What to Watch and What to Skip on Streaming Services in August 2021
Tune In or Turn Off featuring 'A Quiet Place Part II,' 'Woodstock 99' and more
Published Aug 18, 2021We're in the doldrums of summer and, with theatres opening back up, the past few weeks have been a little short on full-blown steaming blockbusters.
Which isn't to say there hasn't been plenty to watch, of course. This edition of Tune In or Turn Off includes a horror highlight that never came out in most of Canada (thanks to the pandemic), a couple of solid music docs and some cringeworthy reality TV.
Here are the hits and misses on streaming services this month. Also be sure to check out some of the standouts from last month's list that are still rolling out weekly episodes, including The White Lotus and Ted Lasso.
Tune In: A Quiet Place Part II
John Krasinski's apocalyptic monster sequel had its release totally undermined by the pandemic. The premiere was in March 2020, and it finally got a proper theatrical release back in May 2021 — at which point most theatres were closed across Canada. Having finally landed on Amazon Prime, audiences can finally enjoy this solid follow-up to the 2018 hit. It doesn't bring much new to the table but still effectively recaptures what made the first one so gripping.
Turn Off: Cooking with Paris
The running joke of Cooking with Paris is that reality show heiress Paris Hilton is an alien who lives in a different reality from the rest of us. She doesn't know what tongs are, wears a pink ballgown to the supermarket, and accidentally pulls knobs off the stove she has seemingly never used before. She's definitely in on the joke, but Cooking with Paris is simply too ironic and self-aware to be charming. That's not hot.
Turn Off: FBoy Island
For a show about fuckboys, there sure is a lot of censorship around the word "fuck" on FBoy Island. Nikki Glaser hosts as three eligible bachelorettes try to suss out who among the Cayman Island resort's 24 male guests are fuckboys and who are "nice guys," to bewildering — and often embarrassing — results. Somehow everyone's job title is Content Creator and yet most of the bachelors' personalities are as interesting to watch as paint drying. That said, fuckboy prison — a.k.a. "Limbro" — is one of the funnier mechanisms of reality TV in recent memory.
Tune In: Explained, Season 3
The latest batch of Vox's Explained series returns to more light-hearted topics, after taking a beat in 2020 to focus on the American election and the pandemic. The third season's "Sugar," "Royalty," "The End of Oil" and "Flags" bring in a superb roster of narrators, including Keri Russel, Samira Wiley, Ethan Hawke and Rosario Dawson, among others. The new run of episodes offers up more of the series' charming insight, political analysis and comedy, with Netflix shifting toward a weekly release schedule, making for a healthy dose of edutainment to cap off your Sunday evenings.
Tune In: High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America
Combining a dash of food porn, a pinch of travel and a hearty serving of history, this spring's High on the Hog is a reverent tribute to the legacy of Black food in America. Lots of food shows have celebrated soul food, but few if any have gone so deep into the ways that slavery transformed U.S. cuisine.
Turn Off: Love Is Blind: After the Altar
Last year when we were all whining about how much Jessica sucks, none of us could have imagined a world in which we'd be rushing to defend the woman best known for letting her dog lap up mouthfuls of white wine from a long-stemmed glass. Likewise, the other goofs on Love Is Blind have thrown us for a loop in Netflix's After the Altar reunion episodes; podmates Amber and Barnett are insufferably traditionalist, Gia and Damian are somehow even more toxic than ever, and Mark is the bad guy now? The reunion delivers on its promise of dramatic surprises, but it'll leave you with a bad taste in your mouth — and bored to tears over Cameron and Lauren's cringe-y puritanical love story. At least Nick Lachey sat these episodes out.
Turn Off: Modern Love, Season 2
It's always frustrating to see unrealized potential. Each of Modern Love's eight new anthology-style episodes has a pretty decent rom-com premise, but with only about 30 minutes per chapter, there just isn't enough time to flesh out the characters. Compared with Modern Love's first season, there aren't as many highs or lows; this one never totally misses the mark, but it feels a little flat (especially when one of the weakest episodes — a curiously emotionless exploration of spousal grief — sets the tone as the season premiere). On the bright side, there's a decently funny, extremely meta Game of Thrones joke in an episode starring Kit Harington.
Tune In: Never Have I Ever, Season 2
This Mindy Kaling-led YA dramedy's sophomore comeback is just as strong as its debut, freshening things up with new cast members and even more drama in its second season. Tugging on heartstrings while paying equal service to the laughs, 19-year-old Mississaugan actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan's chemistry with castmates Richa Moorjani and Poorna Jagannathan makes for extremely dynamic viewing.
Tune In: Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson
Mega-producer Mark Ronson is the best kind of famous musician: self-deprecating but not falsely humble, seemingly bemused by his own success, and still in awe of his heroes. He takes a deep dive into the nitty gritty of studio production, with episodes focused on topics like autotune, reverb and sampling. But even when he gets technical, Watch the Sound is entertaining and accessible enough for the layperson.
Tune In: Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage
What was supposed to be about love and music turned into an ugly collision of corporate greed and aggro masculinity. Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage chronicles the titular festival's misogyny, anger and mostly quite bad music. Even though director Garret Price struggles to draw any clear lessons from the mayhem, it's still a gripping account of the way this music festival transformed into Lord of the Flies.