An exclusive look at 25 of Summer 2019's biggest TV shows
Stranger Things 3: Premieres July 4 on Netflix
Some things have changed in Hawkins, Ind. (there’s a new mall!), and some things haven’t (the Upside Down is still creepy AF!). The third installment of Stranger Things picks up in the summer of 1985 with the core group of kids — Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Will (Noah Schnapp), and Max (Sadie Sink) — battling a heartless new monster: puberty.
“We wanted to explore the theme of change,” says Matt Duffer, who created the series with his brother Ross. “The season takes place during the last summer before high school. The kids are growing up, and that transition is going to be messy and awkward and painful. Are they able to grow up without growing apart?” Oh, and their hometown is still a hot spot for a lot of interdimensional terror. “Eleven closed the Gate, but the Mind Flayer is still alive in the Upside Down,” teases Matt. “It will find another way into Hawkins.… It’s just a matter of time.” —Tim Stack
Orange Is the New Black: Premieres July 26 on Netflix
Jenji Kohan’s groundbreaking series began with Piper Chapman’s (Taylor Schilling) imprisonment, and its seventh — and final — season finds her readjusting to life on the outside. “She’s beginning to navigate what it’s like to live in the civilian world again, and learning that freedom doesn’t come immediately when she steps outside of prison,” says Schilling. “She becomes a little bit bolder expressing what she wants rather than trying to fit in and make it about other people.”
As Orange Is the New Black reaches the end of its sentence, Schilling hopes season 7 helps “people feel seen, and that there’s a reflection in the series of what has been happening to the cultural collective.” —Chancellor Agard
Veronica Mars: Premieres July 26 on Hulu
When we first glimpse Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) in the upcoming eight-episode revival of the critically adored UPN/CW series that bears her name, it seems like she might be in a good place. The crafty P.I. is banking a fat check for Mars Investigations, which she now runs with Best-Dad-Ever Keith (Enrico Colantoni), and is lustily welcoming back her hunky boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). But the lightest scratch of the surface reveals financial struggles with the former and emotional strains with the latter. And then someone starts killing spring breakers in her sunny-but-sinister seaside hometown, and you’re reminded that Neptune, Calif., can indeed be a bad place. —Sarah Rodman
Big Little Lies: Premieres June 9 on HBO
Got a secret, can you keep it? That's the challenge facing Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), and Renata (Laura Dern) as the second season of Big Little Lies arrives, bringing with it new lies, guilt, and Meryl Streep.
“We left off with a lie, so it would have been disingenuous not to mine that lie for all its malignancy,” says writer and showrunner David E. Kelley. “It’s going to result in more skewed fractures and fissures in the friendships between the women, some of the marriages, and some of the individual psyches.” —Piya Sinha-Roy
Pennyworth: Premieres July 28 on Epix
The Alfred we meet on Pennyworth is not the eternally dependable butler that Batman fans have come to know. This version (played by Jack Bannon) is in his mid-20s, fresh out of the military, and eager to make his mark on the world—or at least 1960s London. It’s there he meets billionaire aristocrat Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), who needs protection from dark and mysterious forces. “I think everyone is expecting to see how Alfred ends up in Gotham and his blossoming friendship with Thomas,” Bannon says. “But there’s a lot of intrigue at the start, like two tigers circling each other.” —Christian Holub
Grand Hotel: Premieres June 17 on ABC
Adapted from the Spanish series Gran Hotel, this drama follows Santiago Mendoza (Demián Bichir) as he runs a hotel alongside his second wife, Gigi (Roselyn Sánchez), and his adult children. “You see the wealthy guests and this glittering exterior, and then the people who work there and all the intrigue that goes on behind the scenes,” says showrunner Brian Tanen. “It’s an upstairs-downstairs story with a modern twist.”
At the center is a mystery that kicks off in the premiere when one of the hotel staff members goes missing. As Tanen puts it, “It’s a sexy, soapy, fun, perfect-for-summer kind of show. —Samantha Highfill
Luther: Premieres June 2 on BBC America
After a nearly four-year hiatus, Det. John Luther (Idris Elba) is back for season 5 — and so is his presumed-dead psychotic nemesis/flame Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), who last appeared in the 2013 season 3 finale. —Derek Lawrence
Fear the Walking Dead: Premieres June 2 on AMC
Fear the Walking Dead is crossing over yet again for season 5. After welcoming The Walking Dead’s Morgan (Lennie James) last year, Fear will bring in former TWD foe–turned–friend Dwight (Austin Amelio) this summer. Co-showrunner Ian Goldberg says the new addition fits perfectly with the season’s theme of redemption. “He was given a second chance when Daryl spared his life and told him to find [his wife], Sherry [Christine Evangelista], and to make it right,” says Goldberg. “We’re going to see how that’s been going for him.” —Dalton Ross
The Boys: Premieres July 26 on Amazon Prime
It’s superheroes gone wild! This R-rated series from Supernatural creator Eric Kripke is based on the 2006 Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson comic and, according to Kripke, imagines “what would happen if you combine the worst of celebrity with the worst of politics, and how badly that would screw over the common man.”
The result is a world in which Superman-esque heroes save people for the glory of Instagram likes by day and throw wild coke-addled orgies by night. “It’s shocking, it’s irreverent, it’s violent,” says Kripke — basically “a fairly accurate reflection of what’s happening in the world.” —Nick Romano
Four Weddings and a Funeral: Premieres July 31 on Hulu
It all begins, as love stories often do, when boy meets girl. The boy is Kash, a handsome London investment banker, and the girl is Maya, a beautiful New York communications director. Their meet-cute? It takes place at London’s Heathrow Airport, where Maya’s missing bag leads her to Kash and sparks fly as they spontaneously share intimate secrets while sitting among racks of lost luggage.
This summer, Hulu’s new 10-episode limited series Four Weddings and a Funeral, inspired by the 1994 film starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell, revives and redefines a traditional romantic comedy in a new format for a new generation. Co-creator Mindy Kaling says they incorporated the titular life events — four weddings and a funeral — to follow entirely new characters. “I wanted to take the themes and the essence of the movie and apply it through my eyes of what I would like to see that I haven’t seen yet,” says Kaling, who considers herself a rom-com aficionado. —Piya Sinha-Roy
Deadwood The Movie: Premieres May 31 on HBO
“Go on home now, show’s over!” declares lawman Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) to a crowd of curious onlookers after some street justice is dispatched on the long-awaited Deadwood movie. But, of course, the show is not over. Not quite. HBO has reunited the cast of its gritty Western for a final farewell to wrap up the acclaimed drama series, which was abruptly canceled after three seasons in 2006.
Front and center is Olyphant, who was reluctant to pin that star back on his chest, but eventually stepped up to perform his duty like every iconic Old West hero. Here, he teases what to expect from this final(?) ride. —James Hibberd
Succession: Premieres Aug. 11 on HBO
Succession creator Jesse Armstrong says the start of season 2 sees Brian Cox’s Roy involved in “the beginnings of a takeover battle,” thanks to Kendall’s machinations last season. “There’s a frantic desire on behalf of Logan and the company to fend that off,” says Armstrong.
Kendall is now aligned with his dad, who has covered up his offspring’s crimes. Strong says that his character shows “this new allegiance and subservience to [his] father. Kendall has collapsed inside, so the ambition isn’t really there any longer — until at some point it probably will be, and then all hell will break loose,” he adds with a laugh. —Clark Collis
Younger: Premieres June 12 on TV Land
In its sixth season, Younger is dealing with new dilemmas, like Charles (Peter Hermann) stepping down from his publishing company, partly to be with Liza (Sutton Foster). “There’s definitely tension,” says Foster. “Charles isn’t just at home in his pj’s eating bonbons. He’s basically where Liza was in season 1, having nothing and trying to reestablish himself.” There are also babies on the way, new bosses, more musical moments, and plenty of eye-catching necklaces for Diana (Miriam Shor). “It looks like a marble merkin!” Shor jokes about one large neckpiece. “Lady Gaga wore it for one of her concerts, I’m sure!” —Ruth Kinane
The Handmaid's Tale: Premieres June 5 on Hulu
Everyone has an opinion about how The Handmaid's Tale ended last season: with June (Elisabeth Moss) — on the verge of safely escaping Gilead — suddenly deciding to send her infant daughter, Nichole, with Emily (Alexis Bledel) while she stays behind to rescue her firstborn, Hannah.
But stay June did, and now she’s on a mission. “You have to fight fire with fire,” Moss teases. “That’s become [June’s] journey in season 3. To fight against the people she has to fight, she has to become more like them.” —David Canfield
NOS4A2U: Premieres June 2 on AMC
Based on the 2013 horror novel by Joe Hill, NOS4A2 stars Australian actress Ashleigh Cummings as Vic McQueen, a Massachusetts high schooler who discovers she can transport herself to different locales by riding her motorbike over a wooden bridge. The bad news? McQueen’s power swiftly attracts the attention of Zachary Quinto’s also supernaturally powered, but decidedly villainous, Charlie Manx.
“Charlie Manx takes children in his Rolls-Royce Wraith and sucks their souls in order to revitalize himself,” says Cummings. Manx drives the children to a secret place — or “inscape” — of his creation called Christmasland. “He’s pretty dark,” Quinto says of his character. “Charlie Manx ferries back and forth between the real world and this warped and twisted Christmasland.” Sounds ho-ho-horrific to us. —Clark Collis
The Hot Zone: Premieres May 27 on Nat Geo
In one of The Hot Zone's more suspense-filled moments, Lt. Col. Nancy Jaax (Julianna Margulies) freaks out when the previously frozen corpse of an Ebola-ravaged monkey starts to thaw in the trunk of a car, and its contaminated blood begins to drip onto the road. Nancy is then forced to break out the bleach and literally scour the asphalt of the deadly virus.
Over-the-top? Perhaps. But not if you’re familiar with the 1994 nonfiction best-seller by Richard Preston that inspired this limited series about how the virus made its first known appearance on U.S. soil. Costarring Topher Grace, Robert Sean Leonard, and Noah Emmerich, The Hot Zone — which will air over three consecutive nights — kicks off in 1989, when a colony of primates becomes sick at a research facility in Virginia. —Lynette Rice
Euphoria: Premieres June 16 on HBO
How does Sam Levinson, executive producer of HBO’s Euphoria, describe his visually stunning, boundary-pushing series? He doesn’t. “I try not to, honestly,” the Assassination Nation director admits of verbalizing the show. “It’s complicated. It’s messy. It’s tumultuous. And, at times, it’s beautiful and tragic.” Adds star Zendaya: “People keep seeing the trailers and all the stuff for the show, and they’re like, ‘What is this show about?’ I just say, ‘It’s about life.’”
To be more specific, Euphoria is about modern teenage life. Zendaya plays Rue, a high schooler who has just gotten out of rehab and returns home to her mom (Nika King) and sister (Storm Reid). Despite her previous sober living, Rue wastes no time returning to her old habits of drugs and partying. But the arrival of a new girl in town, Jules (transgender model Hunter Schafer), seems to signal hope. —Tim Stack
Power: Premieres Aug. 25 on Starz
Courtney Kemp has known for pretty much the entire run of Power how she would wrap her popular series about James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a drug dealer turned legitimate business owner played by the magnetic Omari Hardwick. But that doesn’t make her job as showrunner any less challenging.
“I don’t think it’s been this hard to write a script since I wrote my first script for [The Bernie Mac Show] when I first got into the business,” Kemp admits of crafting the end of Power’s sixth and final season. “I want people to like it, but I also know that you can’t please everyone, especially with a series finale. This is not one of those situations where people are going to walk away from it going, ‘Oh, I knew this was going to happen all along!’”
Fueled by vengeance, Ghost will enter these final 15 episodes wanting to both even the score with his childhood pal and former dealing partner Tommy (Joseph Sikora) — who shot FBI attorney/Ghost's lover Angela (Lela Loren) in the season 5 finale — and keep one step ahead of the feds, who are hell-bent on making him pay for past deeds. —Lynette Rice
Black Mirror: Premieres June 5 on Netflix
Here’s what we can reveal about the ultra top-secret season 5 of this Emmy-winning Netflix anthology drama: There are three new hour-long episodes. Why so few? December’s buzzy interactive stand-alone episode, “Bandersnatch,” which was originally shot for this season, was almost like shooting five episodes, as it required five-and-a-half hours of finalized footage for all its various storylines. And despite rumors, none of the new entries are sequels to previous episodes (so no “USS Callister” or “San Junipero” spin-offs yet).
Instead, the season stars Anthony Mackie (Avengers: Endgame) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman) in a video game-related tale called “Striking Vipers;” Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Topher Grace (That ’70s Show), and Damson Idris (Snowfall) in the tense hostage thriller “Smithereens;” and Miley Cyrus as a pop star who launches an avatar robot doll in “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too.” —James Hibberd
Claws: Premieres June 9 on TNT
Niecy Nash stars as nail salon owner–turned–crime boss Desna Simms in season 3 of this Florida-set drama that has come a long way since being about a group of women laundering money out of a nail salon. —Patrick Gomez
City on a Hill: Premieres June 13 on Showtime
Expectations are high for Showtime's new Boston-set crime series. Combine legendary showrunner Tom Fontana (Oz) with Golden Globe winner Kevin Bacon and executive producers/local royalty Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and, says costar Aldis Hodge with a laugh, “We would have to do a massive amount to screw this up.”
But there’s much more to City on a Hill than its A-list pedigree. Set in the early 1990s, this fictional story finds assistant district attorney Decourcy Ward (Underground’s Hodge) forming an unlikely alliance with corrupt FBI veteran Jackie Rohr (Bacon) to take down a crime family that targets armored cars, and in doing so, subvert the city’s criminal-justice system. “We get back to the good ol’ cops and robbers,” says Hodge. “But we see the dirt behind the veil of the cops.” —Derek Lawrence
The Terror: Infamy: Premieres Aug. 12 on AMC
The second offering of this horror-anthology series focuses on a community of Japanese-Americans (including a retired fishing captain played by George Takei) who are put in an internment camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and are beset by supernatural forces.
“There is the old Japanese literary form called Kaidan — ghost tales — that is fused into [the show],” says Takei. As a child, the Star Trek icon was himself interned with the rest of his family during World War II. “We were pushed out of our home at gunpoint by soldiers,” says the actor, 82, who is also a consultant on the show. “We were put into these barbed-wire prison camps for the duration of the war simply because we looked like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor.” —Clark Collis
Pearson: Premieres July 17 on USA
After bending the New York legal world to her will on Suits, Gina Torres’ disbarred lawyer Jessica Pearson takes on the dirty realm of Chicago politics as the mayor’s right-hand woman on the spin-off. —Chancellor Agard
Alternatino with Arturo Castro: Premieres June 18 on Comedy Central
Miss Key & Peele? Comedy Central has you covered with Arturo Castro’s new sketch series, which irreverently tackles everything from racial stereotypes to changing gender norms to reality TV, and so much more. “I grew up in Guatemala and then lived half my life in New York City,” says the Broad City and Narcos alum, 33, who launched Alternatino as a digital series in 2015. “There’s a lot from my perspective as a Latino millennial, but it’s not just about that. I hope everyone can see themselves in what we’re doing on the show — and laugh!” —Patrick Gomez
The Loudest Voice: Premieres June 30 on Showtime
The Loudest Voice details the rise and fall of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who, in 2016, was forced to resign from his television network after anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual-harassment suit against him. Based on journalist Gabriel Sherman’s 2014 book The Loudest Voice in the Room, the limited series doesn’t shy away from showing Ailes’ predatory behavior, but star Russell Crowe insists he depicts the Fox boss in a fair and balanced manner. “To think for a millisecond that Roger Ailes is a two-dimensional character is to misunderstand who he was,” says the Oscar winner.
Carlson is played in the seven-episode series by Crowe’s fellow antipodean, Naomi Watts. “The real Gretchen is an incredibly strong, ambitious woman,” says executive producer Alex Metcalf. “Naomi really brought that to the fore.” —Clark Collis