For the scariest month of the year, Netflix is filling its library with the scariest thing imaginable: puberty. Yes, Big Mouth is finally back for a second season to share with viewers what might be humanity’s most universal experience—the awkward journey to adolescence, complete with pubes, semen gags, Hormone Monsters, and the newly introduced Shame Wizard. It’s gonna be good and oh so gross. Elsewhere, other unconventional frights will be streaming, from the surrealist terrors of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive to the hyper-paranoid headspace of Mr. Robot Season 3.
To see what else October has in store on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, here is The Ringer’s monthly guide to the top streaming picks of the month, as well as some random recommendations staffers couldn’t shut up about. Let’s dive in.
What’s New to Streaming in October
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
Big Mouth Season 2 (coming to Netflix on October 5)
Alison Herman: As much as Big Mouth’s blue streak can be enjoyed in its own right, it also serves a larger, sweeter goal. In helping its protagonists adjust to their new normal, Big Mouth wants to do its small part in helping viewers make peace with their own—whether they’re real-life tweens hijacking their parents’ Netflix accounts or, like its creators, several decades past that point in their lives.
You Were Never Really Here (Amazon Prime, October 26)
Adam Nayman: Tweaking the familiar until it becomes unexpected is the M.O. of You Were Never Really Here. It’s a film that uses an entire designer arsenal to hit a series of relatively obvious narrative beats. Sometimes, the blows land with the blunt force of the hammer wielded by its main character, Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), an ex-soldier turned freelance avenger whose hard-hitting reputation precedes him. (“I heard you were brutal,” enthuses one client.) Elsewhere, the impact is softened, like a steel claw wrapped in gossamer.
Mr. Robot Season 3 (Amazon Prime, October 11)
Herman: Mr. Robot strives for a delicate balance between personal angst and geopolitical turmoil, transparency and opacity. It’s a synthesis so staggeringly ambitious it’s little wonder the series stumbled, but when the show satisfies its goals, Mr. Robot achieves a perfect fusion of mood and theme that’s rarely found elsewhere on TV.
Slice (Amazon Prime, October 18)
James Hughes: [Joliet, Illinois] is perhaps best remembered onscreen as the jailbird home of The Blues Brothers, though because of Slice’s mix of humor, horror, and practical effects, it shares more DNA with other early-’80s John Landis works, namely the “Thriller” video and An American Werewolf in London. Only with pizza.
Mulholland Drive (Hulu and Amazon Prime, October 1)
Rob Harvilla: Mulholland Drive is a surrealist mystery, and a deranged adventure, and a love letter to Hollywood that morphs into something more like a suicide note. It is La La Land as brutally reimagined by … well, David Lynch. It’s arguably his best movie, and even more arguably his most complete movie, with a beginning, a middle, and an end — just maybe not in that order.
Castlevania Season 2 (Netflix, October 26)
Micah Peters: The animation is kinetic and lively — like if the best fights in Naruto were crafted with slightly older teenagers in mind — which, coupled with the whip Belmont carries for whatever reason, makes for some sumptuous fight choreography. The best of these sequences are the ones when Belmont is fully engaged, but the most entertaining ones are when he’s either drunk or trying to sober up.
RBG (Hulu, October 3)
Sean Fennessey: [RBG] is largely hagiography, an access-driven vision of a beloved, tireless activist jurist with a staggering record as a legal advocate for equal rights. It is dotted with nods to Her Honor’s viral late life, including the Notorious RBG moniker, Kate McKinnon’s caricature on Saturday Night Live, and her willed-from-dreams participation in the opera. Its tone is fizzy for biography, even peppy at times.
Blade (Netflix, October 1)
Justin Charity: Twenty years before Marvel’s Black Panther, there was Blade, which the film’s black star, Wesley Snipes, took it upon himself to produce. Given the movie’s repression in a post–Black Panther discourse, you’d maybe suspect that Blade was some schlock catastrophe, à la Batman & Robin, a franchise film better left forgotten in light of subsequent superior installments. But the original Blade was big, it was successful, and, most importantly, it’s still great. Few comic superhero movies of the past couple of decades make an origin story seem rather unlike a chore, and combat seem rather unlike a farce.
Great News Season 2 (Netflix, October 25)
Herman: It’s [Diana St. Tropez] who instigates the rebrand of Great News’ show-within-a-show into a deliberately provocative piece of infotainment, driven by opinionated guests like a “transracial fracking misunderstander” and a gay dog. She’s essential to Great News’ maturation into a surprisingly apt work of media criticism, including such eerily prescient plots as a sexual harassment story line modeled after Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes that just happened to air a week after The New York Times’ Harvey Weinstein revelations.
Some New-ish Things You Might’ve Missed
Because it’s hard to keep up with everything, here are a few things that have premiered somewhat recently that may be worth catching up on.
American Vandal Season 2 (on Netflix)
Claire McNear: The thing to know about Season 2 of American Vandal is that it is, against all odds, a pretty dark ride. The crimes escalate from the vandalism and E. coli dispersal at the outset to, among other things, the mass dissemination of child pornography and the systematic blackmail of a group of especially vulnerable teenagers. (In the end, the culprit is sentenced to two years in prison; one thinks that in the real world the sentence would have been … more.) There is predatory behavior by a teacher; there is a disaffected young man quietly seething and plotting against classmates that he feels wronged him, spurred on by radicalization on 4chan. It is, if you’ll forgive the pun, some real shit.
The First (on Hulu)
Michael Baumann: The First is at its best when it strays away from its two leads and plays up the juxtaposition of the relatability of its supporting characters and the enormousness of the goal they aim to accomplish, which is going to Mars. That’s why spaceflight is so inspirational in the first place; talented and driven people, but people nonetheless, can come together to do difficult and important things. The First, for all its faults, understands that perfectly.
Maniac (on Netflix)
Herman: For a show involving mental illness, psychoactive drugs, and constantly shifting ground rules, Maniac has a narrative throughline that’s surprisingly easy to follow. Maniac isn’t a mystery box show in the vein of Westworld or Mr. Robot, and it avoids those shows’ worst excesses when it comes to blurring together an unreliable narrator’s perspective and the series’ own; it’s not terribly difficult to distinguish what’s “real” from what’s not.
Forever (on Amazon Prime)
Herman: [Forever’s first] season never drags or bloats, in the vein of so many other streaming shows. Instead, it feels like the best possible application of the internet’s freedoms: a structure that’s unorthodox and experimental enough to accommodate its leads’ unique charisma.
Norm Macdonald Has a Show (on Netflix)
Harvilla: Norm Macdonald Has a Show is sparse and loose to the point of total collapse. It consists of 10 half-hour episodes dumped all at once, one guest apiece, with a sparse set save the neon-blue “Norm” sign hanging on the desk and the Netflix-branded fridge stocked with water and Red Bull. (“Look at this shit,” Macdonald crows to Michael Keaton, offering him a beverage.) There is no audience save the mingling crew, which can sound like a dozen boisterous people when they’re delighted and several hundred dead-silent people when they’re ill at ease.
BoJack Horseman Season 5 (on Netflix)
Herman: One of BoJack’s most admirable choices this season is its recognition that, by all measures, its title character is one of those “dirtbag guys.” A jerk and an alcoholic, BoJack’s charming dysfunction frequently tips over into much more serious transgressions: a bender that claims the life of BoJack’s friend and former costar; nearly having sex with a teenage girl; choking his current costar and recent ex-girlfriend in a painkiller-induced haze.
A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path, for when you’re in a certain kind of mood.
What to Watch If You Want to Know What All Your Favorite Sci-Fi Was Inspired By: Every so often, like clockwork, I revisit Katsuhiro Otomo’s iconic anime Akira (which is currently available on Hulu). Akira, with its cyberpunk aesthetic, dystopian future, and telekinetic-powered children, should be seeking residuals from just about every sci-fi work that has followed it. You can see its fingerprints on Stranger Things, the Star Wars prequels, The Matrix, Looper, and Kanye West music videos. (At least Ye wasn’t hiding it.) Akira is appointment viewing for anyone who likes any of the aforementioned works. And once you hit play, it won’t be long before you’re enraptured in the movie’s weirdly prescient future—how the hell did Akira know that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympics, and, on God, does that mean a Third World War is coming?—and listening to Kaneda’s slapping theme on repeat. —Miles Surrey
What to Watch If You Need Comedic-Inclined Escapism: The world is often a deeply upsetting and terrifying place, and much of the best art we get is a reflection of that. Ozark is gothic and great, but it is heavy. Handmaid’s Tale is masterfully shot and poignant, but it sits with me for days. Now, I’ve never been the person constantly stumping for TV as escapism, but there are select cases, like Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup, where I’ll entertain tuning the world out. The Comedy Lineup will almost certainly not have the funniest jokes you’ve ever heard, or even heard on Netflix (John Mulaney is undefeated). But, nonetheless, it’s a vignette of the diverse, intelligent, and earnest world that is stand-up comedy. From Ian Karmel’s lovable awkwardness to Emma Willmann’s biting satirizing of heteronormativity, The Comedy Lineup at least parallels that feeling of being in a room with someone and laughing together about things you truly care about—until you’re falling asleep and your laptop hits you in the face. —Bobby Wagner
What to Watch If You Miss When Bryan Fuller Actually Made TV Shows: For those in need of a mental escape lately (read: all of us), there’s no better show to dive into than Pushing Daisies (on Amazon Prime), the ultimate televised happy place. Bryan Fuller’s short-lived masterpiece is a quirky, technicolor wonderland that revolves around a shy piemaker named Ned (Lee Pace at his most charming) who can bring people back from the dead with one touch—and kill them again with another. After he revives his childhood sweetheart (Anna Friel) from an untimely demise, she and Ned embark on an all-time great love story, lack of physical contact aside. The plot barely matters; it’s the feel of this show that makes it such a delight. The pie helps too. —Kate Halliwell
What to Watch If You’re Pining for an Accent-Laden Period Drama: To help tide you over until The Crown Season 3 and the Downton Abbey movie team up in 2019 to distract us from contemporary problems, you should watch A Place to Call Home on Acorn TV. Set in New South Wales in the 1950s, this Aussie-produced series explores the upheaval in a rural (and extremely scenic) community when a spirited nurse with a mysterious backstory returns to her homeland after 20 traumatic, war-torn years abroad. The lavish-looking melodrama feels a lot like a slightly less soapy Downton, right down to the caustic-but-caring matriarch who hates social change. A Place to Call Home’s sixth and final season is airing right now, which means that anyone just starting the series has a 60-plus-episode backlog to binge. —Ben Lindbergh
What to Watch If You Want Your Comedy With a Side of Ennui: Don’t Think Twice—comedian Mike Birbiglia’s second feature film streaming on Netflix—received a lot of buzz when it came out in the summer of 2016. I watched it alone in an empty theater on a Sunday afternoon and left with a strange sense of dread. It’s a movie about ambition, art’s relationship to commerce, growing older, and the shattering fact that pursuing what you want so rarely squares with pursuing what you need. Very sad, no? Sounds like a tough watch, yes? Well, yes, but its cast—Gillian Jacobs in particular—is so ridiculously good, the camerawork during the improv scenes is unique, and its vibe is so overwhelmingly warm that Don’t Think Twice is more than worth an hour and a half of your Sunday afternoon. —Austin Elias-de Jesus