The television industry is truly at its peak right now, with the amount of content out there and the different ways to access it. There's so much high-quality TV available, and some of the best shows currently running are, in fact, summer shows! Many brilliant, award-nominated series are returning for their second or third seasons this summer, and some are actually wrapping up this summer! These are seven returned shows that everyone should consider tuning in for.
1) Fleabag (BBC Three/Two/One; Amazon Prime Video)
Okay, I have to say that Fleabag is objectively one of the best things on television. It was short-lived, but absolutely perfect. Based on Phoebe Waller-Bridge's one-woman play, this series is about the life of a woman who has suffered through a lot of loss and heartache with family, friends and her love life. We get to witness her everyday life and interactions in a light-hearted and humorous way, but the level at which Fleabag delves into her psychology and inner thought process is unparalleled. I've already gotten access to Season two, and I can say with confidence that the end of our journey with Fleabag leaves us feeling just the right way: sentimental, satisfied and most of all, honored that we got to be along for the ride. It's heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. All hail Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
2) The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
The Handmaid's Tale is a brilliant take on Margaret Atwood's novel. Taking place at some point in the not-so-distant future, this series captures a dystopian society called Gilead — previously the United States. Due to the plummeting of fertility rates, women are subjected to certain roles in this theocratic government, including Marthas, Wives and Handmaids. They are prohibited from reading, writing, handling money and any type of ownership. The Handmaids, in particular, are assigned to a family of high status and are required to bear children for their male "masters," and the Wives. The show captures the journey of a Handmaid named June (i.e. "Offred"), and how she navigates this dark and horrifying sphere of humanity. We get to experience her relationships with other people inside and outside of Gilead, as she (hopefully) gets to eventually escape and reunite with her family. Along the way, this regime will (hopefully) come closer to being destroyed. The writing, directing, cinematography, performances and overall technical and creative mastery on this show are simply unmatched.
3) Big Little Lies (HBO)
Big Little Lies, based on the book of the same name by Liane Moriarty, is an incredible series about the emotionally troubled women of Monterey, California. In its first seven episodes, it garnered an overwhelming amount of well-deserved critical acclaim, and it returns for its highly-anticipated second season on June 9th. Five women — dubbed the "Monterey 5" — somehow end up becoming embroiled in a homicide investigation, and the first season details all of the events leading up to this murder, finally revealing the killer as well as the killed. The way this show provides commentary on particular lifestyles in certain communities, as well as how it unpacks the way experiencing or witnessing trauma can affect a person, is absolutely fascinating. Every second of Big Little Lies is so engaging, and it consistently keeps you on the edge of your seat. All of the characters' lives are very messy, and they often don't even realize how their actions may be impacting others. And even if they do realize it, often times they simply don't care — or pretend not to notice.
4) Pose (FX)
Season 2 Premiere Date: June 11th
Pose is a spectacular TV series taking place in the late 80's in New York City. It provides a glimpse into ball culture during that time, and it follows the lives of trans-women of color navigating their challenges all while finding family and love despite the obstacles thrown in their way. This show is groundbreaking for having the largest transgender cast ever for a scripted series. It's guaranteed that you will feel every range of emotion while watching Pose. It's heartbreaking, heartwarming, funny, surprising and exciting at every turn. It captures several important historical moments for the LGBTQ+ community, including the AIDS epidemic, and it fully explores the idea of redemption in such a gratifying way. Watching this series feels so rewarding after every episode.
5) Stranger Things (Netflix)
Stranger Things is a high-concept, science fiction TV show that depicts the lives of young people living in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 80's. It combines elements of supernatural (and scientific?) forces and legal investigations, perfectly with themes of family, friendship and love. While it's massively complex and meta, it also maintains its innocence and childlike lightheartedness. It's both highly critically-acclaimed and popular, gaining a significant following since its release. The writing, directing, performances and all its visual and audio teams have received the highest praise for putting this masterpiece together. Season three came out on the ideal date — the fourth of July.
6) Glow (Netflix)
GLOW is a scripted series based on the project of the same name from the 80's (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). It's a show within a show, and it captures the lives of several women who join together to create a women's wrestling show, while trying to manage their personal lives and trying to make the show a success simultaneously. Many of them are battling demons from their past but at the end of the day, these women need each other and rely on each other to get through it. It's a comedic take on Hollywood in the 80's and the focus of GLOW is the inner workings of the relationships between the characters. Watching this show is the most fun you'll ever have, and it has received a lot of well-deserved critical acclaim as well. Seasons one and two came out in late June of 2017 and 2018, respectively, so we can anticipate Season three being released sometime around then as well.
7) Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Orange is the New Black (OITNB) is a dramedy based on Piper Kerman's memoir of the same name. It portrays the lives of several different women in a federal prison in upstate New York. It focuses on getting viewers to understand and empathize with these characters in prison, by exploring their backstories and the corrupt nature of incarceration. While it has a light-hearted component to it, it also seamlessly combines that with social commentary on the treatment of women in prison, and how that treatment intersects with race, class, socioeconomic status, sexuality and other identities related to power dynamics. This show has done an amazing job of representing all sectors of life, and how much privilege can warp one's sense of reality — made clear through the lens of the main character, Piper Chapman. Orange is the New Black has received a lot of praise over its seven-season run, and the seventh and final season will presumably be released sometime this summer. While it will be a very bittersweet moment to see OITNB end, the impact it has had will last forever.
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