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What to watch: The best of summer TV

Now that warmer weather is upon us, and so many of our favorite shows are breaking for the summer, it’s time for us to start deciding what we’re gonna watch. It’s not like it used to be, when summer was a TV wasteland. These days, summer programming is prime, quality TV.

Summer is the best time to get into a new show, (or revisit an old one) because the heat makes showrunners and writers take more risks (and get a little more risqué, in some cases).

Here’s what I’m most excited about this summer:

Barely Famous
If you have ever watched and enjoyed a reality show, then Barely Famous will tickle you in exactly the right spot. Starring sorta-famous sisters Erin and Sara Foster, this very-funny spoof on the pervasive reality culture is as smart as it is hilarious.

It’s cringe-comedy at its finest, but there is also a lot of subtext about the way we perceive celebrity in our country, peppered with a lot of fun cameos from the sisters’ famous friends. Catch up on season 1 at VH1, and read my love letters to season 1 here.

Barely Famous premieres  on VH1 June 29 at 10/9C.

UnReal
It’s not only me that is about to burst her seams waiting for season 2 of this juicy drama. It’s a favorite with fans and critics alike. The fictional show is built around exposing the intrigue of the making of a dating-competition show, but it’s got a lot more going for it than that. UnReal, and its stars, was the breakout hit of last year, and single-handedly made us all question just how flexible our moral core really is.

Starring Constance Zimmerman and Shiri Appleby, this nighttime soap is making America rethink our obsession with shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. There is so much scheming, backstabbing, and dirty tricks, you’ll probably need a shower afterward — but it will be worth getting down in the dirt. I wrote about some the MVPs of season 1, and you can catch up on all the episodes at Hulu.

UnReal premieres on Lifetime June 6 at 10/9C.

Odd Mom Out
You don’t know eye-rolling and disdainful sarcasm until you’ve met Jill Kargman and her band of archnemeses, the Momzillas of the Upper West Side. Transplanted from her cool-girl, modern downtown lifestyle, Jill is desperately trying to figure out her place among her new set, and mostly failing at it.

Based on her best-selling novel, Momzillas, Jill Kargman explores what it means to be the coolest fish out of water, and how to low-key mock everybody around you (but only if they deserve it). And she’s delightfully awkward and wildly inappropriate, which makes for general fun at the expense of everybody else.

I watched Odd Mom Out through my fingers as I flinched at Jill’s constant shenanigans, and I worked out my second-hand embarrassment with recaps that probably didn’t do it justice.

Odd Mom Out premieres on Bravo June 20 at 10/9C.

Mr. Robot
Season 1 of Mr. Robot offered about a million bits of motivation to change your internet passwords, and season 2 promises to be just as scary, especially in this election year.

The show is about a young hacker, Elliot (Rami Malek), who struggles with mental illness, but also just so happens to be one of the most powerful and influential hackers in the world. Season 1 went after American financial institutions, and season 2 looks like it might bite off a similarly large cultural topic. Christian Slater plays Elliot’s alter ego, and is doing the best work of his career.

Remind yourself off all the biggest moments in the finale (and there were many), before the premiere later this summer. You can catch up on all 10 episodes in season 1 on USA.

Mr. Robot  premieres on USA July 13 at 10/9C.

You’re The Worst
You’ll have to wait until August for season 3 of this raunchy-with-a-heart-of-gold comedy, but it’s worth the wait. The show is, on the surface, a love story about Gretchen and Jimmy, but as you delve a little deeper into its inner darkness, it becomes apparent that it’s really about the struggles of having a human nature.

Don’t let that scare you; it’s really not as existential as it sounds. Well, at least is doesn’t really seem that way. Tamar Barbash and I did a weekly roundtable to process our feelings about each episode of last season, but YTW is something you might need to see for yourself (which you can do on Hulu).

You’re The Worst premieres on FXX August 31 at 10/9C.

Vice Principals
HBO can pretty much do no wrong in my book, but sprinkle in Danny McBride and Walt Goggins, and it just might be best thing to ever happen to a summer TV schedule.

The show focuses on two hapless vice principals, vying for power at a high school where neither are very well-liked, and their nonsense makes for lots of silly, irreverent humor (my favorite kind, by the way).

Vice Principals premieres on HBO July 17 at 10:30/9:30C.

The Bachelorette
I don’t care what you say, I love this franchise, and I will never, ever NOT watch it. It’s like romance porn for me, and I’m unapologetic.

This season stars a spunky little brunette, JoJo, and will, as history dictates, feature wildly unrealistic dates, melodrama, and lots of dudes crying into the camera. It’s kind of the best.

The Bachelorette is already airing, but just get a load of the awkwardness below.

The Bachelorette airs on ABC Mondays at 8/7C.

Preacher
Believe me when I say this show is good. If you don’t want to just take my word for it, there are dozens of critics who are as intrigued as I am. Based on the cult-favorite comic by the same name, relative newcomer Dominic Cooper plays the title character, Jesse Custer. There’s a fair amount of the whole “good vs. evil” bit, but the real interest is in the characters, who are equal part scary and foolish (think Angel, in its best moments).

It’s gritty and supernatural, and you will definitely have to watch closely, as it doesn’t linger too long in any kind of exposition, but the AMC show is brimming with potential. If last week’s season premiere is any indication, it’s going to be quick, clever, and play its cards close to the vest. I’m in.

Catch up on the season premiere before tonight’s episode on AMC.

Roots
The History Channel is my jam these days, and tonight’s premiere of the reimagined Roots miniseries has my name all over it.

Based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel, and inspired by the television miniseries of the same era, this Roots incarnation is going to be powerful and beautiful, and I probably won’t be able to take my eyes off of the screen.

It stars Malachi Kirby as Kunte Kinte, and it’s a performance made to break your heart. Get ready to have your feels tested to the limits.

Roots premieres on History May 30 at 9/8C.

Mistresses
This super-juicy and sudsy nighttime soap is guilty-pleasure viewing at it’s finest. There’s not a whole lot of substance here, but the abs, cheekbones, and steamy sex scenes make it worth the watch.

The show follows a group of friends as they navigate insanely implausible situations, wear designer clothes that none of us could afford, and sleep with scores and scores of beautiful people.

Catch up on the first three seasons on Hulu.

Mistresses premieres on ABC May 30 at 10/9C.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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