The bearded sonic guru of Malibu gets his own Zen documentary! The CW raises the curtain on a BBC acquisition and a possible sci-fi tentpole! HBO rolls out yet another morbidly engrossing true-crime doc! IFC gives us a faux-Soul Train mockumentary Plus millennials get another season of their version of Sex and the City and Gotham’s favorite super-butler gets his own solo series. Here’s what you need to tune into this July.
Bulletproof (The CW, July 28th)
Do you like buddy-cop shows but wish they had more British accents? This import follows an unlikely pair of lifelong pals working for the National Crime Agency in London: Ronnie Pike (Ashley Walters), who comes from a well-to-do family with a legacy in law enforcement; and Aaron Bishop (Noel Clarke), who spent his childhood roughing it on the street. With sharp investigative instincts and lightning-fast trigger fingers, they’re London’s last hope at restoring order. Their real secret weapon, however? Snappy rapport.
Divorce, Season 3 (HBO, July 1st)
The Sharon Horgan-created anti-rom-com returns as life moves onward for splitsville ex-spouses Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Haden Church). They’ve both moved on and found new partners, cuing up the most sublimely awkward dinner party of the year. Also their son thinks he might not be so into the whole “college” thing after all. Going single in middle age has never looked like such a glamor-free good time.
I Love You, Now Die (HBO, July 9th)
A Massachusetts teen named Conrad Roy took his own life in 2014. Investigators found a cache of disturbing text messages from his then-girlfriend Michelle Carter. It appeared that the 17-year-old was urging Roy to kill himself, sparking an unusual controversy over whether she might be held responsible for the tragic loss in a court of law. This documentary covers the sensational trial, the complicated relationship between Roy and Carter, and the implications of the shocking verdict. It’s a front-row seat to a peculiar sort of tragedy.
Pandora (The CW, July 16th)
The CW has all but laid claim to small-screen fantasy programming now that Game of Thrones has wrapped up, and with this high-concept new series, they’re getting a stake in sci-fi as well. In the year 2199, the valiant Jax (Priscilla Quintana) hones her fighting skills at the Space Training Academy to protect Earth from intergalactic peril. Little does she know, a double agent (Oliver Dench) lurking among them has a crush on her, and that’s not the least of the secrets up this YA-adjacent show’s sleeve.
Pennyworth (Epix, July 28th)
Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached critical spin-off mass. This action-drama follows a young Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) in his days prior to joining Bruce Wayne’s family as their trusty butler and Batman’s right-hand man. Once upon a time, Alfred was a strapping soldier in Britain’s Special Air Service, and then the head of a security company. Through that enterprise, he made the acquaintance of the fast-living Thomas Wayne in Swinging Sixties London, and the two found in one another a confidante, friend, and lifelong partner. Just don’t expect any batarangs.
Shangri-La (Showtime, July 12th)
Rick Rubin is arguably the single most important music producer of the last three decades, the architect behind masterpieces from Kanye West, Sheryl Crow, and just about everyone in between. This lightly experimental four-part documentary examines his life and contributions to the musical canon through unusual formal means, framing the portrait with an all-access peek into his legendary California studio. In one passage, a child dons a bald cap as baby-Rick; in another, trippy kaleidoscopic visuals approximate the creative alchemy of his process. It’s a novel spin on the bio-doc, sharp enough to scratch vinyl.
Sherman’s Showcase (IFC, July 31st)
Variety programs like Soul Train showcased African-American culture and music for a mass audience. Less well-remembered is Sherman’s Showcase … because it never actually existed. This ingeniously conceived comedy looks back on the history of the fictitious TV institution, with faux clips featuring a host of today’s big names (Tiffany Haddish! Common! John Legend!) portraying made-up icons of soul and R&B. Creator Bashir Salahuddin stars as the Don Cornelius doppelganger Sherman McDaniel, a silky-smooth personality in front of the cameras and a decidedly uncool customer backstage. And, per the man himself, “If you don’t watch the show, you’re racist.”
Snowfall, Season 3 (FX, July 10th)
John Singleton, the esteemed filmmaker and co-creator of this quietly excellent chronicle of South Central’s crack epidemic, passed away earlier this year, and the new season has been dedicated to his memory. It’s summer 1984, and the narcotics situation has only gotten worse as overdose casualties continue to pile up. As the feds plot a new counteroffensive, kingpin-in-training Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) expands the limits of his empire and attracts some unwanted attention from competitors. In true Singleton tradition, for each gangland-style execution, there’s a sober consideration of its effects rippling out into the community.
South Side (Comedy Central, July 24th)
Bashir Salahuddin’s other show premiering this month (that’s right, the former Late Night With Jimmy Fallon writer is having a busy July) follows two recent community college grads/wannabe venture capitalists (co-writer Diallo Riddle, Sultan Salahuddin) cursed with a lack of resources and blessed with no shortage of ambition. So they scheme on side hustles that will send them into higher tax brackets, while the show takes a panoramic snapshot of the cops, churchgoers and working-class citizens in their Chicago neighborhood. Take the Atlanta out of Atlanta, and you’re on the right track.
Sweetbitter, Season 2 (Starz, July 14th)
After getting her bearings last year, New York transplant Tess (Ella Purnell) almost has the hang of big-city living. She’s figured out how to survive at her cutthroat restaurant job and can even tell a beaujolais from a burgundy. And she enjoys the constant flings of a metropolitan twentysomething, though something a little more substantive might be nice. The post-Sex and the City generation gets their own Carrie Bradshaw, complete with an insatiable appetite for life and staff-discounted haute cuisine.