We know that summer is almost upon us because The Bachelorette (ABC, CITY-TV, 9:30 p.m.) is back.
It's the usual thing: "Andi, an assistant district attorney from Atlanta, meets her suitors – including a former professional baseball player, a social media marketer, a farmer and an opera singer." It takes 90 minutes to get this under way tonight.
According to ABC's copious announcements, our heroine, Andi Dorfman, got her law degree from Wake Forest University in 2012 and has been "prosecuting criminals ever since." This information would not pass muster in a court of law. Andi, as devotees of The Bachelor will know, was on the most recent edition of that show. She was one of the final three being sized up by the rather creepy Bachelor, Juan Pablo, and gave him a piece of her mind.
Thus we can calculate that Andi has not actually spent a lot of time "prosecuting criminals," but has spent a good deal of her time being busy on reality TV shows. That's okay. A lot of people spend their summer watching trashy TV. More fun than prosecuting no-goodniks.
My message today is this: Don't let anyone tell you that watching trashy TV is wrong. Fight for your right to watch it. Your brain will not turn to mush. If you are inclined to watch Andi cast an eye over oodles of chiselled men who, for various reasons, constantly take their shirts off, then go for it.
Now, it is perfectly true that good, demanding TV of storytelling depth and strength will arrive this summer. Orange Is The New Black returns to Netflix on June 6. And later in June, HBO delivers The Leftovers, one of the best new and serious dramas of the year. From Damon Lindelof (co-creator of Lost), and adapted from author Tom Perrotta's 2011 novel, it is set in a world left traumatized by the mysterious disappearance of 2 per cent of the population. Is this the biblical rapture? How do those left behind begin to order and manage a civilization under such ominous threat? It's thrillingly good and provocative. Also returning are Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex, both on July 13.
But you're entitled to laze away the summer with silliness if you want. The nutty and utterly cheesy Mistresses returns to ABC in early June, about women who are mistresses to fellas with loads of money. Angst and the wearing of very unsuitable apparel ensue. Under the Dome returns to CBS on June 30. The first season of this mad adaptation of the Stephen King novel did very well last year. Not because it was gripping and oh-my-gawd shocking, but because it was crazily implausible and more melodramatic than an afternoon soap opera. Enjoy it, if that's your bag.
In late summer, by the time this edition of The Bachelorette is ending, and Andi may have found her perfect man, along comes another variation on the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise. It's ABC's Bachelor in Paradise, which is set in an "isolated romantic paradise." This stuff happens: "The romantic dating series will feature new twists, shocking surprises, unexpected guests and some of the most unlikely relationships in Bachelor history, plus all the usual romance, drama and tears we've come to expect from the Bachelor franchise." There you go – more hook-ups, chaps taking off their shirts and women in sparkly clothes vying for some guy's attention.
It's silliness, but summer's the time for that. It has been a long, long winter. Let your snobbery fall away. Enjoy the trash.
Also airing tonight
Independent Lens: God Loves Uganda (most PBS stations, 9:30 p.m.) is a fine and disturbing documentary about the U.S. evangelical movement in Uganda. There, American missionaries finance and build schools and hospitals. At the same time, they are being blamed for "promoting dangerous religious bigotry." In particular the American evangelicals are blamed for intolerance of homosexuality and anti-gay laws that have been enacted.
All times ET. Check local listings.