12 TV Shows To Watch This Summer

TV  |  Lists

Summer TV is no longer the land of re-runs. This year, June and July host plenty of promising series debuts and the return of a few of our favorite shows. Here, in order of season premiere, are 12 shows that look to be worth watching (or for those of you who don’t love melodrama, 11 plus Dallas).


Outlaw Empires
Premiere: May 14
Network: Discovery
Genre: Documentary
Kurt Sutter, the man who gave us FX’s Sons of Anarchy, takes his love of lawlessness over to the Discovery Channel for a six-part series of documentaries on real-life gangs, talking to former members of criminal organizations like the Crips and the Laffing Devils. We want a fake seventh episode that takes place in Charming, Calif.—JJ


Comedy Bang! Bang!
Premiere: June 8
Network: IFC
Genre: Talk-show comedy
Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang! started as Comedy Death Ray at The Upright Citizens Brigade theater before it became a radio program, then a popular comedy podcast and eventually changed its name. The premise is essentially that of a typical talk show. Aukerman invites guests on, has a bandleader (Reggie Watts, who also does the theme song to the podcast) and to a certain extent, does interviews. However, anyone who has seen Between Two Ferns, the Funny or Die shorts starring Zach Galifianakis that Aukerman also directs, knows this isn’t going to be a usual interview show. Add to that Comedy Bang! Bang!’s open-door policy which allows all sorts of unusual and downright weird characters to walk in at any time unannounced—the show is clearly odd, but in the best way possible.—Ross Bonaime


Premiere: June 11
Network: ABC Family
Genre: Quirky-with-a-capital-Q drama
One name alone has us interested in the latest drama from a network known mostly for prime-time soaps: Showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino. This drama about a former showgirl who ends up teaching dance classes in a small town promises the same clever dialogue as her Gilmore Girls. Okay, three names—Sam Phillips once-again provides the music, and Kelly Bishop (Rory’s grandma) returns as the mother-in-law who owns the dance studio.—JJ


Premiere: June 13 @ 9 p.m.
Network: TNT
Genre: Soap opera
The first episode of Dallas aired back in 1978. It followed the soap operian story of a wealthy family invested in the cattle and oil business. The show went off air in 1991, but producers have resurrected it from the land of TV dead. Most interesting about the return of Dallas is that no, it’s not a reboot; it’s a continuation. And though bringing back the original cast could just be a hook until they kill off the oldies and let the hot young actors run free, fans of the original will surely enjoy seeing their favorite characters back on set.—MF


The Newsroom
Premiere: June 24 @ 8 p.m.
Network: HBO
Genre: Walk-and-talk drama
Created and penned by the folks who brought you West Wing, The Newsroom is a drama-filled looked at life behind the on-air camera. Aaron Sorkin observed and drew inspiration by sitting off-stage at several news programs. The show stars Jeff Daniels as a news anchor adapting to his new staff after a newsroom upset. If you’re still having trouble getting on board, just remember Bill O’Reilly’s infamous, “Fuck it! We’ll do it live!’ behind-the-scenes outburst. Now imagine that all season long.—MF


Premiere: June 28
Network: FX
Genre: Laugh-to-keep-from-crying comedy
Louis C.K.’s one-man show returns for a third season in one of TV’s most wonderful and unlikely success stories. The comedian invites his famous friends to play fictionalized versions of themselves, but C.K. writes, acts, directs, casts and edited many of the episodes on his laptop until hiring an editor for Season 3. Look for Jerry Seinfeld to show up this season.—JJ


Twenty Twelve
Premiere: June 28
Network: BBC America
Genre: Mockumentary
Hugh Bonneville kept a stiff upper lift in Downton Abbey, but here he proves his comedic chops, playing the Head of Deliverance of the Olympic Deliverance Commission in this Olympic spoof leading up to the London Games. Plus the Doctor himself, David Tennant, narrates. Ten episodes have already aired in the UK, but it comes to BBC America next week.—JJ


Premiere: Thursday, June 28 @ 10 p.m.
Network: FX
Genre: Comedy
Wilfred is heading into its sophomore season, and in case you missed its premiere last summer, now is the time to play catch-up. Based off an Australian comedy series of the same name, Wilfred stars Elijah Wood as Ryan, a young man who’s having trouble keeping his life together. After a botched suicide attempt, Ryan begins seeing his neighbor’s pet, Wilfred (Jason Gann), as a man in a dog suit. Don’t let the initial introduction fool you; Wilfred is a buddy comedy in dog’s clothing. The show combines dark humor with an outlandish premise for a result that’s irresistibly charming and downright hilarious.—MF


Hit and Miss
Premiere: July 11
Network: DirectTV
Genre: Transgender action-mystery
Chlöe Sevigny plays a transsexual assassin…who finds out she’s a dad. Unexpectedly saddled with custody, she learns that it’s tough to raise a kid and continue to murder people for a living—and keep the secret that she used to be a man. Wait, what? Paul Abbott, the creator of Showtime’s Shameless is at the helm of this summer’s strangest miniseries.—JJ


Breaking Bad
Premiere: July 15
Network: AMC
Genre: Drug-dealing drama
For four years, we’ve witness Walter White spin further off the rails, dodging death—or worse, discovery—growing more desperate and despicable each season. The final fifth season of Vince Gilligan’s masterpiece will be broken up into two eight-episode stretches, beginning next month and finally ending next summer.—JJ


Political Animals
Premiere: USA
Network: July 15
Genre: Political drama
Not based on the life of Hilary Clinton (see, the main character is divorced), Political Animals stars Sigourney Weaver as Secretary of State/former First Lady Elaine Barrish Hammond. Carla Gugino plays the DC journalist out to destroy her career until Sigourney crushes her with giant yellow robotic arms and sends her out the airlock—or something like that.—JJ


Premiere: August 19, @ 9 p.m.
Network: BBC America
Genre: Historical drama
BBC America is trying on its first original series, and where better to start than with historical fiction. Copper is the story of an Irish immigrant cop in 1860s New York. But Kevin Corcoran is more than just a peacekeeper; he’s also searching for clues to the mysterious disappearance of his wife and the untimely death of his daughter. The show was created by Tom Fontana (OZ) and Will Rokos (Monster’s Ball). In case that’s not enough to catch your interest, it’s also being co-produced by one of the executives from Mad Men.—MF