If you are a TV viewer of a certain age, you remember the days when summer was a TV desert of reruns and whatever “The Starland Vocal Band Show” was supposed to be. (“Afternoon Delight” did not sound any better after dark.)
But in this time of Maximum Television, the long no-school days and no-bedtime nights of summer mean more time to catch up on the year’s TV bounty before the obligations of fall rear their pesky heads. Here are six terrific shows to watch while the viewing is still easy. Four of the six — “Pachinko,” “Our Flag Means Death,” “Minx” and “Julia” — are new series that have already been renewed for their second seasons, so what are you waiting for?
A feast for the eyes and a banquet for the brain, Apple TV+’s opulent series based on Min Jin Lee’s 2017 novel of the same name is one of the best things TV has given us all year. On the one hand, this multigenerational saga about a Korean family struggling with racism in Japanese-occupied Korea and then in Japan is an epic, complete with natural disasters, historic upheavals and big-ticket issues. It is also a deeply personal story about love and loss, success and sacrifice, and the way blood ties can be a safety net and a tripwire.
The Oscar-winning Youn Yuh-jung (“Minari”) leads a spectacular cast that also includes heartthrob Lee Min-ho (“Boys Over Flowers”) and stunning newcomer Minha Kim. Check out the Emmy-nominated opening credits sequence for a taste of the riches to come. Eight episodes, Apple TV+
“Look at You”
Don’t be lulled by the bouncing ponytail. Taylor Tomlinson may look like a cheerleader, but she is, in fact, a stone-cold comedy assassin. In her latest stiletto-sharp stand-up special for Netflix, the Temecula-raised comedian ruthlessly excavates her life for breezy jokes about devastating subjects. In this tight, perfectly constructed set, Tomlinson deals with sex, religion, anxiety and the repercussions of her mother’s early death with a brainy humor that is super dark and also joyfully cathartic. Her touch is light, but her aim is true. Ouch. And, thank you. One Hour, Netflix
“Our Flag Means Death”
Silly pirates! Given the many challenges of the last few years, the pitch for this rollicking oddball comedy could have stopped there and I would have watched it anyway. But creator David Jenkins (“People of Earth”) infuses this tale of 18th-century gentleman pirate Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby, “Flight of the Conchords”) and his bumbling crew with so much warmth and bawdy humor, the show becomes more than an easy escape.
With executive producer Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”) co-starring as a surprisingly conflicted Blackbeard, this 10-episode HBO Max comedy has a romping good time skewering gender stereotypes and championing LGBTQ love and friendship, all while giving kindness a good name . It swears like a sailor, but inside, “Our Flag Means Death” is a sweetheart. Ten half-hour episodes, HBO Max
Set in the swinging ’70s, HBO Max’s “Minx” tells the not-true story of an ambitious journalist named Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond, “Elementary”), who makes her dreams of creating a feminist magazine come semi-true by making a deal with the Devil in the form of Doug (Jake Johnson, “New Girl”), the macho head of the Bottom Dollar porn magazine empire. Joyce gets a venue for her consciousness-raising articles and Doug gets to corner the female market with full-frontal male centerfolds. Odd-couple fun and equal-opportunity nudity ensues.
Before the show goes wandering into the plot wilderness in the last few episodes, creator Ellen Rapoport and her team mix Joyce’s bristling feminism and Doug’s brash opportunism into a heady comic cocktail that might remind you of “GLOW” at its high-wire best. The first season of “Minx” does not hit all of its marks all of the time, but you will have a great time watching it try. Ten half-hour episodes, HBO Max
Jerrod Carmichael’s Emmy-nominated HBO stand-up special is less about comedy than it is about confession. In this intimate set shot at New York City’s legendary Blue Note Jazz Club and directed by comedian and filmmaker Bo Burnham (“Inside”), Carmichael lets us in on a dark host of family secrets. His first name is not really Jerrod. He comes from a long line of unfaithful men. His mother loves him but cannot accept him. He’s not completely sure he can accept himself.
If this does not sound like comedy to you, it becomes comedy when Carmichael gets a hold of it. A master of laconic understatement and digs that will turn your gasps into guffaws, Carmichael spins a true tale that captures the knotty challenge of being human — secrets, lies and all that jazz. Fifty-five minutes, HBO Max
Starving for TV sustenance? Something filling, but not heavy? Sweet, but not cloying? Sophisticated, but never, ever snobby? Then pour yourself a glass of something special and prepare to toast “Julia,” HBO Max’s affectionate, witty series inspired by the legendary Julia Child and the creation of her groundbreaking cooking show, “The French Chef.”
With her fluty voice and much-lampooned kitchen shenanigans, Child has always been ripe for caricature. But British actress Sarah Lancashire (“Happy Valley”) gives her the depth, dignity and hearty humor she deserves.
With priceless support from David Hyde Pierce as Child’s loving, occasionally prickly husband, Bebe Neuwirth as Julia’s straight-talking best friend, and Fiona Glascott as her loyal cookbook editor, “Julia” dishes out equal portions of witty repartee and character-driven drama. Bon appetit! And save room for Season 2. Eight episodes, HBO Max