June 23, 2021

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The 10 best new TV shows to watch this summer: More ‘Monsters Inc,’ Martin Short and Steve Martin

2 min read

If you listen closely, you can hear the sounds of dozens of summer TV series, fighting to keep you home in front of the TV just as the world is opening back up. 

After several months of depleted supplies of shows due to COVID-19-related shutdowns, the number of summer’s TV premieres on broadcast, cable and streaming is approaching something close to normal. It’s all part of the resurgence of the medium in 2021 as the industry and the world emerges from the pandemic. 

From ‘Schmigadoon!’ to Selena Gomez, the best TV shows to watch this summer

USA TODAY TV Critic Kelly Lawler talks about some of the best TV shows to watch this summer, and how the “new normal” is affecting television.

Entertain This!, USA TODAY

And far from the dumping ground for bad shows and silly game shows, the summer TV season is just as vibrant and vivid as the rest of the year, with worthy new series. (But of course, there are still some silly game shows.)

USA TODAY rounded up the 10 best new series this summer.  They may just be good enough to keep you at home even when you don’t have to be. 

Lucie Shorthouse as Momtaz, Juliette Motamed as Ayesha, Sarah Kameela Impey as Saira and Faith Omole as Bisma on "We Are Lady Parts."

Lucie Shorthouse as Momtaz, Juliette Motamed as Ayesha, Sarah Kameela Impey as Saira and Faith Omole as Bisma on “We Are Lady Parts.”
Laura Radford/Peacock

'We Are Lady Parts'  

Peacock (June 3)

One of summer’s most surprisingly funny and endearing series is this under-the-radar British sitcom.  It’s a smart, snappy ensemble comedy about an amateur British punk rock band called Lady Parts, whose members are all women of Muslim faith. The series kicks off with the band’s search for a lead guitarist, which leads to the discovery of Amina (Anjana Vasan), a shy player with stage fright who’s unlucky in love. The young cast has wonderful chemistry, the music is lively and the writing feels utterly unique. 

Stefania Lavie Owen as Bear, Christian Convery as Gus and Nonso Anozie as Tommy Jepperd on "Sweet Tooth."

Stefania Lavie Owen as Bear, Christian Convery as Gus and Nonso Anozie as Tommy Jepperd on “Sweet Tooth.”

'Sweet Tooth' 

Netflix (June 4)

Based on the DC comics by Jeff Lemire, this ambitious fantasy series takes place in a postapocalyptic world where much of humanity has been wiped out by a deadly virus and babies are born as animal/human hybrids. Gus (Christian Convery) is a young half-deer/half-boy who grew up sheltered from the horrors of the world – including poachers who hunt kids like him – only to be thrust into those horrors when he leaves his father’s camp. It’s on the high end of high concept, but once the building blocks of the complex story are laid down, “Sweet” comes into its own as an engaging epic. 

Julianne Moore as Lisey and Clive Owen as Scott in "Lisey's Story."

Julianne Moore as Lisey and Clive Owen as Scott in “Lisey’s Story.”
Apple TV+

'Lisey’s Story' 

Apple TV+ (June 4)

Stephen King adapts his 2006 novel about marriage, imagination and literature for Apple in a slow burn series that oozes his signature atmosphere. Julianne Moore stars as Lisey, the widow of famous author Scott Landon (Clive Owen), a bit of a stand-in for King. Two years after his death, Lisey is still piecing together who Scott really was and the mystical mystery of his success. The series is gorgeously shot and well-acted, its supernatural elements unfurling slowly and deliberately. 

More: From ‘Mythic Quest’ to ‘Ted Lasso’: How Apple TV+ became one of the best streaming services

Jasmine Cephas Jones as Ashley in Starz's "Blindspotting."

Jasmine Cephas Jones as Ashley in Starz’s “Blindspotting.”
Patrick Wymore/Starz


Starz (June 13, Sundays at 9 EDT/PDT)

Created by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, the new series is a sequel to the duo’s critically acclaimed 2018 film. While the film focused on Diggs’ Collin and Casal’s Miles, the series centers on Miles’ girlfriend, Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones), who is enjoying her (almost) financially secure life in Oakland until Miles is arrested. Ashley and her young son are forced to move in with Miles’ mother, Rainey (Helen Hunt), and half sister Trish (Jaylen Barron), upending her life. Featuring the stylized direction and poetic writing of the film, this new version of “Blindspotting” has its own story and identity in addition to being a worthy followup to the film. 

A contestant and a "Top Chef" winner cook together on "Top Chef: Amateurs."

A contestant and a “Top Chef” winner cook together on “Top Chef: Amateurs.”
David Moir/Bravo

'Top Chef: Amateurs' 

Bravo (July 1, Thursdays at 9 EDT/PDT) 

The universe of “Chef” gets even bigger with this spinoff, a stew of Fox’s “MasterChef” and Food Network’s “Chopped” with a soupçon of “Top Chef” history. In each episode, two amateur cooks compete in a short challenge, assisted by one “Chef” alum who offers advice as they try their best to cook dishes for the judges, including Gail Simmons. Frequent references to episodes of the original series will delight some fans, but the real stars are the adorable contestants who get to cook with their culinary heroes. 

The new monsters of "Monsters At Work" on Disney+.

The new monsters of “Monsters At Work” on Disney+.

'Monsters At Work' 

Disney+ (July 7)This charming sequel to Pixar’s celebrated 2001 film “Monsters, Inc.” is the first full-length series for Disney+ inspired by a Pixar story. “Work” is a cute continuation of the story about what happens after the entire infrastructure of the “Monsters” world was upended at the end of the original film. Although Billy Crystal and John Goodman return as Mike and Sully, the series’ protagonist is Tylor Tuskmon (voiced with quiet sarcasm by Ben Feldman), a new monster fresh out of college who no longer has a bright future of scaring ahead of him because the new goal is to make children laugh. Other voices include Mindy Kaling, Bonnie Hunt, Aisha Tyler and Henry Winkler. 

Connie Britton in "The White Lotus" on HBO.

Connie Britton in “The White Lotus” on HBO.

'The White Lotus' 

HBO (July 11, Sundays at 9 EDT/PDT) 

This darkly funny miniseries, written and directed by Mike White (“Enlightened”), follows a group of wealthy tourists and employees at The White Lotus, a resort and spa in Hawaii, where someone is going to die mysteriously. The cast of mostly intolerable characters (a hallmark of White’s work) includes Connie Britton, Steve Zahn, Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell and Molly Shannon. 

More: Is your favorite network TV series canceled, renewed or ‘on the bubble’?

Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key are a couple in trouble who stumble into a musical in Apple TV+'s upcoming series, "Schmigadoon!"

Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key are a couple in trouble who stumble into a musical in Apple TV+’s upcoming series, “Schmigadoon!”
Apple TV+


Apple TV+ (July 16; weekly on Fridays) 

Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong star in this absolutely delightful musical comedy about a couple on the rocks who wander into a mystical town where every day is a “Music Man”-style musical – and they can’t escape. Featuring Broadway legends Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming and Aaron Tveit, the Lorne Michaels-produced series easily balances absurdity, humor and genuinely great musical numbers. 

Sandra Oh as Professor Ji-Yoon in "The Chair."

Sandra Oh as Professor Ji-Yoon in “The Chair.”
Eliza Morse/Netflix

'The Chair' 

Netflix (August 20) 

“The Chair,” created by Amanda Peet and produced by “Game of Thrones”  David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, isn’t about an iron throne, but rather the chair of the English department at a prestigious university. Sandra Oh plays Professor Ji-Yoon Kim, who is promoted to head her department at a time when the school is bleeding money and college kids couldn’t be less interested in literary classics. Ji-Yoon wrangles an unruly group of academics, including octogenarians unhappy with change, younger colleagues ready for it and the hunky and messy Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass), with whom she clearly has chemistry. The witty, irreverent sitcom features a great cast that includes Holland Taylor and Bob Balaban. 

Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short in "Only Murders in the Building."

Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short in “Only Murders in the Building.”
Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu

'Only Murders in the Building' 

Hulu (August 31)

Steve Martin and Martin Short bring their considerable talents and longtime comedic partnership to TV with a little help from Selena Gomez. All play loners, residents of a swanky Manhattan apartment building who bond as lovers of true-crime podcasts. When there’s a suspicious death in the building, they band together to solve it (while making their own podcast, of course). The series is silly and cute in an endearing way, and Gomez fits in surprisingly well with the older comedians. 

More: The best TV shows of 2021 (so far), from ‘Girls5Eva’ to ‘Mare of Easttown’

Tom Hiddleston's Loki returns in the series named for the God of Mischief.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki returns in the series named for the God of Mischief.
Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Other  shows we're excited about...
  • “Loki” (Disney+, June 9): The latest Marvel series features Tom Hiddleston’s love-to-hate-and-love villain Loki on his own in a time-travel adventure. 
  • “Tuca and Bertie” (Adult Swim, June 13, 11:30 p.m. EDT/PDT): The adult animated comedy starring Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong is resurrected on Adult Swim after it was canceled on Netflix.
  • “Evil” (Paramount+, June 20): The delayed second season of this excellent supernatural thriller from Robert and Michelle King (“The Good Wife”) moves to Paramount+ from CBS. 
  • “Wellington Paranormal” (CW, July 11): The New Zealand-set series is a mockumentary-style spin-off of 2015’s “What We Do in the Shadows” film, now an FX series. 
  • “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+, July 23): The joyous series about an American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) thrust into the world of British soccer returns for a second season. 
  • “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC, August 12): The eighth and final season of the cop comedy brings closure to the precinct – and the show’s fans. 
  • “Nine Perfect Strangers” (Hulu, August 18): Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Regina Hall star in this adaptation of “Big Little Lies” author Liane Moriarty’s 2018 novel.




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