SUMMER CATCH-UP!

It's marathon weather! Use these scorching days to discover incredibly cool shows you may have missed

SCANDAL

AVAILABLE ON HULU PLUS

With season 2, ABC's political melodrama starring Kerry Washington shot to delirious heights: What other show has a President as a lovesick stalker? Snack food of the highest quality. (BET will be repeating both seasons as a marathon in August.)

THE AMERICANS

iTUNES

FX's new drama about a suburban couple spying for Russia in the 1980s has the pinched, furrowed sadness of a John le Carré espionage novel. With fine performances by Matthew Rhys and especially Keri Russell, it's as much a portrait of a deteriorating marriage as it is a thriller.

HOUSE OF CARDS

NETFLIX

Kevin Spacey, prince of deadpan disdain, plays a U.S. Congressman who's reached middle age and realizes he'll have to shove a few people off and under the merry-go-round if he's to grasp the brass ring. The British original (also on Netflix) is fleeter and funnier. But watch Spacey's version first.

TOP OF THE LAKE

iTUNES

Oscar-winner Jane Campion directed this brooding, brutal New Zealand miniseries about a cop who returns to her hometown and gets caught up in a case. (Sundance will rerun the whole thing June 28.) Elisabeth Moss, continents away from Mad Men, is excellent as the cop.

THE FOLLOWING

AMAZON INSTANT VIDEO

The breathless FOX hit pits FBI agent Kevin Bacon against serial killer James Purefoy, a literary poseur whose true genius is for orchestrating crimes from behind bars.

Big Brother

CBS, Sundays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. ET/PT; Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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REALITY

Big Brother has become a hot-button topic because two players, notably a college student named Aaryn, have made racist comments to and about other house members. Shouldn't these people be told before shooting that hate speech won't be tolerated? That a panel will slide open under their feet and they'll fall down a long shoot that deposits them on a distant landfill? You can argue that the show is simply letting us see these contestants for their true, unfiltered selves. And yet Aaryn's insults, even though they upset her housemates, have not (so far) been a determining factor in anyone's strategy. The big buzz remains about how to eject the strong. Racism? That's simply one card to be played from a large deck. Wrong.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO TOM: tomsreviews@peoplemag.com

PRISON PRINCESS

Your character Piper is imprisoned for a crime committed when she was much younger. Ever afraid your past will come back to haunt you?

I know I've done things. Everyone's had a period where you feel invincible and don't think about the consequences. That's what is relatable about this story.

How did you start acting?

I did a play when I was 11. I was pushed into it as an after-school activity because I wasn't good at sports. I loved it, but my teenage years took over, and I didn't act much. Later I didn't want to go to college until I realized I could audition for [drama] schools, so I did that and moved out to New York.

You graduated just a few years ago and have already worked with Zac Efron (The Lucky One) and Ben Affleck (Argo).

Zac's such a gentleman and such a talented performer. And Ben is so down to earth. I'm from Boston [like he is], and I felt an instant connection.

Hell on Wheels, AMC's drama about 1860s railroad-building, can be a bit stiff - as westerns go, it needs spaghetti. Season 3 starts with Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), grim hero of the Union Pacific, almost literally frozen in shock after a Sioux attack. But he rouses himself, pays a visit east, and things heat up. The history behind the story is tremendous - you feel its pulse.

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Ten years after the groundbreaking show's debut, the 'Fab Five' are still living the fierce life

JAI RODRIGUEZ

Being called "queer" for the show "gave me pause," the Malibu Country actor, 34, admits. He currently stars in the musical In the Heights.

CARSON KRESSLEY

"Queer Eye made me comfortable being me," says the Dancing with the Stars alum, 43, whose next project is a fashion line.

THOM FILICIA

"I learned a lot about myself while influencing a generation," says the interior designer, 44, who authored American Beauty.

KYAN DOUGLAS

Douglas, 43, has been a frequent expert on Rachael Ray and is currently traveling through India with the Miracle Foundation.

TED ALLEN

Allen, 48, went on to host Chopped, and recently announced his engagement to Barry Rice, his partner of 20 years. "It's incredibly exciting!" he tells PEOPLE.

Animal Planet's Gator Boys boils down to the same scene played over and over: Alligator wrestler-wranglers Paul Bedard and Jimmy Riffle are called in to capture a gator that has crawled out of the waters of the Everglades and wound up in someone's pond or even garage. The animal thrashes about in misery and opens its mouth so wide you could drive in a team of oxen. This never loses its thrill. Hamster Boys, that'd be different.

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You play a lot of villains and your character on the Starz series is dark!

My mother won't talk to me after [she watches]. She's horrified by my rendition of Ben Diamond! My character is depraved. It takes her time [to calm down].

You grew up on sets with your father, legendary director John Huston.

As a kid I always had a Super 8 camera and was observing him. It was something I wanted to do, but I realized it's a whole circus act.

How is costarring with your girlfriend Olga Kurylenko?

We stay together in Miami, and I have my daughter [Stella, 10], so when one [of us] is working, the other can help. It has a sort of harmony.