​Streaming Must-Sees (and Must-Skips) in July 2023

Wham! and Marvel docs, an Irdis Elba thriller, and the return of 'The Afterparty' lead this month's edition of Tune In or Turn Off

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

BY Rachel HoPublished Jul 18, 2023

Crank up the air conditioning and pour out an ice-cold bevvy — July's humidity calls for temperature-controlled marathon viewings.

The Afterparty returns with a new murder mystery to be solved, Idris Elba comes with the heat in an otherwise adequate series, and a scripted Spotify podcast finds new life as a streaming series. For the documentary-minded, Marvel, the NFL and one of Britain's most bombastic groups of the 1980s all receive the cinematic treatment with varying degrees of success. 

Be sure to read our past editions of Tune In or Turn Off here for more streaming hits and misses.

Tune In: The Afterparty, Season 2 
(Apple TV+)

Aniq (Sam Richardson) and Zoë (Zoë Chao) find themselves once again surrounded by murder, as Zoë's new brother-in-law is found dead the morning after his wedding. Joining Richardson and Chao in solving the murder, while also proving their innocence, are John Cho, Ken Jeong, Jack Whitehall and Paul Walter Hause. Like in the first season, each episode is done in a distinct genre (the Hitchcock-style ninth episode is a personal favourite), with one character recalling their version of the wedding the night prior. Season 2 of The Afterparty retains the fun and intrigue of the first season while adding a new artistic flair. Binge-worthy gold to the highest degree.

Turn Off: The Clearing

Based on the story of a real Australian New Age cult led by Anne Hamilton-Byrne, The Clearing is an adaptation of J.P. Pomare's novel of the same name starring Guy Pearce, Teresa Palmer and Miranda Otto. A case where the promise outshines the show itself, there's a real frustration with this eight-episode series. Delivered in a manner that's confounding at best and boring at worst, the show never truly comes together in a compelling way. 

Tune In: Hijack
(Apple TV+)

A fun series delivered in real time (à la 24), Idris Elba attempts to extinguish tensions aboard a hijacked flight from Dubai to London. There are plenty of far-reaching moments, with one too many coincidences to be truly believable, but the show is saved by Elba's charismatic turn as the everyman hero. A contained show that doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, Hijack's a great show to fly through on a quiet summer afternoon.

Tune In: The Horror of Dolores Roach
(Prime Video)

After serving a 16-year prison sentence for her drug dealer boyfriend, Dolores Roach becomes a masseuse working out of her friend's empanada shop's basement to reset her life. After a client gets fresh with her, Dolores kills him, setting her down the path of becoming a reluctant serial killer. For listeners of the Spotify podcast the series is adapted from — which itself was adapted from a one-woman play — The Horror of Dolores Roach may feel a bit lacking in oomph, but Justina Machado's performance as Dolores is more than enough to get stuck into. 

Tune In: Quarterbacks

There's nothing particularly ground-breaking or remarkable about Quarterbacks, no surprising revelations are made or hinted at, and I didn't come away with a new perspective on Kirk Cousins, Patrick Mahomes or Marcus Mariota. But, as a watcher of the NFL and a sports fan in general, I still really enjoyed the series, which was conveniently released during the MLB All-Star break. Naturally, Mahomes comes away with the most fully-formed story, allowing us a glimpse behind the curtain of one of the league's brightest stars. For those missing out on gridiron fun, Quarterbacks more than scratches that itch.

Turn Off: Stan Lee

I'm not a massive MCU head, but I am fascinated with the ingenuity of people like Stan Lee, the creative brain behind Marvel for many years and the man responsible for many of our favourite characters. What makes people like Lee interesting is not only their success, but also their humanity, which includes their flaws. Perhaps it's expecting too much from the House of Mouse to present a well-rounded telling of the mastermind behind one of their corporate pillars. It's a shame nonetheless that the well-deserved celebration he receives in Stan Lee feels like a commercial rather than a documentary exploring what truly made Lee the pioneer he was.

Tune In: WHAM!

In the same way that it's hard to deny the infectious jubilation of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," it's hard to not be won over by Wham!, a documentary about the famed English pop duo. In keeping with the bubblegum pop persona of the group, there's little depth to the film — which is exactly why it works. Rather than wading too deep in the weeds of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley's relationship or in their musical process, WHAM! shines as an encapsulation of the friendship and wide-eyed optimism the boys had early in their career. A feel-good documentary for casuals and fans alike, WHAM! is an '80s nostalgia trip worth taking.

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