Summer TV Preview: The 20 Shows We’re Most Excited for This Season

TV Lists Summer Preview
Summer TV Preview: The 20 Shows We’re Most Excited for This Season

Summertime, and the viewing is easy. Long gone are the days when TV shut down for the season: Now, if you never want to put on sunscreen or apply bug spray, you don’t have to. If you’d rather stay indoors all summer, TV is there for you.

Here, in chronological order, are Paste’s picks for the 20 TV shows you can’t miss this summer. (A few titles worth checking out, including Ryan Murphy’s Pose, are on our list of the 5 New Shows You Can’t Miss This Month. With so much TV, we didn’t want to double up!)

Premieres: June 5 on TV Land

Now that the truth about Liza (Sutton Foster)—a fortysomething divorcée posing as a twentysomething up-and-comer at a venerable publishing house—is known to almost everyone in her professional orbit, Younger is able to lean into its strengths: literary trolling, clever cliffhangers, and breezily funny insights on female friendship, workplace romance, and, yes, youth culture. Throw in Season Five’s stellar, #MeToo-themed premiere and you have the perfect summer comedy. —Matt Brennan

Premieres: June 6 on AUDIENCE Network

The latest classic novel/beloved film combo to be re-imagined for the small screen (see also: Little Women, Picnic at Hanging Rock), Condor is a modern update of Sydney Pollack’s scintillating 1975 thriller Three Days of the Condor. It stars Max Irons as CIA analyst Joe Turner, whose life is thrown into turmoil when his office colleagues are massacred. The rest of the cast is nothing to sniff at, either: Mira Sorvino, Brendan Fraser, William Hurt, and Bob Balaban also appear. —Matt Brennan

American Woman
Premieres: June 7 on Paramount Network

Inspired by the childhood of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards (who also serves as here as co-executive producer), Paramount Network’s 1970s-set comedy follows divorcee Bonnie Nolan (Alicia Silverstone) as she raises her two children with the help of her best friends, Kathleen (Mena Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels). Need even more inducement? Co-creators John Wells (ER, Shameless) and John Riggi (30 Rock, The Comeback) have quite the TV pedigree. —Matt Brennan

Sense 8: The Series Finale
Premieres: June 8 on Netflix

Sense8’s checkered history at Netflix—an underrated first season, a Christmas special, a topsy-turvy second, cancelation, apology, sort-of-renewal—comes to an end with this two-hour special, written by novelists Alexander Hemon and David Mitchell and directed by Lana Wachowkski. (Aside: Holy shit.) Hopefully the episode’s title, “Amor Vincit Omnia,” is some indication of the Sensates’ fates: It translates into English as “Love conquers all.” —Matt Brennan

Premieres: June 10 on TNT

Last summer’s breakout drama is back for another go-round with the manicurists of Manatee County, Fla., who spent the first season getting in deep with the Dixie Mafia and plenty of other underworld figures. The nails are to die for, of course, but so are the tropical palette, the black humor, and most especially the cast, including the inimitable Carrie Preston as a preppy con artist named Polly, and Niecy Nash as salon owner and ringleader Desna Simms. —Matt Brennan

The Bold Type
Premiere Date: June 12 on Freeform

Last summer’s surprise hit returns with a two-hour premiere as our trio of friends begin new journeys. Jane (Katie Stevens) is writing for a new magazine. Kat (Aisha Dee) is figuring out her relationship with Adena (Nikohi Boosheri), and Sutton (Meghann Fahy) doesn’t know what to do now that her romance with Richard (Sam Page) has corporate approval. If, for some reason, you discounted this show because of the network it’s on or dismissed it as being the TV version of chick lit, get over yourself, because you are so wrong. This nuanced and provocative show spoke to viewers of all ages and made us think while entertaining us. Before the second season begins, catch up. The first season is streaming on Hulu and the Freeform app. —Amy Amatangelo

The Last Defense
Premieres: June 12 on ABC

So far, streaming services and premium cable outlets have cornered the market on must-see docuseries. ABC hopes to change that with The Last Defense, from executive producers Viola Davis and Julius Tennon—and to examine the profound injustices of the American justice system in the process. The series follows the cases of two death row inmates who maintain their innocence: Darlie Routier, convicted of murdering her two sons in 1997, and Julius Jones, convicted in the carjacking murder of an Oklahoma man in 2002. At a moment in which a series of botched executions by lethal injection have placed the death penalty under increased scrutiny, The Last Defense is sure to provoke debate. —Matt Brennan

Queer Eye
Premieres: June 15 on Netflix

Queer Eye S2 Summer Preview.jpeg
It’s easy for makeover shows to get mean. But thanks to the new Fab Five, composed of Tan, Jonathan, Antoni, Karamo, and Bobby, Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot, entering its second season just four months after the premiere of its first, is forging a new path towards togetherness with its empathic, confidence-building makeovers. With plenty of specific, actionable tips made more general by the expertise of the five, the show still gives the big reveals and side-by-sides you need to scratch your self-improvement itch. But what makes this iteration of the series truly great is the camaraderie between the five and the subjects they work with. Content Warning: Every episode may necessitate tissues. —Jacob Oller (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)

Luke Cage
Premieres: June 22 on Netflix

Luke Cage levels up in Season Two, by creator/showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker’s own admission. As he told me at a Netflix event in Los Angeles in May, the new episodes are a response to tough-but-fair criticisms of the first season: After clearing his name, Luke (Mike Colter) becomes a Harlem hero and public figure, with all the accompanying benefits—and complications. Though the series’ most memorable performance remains Alfre Woodard’s, as unscrupulous councilwoman Mariah Dillard, Mustafa Shakir gives her a run for her money as Luke’s new adversary, Bushmaster. Gabrielle Dennis also joins the cast as Mariah’s daughter, Tilda. —Matt Brennan

Premieres: June 29 on Netflix

The Glorious Ladies of Wrestling return in Season Two of Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch’s delightful Netflix series, this time as part of an offbeat backstage comedy. As Zoya the Destroya (Alison Brie), Liberty Belle (Betty Gilpin), and the other women of the ring try to turn their experiment into a syndicated TV show, they spar with prickly director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), industry skeptics, and, yes, each other. The late-June premiere date may turn out to be perfect timing: The Emmy nominations, for which Season One should be a serious contender, are set to be announced July 12. —Matt Brennan

A Very English Scandal
Premieres: Amazon Prime Video on June 29

Here’s a potboiler for you: A British politician goes on trial for conspiring in the attempted murder of his former lover. In the 1970s. And it actually happened. I was unaware of what’s known as “the Thorpe affair” until this three-part miniseries aired on the BBC in May, but I am absolutely here for it: Hugh Grant as Thorpe, a member of Parliament; Ben Whishaw as the ex-lover, Norman Scott; written by Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk) and directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen). It is Pride Month. Is this my gift? —Matt Brennan

Sharp Objects
Premiere Date: July 8 on HBO

Based on one of Gillian Flynn’s early novels, this miniseries is the happy story of a woman who has a collection of scissors. We kid. We kid. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, so expect darkness and surprise twists to unfold over eight episodes. Amy Adams stars as Camille Preaker, a reporter who returns home to cover the murder of two young girls. Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed Big Little Lies helms the miniseries. Marti Noxon is the showrunner and Flynn herself wrote several of the episodes. —Amy Amatangelo

Trial & Error: Lady Killer
Premieres: July 19 on NBC

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At least for the broadcast networks, summer is still silly season, and NBC’s mockumentary spoof of the legal procedural—an unheralded precursor to Netflix’s much hipper American Vandal—is nothing if not silly. After becoming a surprise hit with critics in Season One, the series returns with a new case and a glamorous new suspect: Kristin Chenowith, who replaces John Lithgow. Nicholas D’Agosto returns as the put-upon lawyer tasked with defending her, and Jayma Mays as ambitious small-town prosecutor Carol Anne Keane. —Matt Brennan (Photo: NBCUniversal)

Castle Rock
Premieres: July 25 on Hulu

The latest from mega-producer J.J. Abrams and horror master Stephen King, Hulu’s ambitious anthology series, created by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason (both veterans of WGN America’s late, lamented Manhattan), brings characters from a raft of King’s novels together in the mysterious Maine town of Castle Rock. Forgive the pun, but I’m most excited for the murderer’s row of talented actors populating this unnerving New England burg: André Holland (The Knick), Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness), Scott Glenn (The Leftovers), Terry O’Quinn (Lost), Sissy Spacek (no introduction needed), and Bill Skarsgård, who you probably know as Pennywise from It. —Matt Brennan

Premieres: July 31 on Hulu

Future Man notwithstanding, the last of Hulu’s once-strong slate of original comedies—including Difficult People, The Mindy Project’s post-FOX iteration, and Australian acquisition Please Like Me—might appear all-too-familiar: Its title card apes the drop-down box of relationship “types” one finds on most dating sites, and its characters are affluent, white, often self-destructive Angelenos, kissing cousins to those of HBO’s Togetherness or FXX’s You’re the Worst. Over the course of three seasons, however, Casual, created by Zander Lehmann, has distinguished itself from its competitors by refusing to turn the focus from its central relationship, which is neither a whirlwind romance nor an unhappy marriage. Its treatment of the bond between siblings Alex (Tommy Dewey) and Val (Michaela Watkins)—thorny, idiosyncratic, affectionate, unconditional—is both recognizable and sui generis. Now’s the time to catch up: They, along with Val’s teenage daughter, Laura (Tara Lynne Barr), return for the series’ fourth and final season this summer. —Matt Brennan

Making It
Premiere Date: July 31 on NBC

I mean, honestly, you had me at Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. The two former stars of Parks and Recreation reunite for a six-episode competition series all about crafting. Offerman is well known for his woodworking, while Poehler has a deep admiration for those who can create. Each episode will revolve around a theme. The citizens of Pawnee would be so proud. —Amy Amatangelo

The Sinner
Premiere Date: August 1 on USA

An Emmy nominee in its debut season, The Sinner returns for a second with a brand new crime. This time, Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) returns to his hometown in upstate New York to investigate an 11-year-old boy (Elisha Henig) who murdered his parents. But here’s what really matters: Carrie Coon, beloved by TV viewers and critics everywhere for her work on Fargo and The Leftovers, co-stars as Vera, a mysterious woman intent on protecting her town. And don’t worry about Jessica Biel, who starred in the show’s first season. She’s still an executive producer on the series. —Amy Amatangelo

Premieres: August 12 on HBO

Despite what the title implies, Insecure approached its second season with an inspired confidence, following both Issa (Issa Rae) and Lawrence’s (Jay Ellis) journeys as they navigated their newfound singleness. And while we know very little about Season Three from either the teaser above—is Issa shacked up with Daniel?!?!—or the recent premiere date announcement, we know enough: Yvonne Orji is back as Issa’s endlessly quotable BFF, Molly, as is Natasha Rtothwell’s hilariously frank Kelli, who’s quickly become a fan favorite. Deftly exploring friendship, romance, racism, and sexism in terrifically funny terms, Insecure has become a summer stalwart. (P.S. we can’t wait to see what TV parodies the writers come up with after Conjugal Visits and Due North.) —Amy Amantagelo and Matt Brennan

The Innocents
Premieres: August 24 on Netflix

This British supernatural drama, from first-time creators Hania Elkington and Simon Duric, stars Sorcha Groundsell and Percelle Ascott as teenagers who fall in love and run away from their families—only to discover that Groundsell’s character is a shapeshifter. If this sounds like Stranger Things, or Dark, or Rain or Insert Title of YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series Here, you’re not alone. But hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right? —Matt Brennan

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
Premiere Date: August 31 on Amazon

I’m ready for John Krasinski, action star. A Quiet Place really showed us he is much more than his beloved The Office character. Krasinski takes over for Chris Pine, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Alec Baldwin, all of whom have played Ryan on the big screen. This 10-episode series comes from Carlton Cuse (Lost) and follows Ryan as he leaves his desk job at the CIA behind and works to prevent a terrorist attack. Wendell Pierce and Abbie Cornish also star. —Amy Amatangelo

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