Best TV to Watch in June: ‘Big Little Lies 2,’ ‘Euphoria,’ Chelsea Manning Doc
From the return of HBO’s moms-behaving-badly murder mystery to a teen drama featuring sex, drugs and Zendaya — what to tune in for this month
This month: Showtime trolls for a new hit by playing the odds with a hot-button documentary, a bio-series featuring an Oscar winner in the lead and a tough-as-nails crime story with Bawston accents. As for HBO, they’re putting big money on Zendaya, a Spanish-language DIY horror curio and the return of everyone’s favorite melodrama about moms behaving badly. That still leaves a vampire nightmare cut from a new cloth, a concentrated dose of rigorous reportage, another walk-off with last year’s drag-ball breakout and Epix’s bid to get in the prestige-TV game. Here’s what to tune in to this June.
Big Little Lies, Season 2 (HBO, June 9th)
Murder visited the impeccably manicured suburb of Monterey, California in the first season of this breakout premium-cable guilty pleasure — and judging from the look of the promo pics of Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley rocking haute couture in a police lineup, things are only going to getting pulpier. Season 2 picks up right where things left off, with Meryl Streep (!) joining the cast to play Kidman’s mother-in-law. Filmmaker Andrea Arnold (American Honey) takes over behind the camera. Bring it on.
City on a Hill (Showtime, June 16th)
Set in Boston during the Nineties, this drama depicts the police force — our bad, the fawce — as riddled with guys on the take. None of these Irish-American lifers are particularly pleased with the new District Attorney (Aldis Hodge), a black man intent on tearing out the institutional rot by the roots. Clearly, he’ll need the help of FBI vet (Kevin Bacon) if the good guys want to lock up a family of armored car robbers and purge the BPD of no-goodniks. The job is wicked hahd,but someone’s gotta do it.
Euphoria (HBO, June 16th)
After escaping the Disney Channel factory, finding superstardom as a recording artist and planting her flag on the movies, Zendaya’s coming back to television a much more mature woman, courtesy of this adaptation of an Israeli drama about youth in revolt. Playing a rehabbed addict figuring out the sober life, she’s joined by Maude Apatow as her day-one best friend, trans model-turned-actress Hunter Schafer as the new girl in town, Jacob Elordi as a jock with rage issues and Barbie Ferreira as an experimenter rethinking her body image, to name only a few of the messy, imperfect adolescent characters on display. Prep for teen-angst bliss.
Los Espookys (HBO, June 14th)
Lorne Michaels and Fred Armisen put their seal of approval on this kooky Spanish-language horror-comedy co-created by the Portlandia vet (and who appears as a chipper valet parker) about an unusual for-hire business creating real-life horror experiences for clients in their bizarro take on Mexico City. One week, they’re trapping a woman in a haunted mirror. The next, they’re hand-making a wriggling sea monster. All in a day’s work for multilingual Goth oddballs.
The Loudest Voice (Showtime, June 30th)
If Fox News is the architect of modern American conservatism and Roger Ailes is the architect of Fox News, then he’s got a serious claim on the title of the millennium’s single most important villain. Russell Crowe dons a prosthetic jowl of Churchillian proportions to play the conservative mover/shaker/monster in this eight-episode miniseries, from his early days as media executive to his godlike reign over the Fox empire of spin to his dethroning at the hands of the many women he’d sexually harassed. Plus you get splashy supporting turns from Naomi Watts as whistle-blower Gretchen Carlson, Sienna Miller as the long-suffering Beth Ailes and Seth MacFarlane as scapegoat Brian Lewis.
NOS4A2 (AMC, June 2nd)
Say the title out loud: Nos-four-a-two. It has a certain vampiric ring to it, doesn’t it? That’s the license plate number of the 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith owned by Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto), an undead predator feeding on the souls of innocent children. His nemesis: Vic (Ashleigh Cummings), an out-of-work artist with the inexplicable ability to sense Manx’s movements and activity. And most of the showdown takes place in an interdimensional realm known as Christmasland. Adapted from a cult-beloved novel by Joe Hill, it’s a truly unique take on horror lore.
Perpetual Grace, LTD (Epix, June 2nd)
Take one low-down roustabout (Jimmi Simpson) who thinks he’s found a golden goose in an old couple running a rinky-dink church out in the desert and sitting on a $4 million jackpot. Add in the fact that the pastor (Ben Kingsley) and his wife (Jacki Weaver) may be even bigger swindlers than he is. Throw in a bumbling local law officer (Luis Guzmán) as well. It sounds like you might have the making for an gritty, grimy, twisty, turn-y crime-drama hit, am I right?
The year is 1990. Madonna’s hit single “Vogue” has ushered the drag ball subculture into the mainstream spotlight. The rivalry between the House of Abundance and House of Evangelista continues to rage, while Angel (Indya Moore) tries her hand at modeling fashion. Elsewhere, Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) faces the music on her AIDS diagnosis and Billy Porter’s fan-favorite emcee Pray Tell will continue to preside above it all, dispensing killer one-liners like Zen koans. The second season of this FX show can not start soon enough.
The Weekly (FX, June 2nd)
From the New York Times‘ elite investigative team comes this new documentary series, bringing their standards for long-form journalistic to easily digested TV segments. The producers select a story filed by one of their reporters spread through 160 countries all over the globe — maybe it’s biker activists meeting with violence in Tajikistan, or a deep-dive into the struggles faced by taxi medallion owners in New York City. Then they use the visual element to make the article a more visceral, immediate version of itself. Because who has the time to read these days? Eat your heart out, 60 Minutes.
XY Chelsea (Showtime, June 7th)
Chelsea Manning — a hero to some, turncoat to others. Despite being a trans woman, she faced a 35-year sentence in an all-male prison for revealing military secrets that brought state-sponsored misdeeds to light, a ruling commuted by Barack Obama in his final days as President. This doc chronicles Manning’s last two years, as she’s continued the ongoing process of exploring her gender and identity while embroiled in a live-wire debate on security and patriotism.