School is out!
Just like a certain snowman and thousands of children everywhere, we are wild about summer. And we especially like to find out what happens to TV when it gets warm.
Turns out there is plenty to watch during the summer months, as even the most traditional networks have moved to year-round programming and Netflix premieres (rough estimate) 30 new shows a day. You do you Netflix. You do you.
With so many favorites returning, revivals happening and new shows premiering, you need someone to help you clear through all the clutter. As always, the Paste TV writers are here to help. We’ve culled through all the summer shows coming your way and have come up with the 16 shows you can’t miss this summer.
What Just Happened??!
Premiere Date: June 30
What Just Happened??! looks to be just as silly as its title’s punctuation, but for hardcore TV nerds or those well-versed in their own fandoms, this meta-comedy seems like a must-watch. Starring Fred Savage as the host of an after show for a fake sci-fi series (titled The Flare), What Just Happened??! parodies excessive fandom by creating its own. As in, they’ll have fake interviews, fake clips, fake convention footage—the full fake press tour. It sounds like something right out of Comedy Bang! Bang!. It’s such a weird idea, especially for a broadcast network, that even if it crashes and burns, this oddball experiment might be worth watching. —Jacob Oller
Premiere Date: August 7
How excited am I that the Peach Pit gang is coming back together? Um, I own the dolls featured in the above trailer. Except mine have never been taken out of the box. What if something happened to them?? I loved Beverly Hills 90210. There is no greater season in the history of television than the summer Brenda (Shannen Doherty) went to Paris and Kelly (Jennie Garth) and Dylan (Luke Perry) fell in love (I will fight anyone on this). Perry’s brooding, beautiful Dylan McKay is my first and forever TV boyfriend. One of my biggest concerns, though, is how this six-episode “event series” (what does that even mean?), which is clearly rooted in camp, will handle Perry’s very tragic recent death. Jason Priestley, Doherty, Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling are all returning to play heighten versions of themselves (again what does that even mean?), so the entire thing could be a disaster. I know this. I’ve made peace with this very real possibility. I’m here to tell you I don’t care. I will watch every blessed minute of it.—Amy Amatangelo
Premiere Date: August 12
Don’t sleep on AMC’s dreamy series Lodge 49, which follows a happy but mostly hapless spirit, Dud (Wyatt Russell) who stumbles upon a mystical fraternal lodge after the sudden death of his father. The series is unusual in a number of ways, including the generational friendship between Dud and the older lodge members, but its relaxed atmosphere, central mystery (or whether there is, in fact, a mystery about the lodge) and spiritual self-examination, as well as an outstanding cast, make Lodge 49 an unexpected delight. The surfer-culture beach settings coupled with Dud’s pool supply family business also give the show excellent summer vibes. Tune in and chill out. —Allison Keene
Premiere Date: August 30
Amazon Prime’s upcoming Victorian-set noirish fantasy series, Carnival Row, has apparently been bumping around the pop culture ether for more than a decade. But with the deluge of television content we’re all scrambling to keep from drowning in these days, it only managed to hit my radar the day its first atmospheric trailer dropped. Starring Cara Delevingne as dragonfly-winged faerie Vignette Stonemoss (sure) and Orlando Bloom as human detective/bowler aficionado Rycroft Philostrate (why not), it is apparently full of fantastical war refugees, human-faerie tensions and a string of mysterious murders. Maybe I’m still riding the ecstatic high of Good Omens, maybe I’m riding the pre-high of Veronica Mars’ snarky return, maybe I just love it when television manages to surprise me—whatever it is, I’m so ready to see what Carnival Row ends up being. —Alexis Gunderson
Premiere Date: June 21
Left-field German hit Dark recently announced in the trailer for its second season that it was part of a trilogy. Three cycles, it says, for the mysterious town that doesn’t quite exist in our world. For fans of complex, time-distorted supernatural drama, this should click right in. With bold visuals and solid acting, Dark is like the grown-up version of Stranger Things with far less reliance on references—plus way scarier, Stalker-esque plodding towards oblivion. But also fun! Season Two looks to up the time travel ante with an impending apocalypse that rivals any summer blockbuster. With one more season on the way, you should know you’ll be signing up for more since its mystery will quickly sink its hooks in.—Jacob Oller
Network: Disney Channel
Premiere Date: June 21
Between Brenda Song’s return to Disney Channel as the lead of the animated adventure series, Amphibia, the bonkers improv-infused family sitcom, Just Roll With It, and the long-awaited premiere of Descendants 3, the Mouse House has a big summer of NEW planned. Still, we would be lying if we said it was anything other than the return of the thrillingly ambitious family dramedy Andi Mack that has us most hyped. Hyped but also bummed, as the network recently announced the stretch of episodes kicking off on June 21 will be the groundbreaking series’ last. It would be a fool’s errand to try to anticipate where Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) and the rest of the Good Hair Crew might end up, considering all the bold thematic frontiers the show has already let themexplore, but between showrunner Terri Minsky’s unstoppable vision and the Good Hair Crew’s infectious charm—okay, and also, it has to be said, with the promise inherent to Cyrus (Joshua Rush) and TJ’s (Luke Mullen) fizzy chemistry—we have every reason to believe it will be somewhere great. —Alexis Gunderson
Premiere Date: June 24
Olan Rogers’ bizarre, fascinating, darkness-tinged animated space comedy is moving from TBS to what is likely its rightful home on Adult Swim for its second season. Boasting an exceptional voice cast which includes Fred Armisen, Tom Kenny, David Tennant, Gina Torres, and Steven Yeun, the surprising series is worth catching up with before its return. Don’t be fooled by its cartoonish style; Final Space is the kind of series where a hyper-cute creature also doubles as a planet-destroying alien. Strap in for a wild ride. —Allison Keene
Premiere Date: June 30
The Rook, based on the popular novel by Daniel O’Malley, has a captivating storyline which includes a beautiful woman with amnesia, special powers, and connections to a secret government agency. This show has all the makings of a great and unusual superhero-adjacent story, and (even better for ratings) a built-in fan base. Starz has a proven track record of turning well-loved books like Outlander and The White Princess into a television series that fans love to watch as much as they love to read the written words. The show has an all-star cast which includes Olivia Munn, Joely Fisher and Emma Greenwell. We have high hopes that The Rook will join the list of Starz success stories. —Keri Lumm
Premiere Date: July 4
Nothing says summertime like hanging out at the mall and going to the neighborhood pool, and while we might typically associate Stranger Things with the spookier Halloween season, its third season seems poised to take advantage of a different facet of 80s worship and childhood nostalgia. The kids of Hawkins are now set to battle new foes against a bright summer backdrop. While not much is known about the upcoming season so far, we wouldn’t want it any other way. But we do know that friendship themes will be key, which is really all we need—along with what is sure to be an iconic battle in the season finale, titled “The Battle of Starcourt.”—Allison Keene
Premiere Date: July 14
The first season of Starz’s adaptation of Stephanie Danler’s coming-of-age novel Sweetbitter was unfairly maligned, perhaps because it featured yet another a wide-eyed ingenue making her way in New York (and the city’s high-end restaurant scene in particular). There’s privilege and pretension here, sure, along with some wish-fulfillment as Tess (Ella Purnell) gets caught up in this cliquey world with its complicated personal and professional hierarchies. But the series also has a winning mid-2000s aesthetic, and for those who may have been coming-of-age around that time, it’s a bittersweet (yes, I went there) reminder of a time of both freedom and struggle. The first season ran an economical six episodes, making for a quick, charming binge before the new season arrives. Sweetbitter is not here to blow your mind or subvert your expectations, but it is the kind of series that will make you sweetly nostalgic for summers past. —Allison Keene
Premiere Date: July 26
Well, marshmallows, being canceled after three seasons was the best thing that could have happened to Veronica Mars. There was the fan-funded 2014 movie which revived the residents of Neptune seven years after the series was cancelled. And now 12 years after the show aired its last episode, Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Ernico Colantoni, Ryan Hansen and other fan favorites are joined by several news faces including J.K. Simmons and Patton Oswalt as Veronica (Bell) and her dad Keith (Colantoni) are on the hunt for a spring break serial killer. Series creator Rob Thomas promises a more adult noir-ish story. After all, we’ve grown up just as the characters have. Expect great sarcastic humor, swoon-worthy romance (a given if Dohring will yet again be in uniform. Sigh.) and a mystery that is sure to enthrall.—Amy Amatangelo
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Premiere Date: July 31
Rom-com aficionado Mindy Kaling and one of her Mindy Project partners-in-meet-cutes, Matt Warburton, bring a modern spin on the Richard Curtis movie that helped send Hugh Grant and his floppy hair into the hearts of many a mid-‘90s Anglophile (hi). Nathalie Emmanuel, Brandon Mychal Smith, Rebecca Rittenhouse and John Paul Reynolds play four friends who meet for a London wedding that goes horribly awry in this anthology-style miniseries that, according to its logline, promises to include everything from political scandals to some decent mocking of posh society (and, of course, a quartet of nuptials and one burial). Expect guest stars from the original film (Andie MacDowell!) as well as from Kaling and Warburton’s previous series (Tommy Dewey!).—Whitney Friedlander
Premiere Date: July 31
The network that brought us a new definition of, respectively, “mockumentary” and “epic” with parody programs Documentary Now! and The Spoils of Babylon seeks to offer a similar kind of send-up of 1960s and ‘70s variety shows. Created by Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin of the upcoming Comedy Central show South Side, each episode is hosted by a character named Sherman McDaniels (Salahuddin) who “takes viewers through time, via music and comedy drawn from the 40-year library of a legendary (but fictional) musical variety show.” Executive producers include John Legend, who may also have occasion to premiere on screen (perhaps resulting in another reason to check out his wife’s Twitter feed?).—Whitney Friedlander
Network: Disney Channel
Premiere Date: August 2
The same way adults waited for over a year for the final episode of Game of Thrones, children (and their parents) have been waiting for Descendants 3 for nearly two years. In the trailer, the residents of Auradon, all descendants of Disney princesses, princes and villains, are under the attack of a sleeping spell and there is a “great evil.” The scepter and crown have been stolen along with Evie’s (Sofia Carson) ember. Of course, Mal (Dove Cameron) is going to do her best to combine the evil way she was raised with her choice to do good and hopefully save the day—all while singing and dancing. No matter what, parents will be happy to have another movie for their Descendant-addicted kids to enjoy.—Keri Lumm
Premiere Date: August 9
At the end of Season Two, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling were headed to Las Vegas to put together a live performance of their show. This new setting and format will be an exciting challenge, shaking up the women’s routine just as they started to figure out how to make a television show. But leaving Los Angeles won’t let the women of GLOW leave their problems behind. Ruth (Alison Brie) will need to decide if her heart lies with Russell (Victor Quinaz) or Sam (Marc Maron)—or Debbie (Betty Gilpin). The blossoming and deepening friendships on GLOW are the biggest draw of the series, and watching bonds form, break, and then repair as the women face each other in the ring in Vegas will be as fun as an episode of the low-budget, local cable version of G.L.O.W. itself.—Rae Nudson
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Premiere Date: August 30
Oh boy oh boy!! The first trailer for Netflix’s Dark Crystal prequel series Age of Resistance has inspired both hope and hype from Henson fans, as its puppetry arts are co-mingled with CG in ways that look absolutely outstanding. The series will further explore the world set up in the original movie by focusing on three Gelflings (voiced by Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nathalie Emmanuel) who inspire a rebellion and uncover a dark secret. If Age of Resistance does well, it could open up a whole new avenue for original fantasy programming for Netflix, and be a good sign for the streaming giant’s upcoming Chronicles of Narnia adaption as well.—Allison Keene