“Married” Season 1
Start Date/Slot: July 17th/Thursdays 10 p.m. on FX
What it’s about: We’ve been pretty drama-heavy on this list so far, so here’s a comedy to mix it up a bit: the new FX series “Married” is the sitcom brainchild of Andrew Gurland, co-writer and director of “The Virginity Hit” and “Mail Order Wife” (he’s listed in our recent ranking of directing teams), and will star Judy Greer and Nat Faxon as the central wedded couple who move to a new city with three kids in tow, with Jenny Slate and Paul Reiser in support as a May-December pairing along with Bret Gelman as a divorced guy who can’t get over his ex (Regina Hall).
Why it might be your new favorite show: With “Obvious Child” still in theaters, it’s timely to be able to cite Jenny Slate’s involvement as one of the main reasons we’re anticipating this show—she’s a terrific comic presence and we’re happy to welcome her, as well as longtime favorites Greer and Faxon, into our living rooms on a weekly basis, especially if they're going to be on the kind of earthy, dirty-minded form the trailers show.
Why it might not: It’s a sitcom about couples, dealing with relationship issues, especially the ups and downs of married life, that even has the gall (or fingers crossed, the self-referential irreverence?) to cast “Mad About You’‘s Paul Reiser as one of the participants. Then again we can;t remember too many jokes about someone's vagina "eating" a condom in "Mad About You" so maybe we'll be OK here.
“You’re the Worst” Season 1
Start Date/Slot: July 17th/Thursdays 10:30 p.m. on FX
What it’s about: The other half of FX’s Thursday night all-new comedy hour, “You’re the Worst” may boast fewer recognizable names in front of the camera than “Married,” but did snag Playlist favorite Jordan Vogt-Roberts (“The Kings of Summer”) as director for its pilot, and the Stephen Falk-created and -penned show has maybe the slightly edgier logline. It’s billed as an anti-romantic comedy (which, along with this summer’s film “They Came Together” is perhaps an idea whose time has come?) in which “a completely self-absorbed, proudly outspoken, and utterly insensitive writer living in L.A. who is deeply unsettled when he finds himself developing feelings for a recent one night stand.”
Why it might be your new favorite show: The logline sounds refreshingly sourhearted and the cast of relatively unknown names (Aya Cash, Kether Donohue, Johnny 5, Brandon Smith, etc.) are actually fairly experienced TV actors mostly, so you may recognize their faces and this show may provide a well-earned breakout for some.
Why it might not: I guess we were sort of hoping this might land on FXX, FX’s slightly more outre sibling station, which would have indicated that it goes as far as we’d hoped with the mean-spirited nature of its premise. As it is, there’s a danger that it could slip into niceness, but even so, if the characters are well enough drawn, perhaps it’ll fly. The proof will of course be in the funny, and if something as potentially awful as “New Girl” can bring that, then hopefully so can "You're the Worst." Somewhat unhilarious teaser to follow.
“Manhattan” Season 1
Start Date/Slot: July 27th/Sundays 9 p.m. on WGN
What it’s about: The latest smaller channel to want a bit of the period drama pie for itself, WGN is putting what looks like a fair few of its eggs into “Manhattan”’s basket. Set in 1940s Los Alamos, it tells the story of the public, private and occasionally top secret lives of the scientists involved in the so-called Manhattan project to develop the U.S.’s first nuclear bomb. First looks promise the kind of period detail we’ve come to expect from the show’s obvious precursors, and the cast is an intriguing mix of familiar (the great Olivia Williams, “House of Cards”’ Rachel Brosnahan, Daniel Stern, “Orange is the New Black”’s Michael Chernus) and not-so-familiar faces.
Why it might be your new favorite show: We’ll admit this hits right in our wheelhouse—a fascinating true story that looks, from this distance anyway, to have been told with an eye for both drama and historical accuracy. Further whetting out appetite is that it comes from creator/exec producer/writer Sam Shaw who previously worked on the overlooked “Masters of Sex,” which we’ve already begged you to tune in for, and the first couple of episodes will be directed by “West Wing” helmer Thomas Schlamme.
Why it might not: It’s not straying very far from the “Masters of Sex” template—it’s a period recreation of a scientific breakthrough and how it impacted the personal lives of those working on it, and since ‘Masters’ itself is criminally underseen, and “Manhattan” doesn’t even have that show’s sexy title, nor the relatively mighty clout of the bigger Showtime behind it, there’s a danger that this could fizzle out. We have our fingers crossed for it though.
“The Honorable Woman” 7-episode Miniseries
Start Date/Slot: July 31st/Thursdays 10 p.m. on SundanceTV
What it’s about: It’s looking to be a pretty good summer for women on TV, with a few of our favorite actresses landing what look to be meaty roles in some of the season’s new offerings. But it might be that Maggie Gyllenhaal takes the crown, as the titular honorable woman in this miniseries, co-produced with the BBC, that follows the daughter of an Israeli arms dealer who takes over her father’s empire following his assassination only to change its purpose to focus on reconciliation projects between Israel and Palestine, thereby creating a political maelstrom.
Why it might be your new favorite show: Gyllenhaal isn’t the only reason to tune in, as the show features Stephen Rea, Janet McTeer, “Broadchurch”’s Andrew Buchan, “Nurse Jackie”’s Eve Best and Belgian actress Lubna Azabal from “Paradise Now,” “Incendies” and “Coriolanus” amongst its huge cast too. And the subject matter certainly sounds controversial and potentially very fertile, with the whole show written and directed by Hugo Blick, who was previously behind 2011’s acclaimed “The Shadow Line” starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Christopher Eccleston.
Why it might not: Hard to say what sort of push this will get, and as a miniseries it’s not like it’s being marketed toward the possibility of renewal so it may remain fairly under the radar for most. We, however, will be there with bells on. No trailer yet but here's Gyllenhaal talking about taking the role.
So hopefully a lot there to get you through the dog days of June and July. Then in early August “The Killing” returns for its final season, but more excitingly Steven Soderbergh’s period hospital drama “The Knick,” starring Clive Owen and written by Jack Amiel, premieres on Friday August 8th on Cinemax. That’ll be a big one and we’ll be covering it in some depth, but in the meantime, don’t be shy about letting us know how you get on with any of the above. --with Rodrigo Perez