For a media hound like me, summer is a curse and a blessing. There are no new TV shows…but that means I have time to binge on new (to me) shows!
If you have the same curse/blessing, and are wondering what to watch for summer 2017, here’s a list to get you started, presented in alphabetical order.
Fake Geek Girl Alert: I’m not generally a fan of Neil Gaiman’s books. So when the buzz started around American Gods, I ignored a lot of it (other than a pique of interest that Ricky Whittle from The 100 was cast as the lead). Then about 2 weeks before the premier, articles and interviews and reviews started coming out highlighting the biggest change from the books: the female characters were going to get a big boost in airtime and complexity.
I never read the book so I can’t say with authority how much depth was added to characters like Laura Moon or Easter, but what is on screen is awesome. Laura’s road trip with an unlucky leprechaun is hilarious. And the visuals are just breathtaking. The show is absolutely fearless, as it will totally upend the established format of the show to explore a supporting character’s backstory, and shows more dicks than boobs over the course of the season. The rest of prestige TV could learn a lesson on that from American Gods.
The lowest rated show on television not only got a surprising second season, but a third as well. I wrote about this show last summer, but if you haven’t been following this musical romantic dramedy, this summer is the perfect time to watch the short seasons 1 and 2 before season 3 comes back in the fall.
Rebecca Bunch is one of the most complex characters on any of the shows I watch. On the surface she’s rather unlikable: she’s obsessed with her teenage crush Josh Chan (and moved across the country to be closer to him, even though he showed no romantic interest in her); her obsession can make her a very bad friend, as she will drop everything in pursuit of a man; and she pulls all of her friends deep into her craziness. But scratch that surface and you see this show is actually a nuanced exploration of mental illness and the pressure to “have it all.” Rebecca is an outspoken feminist, and has bouts of self-awareness that she’s not living up to her ideals. For a show with such a terrible title, it’s actually one of the most feminist shows on TV.
Oh, yeah, and it’s a musical. Season 2’s musical stylings riffed on everything from Lemonade to 50s doo wop to the Spice Girls. It’s damn catchy.
And I haven’t even mentioned the phenomenal supporting cast! Diversity on TV! There’s so much to talk about here, you should just go watch it now on Netflix and Tweet me when you’re done.
I was going to only out shows I’ve seen on this list, but the trailer for GLOW has me curious enough that I want to recommend it here and hope enough of you watch it this weekend that I’ll have people to talk to.
GLOW is about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a real wrestling operation in the 80s. I have zero interest in professional wrestling, but lots of interest in stories that center women. Allison Brie, geek favorite from her time in Community, stars as a frustrated actress looking for a meaty role that isn’t “wife” or “secretary.” I hope she’s found it in the ring.
Orange is the New Black
Season 5 of Orange is the New Black just released on Netflix, and it’s a vast departure from previous seasons. Time is a bit nebulous on this show, but previous seasons have covered weeks or months at a time. Season 5 is just a few days long, dealing with the immediate aftermath of last season’s cliffhanger, which had an inmate holding a gun to a guard’s head and tensions at an all-time high after a guard (accidentally) killed a beloved inmate.
Season 5 continues to move away from centering all stories around privileged white lady Piper and shows how the different factions among the prisoners react when they have a limited taste of freedom.
This isn’t a perfect season by any means. For example, previous seasons have had the guards dehumanize and even sexually assault the prisoners. This season, with the guards at their mercy, the prisoners are eager to turn the tables. But there is so much leering and threats of physical assault from the women towards the male guards; it’s played for laughs far more than most audiences would find acceptable were the roles reversed.
With that warning in place, I still recommend the series for it’s great characters and dissections of the prison system in the US. Season 5 is definitely experimental, but overall is a success.
I have not actually watched Riverdale all the way through, but Dan has been raving about it for months and Billy binged the whole thing in two days, so I feel like a list of binge recs on Fandible would be incomplete without mentioning it.
This is the gritty Archie CW adaptation none of us knew we needed. Archie is now ripped from a summer of working for his dad’s construction business. Veronica moves with her mom back to Riverdale after her dad is imprisoned for some seriously shady dealings. Betty is in love with the boy next door, but also becomes fast friends with Veronica, her romantic rival. Jughead is our Veronica Mars-style noir narrator, as the show opens with an unsolved death that shakes the citizens of Riverdale. And almost everyone is a suspect.
Why does this show exist? I have no idea. But damn if it doesn’t work most of the time. Again with the caveats: Archie has a relationship with a teacher that contributed to me tuning out for parts of Billy’s binge watch. The trailers used a lesbian kiss to try to gin up viewers, and even though the show lampshades that scene, I still hate that it was done at all. But if you want a prime-time soap opera that shouldn’t work but somehow mostly does? Check out Riverdale.
Have you watched any of these shows? What else would you recommend for summer binge watching? I still have no idea what I’ll watch this summer, so leave your suggestions in the comments!
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