Cue up Earth, Wind and Fire and settle in for a long weekend—LOL, more like a month, let’s be honest—of streaming. Not sure what to watch? We’ve got you covered. There’s an anti-superhero drama, a clever coming-of-age comedy, a pill-popping action adventure, and a revenge-induced thriller. Check out everything that’s new on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max below, as well as a few personal selections from the Ringer staff.
What’s New to Streaming in September
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
PEN15 Season 2, Part 1 (Hulu, September 18)
Kate Knibbs: Like Big Mouth, it uses a clever device to make a narrative about the sexual lives of its young protagonists more palatable. Erskine and Konkle, who created the comedy, are both in their early 30s, but they play characters based on their younger selves among a supporting cast made up of actual middle schoolers.
The Boys, Season 2 (Amazon Prime, September 4)
Miles Surrey: The Boys’ closest analog in the modern superhero landscape is probably Deadpool, another relentlessly meta display of irreverence that aims to tweak a genre it also, unavoidably, inhabits. But whereas Deadpool comes off as hypocritical, The Boys actually feels cathartic. Much of the difference is structural: Post-merger, Deadpool is a part of the very Marvel machine it positions itself against, while The Boys is just one TV show among hundreds, albeit one with a relatively large budget and a renewal in hand. Mostly, though, The Boys shows it’s possible to get a kick out of laser beams and fight scenes while also being worn out by their excesses—not just the naivete, but the profiteering, the blandness, the micromanaged narratives passed off as expression. One show can’t turn the tides of change, but at least it can commiserate.
Hoosiers (Hulu, September 1)
Mark Titus: My favorite scene from Hoosiers is when Coach Dale’s first game starts to go badly, and there’s an assortment of shots of the Hickory crowd—comprised largely of old women—losing its collective mind. That’s basketball in Indiana in a nutshell: Even the people who don’t care about basketball still care to some degree, and the people who don’t play organized ball still have a little bit of game. Did you know that the actor who played Jimmy Chitwood got cut from his high school team every year that he tried out? The dude couldn’t even ride the bench on JV, yet has one of the most legendary shooting strokes of all time.
Election (HBO Max, September 1)
Alyssa Bereznak: Hell hath no fury like an ambitious young woman running for school government. In Alexander Payne’s 1999 film, an upbeat student named Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) launches her candidacy for class president with a professionalism so cloying that beloved teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) vows to sabotage it. He soon learns he is no match for Flick, who goes to great lengths to cut down her opponents and ruin McAllister’s life. That the film bombed at the box office is an indication that the public was not quite ready to confront the realities of the post-Lewinsky political environment: specifically that sex, strategy, and manipulation were all part of the process. That Election could now easily pass as a precursor to Veep is proof of how far we’ve come.
The Invisible Man (HBO Max, September 19)
Adam Neyman: [Leigh] Whannell’s film works like gangbusters, melding the lingering creepiness of H.G. Wells’s literary premise—what if a mad scientist could act undetected against his enemies?—with the visual language of 21st-century horror hits like Paranormal Activity, using negative space and a lack of action to torque and tighten audience anxieties to the breaking point. As for the script’s apparent masterstroke of switching focus from the title figure to his victim—in this case, a woman whose possessive ex-boyfriend uses his invisibility to gaslight her—it’s at once effective and frustratingly under-realized, swapping out some of its most disturbing imagery and implications at the halfway point for more conventional revenge-movie satisfactions.
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.
Lovecraft Country (HBO)
Alison Herman: Like the 2016 novel it’s based on, HBO’s Lovecraft Country is both a tribute to and a subversion of Lovecraft’s work. Still, some of its parallels are more intentional than others. A family drama transplanting Lovecraft’s mythology to a Black family in 1950s Chicago, Lovecraft Country is filled to the brim with fascinating ideas: the way the supernatural can enforce or upset historical wrongs; the potential for horror as a metaphor for the Black experience; defiant reclamation of what was never meant for you, from books to magical powers.
Ted Lasso (AppleTV+)
Surrey: The series makes a few changes from the original NBC format. Instead of taking over a big-name club like Spurs, Sudeikis’s Lasso is hired to manage the fictional AFC Richmond, who are described as perennially mediocre Premier League mainstays. A real perennially mediocre Premier League mainstay is Crystal Palace, and sure enough, AFC Richmond takes the club’s color scheme—and the series even filmed its stadium scenes at Palace’s Selhurst Park. (Adding to the mindfuck is Ted Lasso’s confirmation that Palace still exist in the show’s universe, since they are Richmond’s first opponents during the Lasso tenure.) There’s also some explanation given for why an American football coach with no soccer experience would be hired for the role: the club’s owner, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), just underwent a messy divorce with her philandering billionaire husband. She wants to tank the club—the thing her ex loves most in the world—via relegation as payback.
Selling Sunset, Season 3 (Netflix)
Herman: Even by the standards of such an artificial genre, the Netflix show Selling Sunset is a proudly artificial show. A workplace drama set at a West Hollywood real estate group, Selling Sunset trades in all the most surface-level stereotypes about the city of Los Angeles. The homes for sale are glittering glass palaces set high in the Hollywood Hills; the agents who sell them are pencil-thin bottle blonds who talk freely about boob jobs and Botox, with a couple of brunettes thrown in for diversity’s sake. Spearheaded by Adam DiVello of Laguna Beach and The Hills, Selling Sunset is the kind of slickly aspirational lifestyle content that’s designed as pure escapism—perhaps for no one so much as Angelenos themselves, who can see the distance between the city they live in and the multimillion-dollar compounds the show puts on display.
High Score (Netflix)
Ben Lindbergh: The evolutionary journey that gave us the games of today is the focus of another new release: High Score, a six-episode docuseries about the formative years of video games. “Each new game was built upon the foundation crafted by the game before,” Charles Martinet, the longtime voice of Nintendo mascot Mario and the passionate narrator of High Score, says in the series. “And because of that, it can be hard to remember the humble beginnings.” High Score is about those beginnings. The series traces the nascent mainstream medium’s development from the arcade boom of the late 1970s to the dawn of 3D and deathmatch in the early 1990s, recounting the highlights and low points of that pivotal period through archival footage, retro animation, Martinet’s narration, and interviews with the creators who helped shape how an interactive art form with no entrenched traditions would look, sound, and play.
Project Power (Netflix)
Surrey: The premise of Project Power feels like a sillier spin on Limitless: Rather than make its users super smart, “Power” is a new, experimental drug created by a mysterious government entity that is meant to turn humans into superheroes. The hope is, presumably, that having superheroes in the armed forces would turn the United States into a more literal global superpower. (This might be the dumbest villain motivation since Vincent D’Onofrio’s character in Jurassic World revealed that he wanted to turn velociraptors into military operatives.) There are also some vague mentions of evolving the human species, but I’m not sure how much being on fire would help somebody, say, bag groceries.
Anelka: Misunderstood (Netflix)
Micah Peters: In Misunderstood there’s a gravely serious slow pan from the ground up of Anelka, now 41 and retired, settling into a quad stretch. Sweat beads artfully on his chiseled physique, he pierces the middle distance with an icy glare, the closed captioning reads “[reverb].” There’s a lot of this quiet aesthetic solipsism throughout, suggesting Anelka, and only Anelka, was built for what he experienced. “You want to be like me?” a voice-over says as he climbs a large sand dune in an early scene. “It’s impossible.” In the desert, there’s no one to disagree with him.
Black is King (Disney+)
Taylor Crumpton: At the end of Black Is King, time begins anew. Beyoncé rebirths Black people as the true inheritors of the Earth. It’s her offering to descendants who lost their kinship to the African Diaspora—those who lost their spiritual connection to the ancestors, who were afraid to uninternalize anti-Blackness. To combat white supremacy, the existence of a global Black identity is needed to establish solidarity among people of the African Diaspora, not only through political and community organizing, but in the spiritual sense. Black people possess the ability to exist outside the constraints of white supremacy, but to disinvest from established power dynamics, one must undergo the internal journey to uncover an identity and heritage lost to them from centuries of enslavement. One must be baptized to be born again. Black Is King is Beyoncé’s invitation for Black America to undergo that baptism.
A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path.
Jordan Ligons: Thanks to Netflix’s Strong Black Lead, your favorite Black TV shows of yesteryear will be revived on the streaming platform for your nostalgic viewing pleasure. A continuous roll-out in the next few months started with Moesha in August and will continue with The Parkers, One on One, and Half and Half into October. This month, a ’90s show and an early-’00s show are making a much-desired comeback.
Sister, Sister (Netflix, September 1)
A coming-of-age show like Sister, Sister tastefully mixes laugh-out-loud funny with learn-your-lesson seriousness. Identical twins Tia and Tamera, who were separated at birth, run into each other for the first time at the mall attempting to buy the same blue sweater/sweatshirt. From then on, we witness all their high school antics (from skipping school for a Boyz II Men concert to switching identities to pass their SATs), college crushes (and heartbreaks), and everything in between.
Girlfriends (Netflix, September 11)
Joan, Maya, Lynn, and Toni are the girlfriends you never knew you needed. To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the show’s premiere on UPN, indulge in all eight seasons of these 20-somethings exploring life, love, and the pains of friendship in Los Angeles. Girlfriends was one of the earliest and most positive examples of four Black professional women on TV, and with Emmy-winner Tracee Ellis Ross’s Joan Clayton as the matriarch of the group, you won’t be disappointed. Also, Angie Stone didn’t have to go this hard on the show’s theme song, but we are forever grateful she did. (P.S. The early-2000s fashion is a pain to relive, but you’ll get through it!)