Summer used to be a time when your TV choices were pretty limited. But then then the cable networks wised up and realized it was a perfect season to launch new programming, since their broadcast competition had little to offer besides reruns. As a result, the summer TV schedule now has enough to keep you thoroughly entertained – a relief on those days when the heat forces you inside and prostrate on the couch.
Whether your idea of great summer TV is light drama, ridiculous reality, supernatural angst or smartass comedy there seems to be something for everyone. Here are the new shows that have our curiosity piqued and the returning shows we’re excited to see back.
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, Wednesdays)
Fox’s summer favorite returns with a new more compact format for the ninth season. There will be no results show, which will force Cat, Nigel and co. to adapt to a single two-hour weekly episode. Despite Lythgoe’s zeal to enforce gender stereotypes, So You Think You Can Dance has shown it can deliver a reality competition where actual talent is celebrated and entertaining celebrity guest-judges have a chance to shine.
On the Fly (TLC, Thursdays)
In 2004, A&E gave viewers Airline, a look at the drama experienced by Southwest Airline employees (including a gay flight attendant) as they helped passengers make their way across the country and dealt with their own personal lives. This summer, TLC returns to the drama of delayed flights, damaged bags and frustrated passengers with On the Fly, a show that will probably have you realizing that skipping that summer trip saved you a lot of stress.
Tosh.0 (Comedy Central, Tuesdays)
Daniel Tosh has quickly become one of Comedy Central’s most popular personalities, thanks partly to the lengths he’s willing to go for a laugh. That’s included plenty of gay moments, like the time he challenged his staff to take Viagra and watch gay adult films without showing any signs of getting a chubby. With equal amounts of dread and excitement, we can’t wait to see what Tosh comes up with this season.
HGTV Design Star (HGTV, Tuesdays)
Last season, HGTV Design Star made up for the terrible season when it thought it could go without a host by making the series’ first (and its most memorable) winner David Bromstad the host. They’ve wisely decided to bring him back as another set of designers have their design skills and TV presence is tested in their pursuit of their own HGTV show.
Breaking Pointe (CW, Thursdays)
After years of shutting the lights off during the summer, The CW is offering some original programming this season, including Breaking Pointe, a reality show that takes a look at the competitive ballet company, Ballet West. The grace and beauty of dance will be contrasted with the heartbreak and competition that goes into pursuing that role… and have you noticed the kind of musculature a male ballet dancer needs to pull off those moves?
Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime, Sundays)
Never mind that the fourth season of starts with a multi-episode story arc starring Kim Kardashian as a relationship guru who helps Greyson deal with heartbreak (oh, irony), Lifetime’s high-concept legal drama has a light tone that makes it an ideal summer show. Gay creator and show runner Josh Berman can be counted on for at least a few gay interest storylines. (They won a GLAAD media award last year for their Constance McMillan inspired “Prom” episode.) And with Patty Duke, Brandy Norwood, Serena Williams and Valerie Harper signed up for guest appearances this season, there’s plenty of reason to expect some campy fun.
Head Games (Discovery, Sundays)
Who says all summer programming has to give you a chance to turn your brain off? Discovery is delivering an “interactive” series about the workings of the human brain. Audience puzzles, social experiments and narration by The Office’s prankster John Krasinski are used to demonstrate how we perceive the world around us and how different situations can change how we look at things. This doesn’t sound like anything else on television, so it has us keen to check it out.
Teen Wolf (MTV, Mondays)
The first season of MTV’s Teen Wolf saw Scott (Tyler Posey) thrown into a war between the werewolf-hunting Argent family and Derek Hale’s (Tyler Hoechlin) werewolf pack. That feud is only going to get worse as Derek takes on the role of Alpha Wolf and Michael Hogan arrives as the Argent grandfather, a man seeking vengeance after the death of his daughter Kate. Add Jackson (Colton Haynes) and Lydia (Holland Roden) into the mix as newly-turned wolves, and Teen Wolf’s second season will be even more addictive. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s gorgeous male cast is often shirtless. Just a hunch, but we think this series will really take off this season and wind up being MTV’s biggest scripted hit to date.
The Glee Project (Oxygen, Tuesdays)
Viewers were slow to discover The Glee Project in its first season, but as the first season went on it became clear that The Glee Project wasn’t just another reality show where singers try to win America’s heart. By focusing on the demands of showbusiness, it turned out to be a perfect companion piece to Glee. While Glee is about the joy of performing, The Glee Project is about the work one must do to get to perform.
This season, the cast includes the energetic and wheelchair-bound Ali, Blake who juggled sports and theater in high school like many of the New Directions kids, America’s Got Talent alum Dani (you might remember her song about how she resembles Justin Bieber).
Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles (Bravo, Wednesdays)
The past four seasons of Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles has given gay viewers quite the ride as we’ve watched the good-natured Madison Hildebrand come to accept himself as an openly gay man, followed by Josh Flagg deciding to come out as gay (wisely, he decided to stop talking about his money so much and emphasize his relationship with his grandmother, winning over viewers before opening up to the audience). There are more big deals, more hot properties and more realtor battles comings as Josh, Madison and last’s season’s addition Josh Altman take on another season.
The Week the Women Went (Lifetime, Wednesdays)
Lifetime is asking a small town to imagine life without women by literally getting all of the women to leave town for a week and filming the results. Will this turn out to be a thoughtful examination of how we divide work along gender lines… or merely an excuse for reality to TV to indulge in tired jokes about how men don’t know how to vacuum?
True Blood (HBO, Sundays)
The Vampire Authority has been a mostly-unseen presence on True Blood since the beginning. However, in the fifth season of HBO’s supernatural soap, they’re going to make their mark on Bon Temps, with Christopher Meloni asserting his authority with just as much sexiness as in his Oz days. Add Scott Foley’s mysterious Iraq war vet character, the aftermath of Tara’s murder and Russel’s (Denis O’Hare) empty grave to make another compelling season.
Bunheads (ABC Family, Mondays)
Gilmore Girls fans will likely want to check out ABC Family’s newest drama. Coming from Gilmore creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, the series has Tony Award-winner Sutton Foster playing a Las Vegas showgirl who gets married and settles down in a sleepy California town. She may have been ready for a life change, but she didn’t realize her new husband (Alan Ruck) still lives with his mother (Kelly Bishop, Bunheads’ other connection to Gilmore Girls) who runs the local dance studio. If the dialogue is anywhere as sharp as Sherman-Palladino at her best, ABC Family just may have found its next breakout drama.
Dallas (TNT, Wednesdays)
While most of the recent TV remakes have involved completely remaking the concept, TNT is returning to the Southfork we left behind. The new Dallas catches up with J.R. (Larry Hagman), Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) and Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and introduces us to new members of the Ewing clan. Cousins John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Christopher Ewing (Jesse Metcalfe) continue their fathers’ rivalry, battling for control over Ewing Oil. Meanwhile, three new members of the Ewing family – played by Brenda Strong, Julie Gonzalo and Jordana Brewster—try to make sure they’re not consumed by the decades of Ewing power plays.
RuPaul’s Drag U (Logo, Mondays)
Class is back in session at RuPaul’s Drag U where the campus has undergone renovations to be even more fabulous than ever! This year, the faculty is made up of professors Latrice Royale, JuJubee, Manlia Luzon, Raja, Raven, Shannel, Alexis Mateo, Mariah, Chad Michaels, Willam, Morgan McMichaels, Pandora Boxx, Delta Work and Sharon Needles.
In its continued pursuit of excellence, as it helps ordinary women discover their inner diva, Drag U is making a few changes to how class is taught. Guest choreographers like Candis Cayne and Jamal Sims will teach students how to move while celebrity guest-lecturers like Donna Mills, Angela Kinsey and Robin Givens will share their special insights with this season’s student body.
The Glass House (ABC, Mondays)
The core element of ABC’s newest reality competition, The Glass House – a group of strangers will be watched by the audience as they compete to survive weekly eliminations – certainly sounds familiar. However,last summer Expedition: Impossible sounded a lot like The Amazing Race until viewers tuned in and saw for themselves how it worked. The major difference promised by The Glass House is that viewers will be allowed to contact the competitors via social media, something Big Brother producers work hard to prevent every season. If that means the producers of The Glass House are willing to allow for the kind of unpredictability that’s been unwelcome on Big Brother and its tightly-controlled narrative, the two series could end up miles apart.
The Newsroom (HBO, Sundays)
Aaron Sorkin heads to HBO with a show that mixes elements from two of his past hits – the politics of The West Wing and the broadcasting drama of Sports Night – to explore the workings of a cable news show. Anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) has his Howard Beale moment at a Q&A session when one question inspires a viral rant that completely ends his appearance of neutrality. From there, McAvoy and his team try to adapt into a show where McAvoy expresses his opinions on current events, fighting network pressure to avoid topics that would challenge the audience and hurt ratings. Combine Sortkin’s electrifying dialogue with an amazing cast that includes Jane Fonda, Emily Mortimer and Dev Patel to get a drama that’s bound to be one of the summer’s main watercooler topics.
Wilfred (FX, Thursdays)
Wilfred follows Ryan (Elijah Wood) a depressed man who starts hanging out with his neighbor’s dog, who Ryan sees as a grumpy Australian man in a dog costume. At first, the humor was largely about how many of the things dogs do are horrifically inappropriate for a human. As Wilfred continued, we got to know Ryan and his demons better – his family history with mental illness, the viciously competitive side Ryan wanted to leave behind and an overall feeling of being unappreciated. This season might bring a little bit of relief to Ryan’s life as Smallville’s Allison Mack joins the show as a love interest.
Louie (FX, Thursdays)
It’s impossible to predict where Louie will go each week, except that the series reliably mixes the crudeness, the sharp insight and the exhausted cynicism that makes Louis C.K.’s stand-up comedy so remarkable.
Brand X with Russell Brand (FX, Thursdays)
FX is venturing into late night with British comedian Russell Brand. The offbeat funnyman already has a history of creating controversy in the UK from his previous hosting gigs, the network heads at FX probably won’t mind if Brand can generate similar headlines.
Awkward (MTV, Thursdays)
The first season of MTV’s teen comedy saw brainy-but-insecure Jenna (Ashley Rickards) finally win the attention of her longtime crush Matty (Beau Mirchoff), only to realize that intellectually she had more in common with his best friend Jake (Brett Davern). Now that Jenna’s made her choice, she’s learning more about the challenges of making a relationship work, all while Matty works to change her mind. Awkward is a comedy that hilariously captures how your teen years are a time of figuring out who you are and what you want out of life, making Jenna, Matty and Jake’s story more than just another one of TV’s many love triangles.
Weeds (Showtime, Sundays)
Last season, the biggest question Weeds viewers wanted answered was whether they were watching the final season or not. There were reports saying the series was headed to its final chapter but Showtime never made it official and now we’re getting ready for Weeds’ eighth season. Last we checked in on drug kingpin Nancy Botwin, she was targeted under a sniper’s scope as she ate dinner with the extended Botwin family just before a shot rang out. Surely, the upcoming season will revolve around the questions raised by the assassination attempt.
Episodes (Showtime, Sundays)
Showtime’s Episodes explains why so many great British shows are transformed into a complete mess when a U.S. network attempts to adapt it for American tastes and production styles. It follows married writing partners Sean and Beverly Lincoln as they’re courted to participate in the Americanization of their BAFTA-winning comedy. Despite being promised that the American version will loyally follow their original vision, they find themselves dealing with terrible casting (Matt LeBlanc, joining the list of celebrities playing fictionalized versions of themselves), arbitrary changes meant to broaden the show’s potential appeal and network executives who don’t understand the original series in the slightest. The second season begins after the pilot has been picked up to series and the process of creating a new episode every week has begun.
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, Tuesdays)
ABC Family’s campy thriller returns with Aria, Hannah, Emily and Spencer thinking they’ve finally found peace with the discovery that Mona was “A” – only for the nightmare to begin anew. After two seasons, Pretty Little Liars still hasn’t shown any signs of running out of crazily outrageous twists and red herrings to throw at its audience.
The Closer (TNT, Mondays)
It’s time for Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) to investigate her final cases as TNT’s landmark drama gets ready to end. The series’ final episodes will lead to Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) taking over the Major Crimes division. Thankfully, that means we won’t have to say goodbye to surveillance expert Buzz or gay coroner Dr. Morales (played by out actors Phillip P. Keene and Jonathan Del Arco) as both characters will be sticking around for the spin-off, Major Crimes, premiering August 13 right after The Closer’s finale.
White Collar (USA, Tuesdays)
What could be better than spending another season with Matt Bomer as the handsome, charismatic and exceptionally talented con artist Neal Cafferty? This season promises that we’ll get to see Neal execute his schemes in locations other than New York City as he runs from the FBI. However, in the end, White Collar wouldn’t be the same if it kept Neal and FBI Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) apart, so we can’t wait to see what kind of cat-and-mouse chases are required to make that reunion happen.
Political Animals (USA, Sundays)
USA gets political with a six-hour event from Greg Berlanti that follows former First Lady Elaine Barrish (Sigourney Weaver) who becomes Secretary of State after a failed Presidential campaign. From the preview we’ve seen she alternately channels Hilary Clinton and that barracuda she once played to hilarious effect in Working Girl.
In addition to dealing with heads of state and the political maneuverings of President Paul Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar), Elaine has to work to keep her family together as they deal with their various demons. Sebastian Stan is cast as her [possibly] gay son and Happy Endings’ James Wolk is also on hand. The cast also includes Ciaran Hinds, Carla Gugino and Ellen Burstyn.
Big Brother (CBS, Wednesdays/Thursdays/Sundays)
It wouldn’t be summer without CBS’ guilty pleasure that will eat up all your time whether you’re watching the live feeds or just catching up on what Big Brother fans have to say about what’s happening on the live feeds. Plus, as with every season, there’s the thrill of waiting to see how quickly the twist collapses and which houseguest ends up making bigoted comments that never make it on the air.
Sullivan & Son (TBS, Thursdays)
TBS is debuting a number of comedies this summer and the most interesting one is this comedy that stars biracial comedian Steve Byrne as a New York lawyer who moves back to Pittsburgh to take over the bar run by his Irish-American father and his Korean-American mother. The bar functions as an unofficial town hall and with a cast of regulars that includes Broadway-fave Christine Ebersole. We’re hoping for some lively banter.
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, Mondays)
The last season left off on a particularly dire note, with gay Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore), H.G. Wells (Jaime Murray) and Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) all looking doomed. Now the surviving Warehouse team membersare seeking an obscure and dangerous artifact that might help them repair the damage. With any luck, it’s a device that can make sure we haven’t seen the last of Jinksy, Helena or Mrs. Frederic, like Gene Roddenberry’s cosmic reset button.
All the Right Moves (Oxygen, Mondays)
So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Travis Wall graduates into a show of his own as he teams up with with his friends and roommates (including SYTYCD champ Nick Lazzarini) to launch a dance company of their own. After building a following with SYTYCD fans for the past several seasons, viewers will get to see what goes into creating those emotionally powerful numbers while also getting a peek at the camaraderie between Travis and his fellow choreographers.
Once every four years, the summer games showcases male athleticism at its most beautiful. Diving, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, martial arts, track, soccer, fencing – the summer sports are an awe-inspiring showcase for the world’s most finely-tuned physiques as their power, form, speed and grace all get put to the test. We’ll have more detailed coverage as the events near, but in the meantime enjoy our photo gallery of Team USA’s hottest men.
And now, over to AfterElton readers. What shows are you most excited about this summer? Let us know in the comments.