Essays · TV

The Definitive Summer TV 2018 Survival Guide

Need a (TV) guide? We’re here to help.
Tv Guide
By  · Published on May 1st, 2018

Hold on a minute, isn’t summer a time for being outside? A time to emerge like pale-eyed mole-people from the comfort of our blanket forts, and to become reacquainted with a world without space heaters? What’s all this about “summer TV”?

Well, sometimes it’s too hot to be outside. Sometimes it’s so toasty your kneecaps sweat and exposure to the giant nuclear explosion in the sky becomes too much to bear. And what better way to combat heatstroke than indulging in the modern marvel of prestige television.

But you’re going to need a plan. Because boy oh boy is there a lot of televised and streamable content coming our way. In May and June at least. July and August are, as ever, lazy months.

To make the agony of choice a little more manageable we’ve assembled some highlights from this summer’s small screen offerings, as well as a big comprehensive overview of what’s to come in the next few months.

Caution: With some exceptions, we’ve left out reality TV and kids shows. Also, yes June and May are “spring” months but I choose to live in the reality where it’s already summer. Join me in my willful ignorance!

Onwards and upwards.

Purple Noon

Don’t forget to hydrate!

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City (Netflix)

May 1

Kid Gorgeous

Feat: John Mulaney, Petunia (hopefully).

Between voicing the best new animated comedy of 2017, co-hosting the Independent Spirit Awards, mounting a Broadway two-hander, and touring Internationally with a whole new hour of material, beam of sunshine personified John Mulaney has been keeping busy. Filmed at Radio City Music Hall, and featuring brand spanking new material from Mulaney’s “Kid Gorgeous” tour, the Netflix special marks the comedian’s the third partnership with the streaming giant, with many more to come

Patrick Melrose (Showtime)

May 12

Feat: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving, Blythe Danner, Allison Williams.

Showtime’s adaptation of Edward St Aubyn’s literary meditation on the difficulty of carving emotional stability out of childhood trauma sees Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick Melrose, a privileged but troubled man who wants to do (and be) better. Cumberbatch was first approached for the role after expressing his interest in a Reddit Q&A and has since described the show as a passion project. Of the story’s oscillating tone, one of the hallmarks of the books, executive producer Michael Jackson has said that the televised take has made it a priority to show how “the tragic and the comic sit side-by-side and are equally important.”

Cargo (Netflix)

May 18

Feat: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius, Simone Landers.

From the producers of The Babadook comes a Netflix not-zombie-zombie-movie that you definitely do not want to watch with your dad unless you have 100% made your peace with ugly sobbing in which case…proceed. Based off a 2013 short film of the same name, Cargo sees Freeman as a recently widowed (and recently infected) father with only a short amount of time to find a safe home for his baby daughter. Reports boast that Cargo is politically resonant, heartbreaking, and properly, apocalyptically, gritty without slipping into cynicism. Prep your tissues.

Fahrenheit 451 (HBO)

May 19

Feat: Michael B. Jordon, Michael Shannon, Sofia Boutella, Keir Dullea, Martin Donovan

If ever there were a sequence of words to make me hyped as shit, “Michael B. Jordon and Michael Shannon star in a Ray Bradbury adaptation,” is as good as it gets. Boasting a big budget, a stellar cast, and a timely tale, the HBO adaptation sees HBO alum Kramer Morgenthau at the camera and boy, oh boy does Fahrenheit 451 look stunning. Bring on the neon anti-fascist reckoning and the fire! Shit’s lit!

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon)

May 25

Feat: Natalie Dormer, Lola Bessis, Lily Sullivan, Inez Currō, Mayah Fredes, Harrison Gilbertson.

In a glossier, more madcap reboot of Peter Weir’s 1975 Australian classic, Natalie Dormer heads up a six-part re-telling of the Joan Lindsay-penned mystery about the disappearance of three schoolgirls and a teacher on Valentine’s day in 1900. What’s been released of the show thus far has been praised as a goddamn feast for the senses, and the crème-de-la-crème of the recent wave of Oz-talgia. Unlike the hypnotic restraint of Weir’s original, Picnic at Hanging Rock looks wild, salacious, and downright juicy.

The Tale (HBO)

May 26

Feat: Laura Dern, Elizabeth Debicki, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Ritter, John Heard, Common.

One of the biggest titles at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was “The Tale,” a film based on true events tackling the difficulties of grappling with sexual assault that held particular significance against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. The Tale is based off the memoir of acclaimed filmmaker Jennifer Fox, and details the personal journey of a woman re-evaluating a “special” relationship she had with her two childhood mentors after reading a short story she wrote when she was 13.

Marvel’s Luke Cage, Season 2 (Netflix)

June 22

Feat: Mike Colter, Justin Swain, Simone Missick, Finn Jones, Theo Rossi, Annabella Sciorra, Gabrielle Dennis, Mustafa Shakir.

The bulletproof Defender is back, baby. And there’s a lot to look forward to: Lucy Liu directing the first episode? Check. A rebuilt, robot hand-wielding Misty Knight? Check. Luke Cage annihilating the NFL Combine? Check. Iron Fist showing up to pave the way for a live-action counterpart to Heroes for Hire? Check. The hero of Harlem has cleared his name, and become a local celebrity…the perfect time for a big bad to roll up and fuck shit up.

Preacher, Season 3 (AMC)

June 24

Preacher Jesse Custer Dominic Cooper X

Feat: Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, Betty Buckley.

Preacher-turned-criminal Jesse Custer is back at it again on his road trip across America to find God, who is MIA. Where last season saw Jesse fleeing to New Orleans, along with outlaw Tulip and vampire Cassidy, season three promises an adaptation of the “Until the End of the World” comic book arc, with the trio headed to the one place Jesse has been avoiding: home. And the Angel of Death is still hot on their trail. Natch.

GLOW, Season 2 (Netflix)

June 29

Feat: Allison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Marc Maron.

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are back with more eyeshadow, more camp, and more pile drivers. The first season was perfectly binge-worthy, ending with the gut punch reveal of Justine’s identity, Ruth and Debbie’s friendship still being on the rocks, and more ringside drama than you can stake a stolen title crown at. Round two of the suplexing saga continues, with drama about airtime, Debbie wrestling for creative control behind the camera, and a heck of a lot of navigating through the complexities of female friendship.

Making It (NBC)

July 31

Feat: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman. 

I’m sorry but there’s nothing you can say to me that will get me off this hype train. Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson are going to be crafty best friends and we get to watch. NBC is toting Making It as a “lighthearted competition series reuniting two of pop culture’s biggest BFFs and celebrating the creativity and craftiness of all of us.” It sounds warm, fuzzy, and perfect for a lazy summer day.

Sharp Objects (HBO)

Feat: Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Chris Messina.

Sharp Objects marks HBO’s second literary adaptation with director Jean-Marc Valle, who won an Emmy last year for his work on Big Little Lies. The Gillian Flynn-penned adaptation sees a crime reporter who’s recently been released from a psychiatric hospital return to her hometown to investigate the murders of two preteens. Another thrilling/harrowing HBO summer series? Yes, please. Throw a preemptive Emmy at it.  

Castle Rock (Hulu)


Feat: Melanie Lynskey, Scott Glenn, André H0lland, Jane Levy, Terry O’Quinn, Bill Skarsgård, Sissy Spacek, Caleel Harris.

Castle Rock, the crossroads of many a Stephen King yarn, is slated as the setting of an upcoming 10-part Hulu original, produced by the likes of JJ Abrams and King himself. We do not know what we’re dealing with yet specifically, but the promise of the bulk of the Stephen King universe connected in one town means some terrible shit is liable to pop off. After all, once summer’s done, Halloween is just around the corner. 


May 1

Nazi Treasure Hunters (AHC)

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City (Netflix)


May 2

Being Serena (HBO)

Colony, Season 3 (USA)

Close Black (CBS)


May 3

End Game (Netflix)

Manhunt (Netflix)

Dear White People, Season 2 (Netflix)


May 6

I’m Dying Up Here, Season 2 (Showtime)

Sweetbitter (Starz)

Vida (Starz)


May 10

Motherland (Sundance Now)

Safe (Netflix)


May 11

Kevin Smith: Silent But Deadly (Showtime)

Bill Nye Saves the World, Season 2 (Netflix)


May 12

Patrick Melrose (Showtime)

Abuse of Power (Oxygen)


May 13

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife (Netflix)

Little Women (PBS)


May 18

Cargo (Netflix)

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (PBS)


May 19

Fahrenheit 451 (HBO)


May 24

Red Nose Day (NBC)

Frauda (Netflix)


May 25

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon)

My Last Days, Season 2 (The CW)


May 26

The Tale (HBO)


May 27

The Fourth Estate (Showtime)


May 29

100 Code (WGN America)

Queen Sugar (OWN)

The Chinese Exclusion Act (PBS)


May 30

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 4 (Netflix)

Reverie (NBC)


June 1

November 13 (Netflix)

C.B.Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cinemax)


June 2

FLCL: Progressive (Adult Swim)


June 3

Pose (FX)

Succession (HBO)


June 6

Condor (AT&T AUDIENCE Network)


June 7

American Woman (Paramount Network)

Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger (Freeform)


June 8

Sense8, series finale (Netflix)

Alex Strangelove (Netflix)


June 10

72nd Annual Tony Awards (CBS)

Claws (TNT)


June 12

The Bold Type, Season 2 (Freeform)

The Last Defense (ABC)


June 14

Strange Angel (CBS All Access)


June 17

The Affair, Season 4 (Showtime)

Deep State (Epix)

Shades of Blue, Season 3 (NBC)


June 19

Drunk History, Season 5 (Comedy Central)


June 20

Yellowstone (Paramount Network)


June 21

Queen of the South, Season 3 (USA)

Shooter, Season 3 (USA)


June 22

Marvel’s Luke Cage, Season 2 (Netflix)


June 24

Preacher, Season 3 (AMC)


June 29

GLOW, Season 2 (Netflix)


July 1

Power, Season 5 (Starz)


July 6

Sacred Games (Netflix)


July 10

The Outpost (The CW)


July 11

Harlots, Season 2 (Hulu)


July 19

Trial and Error: Lady Killer, Season 2 (NBC)


July 31

Casual, Season 4 (Hulu)

Making It (NBC)


August 24

The Innocents (Netflix)


August 31

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon)



Sharp Objects (HBO)

Castle Rock (Hulu)

Better Call Saul, Season 4 (Netflix)

Pitch Perfect

Related Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).