Murderous Holy Men, Hackers, And Dueling Vice Principals: The 2016 Summer TV Preview

Gather ’round kids, it’s story time. Not all that many years ago, the beginning of summer meant the end of quality, fun television. All the shows that debuted in the fall would wrap up their seasons in May, and then the airwaves would be filled with reruns of those same shows until they started back up again in September. It was weird. In hindsight, we all should have either been bored out of our minds or gotten an incredible amount of things done. We had no excuse.

Now, however, everything has changed. The “Too Much TV” era has led to year-round programming, which has led to a bountiful harvest in the once-barren wasteland of summer. This summer is no exception. Starting in late May with AMC’s Preacher and pounding all the way through to You’re the Worst in August, the schedule is loaded with promising newcomers and returning favorites. And so, what we’ve done here — “we” being staff members Ashley Burns, Alyssa Fikse, Brian Grubb, Andrew Husband, Josh Kurp, Keith Phipps, Stacey Ritzen, Dustin Rowles, Jason Tabrys, and Jessica Toomer — is try to make sense of it all for you with a collection of notable premiere dates and trailers.

Get out your calendars. We have shows to watch.



Lady Dynamite, Netflix
Someone finally smartened up and gave comedian Maria Bamford her own show. That person was Roger Netflix, head of Netflix. (Probably.) Lady Dynamite will be a mockumentary based on Bamford’s life, with co-stars like Ed Begley, Jr. and SNL veteran Ana Gasteyer. Understatement: You could do worse. — Brian


All the Way, HBO
Bryan Cranston and his Tony-winning performance as LBJ come to HBO. The movie, adapted from the Robert Schenkkan play, follows Lyndon Johnson’s presidency from the JFK assassination through the passage of the Civil Rights Act (hopefully with his famous “bunghole” phone call to Haggar Pants included somewhere in there, too). It’s not exactly a full-on return to TV for Cranston, but it’s close enough for now. — Brian


Preacher, AMC
If the rest of the series is anywhere near the quality of its superb, thrilling, hilarious and ultraviolent pilot episode, Preacher will not only be the hit of the summer, but the next The Walking Dead for AMC. Ruth Negga and Joseph Gilgun are going to be huge internet sensations by July, and Sam Catlin — formerly of Breaking Bad — is going to be the next big showrunner. — Dustin


The Bachelorette, ABC
Scoff all you like, but there are few things as hilarious as cracking open a bottle of wine and judging the hell out of the people seeking “true love” in front of a national audience. This season’s bachelorette, Jojo, was charismatic enough on The Bachelor, and this crop of Bachelorette hopefuls looks to reach all new levels of ridiculous, so there will be endless opportunities for snark. It’s best to just lean in and accept it: The Bachelorette, like all other entries in the Bachelor franchise, is unbelievably stupid, but it fits the bill for silly summer fun. — Alyssa


Wayward Pines, Fox
After one of the most infuriating twist finales in recent memory, Wayward Pines is inexplicably back for season two. Blake Crouch, author of the novels on which the show is based, has said that he and executive producer M. Night Shyamalan agreed that they would only come back for a second season if they could think of a really great idea. What we know so far is that season two picks up with Jason Patric fulfilling Matt Dillon’s role as someone who mysteriously wakes up in the town, which is now in a state of civil unrest following the series of events that took place at the end of season one. Part of the intrigue of the first season was learning the secrets of the town, but now that we know everything it’s unclear if they can capture lightning in a jar once again. — Stacey


Bloodline, Netflix
Bloodline’s story about well-hidden family secrets lagged behind its incredibly talented cast (lead by Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn) last season. But with the seemingly-pure Rayburn clan hellbent on fending off the consequences of their more fresh and deplorable actions, the show looks to hit another level this season. And if they don’t, well, the Florida Keys are pretty to look at and Chandler and Mendelsohn will still be on hand to trade lines. — Jason

Chef’s Table, Netflix
The first season of Chef’s Table, like any good entrée, was a combination of a few elements. It was mostly a glance at the lives of some of the world’s most innovative chefs, but it was also pure, unapologetic food porn. Netflix was so pleased that the network signed up for three more seasons. So watch, for sure, if you’re interested in food and the people who make it. But don’t watch on an empty stomach. — Brian


The Dresser, Starz
One of the biggest selling points of The Dresser is the oft-reported fact that co-stars Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins have never before worked together in any medium. That’s one reason to watch, but there are plenty of others, especially if you’re a fan of the Ronald Harwood play on which it’s based (previously filmed with Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney). Besides, where else can you watch Hopkins play a character whose only designation is “Sir”? — Andrew

Roots, The History Channel
The History Channel is pumping a lot of money and resources into this all-new, eight-part remake of the iconic ’70s miniseries, which will air across four nights and be simulcast on A&E and Lifetime. The new version has an esemble cast including Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Matthew Goode, Mekhi Phifer, James Purefoy, and Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte. Given how much the iconic original has meant to so many over the years, here’s hoping they do it right. — Brian

Scream, MTV
Season two of MTV’s remake/re-imagining/re-something of the classic ’90s horror movie picks up a few months after the first season ended. Will there be more murder and teens? You bet! — Brian


Maya and Marty, NBC
Maya Rudolph. Martin Short. Singing. Dancing. Some jokes thrown in for good measure. I don’t really know how else to sell this latest hour-long variety show and I don’t think I need to. The series boasts two of SNL’s most beloved alumns, is executive produced by Lorne Michaels — the silver-haired God of NBC — and promises plenty of celebrity cameos (hey there, Kenan Thompson) and improv opportunities from his hilarious co-stars. Don’t think. Just tune in. — Jessica



Comedy Bang! Bang!, IFC
There’s really only one way to describe Comedy Bang! Bang!: That’s a good show. If you understand that reference, you’re probably already watching IFC’s finest podcast-turned-mock talk show. If you don’t, well, you should be watching, because “Weird Al” Yankovic (or, “the Vicar of Yanks”) is Scott Aukerman’s new bandleader. Kid Cudi, the old bandleader, did a fine job last season, but he wasn’t in UHF, so… A weird show is about to get even weirder. — Josh

Outcast, Cinemax
In 20 years, is Robert Kirkman going to be “the zombie guy” or is he going to be the mind behind several diverse properties? Outcast, adapted from a comics series by Kirkman and artist Paul Azaceta, is set to give us a clue as to which future belongs to Kirkman. Can he hold the attention of a horror audience conditioned by the genre’s past to expect instant thrills over the course of a lengthy story about, not just demonic possession, but a man battling its physical presence and past carnage? Apart from The Exorcist, possession stories have rarely known the human depth of Kirkman’s best work, so it’ll be interesting to see how far he takes things over the course of this first season and all that follow, especially when you consider how The Walking Dead has evolved over time. — Jason


Feed the Beast, AMC
After turning in an emotionally convincing performance as Robert Kardashian in Ryan Murphy’s The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, David Schwimmer is playing another tormented father in AMC’s Feed the Beast. The show follows two friends — a troubled chef and an alcoholic sommelier — trying to open a high-end restaurant in the Bronx while evading the mob and the law. It’s about the furthest you can get from those comfy couch-sitting days at Central Perk and it just may be the show that officially cements the term “Schwimmersance.” (It’s the era we’re living in right now people. Get used to it.) And since this is a show about food and Schwimmer’s character has an affinity for wine, perhaps we should revive our Quest for 100 Juices? Just a thought. — Jessica


Angie Tribeca, TBS
The first season of Angie Tribeca was a bunch of dumb fun. Created by Steve Carell and Nancy Walls, and starring Rashida Jones, the show is a kind of Naked Gun throwback packed wall-to-wall with jokes. Not all of them land, but enough do to make the show a decent binge-watch. And one of the detectives is a dog. This alone is enough to make season two worth a look. — Brian

UnReal, Lifetime
Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer are the greatest pair of pitch-black anti-heroes since Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. That UnREAL airs on Lifetime might be a deal-breaker for some, but it shouldn’t be. This incisive look into what goes on behind the scenes of reality TV is well written, darkly funny, and genuinely shocking. Anyone who tuned in last season surely can’t wait for more backstabbing and bad behavior. — Alyssa


Casual, Hulu
It’s easy to dismiss Casual as yet another dysfunctional family dramedy, but that would be a mistake. Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey have an excellent chemistry as siblings who are constantly self-sabotaging in different ways. It’s a real return to form for creator Jason Reitman, and even (or especially) when these characters are screwing up, everything remains recognizably, terribly human. In an increasingly packed slate of original content from Hulu, Casual has become its beating heart. — Alyssa

Animal Kingdom, TNT
David Michôd’s 2010 film, based on the real-life Australian crime family the Petengills, was well received by critics (and Jacki Weaver won an Oscar) but little-seen. Michôd is now turning that movie into a television series for TNT with Ellen Barkin in Jacki Weaver’s role. Scott Speedman and Shawn Hatosy also make up the cast, and the series has the potential for some dark, violent Sopranos-like intrigue. — Dustin


The American West, AMC
Fans of History Channel-like documentary series who also prefer a little pizzazz in their nonfiction television flocked to AMC’s The Making of the Mob. They liked the dramatized violence better than mere pictures, occasional interviews and frequent narration. Apparently, so does Robert Redford, because his new AMC show, The American West is about to kill Ken Burns’s The West with 10 measured steps and a fast gun fight. Or at least that’s one possible reason they’re releasing yet another version of the Wyatt Earp story on the public. — Andrew

Hell on Wheels, AMC
Hell on Wheels, the AMC prestige drama you probably forgot was still on, is back for a final season of… trains? Definitely trains. Maybe some other stuff, too. — Brian

O.J.: Made in America, ESPN
It’s good to be O.J. Simpson right now. He was the main character in one of the year’s best shows, and now he’s being profiled in a 10-hour ESPN special that explores “themes of race and celebrity in tracing the personal journey of Orenthal James Simpson.” The documentary also… wait, O.J. did what now? And he wasn’t found guilty? And he’s in prison for a separate crime? Okay, maybe it’s not good to be O.J. Simpson, but it’s a good time to learn about the subject of the Trial of the Century, and why people are still fascinated by him. — Josh


Ride with Norman Reedus, AMC
The Walking Dead is the most popular show on television for 16 weeks of the year. But what about the other 36? AMC is doing its best to make sure we’re never wanting for zombies, or the people who kill them. In the spring, there’s Fear the Walking Dead; in the summer, Ride With Norman Reedus, which is exactly what it sounds like: Daryl Dixon himself traveling the country on his motorcycle. Talking Riding hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s only a matter of time. — Josh


BrainDead, CBS
When sad fans of The Good Wife realize that co-creators and spouses Robert and Michelle King have a new show premiering on CBS this summer, their depression will quickly abate. After discovering that BrainDead is a political satire about alien parasites infesting Washington, D.C. bigwigs’ brains instead of another twist-of-the-week soap opera, however, they’ll do one of two things. Either 1) keep watching since they always suspected Alicia Florrick’s office was rife with brainless drones, or 2) tune out. With luck, BrainDead will be good enough that those doing the first will outnumber those doing the second. — Andrew

Guilt, Freeform
The Amanda Knox case serves as the unspoken inspiration for this new series starring Emily Tremaine (Vinyl) as a Boston lawyer who heads to London when her sister Grace (Daisy Head) is implicated in the murder of her roommate. Did she do it? Expect Guilt to streeeeetch that question out for as long as it can. Also in the mix, Billy Zane as what the press materials describe as an “ethically questionable” lawyer. (Interest rising…) Beyond that, we don’t know much about this series, but it sounds like the kind of easy-to-digest soap opera that goes down especially well in the summer. — Keith


Uncle Buck, ABC
We were baffled by this adaptation when news broke last year, but ABC nevertheless believes that now is the time to retell the story of John Candy’s endearingly irresponsible Uncle Buck. This time Buck is played by Mike Epps, and the important question that we’re all probably asking is: Will he be cooking enormous pancakes for the kids? Because, really, that was Candy’s thing, so let’s leave that with the classic. — Burnsy


Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Crackle
With a willing guest and the spark of inspiration in Jerry Seinfeld’s eye, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee can find itself living up to its potential. Seinfeld’s illuminating and intimate chat with the late Garry Shandling and his talk with Jon Stewart are prime examples. This season’s roster certainly seems as though it was built to deliver more of that. In John Oliver, there is the potential for a discussion on the circus-like election cycle. In comedy historian/filmmaker Judd Apatow, Seinfeld has access to a reservoir of stories. And in Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, Seinfeld probably faces his greatest challenge in that Michaels doesn’t grant that many interviews and often seems as though he’s a bit guarded when he does. Here’s hoping that Seinfeld can make the most out of these episodes and the others from this season. — Jason


Orange Is The New Black, Netflix
No matter what Emmys category it’s nominated in this year, Orange Is The New Black deserves all of the awards for how it tackles serious subjects — the injustice of our nation’s prison system, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexism, racism, amateur sci-fi erotica — with respect and more than a few laughs. When season four premieres, we’re going to be treated to even more drama, sassy comebacks, and Russian stink eyes from a certain redhead chef as Litchfield’s continuing budget problems force the prison to take on extra inmates. In the words of Aleida, “It’s sardine time, bitches!” — Jessica


Mother, May I Sleep With Danger, Lifetime
James Franco teaming up with Lifetime? Stranger things have happened, like Ronda Rousey teaming up with Lifetime. In this case, Franco found inspiration in Will Ferrell’s A Deadly Adoption for this 20th anniversary remake of the Tori Spelling cult classic. Spelling will return and reunite with her co-star Ivan Sergei, while Franco stars in this… vampire love story? Sure. Anyway, it’s your move, Shia LaBeouf. — Burnsy


Greenleaf, OWN
Oprah Winfrey has been such a constant media presence for so long now — as a talk show host, producer, magazine publisher, and just all-around lifestyle brand — that it’s sometimes easy to forget that she was, however briefly, best known to the general public as an actress, earning an Oscar nomination for The Color Purple the year before her talk show went national. Big parts have been few and far between since then, most notably a lead role in Jonathan Demme’s Beloved adaptation in 1988. But with no show to host, Winfrey’s been acting a bit more of late, showing up in The Butler and Selma and now appearing in a recurring role in this new series about a Memphis megachurch headed by Bishop James Greenleaf (the always terrific Keith David). Well-received at the Tribeca Film Festival and already renewed for a second season, it’s part of a push from Winfrey’s OWN to expand into more scripted series. Expect drama. — Keith


American Gothic, CBS
Christine Brinkerhoff, who’s done time on both The Good Wife and Jane the Virgin, created this series about a prominent Boston family that uncovers a dark secret about its past. This isn’t the first series to be named American Gothic (it’s not even the first CBS series to bear that name), but it sounds intriguing and Brinkerhoff has the kind of track record that suggests it will be worth checking out. — Keith

Any Given Wednesday, HBO
Now that Bill Simmons is free of ESPN, he’s able to talk about Teen Wolf Too to his heart’s delight on HBO. Any Given Wednesday is a weekly talk show where the Sports Guy will cover everything from wrestling belts in NBA games to how “every [Leonardo] DiCaprio movie would be just a little bit better as a Matt Damon movie.” So, it’s basically his famously lengthy ESPN and Grantland columns, but with more swearing. This could work. — Josh


The $100,000 Pyramid, Celebrity Family Feud, Match Game, ABC
ABC is turning its entire Sundays over to celebrity-hosted game shows, with Michael Strahan, Steve Harvey, and Alec Baldwin manning the skinny-mic duties, respectively. Hopefully this all ends with a new version of Press Your Luck hosted by… oh, I don’t know… McConaughey. “No whammies, no whammies, no whammies.” — Brian

Ray Donovan, Showtime
Evidence that the morally ambiguous cable dama anti-hero hasn’t gone away: The Liev Schrieber-headed drama Ray Donovan is starting its fourth season. — Keith

Roadies, Showtime
The new Showtime series from Cameron Crowe explores what the director of Say Anything and Jerry Maguire knows best: music. Crowe, who turned his travels with musicians while working as a journalist for Rolling Stone into Almost Famous, will almost certainly bring the same heartfelt sensibilities to Roadies, which centers on a road crew that follows a band on a world tour. Each episode of the series — which stars Imogen Poots, Carla Gugino, and Luke Wilson — will also feature two musical performances from major bands. — Dustin


Zoo, CBS
The first season of Zoo featured a wolf-led prison break, a blonde French spy killing hundreds of bloodthirsty rats with a flamethrower, and Bob Benson from Mad Men stealing a zebra. Zoo is not a very good show. Zoo is also a great show. — Brian


Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, FX
Sporting one of the catchiest theme songs on television (right up there with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Denis Leary’s tribute to washed up rock bands showed some potential in its first season. Now, we get to see if the Heathens are more than a one-season-wonder and can add some depth, hilarity, and even drama to Gigi’s quest for fame. Or maybe she’s simply destined to provide a few more songs to feminine hygiene product ads. — Burnsy



Marco Polo, Netflix
Remember Marco Polo? He’s back! And he’s got the whole crazy gang with him! All this despite the somewhat frosty reception this Marco Polo-the-early-years series earned in its first season. So how does a massively budgeted, not-all-that-beloved series make it to round two on a network that’s famously cagey about how many people watch its original programming? One day a book about the strange economics of our current media age will be written and then maybe we’ll better understand. — Keith


The Hunt, BBC
Narrated by the venerable David Attenborough, this BBC-produced series focuses on what we really want to see out of nature docs: Animals killing animals! The carnage lasts for seven episodes, including installments focusing on the ocean and the forest, because bloodshed knows no geographical limits. — Keith


Black Market, Viceland
A new documentary in which Michael K. Williams — Omar from The Wire — “ journeys into the dangerous world of illicit trade.” Oh, indeed. This will do just fine. — Brian


Tyrant, FX
Tyrant’s first season earned so-so reviews and complaints both about its portrayal of the Middle East and its use of rape as an “edgy” plot device, and yet it continues to survive. Yet here it is again for another season. The good news: Plenty of shows get their act together as they go along. Maybe this tale of power struggles and family drama will be one of them. — Keith


The Night Of, HBO
From Steven Zaillian (screenwriter A Civil Action, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), The Night Of stars John Turturro and follows the police investigation, the legal proceedings, the criminal justice system, and the feral purgatory of Rikers Island. Replacing True Detective in HBO’s summer line-up, the mystery at the center of the series has the potential to replicate True Detective’s buzzy success, although it looks like it has more of the tone and feel of The Wire. — Dustin


Difficult People, Hulu
The myth is that all shows are supposed to grow lest they get stale and die. But Seinfeld didn’t mix up its weekly regimen of meanness and behavioral dissection (until the end), so why should Difficult People? Here Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner play a pair of selfish New Yorkers who are mean to everyone around them while in the process of being consumed by their bitterness as they struggle to find success. The whole thing works because sometimes it’s fun to see terrible people say terrible things — it’s a darker kind of aspirational programming — but while Klausner and Eichner deserve the best in their real careers, hopefully their characters stay trapped in the dregs of the entertainment business forever. And certainly through season two. — Jason


Suits, USA
The most recent season of Suits ended with Mike Ross strolling into prison as a result of all that fraud he committed, and this season picks up from there. Now that all the legal means of keeping him free have failed, hopefully Harvey and Donna throw caution to the wind and try to orchestrate an Ocean’s Eleven-style prison break. Or a Prison Break-style prison break. Either one will do. — Brian

Mr. Robot, USA
Mr. Robot was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2015. The hacker/anarchy drama was unlike anything else on television and ended on what was basically a double cliffhanger, with a knock at the door and a secret billionaires’ meeting. Speculating about what’s ahead on this show is pointless because by this point we should know that anything can happen, so the best advice is probably just to watch and buckle in. — Brian


Stranger Things, Netflix
Aside from appearances on Drunk History and Show Me a Hero, Winona Ryder hasn’t done a whole heckuva lot lately. That’s about to change with Stranger Things, a new Netflix original boasting supernatural and science fiction elements, an ‘80s setting, and enough period nostalgia to make Fuller House detractors turn and run. Ryder starring in an ‘80s-set series telling the story of a boy who “vanishes into thin air” sounds appealing and the series comes from Matt and Ross Duffer, who last explored strange doings as writers for Wayward Pines. — Andrew


Ballers, HBO
On paper, Ballers sounds like the lovechild of Arli$$ and Entourage. But if you look a little closer, this slick series about the intersection of pro sports and financial management has more to recommend it. Rob Corddry, for one, demonstrated some surprising dramatic chops last season as did John David Washington, with his boundless charisma and intensity. Dwayne Johnson, however, took center stage (unsurprisingly) and will again as we learn if his character’s weak spots — his abundant loyalty and temper — will stand in the way now that he’s in the big leagues and about to square off against the top dog in the finance world, as played by Andy Garcia. The casting and focus shift from high-level hustling to make it to grabbing the brass ring offers Ballers a chance to rise above its gloss and get a little gritty. Will the writers take on the challenge? Time will tell. — Jason

Vice Principals, HBO (Burnsy)
Danny McBride and Walton Goggins in a bitter rivalry to become the new principal of a high school in a series created by McBride and his Eastbound & Down co-creator Jody Hill… Is there anything else that you need in an HBO comedy? Okay, throw in Bill Murray as the principal they’re competing to replace and that should seal the deal for everyone. But will it be able to capture the unparalleled crudeness and offensive hilarity of Eastbound and Down? In all likelihood, yes. — Burnsy


Sharknado 4, Syfy
Every year, curiosity and irony slam into each other to create something that could possibly be mistaken for enthusiasm and the end result is a new Sharknado movie. It’s become a thing we’ve just gotten used to, much in the same way that we all used to accept the existence of a new Saw movie around Halloween. But one day, like the Saw franchise, our fascination with Sharknado will end. Or the Sharknado and Saw franchise will merge and we’ll never be free. You’re welcome. — Jason



The Get Down, Netflix
Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Terriers) are behind this series set in late-’70s New York focusing on the musical hotbed of the Bronx that gave rise to hip-hop. So let’s just clear the calendar for the weekend this drops, okay? — Keith


The Strain, FX
When we last left Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his merry band of vampire hunters, things were not looking so great. Eph’s partner and onetime lover Nora (Mía Maestro) — SPOILERS — had fallen on her sword (technically electrocuting herself with it) after getting infected by Eph’s turned ex-wife Kelly, who also made off with that little turd kid of theirs. (Zach continued to be one of the worst child television characters ever in season two.) So where do they go from here? Presumably at least part of the season will focus on getting Zach back, who could end up being used as a bargaining chip for the vampire faction if he’s not immediately turned. Either way it doesn’t seem as things are going to get any easier for the group anytime soon. — Stacey


You’re the Worst, FX
Who knew that one of the most deliciously profane comedies would also end up being one of the most romantic? After a season that dealt with everything from monogamy to clinical depression, You’re The Worst proved last season that it can perfectly cut the comedy with very serious drama as well. Also, if the season finale is a signifier, this just might be the season everyone grows. up. Time to perfect your recipe for Trash Juice, guys. — Alyssa