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Summer TV Preview 2018: Spies, Sinners, ‘Sharp Objects’ and Sex Magick

From dark crime procedurals to black-magic dramas, teen superheroes to Stephen King horror – your complete summer viewing guide

Summer TV Preview 2018

Your complete Summer TV viewing guide – from Stephen King to 'Sharp Objects,' returning Netflix hits to new teen superhero dramas and NSFW sitcoms.

Summer TV – it’s not just for losers anymore. Not so long ago, the months from May to August were TV’s reject pile, the Island of Misfit Toys, a wasteland full of reruns and fluff. The airwaves turned into a dumping ground for crap that wouldn’t cut it the rest of the year.

But that’s no longer the case, as the Peak TV boom keeps raging all year round and the hustle for ratings never sleeps. This summer is packed, from Stephen King’s nightmares to J.K. Rowling’s detectives, Eighties drag divas to Marvel teen superheroes. Michelle Wolf is bringing the political heat. John Krasinski is an ass-kicking super-spy. Cowboys. Occult sex rituals. And another shot for Arrested Development to get it right this time. These are the 24 summer shows worth getting excited about this season. Who needs fresh air and sunshine and swimming pools?

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‘American Woman’ (June 7)

Paramount Network
We’ve been waiting for someone to hand Alicia Silverstone a meaty, Cher Horowitz-level role for a while now, and we’re crossing our fingers that this is the one. She stars in this Seventies-set comedy as Bonnie Nolan, a have-it-all woman who splits from her no-goodnik husband and joins the working world. She also gets a taste of the decade’s “new freedoms” – drugs! swingers’ parties! second-wave feminism! – alongside friends played by American Pie/American Beauty actress Mena Suvari (we’re sensing a theme here) and UCB alumna Jennifer Bartels. Yes, the hair is Farrah Fawcett-feathered; yes, the Guess Who song does show up on the soundtrack. DF

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‘Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger’ (June 7)

Freeform
The ever-expanding Marvel Universe takes over the Freeform network (formerly known as ABC Family). Cloak and Dagger has a YA twist – our heroes are a couple of New Orleans teenagers who come from different worlds, until they discover that they’re connected via their mysterious superpowers. Aubrey Joseph is Tyrone, or “Cloak,” who can plunge anyone into darkness; Olivia Holt is Tandy, or “Dagger,” who can cut people up with light. And in post-Katrina NOLA, their city needs them to rally into action to battle the forces of evil. As Dagger tells Cloak, “Hold my hand – we’ll show these assholes a divine pairing.” They’re an immediately likable pair with real chemistry – nobody can truly understand this dynamic duo except each other. RS

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‘Strange Angel’ (June 14)

CBS All Access
Are you looking for rocket science or Aleister Crowley-inspired sex-magick rituals? Come on – you’re looking for both, sicko! Welcome to this space oddity from CBS’ subscription streaming service All Access, looking to repeat the success of Star Trek: Discovery with the tale of real-life American weirdo Jack Parsons. He was a major figure in the history of rocket engineering during the 1930s and 1940s, founding NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories; he was also was a member of Crowley’s occult society Ordo Templi Orientis in L.A., having a torrid affair with his sister-in-law until she left him to marry his pal L. Ron Hubbard. He spent his nights in sex rituals trying to magically summon the Mother of Abominations. Parsons’ short and crazy life is a hell of a story, and this show has a hell of a cast to match – Sing Street‘s Jack Reynor as the rocket man, alongside Rupert Friend and Bella Heathcote. Created by Black Swan‘s Mark Heyman (and executive produced by Ridley Scott), Strange Angel seems like it could be an episode of Drunk History, except it’s really drunk history. RS

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‘Yellowstone’ (June 20)

Paramount Network
The last time Kevin Costner turned to TV – five years ago – he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Hatfields and McCoys. The star returns to the small screen (as he probably calls it) with the Western drama from Taylor Sheridan, who’s been on a screenwriting roll (Hell or High WaterSicario). Costner gets his Lorne Greene on as a stubborn old rancher who wants to keep doing things the old-fashioned way: “Ranching is the only business where the goal is to break even – survive another season.” He’s got land developers and oil tycoons poisoning the water with fracking; he’s got heat from the Native American reservation next door. He’s also got his issues with wife Gretchen Mol, who somewhat bizarrely plays the 45-year-old mom of 39-year-old Wes Bentley. (Like ranchers, Hollywood can be slow to embrace change.) RS

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‘Luke Cage’ Season 2 (June 22)

Netflix
The Rage in the Cage is back! Cheo H. Coker’s Marvel/Netflix series on the Harlem avenger returns for its sophomore season, with Mike Colter’s strong, silent, brooding hero once again kicking much uptown gangster ass. Old favorites like Rosario Dawson’s saintly Claire Temple, Alfre Woodard’s villainous Mariah Dillard and Simone Messick’s mecha-armed Misty Knight are present and accounted for; Luke’s father (played by the late, great Reg E. Cathey) and a tough new bulletproof villain named Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) are also along for the Round 2 ride. “Sometimes brutality gets shit done,” Cage says in the trailer, right after a montage of people getting royally thumped. Uh-oh. DF

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‘Glow’ Season 2 (June 29)

Netflix
If you’d told us last spring that one of our favorite new shows would have been a dramedy about the Eighties kitsch-totem known as TV’s Glorious Ladies of Wrestling, costarring a Community cast member and a veteran stand-up/podcast host, we might have thought you’d been hit in the head with a can of Fresca. But damned if the first season of Netflix’s left-field hit didn’t bodyslam us with its colorful, compassionate world of women on the showbiz periphery – and now, for the love of spandex, we finally get more episodes. Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and the rest of the gang are back for more grappling; Marc Maron returns for a fresh round of pep talks and scowling; and once again, the Los Angeles air is thick with sweat and AquaNet. Go Zoya the Destroya! DF 

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‘Sharp Objects’ (July 8)

HBO
Fresh off his run on the smash first season of Big Little Lies, director Jean-Marc Vallée brings his woozy, dizzying style to this adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller about a reporter (Amy Adams) with a drinking problem, a traumatic past and an apprehension to covering a murder in her old hometown. But return to those stomping grounds she does, digging up a lot more than she bargained for. Mindy Project hunk Chris Messina is a detective on the case; Patricia Clarkson is sloshed Southern matriarch; It girl (no, literally, she was in It) Sophia Lillis plays Adams’ character as a teenager. Why, yes, this probably will be your dark-procedural Prestige TV pleasure of the season. DF

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‘Heathers’ (July 10)

Paramount Network
Yes, remember that TV show based on the greatest teen black comedy of all time, the one whose spring premiere was delayed right after a school shooting? It will finally get to see the light of day, assuming another why-do-we-not-have-gun-control-in-this-country-again? tragedy does not happen right before this start date. A whole new group of young, warm Heatherettes rule the school, and next-gen versions of the Ryder royalty rebel and Slater homicidal maverick characters are on deck as well. It’s less a reboot, we’ve heard, than an extension of the Heathersverse … which, well, you know what you can do with that chainsaw. DF

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‘Castle Rock’ (July 25)

Hulu 
One of the summer’s most mysterious – and eagerly awaited – surprises: the dark secrets of a certain small town in Maine called Castle Rock. Stephen King and J. J. Abrams team up for this thriller, as Moonlight‘s Andre Holland receives a message from Shawshank Prison that brings him out to the rustic capital of King’s horror universe, where all his most frightening tales intersect. The cast is full of familiar faces: Scott Glenn as the local sherriff, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgard and Terry O’Quinn. All anyone knows for sure about this anthology show is that with its haunted houses, shadowy woods, underwater cars and ominously barking dogs, it’ll tap deep into the the author’s deep-cut lore. RS

'The Sinner' Season 2 (August)

Lyndon French for Rolling Stone

‘The Sinner’ Season 2 (August 1)

USA
The first season of this “whydunnit” about a woman accused of murder and the rumpled detective trying to unravel the mystery behind the act was impressive enough and proved that producer/star Jessica Biel has been a generally underused actor for most of her career. But the reason we’re incredibly excited for the USA show’s sophomore season? This new batch of episodes features the return of Leftovers/Fargo star Carrie Coon to TV, in a new storyline that finds dogged law-enforcement officer Bill Pullman investigating a different unexplained murder involving a kid who’s murdered his parents. We have no idea where the actress fits in, but Carrie Coon, people! DF

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‘Insecure’ Season 3 (August 12)

HBO
Issa Rae’s misadventures of a teacher/would-be rapper/woman trying to figure out life in Los Angeles has been one of the most consistently solid new shows of the past few years – a perfect distillation of an artist’s voice into a premium-cable prestige-comedy format. Season Three promises more of the same, along with a new cohabitation set-up for our heroine, probably no Jay Ellis appearances and more Molly shenanigans. DF

Summer TV Preview 2018

‘Disenchantment’ (August 17)

Netflix
Good news, Futurama fans! The man behind that animated sci-fi show – and another TV toon about a family in the small town of Springfield, the name of which escapes us at the moment – returns to your screens with a brand new series. Matt Groening’s latest venture follows a liquor-swilling princess (voiced by Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson) as she battles all sorts of fantasy-based beasties, enemies and other Tolkienesque obstacles. Luckily, she’s got a sidekick elf to help out; unluckily, she has a “personal demon” nagging at her as well – we’re going to assume that it’s an actual demon and not a colloquialism. If Groening can do for sword-and-sorcery what he did for interstellar shenanigans, we see a long, fan-quotable shelf life for this. DF

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‘The Innocents’ (August 24)

Netflix
Another tale of two alienated teenagers who find common ground in the supernatural. The Innocents comes on very British indeed, as you can tell from the fabulously named leads Sorcha Groundshell and Percelle Ascott. They’re a young couple named Harry and June whose families can’t understand their forbidden love – he’s black, she’s white. But when they run away from the adult world, they find out June is a shape-shifter, with mysterious professor Guy Pearce tutoring her in her powers and tantalizing her with the whereabouts of the mother who abandoned her three years ago. It’s Romeo meets Juliet, with a side order of Species. RS

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‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’ (August 31)

Amazon
The latest version of Tom Clancy’s red-blooded CIA agent has a Lost pedigree in creators Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland – not to mention an Office pedigree in John Krasinski. Hot from the success of A Quiet Place, the erstwhile Jim completes his stunning makeover by stepping into the role made famous by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine … and ah yes, Ben Affleck. His new boss is Wendell Pierce (that’s right, Bunk from The Wire); the cast also includes Abbie Cornish Peter Fonda and Timothy Hutton. Amazon is betting heavily on this franchise, and Krasinski plays Ryan as a schlubby office drone: “I’m an analyst! I don’t interrogate people, I write reports!” Guess who reluctantly gets pulled into a Middle Eastern terrorist plot and discovers his inner action hero? RS

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