Summertime isn’t looking like everyone hoped it would in the outside world, but fortunately, it’s still safe to get wild in your living room and on your streaming devices. Look here: Agent Carter takes the super serum on Disney , Jason Momoa fights a new rival on Apple TV , Nicole Kidman’s playing a spooky wellness guru for Hulu, and that’s only the beginning. The schedule’s still stuffed with goodness while blockbuster movies still aren’t full force in theaters. In other words, the streaming networks are working overtime to provide you with the most quantity possible, and unfortunately, that also means a lot of mediocrity is happening. So, we’re here to help you sift through the new August TV shows for the must-see selections.
There’s a lot coming, too. Taika Waititi has a new FX (on Hulu) crime-comedy series, and Netflix is (of course) bringing several solid options while Hulu also gets into the crime-mystery game with three amigos-of-sorts. A CD superhero soars back into action on the CW, Kit Harrington is (acting like he’s) in love on Amazon, Awkwafina’s back on Comedy Central, and J.J. Abrams seeks to uncover the real truth for Showtime. Don’t count out Starz, which has an unexpected show coming from the Loki creator.
Here are the biggest shows worth noticing in August:
Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami (Netflix series streaming 8/4)
There’s so much blow in this trailer, which gives the documentary treatment to the excess-filled life of two childhood pals who transformed into powerful Miami drug kingpins over the course of decades. There’s a tiger and bullfighting and speedboats and money flying everywhere, it’s no wonder why “Los Muchachos” were so darn popular. They were also slippery fellows, due to their world-champ powerboat-racing status. A $2 billion empire eventually came crumbling down, but not without a valiant fight from the duo and their prosecuting opponents.
Mr. Corman: Season 1 (Apple TV series streaming 8/6)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has proven himself to choose his roles carefully after stepping away from blockbuster-land, and that makes his choice, in general, worth watching. In this series, he plays a public-school high school teaser who’s in the midst of an existential crisis. Granted, the word “existential” might make some eyes glaze over with assumptions that this show will contain a lot of naval gazing. However, Gordon-Levitt’s character is fueled by “a sinking suspicion that he sucks as a person.” That’s not only darkly funny but shows that there’s plenty of juice to mine from seemingly mundane life concerns and the fear, which many of us share, that we’ll all feel like impostors while pretending to grow up.
UFO: Season 1 (Showtime series streaming 8/8)
Timing might not be everything, but it sure means a lot. Earlier this summer, the U.S. government’s so-called comprehensive report on Unidentified Flying Objects revealed, uh, nothing. This didn’t sit well with the creator of The X-Files or anyone who’s experienced what they believe are UFO sightings. Enter J.J. Abrams with this four-part docuseries to dig into “the history of the phenomenon through cultural and political touchpoints, including shocking testimony from eyewitnesses across the country.” The series also promises to examine possible motives on those parties who might be “shielding the truth,” and since this is coming from Abrams (Cloverfield, Super 8), it’s difficult to know whether to expect a levelheaded tone in a series that (most likely) aims to make Fox Mulder proud. One thing is certain: this won’t be boring.
Reservation Dogs: Season 1 (FX on Hulu series streaming 8/9)
Taika Waititi’s upcoming FX on Hulu followup to What We Do in the Shadows heads down another rather intriguing (yet undoubtedly funny) road. The eclectic auteur’s now bringing us a comedy series that’s co-written by Native American filmmaker Sterlin Harjo. Yes, the teens in this show rock suits that look strikingly similar to the characters of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, yet they’re four Native teenagers who fight crime and also commit it. The show was shot in and near Okmulgee, Oklahoma (the home of the Muskogee Creek tribal headquarters) — where, presumably, excitement is lacking. Not for long, though, and these teens hope to make it all the way to California. The cast and crew come from indigenous communities, from where Harjo and Waititi are aiming their storytelling styles as well.
Stargirl: Season 2 (The CW series streaming 8/10)
Thank goodness that Stargirl exists, and it’s a surprisingly sweet and enjoyable, live-action treat. This show debuted as a breath of unadulterated joy in 2020 while starring Brec Bassinger in the title role with Luke Wilson doing the stepdad/former superhero sidekick honors (shortly before his brother, Owen, captured expositional hearts in the MCU). The first season arrived with a fairly simple setup: Stargirl is a good (and relatable) person who simply enjoys kicking evil people’s asses, and she’s thrilled that she can do it. That’s pretty refreshing in an era full of superhero nuance and overdone context, along with arguably sympathetic villains and antiheroes. Sometimes you just wanna watch the bad guys — who are clearly bad guys — go down, right? Stargirl is here for you in that way. Did I want a little more Joel McHale in this show? Of course, but the leading lady worked hard to recruit her new JSA, and seeing where they move going forward should be a trip.
What If…?: Season 1 (Disney series streaming 8/11)
We’re in the multiverse, baby. The MCU’s officially launching headfirst into that realm after Loki‘s season finale, and this show’s Twitter account clarified official participation as well. And that sounds about right. I’ve been looking forward to these alternate-reality scenarios since catching D23 footage a few years ago, and Disney will show us a wealth of scenarios that stand separate from the existing canon (thus far). Agent Carter will take the serum and become Captain Carter. There’s a Zombie Captain America, and King T’Challa materializes elsewhere as Star Lord. Notably, Chadwick Boseman did voice work here, so you’ll be able to say a proper goodbye to his Black Panther. Let the good times and the tears roll.
The Hype: Season 1 (HBO Max series streaming 8/12)
Streetwear professionals finally get a proper reality-competition show that aims to create a collision of streetwear, culture, and business. Cardi B’s judging, along with Wiz Khalifa, A$AP Ferg, Dapper Dan, and Bobby Hundreds. All involved aim to mentor the contestants while imparting their specialized visions toward the visionary contestants. From fashion to music to art to lifestyle and everywhere in between, the creativity here should be off the hook, and maybe some of that coolness will rub off on us.
Modern Love: Season 2 (Amazon Prime series streaming 8/13)
Who doesn’t want to watch
Jon Snow Kit Harington romance Lucy Boynton? It’s the return of the popular anthology series that found inspiration in the famed New York Times column. Relationships and connections shall happen, as well as betrayals and revelations, and the cast is chock full of talent you already know and love, including Tobias Menzies, Minnie Driver, Garrett Hedlund. All rules of love shall be henceforth broken in locales including Dublin and the whole of New York, including that Big Apple. Did I mention? Jon Snow getting randy again is not to be missed.
Brand New Cherry Flavor (Netflix series streaming 8/13)
Every so often (Warrior Nun, hint hint) a pulpy-looking Netflix series looks as though it may not last long due to its niche quality, but it’s still worth some time to peruse. And who knows? This pulpy series could find a devoted fanbase, too. There’s sex, magic, revenge, and felines on hand for an early 1990s filmmaker character, who’s attempting to make it big in Hollywood, but things get very spooky. Halloween arrives early this year here, and since time means nothing anymore, go for it.
Heels: Season 1 (Starz series streaming 8/15)
Does the world need a series about a small-town wrestling circuit? Well, maybe not, but how about a show about a small-town wrestling circuit that’s written and created by Michael Waldron, creator of Loki and writer of Rick and Morty and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Now, you’ve got my attention. Family legacy is front and center in this Georgia setting as brothers (Alexander Ludwig and Stephen Amell) who do the good-guy/bad guy thing, and “heel” refers to the latter role, which is harder to shake off outside the ring than it appears. Ain’t no drama like wrestling drama, and the writing on Loki suggests that this show will be anything but predictable.
Nine Perfect Strangers: Season 1 (Hulu series streaming 8/18)
Nicole Kidman’s one of several A-listers who’ve made themselves at home on the so-called “small screen” in recent years, and after a few Emmys and a Golden Globe for Big Little Lies and a Globe nomination for The Undoing, she’s not done yet. She portrays a wellness guru that might remind you of certain celebrities who shill bizarre products and claim that they’ll change your life with a dash of snake oil. Yes, the Paddington villain is here to shake up your little world again, so get ready.
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens: Season 2 (Comedy Central series streaming 8/18)
Awkwafina might be omnipresent in feature films, but it’s still worth checking out her semi-autobiographical series, in which she plays a hot mess attempting to adjust to adulthood. That’s pretty much all of us, regardless of our age as adults, and this season, expect more of the same (and that’s a good thing) as her Nora character’s personal and family lives see more (comedic) challenges and adventures. BD Wong, who plays Nora’s dad, will step in into the director’s seat this season, and expect the moods to keep seamlessly flowing through the episodes. From funny to awkward to touching to boisterous as hell, this show (and its star) can manage it all.
The Chair (Netflix series streaming 8/20)
Sandra Freaking Oh headlines this show about the first woman of color to become chair at a prominent university. In the process of adjusting to her job, she confronts dizzyingly high expectations while one of the university’s cornerstone programs is tanking. Jay Duplass co-stars (his character is a complete and delightful mess), and are we ready for Sandra Oh supremacy yet? This trailer also features the latest song (aptly titled, “Oh!”) from viral punk teen stars The Linda Lindas.
See: Season 2 (Apple TV series streaming 8/27)
Apple TV ’s See helped launch the tech giant’s streaming service less than two years ago, and the show was so wild and wooly that it worked. Jason Momoa stars as Baba Voss, a fierce warrior and leader in a post-apocalyptic world that went blind, long ago, and he’s the guardian of sighted miracle-twins who could be the key to humanity’s future. The show’s jaw-dropping visuals include Momoa, who’s now forced to fend off to come with the introduction of Dave Bautista as Edo Voss, the brother of Baba, and the reunion doesn’t look too friendly. Muscle-bound dudes fighting through “echolocation” sounds a good time. Clashing egos and warring beards can only help.
Only Murders In The Building: Season 1 (Hulu series streaming 8/31)
Only a few short years ago, Selena Gomez stood awkwardly in a designer gown alongside t-shirt clad co-stars Adam Sandler and Kevin James at a photocall, and let’s just say that her current co-stars would never. Here, she stars alongside the legendary Steve Martin and Martin Short, and the three portray NYC neighbors who aim to unravel an apparent murder inside their apartment building. Yes, they’re all podcasting because everyone does it (duh), and before long, the killer might be after them, too. Martin hasn’t written a feature film since the Pink Panther movies and Shopgirl, and I don’t wanna come out and call this trio a “much cooler Three Amigos” update, but Martin wrote that, too, so why not?