We’re officially in the depths of summer—the deluge of spring TV has abated, and television’s weirder offerings have started to land on streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max. Oh, and before we forget: Stranger Things is also back to finish off its fourth installment. Turn up the AC and check out the most interesting things—new and old—coming to streaming this month …
What’s New to Streaming in July
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
Stranger Things, Season 4: Volume 2 (July 1, Netflix)
Miles Surrey: After a three-year layoff exacerbated by the pandemic, Stranger Things is finally back in our lives. For Netflix, which could really use a win after suffering its worst setbacks of the streaming era, the series couldn’t have returned at a better time. And, in some ways, it’s like Stranger Things never left: The ’80s nostalgia is still going strong, Hawkins remains a ridiculously dangerous place to live, and the kids (er, teenagers) continue to refer to supernatural entities from the Upside Down through the prism of Dungeons & Dragons. (Let’s hear it for Vecna.) But four seasons in, Stranger Things has also evolved: The latest installment expands the scope far beyond Hawkins, introduces the show’s most compelling villain to date, and boasts special effects that rival blockbusters’.
Last Night in Soho (July 1, HBO Max)
House of Gucci (July 2, Amazon Prime)
Adam Nayman: To get it out of the way: As Maurizio’s ill-fated and sartorially-challenged cousin Paolo—a black sheep who could use a shearing, a doppelganger for Fredo Corleone—Jared Leto is so outrageously over-the-top as to erase the binary between good and bad acting. He either deserves an Oscar, or should be sent to the Hague. Paunchy and pockmarked, stringy and balding, staring out at his costars from beneath layers of prosthetics—Leto commits fully to the bit: In a family defined by a certain bespoke elegance, Paolo wears his failures on his sleeve. “He’s an idiot, but he’s my idiot,” explains his long-suffering father, Aldo (Al Pacino), who seems disappointed that he didn’t pass on his own wolfish brilliance. The balance between exasperation and pathos in the relationship is promising, but any real feeling drains away whenever Leto delivers his dialogue in a lilting, sing-song tone—which is all the time. This isn’t just a phony Italian accent—it’s like a meta-commentary on phony Italian accents. “I’m a-going to soar, like a pigeon,” Paolo crows at one point and, of course, it is funny. The question of whether the joke is on the character, the actor, or the audience, however, is open.
Below Deck Mediterranean, Season 7 (Peacock)
Tuca & Bertie, Season 3 (July 11, HBO Max)
Alison Herman: In many ways, the show is the same: It remains the unmistakable vision of creator Lisa Hanawalt, the illustrator and comic artist who spent seven seasons building the world of BoJack Horseman. BoJack was created by Hanawalt’s childhood friend Raphael Bob-Waksberg (now an executive producer on Tuca & Bertie) and was inspired by Hanawalt’s signature aesthetic: anthropomorphic animals who walk, talk, and have human-like existential crises. But for fans of Hanawalt’s solo work—collected in such volumes as Hot Dog Taste Test and Coyote Doggirl—Tuca & Bertie is a more unfiltered expression of Hanawalt’s oeuvre. The show follows the adventures of its title characters, two bird best friends in their 30s: Tuca (Tiffany Haddish), a brash and lively toucan new to sobriety, and Bertie (Ali Wong), a neurotic songbird with a passion for baking who lives with her boyfriend, Speckle (Steven Yeun).
What We Do in the Shadows, Season 4 (July 12, Hulu)
Surrey: What We Do in the Shadows is a genius work of stupid art. Based on the 2014 mockumentary film of the same name created by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the series follows the mundane travails of a group of vampires living under one roof in Staten Island. As the vamps Nandor, Nadja, and Laszlo—all centuries old—struggle to navigate modern life, the closest thing the show has to an overarching story line is Nandor’s human familiar Guillermo (basically a personal assistant) wanting to become a vampire, while also reckoning with the fact that he is a descendant of Van Helsing. (He’s learned that staking vampires comes as naturally to him as holding grudges comes to Michael Jordan.)
Virgin River, Season 4 (July 20, Netflix)
Rap Sh!t (July 21, HBO Max)
The Gray Man (July 22, Netflix)
Surrey: The Gray Man—featuring a CIA operative (Ryan Gosling) gone rogue to set up a showdown with another agent (Chris Evans) who’s been hunting him down—has been hyped up as a potential franchise-starter for Netflix, with a blockbuster scale likened to James Bond. Seeing how well the Russo brothers fared with the MCU, Netflix is surely hoping for another crowd-pleasing spectacle that comfortably falls into their wheelhouse. (Gosling is also an intriguing casting, seeing as he’s one of the few remaining A-listers in Hollywood who hasn’t starred in a superhero movie.)
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 relatively recently that may be worth catching up on.
The Bear (Hulu)
Charles Holmes: The Bear knows what it is. That shouldn’t be enough to laud a show as one of the year’s best in our current content Ragnarök, but the bar is so low it belongs in the basement. Instead of 60 minutes of prestige TV padding, The Bear settles and thrives within the 30-minute format. Rather than cliché jokes about chefs spitting in food, The Bear finds its humor in the much more fraught terrain of interpersonal trauma. Every member of the cast, whether it’s with the simmering misery of Jeremy Allen White’s Carmy or the abrasive charisma of Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s Richie, does just enough to shine without distracting from the ensemble … Any time The Bear is on the edge of making the easier, more expected decision, it veers into something more interesting—even if it’s imperfect.
The Old Man (Hulu)
Ms. Marvel (Disney+)
Daniel Chin: Ms. Marvel presents an interesting contrast to Moon Knight, the Oscar Isaac–led series that marked Marvel Studios’ first attempt at introducing a new title character in their own Disney+ show. Not only is Ms. Marvel much lighter in tone, but it’s also so loaded with MCU references that even its credits sequence features a Trust a Bro Moving Company truck from Hawkeye, whereas Moon Knight made room for only a few small allusions to the MCU over its entire season. The new series front-loads enough references to hook frequent MCU watchers through fan service alone … All the Avengers fanfare can take a new character only so far, though, and Ms. Marvel soon begins to build a stand-alone story by exploring the obstacles Kamala faces as she tries to balance her life at home and in school alongside newfound abilities unlocked by the mysterious bangle she grabbed from the family attic.
Umbrella Academy, Season 3 (Netflix)
Westworld, Season 4 (HBO Max)
Herman: Over three seasons, Westworld has repeatedly setup a series of seismic reversals. First, the “hosts” of its namesake theme park gained sentience; then, they turned on their flesh-and-blood guests; finally, they escaped altogether—bringing the robot revolution into the real world and raising the stakes accordingly. Last season even ended by killing off a major character, a commitment her creators insisted they’d stick to. Each time, Westworld teases the audience with a trip into uncharted territory.