Summer TV Wrap Up: The Best of the Binge


The popular streaming service added more original series to its lineup. (Courtesy of Flickr)

The popular streaming service added more original series to its lineup. (Courtesy of Flickr)

The popular streaming service added more original series to its lineup. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Nicole Fiorica

Because many television shows break during the summer, the last several months brought about a number of new programs worth the watch. Despite the season’s reputation for light programming, many of these shows involved harrowing cases of murder, crime and mystery. These are most binge-worthy new shows of the summer:

“Stranger Things”
When local boy Will Byers goes missing, his frantic mother (Winona Ryder) goes to the police for help. Meanwhile, his friends recruit a mysterious young girl (Millie Bobby Brown) with strange abilities who might be able to help them find Will. As the circumstances behind Will’s disappearance quickly become more sinister, the 1980s setting contributes a feeling of paranoia not unlike the “X-Files.” Ryder is as fantastic as ever, and the supporting cast of child actors is a blast to watch. The first season of this Netflix original clocks in at only eight episodes, resulting in an inherently binge-able adventure that is action-packed and over all too soon.

“The Night Of”
After a night of partying, college student Naz Khan (Riz Ahmed) wakes in a young woman’s apartment to find her stabbed to death, with no recollection of what happened. Soon arrested as the prime suspect in her murder, Naz continues to maintain his own innocence, even as the evidence stacked against him grows. This eight-episode HBO miniseries is based off of the British show “Criminal Justice,” but is also reminiscent of the first season of the “Serial” podcast — a perfect combination that hurtles toward a gripping conclusion that comments heavily on the state of the American justice system.

“The Get Down”
Netflix’s new musical series chronicles the beginnings of hip-hop and the decline of disco in the crime-ridden South Bronx during the late 70s through the eyes of a group of teenagers. Produced by Baz Luhrmann and rapper Nas, the series has a number of familiar faces, including Justice Smith, Jaden Smith, Jimmy Smits and Giancarlo Esposito. Unlike Netflix’s usual formula of releasing a whole season at once, Part Two of “The Get Down’s” first season will not be released until 2017, but with an hour and a half pilot and subsequent episodes about an hour in length, there is still plenty to watch and enjoy.

In this new Showtime comedy created by Cameron Crowe, the people behind the scenes enjoy the spotlight as the series focuses on the backstage crew that travels alongside the successful rock band The Staton-House Band. Produced to the tune of indie-rock music and featuring a number of musical cameos, the show stars Luke Wilson as Bill Hanson, the Staton-House Band’s tour manager, and Carla Gugino as production manager who, alongside their techies and managers, form a kind of family as they travel on the road together. Funny and vibrant, “Roadies” is one of the lighter, more heartwarming new shows of the summer.

“American Gothic”
The affluent Hawthorne family is thrown into disarray when new evidence surfaces about a notorious Boston serial killer, and they realize one of them might be connected to the murderer. Of course, the Hawthornes are a large and dramatic bunch, including matriarch Madeline (Virginia Madsen), who will do nothing to protect her family, the politically motivated Alison (Juliet Rylance), who will spin any setback to her advantage and the highly suspicious prodigal son Garrett (Antony Starr), whose unexpected return throws everyone into an uproar. The 13-episode CBS miniseries concludes this week, which makes now the perfect time to digest this soapy whodunit while still steering clear of spoilers.

“Animal Kingdom”
On TNT’s new summer series, 17-year old “J” (Finn Cole) finds himself living with his grandmother (Ellen Barkin) in Southern California in the aftermath of his mother’s heroin overdose. Though formerly estranged from his family, J soon realizes that his grandmother and his four unabashedly reckless uncles are all involved in a criminal enterprise. Based on the eponymous Australian film, the 10-episode premiere season of “Animal Kingdom” is an adrenaline-packed ride grounded by Barkin’s fantastic performance as the cunning family matriarch.

An American student (Daisy Head) living in London becomes the prime suspect of a murder when her best friend and roommate is killed in what becomes an international scandal. The Freeform series is not unlike the real-world Amanda Knox trial, and its commentary on sensational media coverage does not miss the mark. Of course, this is still Freeform, so expect a certain soap opera quality amidst the crazy twists and turns of the 10-episode first season.