On Netflix, Zach Galifianakis extends a Funny or Die sensation to feature length; Ryan Murphy makes a splash with a cutthroat political series; Sacha Baron Cohen takes leave of TV for a more serious turn; and Booksmart breakout Kaitlyn Dever gets on the true crime bandwagon alongside Toni Collette and Merritt Wever. Meanwhile, Hulu mines drama from the rise of the Wu-Tang Clan and confronts the bitter truth of the Harvey Weinstein takedown, while Amazon has the top-secret new project from BoJack Horseman‘s creative team. Here’s what you’ll be streaming in September.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (Netflix, Sep. 20th)
How does one sculpt three-minute morsels of online cringe comedy in which Zach Galifianakis awkwardly grills celebrities while flanked by decorative flora into a feature film? Take the shoestring-budgeted public access show on the road, for starters. Things get meta as Galifianakis, playing the same off-kilter version of himself as in the webseries, convinces none other than Will Ferrell to give him a network talk show. But first, he’ll have to trek across America tracking down interview subjects — word is that Peter Dinklage, Keanu Reeves, and David Letterman made the cut — to seal the deal. Q&A sessions have never been so exquisitely uncomfortable.
Creepshow (Shudder, Sep. 26th)
In 1982, Stephen King joined forces with George Romero for an antic anthology film collecting five short tales of the macabre, then again in 1987 for a sequel with three more. This spinoff series adds another twelve to the total, albeit without the participation of the original creators. But a King yarn provides a basis for a couple segments, and they’ve lined up a murderer’s row of writers to adapt horror classics and pen their own originals. Gas-mask-clad Nazi commandants, shambling reanimated corpses, and humanoid-animal hybrid monstrosities populate the episodes, and the cast list is no less eclectic, featuring Giancarlo Esposito alongside Big Boi and Kid Cudi. Take your pick of terrors.
The Politician (Netflix, Sep. 27th)
Netflix bought five years of Ryan Murphy for a cool three hundred million, and his big entrée to streaming is this multi-season saga of political shenanigans, high-school-style. Meet Payton Hobart (Tony winner Ben Platt) as he rises through the ranks of American democracy. Bear witness to the birth of his carnivorous ambition with his high school election, and watch how he learns how to manipulate the public — with help from Zoey Deutch plays his sickly, sympathy-point-gaining running mate — quell a scandal and other skills that will help win him votes by any means necessary. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Lange and Bob Balaban (along with a few late-act surprises) are also onboard. It’s a classically Murphian combination of camp wit and glorious stunt casting.
The Spy (Netflix, Sep. 6th)
When Sacha Baron Cohen’s face appears onscreen, it’s generally a sign that there’s a ruse afoot and someone’s not in on it. Not so with this rare straight-faced dramatic turn for the actor, which casts him as espionage professional Eli Cohen, the most respected agent in the history of the Israeli intelligence unit. The limited series concentrates on his work in Damascus during the Sixties, in which Cohen wormed his way into Syria’s highest echelons of power and uncovered anti-Israel operations before they could be sprung. The former Borat has always been a magnet for scandal, but with the new show’s sensitive subject matter and U.S.-Israel relations growing more complicated by the day, he could find himself at the center of an entirely different sort of controversy.
Tall Girl (Netflix, Sep. 13th)
For a teenage girl, it ain’t easy being six-foot-one. That’s the quandary facing Jodi Kreyman (played by real-life tall girl Ava Michelle), a high schooler looking for love and looming over the rest of her grade. This romcom explores the highs and lows — mostly the highs — of her search for a boyfriend who’ll love every inch of her as is, unencumbered by male insecurity about being the shorter half of the couple. Most of the boys her age aren’t nearly that mature, however, leaving Jodi unlucky in love and more self-conscious than the already-steep adolescent baseline. If one more jokester asks her how the weather is up there, it’ll be one too many.
Transparent Musicale Finale (Amazon, Sep. 27th)
The so-called “final season” of Amazon’s Emmy magnet is really a musical send-off at feature length, with the show dipping into fantasy to capture the Pfefferman family grief process. Everyone’s convened to mourn the death of their transgender “moppa”/family figurehead Maura; the widow (Judith Light) and the adult Pfefferman children (Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, and Gaby Hoffmann) are left in a toe-tapping existential spiral. They sing their way through complicated meditations on gender and Judaism in a production equal parts Broadway and Advanced Feminist Theory 301. It ends not with a bang, but a Broadway-style extravaganza (watch this and other Amazon shows for free with a 30-day trial to Amazon Prime).
Unbelievable (Netflix, Sept. 13th)
There’s a serial rapist on the loose, but the cops remain skeptical after the shaken survivors of his brutal attacks have trouble keeping the details of their stories straight. Two female detectives (Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) recognize a serious crime when they see one, however, and take the investigation into their own hands. Working closely and empathetically with the assaulted women (Kaitlyn Dever and Danielle Macdonald), they give a voice to the voiceless and pursue justice on behalf of women everywhere. Adapted from a ProPublica article and directed by the quietly brilliant Lisa Cholodenko, it’s a morbidly engrossing true crime potboiler with a strong pedigree.
Undone (Amazon, Sep. 13th)
BoJack Horseman co-creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and his regular producer Kate Purdy continue to expand the boundaries of animation in their newest project. Alita: Battle Angel breakout Rosa Salazar assumes cartoon form as Alma, a woman who emerges from a gnarly car accident banged up but imbued with newfound powers to bend the fabric of reality. With guidance from her father (Bob Odenkirk), she tests the limits of her fantastical abilities and launches herself into realms of pure abstraction beyond the capabilities of live-action entertainment. BoJack often pushed the formal envelope, and in the team’s tinkering with rotoscoping techniques, that experimental spirit has been freely unleashed.
Untouchable (Hulu, Sep. 2nd)
Of all the powerful predators felled by the revelations of the Me Too movement, none went down harder than Harvey Weinstein. The Oscar-hoarding producer was once feared as too influential to challenge, but the honesty and bravery of a shockingly large contingent of accusers proved that a supposedly invincible man could still be dethroned. This documentary goes face to face with the women responsible for exposing the brutal truth — Paz de la Huerta, Rosanna Arquette, Zelda Perkins and others — and devotes the lion’s share of its run time to harrowing interviews that allow them to confront the memory of their trauma in a safe space. This film helps put it all on record.
Wu-Tang: An American Saga (Hulu, Sep. 4th)
Self-mythologizing has always been a big part of the Wu-Tang Clan’s insular world — and this series dramatizing their rise-to-fame years aims to take their legend one level deeper. The Nineties have just hit New York, and while crack creeps into the streets, a group of young visionaries subsisting on a steady diet of kung-fu flicks and killer weed chart a path out of poverty. The RZA, the GZA, Ol’Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Inspectah Deck come together to turn their virtuosic skills for rapping and beat-making into a legitimate living, but in the land of Shaolin, the path to stardom can be treacherous. Ashton Sanders, Shameik Moore, and Siddiq Saunderson all star in a genuine hip-hop superhero origin story.