Summer is basically here. Your kids are more wild-eyed by the day, that tiny swimsuit seems tinier and tinier, and the television has begun to fizzle and fall quiet. Except it doesn't have to! There's so much summer television to be watched and absorbed. Why, enough for a listicle, even.
The Good Stuff
Weeds; June 8th, 10pm
Showtime's hit comedy, about Mary Louise Parker the suburban mommy pot dealer, regained any momentum it lost during the Albert Brooks period by shacking Nancy up with a deadly but lovable Mexican politician cum drug lord and deepening the stakes with a life-saving pregnancy plot twist at the very, very end of last season. Plus, Silas'll probably take his shirt off a lot more, and we might finally get to see where, if anywhere, the undeniable Nancy/Andy chemistry could lead. Almost as much summertime fun as just actually getting stoned.
Top Chef Masters; June 10th, 10pm
Basically the same thing as regular Top Chef, except with food world superstars rather than wannabes. You won't get the same disaster quotient you get on the o.g. version, but that's probably actually a good thing. Bravo's once proud (and dwindling) fleet of competition series have begun relying too heavily on wackadoo personalities rather than on talent, so maybe this is the ideal corrective. Sure they may have out-there, annoying personalities, but we're pretty much guaranteed they're all gonna be competent.
True Blood; June 14th, 9pm
HBO's kitschy vampire series started off wildly uneven last season, veering from scary-sexy to scary-stupid in the middle of episodes. But it eventually found its deep-fried Southern Gothic stride, with clever storytelling and ever-deepening characters gushing out of every orifice. And, yes, Anna Paquin is ungodly annoying, thus rendering the show's central relationship something of a bore, but she's more than made up for by the dangerously sexy Ryan Kwanten, the filthy-fascinating Nelsan Ellis, and the as-yet-unexplored-but-still-intriguing lesbodrone that is Michelle Forbes. As entertaining a show as one could want during the hot 'n sticky months. [See Ed. note below]
Mad Men; August sometime, 10pm
AMC has two of the best shows on television right now, and this is their flagship (the other is the fabulous Breaking Bad). When we last left the worried Don Draper, he was staring down dual abysses—his swiftly unknotting past, and the disappearing of everything the late 1950s promised the 60s would be. Poor Betty has problems of her own to deal with (oh dear, a baby), and of course there's that whole Pete/Peggy thing (oh dear, a baby), and the unsettling matter of Joan's rape. Not exactly light summer fare any of it, but compelling, beautifully detailed, oddly menacing capital a Art nonetheless.
Nurse Jackie; June 8th, 10:30pm
The first episode Showtime's new Edie Falco vehicle is actually already on demand, and we gave it a watch last night. While Edie Falco (who plays the acidic-yet-warm, painkiller-addicted title nurse) could basically recite tax code and make us swoon, we're not so sure about everything around her. Medical shows are really hard to make original at this point, no matter how many gratuitous swear words and sex references you throw into the pot. Peter Facinelli's Dr. Asshole is basically a (slightly) grownup version of the Asshole he played so many years ago in Can't Hardly Wait and the good-lookin' Haaz Sleiman couldn't really find his way through the dense thicket of ooh-snap girlfriend gay stuff the writers gave him in the pilot. Points, though, go to theater goddess Eve Best and sadsack Merritt Wever for handling their barely sketched-out roles with aplomb. We'll keep watching for now, but we're cautious.
Hung; June 28th, 10pm
HBO's show about a man (The Sweetest Thing's vaguely annoying Thomas Jane) who has an enormous penis and becomes gigolo has a great supporting cast (including the underrated Anne Heche and the vastly underused Jane Adams), but that premise... If it's funny/sad, we're into it. If it's funny/gross, we didn't like Californication the first time, so why would we like it grosser?
10 Things I Hate About You; July 7th, 8pm
We love ABC Family for Greek, but hate it for The Secret Life of the American Teenager. So we're not really sure where the hell we fall on 10 Things. The movie on which it's based was a tart little surprise of a teen flick, but the small screen cast seems, frankly, nowhere near as attractive or interesting as a lineup of Heath Ledger, Joe Gordon-Levitt, Gabrielle Union, and Alex Mack. That Larry Miller stuck around to keep playing the overprotective dad of Kat and Bianca (yes, like in Taming of the Shrew) might indicate that there's some quality poking through the formula holes. We're curious to find out for sure.
For When Our Brains Are Mush
NYC Prep; June 23rd, 10pm
The Bravo show is this. Just spoiled rich New York City kids—the real-life Gossip Girls. It'll probably make you want to drink, so good thing it's summer and that's when drinking is forgiven, even encouraged. So pour that wine into a big ol' tumbler full of ice and sip deep. Or shallow. You know.
The Real World: Cancun; June 24th 10pm
Yes, it's happening. MTV has decided to sacrifice seven not-at-all-virgins to appease vengeful Montezuma. They'll go wandering through the jungles of the urban Yucatan, figuring out what happens when people stop being polite and start vomiting body shots into each other's belly buttons. Bad boy rocker Joey (from fuckin' Lawrence, Mass kid) and contest-winner Ayiiia (yes, three i's) are stone fox boombalotties, plus there's lots of weeping in the trailer, so... sigh. We're stoked, dude.
Wipeout; Wednesdays at 8pm
People falling down was pretty funny last summer. We're hoping the charm hasn't worn off. Don't fail us, ABC.
OK, that's it. The Boston Globe has an easy list of everything else. So go! Watch TV and have fun and enjoy the silly summer pleasures. But also be sure to get outside once in a while and experience all that the sweltering season has to offer. Like, um... Drinking outside. Or drinking on the beach. Those are sort of the same things, huh?
Editor's note: True Blood, like other TV shows (even some mentioned in this very post!), is a Gawker advertiser. Their campaign, though, includes sponsored posts via Bloodcopy.com, which when it was introduced generated some discussion in the media about media. So here is the boring disclosure: Those Bloodcopy posts are written by the advertising department. Editorial posts are written independent of who advertises; we might endorse, trash or simply ignore TV shows that happen to advertise. And that's why you keep a bright line separating the editorial and advertising in the first place, kids.
Top pic via Getty