It’s the dog days of summer—a.k.a. the perfect time to crank the AC, stay glued to the couch, and boot up some good TV.
If the deluge of Olympic sports isn’t enough for you, a new season of Ted Lasso is airing and the entirety of Friday Night Lights is available. Meanwhile, offerings like Vice, Watchmen, The White Lotus, and The Other Two are ready to take you anywhere you wanna go. Check out everything that’s new on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and more below ...
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.
Friday Night Lights (Netflix, August 1)
Kate Knibbs: Tim Riggins had plenty of terrific moments, but for my money, nothing can possibly top his first truly great action: when he looks his best friend, Jason Street, in the eyes and says, “Texas forever, Street.” This short, koan-like cheer summarized both the brilliance of Riggins and the brilliance of Friday Night Lights as a whole — the idea that the ordinary pursuit of high school football excellence could also be, on a spiritual level, a quixotic striving toward a permanent, golden state of being, where all you need for maximum happiness is a campfire and a cold one with your boys.
Inception (Netflix, August 1)
Chris Ryan: When I first saw Inception I was so blown away by the elaborate nature of the set pieces, by Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing a zero-gravity Gene Kelly routine, by Juno flipping a city block on a hinge, and by her majesty’s secret avalanche at the alpine compound, I didn’t really stop to think if any of it was actually happening. Which is precisely the point. It’s only when we wake up that we find out how strange things actually were, and Christopher Nolan provided the movie with its own kick, yanking us out of our altered state: a spinning top and a cut to black, causing us to ask, was it all a dream?
30 Rock (Netflix, August 1)
Alison Herman: Tina Fey’s beloved sitcom arrived at a time when broadcast television had just entered its still-ongoing crisis. 2006, the year it debuted, was the last time a network drama (Fox’s 24) won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Faced with outlets like HBO starting to siphon off cultural relevance, not to mention viewers, NBC green-lit exactly the kind of smart, niche show its competitors were supposedly doing better. Ironically, the waning power of network TV is also what allowed 30 Rock to stay on the air for seven seasons.
Contagion (Hulu, August 1)
Watchmen (Hulu, August 1)
Miles Surrey: Watchmen was long considered unadaptable; it was too sprawling, philosophical, nihilistic, and gruesome to be commercially viable. (And with one of the story’s main characters being a blue, godlike figure who briefly emigrates to Mars, a movie couldn’t exactly be made with chump change.) It is those same qualities, however, that made Zack Snyder the ideal shepherd to finally guide Watchmen to the big screen—a perfect pairing of art and artist that precipitated the bleak (and since recalibrated) foundation of the DC Extended Universe. Watchmen isn’t quite a masterpiece, but because it brought out the best of his dour sensibilities, it’s easily Snyder’s best film.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 8 (Hulu, August 13)
Herman: The Andy Samberg–starring cop sitcom from Michael Schur and Dan Goor is an uncomplicated pleasure with a somewhat complicated back story. In its initial incarnation, on Fox, Nine-Nine followed a creative trajectory somewhat analogous to Goor and Schur’s previous collaboration, Parks and Recreation. After some early creative stumbles—a supporting character who couldn’t take no for an answer had echoes of early Parks’ too-abrasive Leslie Knope—Nine-Nine recalibrated, then settled into a comfortable groove. Quietly, Nine-Nine’s dispatches from its fictional, namesake police precinct became television’s highest-functioning example of an endangered species: the feel-good network sitcom, powered by an expertly cultivated ensemble.
Archer: Season 12 (Hulu, August 26)
Michael Baumann: It’s a shallow, bawdy workplace comedy; an action-adventure program that recaptures the glamour of early James Bond; and an absurdist critique of the national security apparatus. It can be watched at 3 a.m. in an altered mental state or combed meticulously for every obscure reference — and it takes some combing, because the jokes come thick and fast, like Airplane! multiplied by In the Loop — and enjoyed the same amount.
Vice (HBO Max, August 1)
Jaws (Amazon Prime, August 1)
Adam Nayman: As a horror movie released at the apex of the genre’s studio-subsidized rebirth in the 1970s, Jaws reroutes the trajectories and themes of classics like Psycho and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre—cautionary tales in which outsiders venturing into the Old Weird America get what’s coming to them via human monsters who’d be better left undisturbed. In Spielberg’s film, the great white is the outsider, constituting a threat that’s at once thoroughly existential and a matter of nickel-and-dime economics. What the shark and Amity’s ruling class have in common is the need for a steady food supply: The visitors who swarm into town on ferries, slathered in sunscreen with fanny packs full of disposable income, are just chum in the water.
Mrs. Doubtfire (Disney+, August 6)
The Other Two: Season 2 (HBO Max, August 26)
Herman: As insightful as The Other Two can be about Generation Z, some of its sharpest jokes come from the obvious point of view of coastal 30-somethings. The show’s influences can be found in its family tree: The writers’ room includes Broad City’s Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs, Difficult People’s Cole Escola, and Search Party’s Jordan Firstman; Heléne Yorke may be most recognizable for her previous role in High Maintenance, where Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider first spotted her. Telling references include a brief cameo from Real Housewife Tinsley Mortimer, a fake episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, and a shot-for-shot parody of the credits scene in Call Me by Your Name, a sight gag that both sent me to the floor and left me wondering how widely such a joke could possibly play.
Evil: Season 2 (Paramount+, August 29)
Ben Lindbergh: Evil is the cocreation of Robert and Michelle King, the married writer-producer duo behind seven-season CBS staple The Good Wife and its Paramount+ spinoff, The Good Fight. Although Evil features a few scenes in court, it’s far from a legal procedural. Rather than dwelling on competing interpretations of the law—or, in The Good Fight’s case, competing tactics for resisting a Republican takeover—Evil focuses on competing explanations for bad behavior. The series revolves around the investigative trio of David (Mike Colter), a Catholic priest in training, and his associates Kristen (Katja Herbers), a forensic psychologist, and Ben (Aasif Mandvi), a tech expert. The three probe instances of supposed demonic possession, with the devout-but-not-dogmatic David representing the church in each inquiry and Kristen and Ben supplying scientific or technological reasons why an exorcism is not necessary.
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.
Fear Street (Netflix)
Surrey: As far as matching up to Stranger Things’ pedigree, the early returns for Fear Street are promising: Reviews for the first two entries have been favorable, and as of this writing, the first two films remain in Netflix’s Top 10 most-viewed programs in the United States. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Fear Street isn’t necessarily defined by metrics, but the sense that there’s been sustained interest in the trilogy—something the streamer has taken advantage of by, for instance, breaking down the infamous bread slicer death scene with scientists.
Schmigadoon! (Apple TV)
Herman: Schmigadoon! is earnest where it counts, especially when it comes to the larger story about Josh and Melissa’s struggling relationship. The show advances a sweet, unconventionally romantic view of long-term commitment: “It’s probably not something you find,” Fred Armisen’s repressed reverend character says of true love. “It’s probably something you make.” But it also does so by patiently easing the viewer into musicals’ magical realism, as Melissa does for Josh.
Ted Lasso: Season 2 (Apple TV)
Surrey: There are two versions of Ted Lasso on display in Season 2 that speak to the show’s larger priorities. On the one hand, there are the familiar feel-good moments that have no real bearing on the plot, where Ted Lasso is coasting purely on vibes. ... But it’s the other side of Ted Lasso slowly building over the course of the new season that perhaps draws more intrigue: the challenge of living up to the Lasso-ian ideals of compassion and accountability, day in and day out, within a cutthroat industry that seemingly demands ruthlessness and winning above all else.
Surrey: How Loki, both character and show, fits into Marvel’s broader Phase 4 plans remains to be seen. But with a new lease on life and an interdimensional playground to explore in a stand-alone series that’s off to a promising start, the God of Mischief may still have a glorious purpose.
Summer of Soul (Hulu)
Tig Notaro: Drawn (HBO Max)
Herman: Drawn is obviously a response to the pandemic, even if the material it uses predates and (blessedly) never mentions it. But in augmenting Notaro’s monologue, the special also brings out the lighter side of a performer largely known for some of the darkest experiences a person can have.