Summer was once the wasteland of TV watching, with only reruns of fall shows filling the small screen.
Now, with the advent of streaming services and apps, summer is the perfect time to catch up on shows you haven’t had time to watch.
To jumpstart your summer viewing, we’ve come up with a list of shows we think you should audition. The latest seasons of most shows are made available to stream a week or a couple of days before the new season starts.
We’ve divided our lists by who we think might enjoy them. These first 11 shows are pretty mainstream, although we’ve noted a few that might be a little more PG than G.
Our second list is edgier, definitely for a more mature crowd, mainly because of language, sexual content or both.
1. “ Bob’s Burgers ” (Fox) — This is a favorite, and it doesn’t get enough love. Bob Belcher runs a diner with his wife, Linda, while their three kids navigate adolescence. The Belchers are weird and sweet and wonderful in the same way as some of our own families, and despite their crazy antics, the show is surprisingly grounded for a Fox-animated comedy. This is one of those PG shows, mainly for its bathroom humor. 6 seasons (Seasons 1-5 streaming on Netflix; Season 6 streaming on Hulu)
2 . “ Jane the Virgin” (CW) — A TV critic recently called this the best show on TV, and she’s not wrong. Come for the telenovela elements, stay for the emotional performances. There’s real heart behind each episode, and you’ll often find yourself laughing, crying or shaking your fists in anger. That’s investment. Gina Rodriguez as Jane continues to be the breakout performer, and the supporting cast is so fantastic that they’ll make you look forward to Mondays. This one, too, might not be suitable for younger viewers, mostly for language. 2 seasons (season 1 streaming on Netflix, select episodes of Season 2 streaming on Hulu)
3. “ iZ ombie ” (CW) — A zombie with a conscience becomes a coroner’s assistant to have easy access to brains. She begins to have visions from the lives of the people whose brains she’s eaten, and can sometimes help solve their murders. Things only get more complicated from there. Can a zombie have a love life? Can she trust her friends with her secret? Is there a zombie apocalypse on the horizon? Despite the dark description, it’s actually quite a funny show. Let’s call this one for those 14 and older. 2 seasons (Season 1 streaming on Netflix, select episodes of Season 2 streaming on Hulu)
4. “ The Flash ” (CW) — Are you over the grim, dimly lit superhero dramas? Luckily, fans of more lighthearted superheroes will find a lot to love in Barry Allen. The fastest man alive has to deal with unrequited love, family issues and betrayal while fighting metahumans. Some scary elements. 2 seasons (Season 1 streaming on Netflix, select episodes of Season 2 streaming on Hulu)
5. “ Brooklyn Nine-Nine ” (Fox) — From a lot of the same minds that brought you “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” this sitcom somehow remains light even though the characters are (fairly) competent detectives. A somewhat toned-down Andy Samberg brings the laughs, but no one compares with the deadpan performance Andre Braugher continues to deliver. And Season 3 ended with a cliffhanger that could change everything. Some bathroom humor. 3 seasons (all streaming on Hulu)
6. “ The Goldbergs ” (ABC) — Remember how dorky you were as a preteen? Adam Goldberg found a way to capitalize on his childhood memories, basing a TV show on his home movies from the ’80s. The family dynamic is wonderful, and Wendy McLendon-Covey couldn’t be more perfect as the overbearing, but still loving, matriarch. Viewers who grew up in that era will find themselves saying, “Oh yeah, remember that!,” and everyone can relate to the weirdness of being part of a family. 3 seasons (all streaming on Hulu)
7. “ Fresh Off the Boat ” (ABC) — This started out based on chef Eddie Huang’s memoir of his childhood in Orlando, Florida, in the ’90s, but he broke ties with the show last year. Fortunately, it maintained the same level of quality. Hip-hop loving 11-year-old Eddie is the son of immigrant parents and is trying to find a way to fit into the suburbs without sacrificing who he is. His younger brothers are perfect delights, and his parents are constantly hilarious. But the show also brings the portrayal of what it means being an immigrant in America, something we don’t get to see very often. 2 seasons (Season 2 streaming on Hulu)
8. “ Blackish ” (ABC) — Another very funny sitcom with an important message behind it, “Blackish” has only gotten better in its stellar second season. The show centers around an upper-class black family and explores touchy subjects like gun control, feminism and the black lives matter movement. Despite often discussing heavy subject matter, it balances humor well to still provide laughs. Most episodes touch on what it’s like to be black in America, and a recent episode brought us to tears. That’s good television. 2 seasons (Season 2 streaming on Hulu)
9 . “ Top Chef” (Bravo) — This show has remained consistent into its 13th season. It frequently churns out success stories in the culinary world. In the most recent season, Isaac Toups, of Toups Meatery in New Orleans, found great success (no spoilers!). St. Lucian chef Nina Compton recently moved from Miami to open a highly acclaimed restaurant in New Orleans after competing in the season that took place in Louisiana. But no matter if there’s a local favorite on the show or not, there’s always someone to root for (and a bad guy or gal to root against), and there’s always a lot of good food. 13 seasons (Seasons 1-12 streaming on Hulu)
10. “ Elementary ” (CBS) — We can get tired of procedural shows fairly quickly, but the platonic chemistry between Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu has kept us invested in this one. With all the Sherlocks floating around, this modern version set in New York City could feel unnecessary, but the cases of the week are interesting, and the relationship between Miller’s Holmes and Liu’s Joan Watson puts a fresh twist on the narrative. 4 seasons (Seasons 1-3 streaming on Hulu)
1 1. “ Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix) — There could not be a more perfect vehicle for star Ellie Kemper, who played Erin on “The Office.” It’s quirky and upbeat, despite following the adventures of a woman recently discovered after being kept in a bunker for 15 years. The jokes fly fast, and you’ll find yourself rewinding to make sure you’ve caught everything. 2 seasons (streaming on Netflix)
S hows on the edge
With services like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu now producing original programming and networks, including TBS, Bravo, History and more really stepping up their game, there’s lots to choose from. Here are 10 we’ve fallen for. Most are only suitable for mature audiences.
1 . “ The Detour ” (TBS) — You might remember Jason Jones from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He was always a live wire, and this new show, which he is producing with his wife, Samantha Bee, (also a “Daily Show” alum) is rude and crude and laugh-out-loud funny. It is sure to offend some, with it’s takes on guns, religion … and sex. It’s all wrapped in a family’s uproarious road trip from New York to Florida. Natalia Zea (“Dirty Sexy Money”) plays the loopy mom. 1 season (streaming on tbs.com)
2 . “ Catastrophe ” (Amazon) — Oh those Brits and their humor — a little dark, a little sarcastic and a whole lot of funny. Here, Boston businessman Rob has a week long affair with Irish teacher Sharon while he’s on business in the UK. An accidental pregnancy ensues, and Rob moves across the pond to sort it out with Sharon. Amid the clash of cultures, they quickly learn they don’t know each other at all. 2 seasons (streaming on Amazon Prime)
3 . “ The Path ” (Hulu) — You might remember Aaron Paul from a little show called “Breaking Bad.” Now he’s starring opposite Michelle Monaghan and Hugh Dancy in this original drama series which portrays members of a fictional religion known as Meyerism. The series was renewed for a second season May 4. And wouldn’t Mr. White be proud? 1 season (streaming on Hulu)
4. “ The Americans ” (FX) — Did we think the best drama on TV could get better in its fourth season? No, but it certainly has. Every single thing in the show is on point. Philip and Elizabeth are KGB agents in 1980s America who are in more danger than ever as more people learn their secret. The show just got a final order for two more seasons, which gives you plenty of time to get on board. Season 4 currently airing (Seasons 1-3 streaming on Amazon Prime)
5 . “Broad City ” (Comedy Central) — Comedians Abbi Jacobson and Illana Glazer are two 20-something women trying to have a good time in the big city. They get into the most interesting scrapes — usually under the influence of one thing or another — and bring the laughs trying to get out of them. And it’s nice to see two women be so close without a competitive element — the sweet friendship between the two is the heart of the show. 3 seasons (Seasons 1-2 streaming on Hulu, Season 3 on Comedy Central app)
6 . “UnREAL” (Lifetime) — Lifetime? Yes, Lifetime. We questioned it, too, when we heard what channel this show was on, but it’s addictive. It follows the production of “Everlasting,” a “Bachelor”-style reality show, and demonstrates just how far the people behind the scenes will go to create drama. It’s messed up. This should make the characters hard to like, but somehow you are still drawn to them. The second season starts Monday, and the first one is only 10 episodes, so catch up quickly. (Season 1 streaming on Hulu)
7 . “ Master of None ” (Netflix) — We are fans of Aziz Ansari from “Parks and Recreation,” and news that he was creating his own show for Netflix was greeted with cheers around here. It exceeded expectations and was groundbreaking in its diversity. Ansari plays Dev, a small-time actor, and the show is a little Seinf eldian as it follows his everyday life. The episodes involving Ansari’s real life parents are especially rewarding. (streaming on Netflix)
8. “ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee ” (TBS) — Fans watched her on the Jon Stewart-hosted “The Daily Show” for 15 years. Now, the former correspondent is front and center in her own weekly late-night newsmagazine. And she brought her sharp, satirical point of view with her. She can turn just about any awkward situation into a laugh riot. 13 episodes (streaming on tbs.com)
9 . “ Love ” (Netflix) — Show some love for this unusual romantic comedy from a familiar name — Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) — and co-creators Paul Rust and Lesley Arfin. The series tells both sides of the dating story, the man’s and the woman’s, through the characters Mickey and Gus. Gillian Jacobs is Mickey and Rust plays Gus. A 12-episode second season will premiere in 2017. 1 season (streaming on Netflix)
1 0. “ You’re the Worst ” (FXX) — Jimmy is a self-involved writer, and Gretchen, a self-destructive Los Angeles PR executive. Can these two really have a relationship? That’s why it’s a comedy-drama. Look for the third season on Aug. 31. 2 seasons (streaming on FXNow and Amazon)
Of course there are many worthy shows that are not on this list, some currently airing and some having already ended, but we tried to include a little something for everyone. Want more recommendations? Ask away on Twitter. I watch a lot of TV, and I never get tired of discussing it.
Follow Ellen Zielinski on Twitter, @ellenwhitlinski.