This summer’s returning TV favorites have whipped fans into a frenzy thanks to a combination of cliffhanger endings, outrageously long gaps between seasons, and just being really good. It’s such a special combination, in fact, that it required a mathematical formula to assess.
Summer Schlock Spectrum
VH1, starting July 10
Heidi Montag, Danielle Staub, Jake Pavelka, Ashley Dupré, Juicy J and D.J. Paul from Three 6 Mafia, and Vincent Pastore compete for the chance to open their own restaurant in L.A. No one wants this, VH1.
Food Network, starting June 26
If there’s something more revolting than food prepared using cuticle scissors, it’s that there’s an entire show in which chefs are given sadistic challenges, like fetching ingredients from a bucket of snakes.
Staten Island Cakes
We, starting June 21
It’s a crazy family show and a crazy cake show all in one! And 21-year-old baker-prodigy Vinny and his boisterous family just didn’t realize that the universe is maxed out on both.
Ryan and Tatum, the O’Neals
OWN, starting June 19
Tatum O’Neal describes her family as “broken,” and this show proves it. But the inherent phoniness of celebrity reality TV curdles any emotional authenticity.
TV Guide Network, starting June 21
A nail salon so froufrou only celebrities could love it; a salon owner so over the top it’s like she was born to be on a reality show. Do a lot of business- people say “holy shizzballs”?
IFC, starting August 5
Competitive beard-growing and -grooming finally make the leap from meme to show, but there’s also a hypnotic, almost transcendent quality to a beard one could hide a baby in.
Travel Channel, Sundays
Focuses on an area of customized artistry most civilians don’t even know exists—massive and elaborate sand sculptures— and the level of artistry is hard to pooh-pooh.
Oh my god, my eyes!
I love it despite my better instincts