As summer continues to heat up in August, the urge to hide indoors and blast the AC has never been more tempting—especially with all the cool streaming options available this month. Netflix finally brings the highly anticipated second season of Mindhunter, while Amazon Prime and Hulu will both get a crack at Mission: Impossible—Fallout, the latest installment of the heralded action franchise where Tom Cruise tries to die for our entertainment. (Seriously, he did a HALO jump and learned how to fly a helicopter for this thing.)
But that’s just a couple of options spread out this month on the big streaming platforms. Below, you can peruse The Ringer’s top streaming recommendations on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu for the month of August, along with some select choices from Ringer staffers for when you’re in a certain type of mood.
What’s New to Streaming in August
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
Mission: Impossible—Fallout (coming to Amazon Prime and Hulu on August 23)
Adam Nayman: Look, I’m not made of stone: Pretty much everything in Mission: Impossible—Fallout is fun. The 150-minute running time, which felt like a death sentence in Avengers: Infinity War (in which I’m pretty sure Josh Brolin didn’t actually get impaled with a giant intergalactic ax), doesn’t get oppressive until the third final-act speech about what a swell guy Ethan is (poor Ving Rhames gets hype-man duty this time), and the main cast is used exceedingly well, each according to their abilities.
GLOW, Season 3 (Netflix, August 9)
Manuela Lazic: Penned by Liz Flahive and Orange Is the New Black producer Carly Mensch, GLOW was never going to simply tell yet another version of the American Dream. Here, the struggle is real, and the heroines are, too. Featuring 14 female characters of all colors, shapes, and backgrounds — employed by two floundering white men who are nothing without them — GLOW can’t help but be political: The difficulties faced by its ensemble play as simultaneous criticisms of patriarchy and existential interrogations.
Mindhunter, Season 2 (Netflix, August 16)
Alison Herman: More than its creative team or its origin story, what chiefly distinguishes Mindhunter from its peers is its rhythm. The procedural is synonymous with the self-contained episode and therefore a rapid clip, with a one-to-one ratio of cases to solve and hours it takes to solve them that’s only occasionally, if ever, interrupted by a season-long arc. But as a streaming series, a format that encourages long-term stories over distinct episodes with the knowledge that viewers will be consuming a season over hours instead of weeks, Mindhunter slows that story down—way down.
Dear White People, Season 3 (Netflix, August 2)
Hannah Giorgis: With more space than the original 2014 film afforded, the Dear White People series does an excellent job of thrusting viewers into the hostile world of Winchester University, a fictional Ivy League college. The school is both generic and recognizable enough to be modeled after nearly any elite, predominantly white American university. Each of the campuswide issues raised in the series — underfunded programs for students of color, rampant racism in campus publications, even a blackface party — reflects long-simmering tensions at schools just like it. But the overwhelming whiteness of Winchester — and its antagonistic effect on black students — is perhaps the only fully realized character in the show. Dear White People overwhelmingly sacrifices character development in service of its mission to “start a conversation,” and isn’t self-aware enough to recognize where it fits within that dialogue. The result is a perfectly entertaining show that frequently feels corny and outdated — and sometimes even tiptoes into caricature.
The Beach Bum (Hulu, August 9)
Tyler Parker: Harmony Korine’s new cosmic stoner comedy The Beach Bum is a neon cocktail of colors, a true margarita of the senses, the answer to the question: What about Matthew McConaughey, but bonkers? I watched this movie at 2:05 on a Monday in the top row of the tranquil Pasadena ArcLight with about seven other people scattered throughout the theater AND BECAME NEW.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Amazon Prime, August 31)
Herman: Guillermo del Toro still had a franchise to babysit while in the midst of a Pan’s Labyrinth high-fantasy hangover. The result is a weird piece of IP we don’t talk about nearly enough.
Jane the Virgin, Season 5 (Netflix, August 8)
Herman: In a landscape that prizes novelty as a means to break through the noise, Jane exemplifies one of TV’s most underrated, and deceptively difficult, virtues: consistency. For half a decade, Jane has struck a balance between larger-than-life antics and human-scale storytelling, clever self-awareness and genuine sweetness, affable humor and deep feeling—all while avoiding traditional sources of drama.
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.
Last Chance U, Season 4 (on Netflix)
Tyler Tynes: Season 4 of Last Chance U is the story of a man who cares more about the brand he’s building than the lives he’s supposed to be molding. It’s a tale of someone who would rather perpetuate the evils of the sport than provide mentorship for those hurt by America’s systems. It’s a damning portrait of a football coach who, sadly, isn’t an anomaly in his line of work.
Orange Is the New Black, Season 7 (Netflix)
Herman: Season 7 of Orange is neither its worst nor its best. For a deliberately decentralized patchwork, an ending is an inherently tricky exercise. Why stop now when you’ve already made the case you could go on forever? The prison-industrial complex isn’t going to wind down anytime soon, nor will Litchfield run out of inmates. Orange tries to maneuver around this problem by awkwardly reattaching itself to Piper’s journey as she navigates parole, though the audience has long stopped viewing her as a surrogate. Still, Orange admirably multitasks by introducing yet more women for the system to indifferently persecute and the show to empathetically shade in, many of them through a topical subplot set at an ICE detention center. (One of the more tragic indications that Orange was well ahead of its time is how well positioned it is to address the carceral state’s latest horrific outgrowth.)
The Boys (Amazon Prime)
Miles Surrey: This super-nihilistic take on heroes often makes The Boys hard to watch—there’s only so many times you can see a sociopathic dude who looks kinda like Captain America take visceral pleasure in brutally killing criminals. But, ironic as it sounds, the show is surprisingly effective superhero counterprogramming—especially for anyone who’s beginning to feel burnt out by the charming yet repetitive beats of the MCU.
Veronica Mars, Season 4 (Hulu)
Herman: Five years later, Veronica Mars has learned from its mistakes—or rather, Veronica Mars’ mistakes have freed it to do something new. The fans have long since been serviced. [Creator Rob Thomas] and his writers can now dedicate themselves to a case that exists as something more than a pretext. The result is, paradoxically, a truer reprise of the first series’ appeal than many revivals that strain much more visibly to channel their inspiration. Instead of reflecting the highlight reel that time and memory have turned Veronica Mars into, this eight-episode fourth season can go back to being Veronica Mars as it actually is.
Stranger Things, Season 3 (Netflix)
Herman: In a pleasant surprise, Stranger Things Season 3 manages to walk the line between conscious growth and mood maintenance, demonstrating self-awareness without puncturing its painstakingly recreated ’80s bubble. As in life, leaving childish things behind is scary, but what comes next can be worth the growing pains.
Rolling Thunder Revue (Netflix)
Scott Tobias: The label “documentary” doesn’t comfortably apply to Rolling Thunder Revue, which doesn’t bother to demarcate the line between fact and fiction, but there’s truth in the rambling roadshow that [Bob] Dylan leads through 2,000- to 3,000-seat auditoriums across America. For an act of Dylan’s stature to downsize his venues while welcoming more and more guest performers and musicians to the stage is an insane, money-hemorrhaging undertaking—and that’s before the added strangeness of conceiving it as part old-timey medicine show and part homage to the 1945 French classic Children of Paradise.
Dark, Season 2 (Netflix)
Brian Phillips: The show revolves around—well, the show has one of the most floridly complicated plots of any series on TV, but the ultra-ultra-elevator pitch version is that it is an intimate domestic drama about four interconnected families in a small German forest town and how their lives change when a temporal rift in a nearby cavern causes several of them to either disappear or become warring timelords. It looks exactly like this sounds. Most of the humans are sad sacks; most of the environments look like they were rendered as part of a proof-of-concept video to make Christopher Nolan invest in a drone. It’s a show about despairing, broken people living in a Retina display with shitty weather. It’s so good.
A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path.
What to Watch If You Like Your Science Fiction Heavy on the Robots: Robots in science fiction can run the gamut between existentially terrifying (HAL 9000) and disarmingly friendly (the Lost in Space robot). One of the key thrills in Netflix’s I Am Mother is trying to figure out just where its artificial intelligence stands. The eponymous and seemingly genial Mother (voiced by Rose Byrne) is raising a human child in a high-tech bunker, as “Daughter” is informed that Earth has been reduced to a barren, apocalyptic wasteland. But when a mysterious woman shows up at the bunker’s entrance—claiming not just that some humans have survived in underground colonies, but that robots like Mother are responsible for hunting them to the brink of extinction—it puts Daughter’s entire perspective of the world, and her AI caretaker, in disarray. To say any more would spoil the fun of the film’s many twists and turns, but I Am Mother is clever, gripping science fiction that makes you not just question who to trust, but what it really means to be human. —Surrey
What to Watch If You’re in the Mood for All Things Cher: Perhaps you, like me, have been inspired by Lindsay Zoladz’s writing to watch (or rewatch) every movie Cher has ever made. You could start high, with her Oscar-winning turn in Moonstruck, but is that really what Cher would want? Instead, watch Mermaids—available on Hulu and Amazon Prime—which makes up for a dearth of critical acclaim with a young, cranky Winona Ryder, a joyride through the New England countryside in a stolen lilac station wagon, and, of course, lots of Cher. Anyone still requiring convincing may look at this headdress. —Charlotte Goddu
What to Watch If You Love Lady Suits With a Side of Murder: A Simple Favor was my single favorite viewing experience of the past year. If A Simple Favor was not your favorite viewing experience of the past year, you either (a) did not see A Simple Favor, or (b) do not appreciate both lady suits and top-notch comedy. A Simple Favor is like if someone asked, “What if Gossip Girl, but with kids and way more murder?” A Simple Favor is like if someone asked, “What if Gone Girl, but [spoiler alert] with twins?” A Simple Favor is like if someone asked, “What if Pitch Perfect, but instead of singing [spoiler alert] Anna Kendrick has sex with her half-brother?” A Simple Favor is a cinematic masterpiece, and it’s coming to Hulu this month. You’re welcome. —Kate Halliwell