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Summer TV Preview: The 30 Most Anticipated New and Returning Series

The summer heat is already here, and with it come a slew of new TV projects that aren't a bad reason to stay indoors.

Summer TV 2018 Kevin Costner Julianna Marguilies Michael B. Jordan

Paramount Network / AMC / HBO

Cancel your summer plans: TV is offering plenty of reasons to stay inside. Even when the weather’s great — and not a humid trap for blood-sucking insects and sticky clothes — there’s simply too much great, new programming popping in to spend all your time away from the big screen.

To kick the season off, Netflix is releasing a slew of much-anticipated original programs in May; one of which was announced so recently IndieWire didn’t have time to include it on this list. As the months tick by and the temperature climbs, look for cool new dramas from HBO, AMC, and Paramount Network. And if you need one more binge before summer’s end, Amazon, Hulu, and NBC have several options in mind.

Below, IndieWire has rounded up all the new shows coming your way in the summer of 2018, including first seasons and returning favorites, as well as a few choice movies, specials, and finales of varying lengths. Let this TV preview serve as your guide for what’s worth staying inside for, and when it’s time to get that much-needed Vitamin D. Exactly how valuable outdoor time is, well, that’s up to you.

“13 Reasons Why” Season 2 (Netflix, May 18)

13 Reasons Why Season 2

Netflix’s jaw-dropping drama returns after a first season that had the entire planet talking about the complex issues raised by Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) story. Season 1 focused on a set of cassette tapes that started circulating through Hannah’s high school after the teenage girl committed suicide and upended the lives of her family and community. Those tapes revealed her version of the events that led her to take her own life, but that doesn’t mean the story is over. Season 2 focuses on the lawsuit against the school brought by Hannah’s mother, Olivia (Kate Walsh), that contends the administration failed her daughter. There’s also plenty more regarding the ongoing struggles Clay (Dylan Minnette) and his friends face in moving on, even while more information continues to come out about what happened to Hannah, prior to her death.

“Fahrenheit 451” (HBO, May 19)

"Fahrenheit 451" Michael Shannon HBO

Ray Bradbury died in 2012, which means he missed seeing just how prescient his works of fiction have become in the past two years. “Fahrenheit 451” takes place in a society where “media is an opiate, facts and history are rewritten, and ‘firemen’ burn books.” Sound familiar? (Cue image of NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch burning a copy of the New York Times.) Much like Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Fahrenheit 451” is the story of a dystopian future that seems all too plausible right now. Michael B. Jordan (“Black Panther”) stars as Guy Montag, one of the fireman charged with burning books and destroying history, while Michael Shannon is his mentor, Captain Beatty. Sofia Boutella, Lilly Singh, Khandi Alexander, Martin Donovan, and Dylan Taylor also star.

“The concept is so provocative,” said director Ramin Bahrani. “Three years ago, I started to think about it again because the world was frighteningly catching up to what he had envisioned. Bradbury said that we demanded, we elected, for the world to become this way. That’s different than having a totalitarian government take over. I found that to be true, because we have willingly given up our knowledge, identity, books, history, dreams, culture — everything — to tech companies, big business and politicians.”

“Picnic at Hanging Rock” (Amazon, May 25)

Picnic at Hanging Rock Natalie Dormer

The mystique of Peter Weir’s film adaptation of “Picnic of Hanging Rock” cannot be denied, and its legacy still lives on to this day and influences other filmmakers with its haunting gorgeous aesthetic. But there is room for more than one stab at that story, considering the film is more than 40 years old. Reimagined as a limited series, Amazon’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” is set in 1900, when a group of schoolgirls and their teacher go for an outing at Hanging Rock, Victoria on Valentine’s Day. When three of the girls and one teacher disappear, it has a huge impact on the community as they try to discover what could have happened. Natalie Dormer stars as Mrs. Hester Appleyard, the harsh and forbidding headmistresses of the girls’ school. Having debuted in Australia, the series is already drawing huge ratings. Carryover interest from Weir’s film could spell another hit for Amazon once it reaches U.S. soil.

“The Tale” (HBO, May 26)

The Tale Laura Dern HBO

Jennifer Fox’s HBO film “The Tale” is a rarity from conception to execution to release. Picked up by the premium cable network out of Sundance (an unusual move in itself), the deeply affecting picture has been described as a “cine-memoir” because of how personal the story is to its helmer. Following a documentary filmmaker who starts to reexamine an adolescent relationship when her mother first hears about it decades later, this isn’t just Fox’s script; it’s her story. Played by Laura Dern in the movie, Fox spent years digging through her past, first putting her experience on paper and later capturing it in this groundbreaking film. The result is a difficult story about perception and repression, all circling around Fox’s traumatic first sexual relationship. It’s virtually impossible to do justice in words, but that won’t stop people from talking about this prescient Emmy contender as soon as it hits.

“The Fourth Estate” (Showtime, May 27)

The Fourth Estate Showtime The New York Times

The role of the press has been a constant, heightened source of discussion for the better part of the last two years. So it will be very interesting to see how Liz Garbus’ documentary on the day-to-day inner workings of the New York Times directly addresses that changing perception. Focusing on how the newspaper has covered various White House developments of the past 18 months, this series looks at the decision behind some of the biggest headlines, including ones from reporters who have become household names in a bizarre new media environment. “The Fourth Estate” will join the Showtime Sunday night docuseries lineup that already boasts the ongoing series “The Circus.”

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Season 4, Part 1 (Netflix, May 30)


Emmy fave “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” returns to Netflix with a story arc inspired by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Season 4 kicks off with Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) joining Giztoob for her first day as its HR manager. The show, from creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, will conclude its run after this final season, which is being split into two cycles. Besides Kemper, also back are Jane Krakowski, Carol Kane, and Tituss Burgess, for some final Peeno Noir. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” has already landed 16 Primetime Emmy nominations, including best comedy series over the past three seasons; with a block of six episodes now and seven more episodes later, it will be eligible for awards during both the 2018 and 2019 Emmys. For fans mourning the show’s end, have no fear, there’s talk of a “Kimmy Schmidt” movie to wrap things up after Season 4. But don’t sleep on this show any longer.

“C.B. Strike” (Cinemax, June 1)

C.B. Strike Season 1 Cinemax Holliday Grainger, Tom Burke

Fans may still be waiting for a “Harry Potter” TV series, but for those who would like another window into J. K. Rowling‘s books on the small screen, there’s this British import about an army vet turned detective. After Rowling’s previous literary effort “The Casual Vacancy” ended up as an HBO miniseries, “C.B. Strike” will follow “Rellik” as the latest British crime miniseries to air in the States on Cinemax. “C.B. Strike” stars Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger and covers three of the novels (“The Cuckoo’s Calling,” “The Silkworm,” and “Career of Evil”) that Rowling wrote under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

“Pose” (FX, June 3)

Pose FX

The last new series Ryan Murphy will ever produce for FX is, fittingly, the sort of show that only Ryan Murphy could ever get made. An in-depth look at 1980s New York City featuring a largely trans cast — as well as trans writers and directors behind the scenes — the show focuses on two rival “houses” competing for dominance in the glamorous world of ball culture. Co-created by Steven Canals, “Pose’s” cast also includes Evan Peters, Kate Mara, Billy Porter, and James Van Der Beek, and features M.J. Rodriguez and Dominique Jackson as the rival house mothers. Before “Pose” premieres, you might want to check out the 1990 documentary “Paris is Burning” for some historical context, but Murphy’s last cable debut (before moving to Netflix) looks to be fascinating viewing no matter what.

“Succession” (HBO, June 3)

Succession Season 1 Jeremy Strong Brian Cox HBO

The promos for this new HBO series tout it as coming from the director of “The Big Short.” Makes sense, since all indications are that this looks much more like Adam McKay’s most recent directorial effort than the comedies of his early career. That might be because of the other creative hand in this project: creator Jesse Armstrong, who previously served as a writer on “Peep Show.” With a very solid cast of role players (Brian Cox, Matthew Macfadyen, Kieran Culkin, Alan Ruck, and Jeremy Strong), the series takes a darkly comic look at the potential crumbling of an international media empire. With the added layer of a family power struggle (that sounds awfully like a certain other family behind a giant media conglomerate), this is certainly one to keep an eye on.

“Dietland” (AMC, June 4)

Julianna Margulies as Kitty; single - Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

Creator Marti Noxon is set for quite a summer, with two new series debuting: “Dietland” and HBO’s “Sharp Objects.” But while the AMC drama may not have any Oscar winners, it does have a fascinating premise: a darkly themed comedy about women surviving today’s society on their terms, based on the 2015 book by Sarai Walker. Starring Joy Nash as a woman who gets caught up with a violent revolution aiming to take down the patriarchy and featuring Julianna Margulies as her cool-as-ice boss, the strong female-led cast also includes Tamara Tunie, Alanna Ubach, and Robin Weigert. AMC is betting on “Dietland” getting people talking, so much so that each episode will be followed by the “Talking Dead”-like companion show “Unapologetic with Aisha Tyler,” which will discuss the issues raised each week. What might have the deceptive feel of a fun summer drama could actually be one of the darkest series of the year.

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