The Best New Shows on Netflix in July 2020
Goodness gracious, Netflix sure does have a lot of content! The streaming giant has seemingly kicked their distribution schedule up into high gear after the pandemic knocked out most of the standard summer entertainment, and July brings one of the busiest months of the year yet! So if you’re looking for a guide to what to watch this month and when you can watch it, we’ve put together a handy list of the best new shows on Netflix in July 2020.
As usual, Netflix is running the gambit with its array of content, from horror to superheroes to gritty dramas and prestige docuseries. In fact, I write this list up once a month and long ago decided I’d cap it at eleven entries for sanity’s sake — this month was the first in a while where it took some serious (and sometimes painful) culling to hit that number. With that in mind, if you want a list of everything that’s new on Netflix in July, you can check that out here. But if you’re looking for a curated selection of the month’s heavy-hitters and highlights, check out our picks below.
Kingdom, Seasons 1-3
Available: July 1
Creator: Byron Balasco
Cast: Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas, Joanna Going, Natalie Martinez
If there’s a downside to living in a so-called Golden Age of Television, it’s that there’s just too damn much of it. Which means some smaller networks like Audience Network flew under the radar (even though it was owned by the giant AT&T conglomerate) despite having some pretty quality programming. My personal favorite Audience Network Show You Missed is Mr. Mercedes, but Kingdom is right there biting at its heels. Basically, if you dug the movie Warrior, you’re probably going to get into Kingdom, which stars Frank Grillo as the owner of an MMA gym who’s always a-fightin’ and dealing with some dark family drama. It’s pretty pulpy, a bit sexy, and extremely machismo, but it’s a thoroughly engaging family drama filled with fisticuffs and well worth a binge if you missed its cable run.
Available: July 2
Creator: Simon Barry
Cast: Alba Baptista, Toya Turner, Thekla Reuten, Lorena Andrea, Kristina Tonteri-Young, Tristan Ulloa
Want something fun, goofy, and packed to the brim with action to binge-watch this weekend? Look no further than Netflix’s spectacularly titled Warrior Nun, which tangles up celestial mythology with an ass-kicking “chosen one” adventure. The series centers on a secret society of, well… you know, warrior nuns called The Order of the Cruciform Sword who have to transform the unlikely savior of the human race into god’s greatest soldier. That happens to be a teenage girl who really wants nothing to do with any of it, and if Warrior Nun is too often a trope-fuelled YA story, it’s certainly plenty of fun along the way. You see, she’s a warrior. And a nun. How do you say no to that?
The Baby-Sitters Club
Available: July 3
Creator: Rachel Shukert
Cast: Sophie Grace, Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker, Alicia Silverstone, Mark Feuerstein, Xochitl Gomez, Takayo Fischer
Whether you grew up with The Baby-Sitters Club or not, there is plenty to love in Netflix’s new series adaptations, which is easily one of the best new TV debuts of the year. Sure, Netflix (and the almighty Algorithm) knows their demos — casting Alicia Silverstone as the mother is a particularly clever play towards 90s kids — but at its core, The Baby-Sitters Club is just a beautifully made investigation into the life of teenage girls from all walks of life. And it’s wonderful. Inspired by the beloved children’s book series and created by GLOW and Supergirl writer Rachel Shukert, the series reimagines the familiar characters with a modern update that somehow feels timeless. If you did grow up with The Baby-Sitters Club, you know that these girls are like the best friends, sisters, and business partners you wish you always had, and the new take honors the purity of that feel-good spirit, filling each character with vibrance and nuance. The kids should definitely watch this one, but so should you, and everyone you know, because it’s one of the most delightful shows to hit screens this year and I will hold each and every one of you personally responsible if we don’t get more.
Surprise! Netflix made a Ju-On series! And if you’re looking for something equal parts spooky and deeply twisted this weekend, the new six-episode prequel series is just the ticket. Poised as the “true story” behind the long-running horror franchise, Ju-On: Origins digs into the history of horrors responsible for the cursed home at the center of the ghost stories. Offering a new take on the familiar material, Origins veers away from the hallmark visuals and jump scares of the Ju-On films, opting instead to focus on the real-life atrocities behind the ghosts and ghouls. It’s brutal. A hyper-violent stylistic hybrid pitched somewhere between J-Horror and New French Extremity, Ju-On: Origins is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re a fan of the series, it’s an exciting step in a new direction that digs deep into the mythology.
Available: July 8
Creators: Tony Ayres, Cate Blanchett, Elise McCredie
Cast: Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Cate Blanchett, Asher Keddie, Fayssal Bazzi, Dominic West, Marta Dusseldorp, Kate Box
An effective combination of timely drama and intriguing mystery, the Australian limited series Stateless was co-created and produced by none other than Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett (who also co-stars in a supporting role) and hones in on the egregious treatment of refugees and immigrants and the inhumane cruelty of immigration detention centers. Depicted through a tapestry of intersecting characters and timelines, the series follows immigrants from all around the world attempting to escape to a better life, from a family fleeing the Taliban to a much less expected case, Yvonne Strahovski’s Sofie, a woman struggling with mental health issues and attempting to escape her oppressive family and an even more oppressive cult who winds up trapped in a detention center. If you’re looking for some prestige performances you can really sink your teeth into, Stateless is the must-binge of the month, offering empathetic perspective to both those detained at the center and the employees trying to do good in a flawed and cruel system. Blanchett is, of course, excellent but so are Strahovski and Jai Courtney, who gives perhaps the best performance of his career as a single father struggling to make ends meet who starts to lose himself in the corrupt system. It’s a tremendously empathetic series and while it’s set in the bureaucracy of Australia, its themes and subject matter are unfortunately far too universal.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron
Available: July 10
Hosted by: Zac Efron
If you ever thought it would be fun to travel with Zac Efron, you were right! He’s a goof, he’s charming, and yes, he’s very handsome and very famous, which makes his new travel docuseries Down to Earth with Zac Efron something of a surreal entry in Netflix’s growing food and cooking library. A sibling show to Netflix series like The Chef Show, Somebody Feed Phil, and Ugly Delicious, Down to Earth sends Efron all over the world, from Iceland to the Amazon, in a messy but endearing travel doc focused on… wellness? Kind of. Each episode sees Efron and his friend Darin Olien, a wellness expert, bounce around a new location to learn about the culture, pick up new health tips, and investigate more sustainable ways of living. It’s all pretty familiar except that Efron is a bonafide superstar and it’s just super surreal to see him playing the role of travel host. But he never gives it anything less than his all and his enthusiasm is infectious, making for a pretty dang fun hangout show that also might just teach you something about the world.
Available: July 17
Creators: Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler
Cast: Katherine Langford, Devon Terrell, Gustaf Skarsgård, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Daniel Sharman, Peter Mullan, Emily Coates
Billed as a feminist retelling of the King Arthur legends, Netflix’s latest high-fantasy drama comes from Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler, inspired by their comic of the same name. Netflix is no doubt hoping this one will catch on as The Witcher did, but Cursed has a distinct tone all its own, owed to that dark and fantastical Frank Miller influence and a YA approach to the lore. 13 Reasons Why breakout Katherine Langford stars as Nimue, aka the Lady of the Lake, but the story takes us back before she became a figure of legend, introducing us to the powerful teenage Fae who’s destined for a fate she can’t fully comprehend. With the church leading a vicious war against her people and Arthur (Devon Terrell) a far cry from the great leader he’ll become, Nimue has to find a way to channel her power and lead her people to salvation. If the comic is any indication, you can expect a surprisingly brutal, extremely magic-infused take on the well-loved Middle Ages epic, and bonus, Gustaf Skarsgård is living it up as Hot Merlin Who Fucks.
The Last Dance
Available: July 19
Director: Jason Hehir
The hype is real folks. If you missed The Last Dance on ESPN (or the subsequent airing on ABC,) you are in for an extremely bingeable treat with Jason Hehir‘s docuseries chronicling the stunning athletic career of Michael Jordan. Structured around his final season playing with the Chicago Bulls, The Last Dance is a spectacular portrait of a bonafide sports legend, following him from his brief college career, the Olympics, his early transition into pro ball, how he revived the Bulls, and the incredible journey he took with his team to six championships. Featuring previously unseen footage from the 97-98 season and in-depth interviews with Jordan, his teammates, Phil Jackson, and many many others, The Last Dance is a pretty extraordinary look into a legacy of excellence and athletic accomplishments. And with episodes focused on Jackson, Dennis Rodman, and the horribly undervalued great Scottie Pippen, The Last Dance offers a holistic view at the fabric of an all-time great team and the breathtaking, record-breaking career of a true GOAT.
Norsemen, Season 3
Available: July 20
Creators: Jon Iver Helgaker and Jonas Torgersen
Cast: Henrik Mestad, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Nils Jørgen Kaalstad, Kåre Conradi, Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Øystein Martinsen, Jon Øigarden, Kristine Riis, Bjørn Myrene, Iben Akerlie, Per Christian Ellefsen, Thorbjørn Harr, Jakob Oftebro, Pia Tjelta, Amir Asgharnejad
There’s a whole heck of a lot of content on Netflix, so if Norsemen has flown under your radar, it’s understandable, but with Season 3 of the Norwegian comedy landing on Netflix this month, now’s the perfect time to get caught up. A delightful, strange series that strikes a razor wire balance between silly comedy and pitch-black dark humor (the series was inspired by What We Do in the Shadows, if that gives you a sense of the vibe,) Norsemen riffs on the epic fantasy drama of series like Vikings and Game of Thrones, poking fun at the self-serious approach to over-the-top drama. Dryer than a glass of Malbec, the series delivered a surprisingly sad finale at the end of Season 2, but fair warning, the wait to find out what happens next isn’t over yet. Norsemen‘s third season serves as a prequel series that chronicles the events leading up to the first season. That’s not entirely bad news though, because it means some beloved characters who may have perished at the end of Season 2 are back in action!
Transformers: War for Cybertron: Seige
Available: July 30
Writers: George Krstic, Gavin Hignight, and Brandon M. Easton
Cast: Jake Foushee, Jason Marnocha, Linsay Rousseau, Joe Zieja, Frank Todaro, Rafael Goldstein, Keith Silverstein, Todd Haberkorn, Edward Bosco, Bill Rogers, Sophia Isabella, Brook Chalmers, Shawn Hawkins, Kaiser Johnson, Miles Luna, and Mark Whitten.
If you’re looking for some apocalyptic animated Autobot action (yeah, alliteration!), you’re gonna want to add Transformers: War for Cybertron to your watchlist when it arrives on Netflix in late July. A co-production between the streamer, Hasbro, and Rooster Teeth animation, the epic new animated series brings a dark and dire edge to the beloved toys turned pop culture characters. Set in the late days of a civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons that has ravaged their home planet of Cybertron, the series sees the warring factions make dangerous desperate plays to take control of the Allspark that means they might have to sacrifice their planet in order to save it. Netflix has debuted two trailers for the series so far, and not only is the animation stunning, they have a distinct, pensive tone and sense of urgency you don’t always get in the long-running family-friendly franchise. What’s more, the series is a trilogy with the first six-episode installment, Transformers: War For Cybertron Trilogy: Siege, arriving on Netflix Thursday, July 30.
The Umbrella Academy, Season 2
Available: July 31
Creator: Steve Blackman
Cast: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Kate Walsh
What happens after the end of the world? Another end of the world, apparently! The Umbrella Academy returns from a rather explosive Season 1 finale for a second season that finds the family sent back in time to the 1960s. There’s just one problem, they brought the apocalypse with them. The (extremely good) Season 2 trailer teased a bit of a soft reboot for the characters — Klaus has started a cult, Allison has a new beau, Diego has a newfound interest too, Vanya remains as enigmatic as ever, Luther is putting all that muscle to work, somehow the JFK assassination factors in, and Five is zipping around trying to stop it from all going apocalyptically wrong again. The trailer also teased some pretty bonkers looking action, more dancing, and well, to use Season 2’s catchphrase: “Same weird family. New weird problems.”