Summer TV Preview 2019: ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Yellowstone’ & More Returning Favorites

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summer preview returning faves
Netflix, Paramount Network & BBC America
Luther S5_03_010
Des Willie/BBCAmerica


Brilliant, tragic Alice is alive

Warning: The start of Luthers fifth season will shock you. The London detective chief inspector (Idris Elba) — who’s dangled men from balconies and is in love (probably) with a psychopath — kind of has his s–t together. He’s got a house. Pep in his step. His coat looks clean. But sunny days never last, do they, DCI? At work, Luther is hunting a bloodthirsty serial killer. And he’s secretly seeking a mobster’s missing son. “Luther is willing to sacrifice himself for others,” says exec producer Marcus Wilson. “He can’t say no.” Thus, when his aforementioned love interest, homicidal Alice (Ruth Wilson), reappears, wanting protection from the same mobster, Wilson says, “His quiet life goes up in smoke.” —AD

Season Premiere, Sunday, June 2, 8/7c, BBC America


Big Little Lies

In an embarrassment of riches, Meryl Streep joins the A-list cast

A fundraiser in moneyed Monterey ends with a rapist (Alexander Skarsgård) dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs — and five women at the top with a guilty secret. Now that Liane Moriarty’s intricate novel has played out, the drama’s second season springs from an outline she provided for writer–exec producer David E. Kelley. “We go deep into how the lie changes the equation of these friends and their marriages,” he says of the widow, sensitive Celeste (Nicole Kidman), and her circle (Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoë Kravitz). Adds Kelley: “It escalates quickly.” Police are suspicious of the “accident.” And so is the victim’s mother, Mary Louise (Meryl Streep), whose own past deeds haunt her. “She’s dealing with the deficits of her parenting,” Streep says, “and how you can’t go back in time and fix something.” — KH

Season Premiere, Sunday, June 9, 9/8c, HBO



With the advent of the ’90s, ballroom goes mainstream

Season 2 of the groundbreaking drama skips ahead two years to 1990, when Madonna’s “Vogue” thrust New York’s close-knit, hypercompetitive queer ballroom community into the national spotlight — and when Poses ad hoc families of outcasts are “a little older, a little wiser and a lot more fabulous,” says cocreator Steven Canals. Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), “mother” of the now-thriving House of Evangelista, still supports her ambitious “children,” says Canals, while ball emcee Pray Tell (Billy Porter) “uses his voice for political good.” Now that’s a pose worth striking. — John Russell

Season Premiere, Tuesday, June 11, 10/9c, FX

Queen Sugar -- Ep 401 --
Skip Bolen / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

Queen Sugar

Nova’s tell-all lights a fuse

“What’s the price for having a voice both within and outside the family?” asks exec producer Anthony Sparks. In the case of the Louisiana-set drama’s headstrong Nova (Rutina Wesley), her memoir spilling the Bordelons’ dark secrets could undo them all in Season 4. She and siblings Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) need to stand strong, though, when David Alan Grier turns up in a mystery role that, Sparks says, “alters the entire trajectory of our season.” — Jim Halterman

Season Premiere, Wednesday, June 12, 9/8c, OWN



Dr. Psychopath wants to be a dad!

The eccentric Dr. Dylan Reinhart (Alan Cumming), an expert in aberrant behavior, and the NYPD’s Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic) caught some truly bizarre baddies in Season 1, and the fast friends keep tackling those unconventional cases. (In the premiere, a woman who’d been peddling longer life spans is killed.) Off the job, Dylan moves forward to adopt a child with his husband, Andy Wilson (Daniel Ings). “It will be a roller coaster of hope and despair,” exec producer Michael Rauch says. And Lizzie gets cozier with secretive cybercrime specialist Julian Cousins (Naveen Andrews). “Intellectually, they know this is not the right move,” says Rauch. “But their hearts say otherwise!” — Ingela Ratledge

Season Premiere, Sunday, June 30, 9/8c, CBS

Yellowstone trailer cover
Paramount Network


The hit Western gets wilder

Crafty cattle baron John Dutton (Kevin Costner) collects enemies, and Season 2’s amoral casino mogul Malcolm Beck (Neal McDonough) “causes chaos from minute one,” says exec producer John Linson. Chaos follows Dutton home: When violent-tempered son Kayce (Luke Grimes) moves in after his marriage fails, power dynamics shift. Says Linson: “He tries to be the son John wants.” Kayce’s businesswoman sis, Beth (Kelly Reilly), is still diverted by her old flame, cowboy Rip (Cole Hauser), while lawyer brother Jamie (Wes Bentley), his political career already derailed by Dad, sees his life “turned upside down,” Linson says. Still, “this family will protect the ranch by any means necessary.” — Kate Hahn

Season Premiere, Wednesday, June 19, 10/9c, Paramount Network


Stranger Things

And you thought last season’s monsters were terrifying…

Cue the ’80s classic “Cruel Summer.” School is out, the beasts from that shadowy world known as the Upside Down have been vanquished, and the heroic tweens of Reagan-era Hawkins, Indiana, are having the time of their lives. Then a new menace arrives. “It’s an overarching threat that affects everyone,” hints Finn Wolfhard, aka nerdy Mike Wheeler, who is also trying to navigate young love with psychokinetic Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Shifting adolescent loyalties splinter the gang: “There’s a different dynamic,” he adds. Still, both kids and grown-ups — namely police chief Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) — must unite against the biggest baddie yet. Natalia Dyer, who plays Mike’s big sis, Nancy, calls No. 3 “our scariest season.” — KH

Season Premiere, Thursday, July 4, Netflix

Suits - Season 8
Shane Mahood/USA Network


Can Harvey and Donna make it work as a bona fide couple?

The savvy drama heads into its final 10 episodes on the heels of two big moments from the Season 8 finale. First is the disbarment of law-firm managing partner Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce), who took the fall for Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) after he was accused of breaking client privilege. Zane’s exit leaves protégé Sam Wheeler (Katherine Heigl) without a mentor-slash-defender and marks yet another public scandal for Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Williams. “The legal community is not going to not notice that,” says executive producer Aaron Korsh. The second, sexier twist is the eight-seasons-in-the-making hookup of Macht’s Harvey and COO Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty). The couple has “a solid foundation,” Korsh notes, but “there’s something amiss that these two people went this long repressing these feelings. They have some emotional growth to do.” — Damian Holbrook

Season Premiere, Wednesday, July 17, 9/8c, USA


Veronica Mars

Mars Investigations is open for business again!

For a show about a teen detective that spent only three years on the air, Veronica Mars casts a long shadow. After the cult fave starring Kristen Bell got canceled in 2007, fans channeled their fervor into a Kickstarter campaign that yielded a 2014 film and two subsequent novels by creator Rob Thomas. Now, eight new episodes arrive. Naturally, Veronica is a full-on adult, and the dramedy is maturing as well. “I don’t know that you can continue a high school soap 15 years later, so we’re making it more about the mysteries,” Thomas says. On the docket for Veronica and her partner-dad, Keith (Enrico Colantoni)? A series of bombings that threaten to torpedo the SoCal town of Neptune’s spring-break industry. Says Thomas, “We’re striving for Fargo, but with sun instead of snow.” Oh, jeez. — Ingela Ratledge

Season Premiere, Friday, July 26, Hulu

Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman in Orange Is The New Black

Orange is the New Black

Only 13 episodes left

Hit the prison commissary for some Kleenex, because Season 7 of this criminally addictive dramedy about the ladies of Litchfield Penitentiary will be the last. Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is already a free woman at this point, which raises questions about how that will impact her newly minted union with her still-incarcerated wife, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon). Meanwhile, don’t expect a lot of fresh meat in the form of cast additions. According to executive producer Tara Herrmann, “We’re leaving more room to honor our deep bench.” — IR

Season Premiere, Friday, July 26, Netflix

James Saito as Wilson Yoshida, Naoko Mori as Asako Nakayama, Alex Shimizu as Toshiro Furuya - The Terror - Season 2, Episode 2
Ed Araquel/AMC

The Terror: Infamy

The horror anthology reboots with 1940s ghosts — and Sulu

In Season 1, a mysterious carnivore picked off 19th-century Arctic explorers — and The Terror is no less chilling as it unspools a new tale set during World War II. George Takei plays wise former fishing captain Yamato-san, who must confront a vicious spirit at a U.S. internment camp for Japanese-Americans. The Star Trek icon was initially hired as a series consultant due to his own imprisonment in the ’40s as a child with his family. “We looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, so we were rounded up,” Takei says. In the camps, “some people got beat up, got crazy and psychotic. We use that in this drama. Ghost stories became very real.” — KH

Season Premiere, Monday, August 12, 9/8c, AMC

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Beating the heat is easy this summer with plenty of returning favorites on the TV horizon.

Whether you prefer procedurals or premium cable dramas, there’s something for everyone this June, July, and August. Starting with titles like Luther, Pose, and Big Little Lies kicking off the season, things continue to stay cool with the return of Stranger Things, the Hulu revival of Veronica Mars, and the final season of Orange Is the New Black.

Click through the gallery above for inside scoop straight from the stars and producers of your favorite returning series, from Paramount Network’s Yellowstone to AMC’s anthology The Terror.