A blockbuster franchise installment, a dystopian fairytale with heart, a feminist-punk-rock comedy series, and so much more. Do you want to know where you’ll find the best bang for your buck among the streaming services? There’s simply no way to easily sort out all of the endless options, so we are here to make your decision process as painless as possible. Fortunately, this week is pretty clear cut with a first and second place finish, a few services churning out other options, and a few with some holdovers until next week (get ready for Disney+ to make a strong showing when Loki arrives).
This week, the top prize goes to HBO Max for bringing us more of The Conjuring franchise in our homes, so that theatergoing isn’t mandatory to get the bejesus scared out of you, and the WarnerMedia streaming service also has followup doses of Hacks and the Friends reunion if you missed it. Netflix brings up the next slot with the Team Downey-produced Sweet Tooth and comedian Bo Burnham’s latest (and very relevant) special, along with several other options. Peacock has a girl-power show, Amazon has a new crime drama, and Hulu has the latest documentary episode from the series that caused all that Britney Spears fuss a few months ago. Here’s everything that you should consider putting in your queues this weekend.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — The Devil’s simultaneously coming to a living room or theater near you for this third The Conjuring movie, as the second-highest-grossing franchise (James Wan can’t stop) roars back. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as paranormal dream-team Lorraine and Ed Warren, and this time, the story’s ripped from the headlines. As the film’s title indicates, this case revolves around a 1980s murder case, in which a defendant claimed that the Devil, you know, made him kill and other unspeakable things.
Friends: The Reunion (HBO Max feature-length special) — The whole O.G. gang is back in one place, which means that Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Ross (David Schwimmer), and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) are all here. Sadly, Paul Rudd is not on the scene, but there’s a buffay (get it?) of guest stars here to reinforce why this pop-culture phenomenon remains popular to this day, and why, oftentimes, friends can become your family.
Hacks (HBO Max series premiere) — Jean Smart’s not-so-quiet domination of recent prestige TV shows (Fargo, Watchmen, Mare of Easttown, Legion) and other popular shows of late (Big Mouth, Dirty John) has finally culminated with this leading-lady turn in a role she was arguably meant to play. Hacks hails from executive producer Michael Schur and has three Broad City alums in the writers’ room, so get ready for a (Las Vegas) buffet of complex female characters. Smart portrays a legendary comedian who forges a “dark mentorship” to a 20-something newcomer in town. Don’t miss this one.
Sweet Tooth: Season 1 (Netflix series) — Team Downey (Robert Jr. and Susan) brings us this awe-inspiring story based upon a comic-book by creator Jeff Lemire, who whipped up a post-apocalyptic fairytale about what happens when a great sickness (which is poorly dealt with by humans) ends with a miracle. In this case, this would be the appearance of “hybrids,” babies who are born half-human and half-animal, and we’ll meet a young deer-boy, Gus, (Christian Convery), who teams up with a reluctant protector, Tommy Jepperd (Nonso Anozie), for a cross-country quest. The comic has been described as “Mad Max Meets Bambi,” and Will Forte also plays a pivotal role. You’re in for a real (sweet) treat if you surrender to this adventure.
Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix stand-up special) — Bo Burnham set out to do the nearly impossible: to be funny during a very unfunny time. As such, he’s offering up his general brand of existentialism but with much more rawness. We’ve all felt isolated over the past year or so, but Burnham feels it deeply, and it shows. As such, this special feels bittersweet while nailing the reality that we’ve all experienced, while mixing tragedy and comedy and everything in between. In addition, this episode was largely (and now, relatably) filmed in one room within his home, which only adds to how his audience is ready to embrace everything that Burnham is selling.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie (Netflix film) — This double-dose anime film takes place with the scattered Sailor Guardians attempting to bring light back after a total solar eclipse gives way to a dark power. All of this takes place when Tokyo’s seeing the annual cherry blossom bloom, so the visuals should be extra magical.
Breaking Boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet (Netflix film) — Sir David Attenborough apparently hasn’t narrated enough new projects over the past year, so here he is with the latest from the team who made the Our Planet series and David Attenborough – A Life On Our Planet. The film takes us through the journey to achieve humanity’s greatest scientific discovery, and how we must preserve and not exceed planetary thresholds to secure humanity’s future.
Dancing Queens (Netflix film) — This follows a 20-something young woman (with dancing aspirations) who begins cleaning a drag club called Queens. There, her talent is discovered, and as the synopsis teases, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I think we can guess where the story goes from there.
We Are Lady Parts: Season 1 (Peacock series) — A Muslim female post-punk band called Lady Parts looks for a lead guitarist in this subversive series, which follows the ups and downs of the group as they seek a real gig. A geeky, hard-sciences Ph.D. recruit named Amina Hussain ends up being the unlikely lucky lady to pick up the ax, and she’s soon swept up into the group’s anarchic energy. Naturally, Amina’s caught between two worlds, that of her conservative friends and the irresistible lure of the band’s joyful spirit. Together, they’re fearless, rowdy, and sexual and every ultra-religious family’s nightmare. As a show, it’s silly and irreverent and inspiring; for sure, you’ve never seen women like quite this on your TV screen.
Lisey’s Story (Apple TV+ limited series) — There seemingly cannot be enough Stephen King TV adaptations out there, and this project presents the story of a widow, once married to a legendary novelist, and who is rediscovering repressed memories while cleaning out his desk. Because she needs even more nightmarish curveballs thrown her way, Lisey must also fend off a stalker fan of her husband, and there are (naturally) going to be some otherworldly shenanigans afoot.
The Mosquito Coast (Apple TV+ series) — It’s season finale time for Justin Theroux in this adaptation of Paul Theroux (yes, Paul is Justin’s actual uncle) novel previously brought to life in the mid-1980s with Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, and River Phoenix. The series itself doesn’t match up to the book or film’s tackling of consumerism as much as it wants to be like Breaking Bad (yet forgot the most important ingredient). Also, Justin Theroux’s character, Allie Fox, is an eccentric, overbearing, and eventually psychotic patriarch who drags his family to Mexico, so get ready for plenty of tense moments.
The Me You Can’t See (Apple TV+ series) — On the heels of *that* interview, Prince Harry and Oprah are teaming up as co-creators and executive producers of this series that will dig into stories that revolve around mental health and emotional well-being. Expect a variety of guests, including Lady Gaga, the NBA’s DeMar DeRozan and Langston Galloway, plus a popular chef, and more.
The New York Times Presents: Who Gets To Be an Influencer? (FX documentary film series on Hulu) — Hot on the heels of the controversial Britney Spears installment, the New York Times continues bringing essential stories to the forefront. This week, the publication chronicles a pioneering mainstream Black “creator mansion,” Collab Crib, which seeks to reach social media stardom. All the while, they’re working against the grain, and they tackle their plight in a profound manner.
Plan B (Hulu film) — Oh boy, does this story ever hit home for countless ladies who find themselves driving from drug store to drugstore. That’s exactly what happens in this film, after a regrettable sexual encounter sends a high school student (Kuhoo Verma) and her best friend (Victoria Moroles) on a bit of a road trip with the clock ticking to find Plan B in America’s heartland. As miserable as this potentially sounds, it’s actually a twist on the teen sex comedy, and it arrives by way of Cobra Kai and Harold & Kumar producers.
Dom: Season 1 (Amazon Prime series) — This crime drama hails from Brazil with subtitles, but there’s a lot of Ozark and Sons of Anarchy vibes on display to make a non-dubbed effort worth the watch. Dom revolves around a middle-class Rio de Janeiro boy, Pedro, who falls into the lucrative realm of cocaine and eventually rises toward the top (or sinks toward the bottom, depending on one’s perspective) of the criminal underworld. It’s all based on a true story of the gang-related exploits that dominated the country’s aughts tabloids, given the juicy reality of Pedro’s father working for police intelligence, and yes, one should expect the lines of morality to go grey here. Dom‘s also a high-adrenaline adventure, so don’t watch this one while hoping to relax.
Panic: Season 1 (Amazon Prime series) — This show’s a bit like The Purge in concept, only it revolves around a dangerous game that takes place over the course of a summer for graduating seniors in a tiny Texas town. They compete for a pot of money (while hoping to escape their tiny-town lives, of course), but the stakes are high and risky as players must confront their deepest fears. The story, which is based upon the bestselling novel by Lauren Oliver, will likely hook you, so be ready to binge.
Cruella (Disney movie on Disney+) — Yes, Cruella de Vil is finally getting her origin story. Even if you don’t agree that she needed one, no one can argue that Emma Stone is the actress who could deliver a damn good time in this role. Granted, the film starts out slow (the runtime’s over two hours) with a protracted childhood era that doesn’t illustrate much about why she villained out and murdered puppies. Yet it does speed up, with lots of mayhem and a cackling Emma hanging off a truck in a billowing dress. Fashion can be evil! Also, the soundtrack feels like a character in its own right.
Launchpad: Season 1: Discover (Disney+ series) — This group of live-action shorts arrive from newcomer directors, often from minority backgrounds, all of whom want to spread their experiences of family and culture in uplifting ways. Each short this season revolves around the “discover theme,” and all directors worked under mentors from Disney+, Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Episode 6 (Disney+ series) — You might prefer to think of this show as the Star Wars franchise’s version of D.C.’s Suicide Squad, but fear no Leto-Joker intrusion. Instead, this The Clone Wars spinoff follows the conclusion of its flagship series that recently wound down on Disney+. The show focuses on a mercenary squad of elite soldiers, who stand apart from standard clones due to their unique physical capabilities like super strength, super eyesight, and so on.
From Cradle To Stage (Paramount+ series) — This Dave Grohl-directed series follows Dave and his mom, Virginia, meeting up with another artist and their mom each week. This week, Dave and Virginia travel to Toronto, where they meet up with Geddy Lee, frontman of Rush, and his mother, Mary Weinrib, who survived the Holocaust.
Rugrats: Season 1 (Paramount+ series) — The 2021 revival of this series brings the babies back into action mode, which means that Tommy Pickles is leading his gang on a whole new set of adventures, this time in full-on three-dimensional CGI rendering. In the debut episode, dinosaurs are on the scene while Tommy helps Chuckie after his intent to appear brave does not go as planned.