The summer TV season kicks off with a soccer scandal, a Simon sequel, and one Dirty John

Left to right: Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story (Photo: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network); Perry Mason (Photo: HBO); I May Destroy You (Photo: Natalie Seery/HBO); Crossing Swords (Image: Hulu)
Left to right: Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story (Photo: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network); Perry Mason (Photo: HBO); I May Destroy You (Photo: Natalie Seery/HBO); Crossing Swords (Image: Hulu)
Graphic: Libby McGuire

Summer’s almost here, not that you’d know it from the vantage point of your couch. To help you ride out the tail end (or extension) of the stay-at-home orders, The A.V. Club has once again looked at the month’s premieres, bringing together the options that are most worth your time. This June, TV is rife with scandal—from El Presidente’s look at corruption in FIFA to the breakdown of a marriage (and a woman) in Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story—and adventure via the return of a beloved Cartoon Network show and Eric Andre’s campaign to Legalize Everything.

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Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story (USA): Premieres June 2

Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story (USA): Premieres June 2

You’ll barely recognize Amanda Peet and Christian Slater as Dan and Betty Broderick in season two of Dirty John, The Betty Broderick Story. The housewife and mother of four is still in prison for killing her ex-husband and his new, younger bride in 1989. Peet gives an award-worthy performance as Betty, painfully depicting how a former pillar of San Diego society could devolve in such spectacular fashion. While it’s hard to imagine being able to drum up any sympathy for the killer of two people, over the course of these eight episodes, Dirty John commits to showing Betty’s side of the story: the early years of the couple’s marriage, the vital part she played in her husband’s success, and her complete unraveling after he dumped her for a model after 16 years together. Slater is excellent as the smarmy, arrogant Dan, but it’s Peet’s astonishing performance that makes this a must-see, a complete commitment to a portrait of mental instability without a single shred of vanity. [Gwen Ihnat]

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El Presidente (Amazon Prime): Premieres June 5

El Presidente (Amazon Prime): Premieres June 5

Amazon’s El Presidente looks back to 2015, a relatively simpler time, when incendiary reports of collusion were relegated to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association and there were actual consequences for fraud and corruption. Oscar-winning screenwriter (for Birdman) Armando Bó co-directs and executive-produces El Presidente, which was inspired by the events and players—both on and off the field—behind the “FIFA Gate” scandal. The series follows the rise and downfall of Sergio Jadue (Andrés Parra), a Chilean football club president who finds himself in the thick of a bribery conspiracy that saw more than $150 million exchange hands. El Presidente is an irreverent, occasionally gripping look at the business of sports and, in particular, how the “Football Mafia,” as Bó puts it, controlled the most popular sport in the world. [Danette Chavez]

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Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! (HBO): Premieres June 6

Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! (HBO): Premieres June 6

By now, fans of Insecure are likely accustomed to a very specific image of Yvonne Orji. Orji’s Molly is often positioned as the strait-laced antithesis to Issa’s semi-chaotic character. Which is partly what makes her forthcoming comedy special so intriguing. Momma, I Made It! is an opportunity to witness Orji as her true self, in an arena that she can claim for herself while flexing her robust comedy chops. The special shifts from lively stages to the streets of Lago, Nigeria, where she shares insights from her family and community. The trailer shows a woman who is eager for the world to acquaint itself with her outside of her popular HBO show. Between the jokes about her proud but marriage-focused mother are intimate moments, making this not just a stand-up special but also an introduction to an artist who is ready to show off her bag of tricks. [Shannon Miller]

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I May Destroy You (HBO): Premieres June 7

I May Destroy You (HBO): Premieres June 7

Arabella (Michaela Coel) is a lively author who is forever changed by a traumatic experience she can hardly remember. I May Destroy You is a new HBO drama that digs into consent and life after sexual assault. Coel, who also writes and executive-produces the series, has fashioned the ideal vehicle that spans her range as an actress and writer, as moments of levity are woven throughout a rather painful journey. I May Destroy You explores the tough business of healing from inexplicable, dehumanizing trauma—a process that requires an intimidating amount of rebuilding. Arabella has to not only learn how to grieve, but also reassess her environment, boundaries, and loved ones while tending to her burgeoning writing career. It’s undoubtedly a messy trek to recovery and peace, which may resonate with a lot of survivors. [Shannon Miller]

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Dear… (Apple TV+): Premieres June 7

Dear… (Apple TV+): Premieres June 7

Yet another biographical documentary series, Dear... tries to stand apart from the pack via the novelty of its literary twist: This episodic look at “the most iconic figures in society today” will be structured around letters written by those whose lives were changed by the subjects’ work. The people featured in the series certainly constitutes an appealing roster: Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Yara Shahidi, Stevie Wonder, Aly Raisman, Misty Copeland, and even Big Bird are among those to be showcased. The other draw is behind the camera, with the show coming from R.J. Cutler, the Emmy- and Peabody-winning documentarian behind The September Issue and The World According To Dick Cheney. By pairing these acclaimed folks with the words of those most personally affected by them, Dear... may court hagiography, but it could also put a human face to the accolades and awards. [Alex McLevy]

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30 For 30: Be Water (ESPN): Premieres June 7

30 For 30: Be Water (ESPN): Premieres June 7

If The Last Dance didn’t sate your hunger for documentaries about sports figures who are generally considered to be The Best—or at least among The Best—then maybe the next installment of ESPN’s 30 For 30 series will do it. Titled Be Water, this one focuses on the life of martial arts icon Bruce Lee, a man whose skills are so legendary that people close to him were offended by the implication that a fictional version of him could be beaten in a fight. Directed by Bao Nguyen, Be Water will cover Lee’s childhood in Hong Kong, his early life in America trying to break into the movie industry, his disappointment when that didn’t work out, and his eventual return to Hong Kong, where he made the martial arts movies that would turn him into a superstar. It’ll also go deep on the philosophies that drove his approach to martial arts, with interviews from his family, friends, and collaborators. Now we just wait for the inevitable debate about whether Bruce Lee can beat Michael Jordan. [Sam Barsanti]

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Don’t (ABC): Premieres June 11

Don’t (ABC): Premieres June 11

ABC’s new Ryan Reynolds-produced game show appears to operate on two very basic, easy-to-grasp principles: It’s fun to watch families do a bunch of dumb, possibly dangerous stuff, and it’s equally fun to watch Adam Scott make sarcastic little comments about the same. Appearing to operate like an adult version of Double Dare—except without all that pesky trivia—the show challenges families to perform a bunch of “Don’t!”-based tasks, like “Don’t blink,” or “Don’t play ball in the house,” all of which appear to involve some amount of public humiliation, bodily harm, or good-natured combination of the two. The prize? Up to $100,000, plus the honor of inspiring Scott to make yet another witty little aside, of which he apparently has a near limitless supply. [William Hughes]

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Crossing Swords (Hulu): Premieres June 12

Crossing Swords (Hulu): Premieres June 12

Answering that age-old question—“What if Playmobil figures had dicks?”—Hulu’s new stop-motion comedy wears its Robot Chicken pedigree with pride. (Creators John Harvatine IV and Tom Root are both key figures in the long-running Adult Swim series’ production.) The show centers on heroic knight Patrick (Nicholas Hoult, not mustering quite the level of sociopathy he recently showed off for The Great, also on Hulu), who finds himself attempting to save a thoroughly dysfunctional medieval kingdom from itself. Alanna Ubach, Luke Evans, Maya Erskine, and a whole bunch of other voice actors pulled from the Robot Chicken Rolodex all appear, generally playing some flavor of psychotic, sexually disturbed, or just plain weird fantasy archetypes. Public executions, animated blood, and “butt stuff” abound, and all from the mouths (and other orifices) of a bunch of super cutesy, weirdly limbless animated figures. [William Hughes]

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Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts, season 2 (Netflix): Premieres June 12

Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts, season 2 (Netflix): Premieres June 12

The words “post-apocalyptic wasteland” rarely conjures images of gargantuan puppies or fluffy, flannel-wearing kittens wielding axes. And yet, DreamWorks’ Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts traverses a near barren universe occupied by communities of mutated beasts that are, quite frankly, a delight—from the aerobics-loving Fitness Raccoons or odorous biker gang the Scooter Skunks. Embedded in this engrossing fever dream is a buoyant teen eager to reunite with her father and save her community from looming danger. Season two continues the far-stretching journey of Kipo, Wolf, Benson, and their mute companion Dave as they face new threats and even bigger monsters. What makes Kipo such a standout adventure is its ability to show compassionate leadership. Kipo’s bravery doesn’t necessarily lie in her willingness to fight (though make no mistake, she is willing to fight), but with her insistence on appealing to the best parts of every being she meets. Even with its fantastical creatures, this story is incredibly human. [Shannon Miller]

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Taste The Nation With Padma Lakshmi (Hulu): Premieres June 19

Taste The Nation With Padma Lakshmi (Hulu): Premieres June 19

Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi steps out from behind the judges’ table for Hulu’s hybrid cooking and travel series Taste The Nation. As an executive producer, Lakshmi spent several years developing the concept behind the show, inspired by her own experience as an immigrant from India: In each of 10 half-hour episodes, Lakshmi visits homes and kitchens in 10 different American cities, to try to discover what it means to cook “American food”—or, for that matter, to be an American—in 2020. Lakshmi describes the series as a “living cookbook,” exploring everything from ancient Indigenous foodways to the culinary traditions of recent arrivals changing the way we eat today. That’s garnished with a generous dollop of Anthony Bourdain-style attitude, as reflected in footage in the series’ trailers of Lakshmi sipping beer and swearing profusely. [Katie Rife]

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Love, Victor (Hulu): Premieres June 19

Love, Victor (Hulu): Premieres June 19

Love, Victor is Hulu’s sweet 10-episode sequel series to the 2018 film Love, Simon. Like its predecessor, Love, Victor chronicles an adolescent boy’s path to coming out (and is written by Simon scribes Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, who adapted the original YA novel by Becky Albertalli, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda). This time, Simon (Nick Robinson) is a (mostly off-screen) mentor to new Creekside High student Victor (Michael Cimino), sending frequent texts to help guide him through his journey. Love, Victor was shuffled from Disney+ to Hulu, reportedly due to its “depiction of alcohol use, sexual exploration, and marital issues among parents.” But it seems extremely tame, as our nice-to-a-fault protagonist is torn between his magnetic classmate Mia (Rachel Naomi Hilson) and his hunky coworker Benjie (George Sear). There aren’t a lot of laughs to be had, but there’s more than enough charm to go around, thanks to Victor’s supportive mother (the always welcome Ana Ortiz) and his friendly, goofy neighbor Felix (Anthony Turpel). [Gwen Ihnat]

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Perry Mason (HBO): Premieres June 21

Perry Mason (HBO): Premieres June 21

Yes, everything old is new again, but who would have thought that HBO would be reduced to digging up Perry Mason, the CBS courtroom drama that debuted sixty-some years ago, starring Rear Window villain/future Ironside Raymond Burr? If you are going to bring a creaky property back, at least let it star Matthew Rhys in his first dramatic series since The Americans ended, alongside Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, with Robert Downey Jr. producing and frequent HBO director Timothy Van Patten behind the camera. This is supposedly the origin story for the legendary by-the-book defense attorney, set in Depression-era, noir-steeped L.A., where Rhys’ Perry is a grizzled private investigator who thinks everyone’s guilty and says, “There’s the law, and there’s what’s right.” (Burr is surely spinning in his grave.) Because of Rhys, we’ll be sure to check this out, but if you’re not even going to use the iconic theme song, HBO, why not just call this Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe? [Gwen Ihnat]

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Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (Netflix): Premieres June 23

Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (Netflix): Premieres June 23

Illustration for article titled The summer TV season kicks off with a soccer scandal, a iSimon/i sequel, and one iDirty John/i
Photo: Netflix

Eric Andre’s comedy isn’t always the most straightforward or obvious thing, with even his best mainstream work popping up in underappreciated stuff like Don’t Trust The B— In Apartment 23 or Man Seeking Woman, but a big Netflix comedy special—the first taped special he’s ever done—seems like the ideal way to be introduced to a guy who spent a few years generating loosely contained chaos on his Adult Swim talk show. Filmed during his Legalize Everything comedy tour, Netflix says the special “tackles flawed fast-food icons, the wonders of autofill, and the bizarre choice for the Cops theme song.” Hey now, those all sound suspiciously like traditional joke setups that aren’t intentionally bizarre or off-putting in any way, but we’ll have to see how that works in the actual special. Considering that Andre announced the special with an Instagram video that included an excessive amount of spinning around, we’re going to guess that things won’t be as traditional as Netflix implies. [Sam Barsanti]

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Adventure Time: Distant Lands-BMO (HBO Max): Premieres June 25

Adventure Time: Distant Lands-BMO (HBO Max): Premieres June 25

There’s at least one good thing about the streaming wars: We didn’t have to wait too long for it to be Adventure Time again. HBO Max ordered four specials last fall, the first of which premieres this month. As its title suggests, Adventure Time: Distant Lands-BMO, centers on BMO, Finn, and Jake’s little robot pal who’s always had Swiss Army knife-like capabilities for fun, but isn’t necessarily who you’d think to call to save a “doomed alien world [that] stands at the brink of destruction.” And yet, judging by the trailer, BMO manages to lose, er, lend a hand to some kind of planetary revolution. At the very least, they pick up a snappy new hat. [Danette Chavez]

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I’ll Be Gone In The Dark (HBO): Premieres June 28

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark (HBO): Premieres June 28

A long and painful journey comes to an end with I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, a hybrid exploration of both a serial killer who terrorized California in the 1970s and ’80s and the woman who died before her mission to find him was complete. That woman was Michelle McNamara, a crime writer whose obsession with discovering the identity of the so-called Golden State Killer—a nickname she coined in one of her articles—was cut short by her sudden death in 2016. Two years later, an arrest was finally made. Discussing McNamara’s life and work in this six-part docuseries are her husband, comedian Patton Oswalt, alongside investigative journalist Billy Jensen and cold-case investigator Paul Holes, among many others. Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Liz Garbus directs, with Amy Ryan reading from McNamara’s posthumously published book of the same name. [Katie Rife]

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Returning

Returning

Left: Billy Porter stars in The Twilight Zone (Photo: Dean Buscher/CBS); Right: Alia Shawkat stars in Search Party
Left: Billy Porter stars in The Twilight Zone (Photo: Dean Buscher/CBS); Right: Alia Shawkat stars in Search Party

Returning

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, season five (June 5); The Politician, season two (June 19); The Twilight Zone, season two (binge release, June 25); Search Party, season three (June 25, now on HBO Max); Doom Patrol, season two (June 25)

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