Blockbuster season is here, but we understand that not everyone wants to spend half a paycheck to take the whole family to the next superhero flick, animated children’s movie, or fantasy epic. Luckily, there’s a wealth of good TV you can watch from the comfort of your couch, and with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of worthy television series you should check out this June.
What it is: Loosely centered around Piper Chapman, an unlikely resident of Litchfield federal prison, Orange is the New Black expertly unfolds the backstories of the women who populate the prison along with her.
Why you should watch it: Darkly humorous, thoughtful and dramatic, this Netflix original reflects the complicated nature of humanity in the most inhumane of settings. It’s not quite accurate to laud the supporting cast, because it’s the outstanding ensemble who steals the show with the help of fresh writing and thoughtful character development. The multiple Emmy-winning series returns for its fourth season on June 17, so if you aren’t caught up, now’s the time.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: A little over 38 hours
What it is: Professional “fixer” Ray Donovan helps L.A.’s rich and famous with their problems, while barely coping with his own.
Why you should watch it: The real magic of this Showtime drama is how its pulpy drama is brought to life by believable performances — especially by Liev Schrieber, Jon Voight, Dash Mihok, and Eddie Marsan. Outside of Ray’s flashy job, the show is also easy to connect with because the characters deal with the relatable problems of alcoholism, abandonment issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, and adolescence. Season four premieres on June 26, which gives you a little less than a month to get caught up.
Commitment: About 33 hours
What it is: It’s the early 1970s, and faced with the potential sale of his struggling company, record label exec Richie Finestra instead decides to try for independent success one more time.
Why you should watch it: First off, the people behind Vinyl are the same who brought you Boardwalk Empire, namely producer Martin Scorsese and creator/writer Terence Winter. But this is a show about music, right? What about that? How about the input of co-creator Mick Jagger? Oh, and we might as well mention the fantastic cast, which includes Bobby Canavale, Max Casella, Olivia Wilde, and Juno Temple, among others. If you’re into groovy period trappings, rockin’ tunes, and engaging stories, definitely check out this Certified Fresh drama when it hits DVD on June 7.
Commitment: About 7 hours
What it is: A young, single dating site entrepreneur takes in his newly divorced psychologist sister, who brings her teenage daughter along with her.
Why you should watch it: The man behind this Hulu original series is Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air), who knows his way around wry comedy, and the cast maintain an easy rapport with each other, which shouldn’t be a surprise, especially since both Michaela Watkins and Tara Lynne Barr are both longtime TV veterans. On top of that, the show is a refreshingly adult look at relationships — romantic and familial — that offers top notch dialogue and a touch of pathos with its humor. Season two premieres on June 7, so you’ve got a little time to breeze through season one.
Commitment: About 4.5 hours
What it is: An ex-NFL player struggling to adjust to life after football becomes a financial manager catering to athletes.
Why you should watch it: Dwayne Johnson has proven he can carry a film and help reinvigorate established franchises, and with Ballers, he shows he can bring it on the small screen as well. But his gleaming charisma isn’t the only reason to tune in to this HBO comedy; co-stars like Rob Corddry and John David Washington spark life into supporting characters, and co-producer Peter Berg brings his Friday Night Lights experience to bear. The Certified Fresh first season hits DVD on June 14, but you can also stream it now.
Commitment: 5.5 hours
What it is: A group of slaves living in Georgia during the pre-Civil War plantation era plot to escape north together with the help of the Underground Railroad.
Why you should watch it: The plight of African-American slaves is not unfamiliar territory for television (the widely acclaimed Roots remake is airing this week), but not only does Underground boast a very specific angle, but it manages to offer some insightful portrayals of plantation life and a gripping story to pull it all together. The performances are solid all around, and you’ll find yourself invested in the various characters as they navigate this painful chapter of US history. Season one ended just a few weeks ago, but it hits DVD on June 14, and you can stream it now.
Commitment: 7.5 hours