Summer, traditionally devoid of television premieres, now boasts some of the most anticipated shows of the year. Without a doubt, we can thank accessible streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go for the recent rise of blockbuster summer shows. Last year, HBO released the penultimate season of Game of Thrones, and the year prior, Netflix premiered the sci-fi hit Stranger Things, which begs the question: Which TV shows should be on our radar for summer 2018?
In search of binge-worthy shows to stream this season, we turned to the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes to find out what the critics had to say about this season's offerings. After sifting through the site's ratings and considering the critics' reviews, these are the shows that stood out from the rest. Spanning a gothic crime thriller with an unexpected twist to a refreshingly thoughtful addition to the superhero genre, here are the shows that are actually worth your time. The critics have spoken.
These are the nine best TV shows of summer 2018 (so far).
Issa Rae's beloved HBO series Insecure is finally back with season three this summer. The thought-provoking, tear-jerking, laughter-inducing season tackles the hard-to-face issues of growing up, including everything from facing career setbacks to difficult-to-navigate romantic relationships.
Critics Score: 100% liked it (with an average rating of 7.9/10)
Audience Score: 61% liked it (with an average rating of 3.6/5)
Arguably the most anticipated television premiere of the summer, Season 2 of Glow, Netflix's original series about a women's wrestling TV program from the '80s, lives up to the hype. According to NPR television critic Eric Deggans, "Glow is that rare series that builds on an impressive debut season to achieve even more."
Critics Score: 98% liked it (with an average rating of 8.9/10)
Audience Score: 87% liked it (with an average rating of 4.3/5)
Stream It: Netflix
After a death in the family, two Mexican American siblings are forced to reckon with their mother's true identity and confront their pasts in this six-episode, 30-minute drama. Felix Contreras, host of NPR's Alt.Latino, writes, "Vida deftly takes on themes of sexual identity in communities of color, assimilation, fraught sibling dynamics, discrimination, and gentrification."
Critics Score: 100% liked it (with an average rating of 7.97/10)
Audience Score: 69% liked it (with an average rating of 3.7/5)
Stream It: Starz
The show, based on the book by Gillian Flynn, follows Camille, a self-destructive journalist, as she returns to her hometown to cover the murder of one young girl and the disappearance of another—and confronts her own demons in the process. Sharp Objects "is not the gothic crime thriller you might first suspect—at least not mainly," writes James Poniewozik, chief television critic for The New York Times. "Instead, the show's attention is drawn backward to Camille's injuries, emotional, physical and self-inflicted."
Critics Score: 93% liked it (with an average rating of 8/10)
Audience Score: 70% liked it (with an average rating of 3.8/5)
The Bold Type
In case you were wondering what the women of Scarlett, an NYC-based women's magazine, were up to, season two of Freeform's The Bold Type is back. The network's breakout series has earned glowing reviews from critics an viewers alike, making it a must-watch end-of-summer show.
Critics Score: 100% liked it (with an average rating of 8.7/10)
Audience Score: 77% liked it (with an average rating of 4.1/5)
TV Land's Younger has amassed a cult following over its five seasons for its hilarious yet heartfelt portrayal of a 40-something-year-old single mom re-entering the workforce as a 20-something millennial to land her dream job. If you have yet to tune in, do yourself a favor and binge-watch this series stat.
Critics Score: 100% liked it (with an average rating of 7.87/10)
Audience Score: 77% liked it (with an average rating of 4.1/5)
Stream It: TV Land
Netflix's reboot of Bravo's beloved series Queer Eye offers "more than a makeover," as the show's tagline professes. "Ever-so-gently, the Fab Five test out how anyone can possibly try to construct their 'best' selves once the social prescriptions for how to dress and act have been lifted," writes Spencer Kornhaber for The Atlantic.
Critics Score: 90% liked it (with an average rating of 8.36/10)
Audience Score: 76% liked it (with an average rating of 3.8/5)
Stream It: Netflix
Set in New York City in the '80s, Pose delves into the drag ball subculture of NYC of the period. "For those of us new to that world, Pose introduces us to its rituals, language, and spirit effortlessly, and enjoyably," writes Matthew Gilbert for The Boston Globe. The show also has "largest trans cast and crew ever on a scripted series," reports Gilbert.
Critics Score: 97% liked it (with an average rating of 7.67/10)
Audience Score: 82% liked it (with an average rating of 4.2/5)
The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale isn't your typical feel-good summer show, but despite its serious subject matter, the second season should be considered required viewing—and critics agree. "The most compelling scenes in the new season are the ones that explore how exactly Gilead took over America, and that draw on contemporary events and figures with eerie relevance," writes Sophie Gilbert for The Atlantic.
Critics Score: 91% liked it (with an average rating of 8.31/10)
Audience Score: 79% liked it (with an average rating of 4.1/5)
Binge-watching The Affair, now in its fourth season, is the equivalent of tearing through a great beach read. "Growth happens, here and there, but there's always another emotional crisis just around the corner, bringing with it shouting, revenge sex and possibly a drunken arrest," writes Mike Hale for The New York Times. "Which is exactly what draws us back to The Affair. It's the show that's figured out how to have all of its characters in the middle of midlife crises, all the time."
Critics score: 100% liked it (with an average rating of 7.8/10)
Audience score: 76% liked it (with an average rating of 4/5)
Stream it on: Showtime
Entertaining and thought-provoking, the latest season of Westworld, a sci-fi drama set in a futuristic amusement park where guests interact with robotic (yet realistic) "hosts," embraces the existential chaos set in motion at the end of season one. "Season two plays out across multiple jumbled timelines, extending the show’s discussion of autonomy, freedom, and personal authenticity," writes Josephine Livingstone for The New Republic.
Critics Score: 86% liked it (with an average rating of 7.98/10)
Audience Score: 73% liked it (with an average rating of 3.9/5)
Marvel's Cloak & Dagger
Marvel's Cloak & Dagger is a soapy teen drama with substance. "Far from light-hearted like Hulu's Runaways, however, Cloak & Dagger is full of the grit and dark color of Marvel's Netflix offerings like Daredevil and Jessica Jones," writes Ira Madison III for The Daily Beast. "Which is to say that it's definitely a good show, but don't expect too many superheroics or comic-book-inspired camp just yet." A refreshingly thoughtful addition to the genre, the show touches on themes of redemption and self-discovery, Madison points out.
Critics Score: 90% liked it (with an average rating of 7.7/10)
Audience Score: 74% liked it (with an average rating of 3.8/5)
Better Call Saul
The Breaking Bad prequel spinoff series Better Call Saul starring Bob Odenkirk as a loveable lawyer descending into a world of criminality is back with season four this summer. Although the series is a spinoff, don't worry if you never tuned in to Breaking Bad—you don't need to be up on Albuquerque's most notorious drug manufacturer to enjoy this show.
Critics Score: 99% liked it (with an average rating of 8.82/10)
Audience Score: 96% liked it (with an average rating of 4.7/5)
Stream It: Amazon
This story was originally published on July 30, 2018, and has since been updated.
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