Skip to content

Must-See Summer TV

Need help navigating all the great series? We help you begin, binge — or both

  • Orange is the New Black
    JoJo Whilden/Netflix

    ‘Orange Is the New Black’

    The faithful celebrated in June, when Netflix made available all 13 episodes of Season 4. That’s fine for insiders, but if you’ve never sampled the women’s prison drama, start with Season 1 and binge away. That way you can watch the saga unfold. What began with the backstory and incarceration of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) turns into the stories of women from all walks of life that you will quickly see as more than “just criminals.” (Netflix, now)

    1 of 18
  • Bloodline
    Saeed Ayani/Netflix


    Season 1 of this family thriller was dark, right? How many more secrets, lies and betrayals could Sissy Spacek and Kyle Chandler possibly shoehorn into 13 episodes? Season 2 answers that question, tracing the further unraveling of the Rayburn clan. This epic demands sequential watching, so catch Season 1 before embarking on Season 2, which began streaming in late May. You won’t be sorry. (Netflix, now) 

    2 of 18
  • Murder In The First
    TM & Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc.

    ‘Murder in the First’

    Impossibly beautiful homicide detectives Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson do their best work on the streets of San Francisco. Each season — this is the third — follows the mismatched heroes (she’s divorced, he’s a widower) cracking a different case, so dive in at anytime. The newest episodes are made available at after their initial broadcast. (TNT, Sundays 10 p.m. ET)

    3 of 18
  • Greenleaf
    OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network


    After her sister’s mysterious death, Grace Greenleaf (exotic Merle Dandridge) returns home to Memphis, embraced by her family and the dark heart of their megachurch, Greenleaf World Ministries. With Oprah in the cast (yes, she owns the network) and the show earning comparisons to both Revenge and Empire, we predict you’ll be converted. (Also: Excellent music abounds.) Check your cable provider for on-demand availability. (OWN, Wednesdays 10 p.m. ET)

    4 of 18
  • Feed The Beast
    Ali Paige Goldstein/Lionsgate Television/AMC

    ‘Feed the Beast’

    David Schwimmer dives into the underbelly of the New York food scene as a neophyte restaurant owner, widowed father and high-functioning alcoholic. Mob financiers, an egotistical chef, an unstable partner — Friends these aren’t! But with AMC having aired only about half the episodes so far this summer, Feed the Beast is just getting to the entrees. You can catch up online at, then stay tuned weekly. (AMC, Tuesdays 10 p.m. ET)

    5 of 18
  • Animal Kingdom
    TM & Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc.

    ‘Animal Kingdom’

    Ellen Barkin plays Janine “Smurf” Cody, the casually deviant matriarch of a Southern California crime family. (Jacki Weaver made the part famous in the 2010 movie of the same name.) Raising her grandson after his mother overdoses and trying to tame her brood of handsome-but-wild sons, Barkin has her hands more than full. Animal Kingdom has roared through half of Season 1 already, but it’s a guilty summer pleasure that’s worth a look. See the first episodes at, then await each new one on Tuesdays. (TNT, Tuesdays 9 p.m. ET)

    6 of 18
  • Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
    FX Networks


    The Heathens are a bunch of one-hit wonders who broke up in the ’90s and are trying to regroup under lead singer Johnny Rock (Denis Leary) in 2016. The catch? Rock’s estranged daughter, Gigi, is the one with true pipes — and eyes for the lead guitarist, played by musician-in-real-life John Corbett. At just 26 minutes an episode, you can quickly catch up on Season 1, currently streaming on Hulu, then take in the first few episodes of Season 2 on (FX, Thursdays 10 p.m. ET)

    7 of 18
  • The Great British Bakeoff
    Love Productions

    ‘The Great British Baking Show’

    This delightful import is the nicest reality show you’ll ever watch. Aspiring local bakers try to impress chef-judges Paul Hollywood (50) and Mary Berry (81), but even when the phyllo flops or the Bundt cake bombs, there are no real losers here. Where’s the drama in that, you ask? In a reality-show landscape littered with backstabs and betrayals, these jolly good bakeoffs are the most shocking twist you’ve witnessed in years. Season 3 just began; see the first episodes on (PBS, Fridays 9:30 p.m. ET)

    8 of 18
  • Live life to the fullest, and with a lot of fun

    AARP Offer: Live life to the fullest, with a lot of fun

    Add fun to your day with movies, music and book reviews, horoscopes and games! Join AARP today, and enjoy life a little more.

    9 of 18
  • The Night Of
    Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

    ‘The Night Of’

    One night in New York, a Pakistani-American college student sneaks out in his father’s cab to meet a girl, only to wind up the target of a highly suspect murder charge. For legal aid he turns to John Turturro, who’s playing a defense lawyer with some serious problems of his own to overcome. The suspenseful proceedings are based on Criminal Justice, which originally aired on the BBC. (HBO, July 10, Sundays 9 p.m. ET)    

    10 of 18
  • Mr. Robot
    USA Network Media, LLC

    ‘Mr. Robot’

    Mr. Robot shocked everyone by stealing the best drama series award at last year’s Golden Globes, making its 2016 summer premiere that much more enticing. The series follows Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, a programmer with a hefty dose of social anxiety and paranoia who connects to people by hacking them. offers a 39-minute summary of Season 1; it’s a crucial recap of Elliot’s transformation to cyber vigilante.  (USA, July 13, Wednesdays 10 p.m. ET)      

    11 of 18
  • Ballers
    Jeff Daly/courtesy of HBO


    Entourage meets the NFL in this HBO comedy starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the financial manager for a fractious bunch of current and former pro players juggling the stresses of fame and obscurity. Johnson’s awkward transition from blocking sled to office cube was covered in 10 speedy 30-minute episodes in Season 1; catch those on HBO Go or HBO Now before tuning in to Season 2. (HBO, July 17, Sundays 10 p.m. ET)

    12 of 18
  • Vice Principals
    Fred Norris

    ‘Vice Principals’

    HBO’s newest dark comedy brings us Danny McBride (Pineapple Express) and Walton Goggins (Justified) as catastrophically inept administrators vying for their high school’s top job, held by principal Bill Murray. The 18-episode first season kicks off in mid-July, when we can savor the fact that back-to-school angst is a distant memory. (HBO, July 17, Sundays 10 p.m. ET)  

    13 of 18
  • Shooter
    USA Network Media, LLC


    What became of Ryan Phillippe after he and Reese Witherspoon split? He’s been busy, now stepping into the role of Bob Lee Swagger, a U.S. government-trained marksman on the run from — you guessed it — the U.S. government. If you like a strong FBI presence (to say nothing of the 1993 Stephen Hunter novel or 2007 Mark Wahlberg movie that preceded the TV series), you’ll want to target Tuesday nights. (USA, July 19, Tuesdays 10 p.m. ET)

    14 of 18
  • Summer Olympics 2016
    Getty Images

    ‘Summer Olympics’

    Whether you tune in only to the opening ceremony (Friday, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. ET) or stay glued to the tube for every athletic contest, Brazil’s summer games are sure to deliver their share of heart-pounding highlights. Broadcast across NBC for 18 days, Rio’s first shot at the Olympics has already set off all sorts of pregame alarms. Don’t miss Michael Phelps’ long-awaited return to the pool or Simone Biles’ highly touted turn as America’s next great gymnast. (NBC, Aug. 5)

    15 of 18
  • The Get Down
    David Giesbrecht/Netflix

    ‘The Get Down’

    Jimmy Smits is the grownup star in this brand-new series that’s set in the Bronx of the late 1970s. Directed by Hollywood vet Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge), it’s a sexy, youthful period piece full of disco, rap, dance and drama. With 13 episodes coming down the pike at one hour each, it’s a fine way to close out the summer. (Netflix, Aug. 12) 

    16 of 18
  • Narcos
    Daniel Daza/Netflix


    The ups and downs (but mainly the downs) of being a Colombian drug lord are no joke, especially in Netflix’s drama based on the life of Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura). With the complete Season 1 (10 episodes) available for streaming, you can catch up on all sorts of double-dealing before Season 2 is released. (Netflix, Sept. 2)

    17 of 18
  • Entertainment End-Slide
    18 of 18