Summer's arrived and you're thinking, "I don't have time to watch TV — I'm an active, thriving human with months of outdoor fun ahead of me!" Yeah, keep telling yourself that.
I'm taking it easy on couch slugs who might actually leave the house this summer by keeping it short. Several TV series premiered over the winter and spring with truncated runs — that means fewer episodes, not a gastrointestinal vaccine side-effect — which can be consumed quickly before you peel yourself off the sofa.
Here are six recent series with a dozen episodes or less to check out before you inexplicably trade the air-conditioned bliss of home for the sun-scorched hell of "summer fun." I mean, get out there, 'Merica!
A Black Lady Sketch Show (Seasons 1-2 on HBO Max)
It's not an ironic name: A Black Lady Sketch Show is produced by, written by, and stars black women exclusively, including series creator Robin Thede, a long-overlooked comic force now running her own show. ABLSS' sketches take the Black perspectives of Chappelle's Show and Key & Peele to a new, female-centric level, and already have an instant-classic character in Thede's Dr. Haddassah Olayinka Ali-Youngman, a "hertep" philosopher with no fear (or discernable point). Coincidentally, the show takes place at the End of the World (too soon?).
Rutherford Falls (Season 1 on Peacock)
Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) is obsessed with keeping his founding family's legacy alive in the small town of Rutherford Falls; the local Minishonka Nation has bigger plans than dwelling on ancient white land-grabbers. The sweetly hilarious and complicated friendship between Nathan and Reagan Wells (Jana Shmieding) is the heart of Rutherford Falls, which subtly addresses Native American relations and, not so subtly, monuments to problematic colonizers (the town statue of founder "Big Larry" Rutherford is a progress roadblock and literal traffic hazard).
The Equalizer (Season 1 on Paramount+)
The original '80s Equalizer TV series was no great shakes, nor were Denzel Washington's 2014 and 2018 movies. Likewise, CBS' 2021 reboot is a glossy airball that's cheesier than a boatload of gouda wheels — and yet somehow, this Equalizer just works. Robin McCall (Queen Latifah) is a former — wait for it — special forces agent who deals out vigilante justice, aided by a married-couple hacker (Adam Goldberg) and sniper (Liza Lapira). How is this lavish, high-tech operation funded? Why can't the cops catch her? Who cares? The Equalizer coasts on cast charisma alone.
The Nevers (Season 1 on HBO Max)
Created by Joss Whedon (who's since left the show for "personal reasons," riiight), The Nevers is a visual feast of Victorian-era steampunk anarchy with a killer, nimble-tongued cast — so where's the hype? Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) runs a sanctuary for The Touched, people with "extraordinary powers" (like witches, or X-Men) not fully accepted in 1899 London — she's also exceedingly adept at drinking, fighting and screwing. Season 1 of The Nevers cements a universe over five episodes, only to blow it up in the sixth. Brace for impact.
Chad (Season 1 on TBS)
Not only did Nasim Pedrad (New Girl, Saturday Night Live) create, write and produce Chad, she also completely transforms her 30-something self into the titular 14-year-old Persian boy — let's see "brave" Kate Winslet pull that off. Chad is so desperate to fit in with the cool kids during his first year of high school that he's an insufferable dickhead to his friends, family and anyone in his path (so, typical 14-year-old boy). Pedrad pushes the cringe envelope to the limit, not so much creating comedy as inflicting it. Curb Your Enthusiasm has met its uncomfortable match.
Resident Alien (Season 1 on Peacock)
An alien who was on a mission to wipe out human life on Earth crash-lands in a small Colorado town and assumes the identity/body of local doctor Harry Vanderspeigle (Alan Tudyk). The new "Harry's" awkward attempts at being human somehow allow him to blend in, and Tudyk's bizarro-virtuoso performance absolutely sells the alien's intentions, both good and malevolent (he's still going to destroy humankind, even though he enjoys most people ... and whiskey). Also woven into Resident Alien is a murder mystery and Ancient Aliens' Giorgio A. Tsoukalos (!!). ♦