This is just getting silly now.
There are some months with a handful of must-see new offerings, ranging from weighty miniseries starring A-listers to exciting new projects from talented filmmakers. And sometimes there are just mindless blockbusters to be diverting for a couple of hours.
This month is insane.
Among the more than dozen mandatory viewings are flagship Australian drama in The Newsreader, star-packed series Only Murders in the Building, The Chair and Nine Perfect Strangers, obsession-making mysteries such as Cruel Summer and final seasons of beloved favourites including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Rosehaven and Wentworth.
There’s even a new streaming service launching – technically, relaunching – and that’s Paramount+, on August 11. We’ve included some highlights below.
It’s truly going to be a busy month in front of the couch.
Reservation Dogs (Binge*, August 10): Created by Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo, the wry comedy is centred on young people on a Native American reservation, committing petty crimes to save enough money to go to California. Through humour, the series explores an under-represented group and their stories.
Nine Perfect Strangers (Amazon Prime, August 20): It’s the buzzy drama with the marquee cast we’ve been waiting for since Hollywood A-listers Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale and Michael Shannon landed in Australia to film the series with Nicole Kidman. Based on a Liane Moriarty book, it’s set in a wellness resort run by a mysterious woman who’s said to work miracles with broken people.
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Hacks (Stan, August 6): Even if you knew nothing else about Hacks, the fact that Jean Smart is the lead would be reason enough to devour all of it. Happily, there’s also a ripper story to go with that star power with Smart as a legendary comic whose tired Las Vegas residency is challenged when she hires a snarky 25-year-old writer.
The Newsreader (iview, August 15): Set in the mid-1980s, in a tumultuous time that includes the Challenger explosion and Lindy Chamberlain’s release from prison, The Newsreader is centred on Anna Torv’s Helen, a newsreader determined to be taken seriously, and her colleague, an ambitious young producer played by Sam Reid.
Only Murders in the Building (Disney+, August 31): If there’s one complaint about laugh riot Only Murders in the Building, it’s that we have to wait until the very of the month. Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez – yes, we want this combo – play three residents of a building who become sleuths and true crime podcasters when one of their neighbours is murdered. They’re convinced the killer is in their midst. Guest stars include Amy Ryan, Sting, Jane Lynch and Nathan Lane.
Mr Corman (Apple TV+, August 6): Written and directed by the multi-talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mr Corman is a series about a thirty-something schoolteacher who takes stock of his life and realises his singledom and debt is not where he thought he would be: as a famous musician. It co-stars Jamie Chung, Arturo Castro, Juno Temple and Hugo Weaving.
Wentworth S8B (Foxtel Now*, August 24): After almost 10 years, Australian TV institution Wentworth is wrapping up. The final batch of episodes will drop this month with the promise of shocks, twists and dangers for the women of Wentworth.
Clickbait (Netflix, August 25): When Nick Brewer disappears, his family is shocked to see him resurface on the internet, in a video in which he has clearly been beaten and is holding up a card that says he’s an abuser. There’s also the promise that once the video hits 5 million views, he’ll be killed. Starring Adrian Grenier, Zoe Kazan and Daniel Henshall, Clickbait was produced and filmed in Melbourne.
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What If…? (Disney+, August 11): Now that we know the multiverse exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it puts a different spin on animated series What If…? It’ll tell different stories featuring familiar characters but not as we know them. For example, what if Peggy Carter had taken the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? The series includes the voice talents of MCU stars such as Samuel L. Jackson, Hayley Atwell, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Josh Brolin and so many more. It’s also Chadwick Boseman’s final performance, which he recorded before his death last year.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine S8 (SBS On Demand, August 13): The fact we got an extra three seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine – after its initial cancellation and then immediate revival on a different TV network – is a gift. But now, it really is the end with the Nine-Nine team bowing out after the 10 episodes of the eighth and final season.
Kevin Can F**k Himself (Amazon Prime, August 27): If you’re sick of the manchild sitcom husband whose lack of ambition and sloppy personal hygiene is somehow no obstacle to being worthy of a wife way out of his league, so is Kevin Can F**k Himself. This comedy starring Schitt’s Creek’s Annie Murphy is centred on that fed-up wife, and uses the antiquated conventions of the multicam sitcom (canned laughter, etc) as she tries to take charge of her unhappy life. It’s treatise on gender expectations and how they’ve been framed by pop culture.
The Chair (Netflix, August 20): When a prestigious university’s English department is mired in scandal, it promotes Dr Kim to be the chair. But the job may be a poisoned chalice with rivals galore and her own feelings for a controversial teacher threatening to blow everything up. The Chair has an amazing cast including Sandra Oh, Jay Duplass and Holland Taylor while Amanda Peet is the writer.
Cruel Summer (Amazon Prime, August 6): The addictive teen drama that made Americans obsessive fans finally lands in Australia this month. It’s the story of two teenage girls – one who was abducted and rescued and the other who is accused of having seen it and not reported it. It’s a she-said-she-said scenario that had audiences divided over who over is to be believed.
Archer S12 (Foxtel, August 26): Rude, crude and unapologetic about it, animated series Archer has won legion of fans because there are few lines it won’t cross. What started as a series about an inept spy agency morphed into a bold, genre-hopping experiment. This upcoming season will be the final one for Jessica Walter, who died earlier this year.
Why Women Kill S2 (Paramount+, August 11): The first season told three different stories over three time periods about women whose husbands led them to violence, but the second season is more focused, with a single story set in the 1940s. Starring Lana Parrilla and Allison Tolman, it’s about a friendless housewife who wants nothing more than to join the glamorous garden club – but the social Queen Bee won’t have someone so “frumpy” among their ranks.
Beckett (Netflix, August 13): Beckett looks to be taking its cues from classic man-on-the-run thrillers with John David Washington as an American tourist whose holiday turns into a nightmare when he’s involved in a car accident and becomes the target of corrupt cops and a political conspiracy. Also stars Alicia Vikander and Vicky Krieps.
My Life is Murder S2 (Acorn TV, August 30): Lucy Lawless’ quippy detective is trading Melbourne for her hometown of Auckland, with the second season of the crime dramedy moving countries and platforms. The shift to New Zealand means a slew of Kiwi guest stars including Jay Ryan, Martin Henderson but also a couple of international names, William Shatner and Bill Bailey.
American Horror Story S10: Double Feature (Binge and Foxtel, August 26): Ryan Murphy is keeping the story of the 10th season of his horror anthology series close to his chest, other than to say that it’s split over two parts, one by the sea and one by the sand. The cast includes Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Billie Lourd. Macaulay Culkin, Matt Bomer and Finn Wittrock.
Vacation Friends (Disney+, August 27): Marcus and Emily are a normal couple with an appropriate appetite for hijinks. When they meet a wild and uninhibited couple on holidays in Mexico, with whom they have some bonkers adventures, the last thing they expected was they would ever see them again. Especially at their wedding weekend. It stars Lil Rel Howery, John Cena, Yvonne Orji and Meredith Hagner.
Rosehaven S5 (iview, August 4): When it comes to gentle Australian comedies, Rosehaven won our hearts years ago. Now it’s the final season and we’re not sure we’re ready to say goodbye. Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola created the perfect small stakes series about two friends whose daily exploits revolve around a small town real estate agency and their oddball community.
Anne Boleyn (Paramount+, August 11): By casting a black actor, Jodie Turner-Smith, as one of England’s most memorable, controversial and doomed queens, the three-part miniseries aims to have a different conversation about power in a social and political structure that punishes women and outsiders.
Modern Love S2 (Amazon Prime, August 13): The second season of anthology series Modern Love has a world-class cast featuring Tobias Menzies, Anna Paquin, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Dominique Fishback and Jack Reynor. Each episode is a story inspired by The New York Times’ famed column, an exploration of love – romantic, platonic, familial – in the modern world.
Two Weeks to Live (Paramount+, August 11): A young woman raised off-the-grid by her paranoid survivalist mother is pranked by a couple of strangers who tell her the world is ending in two weeks. With what she thinks is a limited countdown clock on humanity, she sets out to avenge her father’s death at the hands of crime boss. The comedy-thriller stars Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams and Fleabag’s Sian Clifford.
Tall Poppy: A Skater’s Story (iview, August 1): If you’ve been watching the skateboarding events at the Olympics, wowed by the athleticism of these youngsters, now’s the chance to learn a bit more about one in particular: Poppy Olsen, Australia’s only representative in the skateboarding park events. The doco tracks her story as a young teen pulling the big moves surrounded by men to becoming an Olympian.
He’s All That (Netflix, August 27): A gender-swapped She’s All That sees the most popular girl in school accepting a challenge to turn the least popular boy in school into a prom king. And it wouldn’t be tradition if that boy (Cobra Kai and Designated Survivor’s Tanner Buchanan) wasn’t already hot. Classic.
Back to Nature (iview, August 10): Actor Aaron Pedersen and author Holly Ringland are your hosts on this factual series about the almost otherworldly landscapes of Australia. Each episode, the pair visit a different part of the country – accessible from a nearby city – to experience nature on our doorsteps. Guests include Poh Ling Yeow, Missy Higgins and John Williamson while destinations include Springbrook National Park, the Gondwana rainforest and Otways.
First Ladies S1 (SBS On Demand, August 2): A docuseries that looks at the lives and White House agendas of six of the most famous recent American First Ladies – Michelle Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan and Lady Bird Johnson.
Truth Be Told S2 (Apple TV+, August 20): The second season of this anthology series sees Octavia Spencer’s true crime podcaster character investigate a different case, this time involving a media mogul who is also her childhood friend. As more secrets are unearthed, her lifelong friendship will be challenged. The series also stars Kate Hudson, Mekhi Phifer and Ron Cephas Jones.
Hard Quiz S6 (iview, August 18): At this point, you know what Hard Quiz is going to deliver – Tom Gleeson being a cheeky scamp, simultaneously ribbing his guests while also clearly being quite fond of their passion for their esoteric expertise subjects. It’s a hard line to walk but Gleeson pulls it off.
War of the Worlds S2 (SBS On Demand, August 18): The alien invasion is moving into a different phase and the remaining humans on Earth have to contend with more than just their extraterrestrial enemies. At the heart of it is Daisy Ridley’s Emily – who’s side is she on?
Everyone is Doing Great (Paramount+, August 11): Created, written and directed by One Tree Hill stars James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti, the duo plays two actors and former teen heart-throbs (taking a page out of their own lives) whose TV show ended five years ago. The offers have dried up, fame fades and everything is a mess.
What Does Australia Really Think About? S1 (SBS On Demand, August 18): This three-part docuseries wants to challenge the prevailing views Australians have about disabled, old and obese people. Featuring the likes of Kurt Fearnley, Noni Hazlehurst and Casey Donovan, it will strive to reveal the many facets of discrimination and offer a path forward.
Coda (Apple TV+, August 13): Apple bought Sian Heder’s movie straight out of Sundance, where it premiered to rave reviews. It’s the story of a hearing teenager born to two deaf parents. When a teacher recognises her talent for singing, she must choose between music school and helping her family.
Five Bedrooms S2 (Paramount+, August 11): When Channel 10 relaunches its paid streaming service as Paramount+, the second season of Five Bedrooms is its Australian exclusive original. It continues the story of five single people who met at a wedding and decide to pool their money together to buy into Australia’s competitive housing market. Expect lots of drama – renovations, pregnancies, exes and a tragedy.
*Foxtel and Binge are majority owned by News Corp, publisher of news.com.au