- Orange Is the New Black
Friday, June 6 (Netflix)
Season Premiere: How badly did Piper (Taylor Schilling) beat down Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) at the end of Season 1? The bigger, more unexpected question is, were the two alone at the scene? Orange Is the New Black grew stealthily and deliberately from a pretty-white-girl-goes-to-prison comedy into a racially diverse drama with real tension and consequences during its initial 13 episodes (while still retaining some laughs—this isn’t the female Oz, yet); showrunner Jenji Kohan sends Season 2 down a darker path from the outset (while the first episode is mostly Piper-centric, she’s not the same woman who entered Litchfield Penitentiary last year). But, it’s not all a downer—two words: cunnilingus contest. Happy binging!
Saturday, June 7 (Starz)
Series Debut: Ghost (Omari Hardwick) is a successful-if-unfortunately nicknamed New York City nightclub owner by night, but an even-more-successful drug dealer by … later night? The logistics don’t matter—can he turn his club into more than just a money-laundering front and go straight? Will the far-less-handsome drug players of the city let him out of the game? Did no one bring up Boardwalk Empire in the Power pitch meetings? Can producer/recurring “actor” 50 Cent hear how hilariously unthreatening his own lispy voice is? No one at Starz bothered to answer, because Power is slicker, flashier and easier to digest than their last Boardwalk knockoff, Magic City. In other words, good enough for Saturday night.
Sunday, June 8 (Animal Planet)
Season Premiere: The first episode of Season 5(!) of Finding Bigfoot will be the 48th(!!) produced in three years. You know what they haven’t produced? BIGFOOT!
Monday, June 9 (TNT)
Series Premiere: Since TNT seems dead-set on becoming ’90s NBC with wall-to-wall cop/legal dramas broken up by the occasional sci-fi show, it makes sense that genre veteran Steven Bochco would end up here with a tweaked take on his 1995 series Murder One: a single homicide case spanning an entire season. This time, however, he only has to deliver 10 episodes (as opposed to 22), and the cast (led by Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson as gorgeous-but-troubled San Francisco detectives) is a more manageable size, as well. The case, in which a dickhead Silicon Valley tech CEO (TV and film’s new go-to villain) is connected to a pair of seemingly unrelated murders, is only slightly more twisty than a Rizzoli & Isles assignment, but Murder In the First is still grittier than anything else on TNT at the moment—except for the occasional Castle rerun. Or is it Bones? They’re different shows, right?
Wednesday, June 11 (A&E)
Series Debut: After the premiere of the sixth and likely final season of Duck Dynasty—it was fun, and then rabidly homophobic, while it lasted, but we’ve hit that Jersey Shore/Honey Boo Boo wall of indifference, boys—A&E debuts its next great white reality hope, Big Smo. For those unfamiliar with the pop phenomenon of “country rap” (a mashup of country, southern rock and hip-hop with an inexplicable number of rhymes for “tailgate of my pickup truck”), Big Smo is a morbidly obese Tennessee hick-hopper whose star is rising as quickly as his cholesterol. His debut album is called Kuntry Livin, his music is corporately contrived cheese calculated to suck bucks out of blue-collar Wranglers, and he projects the raw intellect of a stunned heifer. Shoehorn all this raw, oozing potential into a cookie-cutter, over-scripted redneck-family reality show and you have … probably a huge hit. Note that I didn’t say fat hit.