We are about two months away from the start of the fall season of TV and while there are some great options for summer viewing, one of my favorite things to do in the summer is to start a new show. I’ve already written one piece on short-lived shows that are well worth a watch, but in case you have already seen those or are simply looking for more recommendations, I present to you 15 different shows to get you through the remainder of the summer hiatus along with the approximate length of time it will take you to complete them.
Galavant (3 hours)
If all you want is something fun and short to watch, look no further than Galavant. It is a musical comedy with catchy songs and an incredibly fun cast of characters. I’m predisposed to like all shows with a musical element but this was one of my most enjoyed shows of the 14-15 TV season.
Selfie (4.75 hours)
If you’re willing to overlook a shaky pilot before watching two people who thought they knew who they were and wanted to be before the other came along to show them another way, then join me in my love for Selfie. Karen Gillan and John Cho are wonderful together as Eliza and Henry and sell every moment of their development as a team and as individuals. While Selfie was canceled far too soon, this show came so far and is one I’d recommend wholeheartedly.
Agent Carter (6 hours)
If you’re a Marvel fan or just need more intelligent spy ladies in your life, it’s time to watch Agent Carter. Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter from the Captain America movies and shows us what it meant to work in the man’s profession of Intelligence in the 1940s. Watch her help a Howard Stark clear his name with the help of his butler Jarvis and her friend Angie Martinelli all while mourning the loss of Steve Rogers. Atwell is wonderful here as are James D’Arcy and Lyndsy Fonseca as they all show that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero.
Broad City (7.5 hours)
If you like friendships between female characters, you really need to be watching Broad City. Abbi and Ilana are in their 20s and living in New York City. Their lives are kind of a disaster but their friendship is solid and unshakeable. Ilana may be selfish and self-absorbed most of the time but her love for Abbi and desire for to experience all that life has to offer is incredibly endearing and will have you rooting for her. Add in some fun recurring characters in Lincoln, Jaime, and Jeremy and you have two seasons of friendship, weed and adventure.
Noah’s Arc (8.25 hours)
Episodes: 17 + a wrap-up movie
If you are looking for a show that features gay men of color, this is the little-known show for you. The characters on this show are so easy to love and root for as they navigate life, love, and challenges specific to their sexuality and race. I’m personally not a fan of the movie that followed the show’s cancellation but 17 episodes was simply not enough with these characters. It aired on LOGO and never seemed to achieve mainstream popularity, but it deserves to be seen.
In The Flesh (9 hours)
If you want a show about zombies that will break your heart into tiny pieces, I offer up this beautiful British series. This was one of my best shows of 2014 and I really cannot say enough good things about it. So many zombie stories are tales of survival from the human’s point of view but this series offers up something different by its focus on the lives of the zombies after a cure has been found. It’s a thoughtful look at bigotry and discrimination as well as mental illness. Though short, it’s a series that will stay with you long after you’re finished.
iZombie (9 hours)
If you like your zombies with more of a procedural structure or were a Veronica Mars fan, give iZombie a try. Like Rob Thomas’ previous show, iZombie stars a blonde, snarky young woman who solves mysteries. Unlike Veronica Mars, Liv is a zombie who was turned at a party. In order to survive, she has to eat brains which give her flashes of insight into the lives of those she is eating. This means that most of Liv’s personality changes with each episode while she still has to remain herself underneath it all. The changing personalities is fun and I love the rest of the work the ensemble is doing but seeing Liv figure out who she is and wants to be now that her life plans have been derailed was the best part of the first season. Season two comes back in October, so it’s the perfect time to catch up!
Miranda (10.25 hours)
Episodes: 18 + 2 Christmas specials
If you love Chummy on Call the Midwife or enjoy watching socially awkward people find both themselves and love, then go fall in love with this hilarious comedy from Miranda Hart. It’s nearly impossible not to love Miranda and her antagonistic but loving friendship with her best friend Stevie. Miranda doesn’t quite know how to be a proper grown-up and her refusal to abide by various conventions is a point of contention with her mother, but viewers get to see her desire to be loved, understood and accepted and that’s something we can all relate to. Her growth in both her personal life and her romantic life over the course of the series is truly wonderful to see.
Outlander (14.75 hours)
If you like Scotland’s beautiful scenery and romantic couples with truly ridiculous amounts of chemistry, Outlander is the show you have been waiting for. Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan brought Diana Gabaldon’s love story to life and any moment of their relationship is enough to make you smile. This show also features Tobias Menzies as Jack Randall, who is quite possibly one of the most chilling villains on television at the moment. The first season covers the first book in the Outlander series and season 2 will focus on the season book, Dragonfly in Amber just in case you want some fun reading to go along with all this TV.
The Night Shift (15.5 hours)
If you’re in need of a new medical show, give The Night Shift a try. It has some truly unfortunate key art but don’t let that scare you off. The characters on this show have such big hearts and are truly a family. It has tackled issues like PTSD, the inaccessibility of insurance, being gay and out in the military, eating disorders, domestic abuse and more. Even more impressively, it handles them well and thoughtfully, and is always respectful of the real people who struggle with these issues. The cast is diverse, the characters are lovable but also not perfect, and in my opinion, it makes a fantastic summer show.
Penny Dreadful (17 hours)
If you want to see a group of broken outcasts come together to form a family and fight evil, go watch Penny Dreadful immediately. Just to spoil part of my Best of 2015 series that will come at the end of the year, Penny Dreadful will be found all over it. Eva Green’s acting is fantastic and the cinematography and overall feel of the show are gorgeous but the real key into this show is to fall in love with this unconventional chosen family. These characters have all lived through or perpetrated horrors but they come together in defense of Vanessa Ives, who may be the kindest and most gentle person to ever be courted by the devil.
Alphas (17.25 hours)
If you prefer your superheroes a little more science-based and (almost) probable, Alphas was made for you. This show is basically a procedural that centers around people with abilities who commit crimes and the other people with abilities to help solve them. What makes it special is the way these abilities work and the toll they take on the individuals who possess them. When using their abilities to solve crimes, there is a physical cost often to them and anyone they may be using their powers on. The story is intriguing (there is an on-going arc) and the balance between character and plot works very well for this show.
Eli Stone (18.75 hours)
If you like shows with random bouts of singing and dancing or just want to watch a show about a person who chooses to do good, watch Eli Stone. This show looks at what can be done if one person chooses to do things because they are the right thing to do. Eli helped many people with his visions and protected them from companies who put their own financial interests ahead of the interests of individuals. But he also inspired those around him to believe that they could also make a difference. Then they started to help others as well and the ripple effect continued to grow. Eli may not have chosen this life and even tried to fight against it but he ultimately chose to embrace it and that is a message that I find powerful and inspiring.
The Borgias (26.75 hours)
If you like the political maneuverings of Game of Thrones and the inappropriate relationships between siblings, The Borgias is here to fill in the long gap between seasons. This series (which is the 2011 Showtime version, not the Netflix version with the same name) revolves around Pope Alexander VI and his family, starting with his rise to the papacy. There are many rumors that swirl around the Borgia family and this show indulges in several. The sets are stunning and only add to the decadent and dramatic tone of the series. It also happens to feature Lotte Verbeck (known to Outlander fans as Geillis Duncan) in my favorite role of hers to date, as the mistress to Rodrigo Borgia and friend of Lucrezia.
Call the Midwife (29.75 hours)
Episodes: 30 + 3 Christmas Specials
If you like shows that are fundamentally compassionate in nature and don’t mind being overwhelmed by feelings on a regular basis, start on this beautiful show. I’m only through the first two seasons but I cannot get enough of this show. Focusing on the lives of a group of nuns and midwives in a poor section of London during the 1950s, this show continually amazes me with the amount of dignity it affords and the compassion it extends to the characters on this show. The default stance is always compassion and service instead of judgement. There is an episode in season two which focused on why women need to have control over their reproductive health (this was prior to the Pill) and it was magnificent. Sister Julienne is one of the warmest characters on TV right now and Shelagh’s story is beautiful and heartbreaking and ultimately incredible to watch.