By Mike Murphy
Apple's got more 'Swagger' while Max gets skeevy with 'The Idol'
Summer is almost here, and the streaming schedule is finally easing up enough to let viewers venture outside once in a while.
After a two-month deluge of Emmy bait, the release schedule is significantly lighter in June, though not without its gems, such as new seasons of Hulu's "The Bear," Apple's "Swagger" and Netflix's "Black Mirror."
But with budget-conscious consumers in mind as streaming costs continue to rise, June's top three services can be had for just about $30, which should allow for a little spare ice-cream money.
Each month, this column offers tips on how to maximize your streaming and your budget, rating the major services as a "play," "pause" or "stop" -- similar to investment analysts' traditional ratings of buy, hold or sell. We also pick the best shows to help you make your monthly decisions.
Consumers can take full advantage of cord cutting with a churn-and-return strategy -- adding and dropping streaming services each month. All it takes is good planning. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of the month, and 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 2023, and what's really worth the monthly subscription fee.
Hulu ($7.99 a month with ads, or $14.99 with no ads)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen, "The Bear" (June 22) returns for another season of anxiety-inducing levels of stress, drool-inducing food and goosebump-inducing needle drops. The critically acclaimed dramedy became a surprise hit last summer, and Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) and Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) are back for Season 2, working with the rest of their motley crew to transform their greasy-spoon sandwich shop into an upscale dining destination. Though it may give some people panic attacks, it's a beautiful and mesmerizing series, and there is zero reason to believe this won't be one of the TV highlights of the year.
Hulu has a loaded lineup beyond that, with "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"(June 8) back for an astounding 16th season; the acclaimed British drama "Somewhere Boy" (June 7), about an extremely sheltered teen discovering the outside world; a series revival of the hit '90s movie"The Full Monty" (June 14), with much of the original cast -- including Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson and Mark Addy -- returning for a celebration of enduring friendships; the biopic"Flamin' Hot"(June 9, also on Disney+), about how a janitor (played by Jesse Garcia) at Frito-Lay came up with the idea for Flamin' Hot Cheetos (though it may be more of an urban legend than a true story); and the streamer will celebrate Pride month by livestreaming parades in Los Angeles (June 11) and Houston (June 24), along with a "Pride Across America" (April 25) special.
Read more:Here's what's coming to Hulu in June 2023 -- and what's leaving
Who's Hulu for? TV lovers. There's a deep library for those who want older TV series and next-day streaming of many current network and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Play. Hulu is going to be on fire this summer, with one outstanding show after another (still to come: "Justified: City Primeval" in July and Season 3 of "Reservation Dogs" in August).
Apple TV+ ($6.99 a month)
One complaint about the recently completed "Ted Lasso" (one of many this season) is that the on-field action was never exactly realistic. But that's certainly not the case with "Swagger" (June 23), whose actors can legitimately hoop, leading to some eye-popping on-court action scenes. Season 2 of the coming-of-age drama, based on NBA star Kevin Durant's youth basketball experience, finds budding superstar Jace (Isaiah Hill) getting recruited by colleges, but an incident from the past threatens to derail his bright future. With its blend of inspiration, perspiration and a ton of heart, Season 1 was one of 2021's best shows, reminiscent of the late, great "Friday Night Lights." It deserves to be a hit, and is definitely worth a watch.
Apple (AAPL) also has "The Crowded Room" (June 9), a 10-episode psychological crime thriller starring Tom Holland and Amanda Seyfried, and "Hijack" (June 28), a seven-episode "real time" thriller starring Idris Elba as a passenger onboard a hijacked jetliner.
And don't forget new episodes every week of the noirish dramedy "High Desert" (season finale June 21), the sci-fi drama "Silo" (season finale June 30) and the very funny Seth Rogen--Rose Byrne hangout comedy "Platonic."
Who's Apple TV+ for? It offers a little something for everyone, but not necessarily enough for anyone -- although it's getting there.
Play, pause or stop? Play. Apple has a very watchable current lineup, and for just $7.
Netflix ($6.99 a month for basic with ads, $9.99 basic with no ads, $15.49 standard with no ads, $19.99 premium with no ads)
Netflix (NFLX) has some big hits returning in June, which should be interesting as their releases coincide with a U.S. crackdown on password sharing. Will enough viewers grudgingly pay more, or get their own accounts? We're going to find out soon.
Even as our world gets more dystopian, the sci-fi anthology series "Black Mirror" (June 15) reminds us that things could always be worse. After a four-year layoff, Charlie Booker's Emmy-winning series is back for its sixth installment, featuring five new episodes -- two of which take place in alternate pasts, while another two deal with the perils of celebrity life. Guest stars include Aaron Paul, Annie Murphy, Himesh Patel, Josh Hartnett, Kate Mara, Michael Cera, Salma Hayek Pinault and Zazie Beetz. While recent seasons have been hit-and-miss, having a new "Black Mirror" is always an event to look forward to.
The supernatural drama "Manifest" (June 2), which Netflix rescued from NBC's cancellation, comes to a conclusion with the second part of its fourth season; Mindy Kaling's coming-of-age comedy"Never Have I Ever" (June 8) will also conclude with its upcoming fourth season; and the fantasy drama "The Witcher" (June 29) has Part 1 of its third season (and the final one starring Henry Cavill).
Also:Here's everything new coming to Netflix in June 2023 -- and what's leaving
Chris Hemsworth is back in the big-budget action sequel"Extraction 2" (June 16), as a mercenary who must bust a gangster's family out of prison; there are a pair of timely sports docuseries in "Tour de France: Unchained"(June 8), a behind-the-scenes look at the 2022 bike race, and "Break Point: Part 2" (June 21), spanning the second half of last year's tennis season, from Wimbledon to the U.S. Open; Amy Schumer has a new standup comedy special, "Emergency Contact" (June 13); and there's also the romantic-comedy movie -- a genre that Netflix does surprisingly well -- "The Perfect Find" (June 23), starring Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers.
Who's Netflix for? Fans of buzz-worthy original shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Play. "Black Mirror" is always watchable, and there are plenty of other perfectly entertaining series and movies on tap.
Max ($9.99 a month with ads, or $15.99 with no ads)
The former HBO Max enters a new era in June, with a new name and without its two best series, after "Succession" and "Barry" just ended their epic runs. So what comes next? A mixed bag, if June is any indication.
Max seems to be aiming for shock value and little else with "The Idol" (June 4), the hugely controversial new drama from "Euphoria" creator Sam Levinson and Abel Tesfaye, aka pop star The Weeknd. Lily-Rose Depp -- Johnny Depp's daughter -- stars as an emotionally fragile pop idol who falls under the spell of a self-help guru/cult leader, played by Tesfaye. A recent exposé by Rolling Stone revealed a troubled production that flew off the rails, including claims of a toxic work environment and a misogynistic, "torture porn" rewrite full of copious nudity and graphic sex. Early reviews have been scathing, calling it everything from a "sordid male fantasy" to "nasty, brutish...and way, way worse than you'd have anticipated." Skeevy, trashy and shallow, this is one that's safe to skip.
Max also has Season 2 of"And Just Like That ..." (June 22), the "Sex and the City" revival, with John Corbett's Aiden set to reappear in the now-widowed Carrie's (Sarah Jessica Parker) life, as well as a Samantha cameo; Season 3 of"The Righteous Gemstones" (June 18), the ridiculously over-the-top megachurch comedy starring Danny McBride; Season 3 of "Warrior" (June 29), the martial-arts action series set in post--Gold Rush San Francisco's Chinatown; and Season 2 of Steve Dildarian's animated cringe-comedy "Ten Year Old Tom" (June 29).
More:Here's everything new coming to Max in June 2023
There's also James Cameron's blockbuster sci-fi sequel "Avatar: The Way of Water" (June 7, also on Disney+), and even more Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) shows from HGTV, Food Network, TLC, etc., migrating over from Discovery+ post-merger.
Who's Max for? HBO fans and movie lovers. And now, unscripted-TV fans too, with a slew of Discovery+ shows.
Play, pause or stop? Pause and think it over. "The Idol" aside, there look to be some good shows on the way. But at that price, you kinda want some great shows.
Disney+ ($7.99 a month with ads, $10.99 with no ads)
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June 02, 2023 16:36 ET (20:36 GMT)
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