In high school, before streaming was what it is today and I had my own laptop, summer TV was just that — limited to the physical TV and airing exclusively in the summer season. The fact that these shows popped up when I had the most time to keep up with weekly episodes just made them more addictive, and while only one of them is still in my life today, I still equate all three of these shows with summertime.
Technically, the new season of Married at First Sight is also one of my summer watches this year, but the show has pretty small gaps in between seasons and runs what feels like year-round. Is anyone else totally invested in the Dallas season even though they have a feeling it’s going to be a trainwreck? Ah, well, that’s the beauty of summer shows — they don’t need much to keep us hooked.
1) The Next Food Network Star
I don’t keep up with this right now, but for two or three consecutive summers, I was obsessed. This Food Network competition series is basically what it sounds — finalists compete in cooking challenges with twists tied to being TV chefs in order to win their own Food Network series. Honestly, I think it’s the loss of Alton Brown as a judge that made my interest in Food Network Star fade. Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis still judge, but the visual imbalance of two main judges and not having Alton’s witty wackiness just bores me. The show has low-stakes drama with gratuitous food porn, and you never have to pay much attention to it if you’re just not in the mood to think too much. I’d inevitably form a weird crush on one of the long-haired, slightly greasy-looking chefs that I definitely wouldn’t be attracted in real life. That’s what seeing a man cooking can do to you!
It’s my job to write about TV, and I can’t complain because this kind of path is what I’ve dreamt of and worked towards since I was 18 years old. That being said, being a writer, let alone an entertainment writer, can be a little draining and affect your desire to watch any new shows outside of your job. When you’ve spent all day working on your computer, sometimes the last thing you want to do is spend more time in front of a screen watching TV for your own enjoyment.
So, while I’m still trying to cut down on unnecessary screen time, I’ve only recently gotten out of a rut where I really wasn’t watching anything other than shows I cover for work. That being said, I definitely recommend the following three shows if you’re like me and enjoy historical shows or unconventional reality TV.
Also, I’m so excited for Timeless and Call the Midwife to come back in March!
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Otherwise known as the show that finally got Amy Sherman-Palladino some award show love, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel follows a Jewish housewife in 1950s Manhattan who finds a calling in stand-up comedy when her marriage abruptly ends.
One half of the duo behind my favorite podcast, Gilmore Guys, now runs a podcast deconstructing Maisel episodes, and in this, someone commented that Maisel includes the time period and type of characters where Sherman-Palladino’s writing style and reference points just thrive. Gilmore Girls included old-school, mid-20th century references that were a little less believable for young characters in the early 2000s to use, but given that Maisel takes place in the ’50s, Sherman-Palladino’s knack for vintage pop culture can truly shine.
The physical quality of the Amazon Prime show is also great. There are sweeping, detailed shots that make the setting so believable, and things like that just make the entire story more immersive as a whole.