Summer TV Preview 2019: From 'Big Little Lies' to 'The Dark Crystal' - Rolling Stone
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Summer TV Preview 2019: From ‘Big Little Lies’ to ‘The Dark Crystal’

The ‘Deadwood’ movie, the return of ‘Stranger Things,’ miniseries on the Central Park Five and Roger Ailes — 36 shows and specials we’re most excited about this summer

The best in Summer TV 2019 — from 'Stranger Things' to Meryl Streep

Remember when Fall was the season when the rush of new TV series and returning favorites kept you glued to your coach? That was so decades ago. Now, thanks to streaming platforms and basic-to-premium cable channels and sub-boutique cable channels and an overall post-Peak TV glut, it’s premiere season all year round! The summer used to be for reruns and the occasional variety special. Flash-forward to 2019, and you’ve got megahit shows about ’80s teens, Oscar-winning actors fretting over murders and the sort of big-budget blockbuster-ish stuff you used to have to go to air-conditioned multiplexes to see. Who needs the beach when you have a new season of Big Little Lies, now with 100% more Meryl Streep?

Below are 36 shows, miniseries and one-offs that we’re looking forward to digging into between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. There’s a mix of high dramas and sketch comedies, true-crime documentaries and historical docudramas, trashy soap operas and teen-angst potboilers, returning favorites and brand new conversation starters. There are even a few network shows that managed to sneak in, because folks can’t live on streaming-binges alone. Consider this your curated guide to the best that summer TV has to offer.

Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2 _ Season 1, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

Zach Dilgard/AMC

‘NOS4A2’ (AMC, June 2 )

That’s “Nosferatu” for those of you playing at home. This take on Joe Hill’s novel about an artist (Ashleigh Cummings) with “supernatural” powers and the literally soul-sucking serial killer (Zachary Quinto, extra-creepy) should satisfy that horror/mystery/perverse crime procedural craving for most of the summer. There’s also an alternate realm called “Christmasland,” in which every day is a merry winter wonderland and its captive child populace had better stay in the holiday spirit or things are going to be very, very bad. We got chills just writing that last sentence. DF

Perpetual Grace LTD Season 1 Episode 101: Incorrigible

Lewis Jacobs/Epix

‘Perpetual Grace LTD’ (Epix, June 2)

Shades of the Coen brothers inflect this twisty noir, which stars Sir Ben Kingsley as a sinister New Mexico pastor who, along with his worshipful wife (Silver Linings Playbook matriarch Jacki Weaver), has bilked hundreds of unsuspecting parishioners, all recovering addicts, out of $4 million. When a foolhardy grifter (Westworld‘s Jimmi Simpson) schemes with the preacher’s son to steal it, their plan goes awry, unleashing the full, keep-you-up-at-night wrath of “Pa” and “Ma.” MF

THE WEEKLY "The Myth of the Medallion" Episode 2 (Airs Sunday; June 9; 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Emma Fitzsimmons, Young Lee. CR: FX


‘The Weekly’ (FX, June 2)

Ever wonder how the crack journalists and editors at the New York Times whip an investigative story into shape? This FX series promises you a peek at how the “all the news that’s fit to print” sausage gets made, tagging along with reporters as they dive into stories about a school scandal in Louisiana, the collapse of the New York City taxi industry family separations at our nation’s Southern border, among other stories. (It’s also a co-production with Hulu, which will stream the episodes the day after they air on the cable channel.) DF


‘Black Mirror’ Season 5 (Netflix, June 5th)

Why, it seems like it was only yesterday that this British heir to The Twilight Zone dropped a choose-your-own-adventure one-off on us. And now, Charlie Brooker’s sci-fi anthology returns with a new three-episode season, complete with its signature technophobia, plot twists and celebrity guest stars. The new stories involve: a pop star (Miley Cyrus!) and the toy-robot avatar with an A.I. based on her personality; current internet boyfriend/Fleabag‘s hot priest Andrew Scott taking his hatred of a social-media platform to violent extremes; and Anthony Mackie and Nicole Behrie as a married couple whose lives are complicated by apps and virtual reality. Prepare for that oh-dear-lord-we’re-all-so-screwed feeling times three. DF

Nino Munoz / NETFLIX

‘Tales of the City’ (Netflix, June 7 )

Armistead Maupin’s trailblazing literary soap about San Francisco in the late Seventies/early Eighties has already had several TV adaptations, first on PBS and then Showtime. The Netflix revival, from Orange Is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli, brings back a number of original actors like Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis and Paul Gross, while also bringing in a new generation of queer characters led by Ellen Page and Russian Doll’s Charlie Barnett. AS

Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Jennifer Clasen/HBO

Jennifer Clasen/HBO

‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2 (HBO, June 9)

How do you justify a sequel season to a show sold as a limited series, with what seemed like a concluded story? You add Meryl Streep to a powerhouse cast that already included Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz, that’s how. She plays Kidman’s mother-in-law, searching for answers about her son’s “accidental” death. Not only is it Streep’s first series (the most Peak TV thing ever?), but it’s her first time sharing the screen with most of the show’s returning stars. AS

POSE -- "Pilot" -- Season 1, Episode 1 (Airs Sunday, June 3, 9:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured: Mj Rodriguez as Blanca, Dominique Jackson as Elektra, Jason A. Rodriguez as Lemar. CR: JoJo Whilden/FX

JoJo Whilden/FX

‘Pose’ Season 2 (FX, June 11)

The category is … Sophomore Seasons We Can’t Wait To Watch! This drama about the lives of gay and trans performers in New York’s Eighties drag ball scene was one of 2018’s best series, new or otherwise. Season Two is where it can sometimes get dicey for shows created by Ryan Murphy, but Pose‘s debut edition seemed saner and more emotionally nimble than many of his past series. There’s a warmth to this world we’re eager to revisit. AS


‘Los Espookys’ (HBO, June 14)

Master of quirk Fred Armisen co-created (alongside Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega, who also co-star) this unicorn of a comedy series about a band of misfit horror enthusiasts in Mexico City who decide to make a business of scaring people. Told almost entirely in subtitled Spanish, it’s a love letter to the art of the “Boo!” with dashes of supernatural mystery and telenovela parody thrown in — and a testament to the power of letting weirdos be as weird as they wanna be. MF


Scott Garfield/Amazon Studios

‘Too Old to Die Young’ (Amazon Prime, June 14)

For those already familiar with the neon noir stylings and pulp fixations of Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives), his first foray into streaming TV will feel like an old friend — albeit one obsessed with tortured heroes and aesthetics to burn — has come to visit. (And hopefully not overstay his welcome.) Miles Teller is a cop who’s involved in a shooting and then finds himself enmeshed with a cryptic character (Deadwood‘s John Hawkes) who acts his guide to the underworld. There will be blood, naturally, along with guns, knives, long nights of the soul, hired killers of all stripes and so, so, so much colorful lighting. DF

Kevin Bacon as Jackie Rohr and Aldis Hodge as Decourcy Ward in CITY ON A HILL. Photo: Claire Folger/SHOWTIME

Claire Folger/SHOWTIME

‘City on a Hill’ (Showtime, June 16)

This Nineties Boston-set drama has a wicked impressive producing team, including Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Homicide and Oz alum Tom Fontana running the show. Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge (why isn’t this guy already a star?) play a corrupt FBI agent and ambitious prosecutor, respectively, who team up to go after a stick-up crew during a particularly violent era in the city. Can it do for Boston what The Wire did for Baltimore? AS


‘Euphoria’ (HBO, June 16)

Sex, drugs, more sex and more drugs are the order of the day for this confrontational teen drama adapted from an Israeli series. Zendaya plays an addict just out of rehab with no interest in sobriety, whose classmates include a trans girl who hooks up with closeted married men, a brutally calculating bully jock and a plus-sized girl who learns how to make money from creeps on PornHub. Get your thinkpieces ready, everybody! AS

GRAND HOTEL - "Pilot" - Eva Longoria executive produces this bold, provocative drama set at the last family-owned hotel in multicultural Miami Beach. Charismatic Santiago Mendoza owns the hotel, while his glamorous second wife, Gigi, and their adult children enjoy the spoils of success. The hotel's loyal staff round out a contemporary, fresh take on an upstairs/downstairs story. Wealthy and beautiful guests bask in luxury, but scandals, escalating debt and explosive secrets hide beneath the picture-perfect exterior. The show is based on the Spanish series. (ABC/Eric McCandless)FELIZ RAMIREZ, KEN KIRBY, DEMIÁN BICHIR, JUSTINA ADORNO, ROSELYN SÁNCHEZ

Eric McCandless/ABC

‘Grand Hotel’ (ABC, June 17)

Based on a 2011 Spanish series that earned comparisons to Downton Abbey, this Eva Longoria-produced remake moves the action to present-day Miami, where the Mendoza clan has fallen deep into debt. They must fight to keep their five-star resort, the Riviera Grand, in family hands. Along the way, staff hook up with guests, crime lords skulk ominously, family secrets are exposed and lots of good-looking people abandon their clothes. Nothing says summer like shirtless hunks and bikini-clad babes getting up to no good. MF

Gavin Bond/Comedy Central

‘Alternatino with Arturo Castro’ (Comedy Central, June 18)

You may recognize Arturo Castro from Narcos, but the Guatemala-born actor flaunts his funny bone in this new sketch show. Not every skit plays off his ethnicity, but sharp takes on the border crisis, Latin machismo and white people’s tendency to lump every country in Central and South America together (see: a mock Guatemala tourism ad with the slogan “Costa Rica: Fuck That Place”) are where the humor really sings. MF

LEGION -- Pictured: Dan Stevens as David Haller. CR: Pari Dukovic/FX

CR: Pari Dukovic/FX

‘Legion’ Season 3 (FX, June 24)

FX’s mindfuck of an X-Men-adjacent series returns for one final season, and judging from the trailer, Noah Hawley plans to rewind back to the ’60s (groovy!), where Dan Stevens’ mutant-run-amuck has turned into some sort of Mansonesque cult figure. Or it may also take place in the future (neat!), where the agency is constructing androids to take our antihero down. Or everything could be unfolding in some deep recess of its lead charcter’s psyche, where Aubrey Plaza shows up as the Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland. Or all of the above. Or none of the above. It’s Legion, folks. God, will we miss this series. DF

(L-R): Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes and Simon McBurney as Rupert Murdoch in THE LOUDEST VOICE. Photo Credit: JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME.


‘The Loudest Voice’ (Showtime, June 30)

“Television is the most powerful force in the world.” So it’s fitting that the first of two rise-and-fall Roger Ailes projects coming out this year is showing on a premium-cable channel. Showtime’s miniseries about the disgraced mogul who gave the world Fox News — thanks a lot for that, really done wonders for our civil discourse — features a near-unrecognizable Russell Crowe as a fulminating, grinning, groping Ailes. Naomi Watts is Gretchen Carlson; Sienna Miller is Roger’s wife, Beth Ailes; Seth MacFarlane is former Fox public-relations guru Brian Lewis; theater legend Simon McBurney is Rupert Murdoch. Schadenfreude, baby. DF

Ed Miller/Starz

‘The Rook’ (Starz, June 30)

A woman wakes up on a London street covered in blood and surrounded by dead bodies. The remainder of this thriller, based on a 2012 book of the same name by Daniel O’Malley, finds her unraveling the story of who she is (apparently, a member of a clandestine group of British spies graced with paranormal abilities), what happened to her that fateful night and who she can trust. MF



‘What Just Happened?’ (Fox, June 30)

What just happened is that the burgeoning world of those fan-discussion/post-episode breakdown series like Talking Dead finally have their first major parody. Fred Savage plays the host of a fictional aftershow for an equally fictional drama, The Flare, based on a fictional book. This has the potential to disappear up its rear end in a hurry — but it’s also a fun idea that continues Savage’s very welcome return to acting after years of (admittedly excellent) work directing sitcoms. AS

Stranger Things


‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 (Netflix, July 4)

Eleven times three equals summer fun. Netflix’s hit sci-fi/horror/blockbuster pastiche moves from Halloween to Independence Day, with the mall, the town pool and other Eighties tropes to be mixed with the same loving care that made the first two seasons so addictive. AS


‘Shangri La’ (Showtime, July 12)

Ever wanted to hang out in Rick Rubin’s Malibu recording studio, famed for its chill vibe and vast music reference-book library and impeccably white decor, the better to let musicians talk their muse without distractions? This four-part docuseries from Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) sits in on recording sessions and interviews folks who’ve worked the boards there, but it also dives deep on Rubin’s personal philosophy on being a sort of midwife for artists. And also, hopefully, tips on beard care. DF


Jan thijs/Amazon Studios

‘The Boys’ (Amazon, July 26)

They’ve got incredible powers, global celebrity and the world on a string — of course some superheroes would eventually turn out to be completely corrupt pricks who abuse their gift and throw the whole truth-justice-and-the-American-way thing out the window. That’s where “the Boys” come in, a C.I.A. unit who make sure these caped crusaders get kicked to the curb when they get out of line. The excessively violent comic from Preacher writer Garth Ennis gets an equally no-holds-barred TV show courtesy of Amazon Prime, starring Karl Urban as the black-ops squad’s leader. Who watches the Watchmen indeed! DF


JoJo Whilden/Netflix

‘Orange Is the New Black’: The Final Season (Netflix, July 26)

The Netflix women’s prison drama returns for a seventh and final season. Orange blazed new trails as both an early streaming drama and a show with a remarkably inclusive and deep cast. There have been creative ups and downs along the way, but we wouldn’t miss the chance to say goodbye to Taystee, Red, Gloria and the rest of the gang at Litchfield. AS

Veronica Mars -- "Spring Break Forever" - Episode 101 -- Panic spreads through Neptune when a bomb goes off during spring break. Veronica and Keith are hired by the wealthy family of one victim injured in the bombing to find out who is responsible. Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) and Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), shown. (Photo by: Michael Desmond/Hulu)

Veronica Mars -- "Spring Break Forever" - Episode 101 -- Panic spreads through Neptune when a bomb goes off during spring break. Veronica and Keith are hired by the wealthy family of one victim injured in the bombing to find out who is responsible. Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) and Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)

Michael Desmond/Hulu

‘Veronica Mars’ (Hulu, July 26)

Long before The Good Place, Kristen Bell became a star as a hard-boiled high school gumshoe. We already saw Veronica as an adult in the 2014 Kickstarter-funded reunion film — and by all accounts, the new Hulu series will steer back into the film noir mode that worked so well back in the UPN days. Enjoy, Marshmallows! AS

Four Weddings and A Funeral -- Four American friends reunite for a fabulous London wedding. But after a bombshell at the altar throws their lives into turmoil, they must weather a tumultuous year of romance and heartbreak. Relationships are forged and broken, political scandals exposed, London social life lampooned, love affairs ignited and doused, and of course, there are four weddings... and a funeral. Ainsley (Rebecca Rittenhouse) and Maya (Nathalie Emmanuel), shown. (Photo by: Jay Maidment/Hulu)

Jay Maidment/Hulu

‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ (Hulu, July 31)

If you watched The Mindy Project — or have spent more than five minutes paying attention to anything Mindy Kaling has said or written or tweeted — then you know how important romantic comedies are to her. So she and Mindy Project co-creator Matt Warburton seem a fine pair for this miniseries inspired by one of the gold standards of the genre, the 1994 Hugh Grant classic. AS

Pennyworth Season 1 Episode 101: Pilot

Liam Daniel/Epix

‘Pennyworth’ (Epix, July 28)

We know what you’re thinking: Dear God in heaven, why has no one told us what the hell Alfred Pennyworth did before he became Batman’s butler?!? (Admit it, this is totally what you were thinking.) Lucky for you, this Epix show will help fill in the gaps by following Young Alfred (Jack Bannon) during his days as a British special-services commando and security-company founder, back when he first met up with a billionaire named Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge). This should be a good way to kill time until someone makes a prequel TV show about Bruce Wayne/Batman back when he was just a tiny little sperm. DF

AMC/Sundance Television

‘No One Saw a Thing’ (SundanceTV, July 31)

Blumhouse — the production outfit behind culture-shifting horror films including Get Out and The Purge, as well as HBO’s Emmy-winning AIDS drama The Normal Heart — steps into the documentary space with this six-episode true-crime series. The unsolved case it explores: a 1980s small-town murder in which a resident was shot dead in front of as many as 60 witnesses … all of whom still deny having seen the act. MF

BH90210:  L-R:  Gabrielle Carteris, Tori Spelling, Brian Austin Green, Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth and Ian Ziering.  BH90210, the highly anticipated new six-episode event series, will premiere Wednesday, Aug. 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2019 Fox Media LLC Cr: Brian Bowen Smith/FOX

Brian Bowen Smith/FOX

‘BH90210’ (Fox, August 7)

Welcome to the apex (or nadir, depending on your perspective) of Nineties nostalgia: A meta Beverly Hills, 90210 revival based not on the characters of the original series but the lives of its stars, all of whom will return save for Luke Perry (who died in March after suffering a stroke). One of them suggests putting together a reboot, and the gang gathers to reminisce, take stock of how far they’ve come and revisit old feuds. The powwows presumably take place at the Soho House instead of the Peach Pit, but the drama should be just as delicious. MF

Kiki Sukezane as Yuko- The Terror _ Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/AMC

Kiki Sukezane as Yuko- The Terror _ Season 2, Episode 1

Ed Araquel/AMC

‘The Terror: Infamy’ (AMC, August 12)

AMC’s stellar attempt to one-up American Horror Story continues with a new season, a new setting and a new story. Gone are ye olde seafaring men, the aquatic madness, the muttonchops and malevolent spirits in the Arctic; for Round 2, the show relocates the internment camps populated by Japanese-Americans during WWII as persecuted citizens battle prejudices, paranoia and malevolent spirits on our own soil. DF


Kevin Baker/Netflix

‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’ (Netflix, August 30)

For viewers of a certain age, it’s like a dream come true — at long last, we have more adventures featuring the Skeksis and the Crystal of Truth! (If you did not feel overjoyed while reading that last sentence, we wholeheartedly apologize and acknowledge that this is not necessarily a big deal for everyone.) Jim Henson’s 1982 dark-Muppet fantasy gets the prequel treatment, with a trio of Gelflings (voiced by Taron Egerton, Nathalie Emmanuel and Anya Taylor-Joy) setting out to save the world before their crone-like enemies can unleash a horrible sickness. Helena-Bonham Carter, Mark Hamill, Alicia Vikander, Eddie Izzard, Harris Dickinson, Natalie Dormer, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and other lend their pipes to the puppets as well. DF

John Goodman as Eli Gemstone Danny McBride as Jesse Gemstone Edi Patterson as Judy Gemstone Adam Devine as Kelvin Gemstone

Fred Norris / HBO

‘The Righteous Gemstones’ (HBO, August)

Hallelujah! Danny McBride brings his oblivious-Southern-blowhard act back to HBO, this time with a series about a megarich, crooked televangelist, Eli Gemstone (John Goodman) and the bumbling, bickering sons (McBride and solid-gold goofball Adam Devine) keeping the family empire (holy-) rolling by any means necessary. Consider it Succession meets Eastbound and Down meets Jerry Falwell. MF

Brian Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

‘Succession’ Season 2 (HBO, August)

The rancid, wretched rat bastards we call the Roy family (and our man Cousin Greg “The Egg”!) return for another round of media moguls behaving badly — and because we’ve been extra good, they’ve brought Holly Hunter along with them. The Raising Arizona actor plays a “politically savvy CEO” who will challenge Brian Cox’s Murdoch-esque Logan, Jeremy Storng’s clammy-handed Kendall and the rest of the clan. More corporate chicanery. More interfamilial power moves. More of Kieran Culkin creatively using the word “fuck.” DF

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