The Most Important Shows on TV: Week of July 11, 2016

Which TV series will your friends (and the entire internet) be talking about this week? Stay informed — or at least be able to fake it — with SideReel's weekly guide to The Most Important Shows on TV.

 

Mr. Robot: S1E1

Mr. Robot
(Season Premiere)

Wednesday at 10 p.m. on USA

Why: The first season of USA's award-winning cyberthriller was, to put it plainly, a mindf**k. Better than any show in the past few years, Mr. Robot was able to masterfully unroll a complicated, compelling story and then shake up all the pieces. Perhaps its most shocking achievement was living up to all the hype and delivering a satisfying finale. Which brings us to the second-season premiere. The story picks up about a month after the destructive hack, with Elliot struggling to remember what exactly happened. After swearing off technology and living in semi-seclusion, he also tries to come to terms with the fact that he has a serious psychological problem. How does he do that? By taking on the man haunting his mind. Should be easy enough, no? Season 2 is expected to be darker and more ensemble-driven. It also will be even more relevant, reflecting the populist anger that has been such a huge part of the U.S. election cycle and the Brexit referendum.

Prepare to talk about: Whether Elliot will become a more reliable narrator; those monotone voiceovers; whether we are here for Grace Gummer or not.

 

Stranger Things: S1E1

Stranger Things
(Series Premiere)

Friday at 3:01 a.m. on Netflix

Why: Winona Ryder starring in a fun supernatural drama described as "a love letter to the '80s classics that captivated a generation"? Yes, please. The Netflix series, created by Matt and Ross Duffer (Wayward Pines), has been slightly under the radar compared to other summer debuts, but word of mouth and glowing reviews could make this one of the year's breakout shows. The disappearance of young Will Beyers sets the story in motion, but it expands to bring in an unseen creature, a mysterious girl with strange abilities, and, of course, a shady government group trying to keep everything and everyone quiet. The nostalgia factor is huge here. Taking place in 1983, we've got overt nods to E.T, Firestarter — even The Goonies. And it all works. Especially Ryder as Will's frantic single mom. Wino forever!

Prepare to talk about: Why children are so creepy; how damn talented those Duffer twins are; whether Ryder is finally back.

 

Vice Principals: S1E1

Vice Principals
(Series Premiere)

Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on HBO

Why: Danny McBride brings his particular timbre of comedy back to HBO with this mean-funny series co-starring Walton Goggins. They play rivals competing to replace the retiring principal (Bill Murray in a perfectly cast cameo). But when the school district brings in an outsider to fill the vacancy, the enemies team up to take out the usurper. McBride, who co-created the show, is essentially playing another flavor of his Eastbound & Down persona, alienating everyone around him and shouting obscenities in people's faces. But it works perfectly. As does the vulgarity. About as profane as HBO comedies get, Vice Principals is one of those shows that makes you wonder whether you're a bad person for laughing. (The answer is no; you're a bad person for other reasons.)

Prepare to talk about: Kimberly Hebert Gregory's fantastic Belinda Brown, who reminds people that she's "Dr. Brown," not "Ms. Brown"; those glorious F-bombs.

 

T.J. DeGroat is the editor of SideReel. He's not saying Angelina Jolie cursed Winona Ryder back in 2000, but he's not saying she didn't. Follow him on Twitter.

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TelevisionFanboyContributor
Jul 11, 2016 1:03PM EDT

I am so excited for the premiere of Vice Principals, that cast is off the charts talented! Mr. Robot is as wonderful as ever (confirmed by the leak of an hour of the upcoming season premiere). Wonderful list as always T.J

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Jul 12, 2016 11:12AM EDT

Mr. Robot was last year's suprise gem of a show. Hope they can keep it going with season 2. Also looking forward to Vice Principals. Danny McBride is my spirit animal. I hadn't heard of Stranger Things, but after your description I'll most definitely be checking it out.

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