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Summer TV Preview: 16 Reality and Limited-Run Shows That Deserve Attention (Even the Weird Ones)

IndieWire's guide to the rest of Summer TV includes the best from the unscripted, late-night, stand-up and documentary world. (Oh, and "The Great British Baking Show," of course.)

Summer TV has always been about more than just comedy or drama. Reality and big events rule during the warm months, when audiences often demand more light fare.

READ MORE: Summer TV Preview: 20 New and Returning Dramas That You Need to Watch

IndieWire’s Summer Preview lists tackled the best upcoming comedies and dramas this week, but there is still room left to recognize a bunch of other shows that didn’t fall neatly into either of those categories.

Here’s a finely curated list of live TV specials, unscripted series and documentaries that we haven’t singled out yet. Like our other Summer Preview roundups, they range from broadcast to cable to streaming.

READ MORE: Summer TV Preview: 20 New and Returning Comedies Worth Watching

To help plan your TV watching plans for the next three months, we’ve also included the network/service where these will premiere, in addition to their scheduled release dates. Get ready to laugh, cry, ponder the mysteries of the universe — maybe all of the above.

“Adam Ruins Everything” (truTV, July 11)

One of the standout examples of a show that successfully made the jump from online series to TV, this show has taken on an impressive array of faulty cultural assumptions. Adam Conover and the “ARE” team have looked at football, immigration, weddings, voting and 22 other subjects that aren’t as clear-cut as we might have thought. Unsurprisingly, there’s still plenty of commonly held beliefs that are ripe for some reevaluation and with no topic too big, we’ll be checking to see what gets upended next.

READ MORE: ‘Adam Ruins Everything’ With Research, and Adam Conover Likes It That Way

“Battle of the Network Stars” (ABC, June 29)

“Battle of the Network Stars”


Back in simpler times, when there were only three networks and stars were willing to do just about anything on camera, ABC’s “Battle of the Network Stars” featured teams battling in simple contests like Tug of War, Archery, Kayak Relay, the Obstacle Course and the Dunk Tank. We’ve come a long way since Telly Savalas and Gabe Kaplan headed up those ragtag network teams in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but ABC’s looking to revive the pop-culture event this summer. For this new version, the network vs. network format has been replaced by teams based on the characters: Cops vs. TV Sitcoms, White House vs. Lawyers, TV Moms & Dads vs. TV Kids, etc. Producers have promised 100 TV stars, from 14 different network and cable companies. Chalk it up to another bout of nostalgia mania.

“Castlevania” (Netflix, July 7)




Netflix is expanding its original animated content this summer with what could be a major breakout: “Castlevania.” Based on the classic Konami video game of the same name, the dark medieval fantasy series follows the last surviving member of the Belmont clan as he tries to kill Dracula in order to save Eastern Europe from extinction. It’s the kind of genre television series that sounds familiar but rendered in a unique style that should make it easy for it to stand out among the pack. “Castlevania” debuts July 7 on Netflix.

“The Chris Gethard Show” (truTV, August 3)

“The Chris Gethard Show”

Fresh off the success of his one-man show and HBO special “Career Suicide,” Gethard is taking a new step with an old favorite. “The Chris Gethard Show,” which was a New York public access phenomenon before hopping to cable, now makes its way to truTV where the show will move back to a live format. Hourlong episodes, more callers and the steady string of comedy all-star drop-ins should help keep this as one of the most unpredictable and satisfying viewing experiences on TV. Bring on more Human Fish.

READ MORE: How Chris Gethard’s Depression Chronicle ‘Career Suicide’ Is A Gift To Fans Who’ve Shared Their Struggles

The Defiant Ones” (HBO, July 9)

Allen Hughes, Dr. Dre.

Allen Hughes, Dr. Dre.

G L Askew II/courtesy of HBO

“Menace II Society” director Allan Hughes directs this four-part documentary series about the partnership between Dr. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine, which proved seismic for pop culture. Bono, Eminem, Nas, Ice Cube, Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, and Trent Reznor are all interviewed for the series, which also features never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage of Eazy-E, Stevie Nicks, N.W.A., Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and more recording and writing music. Anyone with the slightest interest in music will undoubtedly want to sit down with this one.

“The Gong Show” (ABC, June 22)


Will Arnett, Ken Jeong, Tommy Maitland, Zach Galifianakis, “The Gong Show”


A time traveler from the 1970s would find ABC’s summer programming to be oddly comforting. “$100,000 Pyramid,” “Match Game,” “To Tell the Truth,” “Battle of the Network Stars,” and now “The Gong Show.” (Granted, we would have to explain “The Bachelorette” to them.) From producer Will Arnett, the show is like the early rounds of most reality competitions, when the bad performers show up to show off their “talent.” Hollywood stars serve as judges to gong most contestants, and that’s not even the weirdest part. Supposedly hosted by British personality Tommy Maitland, it’s been revealed that “Austin Powers” himself, Mike Myers, is actually the emcee under all those prosthetics.

“The Great British Baking Show” (PBS, June 16)

"The Great British Baking Show"

“The Great British Baking Show”

Mark Bourdillon, © Love Productions

We Yanks finally get another season of Britain’s tastiest export, with Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins returning as hosts and Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry back as judges. Although this is the fourth season of the syndicated series, it’s technically the seventh season of the original UK series. That means this is the last time we have Berry as judge and next year, when she leaves the show, we’ll have to bid farewell to “soggy bottoms” and her other filthy innuendoes.

The dozen amateur bakers are in the mix to take on the 30 challenges that the judges have conceived, including making a drizzle cake, churros, breakfast pastries and something “notoriously difficult” to execute called Dampfnudel. The entertaining eighth episode has a Tudor theme, which requires the bakers to recreate foods that would fit in at the court of Henry VIII. Bring on the meat pies!

“Huang’s World” (Viceland, June 28)

For his second season of “Huang’s World,” chef, author and producer Eddie Huang travels the globe once again to see how multiculturalism and identity influence food. The gonzo gastronome will offer his take on cities and countries like Dubai, one of the wealthiest places on earth, the cosmopolitan melting pot of Toronto, Japan with all of its discipline, and even Washington, D.C. on the weekend of Donald Trump’s inauguration (watch that full episode here). As always, Huang isn’t afraid to speak his truth and talk to people of all walks of life to learn theirs.

Up next: “SNL” moves to primetime, Samberg does cycling and we all get Too Much Tuna.

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