By Josh Terry
There’s a lot to look forward to next month. First off, there are the 4th of July cookouts, and time spent at the beach with family. You could have a vacation planned or a music festival you’re supposed to attend. Summer is supposed to be for being outside, drinking a cold beverage on a patio, and eating hot dogs and cheeseburgers. However, if streaming services had their way, you’d be indoors checking out the latest series and movies they have to offer. If you decide to take a break from sunny revelry, you could spend your July with the big-budget Netflix properties like Stranger Things, Persuasion, The Gray Man or something low-stakes like Hulu’s Maggie or Prime Video’s Don’t Make Me Go. Whatever you decide, we hope you can find an opportunity to touch grass as well.
Stranger Things’ first volume of its fourth season in May, with its Kate Bush syncs and Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, was seemingly the talk of TV Twitter for over a month. With the social media chatter and hype rolling over to the July premiere of the second batch of season four, perhaps Netflix’s investment of over $30 million per episode was actually prudent. The closing chapters of this season will culminate in the biggest duel yet between Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) and the biggest bad yet in Vecna, whose identity was the most shocking reveal from the first batch. Just as the show caused music lovers to run up the streaming count on Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” these concluding episodes will attract an equal number to Netflix.
If psychics’ powers are real then how do they date? If they know what’s going to happen, is it worth diving into a new relationship if it’s not going to work out? These are the questions at the heart of Maggie, an upcoming romantic comedy series coming to Hulu. The show centers around a local psychic (played by Rebecca Rittenhouse) who doesn’t really date for this exact reason: she envisions things not going far with the jamokes she meets and doesn’t feel like wasting her time. But one day, she sees herself married and with kids in the vision of a client’s future. As you can imagine, this is quite a sudden and unexpected realization for the protagonist. This show sounds cute and seems like a fun, low-stakes way for a TV show to play with a solid concept.
In what’s tragically Ray Liotta’s final television role comes this gritty Apple TV+ prison drama Black Bird. Based on a true story and on James Keene’s 2010 autobiographical novel In With The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and A Dangerous Bargain for Redemption, the miniseries stars Taron Egerton as James Keene, a former football star who finds himself in prison after a series of bad decisions and is convicted of a crime with a 10-year sentence. While in prison, he’s given the opportunity to gain freedom if he can secure a confession from an alleged serial killer behind bars. The killer is played by Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell, I, Tonya) and Liotta plays Keene’s father. Could this be this year’s Mare of Easttown?
Lana Condor is one of the most exciting breakout stars thanks to her turn in the acclaimed and beloved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before film series on Netflix. Now, also for Netflix, she’s executive producing and starring in her own series called Boo, Bitch! Think a more family-friendly and funny Euphoria (okay, maybe Pen15) meets the Sixth Sense but not it’s also not quite scary like Stranger Things. Boo, Bitch! turns the classic ghost story and puts it in a high school setting. It’s a breezy watch even though the stakes seem to be afterlife or death.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie has been a long time coming: originally planned for a theatrical release in July 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it nearly two years. But fans of the long-running animated series finally got to see the Belchers get up to their same antics in a feature-length film. To be honest, reviews for The Bob’s Burgers Movie were decidedly mixed and most critics said the movie felt like a really long episode rather than its own film. That’s a fair criticism but considering the astounding consistency of Bob’s Burgers throughout its run, there are worse ways to spend a summer night.
Dakota Johnson has had a good summer so far, already being the co-lead in Cooper Raiff’s Apple TV+ film Cha Cha Real Smooth and earlier in the year starring in the indie Am I OK? Now, the actress is gearing up for likely her biggest role yet in Netflix’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Johnson, who broke out as the star in 50 Shades of Grey, is clearly no stranger to roles featuring unconventional romances so expect this to be a hit, especially as Jane Austen adaptations (Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Clueless) tend to grab audiences.
John Cho is an excellent actor who can do stoner comedy but maximalist campy action but honestly, he thrives best in the low-key drama lane. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen the excellent Columbus, directed by Pachinko and After Yang’s Kogonada. Don’t Make Me Go hopes to follow up Cho’s incredible run of understated indie dramas by making the actor play a father who’s battling health issues with a daughter about to go to college. The two take a road trip that will hopefully lead to father-daughter bonding, personal growth, and healing. Think Brad’s Status but as a road trip movie.
Netflix spent a boatload of money to have their own answer to the James Bond and Mission: Impossible franchises. There’s an all-star cast in this adaptation of Mark Greaney’s 2009 novel with Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Dhanush, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, and Billy Bob Thornton. The film centers around a rogue spy played by Gosling who is hunted by the corrupt U.S. government in an international chase that features super-slick action sequences, big explosions, and loads of big-budget fight scenes. Evans is particularly good as a polo-clad bad guy while newcomer Julia Butters, who was a scene-stealer in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, also shines here. The film is directed by the Avengers-alums Joe and Anthony Russo.
While it isn’t a new Olivia Rodrigo album, it is the return of the pop star to acting, which, if you can believe it, is what she was known for pre-Sour. I’m not going to pretend that I know the finer plot points of this show: it’s obviously based on the Disney Channel movie that aired when I was in high school and launched the careers of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. I also know that cast drama on this iteration of the popular franchise led Rodrigo to write “drivers license.” I’m sure it’s fine if you liked the original.
Not to be confused with Big Little Lies, which is on HBO and HBO Max, Pretty Little Liars is the salacious teen drama and mystery thriller that initially aired on Freeform. For Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, it’s not so much a reboot but a sequel to the original series (apparently, it ignores what happened on Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, which was unceremoniously canceled after one season). This iteration of the franchise has returning stars and a totally new story that apparently deals with a crime from decades ago. “Twenty years ago, a series of tragic events almost ripped the blue-collar town of Millwood apart,” a logline reads. “Now, in present-day, a disparate group of teen girls — a brand-new set of Little Liars — find themselves tormented by an unknown Assailant and made to pay for the secret sin committed by their parents two decades ago…as well as their own.”