A generation ago, the end of the broadcast networks' season meant the beginning of the "nothing worth watching" season. Thankfully, that's not the case anymore, as cable channels now take advantage of the networks' break to roll out new material. And in recent years, the networks themselves have been setting aside certain shows as summer staples.
Here's a sampling of the new series debuting and old favorites returning in coming weeks.
Keeping it real:
"Tosh.0," returns Tuesday, May 17, on Comedy Central, with Daniel Tosh surfing the Net for embarrassing videos so you don't have to. Speaking of embarrassing, "Bridezillas" is back June 12 on WE: Women's Entertainment with a new batch of brides behaving badly.
Those who like to watch other people work can check out "Million Dollar Decorators," debuting May 31 on Bravo.
And then there's Paris. Yes, that Paris. In her new Oxygen series, "The World According to Paris," premiering June 1, Ms. Hilton opens her life up to the cameras without the gimmickry of "The Simple Life."
Oh, the drama!
For those who like their drama fictional, the cablenets have you covered.
On TNT, Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula return in new episodes of "Men of a Certain Age" on June 1. Jada Pinkett Smith's "HawthoRNe" and Jason Lee's "Memphis Beat" return on June 14. Timothy Hutton and his band of white-collar vigilantes are back in "Leverage" on June 26. Kyra Sedgwick returns for the final season of "The Closer" on July 11; the Season 2 premiere of "Rizzoli & Isles" immediately follows.
New to TNT are "Franklin & Bash" (June 1), with Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer as rebellious young lawyers, and "Falling Skies" (June 19), an alien invasion tale executive produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Noah Wyle.
USA Network brings back mismatched crime-fighting partners Peter Burke and Neil Caffrey (Tim DeKay, Matthew Bomer) in "White Collar" on June 7. Also returning that night is Piper Perabo's spy drama "Covert Affairs." Jeffrey Donovan's "Burn Notice" is back on June 23, and Mark Feuerstein picks up his stethoscope for more "Royal Pains" starting June 29.
On June 23, USA launches "Suits," starring Patrick J. Adams as a brilliant college dropout posing as a lawyer. "Necessary Roughness" debuts on June 29, with Callie Thorne as a football team's resident therapist.
Syfy begins new seasons of "Eureka" and "Warehouse 13" on July 11. That same night, it debuts "Alphas," about ordinary people with extraordinary powers who use them to solve and prevent crimes. "Haven" begins a new season on July 15.
ABC Family has two new drama series: "Switched at Birth" (June 6), about two teen girls who discover they were ... well, you know, and "The Nine Lives of Chloe King" (June 14), starring Skyler Samuels as a high-schooler who develops catlike powers. Also on June 14, "Pretty Little Liars" begins a new season.
Not to be outdone by all the drama on cable, ABC launches the second season of "Rookie Blue" on June 16 and debuts "Combat Hospital," a medical drama set in Afghanistan, on June 21.
In it to win it:
Fans of competitive reality series have lots of choices on both network and cable. "The Bachelorette" returns to ABC on May 23. "So You Think You Can Dance" is back May 26 on Fox. "America's Got Talent" returns May 31 on NBC. "Big Brother" launches Season 13 July 8 on CBS. A new season of "Design Star" begins July 11 on HGTV, "Hell's Kitchen" returns to Fox on July 19, and ABC's "Bachelor Pad" starts its sophomore season on Aug. 8.
New this summer are Bravo's "Platinum Hit" (May 30), a songwriting competition hosted by Kara DioGuardi and Jewel; NBC's "Love in the Wild" (June 1), a dating show set in the Costa Rican jungle; and ABC's "Take the Money and Run" (July 28), a hybrid of "The Amazing Race" and "The Fugitive," with contestants playing cat-and-mouse with law enforcement officers.
For those who prefer short-form competitive reality game shows ABC airs a new round of "Wipeout" and premieres "101 Ways to Leave a Game Show" on June 16. The latter is your basic trivia contest, but losers are ejected in creative ways.
Just to have a laugh:
New summer comedy series include TV Land's "Happily Divorced" (June 15), with Fran Drescher putting a funny spin on her real-life marital drama, and FX's "Wilfred" (June 23), a remake of a quirky Australian series about a very unusual dog. On June 29, ABC Family debuts "The Great State of Georgia," with Raven-Symone as an aspiring actress in New York, and launches season two of "Melissa & Joey."
On July 19, the online series "Web Therapy" makes its television debut on Showtime. It stars Lisa Kudrow as a therapist who counsels clients via webcam.