Written By: Bryan Kirschner and Donna D’Achillo
A&E premiered a new original comedy series entitled Black and White in July. This in-studio show focuses on issues such as politics and race and how they are perceived through the viewpoints of various comedians and friends. Taped in front of a live studio audience, the show aims to tackle the most controversial topics sweeping the country today by offering a comedic twist that is sure to capture the attention of viewers. The Robertson family is coming back to A&E this summer as the network returns its wildly popular Duck Dynasty. Additionally, another famous family has returned this season as Wahlburgers premieres with new episodes. This season, Mark and Paul Wahlberg travel to their newest restaurant locations and are accompanied by some of their famous friends including University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft and pro golfers Bubba Watson, Jason Day and D.H. Lee. The award-winning docuseries Born This Way also is coming back as new episodes premiered in July. The 10-episode second season focuses in on the lives of seven young adults who have Down Syndrome, exploring their friendships, romantic relationships and their long-term dreams. The series grew steadily across all demographics, with adults 25-54 up 84%, adults 18-49 up 64% and total viewers up 67% this past season.
AMC will premier a new docuseries this summer entitled Making of the Mob: Chicago, which focuses on the mafia-driven territory that legendary gangster Al Capone occupied. The series highlights Capone’s rise to dominance as the most elite gangster this country has ever seen. It features never-before-seen footage and brand new interviews with historians, authors, actors, law enforcement personnel and family members. AMC recently announced another documentary, Heroes and Villains: The History of Comic Books, which is executive-produced by the writers from The Walking Dead. Heroes and Villains is a six-part one-hour documentary series slated to air in 2017 and will explore the stories, people, and events that have transformed the world of comic books. Returning to the network will be popular shows Better Call Saul, Into the Badlands, and The Walking Dead. Talking Dead, the #1 talk show on television, and the upcoming summer premieres of the travel docu-series Ride with Norman Reedus, produced by Robert Redford, and Kevin Smith’s late-night talk show Geeking Out are also on the network this coming year.
Laurence Fishburne will star in the Nelson Mandela mini-series Madiba, which will premiere in early 2017. Another mini-series slated for the new season is about the early 1980’s music group, New Edition. The mini-series will retrace the group’s footsteps and show fans how they got where they are now. Comedian Gary Owen will star in a reality show, becoming the first white lead ever for a show on BET. Gary Owen Family will be a half-hour reality show about his interracial family and his preparation for vow renewals with his wife. Other new original scripted programming includes Tales, a 60-minute scripted anthology series of “song stories” weaving classic hip-hop songs into visually stunning 3-act narratives. The Yard, starring Tony Award winners Anika Noni Rose and Ruben Santiago-Hudson, takes viewers inside the unique, culture-filled world of historically black colleges and universities. Popular program returns include Being Mary Jane and Real Husbands of Hollywood. Of course, BET Awards, Black Girls Rock, BET Honors, and Soul Train Awards will all be coming back once again.
Unscripted television has been Bravo’s forte over the years. The upcoming year should be no different as the network’s unscripted programming slate is expanded with six new and 14 returning series. Among the new series, Yours, Mine or Ours, is about couples looking for their first place to live together with the help of animated real estate agent Reza Farahan (Shahs of Sunset) and interior designer and decorator Taylor Spellman to figure out which residence they should call home. Then and Now with Andy Cohen features A-list pop culture contributors where each episode focuses on a defining year in history and dissects the biggest news stories, pop culture moments, and hottest trends to show how these pivotal events from the past affect how we live today. Bravo has the most returning series with year-over-year ratings growth among all cable networks. Amongst those returning are Top Chef, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, The Real Housewives of Potomac, The Real Housewives of Orange County, Manzo’d with Children, Flipping Out and Don’t Be Tardy. Later in the year, Married to Medicine Atlanta, Below Deck, Ladies of London, Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and Vanderpump Rules will all be coming back as well.
CNN will continue with its non-scripted programming highlighting history. Soundtracks: Songs That Made History, hosted by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, is an eight-part series that will explore the music tied to iconic moments in history. Each episode will cover a tragedy, triumph, or the start of a movement — and the music that came to define it. From the March on Washington to the riots at Stonewall, the moon landing to Hurricane Katrina – music has played an integral part in celebrating, criticizing, and amplifying these seismic events in our collective history. The History of Comedy is an eight-part series executive produced by Sean Hayes and digs deep into topics like political humor and slapstick, featuring the voices that have made us laugh over the generations. Using archival footage, original comedic material, interviews with comedy legends and luminaries, the series will showcase how the art form has evolved over the years. The Nineties, executive-produced by Emmy Award-winning producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, will highlight cultural and political milestones from the birth of the internet to President Bill Clinton’s attempted impeachment that defined the decade. New seasons of returning CNN original series include Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, This is Life With Lisa Ling, The Hunt with John Walsh, Death Row Stories, The Wonder List with Bill Weir, and Finding Jesus.
Discovery will feature noted documentarian Morgan Spurlock’s Rats, where he and his team have found a community of critters very few people have covered: rats. Additionally, the highly-anticipated mini-series Harley and the Davidsons, about an infamous member of the Harley-Davidson “Wrecking Crew” who helped popularize the slang term “hog” in reference to Harley, premiers in September.
Mariah’s World, starring five-time Grammy-award winner Mariah Carey, will take viewers beyond the flashbulbs and fame and into the private life of one of the most celebrated pop divas of all time. The eight one-hour episode series will grant viewers VIP access to the songstress like never before as she tours the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa, all while planning her upcoming wedding to Australian business mogul James Packer. The Arrangement is a Cinderella story for modern times with a dark and complicated Hollywood twist, which follows Megan Morrison (Christine Evangelista), a beautiful young actress who auditions for the female lead in a summer blockbuster playing opposite Kyle West (Josh Henderson), one of the world’s top action movie stars. Botched By Nature premiered in August. It follows the famous doctor duo Dr. Nassif and Dr. Dubrow as they take their show on the road and head cross country to change the lives of those who have been botched by genetics or a traumatic incident. The new one-hour, eight episode series follows the nation-wide pursuit of these plastic surgeons as they seek to transform the lives of patients willing to share their powerful stories with the world.
Although there has been a mass exodus of on-air talent (Mike Tirico, Bill Simmons, Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, and Keith Olbermann), the network that invented the concept of all-sports TV, all the time, is still at the top for live sports. ESPN continues its Sunday Night Baseball production throughout the MLB season as it ramps up for one of the best college football opening weekends of all time. Three of the top four ranked teams in the country will be playing on ESPN the first week of the season. ESPN also selected seven Big Ten football games for the Saturday night primetime schedule. To cap off the season, the network will be televising an industry-leading 38-game bowl schedule including the New Year’s Six and College Football Playoff. But when it comes to sports, NFL is still king and a wild card playoff game will once again be on ESPN. Additionally, the critically acclaimed 30 for 30 series is back this summer as Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry are this documentary’s storyline. This follows the wildly successful OJ: Made in America 30 for 30 miniseries which premiered to millions of viewers and has been the object of Emmy nomination talks already. With the breaking news that former NBA MVP Kevin Durant agreed to jump to the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors, one can only assume that television viewers for their games will increase as well. Of the 10 most watched regular-season games last year, the Warriors were involved in seven of them. They ranked 1st as the highest-rated most watched NBA team on ESPN’s air across ABC and ESPN, averaging 3.374 million viewers per game this season. There has already been talk to air half of their games nationally as opposed to the standard 25 which would be typical for a team of this magnitude.
After rebranding itself (formerly ABC Family), Freeform aims to get back to its millennially targeted fan base with its slate of shows coming out in the fall. Returning series this summer included Young & Hungry, Baby Daddy, The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars. Airing on Mondays, Guilt is about a girl who becomes the prime suspect in her roommate’s murder. Cheer Squad, which follows an all-star cheerleading team that looks to balance life off the mat with the battle to stay on top of the world. Tuesday night’s Dead of Summer is set in the late 1980s and is about a summer at Camp Stillwater that turns into unforgettable scares and evil twists.
Food Channel returns the following hit series: Cake Wars, Cupcake Wars, Valerie’s Home Cooking, Chopped, Cooks vs. Cons, Giada in Italy, Patricia Heaton Parties, and the ever-popular Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. In this season, Guy Fieri makes a stop in Cuba that is sure to spice up viewers’ attention. Cutthroat Kitchen: Time Warp Tournament is a five-episode primetime competition hosted by Alton Brown leading sixteen talented, sabotage-hungry chefs through the culinary mayhem and a chance to win up to $50,000. Starting with the 1950s and ending in the 1990s, each episode is all about the iconic dishes and cultural touchstones of one decade.
Fargo is back for another season as this time, Ewan McGregor will star in the series slated to debut in 2017. The apocalyptic thriller The Strain returns in August. Based off the best-selling The Strain Trilogy, the show will begin its third season on FX in New York City, where the heroes must fight for survival on their own against the federal government. Sons of Anarchy has officially begun script development on long-rumored Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans MC, a drama project co-created and produced by Sons creators Kurt Sutter and Elgin James. Sons of Anarchy, which ran for seven seasons, stands as the highest-rated drama series in FX Network’s history.
Hallmark geared up for its summer series premiere of Chesapeake Shores. The series is based on the bestselling novel by Sherryl Woods and stars Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory, Treat Williams and Diane Ladd. Megan Ory is a career minded mother living in New York City with her two daughters. She decides to travel to her hometown of Chesapeake Shores and while there begins to consider a permanent move back to her childhood town. The series will air with a two-hour movie followed by eight one-hour episodes. The Good Witch season 2 ended in June, but the 2.5 million viewers were delighted to learn Hallmark has announced season 3 for Good Witch. The series stars Catherine Bell and Haille Madison as mother/daughter witches living in Middleton USA. In keeping with tradition, the Good Witch will air a Halloween special in October 2016. Then, the remainder of season 3 will begin in 2017. Darrow and Darrow is a new series in development. Kimberly Williams Paisley will star as a lawyer who roots for the underdog and takes on tough cases at her firm. Look for Darrow and Darrow in 2017.
HGTV will feature two new renovation series which highlight celebrity-fronted projects. Married couple Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat, and actress Gabrielle Union started filming in June for their new series on HGTV. The power couple will renovate and resell homes in South Florida. An air date for the series has not yet been released, but arrows point to late 2016/early 2017. The Monica Potter Project will air in August 2016. The series follows actress Monica Potter, widely known for her role in the TV series Parenthood, as she and her sister purchase and restore their childhood home in Cleveland, OH.
The History Channel has a number of new series set to air this Summer/Fall 2016. SIX is an eight episode mini-series which premiered in July and will run through September. SIX is the second scripted series for the History Channel (after Vikings) and highlights a team of NAVY Seals, Team SIX, tasked with the mission to eliminate a prominent Taliban leader. The team uncovers a US citizen is working for the terrorist group and their covert mission goes awry. Joe Manganiello signed on to play the main character, Rip Taggart, but had to step down due to an undisclosed health issue. Walter Goggins was then selected to fill the role. Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour premiered in July. It is a new non-scripted series starring Ozzy Osbourne from Black Sabbath and his son Jack. They take to the road as a father-son duo to visit historical landmarks such as Mt. Rushmore, Roswell and the Jamestown Settlement. Big Easy Motors is a new series which takes place in Louisiana. It premiered in July. Charles Handler will search for hidden gems – one of a kind cars and classics to restore and resell. Knightfall will premiered this summer. Jeremy Renner is an executive producer and also guest stars in the series. Tom Cullen has been cast as the lead character. Knghtfall is the story of the Knights Templar of the Crusades who journey to recover the Holy Grail.
MTV is bringing back its hidden camera show and this time Ladylike looks to pokes holes in traditional ideas of “ladylike” behavior by pranking the unsuspecting public. Ladylike upends gendered stereotypes and disrupts sexist ideas about issues such as reproductive rights and gender norms. Of course, it wouldn’t be a summer without the annual MTV VMAs in late August. Airing live from Madison Square Garden for the first time in its history, the VMAs look to get back to its original home — New York City. Are You the One, MTV’s hit matchmaking series, returns this summer for a fourth season and will feature a game-changing twist that for the first time will truly test the theory, “If your perfect match was standing right in front of you, would you even know it?”
The OWN Network has started to seek out new scripted series without the Tyler Perry name attached to them. Up until this point, Tyler Perry has been the sole developer of scripted series on OWN. Greenleaf and Queen Sugar mark the first scripted series without Tyler Perry. Greenleaf is from executive producer Oprah Winfrey which premiered in June — remaining episodes will air on Wednesdays at 10PM. The series stars Keith David, Lynn Whitfield and Merle Dandridge with Oprah Winfrey holding a recurring role as well. Greenleaf centers on the Greenleaf family, a powerful African-American family in Memphis, TN who own a megachurch. Queen Sugar is another new scripted series from Ava DuVerney and Oprah Winfrey set to air on OWN. Queen Sugar is based on a book of the same name written by Natalie Baszile. Rutina Wesley and Dawn Lyen Gardner will star as two sisters who move to Louisiana to claim their inheritance from their deceased father – an 800-acre sugarcane farm. Filming began in February 2016 and the release date is set for late 2016.
If you thought Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! was the end, think again! In 2015, 2.8 million viewers tuned in to watch Sharknado 3 – and, at the end of the movie, viewers were asked to determine Tara Reid’s character’s fate via twitter. The viewers have spoken – or more accurately have tweeted. Tara Reid is back for another round. The 4th installment Sharknado: The 4th Awakens takes place 5 years later – after the East Coast battle. Ian Ziering also reprises his role and will be joined by David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Stacey Dash, Wayne Newton, Cheryl Tiegs and Seth Rollins, to name a few. Van Helsing will premiere in the Fall of 2016. Vanessa Helsing is the daughter of Van Helsing, the famed vampire slayer. She is resurrected years after her death to find vampires have taken over the world. She must battle the vampires to save the human race. Kelly Overton will play Vanessa Helsing. Incorporated is a SYFY scripted series from producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. The series takes place in the future where corporations have unlimited power. Sean Teale will play the lead role of Ben Larson. Larson attempts to infiltrate SPIGA, an all-powerful corporation, in an attempt to rescue his love played by Allison Miller. The thriller is scheduled to premiere Fall 2016. Krypton is in development and will be the prequel to Superman. The characters for the show were recently released and will hail from two families: El (Superman’s bloodline) and Zod (nemesis to Superman). Filming has not yet been announced so look for Krypton in 2017.
TBS has been on a roll with their new comedic series releases this year. Angie Tribeca, released in January, has amassed 100 million Facebook and Twitter impressions while Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (February release) has received 36 million YouTube views this year. On the heels of their popular comedic series, TBS will premiere new comedies this fall. People of Earth will premiere in October 2016. The series, produced by Conan O’Brien and Greg Daniels, stars Wyatt Cenac, a journalist interested in stories of alien abductions. He follows members of a support group (headed by Ana Gasteyer) who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Cenac comes to realize he may have had an encounter himself. People of Earth’s comedic edge is coupled with a dramatic flair sure to make for a bizarre, yet interesting storyline. Oscar Nunez, Luka Jones, Alice Wetterlund and Brian Huskey also star in the series. Rosie Perez, Ron Livingston, Parker Posey and Christine Taylor will star in Search Party set to premiere in November. The dark comedy centers on the lives of four self-absorbed 20-something’s who come to find their college acquaintance has gone missing. Dory (Alia Shawkat) is one of the 20-somethings who becomes fixated on uncovering the mystery of her missing college friend. All the while, she discovers that certain aspects of her life are not as satisfying as once thought. Search Party, created by Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers, was written independently and TBS is keeping the indie series feel and tone intact. On the late night front, Conan O’Brien’s late night show Conan will be in New York City for the first time in six years. The show will air from Harlem’s Apollo Theater for one week from October 31st through November 3rd. This coincides with the start of Conan’s new season.
Turner has announced their new initiative to reduce commercial load in order to develop premium content and offer viewers a better viewing experience – adding an additional 10 minutes to each series episode. TNT’s Animal Kingdom and Good Behavior were the first selected to test the initiative. The TNT drama Animal Kingdom premiered in June and stars Ellen Barkin and Scott Speedman. The series stems from the 2010 Australian film by David Michod. Ellen Barkin is the matriarch of a criminal family who takes in her 17-year-old grandson, Joshua Cody, played by Finn Cole. Good Behavior is an upcoming drama to premiere Fall 2016 starring Michelle Dockery as Letty Dobesh. Letty is a con artist and criminal fresh out of prison. She attempts to thwart a hired hit on an unsuspecting woman. This leads Letty straight into a cat and mouse game with the hired killer. There are also series in development set to air in 2017. Tales From the Crypt developed by M. Night Shymalan is scheduled for release in 2017. The series will be a revival of HBO’s Tales From the Crypt which ran from 1989 to 1996. TNT and TBS have announced a partnership with Wattpad. Wattpad is an online community of writers who post articles, stories, poems and fan-fiction. The idea is to offer Wattpad’s 45 million users an opportunity to adapt their horror stories for the new series. Will is also set to premiere in 2017. Laurie Davidson will play a young William Shakespeare who becomes part of the punk-rock theater scene in 16th century London. Olivia DeJonge, Colm Meaney, Mattias Inwood, Jamie Campbell Bower and Ewen Bremner will also star in the series. The series is being painted as a contemporary version of Shakespeare’s life enacted alongside a modern soundtrack. TNT and UK’s Channel 4 have teamed up to release the upcoming series Foreign Bodies. Foreign Bodies will air on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom early 2017 and TNT’s airdate will follow later that year. The series is a comedic drama about a group of young adult travelers who venture around the world. Anders Hayward, Brit Ade Oyefeso, Brittney Wilson, Alice Lee and Tim Key will star in the series and Janeane Garofalo will also hold a recurring role. TNT has ordered a pilot for the upcoming series Civil. Bradley Whitford and Enrique Murciano will star in the modern day drama centered on a hotly contested presidential election where America is on the brink of another civil war. TNT has also ordered a pilot for Claws, a dramedy starring Niecy Nash as a salon owner in South Florida. Five manicurists interact during their days at the Nail Artisan of Manatee County Salon. Viewers begin to uncover their deceitful and revenge laden acts over the course of their “normal” work days. The Alienist will be adapted from the best-selling book written by Caleb Carr. The series will take place in the 1800’s in New York City and center on the search for a serial killer. While not definite, the plan is for an eight or ten part series. Fingers point to a 2017 release date.
TV Land is continuing their comedic explorations with the introduction of the new series, Nobodies, set to premiere early 2017. Melissa McCarthy and Jim Falcone are executive producers with Falcone guest starring. The series stars Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf and Rachel Ramras as three unknowns trying to push their script and coax their famous friend to sign on to the project with the hopes of furthering their careers. Jason Bateman, Maya Rudolph, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon will also guest star as part of the pilot. TV Land has also renewed both Impastor and The Jim Gaffigan Show. Impastor follows con artist, Buddy Dobbs played by Michael Rosenbaum, as he impersonates a pastor in a small town. Mircea Monroe, Sara Rue, David Rasche and Mike Kosinski also star in the second season which debuted in June. The Jim Gaffigan Show is back and the second season premiered in June. Jim Gaffigan’s series is inspired by his real life where he attempts to find a has received favorable reviews from critics and viewers alike. It also stars Ashley Williams, Adam Goldberg, Michael Ian Black, and Tongayi Chirisa.
Mr. Robot became a breakout series for USA in 2015 and won two Golden Globe awards – Best Drama TV Series and Best Supporting Actor. Mr. Robot stars Rami Malek and Christian Slater and the new season premiered in June with two back-to-back new episodes. In season one, Malek, a cyber security engineer, was recruited by Slater to hack into E Corp to cancel bank and credit card debts as an attempt to redistribute the wealth and redefine the social classes. The second season promises to be just as enthralling and the new tagline “Control Is An Illusion” offers a glimpse into the upcoming season. USA has announced Mr. Robot will have 12 episodes for its second season along with a live after-show called Hacking Robot. USA’s Queen of the South premiered in June and is based on a famous telenova. The series stars Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza who fleas Mexico and takes refuge in America after her boyfriend is murdered by a drug cartel. She attempts to take revenge on the cartel. Ryan Phillipe stars in Shooter which premiered in July. Phillipe is Bob Lee Swagger, an ex-marine marksman who comes out of exile to foil a plot to kill the president. Shooter is based on the novel by Stephen Hunter, Point of Impact, and the 2007 movie starring Mark Wahlberg. Falling Water is set to premiere in Fall 2016 and stars Lizzie Brochere and David Ajala. The supernatural drama is about three people who discover they are dreaming parts of the same dream – interconnected with the ability to change the world.
This will be the 12th year for VH1’s Hip Hop Honors. This year the show will focus on the ladies of Hip-Hop and Flavor Unit, Shakim Compere and Queen Latifah will produce the special. VH1’s Hip-Hop Honors will air in New York City on July 11th at 9pm EST. The Hit The Floor season 3 finale aired on March 28th and left viewers hanging on the edge of their seats. VH1 has announced it will air a Hit The Floor summer special which will answer some of the cliffhangers from the finale. The summer special will feature the marriage of Asha and Derek and will also unveil the identity of Jelena’s shooter – #WhoShotJelena? VH1 has not yet released the airdate.