The streaming services do battle every single week, and as always, the viewers can only benefit from this rivalry. However, there’s a real first-world problem here in that, quite possibly, there’s too much content to sort out without a lot of effort. That’s where we come in, to help you decide which service will give you the most delight for your dollars on each given weekend. This week, the top prize goes to HBO Max, which is bringing us two highly gifted actresses — Angelina Jolie and Jean Smart — in fresh projects. Not only that, but HBO Max has a relevant new documentary from famed director Alex Gibney. And the currently running HBO Sunday night series are still cranking away each week, too, so there’s a lot of quality to appreciate here. Netflix comes in as a close second several new digs, including Ewan McGregor in a starring TV role before we see him pop over to Disney+ for his return to Star Wars.
Speaking of Disney+ and Star Wars, that service isn’t doing too shabbily this week, either, with a returning show and more of The Bad Batch. Likewise, Amazon Prime’s got Oscar winner Barry Jenkins new limited series that you must check out. Meanwhile, four other services — Apple TV+, Paramount+, Hulu, and Peacock — are taking a little breather from offering brand-spanking-new series, but you might want to catch up on what they released last week. Also, Paramount+ does have a new episode from Dave Grohl’s lovable series that launched last week. We’re getting closer to those summer vibes every day, and we hope you enjoy (at least some of) this streaming content.
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 (Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello, and Jen Statsky) in the writers’ room, so get ready for a (Las Vegas) buffet of complex female characters. Smart portrays a legendary Vegas-rooted comedian who forges a “dark mentorship” to a 20-something newcomer in town. Among other highlights of this trailer, we see Smart shouting, “Eat your heart out Celine!” Don’t even think about missing this one.
Those Who Wish Me Dead (Warner Bros. movie on HBO Max) — Angelina Jolie’s in a straight-to-streaming movie, y’all, which does not mean that hell has frozen over, especially since the heat is on in this tense movie. She portrays a smoke jumper in Montana who is used to a life full of danger, but soon, she’s dealing with riskier situations than she ever signed up to handle. Part of this has to do with attempting to save the life of a skittish boy, who’s being chased by killers for some reason, and then an inferno goes completely haywire. This is an intense one, and Jon Bernthal and Nicholas Hoult co-star.
The Crime of the Century (HBO series on HBO Max) — Famed documentary director Alex Gibney takes aim at Big Pharma for a two-parter. This week, Part 1 deep-dives into how Purdue Pharma aggressively marketed OxyContin to get the highly profitable pill pushed through the FDA approvals for wide use without sufficient studies and evidence. The project also argues that this OxyContin-paved crisis made it much easier for even more dangerous prescription drugs to achieve the same results.
That Damn Michael Che (HBO Max series) — This show’s title kindly tells us which SNL star will be front and center. However, several other SNL stars from today and yesteryear shall be right beside him, and that includes Colin Quinn, who previously admitted that he wasn’t the best fit for Weekend Update, but he seems to be a good fit for a priest who’s gearing himself up to hear all of Michael Che’s sins. This season also won’t shy away from tackling the all-too-timely issue of policing. Yes, the series promises appearances from Cecily Strong, Heidi Gardner, Ellen Cleghorne, and Colin Jost. Also expect to see Billy Porter, Method Man, Omari Hardwick, and Geoffrey Owens.
Mare Of Easttown (HBO series streaming on HBO Max) — Kate Winslet returns not only to TV but to HBO (a decade after her award-winning Mildred Pierce turn) to star as a hard-vaping detective in a small town where she both portrays and elevates the “complicated” cop trope. She’s captivating while digging into a murder mystery that has rocked her small town and caused the community to feel utterly claustrophobic. This show will suck you in, and you won’t mind one bit.
The Nevers (HBO series streaming on HBO Max) — This Joss Whedon-created show offers an intriguing setup about a group of “orphans” (almost exclusively women) who find themselves “gifted” with supernaturally-powered abilities. Although there’s far too many plot lines (and some plot holes), there’s also a fair amount of butt-kicking, and the atmosphere is killer. The embattled Buffy and Firefly creator officially exited the series last year, but you won’t be able to forget his presence.
Halston (Netflix limited series) — The newest Ryan Murphy production stars Ewan McGregor as legendary fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, a.k.a., “Halston,” who volleyed his solo operation into a global fashion empire. In doing so, Halston embodied and defined 1970s and ’80s Manhattan with all of its glitz, sex, and fame accoutrements, along with the trappings and the Andy Warhol-drenched atmosphere. A hostile takeover eventually threatens his control for the Halston name, and expect McGregor to be even flashier and scenery-chewing here than in Birds of Prey. Krysta Rodriguez stars as Liza Minnelli, and she’s a dead ringer, so sit back and enjoy how Halson caused a seismic shift in the fashion industry before his iconic brand lost all of its luster.
The Woman in the Window (Netflix film) — After HBO’s Sharp Objects, no one needs convincing to believe that Amy Adams is quite adept at playing a woman on the verge. Here’s she’s portraying a woman (who is, yes, in the window) who either saw something terrible happen across the street or at least believes as much. She’s agoraphobic, and her neighbor does indeed disappear, so there’s that. Yet since this is a psychological thriller from director Joe Wright, so one can guess that the resolution (which is based upon the best selling novel of the same name) will be anything but straightforward.
Love, Death & Robots: Volume 2 (Netflix series) — Two years ago, Netflix previewed this adult-animated series from co-executive producers David Fincher and Tim Miller, with the “messed up audiences only” label. Comfortingly, it sure looks like not a whole lot has changed for the show’s vibe. As with the Emmy-winning first season of this show, this trailer tells us to expect more existential “robots-gone-wild” but fewer of them (along with “naked giants” and “Christmas demons”), as the series included eighteen short films in the initial round but will crank out eight more for this second batch. All will keep the seemingly infinite number of animation styles going, including a very simple-looking installment that, uh, involves a poop-scooping robot.
Oxygen (Netflix film) — Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D, Horns) brings this survival thriller to Netflix. Mélanie Laurent (6 Underground, Inglourious Basterds) stars as a woman who has no idea why she’s waking up in a cryogenic pod. She’s running out of oxygen fast, all while attempting to find her way out of this awful situation.
The Upshaws (Netflix series) — Mike Epps and Kim Fields star in this sitcom about a Black working class family, but of course, family life is wayyy messier than it initially seems. Wanda Sykes not only co-created this show but stars as a sardonic sister-in-law, and hopefully, they’ll get through this together.
The Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness (Netflix limited series) — Netflix continues to delve deeper into the true crime realm with new selections every month. Now, the streamer is taking on the case of serial killer David Berkowitz, a.k.a. “Son of Sam,” who was arrested and convicted after a stream of murders in the late 1970s. Upon Berkowitz’s capture, New Yorkers felt a sense of relief after Berkowitz could no longer stalk the streets, but journalist Maury Terry didn’t rest easy. He felt convinced that Berkowitz had a partner (or more than one), and this documentary series will dive down that rabbit hole.
The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime limited series) — Awe-inspiring cinematography aside in this trailer, one of the biggest attractions to this project, of course, is Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk, Moonlight) in the director’s seat while helming a 10-part adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. Also, Brad Pitt’s executive producing here through his Plan B production company. The story chronicles the desperate bid for freedom by slave Cora Randall (newcomer Thuso Mbedu), and she’s pursued by a bounty hunter, Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), who not only wishes to complete his straight-up mission by returning Cora to a Georgia plantation but to settle a personal score. The ensemble cast includes William Jackson Harper (as Royal, who was born free and helps guide Cora along part of her journey), Lily Rabe, and Damon “Dewey Crowe” Herriman.
Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (Amazon Prime film) — Michael B. Jordon stars as an elite Navy SEAL who’s seeking justice after the murder of his pregnant wife. In the process, he (naturally) stumbles upon an international conspiracy. It’s the origin story of one of the most beloved Clancy characters in his entire Jack Ryan universe.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Episode 3 (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+. Dave Filoni is executive producing, and the show focuses on a mercenary squad of sorts that’s made up of (as the title indicates) “the Bad Batch” or Clone Force 99. These elite soldiers stand apart from standard clones due to their unique physical capabilities like super strength, super eyesight, and so on.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: Season 2 premiere (Disney+ series) — Expect a lot of references to the High School Musical 2 film starring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Also anticipate the return of an old rivalry and a programming switch that puts the students into a whole new set of routines to master. Derek Hough joins the cast as an antagonist, and there’s a long-distance relationship shift in the cards for Nini and Ricky. That’s rarely good news for characters, but at least the audience can enjoy all the musical numbers along the emotional way.
Big Shot (Disney+ series) — David E. Kelley co-created and executive produces this series starring John Stamos as a down-on-his luck, ousted NCAA coach who’s attempting to get back on his (angry) feet with a ritzy private high-school gig. While reluctantly seeking redemption, Coach learns that his new team benefits from him showing some actual emotion beyond rage and stoicism, so he must — gasp — learn how to be vulnerable and empathetic. He might actually become a better person, too.
Mythic Quest: Season 2 (Apple TV+ series) — Two pandemic specials sustained viewers between seasons of Rob McElhenney’s workplace comedy, which shall see plenty of awkward maneuvering while the crew comes back to the office after you-know-what forced the work-at-home situation. They’re hoping to build upon the Raven’s Banquet success with a new expansion, but nothing’s going smoothly. In short, sometimes the bigger battle than the work itself is learning (and in this case, relearning) how to achieve harmony with one’s coworkers, but here’s great news: Snoop Dogg stops by this season to spread his feel-good… vibes.
From Cradle To Stage (Paramount+ series) — This Dave Grohl-directed series follows Dave and his mom, Virginia, meeting up with Pharrell Williams and his mom. In the process, we learn that both artists are terrified of disappointing their maternal figures and also both started rocking out in their small Virginia hometowns.
Shrill: Season 3 (Hulu series) — The Lorne Michaels and Elizabeth Banks-produced series picks up with Aidy Bryant’s Annie feeling good about breaking up with her awful boyfriend and crushing everything at work. However, now that she can have everything that she wants, she must decide, you know, what she really wants. A blind date, an embarrassing doctor’s visit, and a wild girl’s night are all on tap this season, so get ready to be vicariously awkward.
Girls5Eva (Peacock series) — Tina Fey and Robert Carlock haven’t swung and missed yet while executive producing together, and here’s their latest joint project about a one-and-done, Spice Girls-esque 1990s girl group who get one more shot at stardom. Unfortunately, they’re all balancing real-life stressors like family, day jobs, and aches and pains that one doesn’t exactly deal with during early-20s life when abusing one’s body simply comes with the territory. Busy Phillips stars alongside Sarah Bareilles, Paula Pell, and Renée Elise Goldsberry.