Jess vs. summer television

Fall television is all well and good, but winter is coming this summer and a solid programming lineup awaits. Read on for top picks in new series, returning favorites and bingeworthy streams.

Fall television is all well and good, but winter is coming this summer and a solid programming lineup awaits. Read on for top picks in new series, returning favorites and bingeworthy streams.

 

There’s an art to watching television these days. From DVR-ing network flagships, to bingeing Netflix releases in one fell swoop, we’ve never had such an honest to goodness glut go shows, nor less time to watch them all.

Don’t believe me? Consider this: a Nielsen report from this time last year points out that for many of us, television viewership is almost the equivalent of a full-time job—with the average American consuming 35 hours of television each week, across mediums (Business Insider). This humble writer watches nearly 90 television shows each year, relying upon Entertainment Weekly’s annual pull-out calendar to keep track of them all come fall. So while I watch plenty of crap, getting an “audition” for my TV slate still requires that a show have some combination of industry buzz, enticing previews and actor or producer
firepower.

And interest from my better half never hurts, either.

I’m even streaming a show as I write this in my office. Judge not, lest you be judged.

Fall TV remains the reigning champ when it comes to peak programming, but mid-season releases—and the wild-card that is streaming—have caused the traditional television schedule to be in a constant state of flux. Gone are the days where summer was ripe with hold-overs and fluff. Here to stay are the warm July days chock full of powerful new series.

This year’s lineup still has its share of perplexing entries. For starters, not one but two Shakespearean offerings: Still Star-Crossed, picking up right after Romeo and Juliet leaves off, with an attempt to pair Romeo’s cousin Benvolio with Juliet’s cousin Rosaline; and Will, an attempt to show off the bard’s younger bad-boy days (oh, to be a fly in the room when they pitch these pilots). I do wonder when the trend of hip-ifying historical figures will finally be retired. Continuing the “twinning” trend, there also are (unbelievably) two anthology shows developed around the comings and goings of assorted characters staying in quaint accommodations. Each week, The Guest Book brings a fresh story and a new star-studded cast of cottage dwellers to interact with Kellie Martin’s small-town police officer. But I’m afraid I’ll have to give the Duplass brothers’ motel-set Room 104 the edge here because I loved their underrated show,
Togetherness.

And in general what-the-whatness, there’s GLOW—Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling—starring Community’s Alison Brie. It looks almost deliriously campy and yet, I feel the strange desire to suit up in some spandexy ’80s regalia.

Previewed here are my top picks for new series, along with a smattering of returning favorites worth a second look, and streaming shows that you should start in on immediately. Seriously, put this magazine down and get to work.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY SHOWS

My top pick of the moment for new drama is The Sinner. It’s hard at first to picture Seventh Heaven darling Jessica Biel in the startling role of happy-soccer-mom-turned-rage-killer, but she sells it 100 percent in the trailer, and this intense psychological thriller reminds me a bit too much of The Night Of not to tune in. Whydunit is the new whodunit. 10 P.M. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, USA NETWORK

Is there is a vampire-sized hole in your heart since Sookie Stackhouse and the gang from Bon Temps, La., took their bow in 2014? Check out Midnight, Texas, from True Blood series author Charlaine Harris. Think of the titular town as a present-day Tombstone, ripe with all manner of supernatural happenings and characters—witches, vampires, ghosts and psychics, to name a few. True Blood went a bit askew from Harris’ dark and frothy13-book source material, and it will be interesting to see if Midnight does the same with just three books to guide it. 10 P.M., Monday, July 24, NBC
Summer blockbusters aren’t just for the silver screen these days. If you liked the movie Armageddon, you’ll like the TV equivalent, Salvation. A glittering, code-word clearanced cast discovers that an asteroid is destined to decimate Earth in 180 days. Where’s Bruce Willis when you need him? 9 P.M., WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, NEW, CBS

RETURNING FAVORITES

If I have to tell you about Game of Thrones, it already may be too late for you. George R.R. Martin’s epic is counting down to the end of its run, but it is not letting up. All of the teasers and trailers I’ve devoured show the potential for more battles, bloodshed, reunions and redemption than in any of the previous six seasons, maybe combined. For the sake of no spoilers, get ye to HBO and watch the first six seasons now. 9 P.M., SUNDAY, JULY 16, 7TH SEASON, HBO

Younger’s premise may seem naive: a 40-something mom struggles to re-enter the workforce (in New York’s cutthroat publishing world, no less), rebuffed in lieu of hiring 20-something young professionals. So she becomes one. We don’t all have the ageless Sutton Foster’s porcelain pores to pull it off, but if you suspend belief a bit, you’ll quickly find yourself enchanted by the show’s heroine as she navigates life and love in the midst of living a lie. 10 P.M., WEDNESDAYS, FOURTH SEASON, TV LAND

GO FORTH & BINGE

I thought last season of Orange is the New Black drug a little bit in the middle, despite the season being hailed by critics as one of the series’ best. But it seems like the lovely lady inmates of FCI Danbury have an absolute riot in store for us this season, which spans over the course of just three days in the prison. FOURTH SEASON, NETFLIX

Raw and devastating, 13 Reasons Why is equal parts impossible to watch and hard not to. The tale of Hannah Baker’s suicide was told with such brutal, beautiful honesty that I was surprised when they announced a second season—I thought the final episode was the perfect capstone for the series. But I’ll give the new season a chance come fall. In the meantime, season one awaits you. FIRST SEASON, NETFLIX

Friends from College, the story of six friends living in New York, is obviously drawing comparisons aplenty to another set of Friends, but it feels more like a follow-up to St. Elmo’s Fire. This group of friends graduated from Harvard 20 years ago and are still clinging to the nostalgia of those days, and each other. And it features Fred Savage, so yeah, I’m in. FIRST SEASON, NETFLIX

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN …

It’s not often that a show gets better in its second season. Too often, shows lose their mojo and hit the dreaded sophomore slump. But then it’s even rarer for a show to shine most brightly in its third and final season. HBO’s The Leftovers did just that—and stuck the landing—the series finale—with such perfection. Based on Tom Perrotta’s 2011 novel by the same name, The Leftovers imagines a world where two percent of the population literally vanishes into thin air one afternoon in what some believe to be a Rapture-like event. Where did they go, why, and more importantly, why not the rest of us? If Justin Theroux and Mt. Union grad Carrie Coon don’t get Emmys for their heartbreaking performances this season, it will break my heart all over again. I’d watch them both do laundry. Watch all three seasons now on HBO Go