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28 of August 2017's best streaming debuts on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, and more

It’s a weird — but potentially great — month for streaming TV, movies, and specials.

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Tiffany Haddish’s standu-up special, Amazon’s The Tick, and Netflix’s The Defenders and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later are among this month’s big streaming debuts.

On the surface, August’s streaming slate looks a little ho-hum, with only a few high-profile original series (Marvel’s The Defenders, another Wet Hot American Summer entry) and some prestige-movie-season stragglers (Hell or High Water, Jackie) to catch a skimming eye. But look a little closer and there’s a bevy of slightly more offbeat choices, making this a great month for expanding your horizons from the comfort of your own couch.

Film-wise, there are a handful of all-time greats, both vintage (High Noon) and modern (Children of Men), some solid nostalgia/camp viewing (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Mommie Dearest), and modern horror classics both established (The Babadook) and pending (the jury’s still out on Netflix’s upcoming Death Note adaptation).

And joining the more familiar-sounding original series offerings are a couple of idiosyncratic endeavors (Comrade Detective, The Tick) with the potential to be gloriously — or at least interestingly — weird. Throw in new standup specials from some quickly rising stars (Maz Jobrani and Tiffany Haddish) and some of last season’s best new TV (Better Things, The Good Place) and you have the makings of a well-balanced streaming diet.

So here are August’s best new-to-streaming options, broken down by premiere date and platform.

Premiering August 1

The Babadook, Showtime

Though he’s very recently been transformed into a queer cultural icon, the titular monster of this acclaimed Australian horror film has lost none of his power to terrify. That’s largely thanks to the combined acting team of Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman as a single mother and her difficult son. As she struggles to provide for him while managing his behavioral disorders and her own mental health, the specter of her depression and their codependence gains a visceral shape in the form of a creepy children’s storybook figure. Her fight to protect her house and save her son from the Babadook is a challenging journey full of symbolism, strength, and lingering power. (It doesn’t hurt that the Babadook also has great monster style.) —Aja Romano

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Hulu and Amazon)

Vapid high schoolers — who are destined to save the world — first travel through time, then through the afterlife in these surprisingly durable comedies of idiocy. Come for the “can you believe how stupid these guys are?” jokes, but stay for the large fleet of references to history, religion, and classic films. Where else would you see Death challenged to a game of Twister? —Todd VanDerWerff

Billy Elliot, Showtime

It’s kind of incredible to look back now and see how much of a phenomenon Billy Elliot, a heartfelt movie about a boy in a British mining town who discovers the joys of ballet dancing, has become since its release in 2000, even inspiring a Broadway adaptation (which, by the way, launched the career of Tom Holland, a.k.a. the latest Spider-Man). But the movie itself is quite simply one of most emotional, evocative dance movies ever made, anchored by fantastic performances from a young Jamie Bell and Julie Walters as his dance teacher. —Caroline Framke

Children of Men (Starz)

If The Handmaid’s Tale has whetted your appetite for horrifying dystopias brought about by a fertility crisis, consider Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón’s stunning 2006 film based on the novel by P.D. James, set in a world in which no babies have been born for the past 18 years. Its depiction of a Britain that has militantly closed itself off to outsiders might feel a little close for comfort in a post-Brexit world, but what makes Children of Men so beautiful is that it’s a dystopia that contains the possibility of redemption. —Constance Grady

Eve’s Bayou, Amazon, Hulu

This scintillating, slow-burning 1997 melodrama is a rare cinematic feat: a Southern gothic that’s about the crumbling legacy of a generational black family, for once. Our narrator, Eve (played by a young Jurnee Smollett), is the same age as Harper Lee’s Scout when she’s caught in a swirl of events she’s only just beginning to understand — but where To Kill a Mockingbird’s racism is indirectly felt, in Eve’s Bayou, the impact of racism foments among the characters as they form a web of sexual intrigue in the midst of the broader racial turbulence of the ’60s. Kasi Lemmons, in a superb directorial debut, skillfully weaves together themes of community discord, family secrets, and a touch of magical realism, centered on the coming of age of two young girls. —AR

Frost/Nixon, HBO Now

In 1977, British talk show host David Frost interviewed Richard Nixon, marking the first time the disgraced ex-president had given an interview after his resignation. Nixon picked Frost — some speculated because he thought Frost would go easy on him — but a battle of wits ensued over the four installments, with Nixon famously saying about his deeds that “when the president does it, it isn’t illegal.” The interviews are fascinating, but this fictionalization directed by Ron Howard landed five Oscar nominations and critical acclaim, particularly for the performances by Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost. —Alissa Wilkinson

High Noon, Hulu

Fred Zinnemann’s classic Western is most famous for Gary Cooper’s memorable performance as Will Kane, a righteous lawman trying to prepare for a calamitous gunfight in his town, and Grace Kelly’s unorthodox turn as his new bride. But what’s most surprising about this film is how tense and well-paced it is despite being a story about a man who spends half a day waiting for something to happen. The film draws its suspense — and its dark cynicism — from Kane’s attempts to galvanize members of his community to take a stand against lawlessness and violence, as they shirk, flee from, or shrug off the crusade one by one. At the time of the film’s release, High Noon carried unmistakable political overtones due to its writer, Carl Foreman, being blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Today, those political overtones are sharper — and perhaps bleaker — than ever. —AR

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Hulu)

“No, Dad, noooo! Don’t eat me! Ahhhhhhh!” —TV

Maz Jobrani: Immigrant, Netflix

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me panelist and Superior Donuts star Maz Jobrani was a political science student before he launched his comedy career, so he’s uniquely suited to a moment in time when so many people want their comedy with a hefty side of political discussion. In his new special, Jobrani dives deep into Trump’s America — and into his life as an Iranian immigrant who came to the US as a young child. (Listen to our recent podcast discussion with Jobrani.) —TV

Rachel Getting Married (Hulu)

Rachel Getting Married isn’t what won Anne Hathaway her Oscar, but it’s the consensus pick for her best performance. Hathaway isn’t playing the titular Rachel, but rather Kym, Rachel’s recovering addict younger sister, home for the weekend of Rachel’s wedding. Kym is equal parts toxic and magnetic, and the movie carefully documents the way her presence disrupts the already fragile balance of this unruly mixing of two families. As Kym, Hathaway is brash, needy, and self-loathing, giving her natural theater-kid thirst for attention a decidedly dark spin. —CG

Premiering August 4

Comrade Detective season 1, Amazon

Amazon’s new series Comrade Detective is ostensibly a government-produced Romanian cop show from the Cold War era that’s been resurrected and remastered for modern American audiences — but really, it’s a parodic exercise that doubles as an opportunity for a bunch of famous and/or funny people to do comedic voice work, a.k.a. the sweetest acting gig there is.

With a bunch of unknown Romanian actors in front of the camera and voiceover from a slew of famous American names (including Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular detectives, as well as supporting turns from Nick Offerman, Jenny Slate, Chloë Sevigny, and more), Comrade Detective is a weird, somewhat dissociative viewing experience. But its stylish anti-capitalist crime-story elements are compelling, and a central murder mystery keeps this strange beast of a series chugging forward to the point where you may eventually be able to watch it without being distracted by Tatum and Gordon-Levitt’s voices coming out of unfamiliar faces. —Genevieve Koski

Mommie Dearest, Starz

Christina Crawford’s bestselling tell-all memoir Mommie Dearest, published after the death of her mother Joan Crawford, solidified the Hollywood legend’s reputation as a famously difficult diva, even if the book’s account of her abusive behavior continues to be disputed. But in casting fellow famously difficult diva Faye Dunaway as Crawford, the film achieved a deep symbiosis between the two actresses. The result is a character who is jarringly sympathetic amid a story that paints her as an unabashed unidimensional stereotype. The melodrama of the script, the melodrama of Crawford herself, and the melodrama of the production around Dunaway-as-Crawford all combine to make Mommie Dearest one of the campiest films ever made. —AR

Voltron: Legendary Defender season 3, Netflix

Season two of this ’80s animation reboot left viewers on a wild cliffhanger with a new villain on the horizon and a prominent member missing. This latest season picks up right where paladins Keith, Lance, Pidge, and Hunk left off, eager to locate the whereabouts of their Voltron leader Shiro and continue on their quest to protect the universe. Season three only delivers seven episodes, but it may be the series’ most emotional, exciting, and suspenseful yet, as the team members find a new addition in a current ally, make the heavy choice of selecting a new leader, and work out their differences to continue defending the universe as a newly reformed Voltron. —Abbey White

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, Netflix

The ending of 2001’s comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer saw the counselors of Camp Firewood — played by Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Ian Black, and more — gathered together on the last day of the summer, trying to organize a reunion and imagining what their lives might be like 10 years later, in 1991. Now, after the cast reunited for Netflix’s cheeky prequel Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp in 2015, they’re back to stage that very reunion. Ten Years Later checks in on the counselors now that they’re very busy and important 20-somethings stumbling around the early ’90s, in 10 new episodes of deranged fun. —CF

Premiering August 5

Hell or High Water, Showtime

In his five-star review of Hell or High Water for Vox, Peter Suderman makes clear that the ensemble film’s real star is its setting. Director David Mackenzie’s heist film is a hybrid Western and Southern gothic tale of an economically destitute rural Texas, ravaged by corporate greed and dulled by the fading hopes of struggling communities across the heartland. That this barren dystopia is drawn from modern real life only sharpens the desperation fueling this tense story, as two brothers attempt to pull off a daring string of bank robberies in order to save the family farm. Whether they can save each other, however, is a deeper, broader question, with implications for all of us. —AR

Premiering August 7

You’re the Worst season 3 (Hulu)

Though less cohesive than the series’ standout second season, You’re the Worst’s third season was notable for its increased focus on the show’s supporting players, especially Desmin Borges’s poignant PTSD-suffering veteran Edgar. (Listen to our podcast interview with Borges here.) Also, leads Jimmy and Gretchen — the “you’re’s” of the title — inched closer and closer to a deeper commitment, much to their own dismay. —TV

Premiering August 8

Difficult People season 3 (Hulu)

If you like shows about people being gleefully awful to others, Hulu has you covered this month, with both You’re the Worst (above) and this. Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner’s rapid-fire jokes and carefree misanthropy aren’t the sort of thing everybody can stomach, but if you love this sort of thing, you’ll almost certainly love this unconditionally. —TV

Premiering August 11

Atypical, Netflix

Netflix’s latest original series centers on Sam (United States of Tara’s Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old high schooler on the very high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. Atypical chronicles both his and his family's experiences as he navigates the standard high school stories of dating and wanting to have sex for the first time while also being honest to a fault, taking things extremely literally, and indulging his fervent interest in penguins and Antarctica. The show rounds out its premise by also telling stories about Sam’s parents (Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport), sister (Brigette Lundy-Paine), and therapist (Amy Okuda), who all have their own arcs but whose lives are inherently affected by their proximity to Sam’s condition.

Be warned that the result is by no means perfect — Atypical relies way too heavily on way too many teen drama tropes, many of its characters are underwritten, and many of its performances are too broad. But there’s still a compelling kernel here, and if the show’s stories resonate with you, Atypical is an enjoyable summer watch. —Jen Trolio

Premiering August 15

Better Things season 1 (Hulu)

Pamela Adlon’s story of a single mother trying to navigate raising her three daughters and trying to keep her acting career alive is very funny and deeply personal. The show was a bit overshadowed by its FX cousin Atlanta (which debuted to massive acclaim the same week), but it’s a terrific show in its own right, and Adlon’s performance is justly nominated for an Emmy. —TV

Premiering August 17

The Red Turtle, Starz

One of the most purely gorgeous animated films of recent years, the dialogue-free 2016 Belgian-French film The Red Turtle is a transfixing viewing experience. The fable-like story of a man who washes up on what seems to be a desert island — where he meets a giant red turtle that turns out to be more than it seems — is simple and universal, and communicated exclusively through music, the occasional wordless exclamation, and, primarily, lush storybook visuals. An all-ages delight, The Red Turtle is a quiet but affecting story told through simple but expressive characters and evocative use of color and light, a pure distillation of the unique power of animation as a medium. —GK

Premiering August 18

The Defenders season 1, Netflix

After spinning off four Marvel heroes — Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Iron Fist — into their own shows, Defenders has the quartet coming together to take on a new threat. (Think of it as Netflix’s TV version of The Avengers — or at least know that Netflix would love for us to think of it as such.) If you have superhero fatigue, this series definitely won’t cure you, but Defenders has at least one thing no other Marvel property has: an archvillain played by the one and only Sigourney Weaver. —CF

Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood, Showtime

Tiffany Haddish has been working as a comedian for more than 15 years, but her starmaking turn in Girls Trip has led to her finally getting some real recognition for her sharp skills — and now a long-overdue comedy special. Haddish’s comedy is freewheeling, filthy, and fearless, and her Showtime special should be no different, which means it’s very likely to be a total treat. —CF

Premiering August 19

Nocturnal Animals (HBO Go)

Is Nocturnal Animals a good movie? That’s a difficult question to answer. It’s all over the place and filled with wild tonal dissonance — often unintentionally. But it’s always a fascinating movie, and fascinating movies are almost always worth watching. Amy Adams plays a woman whose ex-husband sends her the manuscript of his first novel, one that has uncomfortable resonances with the end of their marriage. The cast is great, director Tom Ford finds some gorgeous images, and there’s always something to look at. More than you can say for most movies. —TV

Premiering August 25

Death Note, Netflix

Despite being one of the most popular manga/anime series of the mid-2000s, Death Note languished for years without a US adaptation. When director Adam Wingard first signed on to helm the dark morality tale of a teenage boy who gains the power to kill by writing the names of his victims in an otherworldly notebook, he was one of the horror world’s brightest rising stars. However, since then, he’s turned out the abysmal Blair Witch and drawn criticism for casting a white guy, Nat Wolff, to play Death Note’s main character, Light, instead of retaining Light’s original Japanese identity.

The main reason we still have hope for this adaptation rests with Wingard’s casting of Willem Dafoe as the voice of the death god Ryuk and Get Out’s Lakeith Stanfield as the enigmatic detective L, Light’s best friend and nemesis. The cat-and-mouse tension between Light and L is the driving force of Death Note’s cultural staying power, and we’ll be there to see it play out in all its bloody, doomed glory. —AR

The Tick season 1, part 1 (Amazon)

The non-sequitur-spewing, gloriously ridiculous big blue superhero the Tick has bounced from comics to cartoons to live-action TV and back again so many times that it feels like he’s always been with us. But this new streaming version of his tales will already have three more episodes than the nine the previous live-action version (from 2001) managed. The hilarious Peter Serafinowicz stars as the titular hero, with Griffin Newman as his right-hand moth Arthur. Six episodes debut on this date, with the other six following in 2018. —TV

Premiering August 26

Jackie, HBO Now

Jackie is no conventional Hollywood biopic. We don’t learn about Jackie Kennedy’s upbringing or family history; we don’t witness John and Jackie’s romance; there’s no triumphant story arc detailing rise, fall, and comeback. Instead it’s a revelation, a steady gaze into the early years in which the American presidency was a site for crafting an image not just for the history books, but for the cameras. Jackie proposes that the first lady’s carefully calculated public image was both truth and facade: not a false front, but rather a calculated one that becomes more interesting as you probe beneath its surface. —AW

Premiering August 29

The Good Place season 1 (Netflix)

The Good Place, created by Parks and Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine showrunner Michael Schur, has the kind of premise that it seems as if it simply should not work: A terrible person (played with amoral glee by Kristen Bell) dies, and finds that in the afterlife she has been accidentally assigned to “the good place.” To keep from being sent to “the bad place,” she decides to devote herself to learning ethics and becoming good.

It’s so high-concept! So many moral issues to tackle! And in a half-hour network sitcom, no less! But the first season of The Good Place is a perfectly structured season of comedy that also manages to be philosophically complex, with an ambitious season finale that sticks its landing flawlessly. And it’s a fantastic showcase both for Bell — who’s had razor-sharp comedic delivery since back in her Veronica Mars days and is clearly having a ball showing it off here — and for Ted Danson, playing the celestial overseer of the neighborhood with a showstopping smile. —CG