CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
The 10 Best Shows to Watch in Summer 2010
CHICAGO – While we all eagerly await the return of our favorite shows and wonder if the networks can top last season’s remarkable freshman class, there are a number of programs currently airing that are definitely worth considering when the heat index breaks 100 or you don’t want to risk another summer thunderstorm.
With more and more networks trying to make waves in the typically still waters of summer television, we thought we’d offer some guidance with a list of the ten programs most worth your time.
Despite a few interesting programs that register in our ten runner-ups, it’s interesting to note before we get going that the broadcast networks have not succeeded enough creatively to claim a single of the ten spots on a list such as this one (although vaguely register in the runner-ups). Until CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX start taking the season as seriously as they do the fall or mid-season, summer is going to be even more for those with cable bills with each passing year.
Runner-Ups: “Big Brother” (CBS), “The Bridge” (CBS), “Dark Blue” (TNT), “The Gates” (ABC), “The Glades” (A&E), “Leverage” (TNT), “My Boys” (TBS), “Psych” (USA), “Rescue Me” (FX), and “White Collar” (USA).
Photo credit: USA
10. “Burn Notice”
Day/Time: Thursdays, 8pm CST
Starring: Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, and Sharon Gless
Why: One of the most popular shows in any season continues to grow a following with clever, tightly-paced hours of television that perfectly mix the cool behavior of a super-spy and his closest allies with the heat of its Miami setting. With one of the strongest ensembles of the season, including the recently Emmy-nominated Sharon Gless and the simply gorgeous Gabrielle Anwar, “Burn Notice” is never anything less than entertaining. “Burn Notice” has somewhat failed to live up to its second-season potential and occasionally spins its wheels creatively but even when it does that it does so with an incredible amount of style.
Photo credit: FX
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 10pm CST
Starring: Louis C.K.
Why: Because Louis C.K. is one damn funny guy and he has some incredibly talented comedian friends. “Louie” may only be in its first season but the upward trajectory of the episodes that have currently aired hint at a program that could easily become one of the most beloved in FX’s continuing attempts at basic cable domination. The network has shifted gears with the end of “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck,” and, just recently, “Damages” (which is jumping to DirectTV’s network). And with “Rescue Me” coming to a close soon, the network could struggle in the hour-long drama department (which is meant as no offense to the great “Justified” and “Sons of Anarchy,” merely a notice of a shift in focus). With the success of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The League,” “Archer,” and now “Louie,” FX could be as much of a comedy powerhouse in the ’10s and it was a dramatic one in the ’00s. (For more, read our review of the series premiere.)
Photo credit: TNT
8. “The Closer”
Day/Time: Mondays, 8pm CST
Starring: Kyra Sedgwick, J.K. Simmons, Corey Reynolds, Robert Gossett, G.W. Bailey, Jon Tenney, Anthony John Denison, and Phillip P. Keene
Why: “The Closer” has become the elder stateswoman of summer programming, really shaking up the way networks approached the season since its premiere in 2005. “The Closer” draws an incredible and loyal audience every single summer and if you don’t think that the other networks have tried to emulate the model of this show with their own addictive programming than you are dumber than the perps who think that they can outmaneuver Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick). The structure of “The Closer,” one that blends the mystery-of-the-week format of massive hits like “C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation” or “Law & Order” with more character-driven stories has been copied over and over again across the cable guide and even into the networks. The show has never been appointment television for us but it’s always something that delivers high-quality entertainment when it does pop up on TNT, which given the network’s propensity to ride their greatest hits into the ground should be in 3, 2, 1… (For more, check out our review of the recent season premiere.)
Photo credit: HBO
Day/Time: Sundays, 9pm CST
Starring — “Entourage”: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, and Jeremy Piven
Starring — “Hung”: Thomas Jane, Jane Adams, Rebecca Creskoff, and Anne Heche
Why: Because the saga of a man whose only remaining asset is his giant pecker is on the way up and the story of a young superstar and the friends caught up in his wake has shown signs of a potential comeback this season. “Entourage” used to be one of the best shows on television and it’s far from that now but the potential plot arc started by an increasingly reckless Vince (Adrian Grenier) is a promising one and the show seems to display reinvigorated creative energy so far this season. Let’s hope it keeps it up. As for “Hung,” it started a bit shakily but had developed a distinct personality of its own by the end of season one. Luckily, it hasn’t regressed back to its virgin state in season two and if it continues this upward trajectory it could top this list next summer. (For more, check out our review of the Hung season premiere and Entourage season premiere.)