If the gorgeous Vancouver weather hasn’t tipped you off yet, summer is once again fast approaching. Yes, hiking and going to the beach sounds great, but for the not-so-outdoorsy types such as myself, summer also means a release of new and returning TV shows – and the list just gets better and better.
Here are 9 shows to look forward to this summer. These first 4 are coming back.
- In the Welcome Back corner, Hannibal (June 4, 10 pm) leads the line up. The show’s third season will begin with Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) on the loose in Europe after his cover was blow last season. The show has received mass following and critical acclaim since its premier. Now, producers hope to explore unchartered territory as to how the infamous serial killer may behave in intimate personal relationships. More exciting still, The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage (Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Red Dragon) and Star Trek’s Zachary Quinto are welcomed newcomers. However, despite its newest pickups, there has been little news about more minorities being cast into the show. Many still remember when the show killed off Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park) last season, an important supporting Asian female character from day one. It’ll be interesting to see whether the show will diversify its casting in the future.
- Another crime thriller returning to the small screen is HBO’s True Detective (June 21, 9 pm). Although last year’s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson won’t be coming back, new comers Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams got fans just as excited, especially after promotional posters were released last month. The second season will also be shifting locations to California.
- If you’re a fan of lighthearted comedies, then search no further than Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (June 12, 12 am). The ladies of Litchfield Penitentiary are also back for a third round. This is a show long acclaimed for its diversity: from incorporating minority female characters, to celebrating body diversity and female sensuality, OITNB is bold, witty, and honest in its approach. More importantly, the show has long left its focus on the central white character, Piper Chapman. Instead, it has widened its scope to tell the lives and struggles of all characters involved. It’ll be fun to see how far OITNB will take its newest season, with new themes such as faith and motherhood.
- Last but not least, Showtime’s Masters of Sex (July 12, 10 pm) is returning as well. The third season is determined to start off with a bang, as famous sexologists William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) have finally published their joint study of human sexuality, Human Sexual Response. As the public reacts to their controversial study that historically started off the sexual revolution, the pair also tries to sort through personal affairs and relationships. Combine all this drama with even more historical events happening the background, things are bound to go crazy – in the best way.
On the other hand, here are 5 shows new to the club to look out for.
- Netflix will be releasing all 12 episodes of Sense8 at midnight on June 12, promising yet another binge-fest for many. The show continues in the network’s legacy of showcasing diverse casts. In a nutshell, Sense8 follows eight complete strangers from across the globe all of whom are mysteriously able to infiltrate each others’ bodies and senses. I, for one, am extremely excited to see how the show will deal with intercultural relationships and cross-cultural differences. Furthermore, the plot synopsis just screams intimate personal bonding. As important as it is to showcase a range of human behaviour that comes with cultural diversity, I wonder how the show will explore how people across the world are more similar than they are different.
- At the same time, after a year TIME magazine pushed out its iconic cover featuring Laverne Cox announcing America’s “Transgender Tipping Point”, the small screen is also keen to feature transgender characters and their issues. E! network’s documentary series I am Cait will premier in July. The eight-part series features Caitlyn Jenner who was recently on the cover of Vanity Fair that “broke the internet“. E! has since released a short promo of the series featuring Caitlyn’s transition into womanhood – starting with the small things, such as applying makeup and leaving her property. “We’re out into the world! It’s so bright out there,” she exclaims in the promo, with so much excitement, it is moving in an unexpected way.
- ABC Family is also launching an unscripted show, Becoming Us, aka a real-life version of the Amazon hit Transparent. It will feature a teenager from Illinois as his father undergoes the transformation to become a transgender woman. “This story in particular is really specific and beautiful, and we loved that it’s from the point of view of this teen boy just trying to figure it out,” says Karey Burke, ABC’s executive vice president of programming and development, in an interview with People Magazine.
- For all the history buffs out there, eight-part mini-series Deutschland 83, the first German-language series to ever broadcast in the US, will premier on Sundance Channel on June 17. Viewers will be thrown right into the culture politics and Cold War dynamics of 1980s Germany. The show follows 24-year-old East German native Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay) when he is sent by the Stasi into the West German army as an undercover spy. As he discovers secrets both political and personal, this is a coming-to-age story as much as a political thriller.
- Finally, AMC also promised six episodes of Fear the Walking Dead, a companion piece to its hit apocalyptic horror series The Walking Dead, to premier sometime this August. The spinoff will take place in Los Angeles prior to the main series’ timeline and documents humanity’s fall to the zombie apocalypse. It will feature entirely new characters created by Robert Kirkman, co-creator of The Walking Dead comic books, including Canadian actress Sandrine Holt, who is of mixed Chinese-French descent.
It is great to see how TV shows are slowly picking up more diverse casts as well as exploring challenging new themes. However, there continues to be a lack in diversity – be it racial, gender identity, or even body image – that exists in mainstream television. On the bright side, audiences have been open to receive and even demand increased diversity, while many actors, directors and producers are voicing the same opinion. However, as in any industry, it is up to the executives to decide how they should respond to such demand. Hopes are, those high up are just as receptive to the changing times.