In this first full month of summer, you’ll want to catch up with some beloved series of years past to enjoy some of the one-off specials and TV movies hitting in July. Plus, some other small-screen favorites return for their sophomore seasons. Catch up on everything we think you should be watching this month with July 2020’s guide on what’s worth your precious binge.
What it is: This long-form television adaptation of Joe Wright’s 2011 feature tells the scintillating story of a young assassin raised in the woods — one who, when tracked down by a CIA agent on the prowl, will do just about anything it takes to learn the truth about who she is.
Why you should watch it: Four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan left massive shoes to fill for the titular assassin when she originated the role nine years ago, but luckily, 20-year-old up-and-comer Esme Creed-Miles proves equally adept and formidable as the demanding heroine. While season 1 certainly proved a Fresh and satisfying viewing, some complained that it was too much exposition, not enough action. Positive early reviews may hint that Hanna packs more of a punch in season 2, which premieres July 3 on Amazon Prime.
Commitment: Approx. 8 hours (for the first season)
What it is: As if you haven’t wondered what Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and Gus Guster (Dulé Hill) have been up to? While Psych: The Movie reunited the oddball detective duo in San Francisco (a.k.a. “psychphrancisco”) in 2017, Psych is the gift that keeps on giving. A new sequel, Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, brings them back to Santa Barbara to help their old police chief, only to be caught up in a case of the supernatural.
Why you should watch it: No, Shawn is not a real psychic, but he’ll have you rooting for him anyway. The original USA Network series, which premiered back in 2006 and wrapped in 2014, followed Shawn as he utilized his impressive observational skills and memory as a Santa Barbara–based crime consultant to trick people into thinking he’s the real deal. But the series succeeds because it does just the opposite and never tries to be something it’s not. Putting affable goofiness to the forefront is what earned Psych it’s devoted “Psych-O” fan base and is what ensures the laughs are going to be hearty with the July 15 film sequel treatment. Catch up now so you can spot all the Easter eggs and call-back guest stars! Psych 2: Lassie Come Home premieres July 15 on Peacock.
Commitment: Approx. 92 hours (for all eight seasons and Psych: The Movie)
What it is: Blatantly inspired by her time at Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock (on which she also stars) is a loving ode to the beast that is live television. She plays Liz Lemon, the head writer of sketch comedy show TGS with Tracy Jordan who’s tasked with simultaneously reining in her new boss, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin).
Why you should watch it: Remember when prestige TV was for years through the mid-aughts just the folks behind Mad Men and 30 Rock winning their respective Emmys on an annual basis? If you haven’t watched Fey’s breakout (and best) brainchild, now’s the time to find out just what makes it one-of-the-best-ever comedies of the small screen. The series’ anticipated upfront special airs July 16 on NBC.
Commitment: Approx. 50 hours (for all seven seasons)
What it is: Based on the novel of the same name by Caleb Carr and helmed by showrunner Stuart Carolan, The Alienist is set in the final years of the 19th century and dives deep into a series of violent, gruesome murders and the mysterious serial killer behind them. Criminal psychologist (a.k.a. “alienist”) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, newspaper illustrator John Moore, and police department secretary Sara Howard are called in to conduct a secret investigation to bring the killer justice.
Why you should watch it: This series is pitch-perfect period perfection with lurid horror (psychological and otherwise) to spare. Add to the mix a central cast that’s more than up to task, including Luke Evans, Daniel Brühl, and Dakota Fanning in a welcome (and decidedly adult) turn on the small screen, we’re hooked enough to see what this drama has in store for its second round. Season 2, The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, premieres July 18 on TNT.
Commitment: Approx. 10 hours (for the first season)
What it is: From the minds of indie film royalty Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, Room 104 is unlike just about anything else on television. The series sets each of its 30-minute installments (36 total across three seasons) in its titular hotel room through which a varied assortment of characters pass, spending a night or two within its walls and experiencing things that are far from typical.
Why you should watch it: Part of the joy of watching Room 104 is bracing yourself for the unexpected. Luckily, the series’ anthology-like narrative means you never quite know what you’re going to get. Genre, tone, time, cast — basically everything but place — changes with each episode. While the diversity allows the viewer to watch it out of sequential order, we still recommend you watch starting with episode 1 if only to appreciate the bigger picture the Duplass brothers are creating. Season 4, its final outing, premieres July 24 on HBO.
Commitment: Approx. 18 hours (for the first three seasons)
What it is: The Muppets are back! Given Disney’s streaming treatment with Muppets Now, this “unscripted” series will feature all our favorite characters acting through three different, unscripted and improvised segments of a game show, a cooking show, and a talk show. Watch the trailer above, and it is clear the rest is being held under lock and key.
Why you should watch it: At the risk of sounding hyperbolic: Hollywood wouldn’t be what it is today without the Kermit the Frog and his Muppet crew. Since their inception from the mind of puppeteer Jim Henson in the 1950s, they’ve gone on to entertain the masses with 10 feature films, a smattering of on-again, off-again television series beginning with The Muppet Show in 1976, and over 20 television specials. Plus, they’re frequently credited with influencing the young minds and sensibilities of some of today’s biggest Hollywood stars. Muppets Now, premieres on Disney+ on July 31. To get a feel for it all prior to, ABC’s Emmy-nominated 2015 series from creators Bob Kushell and Bill Prady, The Muppets, is a solid place to start.
Commitment: Approx. 5.5 hours (for the first and only season)
What it is: An adaptation of Gerard Way’s Dark Horse Comics series of the same name, The Umbrella Academy follows a “dysfunctional family of superheroes” who, as children, were adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves. Now estranged adults, the family reunites to solve the mystery of Hargreeves’ death.
Why you should watch it: Led by Oscar-nominee Ellen Page and Merlin alumnus Tom Hopper, the ensemble of imperfect superheroes is what makes this series sweet like candy — the looming apocalypse and genuine heart are just the cherries on top. Season 2 premieres July 31 on Netflix.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 10 hours (for the first season)