Netflix has got Jerry Seinfeld, chatting up caffeinated comedians; Hulu has an anthology set in the Stephen Kingiverse; and Amazon has a “performance cooking” show revolving around the Tour de France. (That is not a typo.) The Big Three streaming services are trotting out some big names this July, in addition to sci-fi in postapocalyptic, alien-invasion and tech-dystopian flavors; a Josh Brolin dude-bro comedy; and the return of Litchfield Penitentiary’s all-star inmates. Really, who needs fresh air and summer sunlight? Here are your 10 best bets for streaming bliss this month. (You can check out the best offerings for network and cable-channel TV for July here.)
Castle Rock (Hulu, July 25th)
Throw Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining and roughly a dozen other Stephen King stories in a blender, add a dash of powdered fear and hit purée. That’s the gist of this new horror anthology series, which situates itself in a patchwork world of the horror novelist’s creation contained within a rural Maine township. Attorney Henry Deaver (André Holland) returns to his hometown for the first time since the tragic incident that claimed his father’s life, which un-represses more than a few memories. Elsewhere, a rabid inmate known only as “The Kid” (Bill Skarsgard, a.k.a. It‘s Pennywise) is found in the basement of the local prison, the assorted townspeople have secrets of their own and the original Carrie herself, Sissy Spacek, is on hand to add some haunted pathos. King fans, this is what you have been waiting for.
Casual, The Final Season (Hulu, July 31st)
With Hulu’s Six Feet Under-style family drama coming to a close, the Meyers-Cole clan has one last chance to get their respective acts together. Unfortunately, if the previous three seasons have taught viewers anything, it’s that single mother Val (Michaela Watkins), her serial-dater brother Alex (Tommy Dewey) and her teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) have a tough time making lasting personal changes. Behind the scenes, the show continues its mission of keeping TV’s finest female directors busy; last year rounded up Lake Bell, Carrie Brownstein and Gillian Robespierre, to name only a few. Expect more of the same in this swan-song season, Casual, we hardly knew ye.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix, July 6th)
Jerry Seinfeld brought his hit web series to the streaming big leagues by moving the nine previously aired seasons of this intimate interview program to Netflix’s library a few months back – now he’s unveiling of an all-new 10th run. With a new fleet of classic automobiles at his command, the comic picks up Alec Baldwin, Kate McKinnon, Ellen DeGeneres, John Mulaney and Dave Chappelle, among others, for an afternoon of literal coffee talk. The standout get this time around, however, has to be Jerry Lewis, who passed away last summer after filming his episode. Join these heavy hitters as they ponder the meaning of life and compare notes on the merits of cream and sugar.
Eat Race Win, Season 1 (Amazon, July 27th)
The Tour de France has long been a test of the human body’s limits, and this docuseries goes inside the horizontal Everest with a rather unexpected guide: chef Hannah Grant, adapting her book about the ins and outs of “performance cooking.” She’s an expert at jam-packing bite-size morsels with valuable nutrients, resulting in the first hybrid of the culinary and athletic documentary genres. Along with a look at the joy of victory and sting of defeat, Grant shows viewers how they can eat like like a pro cyclist – or just, y’know, scale that sixth flight of stairs.
Extinction (Netflix, July 27th)
Peter (Michael Peña) can’t stave off the recurring dream in which he loses his wife (Lizzy Caplan) and their darling children to some unseen threat. On an otherwise ordinary day, his worst nightmare comes true: hostile aliens invade Earth. Rising to the occasion, our hero realizes he has capabilities far beyond his own knowledge, though the particulars of this sci-fi picture have been kept tight under wraps. On paper, it sounds like a cut-and-dried War of the Worlds riff – but these were the same folks that sprung The Cloverfield Paradox on an unsuspecting viewership with zero warning, so expect the unexpected.
Harlots, Season 2 (Hulu, July 11th)
Prestige TV got a fresh infusion of bodice-loosening sex appeal with the first season of this period piece set in the brothels of 18th-century Georgian London. All the working girls, tough-love madams, haughty prostitution critics and scheming socialites return in the sophomore season to grapple for power in a high-stakes flesh market, with den mothers Lesley Manville and Samantha Morton returning for Round Two and Liv Tyler joining the cast as a regular. Time to re-lace that corset and apply a fifth coat of rouge.
How It Ends (Netflix, July 13th)
Will (Theo James) goes to visit his wife’s father (Forest Whitaker), who’s not thrilled with the proposition of his little girl moving across the country. The mood goes from awkward to apocalyptic as a massive seismic event rocks California to its core, setting off a larger chain of cataclysms that could spell the end of life as America knows it. The odd couple must begrudgingly embark on a hazardous cross-country journey to reunite with the woman they both care for, each man winning the other’s respect as they defend one another from natural perils and roving bands of marauders. And you thought your last visit with the in-laws was rough!
The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter (Netflix, July 6th)
The latest from knucklehead-comedy auteur Jody Hill (Observe and Report, HBO’s Eastbound and Down) following celebrity sport hunter Buck (Josh Brolin) on an emotionally charged expedition with his disinterested son Jaden (Montana Jordan). The man has macho-aggro father-son bonding in his crosshairs; let’s just say that Buck and his cameraman Don – played by the director’s collaborator and muse Danny McBride – are having a bit more fun than the city-slicker kid. Pick your metaphor now: Will this film be a misfire or hit the bullseye?
Orange Is the New Black, Season 6 (Netflix, July 27th)
Netflix’s longest-running series returns once again for another year of havoc and upheaval at Litchfield Penitentiary. This time around, the ladies must sort through the aftermath of the full-scale riot that filled out the previous season; several familiar faces will be shipped off to separate facilities and, if the promotional teasers are to be believed, a maximum-security prison will provide at least part of the new episodes with a change of scenery. Creator Jenji Kohan further offers society’s marginalized voices a chance to be heard – she’s retained her knack for putting the “complex” in “prison-industrial complex.”
Zoe (Amazon, July 20th)
Can humankind engineer love – and if so, should we? These are the grand philosophical quandaries that director Drake Doremus tackles with this feature-length thought experiment, in which Ewan McGregor portrays a tech savant who’s successfully constructed a robot capable of emotionally nurturing a human being. A company worker named Zoe (Léa Seydoux) prefers the old-fashioned methods, and attempts to court McGregor – never mind the computer program that keeps assuring them that they’ll never make it. Social commentary on love in the age of Tinder and AI sex-bots, anyone? The filmmaker has semi-successfully dabbled in dystopias before, with his 2017 movie Equals; we have a better feeling about this one.