Summer is almost here, which means a few different things. First of all, it means that it is about to get hot and sweaty outside and you will be tempted to combat this by packing everyone in the car and driving to the beach to cool off in the ocean. Do not do this. The ocean is full of monsters. This is why swimming pools and air conditioners were invented, people. I can’t stress this enough. The second thing the beginning of summer means is the end of the 2013-14 television season. The broadcast networks have already wrapped up all their regular season shows, and the cable networks are winding theirs down, with Mad Men ending this past weekend, and other shows like Game of Thrones, Louie, and Fargo bearing down on their finales, too.
Fortunately, the third thing all of this means is that a new slate of shows is about to roll out, and unlike the reruns-and-reality-shows garbage pile we used to get in the summer, there are lots of good options. Some of them are light and fun, some are serious, some look incredibly creepy, and some look flat-out ridiculous. They really run the gamut, which is nice.
Below, please find a guide to some of the best, most promising, and stupidest shows of the summer, all of which I have helpfully separated into three categories: New Shows, Returning Shows, and Lawyer Shows. Yes, lawyer shows get their own category. You’ll see why.
Premiere Date: NBC, May 30
Summary: Crossbones is NBC’s big fancy summer event series, the pitch for which appears to have been “Okay … but what if John Malkovich played Blackbeard, and, like, really Malkoviched it up?” It looks … good? I don’t know. I’ve watched the trailer about three times and I can’t get past that screencap up there.
Title: Halt and Catch Fire
Premiere Date: AMC, June 1
Summary: With Breaking Bad over and Mad Men winding down, AMC could really use a non-zombie hit. TURN and Low Winter Sun didn’t move the needle, but this show, about the personal computer revolution of the early 1980s, looks promising. The pilot is up on AMC’s website before the premiere, so if you wanna get a jump on it, there you go.
Premiere Date: FX, June 24
Summary: From the minds behind Homeland and 24, Tyrant is an original drama that focuses on a prodigal son returning to the turbulent Middle Eastern nation his family calls home. The teasers for the show have been vague as all hell so far, but here’s some more background.
Title: The Leftovers
Premiere Date: HBO, June 29
Summary: Former Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof returns to TV with this new Rapture-y HBO series. The short version: One day two percent of the world’s population just straight-up vanishes, and the people left on Earth deal with the fallout. The first trailer looked really solid, and the subject matter seems to be right up Lindelof’s alley, so let’s go ahead and file this one under Optimistic.
Title: The Strain
Premiere Date: FX, July 13
Summary: Let’s say, hypothetically, that Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse were teaming up to make a creepy-ass vampire horror series, and that the whole thing was based on books del Toro co-wrote, and that there were a bunch of terrifying teaser clips that made my skin crawl in a good(ish) way. Would that be the type of thing you’d be interested in? Because, if so, hoo Dolly, do I have good news for you.
Premiere Date: FX, July 17
Summary: Judy Greer, Nat Faxon, Jenny Slate, and Brett Gelman are making a comedy about marriage for FX. That’s worth at least one viewing. But, so help me God, if Judy Greer walks into the kitchen and that talking hamster from the Framily commercials is in there, I’m out.
Title: The Knick
Premiere Date: Cinemax, August 8
Summary: The Knick is a drama about turn-of-the-century medicine, starring Clive Owen as a handsome, mustachioed doctor. Steven Soderbergh is directing all 10 episodes. TV in 2014 is cool.
Title: Orange Is the New Black
Premiere Date: Netflix, June 8
Summary: The second season of Netflix’s fun, excellent prison series debuts in June, giving you both (a) time to get caught up if you missed the first season, and (b) no reason not to, seeing as its currently available for streaming on Netflix Instant.
Premiere Date: Sundance, June 19
Summary: The final season of Sundance’s devastating, excellent prison series debuts in June, giving you both (a) time to get caught up if you missed the first season, and (b) no reason not to, seeing as its currently available for streaming on Netflix Instant.
Title: True Blood
Premiere Date: HBO, June 22
Summary: FINAL SEASON ALERT. After seven seasons and tons of weird bloody vampire sex, True Blood is shutting it down this summer. It remains both the biggest, dumbest, most ridiculous show on television, and perfect mindless summer viewing. Admit it, some of you are going to get emotional about this show ending it’s run. The world needs more shows that feature violent stiletto murder.
Title: Under the Dome
Premiere Date: CBS, June 30
Summary: Cut another cow in half or GTFO.
Title: The Bridge
Premiere Date: FX, July 9
Summary: The Bridge had kind of an up-and-down first season, but was promising on the whole. It’ll be interesting to see where/how they pick-up from where things ended, because, technically speaking, everything happened a lot — in heartbreaking fashion — and now it’s all kind of up in the air. Probably worth a watch if you caught the first season, but I don’t know if I’d rush to get caught up in time for the premiere if you didn’t.
Title: Masters of Sex
Premiere Date: Showtime, July 13
Summary: Masters of Sex lured people in with the promise of salacious sexy business featuring Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen and anyone else the show could get on set in their underpants or less, and then proceeded to deliver a smart, fun drama that occasionally featured Beau Bridges holding a huge glowing glass dildo in front of his face. It was diabolical. And genius.
Premiere Date: USA, June 11
Summary: The previous season of Suits literally ended in April, and the new season is already right around the corner. That’s incredibly efficient, and nice for people like me who have the memory of a goldfish and forget everything that happened between seasons. We gotta get Mike and Harvey back together, guys. (I have a lot to say about Suits.)
Premiere Date: CBS, June 29
Summary: Perhaps you remember Reckless from our previous discussions of the show, in which we informed you that (a) Cam Gigandet will play “a liberal Renaissance man” from the south who “surfs, loves skateboarding and hip-hop but also fishes, hunts and collects guns” and falls for “a gorgeous Yankee litigator,” and (b) CBS put out a casting call for a “MALE FRAT BRO” with “Keg Stand Experience” for the pilot. It looks stupid as hell. I have never been more excited about anything in my entire life.
Premiere Date: FX, August 4
Summary: Hi. Hello. Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence are making a comedy about mismatched lawyers who decide to form their own firm. I promise I am not making this show up. It’s real. You can Google it and everything.
Title: Franklin & Bash
Premiere Date: TNT, August 20
Summary: My beloved Franklin & Bash doesn’t return until late August this year, which is unacceptable, but whatever. Last season our heroes traded in their hot tub for the Pacific Ocean. What body of water will they party in and/or near this season? NO ONE KNOWS. THAT’S THE MYSTERY.