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[Editor’s note: The following contains light spoilers for each of the shows described.]
10. “What Would Diplo Do”
Season 1, Episode 2, “The Cult”
Directed by Brandon Dermer
Written by James Van Der Beek
“What would Diplo do?” is a question addressed throughout the first few episodes of Viceland’s new comedy, but what Diplo actually does gets tackled head on in Episode 2. Functioning as a response to Diplo’s most human moment in the pilot (asking nemesis Calvin Harris if all they do as DJs is push a button), the episode examines the creation of one song — just one — over the course of, well, quite a long time.
When a reporter stops by to write a story on how Diplo (James Van Der Beek) creates a song, he becomes witness to a maniacal process involving rats, post-its, a blender, and, yes, a cult. The running joke is that Diplo goes to crazy extremes just to get back to where he started, but there’s a lot of fun to be had in his circular route.
9. “Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later”
Season 2, Episode 2, “Softball”
Directed by David Wain
Written by Christina Lee & Michael Showalter
The second season of “Wet Hot American Summer” incorporates a few new faces in the Camp Firewood fray, and they’re actually pretty fantastic additions. Mark Feuerstein and Sarah Burns are a new couple who pretend like they’ve always been part of the group. Adam Scott replaces Bradley Cooper as Ben, and Jai Courtney is a big lug from Hollywood having a fling with his producer (Amy Poehler).
But no one can compare to the O.G. camper. Andy — Paul Rudd’s cool, immature, and dim-witted ladies man originated in the movie — is still the best, in all his plate-chucking, wind-surfing, soul-patched glory. That he’s challenged for camp supremacy in “Softball” is an excellent idea meant to bring out the best in the character by flaunting his worst traits, and boy does it ever work. As Andy tries to usurp new cool kid Deegs’ (Skyler Gisondo) reign, he drops the best joke of the season:
“I’m your second worst nightmare.”
“What’s my worst nightmare?”
“Me, fucking your mom.”
8. “The Sinner”
Season 1, Episode 4, “Part IV”
Directed by Brad Anderson
Written by Liz W. Garcia
One of the first takeaways from “The Sinner,” Jessica Biel’s new murder-mystery limited series on USA, is that its premise seems rather thin. A woman stabs a man on the beach in front of dozens of witnesses, and she’s arrested for it. She doesn’t know the man, nor did he do anything to provoke her. So why did she do it?
That’s the only question we’re given to dwell on after an hour, leaving six more to find a proper answer. But Derek Simonds’ show has accomplished far more than could have been assumed at the onset, and “Part IV” is where things really take a fascinating turn. For a show to start off with some saying, “I’m glad this is a limited series,” it’s sure transitioned nicely into making us want more, more, more.
7. “The Bold Type”
Season 1, Episode 6, “The Breast Issue”
Directed by Jamie Travis
Written by Matt McGuinness
The new Freeform drama about three women working for a magazine in New York has caught an early cult following for good reason. Blending the serious nature of a life in journalism (at least, a life covering global women’s issues) and the frivolity of a solid romantic-comedy, “The Bold Type” gets it right more often than it doesn’t, making for a just-the-right-side-of-fun series — and “The Breast Issue” strikes that chord by balancing plot lines involving bringing more attention to breast cancer and searching for a fancy, lost necklace. It’s a series that’s easy to binge, but relevant enough to be worth remembering.
6. “The Carmichael Show”
Season 3, Episodes 12 & 13, “Three-Year Anniversary” & “Gold Diggers”
Directed by Gerry Cohen
Written by Josh Rabinowitz & Kevin Barnett
“The Carmichael Show” didn’t get to say goodbye, but maybe that’s for the best. One of the charms inherent to Jerrod Carmichael’s anything-but-traditional multi-cam sitcom was the surprise reveal of each week’s topic. Whether it was Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, or the appropriate way to call a military veteran an asshole, Carmichael’s unique perspective always provided insight and humor into relevant discussions.
In its final two episodes, the cast tackled the evolving nature of long-term marriages and financial transparency between couples — and was damn funny doing it. Earnest in its topicality and filled with the beating heart of the best family comedies, “The Carmichael Show” went out as it came in: swinging.
Continue reading for the five best TV episodes of August.