Ain’t that the way: The country is finally opening up after an interminable, harrowing house arrest—just in time for summer!—and it coincides with all of the major TV projects that were delayed because of the pandemic being released simultaneously, like a streaming-age traffic pile-up.
Should going outside, no matter what CDC guidelines say, still simply not be for you (come sit by me!), then you’re in for a treat. Everyone from Nicole Kidman to RuPaul, Daniel Radcliffe to Joanna Gaines, and Heidi Klum to Andy Samberg have new shows coming to keep you busy inside. There’s Marvel, Real Housewives, Ted Lasso, and myriad butts, all for your viewing pleasure.
As for everyone else? Well, it will be a Sophie’s Choice between #HotVaxxSummer and guilty-pleasure watching your way through the new revival of Gossip Girl.
When we say there are more options for things to watch this summer than any human could feasibly consume, it’s an understatement akin to saying, “This last year was a little difficult, eh?” So we picked through the list of new and returning shows—a list that frankly stretches from my apartment to the moon—and highlighted 30 that, whether because of the talent involved, the intriguing premise, or the aforementioned butts, we think could be worth your time.
Here they are in order of release date:
June 4, Apple TV+
The creative team behind this is a smorgasbord of culturati favorites, from indie to mainstream: Stephen King is adapting his own novel, J.J. Abrams is producing, Pablo Larraín (Jackie, The New Pope) directs, and Julianne Moore and Clive Owen star. It’s an eclectic gathering rooted in something unprecedented: King, who has a mixed history with adaptations of his work, wrote every episode.
June 9, Disney+
Fans of Marvel and intense hairlines will feast this summer, with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki heading to Disney+ in the prodigious shadow of WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Marvel and Disney have done an impressive job of thwarting expectations and sustaining buzz for its original series thus far (a Kathryn Hahnaissance and inspired Julia Louis-Dreyfus casting will do that for you). This take on Hiddleston’s fan-favorite character is supposed to have a comedic bent, which could be just the bit of humor antihistamine those with Marvel allergies need.
June 13, Starz
After being one of the best movies to show at Sundance in recent years, the 2018 film fell confusingly under the radar. We’re glad to see it find a second life as a series, this time centered on Jasmine Cephas Jones’ character Ashley, who is dealing with life after her husband is put behind bars.
June 16, FXX
This series is about a socially obtuse white guy aspiring to be a rapper whose name, Lil Dicky, is inspired by his penis deformity. With a logline like that, the first season of Dave had no business being as poignant as it was, managing absurdist laughs through a fascinating probe into masculinity, insecurity, and depression. It should have gotten more awards attention than it did, especially for the performances from star Dave Burd and scene-stealer GaTa, as his enthusiastic hype man who’s battling his own demons.
June 17, Paramount+
There was a time in the mid-2000s when people talked about how the best sitcom writing on TV was happening on “kids’ shows” on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. The shining example of that was iCarly, which ran on Nickelodeon for six seasons and showcased the crack comedic timing of Miranda Cosgrove. (That original series slapped. I said what I said.) She and the show’s original stars are back almost a decade after the series finale for a revival, one of the few we can actually get behind.
June 18, Apple TV+
Sometimes a TV or movie project comes along that seems so perfectly engineered towards your personal tastes that you wouldn’t even be able to dream it up yourself. That’s the case with Physical, in which the forever underrated Rose Byrne stars as an ’80s housewife who finds her voice and independence while building a step aerobics empire. As for the hair and costumes? Byrne’s Spy wig found shaking.
June 20, Paramount+
Evil is one of those shows that flew under the radar but, thanks to quarantine binges, all the cool people you follow on Twitter have now watched and are completely obsessed with it. It’s got all the procedural goods you expect from creators Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife/Fight), with the added intrigue of supernatural forces—forces far scarier than pulling off that Alicia/Kalinda green screen scene.
Kevin Can F**k Himself
June 20, AMC
While I would like to have the title alone stitched onto a throw pillow, the premise to Kevin Can F**k Himself is intriguing in its own right. Schitt’s Creek breakout star Annie Murphy stars as a prototypical sitcom wife: smart, hot, and quick with an eye roll when her schlubby husband, Kevin, makes a boorish joke. But when she revolts and breaks free from his domain, her multi-cam prison becomes a single-cam reality. (I would totally watch a spinoff in which Kevin James narrates his feelings about all this…)
David Makes Man
June 22, OWN
While OWN has slyly produced some of cable TV’s best, most underappreciated dramas—Queen Sugar, Greenleaf—its gold-star offering is David Makes Man. From Moonlight writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, it’s a coming-of-age story of a young Black man grappling with dueling identities of place, culture, masculinity, and where he wants to go in this world. The thing won a damn Peabody Award. What else do I have to say to convince you to watch?
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
June 24, Paramount+
It is of my understanding—and certainly my experience—that barely five days have passed since the pandemic began without there being a new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to watch across the franchise. If you haven’t been indulging in the international cycles—Canada, U.K., Holland, Australia, and Spain—that have been streaming, the sixth iteration of All Stars marks a return to the stateside werkroom. The definition of “all star” may be loosely interpreted this go-round, but the show’s fans will likely eat it all up anyway.
June 25, Apple TV+
An animated musical sitcom from the creators of Bob’s Burgers should in every way be a delight, and generally was—with the exception of an egregious, ignorant casting decision that stirred controversy over the summer amid the nation's discourse about systemic racism. Kristen Bell had delivered a lovely voice performance as Molly Tillerman, with the outrageous caveat that Molly is a mixed-race character and Bell could be the photo illustration for an encyclopedia entry for “white lady.” The character has been recast with Emmy Raver-Lampman for season two.
June 25, Netflix
For some, #HotVaxx summer means hitting the clubs, partying hard, and working even harder to satisfy a pandemic-pent-up libido. For others, it means sitting at home and watching horny, raunchy television from our couch. Sex/Life, then, is at your service. The series, about a frustrated housewife fantasizing about the wild old days with her ex, delivers on its title and, more, satisfies all of our need for some summer TV sexy trashiness.
Below Deck Mediterranean
June 28, Bravo
Time moves faster when you’re watching Below Deck, as many people discovered during quarantine while bingeing the roughly 97 existing seasons of the franchise. The series, especially its Mediterranean edition, has somehow earned the distinction as the Bravo show that straight men love watching with their significant others as much as she does. Maybe it’s the blue-skies escapism. Maybe it’s the boozed-up Downton Abbey dynamics. Either way, it’s back.
July 8, HBO Max
Even as reboots and revivals become so mainstream the culturati has no choice but to rule them unfashionable, there is palpable excitement for the return of Gossip Girl. The new cast of scheming, indulgent, yet aspirational teens is as inclusive as they are hot. With so many copycat series over the years attempting to recreate the show’s magic, can original creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who are executive producing the series, really catch lightning in a bottle twice? We’ll see. XOXO, Gossip Gay.
The Real Housewives of Potomac
July 11, Bravo
In a just world, the cast members of The Real Housewives of Potomac would be television icons. Legends. A-list names. (And not just in Grand Dame Karen Huger’s own mind.) At an awkward time for reality TV, as it attempts to calibrate the outlandish drama it’s been known for with the social truths and responsibilities of a changing world, no other series nailed the balance like RHOP. As explosive as the drama has been in recent seasons, it’s been tempered by candid and at times painful conversations about what it means to be Black women today, both in America and in the spotlight.
Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail
July 13, TBS
This TBS anthology series, the rare comedic entry in the genre, has been one of the most slept-on gems in its two seasons thus far. Rep players Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, and Geraldine Viswanathan have thus far starred in seasons set in Heaven and in Medieval Times. Season three takes the journey to the Oregon Trail, fording the river with the show’s signature brand of lunacy, cultural criticism, and satire.
July 15, Discovery+/Magnolia
The King and Queen of blandly feel-good television, Chip and Joanna Gaines, had to push back the launch of their Magnolia Network to 2022. (Yes, the home renovation personalities really are Oprah-level popular, to the tune of their own network.) In the meantime, a slew of content planned for Magnolia will debut this summer of Discovery+, including the entire catalog of Fixer Upper episodes—which should tide me over once I get my first sunburn and refuse to go outdoors for the rest of the summer.
Making the Cut
July 16, Amazon
While pandemic shooting restrictions and the show’s top-designer budget could have spelled “auf wiedersehen” for Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s splashy follow-up to Project Runway on Amazon, the show found a way to, how should we say...make it work. Yes, those catchphrases are now retired from the series, on which the biggest twist is that you can buy the winning designs immediately from Amazon. Also out this season, sadly, are stellar judges Naomi Campbell and Nicole Richie. New judges Winnie Harlow and Jeremy Scott, on the other hand, have us intrigued.
July 16, Apple TV+
Saturday Night Live virtuoso Cecily Strong in the leading role of a musical parody of Hollywood Golden Age musicals of the 1940s?!?! A single tear is dripping down my cheek, the thought alone is so beautiful, so perfect. Add in the personal faves making up the ensemble cast, and I could full-on weep: Keegan-Michael Key, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Alan Cumming, Jane Krakowski, Martin Short, and, if you can believe it, more.
July 23, Apple TV+
Because we all deserve something nice, Ted Lasso is finally coming back. The comedy series became as close to a phenomenon as it gets over the pandemic, taking the Schitt’s Creek torch of sharply written, exceptionally performed, feel-good comedy. Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly: Jason Sudeikis’ gee-golly, fish-out-of-water American coach, Hannah Waddingham’s melted-heart ice queen, and even the whole “making people who hate sports invested in a story about soccer/football” thing. And, again, it was just so damn nice!
Behind the Music
July 29, Paramount+
There are TV moments that never leave you. They’re formative. They bake into your psyche. You think about them constantly. For me, that is Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes talking about burning her ex’s house down during TLC’s episode of Behind the Music on VH1 in the ’90s. In the age of intense image control and hyper-orchestrated messaging, it should be interesting to see how gritty a long-overdue revival will get, with Jennifer Lopez, LL Cool J, Ricky Martin, and Busta Rhymes kicking things off on Paramount+.
August 6, Apple TV+
One fallout of the streaming boom is the relatively recent phenomenon of major movie stars signing on to star in TV series—once upon a time about as big of a deal as there was in Hollywood—and it being so commonplace that sometimes no one notices. Before researching this preview, I had no idea Joseph Gordon-Levitt was creating, writing, directing, producing, and starring in an Apple dramedy series. He plays a fifth grade teacher dealing with the loneliness of a failed music career and depressing personal life. Sounds...fun?
August 10, Fox
A modern-day reboot of Fantasy Island isn’t intriguing so much as it is an inevitability. While I’m not sure the name means much to younger viewers who missed out on watching the original run or catching reruns later on TV Land, it’s still refreshing to see the perennially under-celebrated Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids, Grand Hotel) take over for Ricardo Montalban as the iconic Mr. Roarke. Well, now Elena Roarke.
August 12, NBC
What was once hailed as broadcast’s best, goofiest office-place sitcom suddenly became slightly problematic when last summer’s police shootings and calls to defund inspired a reconsideration of how the comedy portrayed cop behavior and abuses of power. Plans for the final season were reportedly scrapped completely in order to address this. The show has been so good for so long (eight seasons across two networks!) that we’re really curious to see what it comes up with.
August 13, Amazon
The first iteration of the episodic anthology series was sweet, emotional, and woefully uneven. Just like love! Based on the New York Times column and podcast about the different ways people connect through love, Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel, Catherine Keener, Andrew Scott, and Cristin Milioti showed up for season one. The new batch of episodes features Kit Harington, Minnie Driver, Anna Paquin, and Garret Hedlund in various stages of relationship stress.
August 15, Starz
In some respects, it’s a surprise that there hasn’t yet been a drama series about two amateur wrestlers in small-town Georgia—brothers, to boot—competing against each other (and their family demons!) for national attention that airs on Starz. It’s a perfect marriage of concept and network. Especially given Starz’ recent track record—for God’s sake, watch P-Valley—this next effort is even more intriguing.
Nine Perfect Strangers
August 18, Hulu
I couldn’t tell you what happened in the Super Bowl this year—truly, what teams even played?—but I could recount, beat by beat, every second of the Nine Perfect Strangers trailer that played during one of the commercial breaks. The TV spot previewed characters navigating an eerie spa-like resort, hinting at the insidiousness that many of us suspect underlies the health and wellness industry. (Tell me that anything in this world is masking more darkness than GOOP.) Then there’s the cast: Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Regina Hall, Michael Shannon, Bobby Cannavale, and The Good Place breakout Manny Jacinto.
American Horror Story: Double Feature
August 25, FX
The summer of Ryan Murphy scares up its appetizer in July with the spin-off American Horror Stories, in which each episode tells a different story in the vein of the long-running kitchen-sink series. It leads up to the landmark 10th installment of the original franchise, with Macaulay Culkin joining the cast of AHS regulars. My relationship with this show is extreme investment in the first four or five episodes before losing interest as it totally loses the plot. Excited for round 10!
August 27, Netflix
Of all the projects that Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss could have done after that teeny little HBO series you may have heard about came to an end, I’m not sure anyone expected their first new show to be a six-episode dramedy about the head of an English department at a fictional university. That it is written by Benioff’s wife, Amanda Peet, and stars Sandra Oh should more than make up for the lack of special effects or fight scenes Thrones fans came to expect.
Only Murders in the Building
August 31, Hulu
The Three Amigos are together again! Steve Martin, Martin Short, and…Selena Gomez. The latter is certainly a wild card swap for Chevy Chase, but the premise seems prime for classic Martin-Short (and Gomez?) hijinks. Fun fact: This is Steve Martin’s first regular TV starring role! The idea is that a group of residents in the same Manhattan apartment building, all of whom are true-crime obsessives, spring into action after a neighbor’s suspicious death to investigate a possible murder. It has a modern-day setting, so obviously they record a podcast while doing it.