The sweltering heat of summer has finally arrived, which means it’s time to hunker down next to an air conditioning unit and binge some TV. Thankfully, the big streamers have you covered. Netflix drops the latest season of technological nightmares with Black Mirror, as well as the streaming debut for the Oscar-winning animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—while Hulu transports us back to Gilead with the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale and gives us (Moby, don’t read this) the Natalie Portman–starring Vox Lux.
That’s just a few of the choices available this month. Below, check out the rest of The Ringer’s top streaming recommendations in June, along with some random choices from Ringer staffers when you’re in the mood for something a little different.
What’s New to Streaming in June
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
Black Mirror, Season 5 (coming to Netflix on June 5)
Alison Herman: Black Mirror has gone from discussing technology to capitalizing on its potential, from warning us about the future to becoming its latest harbinger. If you can’t beat the mission creep of the digital age, join it.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Netflix, June 26)
Micah Peters: Into the Spider-Verse is concerned with the state of the comic book movie like most comic book movies sort of have to be now, but not overly concerned, because they’re comic book movies, which are fun and largely harmless. This is one of many qualities that make Into the Spider-Verse, pretty comfortably, one of the best animated features of the year, and it’s not much of a stretch to crown it as one of the best superhero movies ever made, full stop.
Vox Lux (Hulu, June 3)
Haley Mlotek: Vox Lux suggests Celeste (Natalie Portman) is evil, like fame itself. Since the press saw them write and perform a sweet, sincere song in memoriam to the victims of the school shooting, Celeste and her sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin) have been put into the pop star machine, a symbol of America’s eager commodification of redemption. Don’t think about it too hard — the voice-over, narrated by Willem Dafoe, will explicitly tell you when 9/11 changed the world, or how pop music is a cover for capitalistic nihilism, or any of the other many ideas the film introduces about the nature of fame and trauma.
Ralph Breaks the Internet (Netflix, June 11)
Rob Harvilla: Ralph Breaks the Internet is a B+ kids movie and an A+ parental nightmare. It is the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, in which John C. Reilly voices the titular Donkey Kong–esque bad guy in an ’80s arcade game. Ralph is a burly sweetheart who longs to be a good guy, and so he sets off on a series of arcade-roiling misadventures and is eventually joined by his improbable best friend Vanellope von Schweetz, a candy-flecked race car driver voiced by Sarah Silverman. It’s a typical 21st-century kids movie in that it relies on parent-baiting nostalgia for things that actual 21st-century kids have very little experience with: namely, video arcades.
The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 3 (Hulu, June 5)
Herman: The Handmaid’s Tale follows through on the logical implications of its premise—but also raises a critical question about its overall direction. There’s little hope in Gilead, or for it. How long does it take to drive that home before the show goes inert?
Dark, Season 2 (Netflix, June 21)
Peters: Dark is a time-travel crime thriller set in this small, one-main-intersection town in Germany, called Winden. Towering over Winden are the billowing columns of a nuclear power plant. Some kids go missing and others turn up dead. Concerned, but otherwise neglectful adults are slowly torn apart by grief. There’s a synth-heavy score occasionally broken up by Top 40 from the 1980s. You’re thinking Stranger Things, and I don’t want to say it’s better than Stranger Things, but it’s certainly different, in crucial ways.
Vice (Hulu, June 10)
Adam Nayman: The versatility of Vice’s attack is considerable, mixing together everything from traditional biopic tropes (all given a slightly parodic visual gloss by cinematographer Greig Fraser) to SNL-style sketch comedy to literal Shakespearean asides to purely rhetorical essay-film flourishes, including a recurring visual motif of a fisherman derived from Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman’s incendiary 2008 book Angler, from which [Adam] McKay cribs some of his more surreal—but supposedly authentic—vignettes.
Jessica Jones, Season 3 (Netflix, June 14)
Miles Surrey: The change in storytelling strategy seems to have paid off—for viewers who have the patience. … Beneath Jessica’s crass, seemingly apathetic veneer is a compelling superhero, and despite the longer-than-usual hiatus, Jessica Jones remains the standard for Marvel-Netflix television.
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.
When They See Us (on Netflix)
Herman: When They See Us is much less interested in systems, legal and otherwise, than the individual lives affected by them. [Ava] DuVernay doesn’t want viewers to understand the facts of the case so much as she wants us to feel their impact.
The Perfection (on Netflix)
Herman: The Perfection runs its higher-brow inspiration through the Netflix matrix, yielding a result that’s more compact, (even) campier, and staffed by collaborators with backgrounds largely in TV. What Someone Great is to the rom-com, The Perfection is to horror, another inexpensive zone Netflix has opted to flood.
Catch-22 (on Hulu)
Harvilla: It is enough, in Hulu’s retelling, that for perhaps the first time you get a full and visceral sense of the bomber and the firefights themselves—the claustrophobia, the bolt-rattling terror, the constant specter of random death. It’s all legitimately terrifying, and not the slightest bit funny. That’s what makes it hilarious. That’s what still makes Catch-22 necessary.
The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience (on Netflix)
Surrey: The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience is deliriously random content; the only possible link between the Lonely Island and Canseco and McGwire is that its members—Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone—were all raised in the Oakland area, and presumably watched the players growing up. (And eventually bore witness to Canseco and McGwire’s dramatic fall from grace as two of the most prominent stars tarnished by Major League Baseball’s steroid era.)
Wine Country (on Netflix)
Herman: What Wine Country adds to the already well-established charisma of its stars is a strain of humor unabashedly rooted in their maturity, which cowriters [Emily] Spivey and Liz Cackowski view as an opportunity in lieu of an inconvenience. Much of Wine Country’s humor consists of what could be termed “Activia slapstick.”
Fleabag, Season 2 (on Amazon Prime)
Herman: Not only does the latest batch of Fleabag episodes build upon its predecessor; retroactively, the second installment elevates, even improves, the first. By the time Fleabag’s story has come to a close, what was once a downward trajectory now looks more like a parabola, each half the mirror image of the other. Given how insistent [Phoebe] Waller-Bridge has been that this latest edition of Fleabag really is the end, it doesn’t feel right to call the release a “second season.” The show, in keeping with its newly acquired religious concerns, is a diptych.
I Think You Should Leave (on Netflix)
Herman: I Think You Should Leave is a slight scaling down in terms of volume and storytelling, though thanks to Netflix’s astonishingly broad reach, a significant boost in platform for the kind of niche humor that would otherwise flourish in the post-prime-time petri dish of Adult Swim. But the relationship between I Think You Should Leave and its host is a mutually beneficial one.
The Terror (on Hulu)
Surrey: At times, watching The Terror just feels brutal. The frigidity of the Arctic is conveyed through scenes such as the one in which a telescope rips some skin off an officer’s eyelid (because it’s cold), or another in which the ship’s doctor removes purplish, frostbitten toes from his shipmates (because it’s REALLY cold). A suggestion based on personal experience: Watch The Terror with a blanket and fuzzy slippers.
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 an Appetizer Before Big Little Lies Comes Back: If Netflix’s original programming is commanded by an All-Knowing Algorithm, Dead to Me seems to be a calculation that boils down to “Well, Big Little Lies sure was popular!” Like the HBO series, Dead to Me is filled with gorgeous SoCal properties, and a narrative centered on a female friendship (new besties Judy and Jen, respectively played by Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate) and the mysterious circumstances behind one spouse’s death. The series is breezy (the episodes are roughly a half-hour each), funny, occasionally profound, and bolstered by a sleazy turn from James Marsden, who plays Judy’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Steve. (He’s the kind of dude who jumps on a trampoline in the morning to “activate his lymph nodes.”) Dead to Me isn’t original so much as a composite of what other series with Instagrammable locales have already explored, but inferior shows have been binge-watched for much less. —Surrey
What to Watch If You Love Summer Love (and Nonsensical Rom-Coms): In hindsight, it’s a bit surprising that it took Netflix so long to realize that the rom-com genre was perfect for its high frequency pump-and-dump system. Perhaps more than any other genre, the rom-com is elevated by its plot holes, reliance on archetypes, and general nonsense, meaning Netflix can quickly manufacture romantic comedies with little regard for rationality and the movies will be better for it. Case in point: The Last Summer, a movie starring Archie from Riverdale (KJ Apa) and a handful of other beautiful youths, who play just-graduated teens ending and beginning relationships before they leave Chicago to embark on college life. The movie is so unbelievably stupid—one character spends most of her time in a cavernous loft (?), and the ending is so nonsensical that it made me just cackle maniacally—but that’s kind of the point. When it comes to wistfulness and young love, why waste time with silly things like rationality and verisimilitude? —Andrew Gruttadaro
What to Watch If You Need More Reese Witherspoon In Your Life: It’s Big Little Lies season again, which means it’s the perfect time to branch out into the wider Reese Witherspoon Wears Floral Dresses And Drinks Wine In A Massive California Home canon. Home Again, streaming on Amazon Prime, stars Witherspoon as Alice Kinney, a recently separated interior designer who happens across three handsome young men and, for some reason, invites them to stay in her guest house while they pitch a movie. (The plot doesn’t really matter, OK?) The appeal of Home Again lies in watching Reese swan around in varying shades of cashmere and flirt with multiple 20-something men, all directed by Nancy Meyers’s daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer. It’s the perfect pregame for those who just can’t wait to get back to the Monterey Five. —Kate Halliwell