 2018 TV-development Mad Libs, but it’s based on the same book series that inspired his 2008 film Jumper. Liman has called Jumper the film he’s least pleased with, suggesting that he’s on a mission here for a solid re-do.
American Woman (Paramount)
June 7 at 10 p.m. ET
It was only a matter of time before one of Bravo’s Real Housewives headed to prestige TV. Beverly Hills Housewife Kyle Richards is co-executive producer of this period dramedy loosely based on her childhood, growing up with a single mom, played by Alicia Silverstone, in California at the rise of second-wave feminism in the ’70s. The fashion! The theme song by Kelly Clarkson! Cher Horowitz meets Real Housewives! What would her tagline be? “You can ring the bell in my bottom.” Too much?
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger (Freeform)
June 7 at 8 p.m. ET
The only things certain in life are death and taxes and, at any point in time, there is a new Marvel series debuting. This one is the first for Freeform, the teen-skewing network known for shows like Pretty Little Liars and Grown-ish. That’s an intriguing vibe to lend the omnipresent superhero genre. This one centers on two teens who discover that they have superpowers and that they’re in love. Hormones, every young hero’s kryptonite.
The Staircase (Netflix)
The “Netflix True-Crime Docuseries That Will Simultaneously Disturb the Entire Nation for a Season” is its own cottage industry by now, getting its summer installment with The Staircase. This one is a super-mash-up, of sorts. Examining the case of crime novelist Mike Patterson, who was convicted of killing his wife, The Staircase first aired in 2004, and then was updated with a miniseries in 2013. This version combines it all and adds three extra episodes with new revelations, a total of 13 installments for you to binge.
Strange Angel (CBS All Access)
With The Good Fight and Star Trek: Discovery as its founding entries, CBS All Access already boasts a pretty stellar track record when it comes to original digital content. Its next offering is Strange Angel, a sci-fi series based on the novel by George Pendle and boasting perhaps the greatest tagline of any television series ever: “Sex. Magick. Rocket Science.”
Breaking Big (PBS)
June 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET
“How did they get famous?” has been done before. The 2018 question is, “How did they get influential?” PBS’ interview series will chart the unconventional paths some of the most recognizable cultural leaders took to get where they are today, including episodes on Trevor Noah, Eddie Huang, Gretchen Carlson, San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, and SoulCycle co-founder Ruth Zukerman.
Deep State (Epix)
June 17 at 9 p.m. ET
TV development execs have never met a government conspiracy thriller they didn’t like. This one from Epix stars the ever-menacing Mark Strong as a former spy recruited by an ex-MI6 agent to join his new covert merger espionage organization, The Section. Spies on spies on spies.
The Proposal (ABC)
June 18 at 10 p.m. ET
In what sounds like a demented mash-up of Blind Date and The Bachelor—and therefore perhaps the crowning achievement in summer reality TV guilty pleasure—each episode of The Proposal will see contestants competing for the attention of a suitor or “suitress” whose identity is concealed. Only when there are two hopeless romantics remaining will the suitor be revealed and the finalists have the chance to propose marriage. And you thought Tinder was stressful.
June 20 at 9 p.m. ET
After winning an Emmy for his performance in the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, Kevin Costner is back on a horse and in a cowboy hat for Yellowstone, his first regular TV series role. While movie stars heading to TV will always be newsworthy, it’s the film talent behind the camera that has us intrigued. Tyler Sheridan, who wrote Hell or High Water, Wind River, and Sicario writes and directs this series, about the unexpectedly high-stake struggles facing a modern-day rancher.
Take Two (ABC)
June 21 at 10 p.m. ET
The new crime drama from the team behind Castle sounds extremely Castle-y, made all the more fun by the fact that effortlessly charming The O.C. alum Rachel Bilson is standing in for aggressively charming Nathan Fillion in the lead: the former star of a TV cop show shadowing a detective to research a role that she hopes will be her big comeback.
Double Dare (Nickelodeon)
June 25 at 8 p.m. ET
Millennial nostalgia is a powerful, witchy thing, this time bringing back from the dead the madcap Nickelodeon kids’ game show Double Dare, which married trivia, slime, and a human hamster wheel for a stunt show that, god help us all, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. While YouTube star Liza Koshy will host, O.G. emcee Marc Summers will be back to provide color commentary, thus staving off a riot mob of thirtysomethings.
A Very English Scandal (Amazon)
A Very English Scandal would be irresistibly titillating even if it wasn’t based on a real-life tabloid brouhaha, albeit one that American audiences are likely unfamiliar with. In Britain in the 1970s, MP Jeremy Thorpe has a secret affair with a younger gay man named Norman Scott, which he is desperate to keep secret as his political career takes off. When Scott is found dead, Thorpe stands trial for his murder. As for the Very English Casting: Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw play the doomed lovers.
Sharp Objects (HBO)
July 8 at 9 p.m. ET
*WHEE-OO WHEE-OO* (That’s a 911-emergency alarm bell, if you couldn’t tell.) Amy Adams is starring in a HBO prestige drama thriller! I repeat, Amy Adams is starring in a HBO prestige thriller! Take your heart pills, because it only gets better from there. The series is adapted from the hit book by Gillian Flynn, who wrote Gone Girl (heard of it?). Buffy, Mad Men, and UnREAL vet Marti Noxon, also busy this summer with Dietland, is creator and showrunner. Patricia Clarkson and Elizabeth Perkins round out the cast. Get thee to a ventilator.
July 10 at 10 p.m. ET
Rebooting and modernizing works that are considered generational canon can run the gamut from inspired to blasphemous, and the jury is still out on where this Heathers series falls on that spectrum. The high school dark comedy flips the script by making one of the Heathers genderqueer, portrayed by male actor Brendan Scannell. But the series’ pilot, which was made available earlier this year, was blasted for a lack of nuance and sensitivity that bordered on, as The Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen wrote, a “LGBT-bashing nightmare.”
The Outpost (The CW)
July 10 at 8 p.m. ET
The logline for The Outpost is so CW-evocative and high-concept that you could tell us it describes The 100 or The Tomorrow People or The Secret Circle or The Messengers of The [Fill in the Blank] rebooted, and we’d believe you. That said, those shows are all fun! This one is about the lone survivor of an entire race who discovers supernatural powers while learning how to stay alive. Sure!
Burden of Truth (The CW)
July 11 at 8 p.m. ET
Some Smallville actresses become high-ranking recruiters for a heinous sex cult. Others graduate to topline The CW’s version of Erin Brockovich. In Burden of Truth, Kreuk plays a big-city lawyer who returns to her hometown to take the case of a group of girls who are all suffering from a mysterious illness. By the end of the season, we hope she gets justice, and that we stop instinctively typing Burden of Proof instead of Truth.
Castle Rock (Hulu)
Castle Rock is the mysterious Maine town where many of Stephen King’s stories are set. Castle Rock is a new anthology series from J.J. Abrams that imagines a Stephen King multiverse of sorts, where characters and storylines from across the author’s works, including Cujo, The Dark Half, and The Dead Zone, will intersect in an original narrative starring Sissy Spacek, Andre Holland, and It’s Bill Skarsgard. This is exciting, nerds!
Making It (NBC)
July 31 at 10 p.m. ET
Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman are co-hosting a crafting series, be still my twee heart. It’s as if The Great British Baking Show took a pit stop in Pawnee, with the Parks and Recreation stars employing gobs of felt, glue, and wry humor for a competition series that has contestants fashioning handmade goods. Poehler’s self-described crafting naïveté and Offerman’s legendary woodworking skills will inform their encouragement, guidance, and narration.
In Dreamland, an alcoholic princess named Bean and her feisty elf companion named Elfo navigate ogres, sprites, harpies, imps, trolls, and Bean’s personal demon, Luci, on a series of misadventures. The animated series comes from Simpsons legend Matt Groening, and, speaking of demented royal pedigree, boasts Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson leading the voice cast. Yaaas queen. Err, princess.
The Innocents (Netflix)
“Romeo and Juliet, but they’re shapeshifters.” Who knows if that was the actual pitch for The Innocents, in which star-crossed teen lovers Harry and June run away from their families only to discover that June has the power to shapeshift. (You think you know someone.) It’s a supernatural entry into Netflix’s exploding young adult space, on the heels of another watercooler season of breakout hit 13 Reasons Why.
Jack Ryan (Amazon)
Are you among those irate that, for all his brilliant directing and acting in A Quiet Place, John Krasinski committed the cinematic sin of keeping his damn shirt on the whole time? He Who Was Jim Halpert, famously buff since leaving Dunder Mifflin, ascends to action hero status to take the baton as Jack Ryan in Amazon’s spin on the Tom Clancy series. Krasinski’s biceps have big sleeves to fill, following Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, and Ben Affleck in the role.
Lodge 49 (AMC)
The network that brought you the brooding ennui of Don Draper, the tortured moral anxiety of Walter White, and all those zombies introduces its new complicated leading man: a surfer dude? Lodge 49 is a new tonal direction for the network, starring Wyatt Russell as well-meaning but rudderless former surfer—a “lovable loser,” as the network’s president of programming describes—who moves into a frat lodge in Long Beach after the death of his father, hoping to get his life on track, but finding it unexpectedly derailed by his new support system.
All About the Washingtons (Netflix)
Run-DMC’s Rev. Run (aka Joey Simmons) sets up his own version of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with this lightly autobiographical sitcom in which Simmons and his wife, Justine, play fictionalized versions of themselves raising a family of four kids.
The logline for Insatiable reads, “A disgraced, dissatisfied civil lawyer-turned-beauty pageant coach (Dallas Roberts) takes on a vengeful, bullied teenager Patty (Debby Ryan) as his client, and has no idea what he’s about to unleash upon the world.” We have no idea either, as Netflix hasn’t released much more information than that. But it’s created Lauren Gussis, an alum from Dexter, so consider us intrigued by how that sensibility translates to the teen beauty pageant world.