Just for Fun: 3 Must-Watch Shows to Kick Off the Summer

Zaila Avant-garde, 14, from Harvey, Louisiana is covered with confetti as she celebrates winning the finals of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee at Disney World Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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AP Photo/John Raoux

Looking for some lighthearted television to kick off the summer season? Look no further than these three premieres — an annual TV event hosted by an even bigger icon, a warm-weather spin on HGTV reno shows, and a star-studded dance competition like you’ve never seen before — for a dose of “just for fun” entertainment.

Scripps National Spelling Bee

How do you spell synergy? For the 234 schoolkids in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, that’s an easy word. But for contest organizers, it meant securing LeVar Burton—the face of PBS’s pioneering Reading Rainbow for 23 years—as host. Between Rainbow and his 2021 guest-host stint on Jeopardy!, emceeing comes naturally to Burton at this point. “It’s part of my DNA,” says the television legend (Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation).

The 2022 Bee brings back two elements introduced last year: the potential for a rapid-fire finale spell-off and word-meaning rounds that test oral vocabulary, which Burton appreciates considering his work building children’s reading comprehension.

“These kids know the etymology of these words. And in a word they don’t necessarily recognize, they can figure it out based on the clues of the word itself, so they have my utmost respect,” he says. “They’re elite intellectual athletes.”

Indeed, Burton says the Bee appeals because it’s “aspirational”—and it offers high-stakes, nail-biting human drama. Last year’s winner, Zaila Avant-garde (above), then 14, made history as the first Black American to take the title.

“You wouldn’t think that an activity as innocuous as spelling a word could carry so much weight and for there to be such exhilaration.”

Scripps National Spelling Bee, Semifinals and Finals, June 1–2, 8/7c, Ion and Bounce

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Plus, two new Guy Fieri series and a competition show hosted by Tabitha Brown.

Battle on the Beach

 

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In a land of sun and fun, who will finish at No. 1? For the sophomore outing of this hit renovation series, design gurus Alison Victoria, Ty Pennington and Taniya Nayak head to Texas’s Gulf Coast to mentor three groups of house flippers competing to overhaul identical seaside homes.

Last season’s clever teams moved a sandbox and rock-climbing wall indoors and constructed a boat-shaped kids’ bed. Can the new duos—a father and son, a married couple and two friends—squeeze the most out of a tight budget and still create a dream beachfront oasis?

Battle on the Beach, Season Premiere, Sunday, June 5, 9/8c, HGTV

Dancing With Myself

NBC

It’s TikTok on TV! Those addictive dance challenges all over social media are now a competition series, thanks to exec producer Shakira. The pop queen’s retro dance routine for “Girl Like Me” with the Black Eyed Peas—inspired by Jane Fonda’s aerobic workout—became a viral sensation, replicated by fans galore.

This new show spotlights everyday folks squaring off in dance challenges created and demonstrated by judges Shakira, Nick Jonas and Liza Koshy and host Camille Kostek. Contestants must learn the choreography and win over the audience!

Dancing With Myself, Series Premiere, Tuesday, May 31, 10/9c, NBC