What new shows are worth watching this summer? 



Premise: A bunch of familiar young actresses are the “wives of astronauts” yeah… nothing mystic about the title

Verdict: Good cast, decent show

This show is basically about “the women behind the men”. Set in the 1960s, it deals with the common female struggles of the decade: sexism, social expectations, cheating husbands, living in fear of watching your hubbie explode in space, you know… the usual.  

Of course, you have a very eclectic group of women:

First you have LOUIS your “Betty Draper with an edge” type. Her husband is the alpha dog, most likely to go to space. He also cheats on her with anything that moves. She is OK with it, as long as he “doesn’t humiliate her in public”. I am assuming there is more to Louise, because she seems smart.

Then you have RENE, the “Bimbo with a heart of gold, might be smarter than she looks”, played by Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovsky. I found her character interesting. Hoping she defies the blond bombshell stereotype. [Raise your hand if you are totally hoping she is an undercover Russian spy].

Next, you have TRUDY, the “Rebellious, ahead of her time” young woman played by Odette Annable. She doesn’t want to be the woman behind the man. She wants to be the woman who goes to the moon. Everyone thinks she is crazy.

We also have JoAnna Garcia… Her character’s name is BETTY and I am not sure what her deal is yet. But it is JoAnna Garcia, so she will probably end up being some sort of Pollyanna.

And then we have a bunch of other housewives I can’t remember. There is the older sassy one, the boring one and the one who doesn’t speak. On the husband side, we have the guy from Dexter, the guy from Reaper and the guy from Hart of Dixie. [But who cares about the men…]

I liked the pilot well enough, but it felt very cliché and not deep enough. I am surprised by how great the reviews for this show were. I thought it was a nice summer show, not something to make me particularly excited. Guess any post-Mad Men 60s show is bound to feel flat in comparison. But all in all it was an enjoyable hour of TV.  

Should you watch it? Hell… I am going to watch it, mostly because I like the cast. Watch it if you want something light to pass the time. If you don’t… life will go on. 


I guess Unreal is technically a “spring show” but I didn’t get the chance to watch it until now so I am just going to take it as a summer show.

Premise: A behind the scenes look at a reality-TV production

Verdict: If you hate The Bachelor, this might become your guilty pleasure… which is sort of ironic.

I am not the biggest fan of reality TV. I watch a total of ONE reality show (So You Think You Can Dance) and I would gladly live in a world of scripted-only-TV. [Guess I just ruined my chances of ever working at Bravo…]

I never understood the appeal of shows with like The Bachelor or The Hills [I have a better opinion of competition reality shows like The Amazing Race/Project Runway]. It has always baffled me that people can spend an hour watching horrible “real” people in horrible situations, when they could rejoice in brilliantly crafted storytelling like Breaking Bad. Maybe it’s a writer’s thing, I don’t know… In any case, when I heard there was a scripted show about the makings of a reality show I was excited. My excitement was a bit diminished when I realized it was a Lifetime show, but still… It might not be as edgy as it could be, but I like the premise enough to keep watching just because of that [plus I love Constance Zimmer, she has enough ‘edge]

Basically, unREAL follows the production crew and contestants of a fictional reality show called “Everlasting”, which is pretty much The Bachelor [sans roses, I wonder if they copyrighted that?] UnREAL has a cynical; it presents the contestants as victims, constantly manipulated by the producers who will stop at nothing in order to get good TV. Nothing is off-limits: abusive ex-husbands, family death, childhood trauma. Anything to get a good shot [“bonus points for nudity, 911 calls and cat fights”]. I like the idea of a crew with various levels of morality who are playing a dangerous game. I am not so sure about the fact that they are presenting the contestants as innocent victims, rather than willing participants but I guess the wanted to establish who the real “baddies” are. 

I’ve seen three episodes so far and I think it has interesting elements. Sadly, UnReal doesn’t have the satirical cleverness of other BTS shows like 30 Rock and Episodes. As is to be expected from a Lifetime drama, UnREAL is closer in genre to a soap opera, which is a pity because it could have worked as a darker more understated drama. Also, as a reviewer pointed out, this show premiered a decade too late. Realities like The Bachelor and American Idol are not the powerhouses that they used to beBut… as a good “reality TV objector”… I am going to watch it.

Should you watch it? If you despise reality TV you might want to give it a go. Ironically UnREAL is only getting a fraction of The Bachelor’s ratings…. 
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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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