As the academic year ends, we can not only look forward to what is on television in June but also in the summer break. Forget the unreliable summer weather and instead stay inside and switch on the television, where there are plenty of reliable shows to watch.
June marks the return of Orange is the New Black, one of the most diverse and empowering series on television. Beginning where last season ended, with the inmates running riot and Daya armed with a gun, the opener promises to be explosive. This show is particularly important, not only for its representation of minorities on screen but for its highlighting of overcrowding and poor treatment in the for-profit prison system.
On Channel 4, is perhaps the most exciting new drama of the year. Elisabeth Moss stars in the new adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale which airs on Sundays at 9. The series follows a dystopian, fundamentalist Christian state, in which fertile women are assigned to rich men to bear their children. In the short time since it was aired in the US, the show has already become politicised, with women wearing the handmaids’ uniforms to protest legislation in Texas. The story also has a new relevance in Trump’s America. With a Vice-President in the White House that argues ‘life is winning again in America’, a series following women struggling for control over their own bodies feels even more harrowing.
In July, we finally return to Westeros after the longer than usual wait for Game of Thrones. This year’s run is a shorter seven episodes which has so far been set up as a three-way contest for the Iron Throne between Jon, Cersei, and Daenerys. However very little is known of the plot, but we can speculate that as Winter has arrived the White Walker threat will become more serious, and with Dany sailing to King’s Landing, expect the Lannisters to attempt to cling on to power. There may also be a Stark reunion as Arya makes her way home. The one thing we do know is that this is the penultimate series, with the show to conclude with six episodes next summer. However, this is not the end, as five (!) spin-offs are in the works.
The most scrutinised show of the summer will undoubtedly be Channel 4’s iteration of The Great British Bake Off, likely to premiere at the end of August. Mel and Sue have been replaced with the interesting combination of Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, with kind granny Mary Berry replaced by kind granny Prue Leith. It will be interesting to see if the programme can survive with a new team and adverts. I’m thinking it will be more of an under baked sponge than a showstopper.