clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Ringer Guide to Streaming in October

A helpful list of movies and TV shows to watch on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime this month

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

October marks the real beginning of fall, and with it, apple picking, pumpkin-spice everything, and, as is traditional, many hours spent curled up in front of the TV. Luckily, there’s lots to stream this month. From strange space adventures to an animated exploration of puberty, there are plenty of new TV shows and movies to stream this month. Check out everything that’s new on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime below, as well as a few personal selections from the Ringer staff.

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.

BoJack Horseman Season 6 (coming to Netflix on October 25)

Alison Herman: Every chapter of BoJack represents a phase in the title character’s slow, halting process of improving himself for the better. In Season 3, the embittered has-been sitcom star bottomed out; in Season 4, BoJack came to the hard-earned conclusion that change is difficult, but not impossible. By asking where one goes from there, BoJack dovetails with a discussion that’s dominated headlines for the last several weeks: Once you’ve admitted your screw-ups, how do you start to make up for them? What does it actually mean to try to do better? Or, as BoJack himself puts it: “How do you make something right when you’ve made it so wrong, you can never go back?”

High Life (coming to Amazon Prime on October 3)

Manuela Lazic: [Claire] Denis is a filmmaker of the unspeakable, who uses her camera to communicate what cannot be said in words or at all: Trouble Every Day represented the carnivorous consequences of lust via cannibalism; Beau Travail let a frenzied nightclub dance routine speak for a man’s heartbreak and loneliness; and Let the Sunshine In translated Roland Barthes’s “figures” of a lover’s discourse into expressive performances and broken conversations. The emptiness of space in High Life, which mostly takes place aboard a spaceship in some not-so-distant future, is an opportunity for the impossible and the appalling to come true: In space, no one can hear you sin.

The Hills (coming to Hulu on October 1)

Allie Jones: The Hills premiered on May 31, 2006, two blissful years before the recession. The show was a spinoff of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, MTV’s sun-streaked look into the lives of teenagers who lived with mostly absent parents in Spanish-style mansions with hot tubs and ocean views. The Hills was about what happens when those teenagers leave the O.C. for Los Angeles and try (try) to start paying their own rent. In a 2016 interview, [Lauren] Conrad told Us Weekly that she started filming The Hills to bankroll her transition into adulthood. “I really loved Laguna and had such a great experience,” she said. “And I had used up all my money. It was time to get a job, so I was like, Yes, this! This is what I want to do.” (She ended up making $125,000 an episode during her final season.)

Big Mouth, Season 3 (coming to Netflix on October 4)

Alison Herman: Big Mouth hasn’t gotten the same overwhelming, often-condescending praise as other adult-targeted cartoons like Rick and Morty or Netflix’s own BoJack Horseman, which get credit for supposedly raising the bar for their chosen medium by depicting existential angst and family crises alongside fart gags and puns. Partly, that’s by design: Much of Big Mouth’s charm comes from how the show isn’t striving to be taken seriously. The writers refuse to tone down or mitigate bits like a runner about scallop-induced diarrhea, and if you’re content to enjoy Big Mouth on that level, it’s happy to have you. At the same time, there are real lessons to be learned from Big Mouth’s outlook on coming of age, equal parts knowingly obscene and nonjudgmental. 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. It’s never too late to get in touch with your own personal Hormone Monster.

El Camino (coming to Netflix on October 11)

Miles Surrey: El Camino invites speculation because—despite the release of three trailers (and counting??)—we know about as much as we did when the film was first announced. And because of that, I maintain the sentiment that I held when I first heard about it: Knowing next to nothing about this movie before it drops on Netflix will be a lot more satisfying than having most of its plot outlined in a trailer. (People complain about that shit all the time!)

The release of El Camino is only a few weeks away, so all this strategic hype-building will have a near-immediate payoff. This won’t be like watching a Star Wars trailer and having to wait half a year to see the full picture—especially because Star Wars trailers are purposefully misleading. Conversely, Netflix really doesn’t have to do anything else to sell this film. Breaking Bad fans were already going to check this thing out.

Glass (coming to Hulu on October 19)

Justin Charity: In Glass, [M. Night] Shyamalan expands the context, and the cast, to form a full cinematic universe. Finally, Dunn, Price, and Crumb share prominence all together. Cooke, too, returns, and here she joins Dunn’s teenaged son, Joseph, as well as Price’s mother in the mere-mortals gallery. More importantly, Glass introduces Dr. Ellie Staple, played by Sarah Paulson, a psychiatrist who detains Dunn, Price, and Crumb in a psych ward together and assesses their delusions (in her estimation) about their respective superpowers. Dr. Staple lives to disprove. She means to ensure that all three mythologies end with a whimper.

Castle Rock, Season 2 (coming to Hulu on October 23)

Miles Surrey: The key to Stephen King’s best works aren’t the monsters or the supernatural elements, but the everyday people who prove to be staggeringly capable of committing horrible atrocities. The most chilling part of It is the town’s complicity in its own inhabitants being killed by a monster that’s lived there for centuries; Misery’s antagonist is a superfan of a famed author whose obsession metastasizes into violence; the scariest part of The Shining isn’t the rotting corpse in Room 237, but the realization that Jack’s been losing his mind for a lot longer than previously thought. The true horror of Stephen King’s finest novels has always been found in the relatively restrained, human-driven elements of the stories—made all the more effective by the haunting scenarios in which they’re set.

Castle Rock spent the first six episodes of its inaugural season going big and broadening its scope; it’s now turned the corner by compressing, focusing in on the characters who inhabit the story, rather than the world in which the characters exist.

Silicon Valley, Season 6 (coming to Hulu on October 27)

Alison Herman: One of Silicon Valley’s main comic engines has been the contrast between the overnight-success myth the Valley loves to propagate — the best ideas will rise to the top, and quickly — and the maddening drudgery of actually getting a company off the ground. (Or, as an investor in the fourth season premiere puts it: “Really? Is it hard to become a billionaire? Welcome to the Valley, assholes.”) Pied Piper isn’t an unstoppable juggernaut. It’s a delicate flower, one that could easily be crushed by a frivolous lawsuit, or a profit-minded executive, or a user-unfriendly interface that drives its own employees to fraud. The show’s trajectory, or lack thereof, was also a way of fitting an ostensibly serialized comedy into the rhythms of a sitcom, where the status quo is sacred.

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.

Unbelievable, Season 1 (on Netflix)

Alison Herman: The heroine of Unbelievable—one of several, really—isn’t plunged into a nightmare so much as steeped in it. The first episode of Netflix’s eight-episode true crime series never strays from the perspective of Marie Adler (Kaitlyn Dever), a Washington teenager who was raped in her apartment in 2008. Consequently, it’s hard to identify the moment the investigation into Marie’s assault goes horribly awry. At first, Marie is supported: by her former foster parents, by the counselors in her community for at-risk youth transitioning out of the system, by the detectives called to the scene. But slowly, that support falls away. Marie’s onetime foster mom thinks her testimony is “off.” Asked to recount her attack over and over again, Marie starts to break down. Finally, the sympathetic-turned-skeptical detectives browbeat a retraction from a scared, confused, traumatized young woman, eventually going so far as to charge her with false reporting. Like Marie herself, the viewer becomes a frog in the boiling water of America’s broken criminal justice system, unable to pinpoint when her situation goes from difficult to dangerous.

Top Boy, Season 3 (on Netflix)

Micah Peters: Top Boy, if you super, super simplify it, is a show that follows a pattern: There’s a plan, the plan goes wrong, and by one or all of luck, savvy, and the obfuscation or complete abandonment of core principles, there’s an uneasy resolution. At times, the show is about British decline, or mental illness, or the pratfalls that come along with mixing friendship with business. (Which, along with its colorfully and thoughtfully constructed characters and, you know, the drug trafficking, is why it draws a lot of comparisons to The Wire.) But really, Top Boyis about greed, and not just the materialistic kind.

The Spy, Season 1 (on Netflix)

Kate Knibbs: [Sacha Baron] Cohen is finally starring in his first lead dramatic acting role this fall, in the Netflix series The Spy, a le Carre–style thriller in which he plays a Mossad agent undercover in Syria. The version of Cohen we see in The Spy is unprecedented: He looks dour and formidable and stripped of the ridiculousness he usually bakes into his full-body performances. The series is a deviation for Cohen, a serious detour from a path paved with pranks and fart jokes. But the swerviness of the choice is what makes it, and him, so appealing—after all, since he broke into the pop culture mainstream in the early aughts, Cohen’s best work has relied on the element of surprise.

The Boys, Season 1 (on Amazon Prime)

Alison Herman: The Boys is a story about superheroes fantastically well suited to skepticism, fatigue, and general wariness toward stories about superheroes. Based on the mid-aughts comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson—Ennis also wrote Preacher, previously adapted by Rogen and Goldberg for AMC—The Boys retains the premise of a vigilante group dedicated to policing the excesses of not-so-heroic people with extraordinary abilities. But it also updates the concept for a time when comics-sourced IP has just as much of a built-in advantage as the superpowered people it depicts. “Superheroes run amok” is now less an intriguing hypothetical than a capsule description of mainstream entertainment. And The Boys imagines a world where superheroes and superhero culture are one and the same.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (on Netflix)

Alex Siquig: Jim Henson’s puppet-fantasy epic The Dark Crystal was never a film that quite entombed itself into my own personal canon. The mythology of Thra didn’t grab me by my nostalgia jugular. I always considered it sort of a dour proto-Labyrinth,sans David Bowie and his bulge. Obviously the finished product was audacious, a technical achievement that inspired and brought joy to millions—I just wasn’t among the millions. Because I came to it a bit later than others, the film felt to me like reading the lyrics of a song you loved without the music. Unless it’s a Silver Jews song, the words alone don’t quite do the complete package justice. Something was missing. There was a deep Sesame Street–like earnestness pervading The Dark Crystal, and I found the Gelfling hero, Jen, unequivocally lame. He was Link from Legend of Zelda, if Link emanated querulous Elijah Wood energy. The long-awaited expansion of this universe in the form of a prequel series on Netflix was something that could possibly allow me to hear the original film’s melody for the first time.

Bonus Watching

A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path.

What to Watch if You’re a Design Nerd: If you enjoy documentaries and calm shots of beautiful things and places, you’ll be quite happy with the second season of Abstract, Netflix’s docuseries about design. Each episode follows a different designer who works in a different medium. The first season included profiles of, among others, legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield and once-wonder-boy architect Bjarke Ingels. Each season covers enough ground that you’ll get some of what you want and some of what you need; as much as I enjoyed the Hatfield episode, the first-season profile of the stage designer Es Devlin taught me more than I thought I wanted to know about the theater world.

At six episodes, the second season is shorter and a bit less eye-grabbing at first; the only name I recognized at first glance was that of Ruth E. Carter, the costume designer who recently won an Oscar for her work on Black Panther. (The season’s second episode, a profile of Neri Oxman, a professor at the MIT Media Lab, which has recently been in the news for covering up its financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein, is awkwardly timed, having likely been filmed prior to recent department-related news.) Still, the installment manages to have its interesting moments. The sixth episode, which follows typeface creator Jonathan Hoefler as he creates a new font, hammers a simple but endlessly fun point: Every time you read a printed letter, you’re seeing a sample of somebody’s art. Abstract is a good watch whether you’re trying to learn or just kill time, and isn’t that what streaming is all about? —Chris Almeida

What to Watch If You Love Event Planning: 7 Days Out, a Netflix documentary series from 2018, shows the behind-the-scenes preparation for six different events ranging from the Kentucky Derby to a Cassini mission. It’s informative, sure, but I mostly appreciate the oddly calming effect of watching a very complicated event go from unrealized to underway in less than an hour. You might also find 7 Days Out both scintillating and soothing if, like me, you color-code your spreadsheets and refuse to attend any social gathering that comes sans Gcal invite. It’s an organizer’s dream to watch extremely complicated events come together in a matter of days and well-spliced shots. The breadth of the show, too, means there’s something for everyone. You like League of Legends or fancy restaurants? There’s an episode for you. And the fact that it’s a collection of related episodes rather than one full narrative means that if you’re bored of a topic, you can just skip it; I don’t care about Chanel fashion shows, but that’s fine, because I watched a horse get ready for his big day at the Kentucky Derby instead. —Charlotte Goddu

What to Watch If You’re Looking Forward to Watchmen: I’m a few years late, but I finally got around to watching The Leftovers. Ahead of Damon Lindelof’s upcoming Watchmen series on HBO, I wanted to delve into another one of the showrunner’s worlds.

A dark, and gripping, psychological series, The Leftovers gets better and better over time, as it expands on its existential and religious themes and builds upon the greater impact the “Sudden Departure” has on the world beyond small-town Mapleton. The show has also been an interesting watch after seeing Marvel’s Infinity War and Endgame far too many times (though I suppose it’s all relative), as The Leftovers was first to explore a world in which a significant percentage of its population suddenly vanishes. And without Captain America there to hand out life advice, or a massive purple alien to blame the tragedy on, the characters of The Leftovers are left all alone to search for the answers to life’s greatest mystery, if any even exist in the first place. Like The Leftovers, Watchmen is also premised on how society evolves around a catastrophic, world-altering event. We already know that both series share the brilliant Regina King, as well as a fascination with cults, but as the series premiere approaches on October 20, we’ll soon see whether the successes of The Leftovers can be replicated in Lindelof’s adaptation of one of the most beloved graphic novels ever created. —Daniel Chin