Netflix: 10 of the best new shows to watch in August

Netflix: (top row) Clickbait, Paris Hilton, Brand New Cherry Flavor and Untold; (bottom row) The Chair and Motel Makeover

Pray Away

Tuesday, August 3rd
Directed by Kristine Stolakis, with Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum as executive producers, Pray Away tackles the disturbing topic of conversion-therapy programmes. It focuses on the Exodus International project, charting its formation in the 1970s, when the American Evangelical group amassed a sizeable following offering a course that would encourage homosexual attendees to “pray away” their sexuality and eventually, after a gruelling psychological process, “convert” to being heterosexual.

Featuring interviews with group organisers and former members, it exposes a catalogue of abuses at these camps and the deep emotional scars left behind by the fanatical religious group. Conversion therapy may not be as popular as it once was, but it has not disappeared completely, and Pray Away details its current resurrection as a push against woke society. A powerful and affecting look at LGBTQ+ rights and what it means to be gay and religious, Pray Away is essential viewing.

Cooking with Paris

Wednesday, August 4th
It would seem that people have finally caught up with the glorious performance art of being Paris Hilton. The socialite has had a resurgence, returning as the OG Influencer and taking part in the Netflix documentary The American Meme, which tried to pinpoint the appeal of the tribe of social-media celebrities she helped create. (Her mother, Kathy, has become an endearing Ozzy Osborne-type character on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which seems like a further rehabilitation of the Hilton family.) What makes Paris so enjoyable is that she’s always in on the joke – look no further than Sofia Coppola’s film The Bling Ring and Hilton’s willingness to put in a meta-performance playing on her image as a malleable Barbie socialite.

Her new Netflix cooking show is born out of several YouTube videos in which the star tries her hand (usually inserted in some designer glove or stroking her ever-present chihuahua) at making family-favourite meals, with varying degrees of success. Paris is no Nigella: this show is not about her becoming a top cook; instead it’s about her becoming a culinary ASMR, as she purrs her way through the ingredients and dispenses insipid anecdotes. More comforting than the Calm app, the heiress has upped her game since the days of cooking rashers by using an iron on The Simple Life.

Untold

Christy Martin in Untold
Untold

Tuesday, August 10th
This ambitious project comes from the directors of the brilliant Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country. Brothers Chapman and Maclain Way are executive producers of this five-part documentary series that revolves around a pivotal sporting moment before delving behind the headlines to unearth the reality. 

Episodes will cover the boxer Christy Martin’s meteoric rise and fall and her turbulent life outside the ring. Crystal Moselle, director of Betty and The Wolfpack, navigates the sprawling story of Caitlyn Jenner, which transcends the world of sport into celebrity and pop culture. Bizarre stories are unearthed, such as the UHL hockey players, known as the Trashers, who were controlled by the Mighty Ducks-obsessed teenage son of a mob boss. As with Wild, Wild Country, Untold is a cinematic affair, full of insight and pathos.

Brand New Cherry Flavor

Brand New Cherry Flavor
Brand New Cherry Flavor

Friday, August 13th
With its depiction of the seedy, subterranean side of Hollywood, its glamorous, seductive stylings and its surreal edge, Brand New Cherry Flavor is a Lynchian homage. Set in the early 1990s, the series follows a film director, Lisa N Nova (Rosa Salazar), as she tumbles through the Los Angeles art scene, becoming involved with a strange tattoo artist (played by the indie darling Catherine Keener) who introduces her to the world of the occult. Beguiled, Nova intends to use it to exact revenge on the enemies who have betrayed her trust. Part avant-garde horror, part glossy thriller, Brand New Cherry Flavor is a pulpy romp through the wild side of the movie industry.

Everything Will Be Fine

Everything Will Be Fine
Everything Will Be Fine

Friday, August 20th
Created by actor Diego Luna (Narcos: Mexico), who also directs the series, this Spanish-language dramedy (originally called Todo Va a Estar Bien) about the ever evolving state of the modern family. Julia and Ruy are separated parents who agree to stay living in the same house and attempt to retain the family unit for the sake of their daughter. With more than a little of Catastrophe’s freewheeling spirit and chaotic realism, it’s a snappy show that exposes the pressures on young families, the pursuit of parental perfectionism and confounding marital expectations.

The Chair

The Chair
The Chair

Friday, August 20th
Netflix’s tent-pole release for August, The Chair is the first series to come out of the megadeal signed by Game of Thrones’ showrunners, David Benioff and DB Weiss. Written by Amanda Peet and starring Sandra Oh, it follows the story of Dr Ji-Yoon Kim as she becomes the first woman chair of the English language department at the prestigious Pembroke University. Dr Kim suspects that her appointment has more to do with optics than her suitability and accomplishments, as the college is soon subsumed by a scandal involving her colleague and would-be paramour, Prof Dobson (Jay Duplass).

The six-part black comedy shows Oh’s character trying to grapple with her new senior position, losing friends along the way and gaining adversaries as she tries to make changes within the department while caring for her daughter and aging father. For all its heavy subject matter, The Chair has a pleasing knockabout charm that will appeal to fans of the Duplass brothers’ forgotten gem Togetherness.

Motel Makeover

Motel Makeover
Motel Makeover

Wednesday, August 25th
Motel Makeover is the new addictive home renovation show that sees best friends April Brown and Sarah Sklash pursue their dream of opening a boutique hotel in Toronto. The two ditched their office jobs to start the project, buying a less than desirable roadside motel and, through a lot of grit and determination, transforming it into a chic destination spot. The series bares all, showing the pair’s struggles with construction, finances and the pandemic as they continue on their journey to create an affordable, dreamy and, most importantly, Instagram-worthy venue.

Clickbait

Clickbait
Clickbait

Wednesday, August 25th
Starring Adrian Grenier and Zoe Kazan, this eight-episode thriller exposes our sinister relationship with the dark side of social media. With shades of the campy paranoia of the Netflix hit You and the dystopian musings of Black Mirror, Clickbait sees the life of supposed family man Nick Brewer destroyed as he becomes the subject of gossip. Brewer ends up kidnapped and beaten as part of a social-media stunt where he is held to ransom live on the internet as more of his “secrets” are revealed. While Nick’s sister and wife frantically search for him, they also begin to learn disturbing information about the man they thought they knew and loved – and then begin to wonder who they should trust.

Good Girls season 4

Tuesday, August 31st
This is the final season of this underrated crime caper created by Grey’s Anatomy’s Jenna Bans, a glossy revenge dramedy that follows the fortunes of frustrated suburban sisters Beth (Christina Hendricks) and Annie (Mae Whitman) and their best friend, Ruby (Retta) as they stumble through the crime world. Gone is the spontaneity of their early days robbing a supermarket; this season sees the woman graduate to engineering a sophisticated money-laundering scheme – although with this new-found success the stakes have become even higher, with the Secret Service closing in on the crew and trust issues causing rifts in their relationships.

Sparking Joy

Tuesday, August 31st
Marie Kondo is back: the Japanese tidying tsar is ready to declutter her subjects into a cleaner future, one where no drawer contains numerous dead batteries, takeaway menus and a mysterious Bovril-like substance. In this new series she looks at how we can compartmentalise our homes; with Covid turning everywhere into an office space, she endeavours to separate the two and help viewers regain control over their abodes and find renewed enjoyment in spaces. She is also taking the concept of “sparking joy” further and seeing how people can use it to enhance other areas of their life: it’s not just about throwing your fast-fashion items into the nearest landfill; it’s about tidying the desk of your mind.