Media Manda is back with her latest TV trends and perfect excuses to escape the summer heat. Kick back on the couch and enjoy the air conditioning while checking out what’s new in July.

By Amanda Thornton (aka Media Manda)


Unscripted Series to Watch for the Month

The 2000s – CNN, premieres July 8

The seven-part CNN Original Series explores the cultural and political milestones of the decade, including technological triumphs like the iPhone and social media, President George W. Bush’s war on terror and response to Hurricane Katrina, Barack Obama’s presidential election and the financial crisis, hip-hop’s rise to dominance and a creative renaissance in television. The 2000s combines archival footage and interviews with journalists, historians, musicians and stars for a captivating series for everyone.


REVIEW: The other series in the “Decades” umbrella on CNN have all been fascinating shows. This series will most likely be the last one they produce for a while, at least until the 2010s are over. I can’t wait to tune in and re-live history all over again.



No Passport Required – PBS, premieres July 10

Chef Marcus Samuelsson embodies America’s extraordinarily rich cultural diversity —born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and a proud resident of Harlem. In this series, Samuelsson explores the best global cuisine hidden in America’s communities— from the flavorful fare of Washington, DC’s Little Ethiopia to Fremont, California’s Little Kabul, with its large Afghan population, to the thriving Vietnamese shrimpers on the bayous of Louisiana.


REVIEW: This series was definitely inspired by series hosted by Anthony Bourdain. This aspect that seems to make it different from those series is that it will focus on immigrant communities in America since that is a very hot topic today. It looks like an interesting series.



In Search Of – History Channel, premieres July 20

Inspired by the iconic 1970s’ franchise of the same name, “In Search Of” is an investigative series that delves into all manners of mysterious phenomena throughout the world. Emmy-nominated actor, Zachary Quinto executive produces and hosts the series as the lead investigator, searching for answers to some of the world’s largest mysteries. From the mythical to the scientific, each one-hour episode follows Quinto as he investigates a different subject within a dynamic theme – such as superhumans, alien life, artificial intelligence, Atlantis, time travel, mysterious creatures and much more in search of the truth to some of the world’s greatest mysteries.


REVIEW: I’ve never seen the original series this show is “inspired by” but it sounds interesting. I just hope they don’t get too into any myths or supernatural elements that are far-fetched and could downgrade the other factual scientific elements in the series. Overall, it looks like a fascinating series to watch.



Making It – NBC, premieres July 31

In this six-episode competition, eight of the most talented makers from across the country will take on a variety of handmade projects with the hopes of impressing Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman and expert judges, Simon Doonan and Dayna Isom Johnson. Poehler and Offerman both share a love of, and passion for, craftsmanship, albeit from different perspectives. Poehler is a self-proclaimed crafting novice who has long harbored a secret appreciation for those who can imagine and execute incredible things by hand. Offerman is a New York Times best-selling author in the woodworking space and is well known for his love for making a variety of objects himself.


REVIEW: I’m happy to watch any series that reunites Parks and Recreation stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. It will be a funny dynamic to see Amy Poehler not understanding how any of the contestants are making their crafts since she’s a novice. And then, they’ll have Nick Offerman explain to her how it all gets made. This series looks like it will be a blast.



Scripted Series to Watch for the Month

Sharp Objects – HBO, premieres July 8

Based on the book of the same name by New York Times bestselling author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), this eight-episode series tells the story of a reporter who returns to her small hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Trying to put together a psychological puzzle from her past, she finds herself identifying with the young victims a bit too closely. Staring Amy Adams. Written by Marti Nixon and Gillian Flynn. 


REVIEW: I just read this book in two days over a weekend recently to prepare for this series and now I’m very excited to see how it all plays out compared to the book. It is interesting to note that Gillian Flynn, the author of the book, it a co-writer on the series, so it’s nice to know the show most likely has her full approval. Hopefully, Amy Adams can finally win an Emmy award with the help of this series, which will lead her to the Oscar she’s always deserved (five nominations, zero wins over eight years). I can’t wait to watch. I recommend reading the book beforehand. It’s an easy read.