We are in full summer swing, August is right the hell there, the barbecue been flowing for a couple months now, and I’m sure your favorite rapper has performed for free at least twice in Central Park by now. Summer vacation is still a thing for many, which usually includes TV. Most of your big time TV shows happen when people are either shut in their homes or are still in their vampiric state before getting some spring air. So that’s why we get most heavy-hitter shows in September or October, and the summer has become Netflix season or dedicated to those movies you swore you were going to see in the theater that are on the premium channels now (and honestly, if there’s not a 4 explosion-per-minute quotient for the movie you’re going to see, I’m GOOD on theaters these days. I didn’t spend half my net worth on a home entertainment system so that a non-washing human could wrestle me for an arm rest, fam).
So the TV shows that actually do come on during the summer time are usually just some fodder to make you feel like your favorite channel didn’t go off the air in July. But there’s something different about this summer. Mainly, there’s a lot of interesting and new TV on. Still need convincing? Well, think of summer TV as a guest appearance from a well known rapper on the track. You’re not getting their album, or even their song, but there are varying degrees for how a rapper can hop on a verse and drop a hot sixteen bars. The same can be said for this summer TV slate. These aren’t the best shows on TV (well, one might be debatable), but you’re going to get some quick burn and a shot of adrenaline before we get back to our regularly scheduled program when the leaves are about to turn. That’s why I’m here to let you know what you can expect if you find yourself tuning in for some original programming while you put off cutting the grass for the second time this week.
True Detective — Season: 2 — Premiered: June 21st — HBO
Featured on the Track Like: Wale
Look, if you’ve been on the site, you already know how we feel about this dumpster fire of a season and I personally traded in all my loyalties, Rust Cole trading cards and e-cigarettes halfway through the season to watch another show on this list for my Sunday nights. There was a time when we thought Wale might hold down the DMV and give us consistent album to knock for 7 summers or so. Remember I started that last sentence with “There was a time…” Now when I see something is featuring Wale, my channel-turning hand gets itchy as a muthafucka and my attention span starts exploring where my Amazon packages are at or if I forgot to turn the light off in the bathroom.
Black Twitter Presence: All but abandoned…which usually happens when you have no impactful people of color involved. #TrueSleuth
Ballers —Season: 1 — Premiered: June 21st — HBO
Featured on the Track like: Childish Gambino
Let’s be honest about something. Gambino got talent. There are moments when Gambino reaches moments of brilliance. And often, Gambino be on that bullshit. Sometimes, some tracks or some moods he’s in, he’s almost unlistenable. But when he’s at his peak, nobody really sounds like him. But the people that like Gambino, don’t like him. They love him. There’s something about his fandom where people are like, that’s my dude. Ballers isn’t a great show. It isn’t the early days of Entourage. But it’s my Entourage. As a former athlete, I’m all in for the premise, Dwayne Johnson, with no qualifiers, is killing that role, and the atmosphere be so Black.
Black Twitter Presence: It’s not confirmed that many people are watching, let alone a lot of Black folk. But we out there. #WeBallin
Mr. Robot —Season: 1 — Premiered: June 24th — USA
Featured on the Track like: Chance The Rapper
Chance been doing his thing for years, but he’s firmly in the “oh Chance got a new joint, let me go check that right the fuck now” mode for a little while now. You’re just not getting any weak shit from him at this point and you tune in knowing there’s a shot at some greatness. Mr. Robot is doing some magical things as the temp rises this summer. It’s unique, not really like anything else on TV, but still follows enough basic conventions where it doesn’t become Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or some shit and loses normal TV viewers. More than anything, this is experiencing the birth of a star, one Rami Malek, who plays the shows protagonist. I don’t think Chance the Rapper is the best in the game, but I think when the big dogs aren’t barking at the moment, he certainly stands out, which is where I’m at with Mr. Robot.
Black Twitter Presence: Probably Black Twitter’s number one summer draft pick, which is cool because it’s a great show. But still surprising considering how low the melanin count is. #DatRobot
Humans — Season: 1 — Premiered: June 28th — AMC
Featured on the Track like: Drake
So, I know it’s the convenient and often funny thing to do when you want to clobber Drake over the head for his softness. Big Ghost made a fucking art out of it. But just in the business of rapping, Drake is pretty damn good. If you’re reading this it’s already too late…? Pretty damn good (because it’s so new and it’s not the focus, I won’t even comment on Drake’s R&B diss cut “Charged Up” he dropped over the weekend, ugh). So you probably want to thumb your nose up at yet another TV show or movie where machines built by humans are becoming self aware and may rise up against their makers and society because it’s the most played out premise in film history. But you should take a moment and watch this one. Humans is pretty damn good. It does a lot of things we’re familiar with (boring Drake) and a lot of innovative things by taking chances with the content (entertaining Drake).
Black Twitter Presence: The hashtag is strong with this one. With the amount of absurd shit that happens in this show, you want us on that wall. You need us on that wall. #SynthsAintLoyal / #DemSynths
Extant — Season: 2 — Premiered: July 1st — CBS
Featured on the Track like: Tyga
Man, if you don’t get the hell up out my face with this shit…
Black Twitter presence: Halle Berry never loved us
Ray Donovan — Season: 3 — Premiered: July 12th — Showtime
Featured on the track like: J. Cole
Black Twitter presence: Sun, trying to compete at 9pm on a Sunday night is like trying to explain the plot of season 2 of True Detective to your elderly grandmother who’s hearing aid just died and keeps asking why someone would name their kid “Velcro.” Good show, but not a factor.
The Strain — Season: 2 — Premiered: July 12th — FX
Featured on the track like: ASAP Rocky
Be honest, the first time you heard ASAP laying into a track, you weren’t exactly sure if you liked what you were hearing or not. Mostly, because ASAP didn’t know what the hell he wanted to be as a rapper, so you didn’t know where exactly you were supposed to be listening for. The Strain had a mediocre and almost cartoonish beginning, but like ASAP, has settled into a nice niche where you’re confident you didn’t come to the track for some weird non-sensical shit. The Strain will never reach the popularity of The Walking Dead, but FX has at least found the show that will give them a foothold in the TV horror department (not counting American Horror Story because there are not global threats there like TWD). I mean, Corey Stoll, vampire hunter, what we really talkin’ bout people?
Black Twitter presence: You know Black folk like being lightweight scared for entertainment when they aren’t being for real scared just walking outside their doors. #DatStrain
And sorry, there is no Kendrick Lamar for Summer TV this year, though Mr. Robot is the closest.
Mr. Robinson — Season: 1 — Premiers: August 5th — NBC
We know how these things usually go down when a bruh gets his own show like this, but Craig Robinson and Amandla Stenberg deserve a shot on my TV.
Fear the Walking Dead — Season: 1 — Premiers: August 23rd — AMC
This shit got “should’ve left well enough alone” written all the fuck over it.
Public Morals — Season: 1 — Premiers: August 25th — TNT
TNT has been landfill ever since The Closer ended, but Edward Burns as a 1960s gumshoe? Consider my interest peaked.