The Endless ThirstThis time last summer, it seemed like all anyone was talking about were the racist house guests on Big Brother 15; CBS’s first real attempt at genre television with Stephen King’s Under The Dome; the final eight-episode run of Breaking Bad; and binge-watching Orange is the New Black over on Netflix. But oh, how so much can change in a year.

Summer 2014 saw a season of new twists on Big Brother 16, but a surprisingly amicable group of house guests were quick to say they loved each other after only being in the house for a few weeks; another CBS genre product, the Halle Berry-helmed Extant; the fourth and final season of the oft-cancelled The Killing on Netflix; and an even darker season of Orange is the New Black.

The television that made the biggest splash this summer, though, was not the flashiest in genre or style. Instead, simpler, character-driven stories gripped audiences. Young adult viewers fell in love with ABC Family’s Chasing Life and its cancer-stricken heroine April (Italia Ricci); snarkier viewers saw themselves reflected in the modern relationships of FX’s You’re The Worst; and the Swedish import Welcome to Sweden from Greg Poehler charmed audiences on NBC.

The TV industry itself made waves during these months not only for scheduling these quality series, but for announcing the fate of a multitude of shows. In an attempt to boost audience confidence, and reward investment with long-term storytelling, a number of networks broke news about renewals while current seasons were only a few episodes in.

 Noah Wyle, Drew Roy, Maxim Knight

Falling Skies

Network: TNT
Renewal: Fifth and final season (10 episodes)
SSN Insight: After years of battling aliens, fighting alongside select aliens, being kidnapped and harnessed by aliens, and meeting the first true hybrid, the fighters of theSecond Mass have lost a few along the way. But despite the often bleak and violent story arcs, our heroes have had enough victories to imply the series will wrap up with a somewhat happy ending.

Finding Carter

Network: MTV
Renewal: Second season
SSN Insight: The freshman child-kidnapping coming-of-age drama will continue, though there was no acknowledgement from the network on whether or not series creator Emily Silver will be involved after Terri Minsky was brought on as executive produce for season one.

Halt and Catch Fire

Network: AMC
Renewal: Second season
SSN Insight: This summer saw a return to a simpler time of technology with AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, and next summer will as well. AMC renewed Chris Cantwell, Chris Rogers, and Jonathan Lisco’s computer drama for a second season to bow in summer 2015. “This is a show about invention, experimentation, and the inherent risks in trying to break new ground—themes that resonate with us as a network,” said president Charlie Collier. “We have a history of demonstrating patience through the early seasons of new shows, betting on talent, and building audience over time.”

THE LAST SHIP

The Last Ship

Network: TNT
Renewal: Second season
SSN Insight: Unafraid to burn through story, the first season already saw its characters find the cure for the virus that wiped out the majority of the world’s population—and that’s all before the season finale, too.

The Leftovers

Network: HBO
Renewal: Second season (potentially 7 episodes)
SSN Insight: HBO’s adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s novel spent the summer bumming out viewers with its bleak look at life after two percent of the world’s population disappears. Despite mixed reviews, HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo wanted more, saying, “It has been truly exciting to see the overwhelming response to their provocative and original storytelling. We look forward to continuing the journey as the show delves deeper into the lives of those who remain.”

Major Crimes

Network: TNT
Renewal: Fourth season (15 episodes)
SSN Insight: This long-running spin-off shows no signs of slowing down.

Episode 110

Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan

Network: Showtime
Renewal: Third season each
SSN Insight: Showtime delivered a two-fer when president David Nevins announced season three renewals for critical hits Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan. “Both [series] are quintessentially Showtime: bold, provocative, premium television with production values at the top of the food chain,” Nevins said.

The Night Shift

Network: NBC
Renewal: Second season
SSN Insight: NBC was happy to tout Gabe Sachs’ medical drama as one of the highest rated original summer series in years, so this pick-up was a no-brainer.

Rectify

Network: Sundance Channel
Renewal: Third season
SSN Insight: Network president and general manager Sarah Barnett said, “We feel as though this story has tapped into something truly unique, with both critics and audiences using their platforms to share strong, personal reactions to this very distinctive TV series.” While there is no confirmation yet on the number of episodes for season three, it will return in 2015.

the strain

The Strain

Network: FX
Renewal: Second season (13 episodes)
SSN Insight: This series marks the first time FX has run original content on Sunday night, and midway into its first season, CEO John Landgraf was proud to announce that it had already lived up to expectations. “Working with Guillermo del Toro, Carlton Cuse, and the brilliant cast has been everything we hoped it would be and more. It is thrilling when you have a show that is a creative and commercial hit, which is a rare accomplishment in this increasingly crowded marketplace.”

Switched at Birth

Network: ABC Family
Renewal: Fourth season
SSN Insight: Just before airing the season three finale that saw graduation for its core characters, ABC Family renewed the “new kind of family” drama. “Fans will be clamoring for season four and to know what happens with Daphne and Bay after the season three finale next week,” said president Tom Ascheim.

Undateable

Network: NBC
Renewal: Second season
SSN Insight: During the Summer 2014 TCA presentation, Bob Greenblatt talked about the success of his summer shows, noting that a sitcom like this one had lower rating expectations due to its time period. Though it can be a gamble to hold a show for a full calendar year from pick-up to premiere, it certainly paid off in this case.

Welcome to Sweden

Network: NBC
Renewal: Second season
SSN Insight: Sweden had already ordered a return to production for Greg Poehler’s semi-autobiographical comedy weeks before NBC announced they wanted more for its American audience, too. It was one of two imports this summer (Working the Engels was from Canada), but the only one to survive.

Danielle Turchiano

Danielle Turchiano got her start in film and television production but now chooses to write about the most important happenings in film and television. You can follow her on Twitter @danielletbd.

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