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Summer TV 2017: 13 cool shows to dive into when the summer sun gets too hot

A crack origin story, rowdy manicurists, raucous NFL stars — Issa summer of the good, the bad, and the boujee

The dog days of summer will soon be upon us, which, for many of us, means escaping sticky heat and stifling humidity by heading for more air-conditioned climates, especially ones with screens. Of course it’s blockbuster season, but if you just can’t pull yourself from the sofa, there’s a plethora of summer TV options too. Now that Underground and Pitch have both been canceled, perhaps you can find a new favorite. Here are a few series, both new and returning, that merit some attention, if not straight-up bingeing.

Still Star-Crossed

Premieres: May 31

Where: ABC

Shonda Rhimes’ latest offering, Still Star-Crossed, is off to a bit of a rocky start ratingswise, but it’s certainly an interesting premise. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Melinda Taub (who also writes for TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee), Rhimes picks up where The Bard left off with Romeo and Juliet, imagining a war between the rival Montague and Capulet families of Verona, Italy, after the deaths of their teenage star-crossed lovers. Get it? Still star-crossed?

Orange Is the New Black

Premieres: June 9

Where: Netflix

Finally, the fifth season of one of Netflix’s best shows, Orange is the New Black, is returning, and it does not disappoint. The series that focuses on an all-female prison picks up the narrative right back where we left it: seeing an inmate holding a gun over a guard and ready to shoot. One character we get to really see some depth from this year is Danielle Brooks’ Tasty, who really emerges and gives us emotional complexity like we haven’t witnessed before. We’ve seen half of the new season so far and won’t give away any spoilers, but you’ll likely binge-watch all the new episodes in one fell swoop. Per usual.


Premieres: June 11

Where: TNT

As NBA Finals melodrama dies down, Claws is featuring more action than LeBron and ’nem could ever hope to make good on. This new series stars Niecy Nash as a woman with aspirations greater than what’s in front of her. Prepare for much pearl-clutching and jaw-dropping and oh-my-goshing while you take in this completely unpredictable series. It will keep you guessing, and it will have you cheering for characters you didn’t expect to shake pompoms for.

Queen Sugar

Premieres: June 20-21 (two-night premiere)

Where: OWN

Well, Charley Bordelon (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) has dumped her loser husband — or started moving in that direction, anyhow — and she’s this close to getting her own sugar refinery. What could possibly go wrong? While Queen Sugar continues to examine family dynamics and wealth, it’s also continuing its look at a Louisiana justice system that is especially hard on young black men and boys and the people who care for them. Oh, and the fabulous Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) remains forever young at heart — this season she’s dipping out in a crop top!


Premieres: June 23

Where: Netflix

Holy Lycra and blue eye shadow, what do we have here? Netflix’s new series G.L.O.W. stars Alison Brie as Ruth Wilder, an actress in 1980s Los Angeles who just wants a decent part for once. We’re still demanding this for actresses now — the ’80s must have been rough. Anyhow, Miss Ruth finds her way into the world of ladies’ wrestling, a world filled with drama, rivalries and some seriously scary athletes. It also features Britney Young and Sydelle Noel.


Premieres: June 25

Where: Starz

The countdown for the return of Power, of one of the sexiest, most tweet-able series to ever hit flat-screens has finally begun. We last left Ghost (Omari Hardwick) as he was headed to prison for a murder he actually didn’t commit (not that he’s above catching a body, though). Chances are good he won’t be locked up for very long. Catch up on all of last season, here.

All or Nothing: A Season with the L.A. Rams

Premieres: June 30

Where: Amazon Prime

If HBO’s Hard Knocks is a show all about optimism as it winds through the early days of training camp (when everyone has a shot) toward the nail-biting of roster cuts, All or Nothing is decidedly more … bleak. Well, it is this season, as it looks backward on the Rams’ awful, terrible, no-good, very bad 4-12 season. There’s a high probability that you can watch and comfort yourself with this thought: At least my team doesn’t suck as much as those guys. Also: Jeff Fisher gets fired.


Premieres: July 5

Where: FX

If there’s a shop that knows what to do with a compelling, offbeat limited series, it’s FX. So far, the chapter-iffic ratings bonanzas that FX has enjoyed have come from American Horror Story and Feud creator Ryan Murphy and, of course, Noah Hawley’s Fargo, but Snowfall is a sumptuously colored new drama from co-creators Eric Amadio, John Singleton and Dave Andron examining the beginnings of crack cocaine in 1983 Los Angeles. Snowfall follows the crack epidemic from multiple angles: through the eyes of a small-time weed dealer who’s trying to grow his business, a Mexican wrestler, a crime lord’s daughter and a CIA operative.


Premieres: July 23

Where: HBO

Lawrence, Lawrence, Lawrence. And Issa. Why do y’all do the things that y’all do? The closing seconds of Issa Rae’s first season of Insecure divided us — for the most part — along gender lines, and this new season is ripe for a group watch. Will Lawrence and Issa get back together? Time will tell. But, Issa, girl, you’ve got some things to atone for.


Premieres: July 23

Where: HBO

Dwayne Johnson’s show, Ballers, about life after football, hit its stride last season: We got to see some deep dives from actors like London Brown, who portrays the show’s trifling character, Reggie. (You know you’re trifling, Reggie.) We’re also looking forward to seeing the dramatic complexities that John David Washington excellently pulls off. Catch up on last season, here.

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Premieres: Aug. 8

Where: HBO

It almost doesn’t matter which team is featured on this most excellent docuseries, Hard Knocks, which HBO puts together during every preseason — you have to watch. It’s such a good behind-the-scenes, in-the-locker-room and in-the-coach’s-office look at life in the NFL. This season’s team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: all eyes on embattled quarterback Jameis Winston.

Marvel’s The Defenders


Premieres: Aug. 18

Where: Netflix

Because everything in the comic book universe is intertwined with everything else in it, we get Marvel’s The Defenders, which is sort of like the Netflix series version of Avengers but with different heroes. In this case, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Iron Fist will unite their crime-fighting powers. Highlight: Rosario Dawson returns as nurse Claire Temple, one of the characters who provides the glue linking all of these series together in the first place.

Survivor’s Remorse

Premieres: TBA

Where: Starz

Survivor’s Remorse writers give themselves plenty to work with in the upcoming fourth season. The hit comedy follows the exploits of Atlanta pro basketball star Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) and his family, and we left off with M-Chuck (Erica Ash) in Boston seeking answers about her father, the man who raped her mother, Cassie (Tichina Arnold). This season, the Calloways will have some new company: Isaiah Washington and Vanessa Bell Calloway join the cast: Washington portrays Cam’s father, and Calloway plays the mother of Missy (Teyonah Parris). Catch up on last season here.

Soraya Nadia McDonald is the senior culture critic for Andscape. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts and literature. She is the 2020 winner of the George Jean Nathan prize for dramatic criticism, a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism and the runner-up for the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for outstanding reporting on Black life.

Kelley L. Carter is a senior entertainment reporter and the host of Another Act at Andscape. She can act out every episode of the U.S. version of The Office, she can and will sing the Michigan State University fight song on command and she is very much immune to Hollywood hotness.