As the temperature rises, so does anticipation for summer television. And with the summer season no longer a wasteland populated by CBS’ “Big Brother” and not much else, there’s more options than ever on offer for just about every type of TV watcher.
In order to help you wade through new shows, returning favorites, reality competitions and crazy sci-fi from the minds of the Wachowskis, TheWrap picks 25 summer shows worth watching:
Thursday, May 28 at 9 p.m.
After all this time, the Manson family murders continue to be a topic of fascination and we’re itching for a series that finally gets the story right. Set in the 1960s, “Aquarius” follows police officer Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) as he goes undercover to track down one of the biggest cult leaders in history – Charles Manson. Gethin Anthony stars as Manson in his early days, back when he was a wannabe rockstar beginning to recruit vulnerable women.
“So You Think You Can Dance” (FOX)
Monday, June 1 at 8 p.m.
“American Idol” may be ending, but Fox’s other music-themed reality series doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down, even 12 seasons later. Of course, after so many years, Fox has to do something to keep it fresh, so there’s a high expectations this round.
“The Whispers” (ABC)
Monday, June 1 at 10 p.m.
This new ABC series might make you question a young child’s “imaginary friend.” When those imaginary friends start telling children to do bad things, things go from annoying to terrifying. The sci-fi drama used to be pretty explicitly about aliens, but it’s been retooled and is more mysterious than ever.
Monday, June 1 at 10 p.m.
Shows like “The Bachelor” continue to be a fascinating must-watch for certain sectors of TV viewers, but an even broader audience should be able to get on board with Lifetime’s fictionalized take on the behind the scenes of such reality shows. It promises to both skewer the drama and be appealing to fans who want to believe in the magic of falling in love on a reality show.
“Pretty Little Liars” (ABC Family)
Tuesday, June 2 at 8 p.m.
In the season finale, we found out Charles – Ali’s possibly estranged older brother – is “A.” Which, really, means we’ve learned of yet another plot twist. For a series about secrets unfolding just in time for more secrets to build up, you’d think the world had had enough of “PLL.” Of course, you’d be wrong. The devotion has only intensified in the months of waiting. The summer premiere of season six starts with the girls still trapped in Charles’ lair, but we’re sure they’ll wiggle their way out of that predicament within the first 15 minutes.
“Stitchers” (ABC Family)
Tuesday, June 2 at 9 p.m.
Emma Ishta stars as Kirsten, a young girl who is tasked with bearing the memories of the dead by “stitching” herself into their minds. Through the work of her and her team, Kirsten helps to investigate murders that would otherwise go unsolved. “Stitchers” is basically the scientific, new-age version of “Ghost Whisperer,” with a healthy ABC Family youth-skewing twist.
Thursday, June 4 at 10 p.m.
Mads Mikkelsen returns as Hannibal Lecter, cover blown and on the loose in Europe with his psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) in tow. Hannibal continues his cannibalism there, while the fates of his former friends turned pursuers hang in the balance. Entering its third season, “Hannibal” is one of those shows you should catch up on in time for the premiere date.
Friday, June 5 at 12 a.m.
Add a point for onscreen diversity! “Sense8” tells the story of eight total strangers from different parts of the world who find out they can infiltrate one another’s body. They feel each other’s pain, share skills and recognize when one is in danger. It’s inexplicable. Even if it’s just to find out what the explanation is, “Sense8” is a priority binge-watch once Netflix releases all 12 episodes at once.
“Becoming Us” (ABC Family)
Monday, June 8 at 9 p.m.
On the heels of Bruce Jenner’s transgender awakening comes “Becoming Us,” a docuseries about 17-year-old Ben Lehwald of Evanston, Illinois, whose father is transitioning from Charlie to Carly. On top of such a life-changing event, Charlie and Ben’s mother are also going through a divorce. Meanwhile, Ben’s girlfriend Danielle is also experiencing her father’s transition into a woman. It’s an emotional and important look into the transgender community.
“Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)
Friday, June 12 at 12 a.m.
The ladies of Litchfield Penitentiary are back for round three. In this season of “OITNB,” each character undergoes an awakening of some sort and rediscovers who she is. It looks like the show will continue to hone in on the other women in the prison aside from its main character Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), which helped boost its popularity in season two.
“True Detective” (HBO)
Sunday, June 21 at 9 p.m.
Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and director Cary Fukunaga are all gone, but the new story, new cast and new creative team behind the second installment of HBO’s anthology series should still offer plenty for fans of Nic Pizzolatto’s gritty crime drama. Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch play the good guys who may not be all good all the time this time around, while Vince Vaughn will offer up his portrayal of a bad guy who may or may not have something to do with a grisly murder.
Sunday, June 21 at 10 p.m.
For those who just can’t get enough of The Rock, this is proving to be the best summer ever. After “Furious 7” and “San Andreas,” the former wrestler heads to the small screen as the star of HBO’s comedy “Ballers,” playing a former NFL player turned high profile agent. With the “Entourage” movie reviving that desire to watch rich guys partying it up, it’s the perfect time for “Ballers.”
“Mr. Robot” (USA)
Wednesday, June 24 at 10 p.m.
This new drama involves a vigilante hacker (Rami Malek) who joins a network that is invested in taking down the most powerful people on Earth – the one percent of the one percent. After taking on supporting roles in “The Pacific” and “Night at the Museum,” this is the perfect moment for Malek to show off his leading man chops on a show that could be a real breakout.
Thursday, June 25 at 8 p.m.
This is a new reality competition show about defusing fake bombs. The end. The show did record numbers in Israel, and certainly sounds like it could be unbearably tense, even though there’s (hopefully) no actual danger involved for anyone. Let’s at least see what all the hype is about.
Sunday, June 28 at 9 p.m.
Artificial intelligence is a hot topic to tackle on screen this year, and if you’re craving more after watching “Chappie,” “Ex Machina” or even “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” this new series seems to have some potential. In “Humans,” robots are among us, tasked with simple jobs like babysitting and house cleaning. They’re part of the family. They look pretty human, too. Of course, every machine malfunctions every so often…
“Teen Wolf” (MTV)
Monday, June 29 at 10 p.m.
There’s plenty of bad blood to go around in the upcoming season of “Teen Wolf,” where the ridiculously attractive supernatural teenagers face more danger and more relationship drama. Popular among young adults, the series is sure to continue as a weekly trending topic, especially as Dylan O’Brien’s star continues to rise.
Tuesday, June 30
This relaunch of the classic horror franchise is set the aftermath of a cyber-bullying incident that results in a gruesome murder. Attractive teenagers start being picked off one by one, and it’s all kicked off by Bella Thorne, doing her best Drew Barrymore impression as the series’ first kill. Instead of getting a menacing phone call, she’s terrorized by a series of texts. Doesn’t have quite the same effect, and the loss of the Ghostface mask is a curious decision, but the prospect of weekly “Scream” is just too enticing to pass up.
Tuesday, June 30 at 9 p.m.
Based on famed author James Patterson’s novel of the same name, “Mad Men” actor James Wolk grows out his facial hair to play a biologist who arrives in Botswana, Africa, to figure out why animals are aggressively murdering humans. Expect oodles of intense moments and probably more than one ridiculous “science” explanation every week.
Wednesday, July 1 at 10 p.m.
Halle Berry is back in “Extant” as astronaut Molly Woods, and after a so-so first season, CBS execs promised a brand new, retooled second season. In its favor, new cast members like Jeffrey Dean Morgan and David Morrissey will inject some star power and different energy into the somewhat convoluted tale about Berry’s character, who was impregnated by an alien, and who already has a son who’s a robot. You can’t blame the show for not being original, at least.
Thursday, July 9 at 10 p.m.
“Rectify” returns for more of Daniel Holden’s (Aden Young) complicated journey as he continues to adjust to life on the outside after 19 years of solitary confinement on Death Row. After that sensational and more confusing than ever confession, Daniel seems both freer and more burdened than ever. With the Holden family also crumbling around him, Season 3 of the SundanceTV drama should be more compelling than ever.
“Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (FX)
Thursday, July 16 at 10 p.m.
If the title alone doesn’t sell it for you, consider this: Denis Leary is in it. Leary plays Johnny Rock, a has-been with an opportunity at a second chance, and his career with The Heathens, though short-lived in the early 1990s, might just reignite with the help of a young singer (Elizabeth Gillies). We’re in it for the music. And the Leary.
“BoJack Horseman” (Netflix)
Friday, July 17 at 12 a.m.
Poor BoJack quickly discovered in Season 1 that life has considerably changed since the 90s, when he was the top horse in town, and things like Twitter are foreign concepts. This adult cartoon might just become your guilty pleasure, or the worst thing you’ve ever wasted time on. There’s no in-between, but the good news, if you watched any portion of Season 1, you already have your answer on whether to tune back in for another round.
“Wet Hot American Summer” (Netflix)
Friday, July 31 at 12 a.m.
With a cast as jam-packed with comedians as this one, prioritizing “Wet Hot American Summer” is a no-brainer. Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Paul Rudd, Christopher Meloni, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Michael Showalter, Molly Shannon and a bunch more reprise some of their earliest roles in this return to Camp Firewood. And even though it’s nearly 15 years later, yes, they are all still playing teenagers.
“Blunt Talk” (Starz)
Saturday, August 22 at 9 p.m.
Patrick Stewart stars in this new comedy as Walter Blunt, a British newscaster who lands his own talk show in America. Things don’t go too well for the new host, who suffers from a cocaine addiction, multiple failed marriages and plenty of critics. It should be an entertaining dark comedy that’s not what audiences are used to with the “Star Trek” and “X-Men” actor.