Does it seem like everyone clocked out this week? Well it’s countdown time to the end of summer and peak vacation weeks, which for many means trying to find lightweight escapist shows that will appeal to a couple of different moods and generations. With that in mind, we’ve scrolled across all the platforms to find five of the best new series and films that are worth a late July watchlist:
Take Me Back: Paper Girls (Prime)
One minute you’re a teenage paper girl in the 80s, wishing you could fast forward to adulthood. The next: you’re face to face with your grown-up self … and a mysterious tower full of Alexa.
That’s the set up of Paper Girls, the new time-traveling adventure series arriving on Prime this weekend (right, makers of Alexa). Yes, many are comparing it to Stranger Things, but you’ll see right away that this is a very different brand of nostalgia sci-fi.
It’s also appropriate for 14+ to watch along with their parents, according to Common Sense Media, however Prime recommends it for 16+ (but they need to be “safer”). The bottom line: this one is intended to be a family watch for parents and their teens during the last weeks of summer. Maybe they’ll even see some of it eye to eye.
Transport Me: The Resort (Peacock)
If you’re feeling the need for a vicarious exotic vacation but prefer a little murder to up the ante, check out Peacock’s The Resort.
At first glance, this one might seem like The White Lotus, last summer’s HBO hit. Both offer escapist comedies tinged with a mystery. Both address the harms of privileged tourism on local communities. But that’s where the similarities end. The Resort pivots around a vacationing couple who take it upon themselves to investigate a series of disappearances in the area, and it leans more heavily into the crime-solving — so it’s more likely to remind you of Only Murders in the Building. It comes from the creators behind Mr Robot and High Maintenance, so expect a balance of drama, intrigue, and smart comedy. Three episodes drop Friday, July 29th, with five more coming each Friday to extend your immersion into resort life until the end of summer.
Transfix Me: Not Okay (Hulu)
If you’ve been following the Bennifer honeymoon in Paris, well you might want to take a break from that. Instead check out Not Okay, a dark satire about an aspiring writer who wants to become an influencer and fakes a trip to Paris on Instagram.
When the city gets bombed, she suddenly becomes Insta famous for surviving the attack, and all hell breaks loose. The Hulu series tackles celebrity culture in our age of overnight fame, and the havoc wreaked by the rapid spread of misinformation. It walks the line between send-up and psychological thriller, and you’ll be hearing about this one and its former teen stars Zoey Deutch (Set It Up, The Politician) and Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf), who are both much more than Insta famous.
Grip Me: Surface (Apple TV+)
A woman recovering from a traumatic head injury learns that the cause was a suicide attempt, though she has no memory of the event or what led up to it. As she begins to put the pieces of her life and self back together, she starts to question everything she’s being told. You’ll be questioning it, too, as the psychological thriller unravels the mystery with a trail of revelations across its eight episodes. Variety describes this one as having “a certain book club thriller breathlessness,” and adding to the intensity is the convincing Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Loki and The Morning Show). Three episodes drop Friday, July 29th – with new episodes arriving each subsequent Friday.
Find Me Therapy: Uncoupled (Netflix)
After 2.5 years of pandemic life, a whole lot of people can relate to this one: a 40-something man finds himself back out there on his own after getting dumped by his partner of 17 years. Neil Patrick Harris plays the dejected Michael, a sharp departure from his rakish character on How I Met Your Mother. “Michael is much more of a human being (who’s) actually having to confront the subtleties of dating and emotion and why things happen,” he explained in a junket for the show.
Critics have warmed to this one, too. “It’s funny, emotional and full of characters and friends you’ll care about – but also a celebration of what its like to be ‘mid life.'” – Amy Amatangelo, Paste.
Paste‘s Amy Amatangelo.