Television used to take a breather during the summer, letting audiences focus instead on intermittent relaxation, sun-drenched weekends, various fruit-based drinks and more life beyond the screen.
But there’s no such thing as summer vacation any more in TV land. Not only are plenty of spring series continuing into the summer (or even the fall, in the case of “Twin Peaks”), but the broadcast and cable networks, plus the streaming services, have a jam-packed lineup of new shows waiting in the wings.
In other words, put away your swimsuit. You won’t be needing it — there’s too much to watch. As part of IndieWire’s annual tradition to highlight the best of what television has to offer in the summer months, our team has lined up highlights of the best new and returning programs. Crank up the AC, pull down the blinds and dig in.
First up: A look at the 20 comedies worth your time.
“Ballers” (HBO, July 23)
Here is what we know about “Ballers” Season 3: Spencer, as played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, went through a humbling experience at the end of Season 2 — but that doesn’t make him any less baller. Here is what we can hope will happen in “Ballers” Season 3: Fast times, lots of football talk, Rob Corddry slinging some of the best comedic relief on TV, and of course The Rock, balling as hard as ever.
“Broad City” (Comedy Central, August 23)
Based on the Season 4 trailer, the new episodes of “Broad City” are going to be just what we need right now: weird, wild, and on f’n point. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s comedy has always proven uniquely addictive, but with all the cultural hostility out there, we need their particularly exuberant sense of humor to boost morale. It looks like they’ve got plenty, and just in time. With Trump being just one of many trigger words, we’re excited for the women who re-introduced us to Judith Light and brought us “nature’s pocket” to expand our vocabulary in all the right ways.
“The Carmichael Show” (NBC, airing Wednesdays)
Maybe the best news of all of this is that we don’t have to wait for more time with The Carmichaels. The two episodes that opened up this season made for one of the more insightful hours of comedy you’ll find anywhere. This show is dealing with societal issues — sexual assault, our treatment of veterans, mass shootings — in a way that never loses sight of how families communicate with each other. And as an added bonus to go along with the show’s striking truths, it’s also one of the funniest things you see on TV.
“Claws” (TNT, June 11)
Do you prefer your catfights to be literal as opposed to more subtle? Then allow us to present Niecy Nash and her fellow manicurists, literally screaming and pulling hair in their efforts to get the lives they want. The TNT hour-long series features plenty of the ugly side of Miami, including sex, drugs, hookers, strippers — and the cast includes well-liked favorites like Carrie Preston of “The Good Wife” and Dean Norris of “Breaking Bad.” Rashida Jones executive produces what promises to be super-campy fun, like the perfect beach read.
“Difficult People” (Hulu, August 8)
There are two reasons to be excited about the return of “Difficult People”: What has come before and what has been promised for the future. The first two seasons of Hulu’s addictive and hilarious comedy was a delightful exploration of just what kinds of trouble two pop culture-obsessed aspiring creatives could get into. And we can’t wait for Season 3, because of the changes that are coming this season, including Julie (Julie Klausner) confronting her depression and Billy (Billy Eichner) getting a serious boyfriend — a serious boyfriend played by John Cho.
“Disjointed” (Netflix, August 25)
Oscar winner Kathy Bates is taking a detour from “American Horror Story” to Netflix’s pot comedy “Disjointed.” Bates plays longtime legalization advocate Ruth, who finally realizes her dream of opening a cannabis dispensary. A deeply troubled security guard, her adult son and three “budtenders” will be joining her on these high-minded endeavors. The workplace comedy from sitcom king Chuck Lorre sounds just quirky enough to have a medicinal effect.
“Episodes” (Showtime, August 20)
It takes time to make great TV. And we know “Episodes,” the meta Showtime comedy starring Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc, constitutes some of the best comedy out there. But we’re sick of waiting! It’s been over two years since the Season 4 finale, and we’re dying to find out what happens to the fictional LeBlanc as he embarks on a well-paying game show host gig that might leave his anguished soul morally bankrupt. Plus, there’s Bev (Tamsin Greig) and Sean (Stephen Mangan), who have to choose between their passion project and working for their mortal enemy. How will these arranged friends end up? It’s past time we find out.
“Friends from College” (Netflix, July 14)
Generation Xers, this one’s for you. Shades of “The Big Chill” (minus, well, the dead friend funeral), a group of college pals reunite in New York when two of them (Keegan-Michael Key and Cobie Smulders, cheating on her “HIMYM” pals) move to town. They’re all besties and yet… 20 years after graduating from Harvard, their friendships are completely dysfunctional. Shaky marriages (and infidelity), dead-end careers and other life struggles will either tear these pals apart – or bring them closer together. The cast is reason enough to check it out: Besides Key and Smulders, it also includes Annie Parisse, Fred Savage, Nat Faxon, Jae Suh Park and Billy Eichner, with guest spots from Kate McKinnon, Ike Barinholtz and Seth Rogen. The show is inspired by the real-life Harvard exploits of Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Neighbors”) and his wife Francesca Delbanco, both of whom are executive producers. Even the show’s theme song, Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair,” is sure to remind audiences now in their 40s of simpler times.
“Get Shorty” (Epix, August 13)
The 1990 Elmore Leonard novel gets another makeover, this time as a 10-episode Epix series starring Chris O’Dowd as Miles Daly, a hitman from Nevada who tries to become a movie producer in Hollywood. Ray Romano is Rick Moreweather, a washed up producer who reluctantly becomes Miles’ partner. Romano has become quite the dramatic actor, but both O’Dowd and Romano have enough comedic chops and timing to potentially make “Get Shorty” a rollicking ride. And consider the auspices: Davey Holmes (“Shameless,” “In Treatment”) adapted “Get Shorty” for TV, and will executive produce with Allen Coulter (“The Sopranos”).
“GLOW” (Netflix, June 23)
Alison Brie and wrestling. That’s pretty much all we needed to hear to know that we were on board with the first season of this new Netflix comedy. Set in the world of ‘80s female wrestling (remember the “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”?) and executive produced by Jenji Kohan, “GLOW” features Brie as an aspiring actress who’s drawn into the limelight, along with a ragtag group of a dozen other would-be starlets. With Marc Maron also on board as the out-of-work director who helps these ladies find their way in the business, this could be a sneaky summer hit for Netflix.
Up next: Legendary BFFs, crimefighting insect men and castaway capers