12. Floor Is Lava (Netflix)
Come for everyday people of all ages busting their asses in themed obstacle courses where the sole objective is to make it to the end without descending into the pool of orange below. Stay for multiple shoutouts to Nipsey Hussle — before someone eats shit attempting to leap from a couch to a slippery kitchen table. It’s the perfect mindless entertainment.
11. 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days (TLC)
In pursuit of marriage, folks strike up a romantic connection with lovers abroad, making for the type of trainwreck TV you just can’t turn away from. Shenanigans are aplenty, like the scammer solely known as Williams, who catfishes a middle-age Vegas mom. Or SojaBoy, a Nigerian rapper who weds a pushy White woman 20 years his senior. What could go wrong, right?
10. Drag Race All-Stars 5 (VH1)
Pulling a fifth cast of “all-stars” out of a show that’s only had 12 seasons might seem a little threadbare, but between some legit fan favorites (Jujubee, Shea Coulée) and bringing back legends like Monet X. Change for a new “lip sync assassin” challenge, Rupaul’s juggernaut manages to still be must-slay TV.
9. Tiger King (Netflix)
Carole Baskin did that shit, and you can’t convince us otherwise.
8. Queen Sono (Netflix)
A leggy, South African secret agent who kicks ass and takes names while traversing the motherland? Sign. Us. Up.
7. BlackAF (Netflix)
Yes, Kenya Barris is kinda just making Black-ish all over again, only starring in the role that was based on him in the first place. And yes, even with all that Netflix money, it seems like dude has some unresolved issues around … well, most things. But damned if that episode about giving bad Black art a pass isn’t one of the better things we’ve watched this year.
6. Love Is Blind (Netflix)
Netflix spent big chips on this “experiment” that set out to determine the importance of physical attraction in selecting a life partner. The results of this speed-dating-to-nuptials fasttrack had no shortage of drama or head-scratching scenarios (a dog lapping red wine from a glass?) — but it also had a sprinkle of true love for the hopeless romantics.
5. I May Destroy You (HBO)
Michaela Coel’s statement of auteurship is HBO’s weighty summer surprise. Touching on darker themes than her last created series, Chewing Gum, it’s still filled with Coel’s zippy humor despite its sexual-assault throughline. The London accent is thick, so turn on the subtitles to catch all the subtleties, bruv.
4. Ramy (Hulu)
The first season of Ramy Youssef’s slice-of-life comedy about a Muslim millennial navigating adulthood was very, very good. The second season, though, transforms into something else entirely. With Mahershala Ali joining the cast for an astounding turn as Ramy’s new Sufi spiritual guide, and the rest of the supporting cast turning in needle-fine performances, the show wades into territory most awards-bait series can even dream of.
3. Dave (FXX)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm, but starring a rapper you don’t really fuck with” is a hell of a logline, right? Yet, Dave “Lil Dicky” Burd managed to co-create and star in a surprisingly watchable, warts-and-all comedy about a suburban White dude on the come-up — even if we’re actually watching for the industry cameos (Trippie Redd, Young Thug, Benny Blanco) and the weirdly compelling ensemble cast, which includes Odd Future’s Taco and Burd’s real-life hype man Gata.
2. Insecure (HBO)
The squad really found its magic in season four. It’s as if the creators learned that a friendship breaking up is far more nuanced and fertile than a parade of “Issa slept with WHO?” rom-com woes. The modern-day Living Single still feels like an AITA Reddit thread at times, but this season its hilarity and heart shone through — along with the usual boost from Black Twitter, of course. (Thanks for those Condola memes, family.)
1. The Last Dance (ESPN)
This ESPN-helmed docuseries about the Chicago Bulls’ championship dynasty was the collective-watching blast from the past that we all needed, recalling simpler times when Rodman was the NBA’s most polarizing player, Pippen went full “Hit ’Em Up” on GM Jerry Krause, and Jordan took everything as a personal attack. The doc solidified MJ as certified G.O.A.T. in two games: basketball and, of course, memes.
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