A Summer TV (and Drinking) Guide
Well, it's only June but Game of Thrones has already laid down its sword and Mad Men will once again close its offices this Sunday, but fear not. Richard Lawson has picks for what to watch, and, because it's summer, a drink pairing for each show.
Well, it's only June but Game of Thrones has already laid down its sword and Mad Men will once again close its offices this Sunday, but fear not. Summer TV has really just begun. We've got three more months of programming to waste balmy summer nights on. Here are our picks for what to watch, and, because it's summer so what the hell, a drink pairing for each show.
What It Is: Only nominally based on the 1985 Michael J. Fox comedy, this series, now in its second season, goes the more "serious" Vampire Diaries route. The story of a regular high school guy (vee-jawed Tyler Posey) who becomes a werewolf, plays lacrosse, and woos a girl (the dewy Crystal Reed) whose father happens to be a fearsome werewolf hunter, Teen Wolf started off silly, but somehow became, by the end of the first season, shockingly (and embarrassingly, perhaps) entertaining. The mythology is actually kind of exciting, made all the more so this season by the appearance of Colonel Tigh himself Michael Hogan as a badass grandaddy wolf hunter. The show has genuinely funny moments too, little self-conscious references to its own silliness. And, yeah, there's plenty of locker room P&A (pecs and abs) for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Teen Wolf isn't going to win any Emmys, hell it's not even nominated for any Teen Choice Awards, but it's still goofily enjoyable summertime fare of the highest order. And if nothing else, watch the show for, well, uh, yes, the P&A, but also Atlantic Wire friend Price Peterson's masterfully funny recaps.
What To Drink: Well, it is Teen Wolf, so you should probably drink something the kids drink. Or some approximation. Mike's Hard Lemonade is maybe a bit too hard on the stomach lining, so why not go with a nice tall ice-filled tumbler of Carlo Rossi rosé.
Currently airing, Mondays @ 10pm on MTV
What It Is: Teen Wolf for grownups! I mean, it kind of is. Now in its fifth season, the many, and we mean many, plotlines of this Southern horror sex comedy are too complicated to get into, but of the episodes we've seen of the new season, our chief antagonizers seem to be a bad mama werewolf played by the always terrific Dale Dickey, a band of sexy fairies, and the head of the all-powerful Vampire Authority, played with bellowing panache by Chris Meloni. Oh, and yeah, it seems like ol' Russell Edgington might be back. Based on the four episodes we've watched, the show is as dopey and vaguely annoying as ever, but oh man just as engaging too. The resolution, if you can call it that, to last season's Tara-got-shot cliffhanger is handled well, and Sookie, always so irksome, gets a nice bit of comeuppance. The show is gunky, goopy fun as always.
What To Drink: Other than blood, hyuk hyuk? This is a down-home show so a down-home drink is required. Make it a Miller Lite or a Bud or something. Nice and cold, nice and cheap.
Premieres Sunday, June @ 10 9pm on HBO
What It Is: Broadway star Sutton Foster tries her hand, or rather her feet, at a regular TV gig in this series about a Las Vegas showgirl who gets hitched, moves to a small town with her husband, and starts teaching at the local ballet school. So it's fish-out-of-water meets dance show meets Gilmore Girls (Amy Sherman produces the series). It's probably going to be silly and not so good, but isn't that what you want in the hot weather? Who wants to think! Just lie back and guffaw at bad ballet jokes and there's your hour. If you want to see the real thing, you could also watch The CW's new reality series Breaking Pointe, about the Salt Lake City Ballet, which premiered last week.
What To Drink: Champagne and cigarettes, just like the real ballerinas.
Premieres Monday, June 11 @ 9pm on ABC Family
What It Is: Aaron Sorkin heads to premium cable with this look at a news network anchor trying to come back from a ranting meltdown. Obviously the talky-walky Sorkin stuff is in there, as is a lot of pontificating on political subjects in easily digestible quote-friendly style, just like The West Wing, but there are also swears, because it's HBO! Jeff Daniels is our lead, with a strong supporting cast of John Gallagher Jr., Thomas Sadowski, Emily Mortimer, Jane Fonda, Sam Waterston, Allison Pill, and Dev Patel there to help out. Oh, and Olivia Munn. Olivia Munn's in it too. We have high hopes for this one; it looks mainstream smart, in a Bill Maher panelist kind of way. But of course it could turn out to be a preachy bore, like, well, another Bill Maher panelist.
What To Drink: Something strong, something bracing. If you can't do straight whiskey in the summer, make it a stiff martini on the rocks.
Premieres Sunday, June 24 @ 10pm on HBO
What It Is: A "docu-soap" (oh good grief) about three dating columnists who don't really listen to themselves as they seek out their own romances, Miss Advised is chiefly notable for the presence of one Julia Allison. Allison was, several years ago, the almost grotesquely willing punching bag of many a New York media blog, then disappeared to the West Coast and has not been heard from since. Until now! Help her realize her trashy reality dream by tuning in to watch at least one episode of this muck. (That's probably all we can take.)
What To Drink: Pink lemonade with vodka. Parasol optional, but obviously preferred.
Premieres Monday, June 18 @ 10pm on Bravo
What It Is: Yes, yes, it's another MTV show for teenagers. But remember: It's the summer! You're allowed. You're encouraged, even. And this series, entering its second season, is a cheery but acerbic delight. There's not much to the story — a semi-unpopular girl suddenly finds herself in a new social strata after sorta dating a big man on campus — but the writing is refreshingly sharp and clever and surprisingly dirty (in a witty way!) for a show for kids. Maybe it's not actually for kids? Well, sure, keep telling yourself that. Whatever you need to do to get over the shame. You'll be happy you did, because in the comedy desert of summertime, this is a bright little oasis. (If you want serious comedy, there's always the excellent Louie, which returns to FX on June 28th.)
What To Drink: Shots!!
Premieres Thursday, June 28 @ 10:30pm on MTV
What It Is: Sigourney Weaver strides onto the TV for the first time in this six-episode faux-reality miniseries about a former First Lady to a philandering president who is now the Secretary of State. Hm. That sounds somewhat familiar doesn't it? Oh but, wait, no, this one is divorced. Haha, Hilary isn't divorced! So come on, no, no, this is not about that. The great Ciarán Hinds plays the former president, Ellen Burstyn his mother, Sebastian Stan and James Wolk the couple's two sons (one a rebel, the other squeaky clean), and Carla Gugino is a dogged political reporter. It's a great cast and a fun premise, and at just six episodes what have you really got to lose?
What To Drink: A nice crisp white wine, maybe with one ice cube in it if you're feeling daring. It is the USA Network after all, not PBS.
Premieres Sunday, July 15 @ 10pm on USA
What It Is: The first half of the final season of Vince Gilligan's great(est on TV?) drug trade series kicks off after an, uh, explosive season finale last year. We don't really know where we'll find beleaguered cancer-stricken teacher turned meth cooker turned burgeoning drug kingpin Walter White when the season begins, but we can bet that it'll be somewhere a little seedy and a lot scary. Yes this is a serious show during the mostly unserious summer, but Breaking Bad, for all its beautiful doom and gloom, is also a fun, tense, oftentimes action-packed series that has none (or very little, at least) of the glacial pacing of some other prestige dramas. You have more than a month to catch up on this show, so do that. By the time July 15th rolls around you'll be fiending for more just like any old addict.
What To Drink With It: Something with tequila in it. Maybe just straight tequila.
Premieres Sunday, July 15 @ 10pm on AMC
What It Is: A feral, foul-mouthed series from the UK, Misfits is about accidental teen superheroes who don't use their powers for much of anything super. They're all juvenile delinquents to varying degree and so spend a lot of the time sitting around and taking the piss. Crassly funny and oddly suspenseful, Misfits was a huge hit in the UK and did technically already "air" in the States on Hulu last year. But if you missed it online, here is another opportunity. Just try to watch Robert Sheehan for more than a few minutes without falling completely in love with him, platonically or otherwise.
What To Drink With It: A pint, or cheap red wine that's been in the fridge. Fat spliff on the side recommended.
Premieres Thursday, July 19 @ 10pm on Logo
What It Is: Bits of refuse from various seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette move into a house together and participate in bizarre competitions all in the hopes of winning a big cash prize. And, y'know, maybe hooking up. This is the junkiest of the junky, to be sure, but it's lowest brow to an almost beautiful degree. Bachelor Pad is where psychopaths like Jake Pavelka really bloom and flourish. Don't you want to spend the latter half of your summer watching that happen for someone else? That Kalon guy from this season of The Bachelorette is going to be on it! You know, the one with the helicopter? So, it should be good, guys. I mean, not good, but y'know. Whatever. Gurgle.
What To Drink With It: Oh, god, any old thing. Vodka? Sure, have it. Red wine? A Bachelor classic. Vodka with red wine? Go nuts, it's your summer after all. Just don't be sober, really. Just really don't be sober.
Premieres Monday, July 23 @ 8pm on ABC