Two of Netflix’s biggest titles are returning this month for a summer binge — and that’s just the half of it! With the reboot of Veronica Mars on Hulu, the final season of Suits on USA, and Sarah Jessica Parker still charming away on HBO, there’s plenty to keep us busy in front of the small screen. Catch up on it all below.
What it is: After reaching household-name status and everygirl envy on Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker makes her way back to prestige TV’s small screen with Divorce, where she stars as Frances, a middle-aged mother and beleaguered wife to Robert (Thomas Hayden Church), who, after having an affair, realizes they’d both be better off without having a ring on it.
Why you should watch it: Parker has always been a fine actress, and she puts her well-practiced on-screen skill set to excellent use here, mining creator Sharon Horgan’s (Catastrophe) emotionally hefty and darkly humorous scripts with empathetic aplomb. Season 3 premieres July 1 on HBO.
Commitment: Approx. 9 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: A dark mystery overtakes a rural Indiana town when the young Will Byers goes missing and a young girl with a shaved head and telekinetic abilities appears. Something sinister and supernatural has come out to play — and that’s just the pilot! So buckle up.
Why you should watch it: It was the synth-laden soundtrack heard ’round the world three summers ago when Stranger Things dropped out of nowhere onto Netflix and took us all by storm. A back-to-form Winona Ryder, career-best David Harbour, and breakout stars by way of all its kids (but particularly Emmy nominee Millie Bobby Brown) are pitch-perfect and paired with plenty of ’80s-era horror nostalgia to make you want to watch this series again and again — and there ain’t nothin’ strange about it. Season 3 streams July 4 on Netflix.
Where to watch it: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 17 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Set in 1763 London, Hulu’s Harlots charts the lives of sex workers in two warring brothels, one led by Margaret (Samantha Morton) and the other by Lydia (Lesley Manville). The series, from creators Alison Newman and Moira Buffini, is a period drama inspired by the true-life accounts documented in The Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold, but don’t let its nonfictional nature bore you: Harlots is more juicy than dry.
Why you should watch it: Harlots is so much more than a show about sex — in fact, that subject is met with less titillation and more sterile professionalism. It instead subs in rich and complex characters, mostly women, and a backdrop that allows for explorations of gender and class in 18th century England. Furthermore, Oscar nominees Morton and Manville get the chance here to showcase just why they’re both widely considered British acting royalty. Season 3 premieres July 10 on Hulu.
Commitment: Approx. 12 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Created by the late John Singleton, Eric Amadio, and Dave Andron (the latter of whom serves as showrunner), Snowfall follows in the footsteps of other FX dramas like Atlanta in that it tells the story of an ostracized community in ways that we haven’t seen before — this time by dramatizing the rise and breakout of the first crack epidemic in 1984 Los Angeles and its greater impact on American culture at large.
Why you should watch it: As riveting as it is eye-opening, this street crime series pulls no punches in its portrayal of the drug trade and its implications in both micro and macro spheres. Startling performances from its ensemble of relative newcomers also bring us into a world that until now has been left off narrative television — and they keep a hold on us there. Season 3 premieres July 10 on FX.
Commitment: Approx. 15 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Fans of period drama from the other side of the pond will have plenty to sink their teeth into with Grantchester. All is not as it seems in the series’ titular village, and clergyman Sidney Chambers (James Norton of the excellent Happy Valley) is caught in the middle, balancing his faith and obligatory duties while investigating a series of crimes in the area.
Why you should watch it: Based on James Runcie’s book series and adapted for the screen by Daisy Coulam, this U.K. transfer from ITV has drama to spare. While at face value it may seem like the prim and proper British drama, underneath this clerical collar are festering secrets and dark pasts that bubble to the surface over the course of Grantchester’s hour-long episodes. Each season is only six installments, so there’s plenty of time to binge and catch up before season 4 premieres July 14 on PBS.
Commitment: Approx. 15 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: Creator Aaron Korsh struck gold in 2011 with this popular legal drama — and it’s got nine acclaimed seasons to prove it! The premise is simple: Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a law school dropout and brilliant fraudster who, upon impressing New York City’s top closer, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), lands a job as Harvey’s associate despite not having a license to practice law. But Mike proves that he’s up to snuff, and together he and Harvey work to keep his sordid past and illegitimacy a secret.
Why you should watch it: Suits came into the international spotlight in recent years thanks to a new royal named Meghan Markle, but if that wasn’t reason enough for you to catch up on this USA Network affair, we’ve got a few more for you. The series works because it’s in on its own fun, and its high concept rags-to-riches premise rings true thanks to the chemistry of Adams and Macht. It’s a steep order to binge eight seasons, of course, but the show’s two charming leads and a formidable supporting cast have kept us coming back for more. Suits’ ninth and final season premieres July 17 on USA. (Fittingly, its new spin-off series, Pearson, also premieres that night on USA.)
Commitment: Approx. 94 hours (for the first eight seasons)
What it is: Creator and star Catherine Reitman plays the leader of a central group of friends and working moms as they make the transition from maternity leave back to office life.
Why you should watch it: Being a mom is a full-time job paid in sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and, of course, unconditional love. Pair the laundry list of responsibilities that come with that job with a salaried 9-to-5, however, and tragic comedy is sure to ensue. That’s where Reitman comes in, translating it all for this semi-autobiographical sitcom. The Canadian series has already aired three seasons across the border; season 2 is finally making it to Netflix in the U.S. July 25.
Where to watch it: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 6.5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Jenji Kohan’s runaway (but locked-up) Netflix hit is ensemble work at its finest, following the day-to-day lives of the ladies of Litchfield Penitentiary and exploring the diverse crimes that got them there.
Why you should watch it: Inspired by Piper Kerman’s (here Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling) real-life account of her arrest and imprisonment for drug-related money laundering, this hour-long dramedy opens up to include the equally heartbreaking (and often humorous) biographies of fellow inmates played by Emmy winner Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox, Danielle Brooks, Natasha Lyonne, Samira Wiley, and others. From season to season, Orange — revolutionary and acclaimed for its on-screen diversity — becomes more and more timely, tackling everything from trans rights to gender equality to Black Lives Matter. Its seventh and final season streams July 26 on Netflix.
Where to watch it: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 68 hours (for the first six seasons)
What it is: Set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, Veronica Mars follows the criminally charming Kristen Bell as our titular hero who cracks mounting mysteries as a high schooler and self-started private investigator.
Why you should watch it: Veronica Mars is a CW cult classic from the early 2000s with an especially impassioned fanbase (its 2014 feature film was fully funded on Kickstarter) — and there’s no better time than now to see what all the hype is about. Its long-awaited fourth season returns July 26 on Hulu.
Commitment: Approx. 48 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: They say misery loves company, and The Letdown has that in spades, charting the ups and downs of being a first-time mother through the eyes of Audrey, a woman trying to keep her head above water while being more than “just a mom.”
Why you should watch it: This Australian comedy from creators Alison Bell and Sarah Scheller (the former of whom also stars) finds the pitch-black humor in newborn motherhood with the richly dry humor and self-deprecation native to its home country. Season 2 streams in full July 31 on Netflix.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: About 3 hours (for the first season)
This new Golden Age of television allows us to gorge on lavish dramatic renderings of everything from brothel workers to talking animals, drug dealers to intergalactic journeymen — all of which awaits you in this month’s binge guide.
Why you should watch it: Harlots is so much more than a show about sex — in fact, that subject is met with less titillation and more sterile professionalism. But what it lacks in sex appeal it makes up for with rich and complex characters — mostly women — and a backdrop that allows for explorations of gender and class in 18th century England. Morton and Manville (who was an Oscar nominee last year for Phantom Thread) get the chance to showcase just why they’re both widely considered British acting royalty.
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours
Why you should watch it: Suits came into the international spotlight this year thanks to one royal wedding and a co-star named Meghan Markle, but if that wasn’t reason enough for you to catch up on this USA Network affair, we’ve got a few more for you. The series works because it’s in on its own fun, and its high concept rags-to-riches premise rings true thanks to the chemistry of Adams and Macht. It’s a steep order to binge seven seasons, of course, but the show’s two charming leads along with their formidable supporting cast have kept us coming back for more.
Commitment: Approx. 82 hours
Why you should watch it: As riveting as it is eye-opening, this street crime series pulls no punches in its portrayal of the drug trade and its implications in both micro and macro spheres. Startling performances from its ensemble of relative newcomers also bring us into a world that until now has been left off narrative television — and they keep a hold on us there.
Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours
Why you should watch it: Killjoys taps into a dramatic vein similar to Netflix’s sci-fi thriller Stranger Things in its self-aware, pure, escapist fun, but this Syfy series does it with a mere fraction of the budget. Thankfully, it boasts performances and rat-a-tat scripts that make it all come together seamlessly.
Commitment: Approx. 21.5 hours
Why you should watch it: Fugit is as fine an actor as Kirkman is a creator, but the real juice of Outcast comes from its ability to grapple with the supernatural and demonic possession — exorcisms galore — while also navigating the trials of humanity and the lurking evils and immoralities of the mortal world.
Commitment: Approx. 7.5 hours
Why you should watch it: Thanks to off-the-beaten-path critical darlings like Schitt’s Creek, Pop has become an aficionado’s destination for smart-but-silly narrative comedy. Similarly cheekily titled Swedish Dicks, whose play on fish-out-of-water detectives (a trope perhaps made most famous by The Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau), is fresh and off-kilter in all the right ways.
Commitment: Approx. 5 hours
Why you should watch it: Inspired by Piper Kerman’s (here Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling) real-life account of her arrest and imprisonment for drug-related money laundering, this hour-long dramedy opens up to include the equally heartbreaking (and often humorous) biographies of fellow inmates played by Emmy winner Uzo Aduba, Emmy nominee Laverne Cox, Danielle Brooks, Natasha Lyonne, Samira Wiley, Lea DeLaria, and others. From season to season, Orange — revolutionary and acclaimed for its onscreen diversity — becomes more and more timely, tackling everything from trans rights to police brutality to Black Lives Matter.
Commitment: Approx. 54 hours
What it is: A midlife divorce turns into a series of midlife crises for Michaela Watkins’ Valerie and her bachelor brother, Alex (Tommy Dewey). Her sexually enlivened teenage daughter, Laura (Tara Lynne Barr), is forced along for the ride when she and Val move in with Alex. Its fourth and final season premieres July 31.
Why you should watch it: This warm, naturalistic Hulu dramedy from executive producer Jason Reitman quietly hits all the right notes while bringing life’s charming awkwardness and prevailing insecurities to the streaming screen.
Commitment: Approx. 16 hours
What it is: A homicide mystery series that asks whydunit instead of who, The Sinner on USA is based on Petra Hammesfahr’s novel of the same name and reveals from the start that it was Cora Tannetti who murdered Frankie Belmont while at at the beach with her family. It’s Detective Harry Ambrose’s job to find out why. Season 2 premieres Aug. 1.
Why you should watch it: The No. 1 new cable series of 2017 returns in August with a by-popular-demand second season (it was originally intended to be a standalone miniseries), so that may be reason enough to tune into The Sinner. But it helps that it’s a great series, too. Featuring a career-best, Golden Globe-nominated performance from Jessica Biel as Cora and veteran actor Bill Pullman as Det. Ambrose, it’s a thrillingly complex hour of television. Biel won’t be returning for season 2 (she’s still on as executive producer), so catch her while you can with a season 1 binge.
Commitment: Approx. 6 hours
What it is: Have you heard of the HBO comedy series that features the talents of everyone from RuPaul to Jenny Slate to Molly Shannon to Jonah Hill? That might be because they’re just the voices behind this animated series from creators Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese that depicts the lives of animals around us as complex and beguiling.
Why you should watch it: You might never have thought it, but it turns out that animals of the world can be as neurotic, depressive, and self-deprecating as its people. They’re also hilarious. Acerbic, R-rated humor is what grabs your attention here (it is HBO, after all), but it is Animals.’ enormous amount of heart lining each of its frames that will grab you for a two-season binge. Season 3 premieres Aug. 3.
Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours
Happy New Year from Rotten Tomatoes! Hopefully, your resolutions don’t involve watching less TV because 2016 promises to be rich with more scripted shows than ever. Many are coming back this month, some are hitting streaming, and a few are just darn cool. So grab your remote and whatever terrible low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat snack you’re eating for the next two weeks and start bingeing!
What it is: After spending 18 years in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit, Steven Avery is exonerated by DNA evidence. Two years later he is arrested again for a murder he may not have committed.
Why you should watch it: Filmed over a ten-year period, this highly bingeable series provides a detailed account of the unfathomable events in Avery’s life. The story takes so many unexpected twists and turns that it’s not immediately clear where the truth lies. A guilty man may be facing his comeuppance, or an innocent man might be suffering one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice imaginable.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: 10 hours.
Why you should watch it: With the reboot premiering on Fox later this month, now is the perfect time to get caught up on this era-defining sci-fi show. Most of the episodes follow a case-of-the week (or monster-of-the-week) format, with Mulder and Scully in pursuit of strange leads in remote locations. They don’t always solve each mystery, but they often discover that truth is stranger than fiction. There are also the myth-arc episodes, which revolve around a government conspiracy to cover up the existence of an alien threat to humanity. Basically, think Criminal Minds meets The Twilight Zone and you’ll be on the right track.
Commitment: 154 hours.
What it is: In the midst of the Cold War, a young East German soldier with an ailing mother is tasked with going undercover in the West to steal NATO military secrets.
Why you should watch it: Deutschland 83 is a bit like The Americans’ European cousin, capturing the tension and paranoia of the Cold War from the perspective of a conflicted spy on the front lines. Jonas Nay plays Martin Rauch as both a resourceful operative and a wide-eyed innocent, at once committed to his mission and enticed by the freedoms he finds in the West. It’s tense, exciting stuff, full of evocative period details and fascinating personal conflicts.
Commitment: 6 hours.
What it is: Liza Miller, a newly single mom, is 40 and without a job. After a chance encounter, she decides to go for broke and enlists the help of her best friend to get a makeover and re-enter the workforce as a 26-year-old.
Why you should watch it: Two factors that should seal the deal on your binge quest: Younger is from famed Sex in the City creator Darren Star, and the show stars Sutton Foster, who out-charms every scene, person and thing she appears with. The show also boasts a cast of delightful characters; sweet, fun exploits; and a whimsical perspective that’s worth your precious time before season two airs on Jan. 13.
Commitment: 4 hours.
What it is: Living in the long shadow of his world-famous adventuring playboy father (who vanished under unknown circumstances), Dr. Venture is a disgraced scientist who drags his twin sons, Hank and Dean, around the world on violent misadventures with their Led Zeppelin-lovin’ bodyguard Brock Samson.
Why you should watch it: Initially a spoof on Jonny Quest, Venture Bros. has morphed over its five seasons into a hybrid screwball action/comedy, where the jokes whiz by as fast as the bullets and lasers. Popular characters are slaughtered to jar viewers, the pop culture references range from lowbrow to highly esoteric, and the series’ world-building and callbacks to earlier episodes are unparalleled. It’s a ruthless, specific humor which stems from the fact that the show is still driven by its creators, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, who write, direct, and voice most of the vast variety of characters (which explains why it takes forever to get new seasons).
Commitment: 24 hours.
What it is: Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agent Carter takes place shortly after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, following the exploits of Peggy Carter as she joins the Strategic Scientific Reserve in post-WWII New York City.
Why you should watch it: Essential viewing for fans of the MCU, Agent Carter expands on the background that led to the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries, while also infusing the universe with a spunky feminist twist. Peggy Carter is one tough cookie who relies on her wits as much as she does her physical strength, battling villains as well as the internalized (and sometimes externalized) sexism of mid-century America.
Commitment: 5.5 hours.
What it is: An idealistic small-town government supervisor with an obsessive work ethic and a penchant for waffles helps keep her local Parks and Recreation department running smoothly, despite an eccentric team of easily distracted employees and a boss who deliberately attempts to undermine the bureaucratic process.
Why you should watch it: Here’s why you should watch Parks and Rec: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Scott, and Rob Lowe. There’s a reason why this unabashedly sweet and silly workplace sitcom became the calling card for some of today’s biggest and most promising stars. Part of it has to do with the writing, to be sure — equal parts clever and absurd, incisively satirical at times and lovably earnest at others. Morever, though, each role was so perfectly cast that every star was allowed to shine. Amy Poehler is Leslie Knope, Nick Offerman is Ron Swanson, Chris Pratt is Andy Dwyer, Rob Lowe is Chris Traeger (“lit’rally”), and it is very, very hard to dislike any of them. You will laugh, and you will find yourself wishing you could be a part of the gang. This is comfort TV at its finest.
Commitment: 48.5 hours.
What it is: After his girlfriend dumps him, struggling writer Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) puts an ad on Craigslist, advertising himself as an unlicensed private detective. As his moonlight investigation job takes off, his best friend Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and his boss George (Ted Danson) join him on his adventures.
Why you should watch it: It’s a neo-noir comedy with a great ensemble. Ted Danson is awesome, and the stable of recurring and guest stars is formidable. Many feel the series was cancelled too soon, and talk of a follow-up movie (Ames reported in 2015 that he’s working on another draft of the script) continues to keep the detective dream alive. Also, it should get you in the laughing mood for Galifianakis’ upcoming new comedy series, Baskets, premiering Jan. 21 on FX.
Commitment: 12 hours.
What it is: The order of a second season has led The Missing into the anthology series pool. Season one is the horrifyingly realistic tragedy of one couple’s search for their young son, who goes missing during a holiday in France.
Why you should watch it: Subject matter like this can be difficult; it makes one wonder why watching a story about a missing child could be considered “entertainment.” But the familial dramatic arc and the unfolding mystery are presented with exceptional insight, as the characters’ daunting lives are carried out with specificity by a stellar cast that meets the challenge set before them.
Commitment: 13 hours.
What it is: In USA Network’s legal drama about a brilliant but unlicensed lawyer (Patrick J. Adams) and his polished mentor (Gabriel Macht), “suits” can refer to the millions of dollars in play for each case — or the well-dressed, fast-talking, claptrap-thinking litigators who wear them.
Why you should watch it: There’s usually an interesting lawsuit at the center of every episode, but the dynamic at the office of Pearson Hardman is Suits‘ bread and butter. From Louis Litt’s bullying of the associates to Harvey Specter’s obsession with winning, every character develops into someone you either love or love to hate. With a big cliffhanger heading into the Jan. 27 midseason premiere, now is the perfect time to study up on this quick, smart, well-tailored drama.
Commitment: 50 hours.