Outcast (Friday, June 3, Cinemax), series debut: While the fanboys are nerd-raging against each other over the authenticity of AMC’s Preacher, here comes another way-adult, based-on-a-comic-book property: Outcast, from Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman—and it’s so gut-wrenchingly creepy that it’ll only fuel the “Preacher shoulda been on premium cable!” fire. Outcast follows Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a man surrounded by demonic possessions since childhood, who’s drawn out of seclusion when a child on the other side of his rural West Virginia town goes full-on satanic sock puppet. The pilot suffers from unavoidable, but minor, instances of first-episode exposition clunk, but the scares and gore effects could keep even atheists up all night. Don’t watch this alone. Banshee almost did it, but Outcast should be the series to finally make Cinemax a player in the original-programming game. Did I mention … don’t watch this alone?
You May Now Kill the Bride (Saturday, June 4, Lifetime), movie: It’s all in the title when it comes to a Lifetime movie; done right, you don’t even have to watch it. Stolen From the Womb, All the Good Ones Are Married, A Nanny’s Revenge, Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, Where’s My Baby?, Sexting in Suburbia, Dirty Teacher, Stalked by My Doctor, Wrong Swipe—all real Lifetime movies, and all sufficiently self-explanatory. On the other hand, titles like Ultimate Deception, Like Dandelion Dust and Clara’s Deadly Secret (again, all actual movies) are useless. You May Now Kill the Bride has a catchy name (win!) that doesn’t encapsulate the plot (fail!): “Nicole and Mark get engaged, but his stepsister believes she has a claim on him and is willing to do anything to be his bride.” Please, allow me, Lifetime: Twisted Stepsister. Boom. Done.
Feed the Beast (Sunday, June 5, AMC), series debut: Between previews that practically scream for a “Breaking Bad meets Restaurant: Impossible!” tagline and the mere presence of David Schwimmer, it’s not easy to root for Feed the Beast, an unfocused oddity even by AMC’s usual “whatever works besides zombies” standards. Schwimmer and Jim Sturgess star as best buds attempting to open a high-end restaurant in the Bronx—and that’s the least of their problems: Schwimmer’s Tommy is a sad-sack widower with an emotionally-traumatized son, while Sturgess’ Dion is an ex-con who owes big money to bad people. Can this sullen wine sommelier and sketchy master chef make their culinary dreams come true? Or at least not get seared and deconstructed by the mob? More pressing, will Feed the Beast survive the move to Tuesdays after tonight’s premiere?
UnREAL (Monday, June 6, Lifetime), season premiere: Marti Noxon has contributed to some classic TV series (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men), and created at least one kinda-winner (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), but UnREAL is her left-field crowning achievement. When it premiered in 2015 on Lifetime—not a go-to for smart drama; see above—UnReal seemed like a straight-forward morality play behind the scenes of a Bachelor-style reality-dating show; Constance Zimmer was the ruthless producer, butting heads with her conscience-burdened second-in-command, Shiri Appleby … but then it got dark, spinning their presumed roles in unpredictable directions. Season 1 broke new “reality TV” ground by killing off a contestant; Season 2 goes even further by casting—brace yourselves, Trumpsters!—an African-American bachelor! UnReal > The Bachelorette.
Casual (Tuesday, June 7, Hulu), season premiere: Director Jason Reitman’s Casual (referencing a dating-app preference level, not fashion sense … well, not entirely) struck another small blow for the Streaming Shows Are Cool, Too! uprising that threatens broadcast and cable’s ever-loosening hold on the original-content market when it premiered on Hulu just last October. Stars Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey, as a divorcee single mom and her bachelor brother living together and trying to figure out modern dating, turned what could have been a one-joke series about awkward hookups into a surprisingly sweet—and occasionally sad—comedy about not just familial dysfunction, but all of the dysfunctions. Season 2 of Casual expands from dating and sex into even more treacherous territory: making and keeping new friends at a “certain age.” Not quite as scary as Outcast … but close.