June tends to be a disappointing month for TV. Summer fluff arrives, in the form of silly reality shows on broadcast networks (Stars on Mars, anyone?) and the tediously pseudo-subversive softcore of The Idol on HBO. Projects that sound like they should’ve been released in time for May’s Emmy submission deadline—Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina in true-crime spoof Based on a True Story, Tom Holland and Amanda Seyfried in an adaptation of The Minds of Billy Milligan—finally premiere, and, well, we understand why they weren’t prioritized for awards consideration. So, yes, it was a bit tricky to dig up five worthwhile new series from June 2023. But looking beyond the standard mega-platforms, from TNT to BET+, always pays off. For more recommendations, check out my 10 favorite shows from the first half of the year.
Read more: The 25 Best Shows to Watch on Netflix
Average Joe (BET+)
Pittsburgh plumber Joe Washington (Deon Cole from The Harder They Fall) is hosting his father Teddy’s funeral in the opening scenes of this darkly comic crime drama, but grief turns out to be the least of his problems. Unbeknownst to Joe, Teddy worked for the Russian mafia—and shortly before his death, he stole $10 million and a Lamborghini from his bosses. Now, those thugs are convinced Joe knows where the loot is hidden. So he kills a couple of them in self-defense and drags his closest friends into an accidental war with the mob. Leon (Malcolm Barrett) owns a struggling hardware store. Touch (Michael Trucco) is a burned-out cop with a drug problem. No sooner has the trio made a pact of secrecy than their families start to find out. The bad news is that one of the Russians Joe killed was dating his now-devastated daughter (Ashley Olivia Fisher). The potentially good news? Leon’s wife (Cynthia Kaye McWilliams) is obsessed with true crime and has ideas for how to hide the bodies.
Average Joe, with its story of regular people sucked into the criminal underworld, has been earning comparisons to Breaking Bad. In truth, its early episodes aren’t nearly as polished or layered as that show. It is, however, fast-paced and addictive, with strong performances and a supremely twisted sense of humor. (At one point, two squeamish buddies squabble over who has to undress a corpse so that they can chainsaw it to pieces, smear it with peanut butter, and scatter it around the forest to be devoured by wild animals.) If it invests some more energy in character development, BET+ could have a sleeper hit on its hands.
This offbeat Australian crime dramedy is probably not for everyone. Once you get past an opening sequence whose centerpiece is full-frontal-dead-male nudity, you have to be game for a bit of goofiness. But if a possibly bloodthirsty seal named Kevin and an amateur singing group performing an a cappella cover of “I Touch Myself” appeal, give Deadloch a shot. Creators Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney (yes, as far as I can tell, those are their real names), known in their homeland as “the Kates,” originally dubbed the project “Funny Broadchurch“—“but without the pedophilia; it’s very hard to put a funny spin on that.”
Our protagonist is Dulcie Collins (Kate Box), an earnest, quietly competent cop in Tasmania who’s trying not to work quite so much, for the benefit of her veterinarian wife Cath (Alicia Gardiner). When a local man washes up on the beach, a sloppy, arrogant, literally filthy veteran detective (Madeleine Sami’s Eddie) is flown in from the mainland to help Dulcie investigate. It’s an odd-couple comedy, a feminist response to crime-drama tropes, and a whole lot of silly summer fun.
Kim Cattrall is back—and not just in that deliriously overhyped And Just Like That cameo. The very same day Max debuted the second season of its popular but abysmal Sex and the City sequel, Netflix dropped all 10 episodes of Glamorous, a lighthearted drama that casts Cattrall as a model turned cosmetics magnate. Surely, this scheduling choice was no coincidence. What’s surprising is that this delightfully frothy show earns its shade.
To be clear, Glamorous is no SATC clone. It’s a glossy, self-consciously campy workplace soap in the mold of Ugly Betty and The Bold Type. Like those beloved titles, it follows a clueless yet determined ingénue as they’re put through the paces of an entry-level job in a glittery industry that revolves around powerful women and thrives on interoffice competition. In a slight tweak to the typically cis-female formula, the ingénue in question is Marco Mejia, a gender non-conforming queer man played with doe-eyed charm by YouTube breakout Miss Benny. [Read the full review.]
I’m a Virgo (Amazon)
Within the pantheon of American folk heroes, no figure walks taller than Paul Bunyan. A giant lumberjack accompanied by a blue ox named Babe, he’s often credited with carving the Grand Canyon and spilling the trail of water that would become the Mississippi River. Tall tales aside, he literally towers over our national landscape in the form of flannel-clad roadside statues scattered from coast to coast—monuments to the rugged workingmen of an ascendant nation.
A century after the Bunyan legend’s heyday, the United States is, to say the least, no longer on the rise. So it’s fitting that Boots Riley, the veteran rapper and activist who pivoted to the screen with 2018’s surreal anti-capitalist satire Sorry to Bother You, has created a new supersized folk hero for our tumultuous times. The protagonist of his equally offbeat—and even more daringly radical—dark comedy I’m a Virgo is a 13-foot-tall Black teenager named Cootie, portrayed with gentle-giant naïveté by When They See Us standout Jharrel Jerome. And instead of roaming free across the country, he spends his first 19 years under unofficial house arrest. [Read the full review.]
The Lazarus Project (TNT)
I May Destroy You breakout Paapa Essiedu (who also has a fun role in the new Black Mirror season) is excellent in this smart sci-fi thriller as an app developer who starts experiencing the strangest form of déjà vu. Turns out, it feels like Essiedu’s George is living the same lengthy chunks of his life over and over again because he is doing precisely that. So is everyone else in the world; he’s just the rare civilian who develops the ability to remember those abortive months. Decades ago, an elite force of genius super-spy types known as the Lazarus Project discovered how to turn back time—but it only uses that power to prevent mass extinction events. (Remember how the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t end in nuclear annihilation? Yeah, that was them.) Otherwise, the ethical calculus of erasing up to a year’s worth of global history would get messy.
Well, the mess finally hits the fan when events in George’s personal life make a cosmic do-over sound tempting. Once a nice, normal guy, our hero is suddenly faced with a choice that could turn him into a villain of world-historical proportions. Rather than fixating on the mechanics of the time-travel miracle (it involves a black hole) or the geopolitical predicaments that might necessitate a hard restart (thank Lazarus for that speedily produced COVID vaccine), the show digs into the emotional and psychological implications of its premise. How would we behave if we knew it was possible to relive the recent past? How would we continue to live among people we may have watched die, kill, or cause us pain in scrapped timelines? How important is any one person or relationship when weighed against the future of humanity? It’s all as fun watch as it is compelling to consider.
- Taylor Swift Is TIME's 2023 Person of the Year
- Meet the Nation Builders
- Why Cell Phone Reception Is Getting Worse
- Column: It's Time to Scrap the Abraham Accords
- Israeli Family Celebrates Release of Hostage Grandmother
- In a New Movie, Beyoncé Finds Freedom
- The Top 100 Photos of 2023
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time