The 7 Best Shows and Movies of July

Josh Terry

Read Time 4 minutes

HBO Max

More than most months this year, July was pretty disappointing regarding the marquee streaming premieres. Some of the most anticipated titles of the entire summer like Netflix’s $200 million The Gray Man and Persuasion, the Dakota Johnson-starring Jane Austen adaption that got surprisingly negative reviews, which is hard to do when reviewers and Rotten Tomatoes’ aggregations are getting more and more positive. For what it’s worth: audiences seemed to like The Gray Man more than critics, but besides some maximalist and expensive action sequences, there are too few memorable scenes from the film. 

While there aren’t as many films and TV series that are easy to 100 percent endorse this month as June or May, here are the seven titles we actually liked in July. From the bittersweet and masterful swan song of Better Call Saul, the goofy return of vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, and the unsettling meta-comedy of The Rehearsal, there was actually more than enough to love. Also, before you yell at us: The Bear came out in June. 

Better Call Saul (AMC+ and Netflix) 

The final season of Better Call Saul started airing in April but, after a brief hiatus, picked up again in July. With the series finale on August 16 rapidly approaching, showrunner Vince Gilligan is not just making a worthy successor to Breaking Bad but arguably one that tops its emotional and dramatic peaks. Bob Odenkirk has been excellent as Jimmy McGill or Saul Goodman, painstakingly embodying the moral descent of a complicated and sleazy antihero. How does a successful but shady lawyer end up incognito working at Cinnabon? We’ve been finding out for six excellent seasons. 

Watchlist here

The Bob’s Burgers Movie (Hulu) 

One of the biggest criticisms of The Bob’s Burgers Movie was that it felt like one long Bob’s Burgers episode rather than its own standalone film. But for 11 years, 12 seasons, and 238 episodes, Loren Bouchard’s animated comedy has been consistently hilarious, heartfelt, and inviting. Following the Belchers, parents Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts), and their three kids, Gene (Eugene Mirman), Tina (Dan Mintz), and Louise (Kristen Schaal), the show finds absurdist humor through their dysfunctions, quirks, and ever-present financial challenges, which always seem to work out at the end of each episode. The film starts to unfold like an episode where the Belchers get denied a loan, but the stakes become much bigger when a giant sinkhole opens up in front of the restaurant. There are great musical numbers, funny jokes, and Belcher family bonding. Even if it’s like an episode of the show, it’s still a great time. 

Watchlist here 

Don’t Make Me Go (Prime Video)

In Don’t Make Me Go, John Cho plays Max, a single dad who is given a cancer diagnosis and one year left to live. Instead of immediately coming clean about his health, he takes his 15-year-old daughter Wally (Mia Isaac) on a road trip in hopes of strengthening their bond and taking his mind off his cancer. Though the road trip format could potentially be predictable and saccharine, this movie is anything but, thanks to Hannah Marks’ thoughtful direction and Vera Hubert’s excellent and emotional script. Cho has experienced a sort of renaissance in understated indie films like Kogonada’s Columbus (as well as high-profile action roles like Cowboy Bepop), so it’s great to see him nail this demanding and depth-filled part. 

Watchlist here 

Rap Shit! (HBO Max) 

A local rapper I follow on Twitter recently posted, “if you spit, you should watch Rap Shit on HBO.” That’s the nicest possible review for Issa Rae’s show about a hip-hop group composed of recently reunited friends in Florida, Shawna (Aida Osman) and Mia (KaMillion). If that sounds like the origin story of City Girls, it’s not a coincidence: Yung Miami and JT serve as producers on the show. Though Rap Shit! premiered just on July 21; it’s already one of the most fun new series of the year and has so much potential I can’t wait to see where they take the narrative. 

Watchlist here 

The Rehearsal (HBO Max) 

Nathan Fielder has such an awkward and unsettling presence that somehow, he’s able to make people at ease and comfortable enough to show themselves at their absolute most bizarre forms. Watching his earlier show Nathan For You on Comedy Central, his subjects would reveal extremely personal and totally out-there things about themselves, but nothing quite like poor folks who are featured on The Rehearsal, his new HBO show. Basically, The Rehearsal is an ambitious concept where Fielder helps strangers rehearse for big moments in their life whether it’s something as small as an apology to a friend or big as parenthood. While that doesn’t sound weird on paper, the methods and the lengths Fielder goes to create an accurate simulation for his subjects are confounding and astounding. You’ll never look at gunpowder or a Scion tC the same way again. 

Watchlist here 

Stranger Things (Netflix) 

Episodes eight and nine of Stranger Things’ fourth season were 85 and 150 minutes, respectively, with the first a whole lot of exposition setting up the battle between the Hawkins teens and bad guy Vecna and the finale being a whole feature-length dose of resolution and payoff. By Netflix breaking up the streaming giant’s penultimate season into two parts, the ‘80s-nostalgia meets horror-drama show manages to stay in the conversation for most of the summer, allow fans a breather, and raise the stakes for its dramatic Avengers-like conclusion. There are several questions leading up to its final season: Why did they let Vecna escape? Will the characters who met their death in the finale miraculously return in season five? Will they skip ahead to the ‘90s to match their growing actors’ ages? Will the Upside Down become Rightside Up? 

Watchlist here 

What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu) 

FX’s What We Do in the Shadows, its masterful TV adaptation of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s 2014 vampire comedy film, has now entered its fourth season. While it’s long solidified itself as one of the best television comedies as a vampire mockumentary, it’s now entering a new groove with a sort of twist on its established narrative. While the three traditional vampires are still around in Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Lazlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), as well as Nandor’s vampire-hunting “familiar” Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), “energy vampire” Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) returns reincarnated as a precocious and rapidly growing toddler following the character’s season three death. 

Watchlist here

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