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:
“Aquarius” (NBC) 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.
“UnREAL” (Lifetime) 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.
“Hannibal” (NBC) 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.
“Sense8” (Netflix) 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.
“Ballers” (HBO) 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.
“Boom!” (FOX) 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.
“Humans” (AMC) 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.
“Scream” (MTV) 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.
“Zoo” (CBS) 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.
“Extant” (CBS) 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.
“Rectify” (SundanceTV) 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.
94 Summer TV Shows: TheWrap's Ultimate Viewing Guide (Photos)
Wednesday, May 27 "The Briefcase" (CBS) at 8/7c American families experiencing financial setbacks are presented with a briefcase containing a large sum of money and a potentially life-altering decision: they can keep all of the money for themselves, or give all or part of it to another family in need.
Wednesday, May 27 "Bullseye" (Fox) at 9/8c Kellan Lutz and Godfrey host this new game show. The goal is to hit the titular bullseye on land, over the sea and up in the air, with the competitors using their bodies as human darts. The winner leaves with $50,000.
Thursday, May 28 "Aquarius" (NBC) at 9/8c David Duchovny stars as 1960's Det. Sam Hodiak, who goes undercover to investigate the Manson family before their infamous murder spree
Friday, May 29 "Marriage Bootcamp Reality Stars" (WE TV) at 9/8c Famous reality TV couples try to salvage their relationships. This season will feature Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett, Aubrey O'Day and Travis Garland, and Jeff Schroeder and Jordan Lloyd among others
Friday, May 29 "Nightingale" (HBO) at 9/8c "Selma" star David Oyelowo plays a lonely war veteran psychologically unravels ahead of an old friend's impending visit in this HBO original film
Saturday May 30 "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" (Lifetime) at 8/7c Kelli Garner stars as the iconic film star in this mini-series chronicle of Monroe's family life and how she succeeded in hiding her most intimate secrets from the press and an invasive world.
Sunday, May 31 "Halt and Catch Fire" (AMC) at 10/9c The Lee Pace-led drama returns for season 2 and continues to explore the personal computing boom of the 1980s
Monday, June 1 "Devious Maids" (Lifetime) at 9/8c The maids are back for more mayhem and drama as the third season of Lifetime's hit series returns.
Monday, June 1 "UnREAL" (Lifetime) at 10/9c The drama behind the scenes at a reality dating show is chronicled in Lifetime's newest series. Shiri Appleby stars.
Monday, June 1 "The Whispers" (ABC) at 10/9c An unseen force is manipulating society's most innocent -- children -- to act in service of its mysterious cause.
Monday, June 1 "So You Think You Can Dance" (Fox) The 12th season of this reality competition follows dancers competing to be named "America's Favorite Dancer," along with a cash prize.
Tuesday, June 2 "Chrisley Knows Best" (USA) at 9/8c Season 3 of the reality show follows the continuing adventures of millionaire Todd Chrisley and his family.
Tuesday, June 2 "Pretty Little Liars" (ABC Family) at 8/7c Season 6 of the popular teen drama will answer burning questions about A and all the PLL's.
Tuesday, June 2 "Royal Pains" (USA) at 10/9c The seventh season of this medical dramedy follows the employees of concierge medical service HankMed struggling to keep their lives in order.
Tuesday, June 2 "Stitchers" (ABC Family) at 9/8c A young woman is recruited into a secret government agency to be "stitched" into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders.
Wednesday, June 3 "Baby Daddy" (ABC Family) at 8:30/7:30c The fifth season of this comedy series sees Ben still grappling with fatherhood in hilarious fashion.
Wednesday, June 3 "Melissa & Joey" (ABC Family) at 8/7c Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence return for the fourth and final season of this comedy about a woman who hire a "manny" to look after her niece and nephew.
Thursday, June 4 "Hannibal" (NBC) at 10/9c Hannibal has fled to Europe as the fate of the victims he left behind hangs in the balance in Season 3 of the cult favorite series.
Tuesday, June 23 "Another Period" (Comedy Central) at 10:30/9:30c A turn of the century reality series about the Newports, America's "original ballers."
Wednesday, June 24 "Big Brother" (CBS) at 9/8c Another group of housemates will be thrown together for more drama, competition and, if recent seasons are any indication, scandal in the 17th season of the popular reality show.
Wednesday, June 24 "Suits" (USA) at 9/8c Season 5 of this legal drama will continue the story of a brilliant lawyer -- who never attended law school -- closing cases for a major Manhattan firm.
Wednesday, June 24 "Mr. Robot" (USA) at 10/9c A hacker working as a cyber-security engineer is recruited by an underground organization to destroy his own firm.
Thursday, June 25 "BOOM!" (Fox) at 8/7c Contestants compete to diffuse slime-bombs and win cash by correctly answering trivia questions.
Thursday, June 25 "Graceland" (USA) at 10/9c Season 3 of the drama surrounding the intersecting lives of several undercover narcotics officers.
Thursday, June 25 "Rookie Blue" (ABC) at 10/9c Season 5 of this police procedural about a group of rookie officers trying to make it in the toughest squad in the department.
Thursday, June 25 "Under the Dome" (CBS) at 9/8c Season 3 of the Stephen King adaptation about a town trapped under a mysterious force field.
Tuesday, June 30 "Zoo" (CBS) at 9/8c A young scientist searches to find out what's causing a rash of violent animal attacks.
Tuesday, June 30 “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail” (Comedy Central) at 12:30am/11:30c The second season of this series which sees famous comedians trying out new bits in the back of a comic book store
Wednesday, July 1 "Extant" (CBS) at 10/9c Halle Berry returns for season 2 of this sci-fi series about an astronaut who becomes mysteriously pregnant during a 13-month solo space mission.
Thursday, July 2 "Food Fighters" (NBC) at 8/7c A cooking game show in which amateurs square off against pro chefs for the chance to win $100,000.
Monday, July 6 "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" (CW) at 9/8c Aspiring magicians try to pull off magic tricks on masters Penn & Teller. Those who succeed earn a chance to perform in Las Vegas in the second season of this reality series.
Monday, July 6 "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (CW) at 9/8c More hilarious improv returns in the 11th season of this long-running comedy show.
Tuesday, July 7 "Hollywood Game Night" (NBC) at 10/9c Jane Lynch hosts the show in which various celebrities compete in competitions to win money for their select charities.
Wednesday, July 8 "Key and Peele" (Comedy Central) at 10pm/9c
Wednesday, July 8 "The Spoils Before Dying" (IFC) at 9pm/8c A comedy miniseries about a 1950's jazz pianist turned private eye
Wednesday, July 8 "Why with Hannibal Buress" (Comedy Central) at 10:30/9:30c
Thursday, July 9 "Rectify" (SundanceTV) at 10/9c Season 3 of this drama about a man attempts to adjust to normal life after spending 19 years on death row for a crime he didn't commit.
Friday, July 10 "Masters of Illusion" (CW) A literal magic show where some of the best illusionists baffle viewers.
Friday, July 10 "Sex With Brody" (E!) at 10:30/9:30c Brody Jenner gives advice on sex, dating, and relationships with celebrity guests.
Sunday, July 12 "Masters of Sex" (Showtime) at 10/9c Season 3 of this biographical series about pioneering sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson.
Monday, July 13 "Running Wild With Bear Grylls" (NBC) at 10/9c The famous survivalist leads celebrities on 48-hour journeys into remote and dangerous locations
Wednesday, July 15 "The Jim Gaffigan Show" (TV Land) at 10/9c Based on the actor's real life, Gaffigan's newest sitcom follows him as he balances life between fatherhood, stand-up comedy and an insatiable appetite
Wednesday, July 15 "Impastor" (TV Land) at 10:30/9:30c "Smallville's" Michael Rosenbaum plays a slacker and druggie who assumes the identity of a priest after his death.
Thursday, July 16 "Impractical Jokers" (TruTV) at 10/9c Season four of this series about four lifelong friends who dare each other to do outrageous stunts
Thursday, July 16 "Friends of the People" (TruTV) at 10:30/9:30c The midseason premier of this sketch comedy series that skewers pop culture and features parodies of your favorite 90's moments
Thursday, July 16 "Married" (FX) at 10:30/9:30c A comedy about a couple of not-so-newlyweds struggling to live adult lives
Thursday, July 16 "Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll" (FX) A beind-the-scenes comedy about a rock band forced to collaborate again after splitting up 20 years earlier
Saturday, July 18 "Hell on Wheels" (AMC) at 9/8c The fifth season of this period drama about a former Confederate soldier tracking the men who killed his wife
Sunday, July 19 "Welcome to Sweden" (NBC) at 8/7c Season 2 of the comedy that sees a powerful money manager move to Sweden to live with his beautiful Swedish girlfriend
Wednesday, July 22 "Last Comic Standing" (NBC) at 9/8c Season 9 of the standup competition finds comedians honing their jokes with the help of mentors for a prize worth $250,000 -- which includes a TV show development deal.
Wednesday, July 29 "The Carbonaro Effect" (TruTV) at 10/9c The second season of this reality series about a comic magician who astounds and amuses audiences at the same time
Thursday, July 30 "Review" (Comedy Central) at 10/9c Season 2 of this series about life reviewer Forrest MacNeil
Friday, July 31 "Cold Justice" (TNT) at 10:30/9:30c Season 3 of this unscripted series in which former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and crime scene investigator Yolanda McClary crack cold cases.
Friday, July 31 "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp" (Netflix) Streaming A series based on the 2001 film that explores the first days of summer at Camp Firewood
Sunday, August 2 "Bachelor in Paradise" (ABC) at 8/7c In the tradition of "Bachelor Pad," ABC finds a new way to round up former "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" competitors, get them in their swimsuits, and get them feuding. (Oh, and maybe fall in love. Sure.)
Tuesday, August 4 "Playing House" (USA) at 10/9c Season two of this comedy about a woman who decides to help her best friend raise a baby after the friend's husband is caught cheating
Wenesday, August 5 "The Carmichael Show" (NBC) at 9:30/8:30c A half hour comedy loosely based on the life of comedian Jerrod Carmichael
Wednesday, August 5 "Mr. Robinson" (NBC) at 9/8c Craig Robinson stars in this half hour comedy about a middle school music teacher.
Monday, August 17 "Public Morals" (TNT) at 10/9c Eddie Burns leads the cast of this drama set in the world of the 1960s NYPD Public Morals division.
Tuesday, August 18 "Hack My Life" (TruTV) Second season of this series in which the hosts offer time-saving tips for your everyday life
Thursday, August 20 "Documentary Now!" (IFC) at 10/9c A mocumentary series about a different, made-up topic each week
Saturday, August 22 "Blunt Talk" (Starz) at 9/8c Patrick Stewart stars in this comedy about an unhinged British journalist who gets his own cable news show in the U.S.