Summer's here! Are you fretting that there's nothing on television? Well, stop living in the past! We don't live in a school-year-dictated world anymore. Here are some shows you should consider watching to help pass the hot months, safely indoors.
The Good Guys (Fox) NEW(ish)
Start Date: Monday, June 7, 9pm
What It's About: Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks are cops, and they're buddies. It's a cop buddy show.
Should You Watch It?: Do all the network executives sit in one room together and say, "This year, we're all doing cop shows!" or "For 2010, it's all about wacky lawyers!" or "Now that Lost is a hit, let's all come up with a sci-fi serial!" or does this phenomenon happen independently? Maybe every television programmer is plugged into some sort of hive mind? Whatever, this summer it's all about cop shows. Don't watch a blessed one of them. Together, we can take the hive mind down!
Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo) NEW
Start Date: Wednesday, June 9, 10pm
What It's About: Sarah Jessica Parker chained a bunch of artist in a basement and made them fight for their release. One will get some money, a prize, and the honor of never being respected by real artists.
Should You Watch It?: We are highly dubious about this show, but it's getting really good advance buzz. If there's one thing that is true about artists is they all have crazy personalities and huge ego, so this should be a blast. OK, OK, we'll watch it, but we won't like it.
Kate Plus 8 (TLC)
Start Date: Sunday, June 6th, 9pm
What It's About: A horrible monster woman sells her children to a television network and parades them around like circus animals while her fratboy ex-husband spends all the money.
Should You Watch It? Does that sound like the kind of behavior you want to indulge? Then yes! You should absolutely watch it, you awful spider person! If that kind of behavior seems in any way objectionable, then you should definitely not watch it. She doesn't even have the funny haircut anymore! There is more than enough to watch on Sunday nights, so steer clear of this. It won't be hard, it's only a two-week special anyway.
The Hard Times of R.J. Berger (MTV) NEW
Start Date: Sunday, June 6th, 11pm
What It's About: A bittersweet coming-of-age comedy about a teenager with an enormous penis. Yes, they make shows about this in 2010.
Should You Watch It? The show is being touted as The Wonder Years meets Hung, which, be honest, sounds vaguely intriguing. But knowing MTV's piss-poor success rate with scripted series, it'll likely end up being smug and obnoxious. Plus the premise is, at root, somewhat creepy. Here, watch this clip. Do you find that funny? Then you might like this show. Good to see Beth Littleford getting some non-cheese-related work, at least!
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family) NEW
Start Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 8pm
What It's About: Based on the popular Alloy teen novel series, PLL is about a nasty group of prep school girls whose queen bee goes missing. Three years later they start getting text messages threatening to reveal deep, dark secrets that only their missing friend would know. Mystery and bitchiness abound, as does hooking up and lesbianism.
Should You Watch It? If you're sad and weird like us, you are already going to watch it, because you're sad and weird. It could be fun, dirty programming from a network that surprisingly "goes there" with increasing frequency. If you can stand the annoyingness (or, like us, revel in the anonyingness) of text message-based plot lines and girl characters named Spencer and Aria, then it could be good, silly fun. But it probably won't be.
Bethenny Getting Married (Bravo) NEW
Start Date: Thursday, June 10, 10pm
What It's About: Bethenny Frankel from Real Housewives of New York City filmed a reality series about, duh, getting married and having a baby. Which she did at the same time! So it's basically just a wedding show mixed with a baby show that is, we believe, just a one season one-off kinda thing.
Should You Watch It? If you're curious about why Jill Zarin has been such an annoying jealousy demon on RHoNYC this season, then yeah. Because this is why. Because Bethenny got her own show. Also if you are interested in Bethenny's surprisingly crisp sense of humor and, like, wedding stuff, then you could probably do a little worse than this this summer. If all of this sounds like the most insanely boring thing ever (and it should, it really really should) then do not bother.
True Blood (HBO)
Start Date: Sunday, June 13th, 9pm
What It's About:: Attractive people knocking boots and killing each other. Season three is also about werewolves vs. vampires, so it's just like the Twilight moviebooks. Except, you know, for the whole knocking boots thing.
Should You Watch It? If you don't like watching vampires and sexy humans screw and murder each other, then you should not watch this show. Though, if you don't like watching vampires and sexy humans hump and slay each other, then there is no human heart beating in that metallic chest of yours, so you probably don't watch TV anyway. The rest of us will be watching this artful trash with slack-jawed delight allll summer long.
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List (Bravo)
Start Date: Tuesday, June 15, 10pm
What It's About: This Emmy-winning show used to be about an obscure comic trying to make money, make herself more famous, and make her marriage work. Now it's about Kathy dragging around her quiet by giggling staff while pulling crazy stunts and visiting her famous friends.
Should You Watch It?: If you like Kathy Griffin, then yes. Ladies and gays are really into her, so if you're one of those, go for it. This season she hosts the Creative Arts Emmys, goes to Alaska to hang out with Levi Johnston, and meets Liza Minnelli. Famous friends make everything better.
Top Chef (Bravo)
Start Date: Wednesday, June 16, 10pm
What It's About: A bunch of people cooking things you will never eat. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad. Oh, Padma Lakshmi hosts and she is very hot. So are judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio. Hot people, good food, reality TV. If this wasn't BYOB, it'd be perfect.
Should You Watch It?: Yes. You should join our live blog too. And read the recap the next day. This year they're in D.C. and super chef Eric Ripert joins as a judge. I'm hungry.
Hot in Cleveland (TV Land) NEW
Start Date: Wednesday, June 16, 10pm
What It's About: A bunch of ladies who used to be on popular sitcoms getting back together for another go. There's current national obsession Betty White, who plays the land lord to three glamorous has-beens—famous former fat person Valerie Bertinelli, Frasier star Jane Leeves, and Just Shoot Me's Wendie Malick—who move to Ohio from L.A.
Should You Watch It?: Sorry, but Top Chef wins. If you have a DVR, watch the first episode and see if it's any good. Facebook and blog about how fierce Betty White is. If you are gay, you better watch this or you are going to have nothing to talk about except the new Kylie album.
The Gates (ABC) NEW
Start Date: Sunday, June 20, 10pm
What It's About: A family moves to an exclusive gated community when the father gets a job as the town's new sheriff. People have secrets and strange things start happening.
Should You Watch It?: The mixture of supernatural elements and Desperate Housewives sounds almost too good to be true which means it probably is. But, there are the two teens trying to adjust to their new school a la 90210 plus magical forces equals Teen Witch and that would be perhaps the best show of the summer. Oh, just skip it. You can probably get Teen Witch on DVD for like $4.99 and just watch that over and over all season. Top that!
Rookie Blue (ABC) NEW
Start Date: Thursday, June 24, 9pm
What It's About: Young cops just out of the academy getting hot and frisky on the force. Think Grey's Anatomy but the anatomy they find are like severed ears and shit. And there's no Katherine Heigl.
Should You Watch It?: Seriously? A cop show? What was the last cop show you watched? And it has "blue" in the title, which makes me think of NYPD Blue, which makes me think of that guy Andy Sipowicz's fat ass on my television, and that makes me sick. Cop shows. What will they think of next? A show about wacky lawyers or stressed-out doctors?
Big Brother 12 (CBS)
Start Date: Thursday, July 8, 8pm
What It's About: A bunch of beautiful strangers live in a house, lie around in practically no clothing, engage in silly challenges, and are voted out one by one based on a set of Byzantine rules.
Should You Watch It?: It wouldn't be summer without Big Brother, which is by design the perfect competitive reality show. It's ornate system of challenges and eliminations is uniquely structured to make it more dramatic than a room full of 14-year-old girls fighting over one ticket to a Justin Bieber concert. Don't get addicted to the 24/7 internet feeds from the house, though. Well, someone should so that they can post clips of the good stuff to YouTube and alert us, but we only need a few people for that.
The Bridge (CBS) NEW
Start Date: Saturday, July 10, 10pm
What It's About: The police officers get a new union chief who then has to handle all the cops on the squad, while dealing with all the crooked politicians in the city government.
Should You Watch It?: God, the only thing more boring than another fucking cop show is a cop show that is also about unions! Yeah, organized labor is great and all, but it's boring. It's kind of like watching a show about 401(k)s, which wouldn't even be fun if it was a musical. A hunky shirtless cop standing on a police cruiser giving Sally Field realness with the word "UNION" scrawled on a piece of cardboard could even make us watch this show.
Covert Affairs (USA) NEW
Start Date: Tuesday, July 13th, 10pm
What It's About:
Josie Jersey from Coyote Ugly joins the ever-growing roster of forsaken actors embraced and pulled into USA's quirky, low-budget bosom to play a CIA cadet who is mysteriously sent out into the field before she's finished her training. Harrison from Popular plays her blind overseer (ferrrrf) and Serena from Gossip Girl's real-life brother plays a CIA agent with whom Josie Jersey banters and flirts, even though she has a boyfriend at home, Maureen from Center Stage's boyfriend.
Should You Watch It? If you have some strange pity for
Josie Jersey, just hoping she'll finally make it work and get her career to a comfortable place, then yes. Otherwise? No, absolutely not. We have never understood the appeal of a single USA show. Not one. They are all the same and all terribly, terribly lit.
Jersey Shore (MTV)
Start Date: Thursday, July 29th, 10pm
What It's About: This is the most important sociological experiment of our time. Eight guidos—including your favorites like DJ Paulie Diabolic, Snooki, JWOWW, and The Situation—try to avoid alcohol poisoning, fights, and pregnancy while living in a house together.
Should You Watch It?: If you don't, we are going to show up at your house and tie you to a chair and put that Clockwork Orange device in your eyes so that you are forced to take in all the delicious torture of season two. Yes, it's not going to be as "pure" as season one. Yes, they're going to be trying way to hard. Yes, everyone's going to be jabbering on about it. But it's Snooki and the crew in Miami! You know you're first pumping already.
Mad Men (AMC)
Start Date: Sunday, July 25th, 10pm
What It's About: Don Draper and his melancholy band of unmerry advertising men (and women) float around 1960s New York and explore existential angst both personal and societal. We have little info on what season four will be all about, but at the end of last season [SPOILER ALERT!] a renegade group had broken off from Sterling Cooper to found a new agency. We'll likely watch the new company grow and (hopefully) flourish, as the world as everyone knows it crumbles and changes around them.
Should You Watch It? Is Mad Men the best show on television? Very often it is, with a thematic and visual ambition that makes it seem to skip the plane of regular old TV and ascend to the realm of Art. But don't let all that rhapsodizing scare you away — it does get annoying, we know. Just tune in (but catch up first) to enjoy finely crafted television that is at turns thrilling and devastating, that imbues everyday ache with a lovely, moody grandeur.
Rubicon (AMC) NEW
Start Date: Sunday, August 1st, 8pm
What It's About: An analyst at a New York think-tank uncovers a vast political conspiracy involving big business. That's about all we know.
Should You Watch It? AMC has a pretty solid track record. Sure that's just based on two shows — Mad Men and the marvelous Breaking Bad — but they've still earned an automatic trial watch from us. We're intrigued by the cast, which includes The Pacific's James Badge Dale, terrific theater (and small-time movie) actor Dallas Roberts, and Rita Skeeter herself, Miranda Richardson. Twisty-turny is always fun in the summer, though any big, dark mystery series from here on out will suffer from the "Is it worth it?" Syndrome brought about by Lost's grand cop-out. If you're willing to risk that, we say give it a shot.
The Big C (Showtime) NEW
Start Date: Monday, August 16th, 10:30pm
What It's About: The always-splendid Laura Linney stars as a suburban mom and teacher who is diagnosed with cancer, causing her to reevaluate her life and head off in new, surprising directions. Oliver Platt plays her rascally husband and Gabourey Sidibe recurs as a tough-talking student at Linney's school.
Should You Watch It? Well, watch this trailer. It looks like yet another of Showtime's lady-led zany, swear-filled half hours that are mostly watchable because of their adept leads. (Mary-Louise Parker's Weeds, Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie, possibly Toni Collette's United States of Tara, but she's kind of annoying on that show, it's really Rosemarie DeWitt and Keir Gilchrist that make it good.) If those aren't your cup of tea (the whole genre can really grate on us at times) then maybe you should skip it. If only to avoid watching Linney suffer the indignity of saying "stinky poo poo" to Oliver Platt, the inventor of stinky poo poo.
Start Date: Monday, August 16th, 10pm
What It's About: The suburban-mommy-turned-pot-dealer comedy went giddily off the rails in the fifth season, and ended with a walloping croquet mallet-induced surprise. Nancy will presumably have to deal with [SPOILERS GUYS, RUN] the fact that her kid done killed that lady, whom her murderous drug dealer husband was somewhat fond of. Andy and Kevin Nealon will get into hijinx and, one hopes, Silas will continue to not wear shirts.
Should You Watch It? Probably only if you've stuck with the show this long. Despite its exhausting nihilism, it can still be a pretty fun, engaging series. Mary-Louise Parker is generally fabulous, though her gurgle-purr line delivery can get a tad irksome. At least there's Silas. There should be more Silas! Yeah, this mostly means nothing to people who haven't watched the show before. Who knows. We're gonna watch it, because why not. Elizabeth Perkins leaves the show this year, sadly. Weeds. It's a show. Watch it or not. What do we care?