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Ninjas, Liars, People Who Think They Can Dance: It’s 2012’s Top 10 Summer TV Shows

June 5th, 2012 by Ben Collins Editor

Last weekend, I saw a guy steal a hose from behind a TJ Maxx and wash himself off with all of his clothes on. It was like that scene in Do The Right Thing with the fire hydrants, but this guy was doing it all by himself.

You know what that means: It’s summer in America. And we’re all out of TV shows.

Instead of showering in a TJ Maxx parking lot or holding frankly weird and creepy “Mad Men” vigils, why not watch a talking dog sexually harass a waitress? Or why not witness a guy “climb the salmon ladder”–whatever that means–on NBC?

It’s summer, but we’re not out of TV shows. Here are ten that will keep you busy enough to stay out of trouble.–Ben Collins

(A quick note before we get started: You should catch up on all of Breaking Bad before its Season 5 premiere on July 15. There are a bunch of car bombs and poisonings to get acquainted with. It’s one of the best shows on TV—and a hell of a lot better than Breaking Pointe—but you can jump right into any of the following. Especially…)

10 – American Ninja Warrior (NBC)

The gist: A bunch of average Joes–or rather, ridiculously jacked Joes–compete in superhuman acrobatic challenges for the chance at winning $500,000 at the national finals in Las Vegas. It’s America’s Got Ninjas!

Follow it if: You like watching guys who could be your friends and neighbors performing mind-blowing feats of strength and agility, which you would have been able to do if you stuck to your New Years resolution of going to the gym (We’re just sayin’).

Wins for: Instead of watching a show where people are literally being kicked in the groin to impress a panel of judges, why not watch some athletes exceed at what you thought impossible of the human body? Think of it as an Olympic sorbet to get your palate ready for London. (Mmm, Olympic sorbet.)–Martin Moakler

9 – Breaking Pointe (CW)

The gist: “The Hills” and “Black Swan” merge to create this look inside the “secret world” of ballet dancers.

Follow it if: You’re tired of reality dance shows with obnoxious judges, D-list celebs and 40-year-old-looking children with way too much makeup on. The dancers of Salt Lake City’s Ballet West aren’t in it for money or a trophy. They want perfection. And jobs.

Wins for: Adding class without the trash to the reality show genre.–Sheila Dichoso

8 – Workaholics (Comedy Central)

The gist: Three recent college grads drink, do drugs and stumble into misadventures before heading to their telemarketing jobs, where they can sleep off their hangovers.

Follow it if: you enjoy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but find their characters too cerebral and showing too much judgment, or you frequently ask questions like, “I wonder what would happen if we put this in the microwave.”

Wins for: reminding us of that time just after college, working a McJob, with nothing to do but laugh, party and hang with our best buds with no stress or consequences. Sheesh, now I’m depressed. I wonder what would happen if I put this laptop in the microwave. -Martin Moakler

7 – Royal Pains (USA)

The gist: Mark Feuerstein is an infallible and arguably too handsome doctor who makes house calls in the Hamptons. His charming idiot brother, Paulo Costanzo, is both his company’s CEO and the skinny guy from “Road Trip.”

Follow it if: You like watching shows on USA but can’t really tell why, like most of America.

Wins for: Look, there’s something weirdly compelling about this show. It’s like bacon wrapped dates or “Call Me Maybe.” There’s really no reason a grown man should be anxiously writing down the season premiere date in pen and putting it on his fridge, but here I am. I need to see a doctor more than 90 percent of the patients on this show, including the ones who can’t stop passing out.–Ben Collins

6 – Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family)

The gist: Ex-BFFs reunite when they’re framed for their best friend’s murder and then blackmailed for all of their dirty little secrets. Now the murder’s behind bars and the mysterious blackmailer (“A”) has been outed, so everything’s gonna be OK, right? Right?!?

Follow it if: U speak in LOL, OMG, and G2G. Also: if you love a good Nancy Drew mystery and have been known to break curfew on more than one occasion.

Wins for: It’s our summer guilty pleasure. Besides, it’s kept the murder-mystery angle going strong for two seasons already, and who doesn’t love a villainous blackmailer?–Rebecca Harper

5 – So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)

The gist: It’s like “American Idol,” but for dancers. A panel of judges bring contestants to tears with criticism (and sometimes even praise) each week, then America votes for their favorite ballerina/ballroom dancer/b-boy.

Follow it if: You love leotards or rooting for the underdog. Besides, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard judge Mary Murphy’s high-pitched squeals of excitement.

Wins for: Coining some of our favorite summer catchphrases, plus some great guest judges, including Neil Patrick Harris and Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson.)–Rebecca Harper

4 – Rev (Hulu Exclusive)

The gist: That one guy you recognize from all the English period movies plays an Anglican vicar who takes over an inner-city London church, where he has to deal with the business side of faith.

Follow it if: You’re a fan of quirky British comedies with put upon leads surrounded by a cast of crazies who would make a man of the cloth truly question if God has his back.

Wins for: Any show where a holy man wakes up with a raging hangover wondering why there’s a huge birdhouse in his kitchen portends that this guy isn’t your average preacher. Plus it’s got Olivia Colman from Peep Show!–Martin Moakler

3 – True Blood (HBO)

The gist: Vampires and humans coexist (meaning: screw and kill each other) in dirty, sweaty Louisiana.

Follow it if: You like your heros/heroines sassy and your vamps sparkle- and saccharine-free. You aren’t squeamish about blood, sex, and sometimes both.

Wins for:  Features an ensemble with great dramatic actors (Yo, Chris Meloni!) but it’s also not afraid to poke fun at themselves. Also, every character is suspiciously good-looking. Is the South a sexy place? Should we all move there? Probably.–Sheila Dichoso

2 – Wilfred (FX)

The gist: An alcoholic dog dispenses advice to Elijah Wood. It’s almost exactly like Garfield if Garfield watched a s–tload of HBO on Sunday nights.

Follow it if: You’ve had human conversations with your pet where you admit disgusting, defining things about yourself. “Oh, Snickers, between you and me, sometimes my girlfriend looks like Rodney Dangerfield on a roller coaster.”

Wins for: Incessant use of things that piss off dogs littered throughout the show. Wilfred, for example, will act like a person until he encounters a vacuum. And then he wants to burn the world to the ground.

Oh, and the show also developed characters and progressed and became must-watch by the end of Season 1. It’s one of the least embarrassing things on this list and it’s addicting. It’s like being hooked on Theraflu.–Ben Collins

1 – Louie (FX)

The gist: Follow the world’s best living comedian as he explains to you why you should continue being alive despite being cut in line while buying dog food at Target.

Follow it if: You have any interest in the human condition whatsoever.

Wins for: Louis C.K. hiring former Woody Allen movie editor Susan E. Morse to chop up the show this season. If you needed anymore proof that this guy speaks for this generation, snagging the lady who put together Manhattan should do it.–Ben Collins

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