Summer used to be a time for TV viewers to take some time off, let their brains recharge and wait for their favorites to return in the fall. But no more.
While the start of summer does mean a merciful end to the glut of streaming programming over the past couple of months ahead of the May 31 Emmy submission deadline, there’s still an unwieldy amount of new shows on the way, proving that the old, seasonal release schedule is well and truly dead.
And with the likes of “For All Mankind,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Ms. Marvel,” “The Umbrella Academy,” “The Boys” and “Evil” all premiering in June — not to mention new episodes of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and catching up with “Stranger Things” — viewers who want to take a break from streaming will do so at their own risk.
But we have some tips on how to maximize your streaming — along with your budget (this month’s must-haves cost less than $30). Each month, this column rates the major streaming services as a “play,” “pause” or “stop,” similar to investment analysts’ traditional ratings of buy, hold and sell, and picks the best content to help you make your monthly decisions.
As we’ve previously mentioned, consumers can take full advantage of cord-cutting though a churn-and-return strategy — that’s adding and dropping streaming services each month — and all it takes is good planning. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of a month. Also keep an eye out for lower-priced tiers, limited-time discounts, free trials and cost-saving bundles. There are a lot of offers out there, but the deals don’t last forever.
Here’s a look at what’s coming to the various streaming services in June 2022, and what’s really worth the monthly subscription fee.
Netflix ($9.99 a month for basic, $15.49 standard or $19.99 premium)
It’s been a bleak first half of the year for Netflix
but it’s actually ending on a high note (for programming at least; sorry, stock holders). Just be sure to turn on subtitles, because the best of the bunch in June are international offerings.
The cult-hit crime drama “Peaky Blinkers” (June 10), which aired in the U.K. earlier this year, returns for its sixth and final season. The violent exploits of the early-20th-century Birmingham gang pick up four years after we last saw them, with Prohibition over, fascism on the rise and Tommy (Cillian Murphy) turning to the lucrative opium trade. (And yes, technically it’s in English, but you’ll still need subtitles.)
Then there are a pair of actual foreign-language dramas: “Borgen — Power & Glory” (June 2), a new season of the acclaimed Danish political drama that ran from 2010-’13, which finds former prime minister Birgitte (Sidse Babett Knudson) now serving as Denmark’s foreign minister and dealing with an international crisis after oil is discovered in Greenland; and “Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area” (June 24), a Korean reboot of the hit Spanish crime drama, about a gang of thieves who rob the mint of a newly reunified Korea. After starting out dumb but a lot of fun, the Spanish “Money Heist” descended into utter stupidity in its latter seasons, but there’s a lot of potential for this remake, if done right.
Netflix also has a pair of YA hits — well, one hit and one potential hit — on the way. Season 3 of “The Umbrella Academy” (June 22) will see the young superheroes trying to restore their original timeline after returning “home” from a time-travelling trip to 1963 (long story, they had to prevent an apocalypse yadda yadda yadda) only to find an altered reality and a confrontation with a variant version of themselves, called the Sparrow Academy. It’s complicated, but fun. There’s also “First Kill” (June 10), about two teenage girls — one a vampire , the other a vampire hunter — who fall in love. But as might be guessed, their relationship is complicated by their hidden identities. Think “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” meets “Killing Eve” with a bit of “Romeo and Juliet” thrown in.
Also of note: the interview show “That’s My Time with David Letterman” (June 7), featuring comedians doing a standup set then chatting with Dave; the Adam Sandler basketball drama “Hustle” (June 8); and “Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend” (June 15), as the iconic food competition starts a new era, with familiar faces like Alton Brown, Marcus Samuelsson, Curtis Stone and Ming Tsai.
Who’s Netflix for? Fans of buzz-worthy original shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Play. Netflix is back with a loaded lineup of hits. And besides, most people will still need time to catch up with the latest season of “Stranger Things” before the final two episodes drop in July.
Apple TV+ ($4.99 a month)
The best series on TV that you’re probably not watching — “For All Mankind” (June 3) — is back for its third season. The wildly ambitious alt-history drama takes place in a timeline where the Soviets landed on the moon first, rewriting the Cold War and the space race. After last season’s insanely tense exploits on the moon, the new season picks up about a decade later — in the early 1990s — with the U.S., USSR and a private company in a three-way race to Mars, and NASA pledging not to finish in second place again. Joel Kinnaman, Shantel VanSanten, Jodi Balfour and Sonya Walger star. It’s a tremendously well-done and entertaining series, and is worth Apple’s $5-a-month subscription all by itself.
But luckily, Apple
does have even more to offer. “Physical” (June 3) returns for its second season, with Sheila (Rose Byrne) facing obstacles in her effort to start a fitness empire. Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”) joins the cast as a charismatic fitness instructor. There’s also the workplace comedy “Loot” (June 24), starring Maya Rudolph as a billionaire who turns to philanthropy when her life falls apart; “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (June 17), an “unconventional” rom-com movie starring Cooper Raiff as a young bar mitzvah party host who finds his soulmate in a single mom, played by Dakota Johnson; and Season 2 of “Home,” the gorgeous docuseries about uniquely designed dwellings.
That’s all on top of new episodes of “Shining Girls” (finale June 3), “The Essex Serpent” (finale June 10) and “Tehran” (finale June 17).
Who’s Apple TV+ for? It offers a little something for everyone, but not necessarily enough for anyone — though it’s getting there.
Play, pause or stop? Play. “For All Mankind” is spectacular, the other new additions look solid and the library is growing.
Disney+ ($7.99 a month)
It’s a rare month, with both a “Star Wars” and a Marvel series streaming at the same time. The six-episode “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” starring Ewan McGregor, debuted at the end of May and will conclude its run June 22. The first two episodes were underwhelming, but still, there’s no way “Star Wars” fans won’t tune in. Overlapping that will be “Ms. Marvel” (June 8), about a Pakistani-American teen and Avengers fangirl (Iman Vellani) who acquires super powers, but still has to navigate high school and her traditional Muslim family. It looks fantastic, and tonally much lighter than the previous Marvel shows.
also has “Baymax!” (June 19), an animated “Big Hero 6” spinoff about the cuddly robot; and will add Season 1 of ABC’s inspired “The Wonder Years” reboot (June 15); as well as all six seasons of the high school musical dramedy “Glee” (June 1) and all three seasons of Hulu’s “Love, Victor” (June 15). That’s an interesting pickup, not only because Season 3 of the gay-teen drama will stream concurrently on Disney+ and Hulu, but because “Love, Victor” was originally planned for Disney+ but got bumped to Hulu in 2020 after executives worried its “mature issues” weren’t the right fit for Disney+.
Who’s Disney+ for? Families with kids, and hardcore “Star Wars” and Marvel fans. For those not in those groups, Disney’s library can be lacking.
Play, pause or stop? Play. “Obi-Wan” and “Ms. Marvel” alone should keep everyone entertained.
Hulu ($6.99 a month, or $12.99 with no ads)
Hulu’s got a solid lineup in June, led by the return of the delightful comedy/mystery “Only Murders in the Building” (June 28). Fueled by the surprisingly perfect chemistry between Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, Season 2 picks up right where the last season left off, with the amateur detectives-turned-podcasters finding themselves accused of a fresh murder at the Arconia and forced to prove their innocence. A slew of guest stars are on tap, including Amy Schumer, Shirley MacLaine and Cara Delevingne, in what should be one of the most fun shows of the summer. It’s a must-see.
Then there’s “The Old Man” (June 17), a highly anticipated seven-episode thriller starring Jeff Bridges as a retired spy who must reconcile his complicated past while dodging assassins and being hunted by his former colleague (John Lithgow). Announced in 2019, the show faced two lengthy production delays due to COVID-19 and then Bridges’ leukemia diagnosis. Amy Brenneman also co-stars in what should be a crackling action series. The first two eps will stream on the 17th, with new ones every Friday, a day after they first air on FX.
Hulu kicks off the month with “Fire Island” (June 3), a gay rom-com starring Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang as vacationing friends who catch the eyes of a pair of wealthy men, in a movie that’s billed as a modern spin on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Keeping to the theme of Pride Month, there’s also third and final season of “Love, Victor” (June 3), with Victor (Michael Cimino) starting his senior year and torn between his longtime boyfriend and a new love interest, as well as all six seasons of the high school musical dramedy “Glee” (June 1).
Other June highlights include four days of livestreaming from Tennessee’s Bonnaroo music festival (June 16-19); last year’s Norwegian Oscar nominee “The Worst Person in the World” (June 13); and “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” (June 17), a sex comedy starring Emma Thompson that drew raves at Sundance earlier this year.
Who’s Hulu for? TV lovers. There’s a deep library for those who want older TV series, and next-day streaming for many current network and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Pause and think it over. On one hand, “Fire Island” and “The Old Man” look watchable, but on the other, “Only Murders in the Building” doesn’t premiere until the end of the month, perhaps making a subscription that starts in July, and playing catch-up, more cost-effective.
Amazon’s Prime Video ($14.99 a month)
One of Prime Video’s most popular shows, the ultra-violent superhero satire “The Boys” (June 3) returns for its third season, with Homelander (Antony Starr) finally shedding his perfect public persona and revealing his true, villainous self to the public. Dark and nihilistic, “The Boys” lacks the humor and heart of HBO Max’s equally gory “Peacemaker,” and its aggressive unpleasantness is not for everyone.
On the sweeter side, Amazon
is also rolling out “The Summer I Turned Pretty” (June 17), a teen-romance series based on Jenny Han’s bestselling novel about a girl (played by Lola Tung) who gets caught up in a love triangle with two brothers over the summer.
But perhaps the biggest addition is the streaming debut of “No Time to Die” (June 10), the latest installment in the James Bond franchise, that hit theaters last fall. Oddly, even though Amazon now owns MGM, it only offers two other Bond movies for free on Prime Video: “Goldeneye” and “Skyfall.” Blame complex licensing deals.
Who’s Amazon Prime Video for? Movie lovers, TV-series fans who value quality over quantity.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. Despite a light lineup, each title mentioned above will draw a ton of fans. And if you need to justify the expense, consider this: If you never saw “No Time to Die” in theaters, the price of Prime Video is roughly the same as a single movie ticket.
Paramount+ ($4.99 a month with ads but not live CBS, $5.99 a month with ads, $9.99 without ads)
The hit supernatural drama “Evil” (June 12) returns for its third season of creepiness. Katja Herbers, Mike Colter and Aasif Mandvi star as paranormal investigators, and the action picks up right after a shocking confession in the Season 2 finale, and delves deeper into the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between two of the leads.
Paramount+ also has the animated special “South Park: The Streaming Wars” (June 1); “Jerry & Marge Go Large” (June 17), a movie starring Brian Cranston and Annette Benning as a couple who cash in on a loophole in the lottery system; the Tony Awards (June 12); and live sports including PGA Tour golf and WNBA basketball.
There are also new episodes every week of the fun spinoff “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” and the always entertaining “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.”
Who’s Paramount+ for? Gen X cord-cutters who miss live sports and familiar Paramount Global
broadcast and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Pause. There’s good stuff here, the only question is whether there’s enough to justify a subscription. For most people, the answer is probably no.
HBO Max ($14.99 a month without ads, or $9.99 with ads)
It sounds weird to say, but HBO Max look very skippable in June. Typically stuffed with Grade-A shows, Max appears to be taking a breather after the ridiculous slate of shows that have premiered in the past few months.
The headliner of the month is “Westworld” (June 26), which returns for its fourth season. The cast — featuring Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Aaron Paul, Ed Harris and Tessa Thompson — is arguably the deepest in TV, but the impenetrably dense sci-fi drama may have worn out its welcome; after a two-year layoff can anyone actually remember what’s going on? Who’s alive, who’s dead, who’s a robot, who’s a human? Or whether any of those distinctions matter? Between an overly complicated plot and frustrating resolutions, it’s OK for viewers to just walk away and never look back.
HBO does have an intriguing newcomer in “Irma Vep” (June 6), a disorienting satire starring Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander playing a disillusioned movie star who loses herself in a role doing a remake of the 1915 French silent movie “Les Vampires.” In another meta twist, the series itself is a remake of a 1996 art-house film, both directed by Olivier Assayas.
And that’s about it on the prestige front. There’s a lackluster-looking remake of “Father of the Bride” (June 16), starring Andy Garcia; the most recent seasons of “Doctor Who” (June 6) and the animated “Tuca & Bertie” (June 24), which both aired on cable last year; and Season 3 of the very funny New Zealand mocumentary horror/comedy “Wellington Paranormal” (June 23). On the much brighter side, there are new episodes of “Hacks” until the season finale June 10.
Who’s HBO Max for? HBO fans and movie lovers.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. Even the best streaming service needs to stop and recharge every once in a while. Time to save $15.
Peacock (free basic level, Premium for $4.99 a month with ads, or $9.99 a month with no ads)
More than 20 years after its Showtime debut, “Queer as Folk” (June 9) is getting rebooted for Peacock, with a diverse new cast in a new city (New Orleans). This version of the groundbreaking show revolves around a group of friends (Devin Way, Fin Argus, Jesse James Keitel, Johnny Sibilly and Ryan O’Connell) whose lives intersect at a club, again called Babylon. The original series was one of the first to portray queer characters in a frank and straightforward way, and it should be interesting to see how it has changed with the times two decades later.
The comedy “Rutherford Falls” (June 16) returns for its second season, starring Jana Schmieding and Ed Helms as unlikely best friends trying to help a small town adapt to changes spurred by a tribal casino. Michael Greyeyes stole the show in Season 1 as the casino’s intense CEO, and the diverse series — which features six Native American writers — offered some thoughtful new perspectives to sitcom tropes, though was hit-and-miss when it came to laughs. It’s tough for comedies to course-correct in short, 10-episode seasons, but there’s real potential there to jump from good to great with a few tweaks. Either way, it’s a nice pairing with the ongoing second season of the excellent rapid-fire joke machine “Girls5eva.”
There’s also the sketch comedy special “Would It Kill You to Laugh?” (June 24), starring Kate Berlant and John Early; and a solid lineup of live sports, including French Open tennis (June 2-5), the Belmont Stakes (June 11), U.S. Open golf (June 16-19) as well as a slate of IndyCar racing and Sunday-morning baseball.
Who’s Peacock for? If you like network and basic-cable TV, a good movie lineup and don’t mind ads, the free version of Peacock is great. And if you have a Comcast
or Cox cable subscription, you likely have free access to the Premium tier (with ads). The paid tiers are generally unnecessary.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. “Girls5Eva” is fantastic and “Rutherford Falls” is worth a watch, but unless you need it for live sports, Peacock still isn’t necessary.
Discovery+ ($4.99 a month, $6.99 ad-free)
It’s a surprisingly light lineup for Discovery+ in June, topped by the Pride Month additions of “Generation Drag,” “The Book of Queer” and “Trixie Motel.” Also on tap are the self-explanatory “My Daughter Joined a Cult” (June 9); Season 2 of “Love in Paradise: The Caribbean” (June 10); and “Jack Osbourne’s Night of Terror: Bigfoot” (June 26).
Who’s Discovery+ for? Cord cutters who miss their unscripted TV or who are really, really into “90 Day Fiancée.”
Play, pause or stop? Stop. Sorry. Discovery+ is still fantastic for background TV, but there’s nothing that could be considered “necessary” watching. Still, it should add value if/when the reconfigured Warner Bros. Discovery
combines it with HBO Max.