A guide to TV shows to watch this summer

Here’s where I’m coming from – I like good comedies, snappy dialogue, family drama, teen angst, action-packed intrigue, survival-against-the-odds stories, anything that will make me cry and legal dramas. I don’t enjoy procedurals, most cop shows, and reality TV.

My summer viewing guide encompasses the shows I have enjoyed this year, the shows I expect to enjoy in the future, and shows I don’t personally enjoy but others will.


Shows I loved

JessicaJones

This year had an abundance of terrific new shows. My stand-out newbies were The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jessica Jones, Master of None, Unreal, and Catastrophe.

Master of None is smart, sweet and easy to breeze through in almost one sitting. Unreal is dark, spiky and delightfully cynical. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt falls somewhere between the two – sweet but with dark undertones – and features Titus, one of my favourite characters of the year. Catastrophe is an unsentimental romantic comedy of sorts, and it’s almost perfect in its execution.

Jessica Jones has been attracting a lot of hype, and it’s pretty much all justified. I am very fatigued with the Marvel world and this series has reinvigorated my interest. It’s dark and violent, has the only genuinely scary villain ever featured in a Marvel film or show, and a terrific lead character in Jessica. It looks at trauma, consequences and the aftermath of violence and abuse – themes that are very under served in most superhero narratives.

A new-ish comedy I discovered this year is Silicon Valley – there were scenes in this show that made me laugh more than I think I’ve laughed at any other comedy this year (one scene in particular from season two still makes me giggle if I even think about it). Also Broad City, Inside Amy Schumer, and Key and Peele are consistently smart and enjoyable comedies/sketch shows.

Empire is lots of ridiculously, soap opera fun, and it’s worth watching just to experience Cookie. And I might be in the minority, but I enjoyed season three of Orange is the New Black more than season two. The final episode, especially, was magnificent.


The CW

The100

I am truly at my happiest when I’m binge-watching a good CW show. For the unenlightened, the CW is a network in the US that has traditionally appealed to a younger audience (eg. Gossip Girl) and also, more recently, has focused on a lot of superhero/fantasy/sci-fi (eg. Arrow). CW shows tend to feature very attractive people having adventures, and it’s perfect for binge-watching over summer.

The 100 is my current CW obsession. I was late getting to this one, but now I have the gift of watching seasons one and two all at once, back to back, and being entirely immersed in the world of the show. Look past the very clunky pilot because by episode four, you’ll be hooked, and by the end of season one, you’ll be in love. The 100 is dark (but not too dark), fast-paced and absorbing. It’s like Battlestar Gallactica meets Lost mashed with Lord of the Flies and sprinkled with teen angst. And if you’re looking for a show with plenty of smart, tough female characters and zero sexual violence, here you go.

Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend both have titles that make people wary and nervous (“are they as awful as they sound?”). Ignore the titles! Jane the Virgin is a funny, charming show that will worm its way into your heart, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is savvy, silly and slightly bonkers.

And a shout-out to my ongoing relationship with The Vampire Diaries, an admittedely imperfect show that has brought me so, so much joy over the years. Long live the Salvatore brothers.


Shows I haven’t watched yet (but will)

PleaseLikeMe

Nashville has a lot of fans here at Readings, and it has all the ingredients of a show I would like, so it’s on my must-watch-one-day-very-soon list.

I saw the first episode of Mr Robot. Life got in the way before I could see the rest but I plan to finish the series, because I was intrigued by what I saw and so many people have raved about it. In the land of comedies, I’m very much looking forward to Please Like Me, Transparent and You’re the Worst, all of which are critically adored and I am embarrassed I haven’t watched yet. Also, I can’t wait for The Family Law which is airing on SBS in January.

In serious dramas: The Leftovers (I saw some of the first season, which was okay, and have been hooked back in by the rave reviews for second season), and Rectify.

In cosy, comfort shows, I have ear-marked Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.


Shows I won’t watch but you should

Hannibal

I am on hiatus from most crime dramas and murder-driven narratives, so I never got into Fargo, The Fall or Hannibal, but I acknowledge that they are all excellent shows.

Speaking of excellent shows, Wolf Hall is, by all accounts, tremendous. I know myself well enough to know I am unlikely to ever watch it (although I do have plans to read the books), but wish I was a person who would.

I enjoy some animated shows, but they never quite make it onto my crowded viewing list, so I may never get to the much raved about Bojack Horseman and Rick and Morty – although the one episode of Rick and Morty I have seen, ‘Meeseeks and Destroy’, was extremely entertaining, and it’s made by Dan Harmon, the creator of Community, I show I adore, so it has everything going for it.

I stopped watching The Americans and I honestly can’t even remember why, but don’t let that put you off, because it’s one of the best dramas on TV right now.


Oldies but goodies

GilmoreGirls

If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, this has been a Very Big Year. The Gilmore Guys podcast has provided a platform for discussing the show, the ATX Festival brought the cast back together for a reunion, and then, of course, the announcement of an upcoming revival of the show on Netflix. There’s never been a better time for a re-watch – or a first watch, if you’ve shamefully neglected this wonderful show.

My mother and I binge-watched the first few seasons of The Walking Dead over Christmas several years ago, and it was delightful antidote to too much Christmas cheer, so if you’re looking for grit and gore this holiday season, lean into the zombie apocalypse.

Also, The Good Wife. Always watch The Good Wife. Season five remains one of my favourite viewing experiences ever.

Finally, if like my colleague Stella, you haven’t seen a single episode of Seinfeld (the horror!), you can get all 180 of them for under $50 in this specially priced box-set.


Nina Kenwood is the marketing manager for Readings.