Making The Case For Summer TV: 8 Superb Shows On Right Now

Senior Pop Culture Editor
08.11.14 73 Comments
abigail spencer rectify


It can be hard writing What’s on Tonight during the summer. Take tonight, for instance — where only a few months I could highlight new episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Adventure Time, Mom, Sleepy Hollow, or The Blacklist, now I’m stuck with the likes of Bachelor in Paradise and, um, Mike & Molly reruns? But I’m not complaining (well, not complaining that much), because despite Monday nights sucking, there’s A LOT of great TV on during the summer. Honestly, there’s no reason for you to ever go outside, not with these eight shows on now. (I left off the forever-controversial The Leftovers, which we already cover extensively, and The Strain, which isn’t a great show. As for True Blood, hahaha.)

1. Rectify



Rectify is a very different show than it was in season one. Last year, it was an out-of-nowhere critical smash, the kind that people who watched the Sundance original loudly championed to their friends; they felt it was their obligation to loudly preach the quiet words of Daniel. Or at least that’s how I felt, and I couldn’t wait for season two to begin. Somehow, it got even better when it did. If season one was about Daniel’s innocence, season two has focused on the opposite: what if he did it? But even if the answer to who killed Hannah doesn’t matter (and it might not), there are numerous other aspects to latch onto, like Amantha (the superb Abigail Spencer), who spent so much time trying to free her brother, she’s forgotten what it’s like to do what’s best for her; and the fractured relationship of Tawney and Ted, Jr., the type of guy who says “we’re pregnant.” Rectify is like if The Shawshank Redemption had been directed by Terrence Malick, except with even more sobbing.

2. Manhattan



What Dustin said.

3. The Bridge

the bridge


Freed from the confines of a serial killer arc we’ve seen a million times before, The Bridge has become a show like no other in season two. It’s dark and carefully plotted, with more mind paid to atmosphere than twists (one of the many benefits to airing on cable, not network). The procedural elements get your attention, but the weirdness of The Bridge, with its Sloth-like creatures (?) trapped in cages, Diane Kruger sleeping with the brother of the guy who killed her sister, an unlikely Big Bad with a fabulous collection of hats, Beardface Mumblemouth, and a legitimately good performance from Matthew Lillard, as well as a brief cameo from the Velvet Underground’s John Cale, is what makes you stick around.

4. Nathan for You



The real-life Nathan Fielder has created a TV persona with such a fully-formed persona, complete with almost unnoticeable physical tics, it can be hard to tell the difference between what’s (who’s?) real and what it isn’t, like Stephen Colbert and “Stephen Colbert.” Comedy Central has gotten into the exaggerated personalities business of late, and it’s paid off handsomely with not only Nathan for You, which SHOULD feel like a too-long SNL sketch but doesn’t, but also the must-watch Broad City and Review. They’re character studies, as “method” (minus the pretentious connotations) as they are funny.

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