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Summer 2021 TV: What to watch, try and avoid
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Summer 2021 TV

Summer 2021 TV: What to watch, try and avoid

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Not quite ready to make your return to polite society just yet?

Neither is our senior TV writer, so instead, she’s broken down a summer of television offerings.

Here are some shows to watch, some to try and some to skip entirely, based on summaries and trailers.

Watch

“Physical,” June 18, Apple TV+. “Girls5Eva” brought back the ’90s, so now it’s “Physical’s” turn to reverse the clock a decade to the ’80s, full of big hair and spandex. Rose Byrne stars as a San Diego housewife who finds new meaning and direction as an aerobics instructor. Between the neon trailer and a soundtrack set to “Video Killed the Radio Star,” this one seems like an easy win.

“Blindspotting,” June 13, Starz. A lot of people missed Daveed Diggs’ 2018 movie, “Blindspotting.” By the looks of it, plenty should make up for that mistake with the sequel series, with “Hamilton” star Jasmine Cephas Jones reprising her role as Ashley, who is forced to move herself and her son into her boyfriend’s (showrunner Rafael Casal) mother’s house after he lands in jail. Through its story and its music, “Blindspotting” promises to break down not just the judicial system, but Oakland, Calif., itself and what it means to survive right now.

“Kevin Can F**k Himself,” June 20, AMC. Annie Murphy earned herself decades of goodwill with her spectacular performance as Alexis in the award-winning sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” and she’s running with it in her first post-Rose series as Allison McRoberts, a perfect sitcom wife, schlubby husband and all. But then Allison snaps out of her laugh track-backed life and realizes what she’s become, in what promises to be a sardonic parody of a lifetime of marital inequality.

“Sex/Life,” June 25, Netflix. If “Bridgerton” was the start of the conversation about female pleasure, “Sex/Life” seems like its natural successor, about a suburban housewife (Sarah Shahi) who finds her party-girl past crashing into her boring, stable married life. Any show gets a thumbs up for acknowledging that women are supposed to play a role in sex — and enjoy it.

“Leverage: Redemption,” July 9, IMDb TV. “Leverage” started the crime ring in 2008: a thief, a grifter, a hacker, a hitter and their leader, a former insurance investigator. Four of the five are back for the reboot (Timothy Hutton has been MIA since a former child actress accused him last year of raping her when she was 14), but that should be more than enough to continue the delightful gang of misfits’ misadventures of stealing from the rich.

“Wellington Paranormal,” July 11, The CW. I’ll watch anything in the “What We Do in the Shadows” universe. A workplace comedy with Colin Robinson? Barbara Lazarro on CSPAN? A college drama a la “Greek” or “Felicity” about Jenna? Sign me up. “Wellington Paranormal,” a mockumentary about two members of the Wellington police’s paranormal unit, based on characters from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s 2014 movie? Yeah, I’ll watch that, too.

“Schmigadoon!,” July 16, Apple TV+. The title alone should be enough to jump this show immediately to the top of your watch list, but if you need more, the cast — Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski and Martin Short — should be plenty. Add to that, the plot: a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship who discover a magical town living in a 1940s musical.

“Mr. Corman,” Aug. 6, Apple TV+. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught parents one thing (hopefully it taught you many, many things), it’s that you should be more grateful to your children’s teacher. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, making a return to TV after decades on the big screen, writes, directs and stars as a fifth-grade public school teacher in California’s San Fernando Valley, working his way through “anxiety, loneliness and a sinking suspicion that he sucks as a person.”

“Nine Perfect Strangers,” Aug. 18, Hulu. There’s just something about Nicole Kidman that makes her the perfect actress to play the director of a health and wellness resort that is definitely hiding some dark secrets. Maybe it’s the voice. Maybe it’s the hair. Throw in Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Bobby Cannavale, Regina Hall, Samara Weaving, Melvin Gregg, Asher Keddie, Grace Van Patten, Tiffany Boone and Manny Jacinto and I’ll take whatever she’s offering, no questions asked.

“Only Murders in the Building,” Aug. 31, Hulu. Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez walk into a building and try to solve a murder. No, seriously. That’s the whole show. I can’t wait.

Try

“We Are Lady Parts,” June 3, Peacock. The diverse cast is a plus (one day we’ll stop having to celebrate the rarity) but the plot (a nerdy girl who comes out of her shell in a punk band) is a little one note. Still, if anyone can overcome that, it’s a geeky microbiology Ph.D. student and her motley crew of musicians.

“The Republic of Sarah,” 9 p.m. June 14, The CW. A show about a mid-20s history teacher who somehow winds up leading her own country (sorry?) when her tiny New Hampshire town declares independence to save itself from a mining company sounds promising. It also sounds a lot like “The Society” and “The Wilds” before it.

“Fantasy Island,” Aug. 10, Fox. In the late ’70s, Mr. Roarke and “Fantasy Island” made our wildest dreams come true — for a price. Decades (and several revivals) later, Fox will try to do it again, this time with “Grand Hotel” star Roselyn Sanchez at the helm as Elena Roarke, the original overseer’s descendant. In 2021, though, that price is a more fascinating question than the dreams themselves. What does a fantasy cost?

“Heels,” Aug. 15, Starz. Between “GLOW” and “Young Rock,” dramatized wrestling is having a moment on TV, but “Heels” is more than just a cultural trend for Stephen Amell, who has been appearing on WWE and AEW for years. In “Heels,” he’s going back into the ring as Jack Spade with younger brother Ace (Alexander Ludwig) as they grapple with their father’s legacy — sometimes literally.

Avoid

“Lisey’s Story,” June 4, Apple TV+. This Stephen King adaptation has all the ingredients of a successful series: Julianne Moore and Clive Owen, a teleplay by King himself and a haunting soundtrack. But the story of a woman driven mad, haunted by the ghost of her dead husband, hits a little too close to home after a year and a half of slipping sanity and death. Plus, “The Stand” was pretty bad.

“The Celebrity Dating Game,” June 14, ABC. You know the old joke about how awkward the tableside violin player at dinner is after the first few minutes? The only thing more awkward than that may be Michael Bolton singing parody songs to suitors before a celebrity picks them for a date. At least I think that’s the game? And Zooey Deschanel is there, too? It’s all very confusing. Too confusing for a summer game show, certainly.

“Turner & Hooch,” July 16, Disney+. Long live the existing IP, but you just don’t have to try to replace Tom Hanks. You shouldn’t try to replace Tom Hanks.

 

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