We’re almost halfway into the new calendar year and let’s be frank—television is kicking major butt! From Marvel’s host of spinoff series like WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and LoKi to Amazon Prime’s Them: Covenant and Underground Railroad — there are plenty of tv shows to choose from and watch.
The pandemic-stricken 2020 meant that TV production suffered from extensive delays, but there are plenty of new shows in the pipeline for the next few months. Netflix has even more originals in 2021 than it did last year, with Shonda Rhimes’ (Inventing Anna) and Ava DuVernay (Colin in Black & White) leading the way. Not to be outdone, HBO, also has a few classic updates up its sleeve as well.
And that’s only a fraction of what this year’s summer vacation hopefully means. Even if you’re hooked on one or two of these shows in mid-May, by June you could have several going. To get a head start on your personal TV guide for the summer, here’s EBONY’s (relatively) brief list of forthcoming shows that are must-see and will surely eat up those days when it’s too hot to go outside.
Starring: Ziwe Fumudoh
Release date: May 9
Writer and comedian Ziwe Fumudoh’s glow-up served audiences well during the dark early months of the pandemic. The former writer of Desus & Mero had turned her Instagram Live interview series into a true balm for all of us going through it. As the pandemic highlights systemic corruption, biases, and racism in the United States, Ziwe confronted them directly and made it laugh-worthy at that. That online traction led to her getting an even bigger platform with her own self-titled variety show. Coming soon to Showtime, ZIWE promises an exciting experience with enticing guests like Jane Krakowski and Jeremy O. Harris in comedy sketches. And if this trailer is any indication, this is a magnificent show not to miss.
2. The Underground Railroad
Director: Barry Jenkins
Starring: Thuso Mbedu, Aaron Pierre, Chase W. Dillon, Joel Edgerton
Distributor: Amazon Prime
Release date: May 14
The hype is real and the wait is finally over. The Underground Railroad is highly anticipated due to it being the directorial debut from Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and American television debut for Emmy nominated actress Thuso Mbedu (Is’Thunzi). Taking place in an alternate timeline, the Colston Whitehead adapted series imagines the Underground Railroad as a literal fully operating train that helps formerly enslaved Black Americans escape to freedom in the early to mid-1800s. There are a few creative concepts in this one, so, please tune in and witness a unique show never thought possible.
3. Black Monday
Director: Nzingha Stewart
Starring: Don Cheadle, Regina Hall, Andrew Rannells, Paul Scheer
Distributor: Shark vs. Bear / Sony Pictures Television / Showtime
Release date: May 23
America’s favorite ‘80s-themed dark comedy returns as Black Monday aims to capture a new legion of fans. Don Cheadle and Regina Hall star as the heads of an outside stock market firm who may have caused the worst crash in Wall Street history. Season 3 is said to follow the implications of Hall’s character Dawn taking the hit for Black Monday and Don Cheadle’s Mo’s newfound success as the head of The Mo Co. If you haven’t seen this satire yet, do yourself a favor and invest in watching Black Monday now!
Director: Kate Herron
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku
Release date: June 11
When we last saw Tom Hiddleston’s god of mischief, Loki, he had escaped through time in Avengers: Endgame. Now completely exiled from Asgard, the trickster accidentally falls in with the Time Variance Agency. Somehow Loki is brought into the secretive organization and goes on various missions that affect the various timelines in the Multiverse. What this means for the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 storyline is anyone’s guess—which means you should tune in to not miss a thing.
5. Power Book III: Raising Kanan
Starring: Omar Epps, Mekai Curtis, Camila Perez, Chris Sumpter, Patina Miller, Ethan Cutkowsky
Release date: June 2021
With the conclusion of the original series, it was announced that Starz had planned four upcoming spin-offs in the same universe as Power. Raising Kanan marks the third “book” in that plan, with the story focused on young versions of Kanan (50 Cent), Tommy (Joseph Sikura), and Angela (Lela Loren). Set in the ‘90s, Raising Kanan will serve as an origin story and give insight into the characters and experiences which formed them into the characters we met in Power. For hardcore fans of the gangster-filled drama, seeing Power III: Raising Kanan is surely high on their (and your) list.
Kevin L. Clark is an editor and screenwriter who covers the intersections of music, pop culture and social justice. Follow him @KevitoClark.