Summer TV used to be limited to reruns and cheesy reality shows, but thanks to streaming platforms’ never-ending flow of new content and networks’ increasing tendency to throw out the old rulebook, summer has suddenly become a powerhouse season for new, critically acclaimed shows. There’s so much to watch, you never have to leave your house between June and September! (I wouldn’t actually recommend that but whatever – I’m not your mother. You do you.)
Check out the shiny new shows that are debuting or returning this summer:
Black Mirror – Wednesday, June 5 on Netflix
The tech-fearing psychological thriller returns to Netflix with a brief, three-episode season. One episode follows an Uber driver (Fleabag’s hot priest Andrew Scott) who festers a growing hatred of a tech company, one stars Anthony Mackie as a man examining the concepts of marriage and monogamy, and another features pop star Miley Cyrus playing – you guessed it! – a pop star.
Designated Survivor – Friday, June 7 on Netflix
Kiefer Sutherland’s political thriller was saved by Netflix after ABC cancelled it after its second season. Most of the original cast returns, as well as new cast members Anthony Edwards and Lauren Holly. The showrunner has promised a darker, edgier show now that it’s no longer on family-friendly broadcast TV.
Tales of the City – Friday, June 7 on Netflix
Laura Linney reprises her role from the six-episode British/PBS series from the 90s, leading a cast that includes Canadians Paul Gross and Ellen Page. Linney plays Midwestern transplant Mary Ann, who returns to her former apartment complex at 28 Barbary Lane (a safe haven for gay, bisexual and transgender residents) to celebrate the 90th birthday of landlady Anna (Olympia Dukakis).
The Handmaid’s Tale – Sunday, June 9 on Bravo Canada
The dystopian tale of a not-too-distant future in which women are treated as property of the state and must either be well-behaved wives, servants or surrogates returns for a third season on Bravo Canada. Despite bowing to critical raves, the second season ended on shaky ground, with Elisabeth Moss’ June making the inexplicable decision to avoid freedom and return to Gilead. The third season sets the show on a new path, with resistance to the totalitarian society growing stronger.
Big Little Lies – Sunday, June 9 on HBO Canada
Last year’s summer hit returns with a powerhouse addition – the one and only Meryl Streep. The legendary actress plays the mother of Alexander Skarsgard’s character, who was killed by the ladies at the end of last season. She arrives in the sun-soaked town of Monterey to ostensibly help Nicole Kidman’s now single mother character raise the kids, but she begins asking questions about what really happened to her son on that fateful night of the school fundraiser.
Pose – Tuesday, June 11 on FX
Ryan Murphy’s love letter to New York’s ball culture in the 80s returns for its second season, with the show moving into the 90s thanks to a time jump. The new season kicks off on the day Madonna released “Vogue” – her tribute to the underground movement. House of Evangelista's mother Blanca will come to terms with her HIV diagnosis as the show tackles the growing urgency of the AIDS crisis and its devastating ripple effects throughout the community.
Euphoria – Sunday, June 16 on HBO Canada
Produced by Drake and starring Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Zendaya, Euphoria is a dark and gritty high school drama that centres around a teen drug addict. This frank coming of age series follows a group of friends as they navigate drugs, sex, identity, trauma, social media, love and friendship.
Years and Years – Monday, June 24 on HBO Canada
From Doctor Who’s Russell T Davies comes this six-episode miniseries starring Emma Thompson as an outspoken British celebrity turned politician whose controversial opinions divide the nation. The series focuses on the members of a Manchester-based family.
The Hills: New Beginnings – Monday, June 24 on MTV
Everything old is new again, especially when it comes to reality TV. The old gang has reunited (with the notable exceptions of Lauren Conrad and Kristin Cavallari) for more outlandish adventures in front of the cameras. Original stars Audrina Patridge, Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, Stephanie Pratt, Whitney Port, Frankie Delgado, Brody Jenner and Jason Wahler are joined by newcomers Brandon Lee, Jennifer Delgado, Kaitlynn Jenner and Ashley Wahler. The other major addition to the cast is Mischa Barton -- who was the star of The OC, the Fox drama that kicked off the California rich kids reality TV craze. Full circle!
What Just Happened??! – Sunday, June 30 on Fox
This parody of an aftershow is hosted by Fred Savage and will break down the events in a fictional drama series called The Flare, which is based on a book series that Savage’s character has adored since he was a child. Rob Lowe will guest star.
Stranger Things – July 4 on Netflix
The kids of Stranger Things return for another season of spooky hijinks in small town Indiana. Hitting Netflix on Independence Day, the new season sees Steve (Joe Keery) working at an ice cream shop and Billy working as a lifeguard before the terrors of the Upside Down return to ruin their summer.
Veronica Mars – Friday, July 26 on CraveTV
Get ready, marshmallows! The gang from Neptune is back in this 8-episode revival. This time around, Veronica is focused on the investigation of murdered spring breakers when Mars Investigations is hired by the parents of one of the victims to find their son's killer. The revival officially acts as the show’s fourth season, following its Kickstarter-funded 2014 movie.
Orange Is the New Black – Friday, July 26 on Netflix
The ladies of Litchfield Correctional Institution return for one final season. The seventh season will focus on Piper’s (Taylor Schilling) release from prison – and the women she left behind.
Succession – Sunday, Aug. 11 on HBO Canada
The corrupt, rich members of the Roy family return for another season of scheming and one-upmanship in their media empire. Kendall, fresh off his failed attempt to remove his father from the CEO position, attempts to get back in his family’s good graces. Holly Hunter joins the cast as a politically savvy CEO of a rival media conglomerate.