Not so long ago, summer TV meant tolerating the tawdriest of reality shows and the soapiest of soapy dramas. From mid-May, when the big network shows go off the air, through mid-September, when they return, we were stuck with dreck like Dudes Getting Hit in the Balls On Camera, Playmate ER, and America’s Fattest Celebrity Decorator. Ick.
Luckily, we no longer live in those trying times, and good TV can be found on the dial year-round. Yes, House is gone and 30 Rock is on hiatus, but these shows are just gearing up for their next seasons. Here’s what you’ll be watching this summer—or what you should be, anyway.
"So You Think You Can Dance," Starts Thursday May 24 on Fox
It’s like _Dancing With the Stars, except all the dancers have actual talent besides self-promotion! SYTYCD, starting its ninth season, has managed to be a reality competition show that not only features truly talented young people, but also has a positive, uplifting message and has avoided scandal. These bendy youngsters striving to reach their dreams will bring a tear to your cold, life-weary eye.
If you’ve ever wanted to watch a cranky English chap berate the guy who overcooked your burger at Applebee’s, this show is for you. Imagine Top Chef for people who have no culinary talent. In the big “blindfolded palate test” episode that all cooking shows do, contestants in one season of this show were challenged to identify ingredients like ketchup and cheddar cheese.
HBO, starts Sunday June 10
The original sexy vampires are back for another season of sweaty, lusty, blood-sucky hot Bayou-style supernatural vamp-on-vamp action. Also some other plot stuff, too (this season has (L&O:SVU_’s Christopher Meloni!), but mostly the sex. Lots and lots of it.
This much-anticipated Jersey Shore spinoff was supposed to chronicle the duo’s misadventures as single galpals living in Jersey City. Now, since Snooki’s got a meatball in the pot, producers have somehow worked that in. We’re skeptical, but we imagine scenes of Snooks attending childbirth preparation class and watching videos of live birth. Her horror about the impending damage to her cuka will be too good not to watch.
From Aaron Sorkin (creator of The West Wing), The Newsroom is another wordy, philosophical workplace drama, but his time set in a national nightly news show struggling against corporate influence. If you needed any other incentives to tune in, here are three reasons: Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, Jane Fonda.
Adonis DNA-having warlock from Mars Charlie Sheen has talked some television executives into allowing him to appear onscreen again. Good for him! Expect huge ratings for this sitcom (whatever the hell it’s about) as people tune in to see whether Sheen still has all of his teeth. (Our money’s on No.)
In perhaps the most anxiously awaited series return, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are back for a final season as a mismatched meth-making duo. Show creator Vince Gilligan is tight-lipped on details, but suspense, moral decline, drugs, despair, and violence are sure to be in the mix.
You may have wondered, “What would happen if they took the hottest Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants, removed all pretense of finding love, made them all wear swimsuits and do stupid tricks for cash, and doubled everyone’s daiquiri consumption?” Maybe you’ve wondered, “I like The Bachelor, but sometimes I find it a little too emotionally authentic.” The answer? Bachelor Pad. This is the second season of the show, which leaves us wondering, “Why didn’t they think of this sooner?”