Summer isn’t necessarily known for quality television. Less than a decade ago there was nothing on TV between June and August except reruns, old movies, and Nickelodeon’s Wild & Crazy Kids. In a few short years, all that has changed. First, cable networks like USA and AMC started to fill in the summer gap left by the basic cable networks. Now those basic networks have jumped on the bandwagon–even CBS has produced original content to air during the summer this year. Now there are shows that air during every summer such as USA’s Royal Pains and Burn Notice, ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and Switched at Birth, and the list goes on. Summer has become a great time for television.
Of course, I’m sure there are naysayers who think summer television is bad. And yeah, maybe we I spend a little less time outside what with the Law and Order: SVU marathons and other excellent television to take up my days. But you know what that also means to me? Less sunburn. I have a theory that good television is directly responsible for my lack of sunburn this year. So in honor of my pale, pale skin here is a list of my favorite summer shows.
MTV Challenges: Rivals 2
(July 10, 10PM MTV)
If you asked me which show I’d consider my guilty pleasure, I would probably give you some line about how I’m not ashamed of any of the television I watch. In most cases–as you’ll see on this list–that’s true, but the MTV Challenges are definitely my guilty pleasure that I try not to admit I watch. At first I watched the Real World, then the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, but since Road Rules was cancelled MTV had to figure out a new way of keeping the Challenges going. This has led to Battle of the Sexes, Rivals, Battle of the Exes, and Battle of the Seasons among others while continually adding new cast members from Real World and Fresh Meat seasons. The Challenges have become a series in their own right and are certainly one of those reality shows you hate to love.
Under the Dome
(Mondays, 10PM CBS)
Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, CBS’s Under the Dome takes place in the fictional town of Chester’s Mill. The pilot episode shows each of the main characters going about a normal day, then the dome falls over the town and everything goes crazy. The TV series has received some criticism from fans for straying from the book, but King himself has said, “If you loved the book when you first read it, it’s still there for your perusal. But that doesn’t mean the TV series is bad, because it’s not. In fact, it’s very good.” As someone who hasn’t read the book, I couldn’t tell you how different the series is from the book. However I am enjoying the show so far and I hope the writers keep it up.
(July 16, 10PM USA)
Harvey Spector, Mike Ross, and the rest of Pearson Hardman (well, technically Pearson Darby) will be back on our TV screens soon enough for a third season. Last season ended with a merger between Jessica Pearson (played by Gina Torres) and Edward Darby (Conleth Hill–who you might recognize as Varys from Game of Thrones.) Mike had also let slip his secret to Rachel: that he had not gone to Harvard Law School and in fact doesn’t have a law degree at all. This season it seems both the merger and Mike’s confession will come back to bite him and Harvey in the ass. Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark on Game of Thrones) joins the cast this season, and I hope to see her interact with her fellow Game of Thrones‘ alum in Suits. Aside from all the drama–of which there is a lot–Suits is a fun show that is carried by a slew of awesome characters. The friendship between Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and Mike (Patrick J. Adams) is extremely fun to watch, plus Harvey’s legal secretary, Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty,) is the best.
(Mondays, 9PM ABC Family)
I always think I’ve grown out of my love of teen dramas, then a great teen drama comes along and I get completely sucked in. This summer, ABC Family premiered The Fosters, a show about the most non-nuclear family I’ve seen on television. The parents, Stef Foster (Terri Polo) and Lena Adams (Sherri Saum) are partners; Brandon (David Lambert) is Stef’s son from a previous marriage; Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) were adopted out of the foster system; and Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Jude (Hayden Byerly) are staying for a while. It’s a crazy house filled with as much drama as anyone could imagine, but there is also love and trust. The Fosters is a great show and one of the best I’ve seen on ABC Family in a long time and it’s a great addition to the network’s summer lineup.
(Thursdays, 10PM USA)
USA’s new drama, Graceland, is exactly the perfect summer show: a bunch of attractive undercover federal agents sharing a beach house in California. There are bonding nights over pasta, family outings to a local bar, and of course, some work in amidst all the play. Aaron Tveit stars in the drama as Mike Briggs, an FBI rookie thrown into the game and under the wing of Paul Briggs, played by Daniel Sunjata. However, Mike is also investigating Paul for the FBI, so things get complicated quickly. Like Suits, USA has created another great character driven drama. From the pilot episode, I fell in love with Mike, Paul, and many of the other housemates. There’s Jakes (Brandon Jay McLaren,) Johnny (Manny Montana) and Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) who make up the main crew of the house. Graceland is a fun show and the fact that it takes place in southern California where there’s a never ending summer, makes it a great show for the season.
(Mondays, 10PM MTV)
If you know me, you know I could talk about Teen Wolf for ages because it’s easily one of my favorite shows currently airing anywhere on television. We’re almost half way through the first part of Teen Wolf’s third season and if one thing’s for sure, it’s that their marketing campaign was spot on. The mantra “This might hurt” has certainly lived up to itself. The season has seen a lot of experimentation in the way the writers structure stories (especially in last week’s episode, “Frayed,”) and with how far they can push the characters–it seems many of the main characters have already almost died at least once so far in season three; also tonight’s episode is the first to need a “viewer discretion” warning at the beginning. That being said, this season has also had some of the funnier moments of the series overall: when Coach Finstock faced off with Stiles in “Frayed” and Stiles’ rant about needing to lose his virginity in “Unleashed.” It seems everyone who is a part of creating Teen Wolf is working overtime this season to make it the best that any of the fans have ever seen. So I’m certainly happy to have it back on my TV screen. (But more on that later this week.)