Sea monsters, tricksters, zombies, and women on the verge of, well, something either violent or awesome, or maybe both. Do you want to know where you’ll find the best bang for your buck among the streaming services? Things get a little weird this week in streaming land with nostalgia bringing back iCarly for a revival on Paramount, which is still popping with a gloriously mindless action film starring Mark Wahlberg. Sentimental feelings for the past are also (at least partially) what fuels Apple TV+’s Physical, with Rose Byrne building a 1980s fitness empire. And over on AMC+, Annie Murphy plays a character who’s had it with nostalgia for traditional sitcom dynamics, and she’s about to go on a (gloriously) depraved bender.
That’s where this week gets tough, because although the above offerings are well-worth your binging eyeballs, Netflix and Disney+ are both crushing the streaming game this weekend. Netflix comes in with a tie for first place with a thrilling zombie series, an adorable nature series that should not be ignored, Father’s Day content, and more. Meanwhile, Disney’s keeping up “on your left” with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest episode of Loki and the latest Pixar blockbuster film, which you can watch in your homes. Don’t count out Amazon Prime, Peacock, or HBO Max, either. Here’s everything that you should consider putting in your queues.
Black Summer: Season 2 (Netflix series) — This zombie series’ sophomore season may as well be titled Black Winter, but that’s alright. The first season was a sleeper and ended up being the show that Fear The Walking Dead fans would have preferred before the AMC spinoff series improved dramatically this year. With that said, this is a quick-and-dirty crowd-pleaser of a series, which includes the obligatory “guy who tries to hide his flesh wound” moment while attempting to flee to safety within a crowd of survivors. How that’s handled is necessarily brutal, as is the rest of the series, and expect a new batch of fresh challenges while violent militias get down with their bad selves.
Penguin Town: Season 1 (Netflix series) — Don’t even try to resist this one. Patton Oswalt’s narrating this series about the (arguably) most adorable animals on earth. That would be a boisterous colony of African penguins that decide to hit some sunny beaches near Cape Town alongside surfers. What on earth is going on? Apparently, these generally cool dudes are now used to the heat, and it’s a real-life group of penguins who did this, so don’t even try to stop their enjoyment of tropical paradise. They’re only trying to survive and get a little love and maybe, hopefully, god willing, not go extinct. Also, penguin drama must be the best drama, hands down.
Fatherhood (Netflix film) — Kevin Hart puts away the funnyman vibes (well, at least partially) for this rather serious take on fatherhood. The laughs that do occur will be both bittersweet and heartwarming, given that Hart plays a widower who must learn to raise his daughter all by himself. The trailer reveals that he’s taking a swing at honest-to-god acting, and this film is part of Netflix’s promise to release at least one original film per week for the whole of 2021. That’s quite a feat, and this movie will be a nice break from the non-stop action movies that traditionally fill the summer schedule.
The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals (Netflix series) — Live vicariously while experts take you to exclusive private islands, along with treehouses and igloos to showcase amazing properties in (allegedly) every budget and style. In the end, you’ll wanna get away, fast, and experiencing the globe and the life-changing travels.
Headspace: Unwind Your Mind (Netflix interactive special) — Get ready to pull some Bandersnatch-style moves on your meditation game with this interactive experience that promotes mindfulness as the third collaborative installment from Headspace and Vox Media Studios. With this particular special, three customizable paths (Meditation, Relax, and Sleep) can help viewers forge their own individualized paths.
Katla: Season 1 (Netflix series) — This series is based in Iceland where a subglacial volcano won’t stop erupting, and a young woman’s seeking her missing sister, who happens to have disappeared around the same time that the eruptions began. Is there something supernatural afoot underneath the glacier? Perhaps.
Luca (Pixar film on Disney+) — The film’s promotional material, not to mention the setup, reminded a lot of people Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age romantic drama, Call Me By Your Name. Make no mistake, though, this is a family movie with lots of The Little Mermaid flavor, too. Essentially, the story’s about two sea monsters who transform into young humans and set foot on land, where they enjoy an unforgettable summer that includes gelato, pasta, and scooter rides, all while hoping the fun will never stop.
Loki: Episode 2 (Disney+ series) — Tom Hiddleston has an absolute blast playing the mercurial trickster of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we shall reap the benefits while he helps (or hinders) the Time Variance Authority during the process of cleaning up the timeline. This week, the talk of Variants grows both clearer and murkier, if that makes any sense at all, while Owen Wilson’s suddenly apparent gift of exposition really gets a chance to shine. Seriously, can we just hand the guy an Emmy right now? He and Hiddleston are remarkable in their conversations together this week, and you may need to watch it twice to savor all the wordplay.
Zenimation: Season 2 (Disney+ series+) — If you’re into the whole ASMR thing, you’ll wanna check out this show that’s chock full of animated soundscape that are, in effect, molded from the aural experiences of iconic Disney scenes. Enjoy crashing waves and frigid forests and more while this tribute to the best of the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ legacy of sights and sounds.
iCarly (Paramount+ series) — This revival series picks up a decade following the beloved Nickelodeon classic with Miranda Cosgrove returning as the title character, who happens to be the O.G. webcast influencer. She’s accompanied by returning stars Jerry Trainor and Nathan Kress, so the whole gang’s getting back together for more comedic mishaps and adventures while fans can enjoy seeing where these characters ended up for a new chapter.
Infinite (Paramount+ film) — As hard as it might seem to believe, Mark Wahlberg stabs an airplane in this summer blockbuster movie, directed by Antoine Fuqua, that’s coming straight to your living room tonight. Wahlberg is going up against reincarnated warriors known as “Infinites,” and he might be having flashbacks from multiple lives as well. He’s self-medicating, too, and driving a motorcycle off a cliff, so yeah, get your microwave popcorn ready for this gloriously dumb action film.
Physical: Season 1 (Apple TV+ series) — Pull out the leg warmers, the Jane Fonda exercise videos, and the Rave hairspray, or maybe just turn on some Olivia Newton-John songs to get into the proper mood for this dramedy, which stars the always side-splittingly funny Rose Byrne. She portrays a 1980s California housewife, Shiela, who’s pushing toward empowerment and success while excising personal demons in the process. Her transformation’s inspired by aerobics, and soon, Shiela’s building an exercise empire. The pilot’s directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) and the rest of the season’s helmed by Liza Johnson (Dead To Me) and Stephanie Laing (Love Life), so expect the comedy to be of the biting variety.
Kevin Can Go F**k Himself (AMC series) — The title alone will reel people into sampling this series, at the very least, and also the fact that it rips apart a certain sitcom starring Kevin James and Leah Remini. Really, though, this show parodies all of those comedies with schlubby, burp-happy husbands and their often stunningly gorgeous wives who put up too many shenanigans. Annie Murphy (Schitt’s Creek) stars as a woman who realizes that she wasted a decade on being the perfect housewife in an awful marriage, and, well, she decides to get out of it by attempting to murder her husband. You definitely won’t be bored by this one.
The Prime Day Show (Amazon Prime series) — The Prime Day sales event (June 21-22) will launch with this three-episode musical event with performances from Billie Eilish, H.E.R., and Kid Cudi.
Flack: Season 2 (Amazon Prime series) — This series began on Pop TV, and Amazon picked it up for a second season for good reason. This is some damn fine guilty-pleasure escapism, even if it feels like an amalgamation of many shows and movies (includingThe Devil Wears Prada, Scandal, Sex and the City) that you’ve seen before. Anna Paquin, who portrays Robyn, who’s part of a PR agency that’s ridiculously good at hiding the most outrageous celebrity scandals imaginable. The show’s dark but breezy, and this season will see more collisions between work and home life, and as always, there will be love affairs and shady dealings and drug-induced benders and, yes, almost much everyone on this show is a terrible person, but oh, the comeuppance is a blast to watch.
Intelligence: Season 2 (Peacock series) — This David Schwimmer-starring series feels like a bizarre pivot, due to its across-the-pond-style of humor, but enough people tuned in to merit a second round. Schwimmer portrays a shouty NSA agent who tells crude jokes and is basically the stereotypical Ugly American among an office of relatively civilized Brits.
Civil War (Or, Who Do We Think We Are) (Peacock film) — Brad Pitt and Henry Louis Gates Jr. executive produce this documentary that digs into how the Civil War is discussed by Americans, from Obama’s final year in office until present. Expect to see a layered portrait of our collective American psyche to emerge.
Revolution Rent (HBO film on HBO Max) — Executive produced by Neil Patrick Harris and Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, this documentary special heads to Cuba, where Andy Señor Jr. (who originally played the Angel character in the 1990s) directs a stage production of Rent. Yep, that’s not only the same Rent that won Tony awards, but it’s also the first time Cuba’s seen a Broadway musical from an American company in at least 50 years. Señor Jr. reimagines the show in light of his Cuban family’s heritage and their relationship with their home country.
Generation: (HBO Max series) — The dark and playful half-hour series (which is returning from hiatus) revolves around high school students who are finding their coming-of-age exploration of sexuality complicated by the deeply held beliefs that persist throughout their conservative community. The series stars Chase Sui Wonders, Chloe East, Haley Sanchez, Lukita Maxwell, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Nathanya Alexander, Nava Mau, Uly Schlesinger, Justice Smith, and Martha Plimpton.
Betty: (HBO series on HBO Max) — The skateboarders are back. It’s what we really need to heal our pandemic-addled minds, and somehow, director Crystal Moselle managed to gather the Skate Kitchen crew back up for a second season and film on the streets of New York City. The main players are all back — Rachelle Vinberg as Camille, Ajani Russell as Indigo, Dede Lovelace as Janay, Moonbear as Honeybear, and Nina Moran as Kirt — and they’re still making the act of soaring through the streets look like the coolest thing on Earth.