It’s time to double up on the sunscreen because long-running TV favorites will be burning up the small screen this summer. Ray Donovan, Orphan Black, and Orange Is the New Black all return for their fifth (!) seasons this summer, while the hilarious ladies of Broad City will do a seasonal switcheroo and cool things off with new episodes set in the winter. Queen Sugar will hold court for a second season on OWN, and Game of Thrones makes its long-awaited return to HBO for its penultimate season this July. Click through this slideshow to get the latest scoop on your favorite returning shows.
‘Fear the Walking Dead’ (AMC, June 4 at 9 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “Rebuilding society, rebuilding civilization, and what are you willing to do to accomplish that?” says showrunner Dave Erickson.
Where We Left Off: Travis’s son Chris was killed by some rowdy guys he’d befriended, and Travis (Cliff Curtis) beat them to death in retaliation. Travis, Madison (Kim Dickens), and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) fled the hotel and went looking for Nick (Frank Dillane), who managed to get to the border with Luciana (Danay Garcia), only to be shot at and captured by a group of armed men.
Coming Up: Maddie and her family find a new home in the form of a ranch run by Jeremiah Otto (Sons of Anarchy alum Dayton Callie), a doomsday prepper whose hacienda is a refuge for the like-minded. But Otto and his cohorts aren’t ready for the devolving post-apocalyptic — read: zombified — world outside the ranch, and Madison sees an opening for her family to not only settle at the ranch… but take it over.
Family First: “As we had fractured the family in such a profound way last season, the goal is to start slowly finding ways to reintegrate all of our characters into that core family,” says Erickson, who will leave FTWD as showrunner at the end of Season 3. “That’s something we can look forward to as the season progresses.” — Kimberly Potts
(Photo: Michael Desmond/AMC)
‘Shadowhunters’ (Freeform, June 5 at 8 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “It’s the ongoing exploration of identity with all of our characters,” says executive producer Darren Swimmer.
Where We Left Off: Valentine (Alan van Sprang) dropped the bombshell that Jace (Dominic Sherwood) isn’t Clary’s (Katherine McNamara) brother after all. Simon (Alberto Rosende) walked in the sun, Magnus and Alec (Harry Shum Jr., Matthew Daddario) said the “L” word, and an unknown figure made off with the Soul Sword.
Coming Up: “We pick up right in the aftermath of that,” says Swimmer. “There’s a lot of tumult in the Downworld.” With Simon able to walk outside, it allows him to “theoretically have a normal life again,” although Swimmer warns he’ll “soon find out being a vampire isn’t something you can usually let go of.” And just because Valentine’s in custody, “it doesn’t stop him from creating mischief and mayhem,” the EP adds. As for that mysterious person who had the Soul Sword in the final 2A scene, Swimmer tells us, “Those questions are addressed early on in the season.”
New Kid in Town: Will Tudor makes his debut as new Shadowhunter Sebastian Verlac in the 2B premiere. “The character has a lot of sides to him,” Swimmer says. “His place evolves as we get deeper into the season in a really juicy way.” The EP also teased the arrival of the Seelie Queen, and confirmed that there’s “a lot of relationship action” coming up. — Victoria Leigh Miller
(Photo: John Medland/Freeform)
‘Queen of the South’ (USA, June 8 at 10 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “It’s about survival,” says executive producer Natalie Chaidez. A more mature Teresa (Alice Braga) is “ready to contest the throne,” adds EP David Friendly.
Where We Left Off: Teresa shot and killed her rapist, Gato (James Martinez), and she told Camila (Veronica Falcon) things will be on her terms now. While Teresa’s best friend Brenda (Justina Machado) was found dead, it was revealed that her boyfriend Guero (Jon-Michael Ecker) is actually alive and working for the DEA.
Coming Up: “Teresa, because she just lost her best friend, she finds herself in the vulnerable position of not knowing what to do,” says Braga. “And because of all the chaos, Teresa decides to partner up with Camila.” She’ll also have an unlikely right-hand man in Pote (Hemky Madera). “He’s there to protect her, and also to teach her as she climbs up the ladder of the drug dealing world,” Friendly says. Chaidez reveals that Guero will be a part of Theresa’s life again “in a very unexpected way,” and that there will be “a lot more romance the season.”
The Guest List: Guest stars this season include Yancey Arias, MC Lyte, and Snow Tha Product, who will play an up-and-coming peewee gang member. There’s also a crossover with several Telemundo stars, as well as the return of guest star Rafael Amaya. “He was in the finale last season, and the rating spiked when he came on,” Friendly says. “He’s coming back because we’re not idiots.” — VLM
(Photo: Felicia Graham/USA Network)
‘Orange Is the New Black’ (Netflix, June 9)
This Season’s Theme: “We’re going to get to see how a person that feels they have nothing to lose, fights and goes to bat,” says Danielle Brooks, who plays Taystee.
Where We Left Off: After Poussey was accidentally suffocated by an improperly-trained young guard, Taystee led the angry inmates through the halls in protest. The tension culminated in a standoff when Daya (Dascha Polanco) grabbed the gun from cruel guard Humphrey (Michael Torpey) and pointed it at his head.
Coming Up: We pick right back up at that moment, and all 13 episodes of Season 5 take place in the 72 hours that follow. The unrest leads to an inmate riot and Litchfield lockdown, in which Taystee makes some demands for better treatment on behalf of the inmates. “Taystee is a natural born leader,” says Brooks. “But what makes this [situation] different for her is that she’s never felt like she had anywhere else to go. She isn’t like some of the other women, who have loved ones to get back to. [Litchfield] has been her home, so the fire in her is a little hotter.”
A Fairy Tale Ending?: Brooks hints that Season 5 will end just as intensely as it began. “You know the Red Riding Hood story, what happens to the wolf? Well, the big bad wolf will die,” she says. “The giant will fall. And people can interpret that how they want.” — KP
(Photo: Jojo Whilden/Netflix)
‘Orphan Black’ (BBC America, June 10 at 10 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “From great strife comes rebirth,” says co-creator John Fawcett. For his partner, Graeme Manson, it’s all about the journey: “We asked ourselves to look at where the characters started and where they are now.”
Where We Left Off: Feuding clones Rachel and Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) had an epic fight that left Sarah badly wounded. Luckily for the surviving Ledas, Cosima finally devises a cure for the disease that’s thinning their ranks, but still has to find a way to get it back to the mainland. And a still-pregnant Helena is playing protector to trouble-prone Donnie (Kristian Bruun) and Alison.
Coming Up: “There’s only so deep the conspiracy can go before you have to reach an end,” says Fawcett, who promises that the conspiracy that’s driven Orphan Black since day 1 will come to a resolution. “The conspiracy in Season 5 is much simpler, so we wanted to broaden our favorite clones and allow the audience a deeper understanding of them.” The first two episodes are very plot heavy, while the third provides a deep dive into Alison and Donnie’s marriage. “For the first time in a long time, Donnie is going to see his marriage challenged,” teases Bruun.
Bring the Pain: Whether he’s being tied up in a sewing room or threatened with the prospect of having his nose cut off, Donnie Hendrix has endured a world of hurt over Orphan Black‘s five-season run. “I challenge [the writers] every year to try and top the madness they did to Donnie the season prior,” the actor admits. “Donnie is a character that people love to see bad things happen to, and it’s a joy to play that.” — Ethan Alter
(Photo: BBC America)
‘Queen Sugar’ (OWN, June 20 at 10 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “This season focuses on how the siblings are going to figure out the land and figure out the farm and what that means in terms of their relationships each other,” says star Dawn-Lyen Gardner says of the Bordelon siblings. “But their strength is really when they unite.”
Where We Left Off: Charley (Gardner) used money from arranging her estranged husband’s new basketball contract to buy an old sugar mill as a way of bypassing antagonistic white mill owners. Nova (Rutina Wesley) got back together with her married cop boyfriend (Greg Vaughan), but she was sexually harassed by another cop for her article about police corruption. And Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) discovered his father had left him the family farm.
Coming Up: For one thing, Charley has to learn how to run a mill. “She’s really driven by this desire, this internal drive to create. And it doesn’t matter what environment she’s in,” Gardner says. “But she’s constantly confronting that she’s not in Los Angeles anymore. She’s definitely in the South, and she’s definitely in a man’s world — and a white man’s world at that.”
It’s Complicated: The Bordelons’ love lives are as messy and convoluted as ever. Charley has to figure out her marriage to Davis (Timon Kyle Durrett), who will now play for the New Orleans team after his sex scandal. And Davis’s presence hinders Charley’s flirtation with Remy (Dondre Whitfield). “I don’t know if jumping right in can work for them,” Gardner notes. As for Ralph Angel and baby mama Darla (Bianca Lawson), “They have to figure out how they’re going to move forward while putting their child first.” — Kelly Woo
(Photo: Alfonso Bresciani/Warner Bros. Entertainment/Courtesy of OWN)
‘Playing House’ (USA, June 23 at 11 p.m., entire season hits VOD June 24)
This Season’s Theme: “That thing that happens when women show up for each other in a super-deep way,” Lennon Parham says.
Where We Left Off: High school sweethearts Emma (Jessica St. Clair) and Mark (Keegan-Michael Key) were contemplating whether to give romance another try.
Coming Up: As always, Parham and Jessica St. Clair write what they’ve lived, which means Emma will be diagnosed with breast cancer, as St. Clair was in Sept. 2015. Emma’s diagnosis will come out of nowhere, around midseason. “It’s gonna be the reality of what it is, but also those insane, hilarious moments that happen when the stakes are so high,” St. Clair says. For example: Just like in real life, Parham’s Maggie will be the one to select which of three potential implants feels most like Emma’s breasts. “Lennon felt each implant like a sommelier would taste a fine wine,” St. Clair recalls. “Without hesitation, she goes, ‘It’s number two,’ like she was dropping the mic.” Laurie Metcalf and Michaela Watkins play Emma’s doctors, and familiar faces from RuPaul’s Drag Race guest in the season finale to makeover Emma and Maggie for a night out celebrating Emma’s last chemo treatment. “If one person is feeling sad and watching this and then feels like they’re less alone,” says St. Clair, “we’ve done our job.”
Love Story: In other happy endings, divorcée Maggie will finally get a love interest (Ben Willbond) — the chief resident on her nursing rotation. “It’s slow and simmery,” Parham says. “We really tease it out, Jane Austen-style.” —Mandi Bierly
(Photo: Michael Yarish/USA Network)
‘Younger’ (TV Land, June 28 at 10 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “At first, it’s how do we address their relationship at work and then how do we hopefully repair their friendship,” says star Sutton Foster. “It’s up to Kelsey.”
Where We Left Off: Liza (Foster) and Charles (Peter Hermann) grew closer while working in the Hamptons, and shared another kiss. They were spotted by Liza’s boyfriend, Josh (Nico Tortorella) — who had been planning to propose. Kelsey (Hilary Duff) had to move out of her house, and when her boyfriend refused to let her stay with him, she crashed with Liza. And she was shocked when Liza revealed the truth about her age.
Coming Up: Kelsey will take her time deciding how to handle Liza’s disclosure. “Kelsey has worked so hard for her imprint, and Liza is a key component of the success of Millennial,” Duff explains. And it’s not just Liza’s career that’s in shambles; her love life is a mess, too, with Josh very hurt after the non-proposal. “They’re trying to redefine their relationship too,” Foster says. Plus, Liza and Kelsey take a trip to Vermont. Teases Duff, “The show is ending overseas. I can’t tell you where, but that’s a pretty big surprise!”
Unlikely Friendship: “Kelsey and Josh are finding comfort in each other,” Duff says. “For the first time, they’re really getting to know each other as friends.” Wonder how Liza will feel about their growing closeness… — KW
(Photo: TV Land)
‘Zoo’ (CBS, June 29 at 10 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “It’s really apocalyptic,” star James Wolk says. “It’s a little darker, a little grittier, and it’s a little sexier.”
Where We Left Off: At the end of the Season 2 finale, we flashed-forward to the year 2027, when humans are sterile and Clementine (Gracie Dzienny), the grown-up daughter of Mitch (Billy Burke), revealed to Nonso Anozie (Abraham Kenyatta) and Alyssa Diaz (Dariela Marzan) that her dad isn’t dead — and asked their help to find him.
Coming Up: The search is on, but Wolk’s Jackson won’t join it right away. “There is this barrier separating the east and west of the United States. The east has retained a shadow of what we know of the world now, but the West has fallen to the Hybrids,” Wolk says. “Jackson’s out in the badlands of the west, trying to help people get to safe zones. He’s found love again. He’s kind of all consumed by a new identity.”
Human Drama: “This season, the animals are not the bad guys,” Wolk says, after teasing a mysterious new antagonist (Athena Karkanis’s Abigail). But Hybrids will still provide daily danger: “There are more species than we are aware of, and a big question for the season is, how did they get there, and what kind of a threat do they represent?” — MB
‘Suits’ (USA, July 12 at 9 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: Fun! Now that Mike (Patrick J. Adams) is a full-fledged lawyer (and back with the firm), he and Harvey (Gabriel Macht) get to play together again. As creator Aaron Korsh says, “One of the goals of this year was to get back to having a little bit of fun between Harvey and Mike.”
Where We Left Off: Mike passed the bar, thanks to a last-second appearance by Jessica (Gina Torres), and struck a deal with Harvey to return to the firm while also taking on pro bono cases from the law clinic. Louis (Rick Hoffman) was left broken-hearted when Tara ended their relationship, and Donna (Sarah Rafferty) was disappointed when she couldn’t patent her product.
Coming Up: The “one case for Mike, one case for Harvey” deal is going to be complicated. “There’s an inherent conflict between the needs of your corporate clients and the needs of your pro bono clients,” Korsh says. Also, with Jessica’s departure (to a possible spinoff), the firm has some big shoes to fill. We’ll meet a new lawyer (played by Dule Hill) who the firm tries to recruit, though “he and Harvey have a history.” And Korsh teased, “We’re going to meet a character that we have heard referred to numerous times, but we’ve never met.” As for Rachel (Meghan Markle), she and Mike continue planning their wedding.
Litt Up: Can’t poor Louis ever catch a break? “I do not enjoy torturing Louis,” Korsh says with a laugh. “The person that seems to enjoy torturing Louis the most is Louis. What we’re going to try to do this year is help him explore why he does that. It’s going to be a journey for him.” — KW
(Photo: Ian Watson/USA Network)
‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO, July 16 at 9 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “It’s the fireworks, part one,” teases Isaac Hempstead Wright, aka Bran Stark, of the penultimate season of HBO’s blockbuster fantasy series. “We’ve had some sixty hours worth of television to set up these story arcs, and now we really start to see the resolution to this story.”
Where We Left Off: Let us explain. No, there is too much. Let us sum up: With the last of her children dead, Cersei now sits upon the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, Daenerys is Westeros-bound with an army in tow; Jon Snow has been named King in the North; and Bran had to flee the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave before completing his warg training. Oh… and he’s also the only one who definitively knows that Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. “He holds the key to history and he who holds the key to history, holds the key to the future,” says Hempstead Wright.
Coming Up: The first Season 7 trailer promises a battle for the ages between the final three contestants in this game of thrones. Despite Bran’s limited physical abilities, Bran’s psychic powers will be felt as the action unfolds, says Hempstead Wright: “He may not be a warrior, but in my opinion, he is one of the most powerful characters in Westeros. He’s got the history of recorded time in his head and can dip in and out at any moment.”
Hodor? Though actor Kristian Nairn was given a hero’s farewell following his character’s tragic end, don’t expect Bran to mourn his fallen guardian onscreen. “Without sounding brutal, it doesn’t matter to Bran because he has given himself entirely to the role that he has to fulfill. He’s focused on his mission.” — EA
‘Shooter’ (USA, July 18 at 10 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: Season 2 revolves around an old foe coming back to “clean up” something that he did years ago, which involves Swagger and his unit from the Marines, says showrunner John Hlavin.
Where We Left Off: Bob Lee Swagger cleared his name of the assassination frame job and saved his family, but discovered that his foes may have just been pawns in a larger game.
Coming Up: The series is based on a series of books written by Stephen Hunter, but rather than move on to book two in the series — which is about the mystery surrounding the death of Bob’s father — Hlavin decided to skip to book 3. “The story’s a little bit bigger,” he explains, “And since Season 1 had that big feeling involving multiple counties and the Russians and the CIA, it felt better to stay on the same track.”
Having Fun: Though Hlavin says he would write for Swagger “for 20 years if I could,” he also knows that “heroes are only as strong as their villain.” So he set to work turning the Russian sniper Solotov, played by Josh Stewart (Criminal Minds), into a more fully realized assassin in Season 2 to challenge Swagger. “That character we’ve really had a lot of fun writing and Josh definitely brings his A-game to the performance.” — Robert Clarke-Chan
(Photo: Isabella Voskmikova/USA Network)
‘Insecure’ (HBO, July 23 at 10:30 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “Picking up the pieces,” is how executive producer, Prentice Penny, characterizes Insecure‘s sophomore year. “Whether at work or in their relationships.”
Where We Left Off: Skipping out on a girls only birthday trip to Malibu, Issa (series creator Issa Rae) returns home expecting/hoping for a tender reunion with her estranged boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis). Instead, she sees him having sex with another woman, an act of revenge for her own infidelity earlier in the season.
Coming Up: The Season 2 premiere picks up not long after Issa and Lawrence’s relationship collapsed, and emotions are still raw on both sides. “We’re trying to allow our world to grow,” says director Melina Matsoukas. “We’re getting into the lives of some of the other friends that Issa has, while also exploring more of Lawrence’s life.”
Strike Up the Band: One of the standout moments in Season 1 was Issa’s impromptu performance of her viral video rap anthem, “Broken Pu**y.” Since Insecure boasts a lead who is so talented at spitting rhymes, can a musical episode be far behind? Matsoukas politely demurs: “For us the show is all about authenticity, so maybe something that feels more surreal isn’t totally right.” But Penny is open to the idea for Season 3: “There are two episodes this year that were playing with format, so I look forward to exploring more ways to tell stories. I will think on that!” — EA
(Photo: Justina Mintz/HBO)
‘Ray Donovan’ (Showtime, August 6 at 9 p.m.)
Where We Left Off: “The show left off last year with an invitation from Ray to his family to be a part of his world, in a way they never had been. And they all showed up in grand fashion,” showrunner David Hollander says. “So Ray opened Pandora’s box.”
This Season’s Theme: “We’re looking at the trajectory of that family and Ray’s change in letting his guard down and letting them in,” Hollander continues.
Coming Up: Season 5 will pick up about a year after that Donovan family party, and will find both Bunchy (Dash Mihok) and Daryll (Pooch Hall) working as fixers for Ray, while Donovan paterfamilias Mickey (Jon Voight) decides to try his hand at becoming a screenwriter. And that’s just part of the way Hollywood plays a major role in the season; Ray (Liev Schreiber) becomes an associate of Samantha Winslow (Susan Sarandon), the owner of an entertainment conglomerate that is badly in need of his services.
Calling Cochran?: While Hank Azaria told us earlier this year he didn’t think he’d be reprising his Emmy-winning performance as Ed Cochran in Season 5, Hollander says not to count him out just yet (the season is still filming). “Every time we bring Cochran back, it’s a last-minute call, and I explain to Hank why,” says Hollander. “And he flies out and kills it, and then he flies back to New York.” — KP
(Photo: Erica Parise/Showtime)
‘Difficult People’ (Hulu, August 8)
This Season’s Theme: Season 3 is about “the pursuit of happiness,” says creator/executive producer/ star Julie Klausner. “Which in typical Julie style, she approaches like a mission. But if so much of who they are is defined by misery, how much can they really change?”
Where We Left Off: July and Billy (Billy Eichner) still can’t stand anyone. Julie’s big opportunity with Josh Gad’s production company blew up. Matthew’s elderly fiancé Elmer died at the wedding after Billy, full of self-pity about his failed relationships, met Elmer’s ginger-haired female bestie and saw his future.
Coming Up: Billy gets his first serious boyfriend (Star Trek’s John Cho). “Billy meets his match in Todd, a guy he runs into in a very Difficult People‑ized version of a romantic comedy meet cute,” Eichner says. “In the midst of dealing with his own professional struggles, he now has to figure out what it means to have a boyfriend and how that fits into his life.” Klausner adds, “The key with writing Todd is to make him as much of an a–hole as me and Billy. So they fight first and then kiss.”
Difficult Subplots: Marilyn (Andrea Martin) gets a book deal. PBS relocates to Florida, forcing Arthur (James Urbaniak) into a hellish commute, Chris Elliott guest stars, and Julie gets facial fillers. — Carrie Bell
‘Episodes’ (Showtime, August 20 at 10 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “We felt as though the heart of the show was this relationship between Sean and Beverly and Matt,” says co-creator Jeffrey Klarik. “So we were looking for, what is the thing where they get closer than they’ve ever been, and then we blow it up more than it’s ever been blown up?”
Where We Left Off: Matt (Matt LeBlanc) began hosting the game show The Box, and tried (unsuccessfully) to put his feud with producer Merc (John Pankow) to the side, and instead of cancelling The Opposite of Us at her network, Helen (Andrea Savage) punished Beverly (Tamsin Greig) by making Sean’s (Stephan Mangan) old nemesis the showrunner.
Coming Up: Things pick up right where we left off, with Matt and Merc feuding, Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) unemployed and alone, and Sean and Beverly trying to deal with the incompetent boob that is their new showrunner. Meanwhile, despite all their history, Sean, Beverly and their former Pucks star Matt decide to start working together again.
The End: While fans will be sad to see the series end, they’re likely to be satisfied with the ending, which takes the storyline full circle in a clever way. The series finale “was probably, except for maybe the pilot, the episode that we rewrote the most times,” says co-creator David Crane. “We wanted to do it in a way that you didn’t see coming.” — KP
(Photo: Sophie Mutevelian/Showtime)
‘Broad City’ (Comedy Central, August 23 at 10:30 p.m.)
This Season’s Theme: “Resistance,” says series co-creator and star, Abbi Jacobson. “It’s also [takes place] in the winter and it feels like everything… is a little colder, a little bolder.”
Where We Left Off: An ill-fated flight to Israel ended with Abbi and Illana not making it into the country after a misunderstanding about a menstrual “explosion.” Season 4 will be back to New York. “We never make it to Israel,” says co-creator and star Ilana Glazer. “I don’t think that this show is meant to make it there. At most, it’s meant to get close, but never make it.”
Coming Up: The show picks up a year and a half later. Although Lincoln (Hannibal Buress) ended his relationship with Ilana last season, he will be back, as will Abbi’s boss/shower bud, Trey (Paul W. Downs). “They’re getting to their mid-to-late twenties,” Glazer says of Abbi and Illana. “Certain aspects of their love lives, certain things begin, certain things get another go, but it’s not like the same feeling as the carefree hookups of the summer.” On the upside, though, “We will see the girls’ origin story, which is huge for us. We wrote this a long time ago and it’s gonna be pretty thrilling to see.”
Playing the Trump Card: Politics will be a big part of the new season, so much so that the duo decided to rewrite scripts after the election results last November. We wrote this season last spring, and when we were getting ready to shoot it, we felt like we needed to address what was going on,” says Glazer. “This season addresses it a lot, and quite directly.” — VLM
(Photo: Comedy Central)