“UnREAL” and “Mr. Robot” were the darlings of TV last summer. That shouldn’t change this year. They are among the 10 returning summer TV shows I recommend. At least half of the shows making this list are so inventive, surprising and well-acted that I highly recommend you catch up on past seasons before tuning in to new episodes.
You’ll find the premiere dates of other returning and new shows in my monthly calendars. (Here’s May and June.) I’ve also highlighted 30 new summer TV shows and 12 summer TV movies and other events you might want to watch. What TV are you looking forward to watching this summer. Let me know in the comments. (All times below are CT.)
Returning summer TV shows
Streaming May 31. Netflix (season 3)
Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his razor-blade wielding crime ring set their sites beyond Birmingham, England, and into an international arms deal. The stellar cast includes returning members Tom Hardy, Finn Cole and Helen McCrory.
8 p.m. June 1, Audience (mid-season 2)
The MMA fighters of Navy St. Gym are ready for another round in this intense family drama about a retired fighter who trains his sons (Nick Jonas, Jonathan Tucker) and a parolee (Matt Lauria). The fighting is authentic and the acting will knock the wind out of you.
9 p.m. June 6, Lifetime (season 2)
Marti Noxon’s scathing look at reality TV pulls back the curtains on another season of the fictional dating show “Everlasting.” Conjured storylines, manipulated contestants—and a black bachelor (B.J. Britt)! It’s going to be another scorching summer with puppet masters Quinn King (Constance Zimmer) and Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby). (Check out my “UnREAL” Season 1 review.)
Streaming June 7, Hulu (season 2)
Newly single mom Valerie Meyers (Michaela Watkins) navigated the dating world and its heartaches with the help of her bachelor brother (Tommy Dewey) last summer. In Season 2, the siblings discover that finding and keeping friends (with no benefits) can be messy, too. Creator Zander Lehman, director Jason Reitman and a fab cast show that life’s bitter and sweet are never far apart. (Here’s my Michaela Watkins interview from Season 1.)
The Last Ship
8 p.m. June 12, TNT (season 3)
The U.S.S. Nathan James and its crew have slowed a global plague and helped re-establish a U.S. government, but the honeymoon doesn’t last. Their latest challenge means more action and adventure on Sunday nights. (Here is my Season 2 interview with Travis Van Winkle.)
9 p.m. July 1, Syfy (season 2)
The nameless members of the once derelict space ship Raza have been arrested by the Galactic Authority, but their quest to find out who stole their memories isn’t likely to end in a prison. This space opera from “Stargate” alums Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie helped Syfy triumphantly return to the stars last summer. (More about “Dark Matter” Season 2 casting.)
9 p.m. July 6, FX (season 3)
This political drama from “Homeland” creator Howard Gordon may not get the buzz of other FX series, but it sucks me in every summer. A power vacuum in the fictitious Middle East country of Abuddin will pit members of the ruling family against each other in the new season.
The Making of the Mob: Chicago
9 p.m. July 11, AMC (season 2)
Many people I’ve met from other countries mention Al Capone when I tell them I’m from Chicago. The second season of AMC’s docuseries dramatizes Capone and the Chicago Outfit, so I doubt that will change any time soon. (More about “Mr. Robot” Season 2.)
9 p.m. July 13, USA (season 2)
“Mr. Robot” became an unexpected sensation last summer. Charting lonely techie Elliot’s (Rami Malek) fall into the depths of his delusions and his relationship with a cyber-vigilante (Christian Slater) bent on bringing down the world’s biggest corporation. I’m not sure how creator Sam Esmail will follow up the shocks of Season 1, but I can’t wait to find out.
9 p.m. Aug. 28, FX (season 3)
The Master and his strigoi move closer to their goal of conquering the world—one nasty human transformation at a time. Our band of heroes have other plans. Will Guillermo del Toro’s ugly-ass vamps win their war against humanity? (Here is my Season 2 interview with cast member Natalie Brown.)