My Summer TV Obsessions…

summer tv obsessions

Once upon a time summer television was a novel idea. A few brave channels would offer up something new for viewers looking to stay in on a scorching summer night, but the summer schedule primarily consisted of an endless parade of reruns. Times have certainly changed, summer offers up almost as many new shows as the regular season does now, but the shows themselves make for a far more eclectic mix. My own schedule, so often dominated by the usual suspects during the fall and winter (Community, Modern Family, The Walking Dead…), becomes downright weird as I find myself indulging in a gritty drama about drug dealers one night and a quirky kids’ cartoon the next.

The variety is half the fun though. My summer shows may make for an odd mix, but the one quality they all share is the ability to leave me completely obsessed.

Breaking Bad
 

Breaking Bad Season Premiere 2012 Live Free or Die (3)

Back in January, I confessed that I had never watched more than one episode of Breaking Bad. That was a television fan faux pas too egregious to let go uncorrected for long, so I did the only thing I could do–I spent June and July mainlining the first four seasons of AMC’s dark and midblowingly cool show about a teacher turned drug dealer and his junkie with a heart of gold partner in preparation for the season five premiere.

My time was well spent as it turned out all of the praise heaped on Breaking Bad was not the least bit hyperbolic. The story unfolds less like a traditional television narrative and more like a book with each episode pushing Walter White closer and closer to becoming Heisenberg for good. It has been a nerve-wracking, but fantastic ride so far and I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my summer worrying about Jesse and being just this side of terrified by Mr. White.

Bunheads
 

Bunheads

Gilmore Girls is one of my all-time favorite shows, so I was overjoyed when I heard its creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino had a new show set to debut this summer. My excitement was tempered slightly by the fact that it was set to air on ABC Family, a channel known for original programming aimed squarely at the teen set, but any apprehension I felt melted away the moment I watched the pilot.

Bunheads is full of the same banter and rat-a-tat dialogue that made Gilmore Girls so special, and it’s a pleasure to watch the wonderful Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop play off of one another. It’s nice to once again have a sweet (without being saccharine) show to look forward to. Paradise may not feel quite as homey as Stars Hollow just yet, but it’s an awfully nice place to visit every week.

Gravity Falls
 

Gravity Falls

I am in no way a member of Disney’s target demographic, but their new supernatural flavored cartoon was just too much fun to resist. Gravity Falls is part Twin Peaks, part The X-Files with a healthy dollop of humor thrown in for good measure. Twins Dipper and Mabel (voiced by Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal respectively) are sent to Gravity Falls to spend the summer with their Uncle Stan and they find the town is teaming with all manner of weirdness (think gnomes that puke rainbows and homicidal wax figures).

The quirky humor and attention to its internal mythology sets Gravity Falls apart from the typical Disney fare and makes it as appealing to adults as it is to kids. If you’re going through Supernatural withdrawals this summer and are looking for another pair of monster hunting, co-dependent siblings (without all the angst) to tide you over until the Winchesters return then Gravity Falls is well worth a look. Just don’t blame me when you become addicted to a Disney cartoon.

Wilfred
 

Wilfred (FX) 2012 Episode 2 Dignity

I was obsessed with Wilfred last summer too, but the show has only gotten better this season. From the trippy mythology heavy opener to the newly expanded cast, Wilfred‘s second season has already been more daring than its first. Its most promising new element came in the form of the addition of Allison Mack to the cast as Ryan’s (Elijah Wood) new love interest. Mack has infiltrated the boy’s club of the show with her quirky scientist character, infusing it with an added dose of humor and upping its awesome female character quotient in the process (the one area where the show was in desperate need of an assist).

In addition to Mack, appearances by Stever Weber as Ryan’s boss and Rob Riggle as his co-worker have ensured that I no longer just look forward to watching the weird and wonderful friendship between Ryan and Wilfred, I look forward to seeing the excellent supporting cast as well.

American Pickers/Pawn Stars
 

american pickers and pawn stars

History Channel’s suped-up Antique’s Roadshow-esque offerings are endlessly watchable, as evidenced by the near constant marathons the cable channel has been running this summer. Not that I’m complaining. I can’t seem to get enough of Mike and Frank’s constant roadtripping across America in search of sellable pieces of Americana on American Pickers or the family squabbling and history factoids offered up by Rick and the gang on Pawn Stars.

Even when they sound stagey (honestly, watching the herculean lengths they go through to work Subway into the conversation on Pawn Stars is almost as much fun as the haggling), these two shows are a joy to watch. They may have spawned an alarming number of copycat programs, but the original pickers and pawn shop are still the best.

Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America
 

best sandwich in america

I was an avid viewer of Adam Richman’s previous series, Man vs. Food which saw him taking part in extreme food challenges. Why did I devote so many hours to watching one man attempt to drink 16 milkshakes at once or eat hot wings so hot they left him sobbing? Because Richman is a charismatic host and the food journeyman aspect of the show was appealing even if the actual eating competitions left me worried about his health (death by a five pound omelet always felt like it was lingering just around the corner).

Happily, Richman has stopped eating giant steaks for t-shirts and turned his attention to crowning one sandwich to rule over all of the other sandwiches on Best Sandwich in America. You would think watching one guy talk about things like bread durability and texture would be dull, but you would be wrong. The concept may be silly, but watching Richman cheerfully showcase small restaurants and diners across America is anything but. Best Sandwich in America is perfect light summer viewing as long as you don’t mind it making you crave weird things like fried chicken liver sandwiches.

Rev
 

rev

You won’t find the whimsical Britcom Rev airing on traditional television stateside, but you can find it on Hulu. I’m tempted to write the site a thank you note for bringing this irreverent, but good-natured comedy into my life. The cast led by Tom Hollander is a talented, zany bunch and the comedy is as sharp as it is genial. Adam Smallbone’s (Hollander) misadventures as he attempts to navigate life as the reverend of an inner-city church are a delight to watch and the series serves as a reminder that there are so many great summer show choices these days that traditional television can’t contain them all.

 

What shows are you obsessed with this summer? Share your favorites in the comment section.

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