1. “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” Season 2 (available Tuesday, July 6)
Why Should I Watch? Having already written one review of Tim Robinson’s ineffable sketch series and whilst preparing to write another, let me tell you one thing I’ve learned: It’s nearly impossible to articulate why “I Think You Should Leave” is a top-tier comedy. Sure, you can explain a few of the jokes — for instance, “‘The Bones Are Their Money’ is funny because musicians can’t just instinctively follow their lead singer and make up a hit song on the spot, lyrics and all, so illustrating an extreme misread of that scenario upends expectations” — but that… sounds… boring. It’s often Robinson’s unrelenting exuberance, the way he contorts his face into exasperated expressions or elevates his voice to ear-shattering pitches, that provides the perfect punctuation for these three- or four-minute sketches, shifting them from clever comic scenarios into unforgettable pieces of iconic candy. There’s a reason we’ve been relying on multiple sketches from Season 1 for meme fodder over the past two years: “I Think You Should Leave” clicks with something deep within all of us. It’s just damn funny.
Bonus Reason: You can’t skip lunch, guys. And you can’t miss this.
2. “Never Have I Ever” Season 2 (available Thursday, July 15)
Isabella B. Vosmikova / Netflix
Why Should I Watch? The feel-good hit of a feel-bad year, Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher’s 2020 teen comedy made a star out of Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and addicts out of its viewers. Devi’s high school love life proved to be as necessary a diversion mid-quarantine as it was a delightful one no matter when you caught up. Would she make a good impression on her crush, Paxton (Darren Barnet)? Would she end up falling for her nerdy rival, Ben (Jaren Lewison)? Could she maintain a healthy relationship with her mother (Poorna Jagannathan) while mourning the sudden loss of her father? “Never Have I Ever” balanced lasting emotional hardships with the fleeting suspense of youth in such fine fashion, viewers of all ages could jump in and enjoy — and honestly, any show that can make narration by John McEnroe fit the tone of a modern teen comedy, well, they’ve got skills to spare.
Bonus Reason: If not for Ramakrishnan’s effervescent lead turn, Jagannathan would be reason enough to check out “Never Have I Ever.” Her resume speaks for itself: “The Night Of,” “Ramy,” “Room 104,” “Better Call Saul,” “Sorry For Your Loss,” “The Act,” “Big Little Lies,” and “The Wilds” have all benefited from her magnetic presence, while “Never Have I Ever” has given her an ongoing character that should prove exciting to flesh out, year after year. Nalini is going to get up to some trouble in Season 2, I can feel it. Don’t miss out.
3. “Atypical” Season 4 (available Friday, July 9)
Greg Gayne / Netflix
Why Should I Watch? Featuring an acclaimed turn from Keir Gilchrist, “Atypical” follows Sam, a young man recently off to college who’s trying to carve his own path in the world, without letting his status on the autism spectrum define him. Season 3 saw Sam try to infuse meaning into his art by embracing certain political elements, and Season 4 has him moving in with Zahid (Nik Dodani) as the journey toward independence reaches an end. This is the final season of “Atypical,” so long-term viewers and wait-until-it’s-over bingers alike should expect some closure to a story that never really ends. Growth shouldn’t stop at college, and with a smart kid like Sam, there’s no chance it will.
Bonus Reason: Even after Sam left home, “Atypical” still made room for his parents, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Doug (Michael Rapaport). Two strong personalities in their own right, these two supporting stars can more than carry their own. As the Gardner family continues to develop in the final season, Sam isn’t the only one whose fate deserves a closing flourish.
4. “Naomi Osaka” Limited Series (available Friday, July 16)
Why Should I Watch? A three-part series on the sports star and all-around icon, “Naomi Osaka” follows the top-ranked tennis player over a two-year period beginning at the 2019 U.S. Open and running through her 2020 season, in preparation for this year’s Olympic Games. Ranked No. 2 in the world, Osaka made headlines in June after pulling out of the French Open; despite mounting pressure from tournament officials and repeated criticism from closed-minded commentators, Osaka stood her ground. In defending her own mental health, she reminded the world to respect everyone’s need for the same. These kind of actions, paired with her outspoken support for Black Lives Matter, make the promise of a “different kind of sports documentary” all the more compelling; just as we can always expect the best from Osaka, it seems fair to expect more than the usual highlight reel from “Naomi.”
Bonus Reason: Per the Netflix synopsis: “The episodes also travel the globe with Osaka to further explore her Haitian roots as well as examine her deep connection to Japan, the country she represents. Viewers will witness Naomi’s unapologetic honesty and vulnerability as she navigates her multifaceted identity as a young athlete and leader on the rise.” Bring it on.
5. “We the People” Season 1 (available Sunday, July 4)
Courtesy of Netflix
Why Should I Watch? As adults, one of our jobs is to emphasize the importance of education to those younger than us. But because we are adults, and thus no longer part of the youthful culture that once affirmed everything we did as “cool,” anything we tell our children is “important” is bound to be scoffed at, and anything we try to make “cool” is bound to be deemed so very uncool. Enter “We the People.” To me, an adult man, this set of 10 animated music videos sounds pretty cool: Each entry is only three or four minutes long, which caters to our ever-dwindling attention spans; the original songs are performed by excellent artists like H.E.R., Janelle Monáe, and Amanda Gorman, all of whom are still on TikTok’s good side; and yes, there are basic U.S. civics lessons built in to each one, but the kids these days like to vote, want to make change, and generally understand things pretty quickly. If anything sets off those “uncool” alarm bells (aside from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s presence), it’s that “basic” civics lessons may end up talking down to the audience. Here’s hoping Netflix’s description of each episode as an “exuberant call to action” rings true — not just to me, but to the kiddos this show is trying to reach.
Bonus Reason: Considering all the rap history lessons and instructional videos that dominated current adults’ early education efforts, perhaps these “basic” civic lessons can teach not just the young ones out there, but a few mature audience members, as well. I don’t know about you, but my history teachers never struck the right balance between past and present, outdated and still significant, boring and cool — maybe Netflix can walk that line.
6. “Dogs” Season 2 (available Wednesday, July 7)
Courtesy of Netflix
Why Should I Watch? When the first season of “Dogs” premiered, it was hard to tell exactly what to expect: Here’s another Netflix series about pets, with a monosyllabic title and lots of cute promo photos. It could be a heart-filled examination of a bond millions share with “man’s best friend,” or it could be a pet calendar come to life, designed to fill an algorithmic demand for “nice animal stories.” Thankfully, pro documentarians Amy Berg and Glen Zipper crafted the former, honing six episodes around dogs and their owners that also help viewers reconnect with their fellow man. Season 2 will tell four new stories circling around an astronaut, a priest, a military contractor, and the handler of Butler University’s mascot, an aging English bulldog named Trip (see above photo). So kick back and enjoy — just remember to grab the tissues.
Bonus Reason: Just look at Trip. He is a handsome doggo. Maybe he looks a bit down in the dumps right now, but he’s just trying to meet the viewer on their level. With America slowly opening back up (for better or worse), rebuilding those social muscles by visiting close friends or traveling to see family can be exhausting. So remember: There’s nothing wrong with spending an hour or two vicariously admiring cute puppers. We all need this right now. Enjoy.
7. “Outer Banks” Season 2 (available Friday, July 30)
Jackson Lee Davis / Netflix
Why Should I Watch? When the first season of “Outer Banks” arrived in April 2020, Netflix was in the midst of building a brand around “hot people in garbage.” January and February saw the one-two punch of reality hits “The Circle” and “Love Is Blind,” both of which broke into the zeitgeist because they were on a widely accessible platform and let you stare at attractive people doing stupid, if dramatic, things. (It also helped that soon after their release, lots of people were stuck inside, desperately seeking escapism.) These reality shows, along with the seemingly less successful April release “Too Hot to Handle,” set expectations extremely low for any subsequent soap, which may have been why “Outer Banks” became a pleasant surprise — as well as a long-term resident of Netflix’s Top 10 list. A coming-of-age story about a tight-knit group of local teens who embark on a perilous beach vacation, IndieWire’s Steve Greene “The Recommendation Machine” called the scripted drama “built to move,” noting how its addictive momentum felt organic to the story and made all the better by Carolina’s gorgeous scenery. Can Season 2 sustain that momentum? Always a tricky task, fans will soon find out if their summer love was just a fling or something more substantial.
Bonus Reason: While good comedies are aplenty this month, Netflix is a little low on quality drama. If that’s your bag, maybe try out “Outer Banks” and see if it adds a little more heat to your sweltering summer.
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Generation 56k” Season 1 (available now)
“Quarantine Tales” Season 1 (available now)
“Rainbow Rangers” Season 1 (available now)
“The Bureau of Magical Things” Season 1 (available now)
“Young Royals” Season 1 (available now)
“Big Timber” Season 1 (available now)
“Mortel” Season 2 (available now)
“You Are My Spring” (available July 5)
“Cat People” (available July 7)
“The War Next Door” Season 1 (available July 7)
“Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” Season 1 (available Thursday, July 8)
“Elite Matsunaga: Once Upon a Crime” (available July 8)
“Biohackers” Season 2 (available July 9)
“How to Become a Tyrant” Season 1 (available July 9)
“The Cook of Castamar” Season 1 (available July 9)
“Virgin River” Season 3 (available July 9)
“Ridley Jones” Season 1 (available July 13)
“Heist” (available July 14)
“My Unorthodox Life” (available July 14)
“Beastars” (available July 15)
“Explained” (available July 16)
“Johnny Test” (available July 16)
“The Movies That Made Us” (available July 21)
“Sexy Beasts” Season 1 (available July 21)
“Too Hot To Handle: Brazil” (available July 21)
“Kingdom: Ashin of the North” (available July 23)
“Masters of the Universe: Revelation” Part 1 (available July 23)
“Sky Rojo” Season 2 (available July 23)
“Mighty Express” (available July 27)
“The Snitch Cartel: Origins” (available July 28)
“Tatto Redo” (available July 28)
“Transformers: War for Cybertron: Kingdom” (available July 29)
“Centaurworld” (available July 30)
“Glow Up” (available July 30)