Summer TV 2021 must-watch list: Loki, Ted Lasso, Gossip Girl and more

Summer TV 2021: Loki
(Image credit: Disney Plus/Marvel Studios)

Summer TV is here to entertain us all, especially when it’s boiling hot outside or the thunderstorms are raining on our parades (and picnics). Much like our summer movies 2021 roundup, this summer TV preview is filled with big franchises and big stars. 

Two more Marvel series are coming to Disney Plus in Loki and What If …? A ton of new shows are debuting during the summer TV season, with headliners like Nicole Kidman, Sandra Oh, Rose Byrne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez. 

Oh, and we’re already pouring tea (some nice "hot, brown water") and baking biscuits for Ted Lasso’s return to the locker room. Gotta love it when sports and art combine. And this summer marks the final seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Walking Dead, two of the biggest ending or canceled TV shows of 2021.

Here’s our guide to the most notable summer TV shows of 2021.

We Are Lady Parts (June 3, Peacock)

There’s so much more to Muslim women than the fact that many wear the hijab, and this irreverent British comedy breaks down stereotypes to present characters who are funny, weird, complicated — and love to rock out. Amina (Anjana Vasan) is a geeky microbiology student who figures she’ll just find a husband and start a family. But then she finds herself auditioning for Lady Parts, a punk band made up entirely of Muslim women. Not only do they all derive so much joy from making (loud) music, who knows … maybe they’ll make it big someday. — Kelly Woo

The Bachelorette season 17 (June 7, ABC)

After a wild Bachelor season that brought a racial reckoning to the franchise, it seems things are going back to mostly normal. A few things are different — for one, this is the first of two Bachelorette 2021 seasons this year. Katie Thurston starts her journey of love first this summer, then Michelle Young will get her chance in the fall. Another change is that host Chris Harrison has stepped away from the show for an undetermined amount of time. He’s replaced by former Bachelorettes Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams. Otherwise, expect a cast stocked with muscled men, awkward dates and accusations that someone’s not there for the “right reasons.” — Kelly Woo

Loki (June 9, Disney Plus)

The master of mischief is getting his own Disney Plus show, but is it the real Loki? You might remember that Thor's brother was killed in Avengers: Infinity War before the big "snap," and (hence) not brought back in Endgame. This means the Loki series revolves around a "variant" of Loki, caused by his timeline-jumping hijinks. The Loki TV series has a detective noir vibe, as it finds Loki at the Time Variance Authority, where he's working with detective Mobius M. Mobius (Owen Wilson) to un-screw up the timelines. — Henry T. Casey

Lupin part 2 (June 11, Netflix)

The gentleman thief returns to complete his revenge agenda, which has been complicated by the kidnapping of his teen son. The French-language drama stars Omar Sy as Assane Diop (Omar Sy), a swindler who takes inspiration from the character Arsène Lupin, a master thief created by author Maurice Leblanc in his turn-of-the-century novels. Assane is seeking justice for the death of his father, wrongly accused of stealing from the wealthy, nefarious businessman Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre). Part 1 ended with Hubert kidnapping Assane’s son Raoul. In Lupin part 2, the thief must rescue him first, then continue his mission to clear his father’s name. — Kelly Woo

Physical (June 18, Apple TV Plus)

If you’re still mourning GLOW, perhaps you’ll find a little consolation in this ‘80s-set dramedy about the world of aerobicizing. San Diego housewife Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne) struggles with her body image until she starts participating in the fad sweeping the country: aerobics. Sheila takes her new passion and combines it with the emerging technology of VHS to launch a business empire and become a lifestyle guru. But even fame and success can’t fix everything about this desperate housewife’s life. — Kelly Woo

Kevin Can F**k Himself (June 20, AMC)

This dark satire takes on the typical sitcom trope of the smiling, subservient wife who laughs at all her husband’s jokes— like the one played by Erinn Hayes in CBS’ Kevin Can Wait … until she was callously fired and replaced. Kevin Can F**k Himself puts a twist on the set-up, with Allison (Annie Murphy of Schitt’s Creek) realizing she wants more than to cater to her boorish husband (Eric Petersen). In fact, maybe she wants to go so far as to kill him. — Kelly Woo

Rick and Morty season 5 (June 20, Adult Swim)

Schwifty season is back, as the latest batch of Adult Swim's resident uncle/nephew duo is going to push things too far (again). Moments seen in the trailers include holographic Rick, big bad kaiju warfare and the family forming like Voltron. Oh, and Rick and Morty season 5 looks to break Morty's heart again, as he's been seen flirting with an alien who has feminine features. — Henry T. Casey

The Good Fight season 5 (June 24, Paramount Plus)

The legal drama returns with its usual sharp dialogue, timely plots and sometimes-eccentric characters, but season 5 will see a changing of the guard on screen. Cush Jumbo and Delroy Lindo were set to exit last season, but the pandemic cut short production. Luckily, they’re both making final appearances to wrap up their storylines. New cast members Mandy Patinkin and Charmaine Bingwa are jumping on board in their places. The show’s center continues to be Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, who will wrestle with her role as a white woman leading a Black firm. — Kelly Woo

Gossip Girl (July 8, HBO Max)

The lives of young, wealthy private school teens are put on display again and chronicled by an all-seeing eye in the Gossip Girl reboot. Set eight years after the original series, the new version will feature a much more diverse cast, a changed city and a completely different social media landscape. Kristen Bell is back to narrate as Gossip Girl, but none of the other OG cast members are reprising their roles (for now). Still, count us among the followers of the Gen Z’s heartbreaks, betrayals, new romances, inappropriate hook-ups and family dysfunction. — Kelly Woo

Wellington Paranormal (July 11, The CW)

The movie What We Do in the Shadows, from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, has already spawned the brilliant FX series of the same name. Now, this spinoff (which first aired in New Zealand in 2018) puts the spotlight on Karen O’Leary and Mike Minogue as their characters from the film. They’re police officers in Wellington’s paranormal unit who investigate strange happenings around the city. Considering its lineage of hilarity, this mockumentary series looks like a promising source of chuckles this summer. — Kelly Woo

The White Lotus (July 11, HBO)

Summer TV 2021: White Lotus

(Image credit: HBO)

Mike White returns to the HBO fold for the first time since Enlightened, which ended in 2013. His new limited series is a satire set at a tropical resort and follows the quirky employees and oddball guests over the course of a week. What looks like a sunny paradise is soon revealed to have darker shadows lurking around. The cast list is a dream: Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, Steve Zahn, Jake Lacy, Alexandra Daddario and Molly Shannon, among others. They’re sure to beautifully carry out White’s signature blend of comedy and drama, realism and eccentricity. — Kelly Woo

Ted Lasso season 2 (July 23, Apple TV Plus)

We believe in Ted Lasso season 2 … being the most exciting show on the Summer TV 2021 slate. As you may remember, season 1 saw Coach Lasso's AFC Richmond team fall off the Premier League, after losing to Manchester City. So, while Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) previously claimed that he didn't worry about wins and losses, season 2 will likely test his resolve. Rumor has it that team owner Rebecca Welton's got a new boyfriend, and we're also wondering how Roy and Keely's relationship is going. — Henry T. Casey

Mr. Corman (Aug. 6, Apple TV Plus)

Summer TV 2021: Mr Corman

(Image credit: Apple)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt unveils his passion project, which he wrote, directed, produced and stars in. He told that the main character, Josh Corman, is “like if I had some different luck and made some different choices.” Josh is an artist and musician at heart, but those dreams haven’t worked out. Now, he’s a fifth grade teacher whose ex-girlfriend (Juno Temple) has just moved out, while best friend Victor (Arturo Castor) has moved in. Like many 30-somethings, Josh grapples with anxiety, failed ambitions and student loans. Adulting, amirite? — Kelly Woo

Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 8 (Aug. 12, NBC)

Summer TV 2021: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

(Image credit: NBCUniversal Television)

It’s been a loooooong time since Brooklyn Nine-Nine was last on the air. The show will bow out this summer with 10 episodes and will air two episodes every Thursday for five weeks, starting on August 12. The show’s long delay in returning has been in part due to covid-19, but also a need for sensitivity following the death of George Floyd’s murder and the anti-police protests that followed. B99 has always managed to be real and funny at the same time, it’ll be funny and moving no doubt. When it ends, expect tears and anguish (which is the also the title of our sex tape). Noice. — Ian Morris

Star Trek: Lower Decks season 2 (Aug. 12, Paramount Plus)

Summer TV 2021: Star Trek Lower Decks

(Image credit: CBS All Access)

Star Trek: Lower Decks could have been a star wreck, but instead it becomes a loving tribute to Star Trek: TNG, all while having compelling episodes with great stories. Season 1 was a strong start for such a risky idea and while some episodes are just okay, most are very enjoyable. For those who hate newer Trek, Lower Decks is a good throwback to the show’s much-loved golden age. The start of S2 will see Boimler (voiced by The Boys star Jack Quaid) serving under TNG’s Will Riker, we’ll see how that pans out. S2 will also return on Amazon Prime for non-US fans. — Ian Morris

Nine Perfect Strangers (Aug. 18, Hulu)

Absolutely nobody wanted Big Little Lies season 3, so Nicole Kidman decided on another route: reteaming with writer/producer David E. Kelley to adapt a different novel by author Liane Moriarty. In Nine Perfect Strangers, the titular people attend a Goop-like wellness retreat that goes very, darkly wrong. While Kidman didn’t recruit Reese Witherspoon to join her again, she has assembled a stellar lineup in Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Luke Evans, Michael Shannon, Regina Hall, Samara Weaving and Manny Jacinto. The teaser trailer gave us shivers; getting “well” never looked so terrifying. — Kelly Woo

The Walking Dead season 11 (Aug. 22, AMC)

Nothing can stay undead forever. The Walking Dead season 11 is the final chapter of the zombie drama, the end of the flesh-eating road for one of cable television’s biggest shows. And wow, has it been a journey. It started with a sheriff named Rick Grimes waking up post-apocalypse in Atlanta, but Rick and his family are all gone now. Some of his fellow survivors are still around, including Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride). Season 11 will see them and allies like Maggie (Lauren Cohan) fight yet another new threat in the form of the Commonwealth. And while this season may conclude the flagship series, zombie fans can still get their fix in the spinoffs Fear the Walking Dead, World Beyond, an untitled Daryl and Carol series and several Rick Grimes movies. — Kelly Woo

The Chair (Aug. 27, Netflix)

Summer TV 2021: The Chair with Sandra Oh

(Image credit: Noam Galai/Getty Images)

The creators of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, are producing this dramedy as part of their massive overall deal at Netflix. While the premise — about a new English department chair — may seem like an odd follow-up to GOT, it makes more sense when you find out that the show was co-created by Amanda Peet, Benioff’s wife. Sandra Oh stars as Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, the first woman and person of color to chair Pembroke University’s English department. The Killing Eve Emmy winner is joined by a cast including Jay Duplass, Holland Taylor, Bob Balaban, Nana Mensah and David Morse. — Kelly Woo

Only Murders in the Building (Aug. 31, Hulu)

Steve Martin and Martin Short have worked together doing comedy tours, so it’s no surprise to see them team up for a new show. But adding in Selena Gomez? Interesting choice. Guess they’re trying to shoot for some younger viewers. The three of them play three strangers who are all obsessed with true crime, because who isn’t these days? When a grisly murder takes place in their Upper West Side building, they’re drawn together to try to solve the case. Because listening to a bunch of podcasts is totally good training to be a detective. — Kelly Woo

More notable summer TV premieres:

  • Why Women Kill? season 2 (June 3, Paramount Plus)
  • Lisey’s Story (June 4, Apple TV Plus)
  • Sweet Tooth (June 4, Netflix)
  • Love, Victor season 2 (June 11, Hulu)
  • Blindspotting (June 13, Starz)
  • Tuca and Bertie season 2 (June 13, Adult Swim)
  • Elite season 4 (June 18, Netflix)
  • Evil season 2 (June 20, Paramount Plus)
  • Central Park season 2 (June 25, Apple TV Plus)
  • Too Hot to Handle season 2 (June 23, Netflix)
  • Bosch season 7 (June 25, Amazon Prime Video)
  • Monsters at Work (July 2, Disney Plus)
  • Big Brother season 23 (July 7, CBS)
  • Love Island season 2 (July 7, CBS)
  • Grown-ish season 4 (July 8, Freeform)
  • Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness (July 8, Netflix)
  • Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail (July 13, TBS)
  • Schmigadoon! (July 16, Apple TV Plus)
  • Turner and Hooch (July 16, Disney Plus)
  • Riverdale season 5 part 2 (Aug. 11, The CW)
  • Bachelor in Paradise season 8 (Aug. 16, ABC)
  • Marvel’s What If …? (August TBD, Disney Plus)
Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.