11 of the best TV shows to watch in August

From Heartstopper and Star Wars: Ahsoka to the return of Only Murders in the Building, starring Meryl Streep, Caryn James picks 11 of the best TV series to see this month.
(Credit: Shane Brown / FX)

(Credit: Shane Brown / FX)

1. Reservation Dogs

This coming-of-age comedy about four friends on an Oklahoma reservation, made with an Indigenous cast and crew, has been acclaimed for its authenticity and its mix of wit and piercing realism. The third and final season picks up where the previous one ended, with Elora (Devery Jacobs), Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis) and Cheese (Lane Factor) in California, honouring their late friend Daniel’s dream of visiting the state. They make their way back home, with their usual misadventures – they can steal with the best intentions – and the occasional encounter with a spirit. Sterlin Harjo, who created the show with Taika Waititi, told Variety earlier this year, “I wanted to make a show that was very culturally specific but could resonate with the world”. He has accomplished that. His show joins Barry and Succession as another series whose creators chose

Advertisement
to wrap up while it was still at its best.

Reservation Dogs premiered on 2 August on Hulu

(Credit: Netflix)

(Credit: Netflix)

2. Heartstopper

The endearing British series that became a global hit returns, picking up the blossoming romance between Charlie (Joe Locke) and his classmate Nick (Kit Connor), who came out as bisexual to his wonderfully supportive mother (Olivia Colman) at the end of the first season. Now Nick texts, with typical teenaged confusion, “Why is being out so complicated?” The new season promises to give us more about Charlie and Nick’s friends, as well as a class trip to Paris. But the show, based on a webcomic and graphic novels by Alice Oseman, should retain its tone of matter-of-fact acceptance of its LGBTQ+ characters, as well as its warmth. The Guardian said the first season was “adorable”, and Digital Spy, reviewing the second, called the series “the cosy comfort blanket of teen shows”, adding “we don’t mean that as a bad thing”. In a television landscape where the troubled teens like those on Euphoria often dominate, who couldn’t use a charming comfort blanket?

Heartstopper is released on 3 August on Netflix internationally

(Credit: Amazon Studios)

(Credit: Amazon Studios)

3. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

This suspenseful drama set in Australia begins when nine-year-old Alice (Alyla Browne) sees her house go up in flames, killing both her parents. She moves to the flower farm owned by her grandmother, the enigmatic June (Sigourney Weaver), which is also a refuge for troubled women. Of course things don’t go smoothly; those flowers are called lost right there in the title. Alice begins to uncover the many family secrets that will haunt her as an adult (played by Alycia Debnam-Carey), when repeating mistakes of the past puts her in danger. Based on Holly Ringland’s bestselling 2018 novel, the lushly-shot series takes full advantage of the Australian landscape, from the farm where Alice learns the language of flowers, to the seaside and the desert.

(Credit: Hulu)

(Credit: Hulu)

4. Only Murders in the Building

When you hear that Meryl Streep is a guest star, you might imagine a little cameo or a bit of stunt casting, but not here. Streep has a major role and is hilariously fun to watch in the third season of the series with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez as friends and podcasters who live in the most murder-prone building in New York City. This season’s plot was teased at the end of the last, when Paul Rudd’s character collapsed on the stage during a Broadway play that Oliver (Short) directed. Rudd returns to guest star too, in a story that includes misbegotten romance, flashbacks, surprise guests and Streep on top form as an exceptionally good – she does accents (!) – but somehow failed actress who gets a part in Oliver’s play. It’s all jokey and meta, but also terrifically entertaining.

Only Murders in the Building premieres on 8 August on Hulu

(Credit: Apple TV)

(Credit: Apple TV)

5. Strange Planet

The trend of adult animation continues with this series set on a planet much like our own, but with blobby blue creatures instead of humans. Created by Nathan W Pyle, based on his webcomic and bestselling graphic novel, and Dan Harmon, who was behind Community and co-created Rick and Morty, the show depicts these non-humans in familiar terms, as they grapple with everyday details more bluntly than weusually do. They call coffee “jitter liquid”, and to them the exit row of a plane is officially the peril row. Somehow these benign little beings don’t mind the honesty. The familiar voices include Danny Pudi (Community), Hannah Einbinder (Hacks) and Lori Tan Chinn (the grandma on Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens).

Strange Planet premieres on 9 August on AppleTV+ internationally

(Credit: Netflix)

(Credit: Netflix)

6. Painkiller

This fictional, fact-based drama about the beginnings of the opioid crisis in the US is, unexpectedly, not grim from start to finish. At times it has an elated tone meant to mirror the high that drug users can get and the glee of the cynical, money-making businesspeople behind their addiction. Peter Berg, who directed all six episodes, has said of the show, “If we want people to engage, there has to be an entertainment component.” But then everything crashes and turns deadly serious. Matthew Broderick plays the real-life Richard Sackler, chairman of Purdue Pharma (now bankrupt after thousands of lawsuits), the company behind OxyContin. Uzo Aduba plays an investigator in the US attorney’s office, a composite of actual investigators, and Taylor Kitsch plays a fictional character whose work injury leads to opioid addiction. In a sign of its seriousness, the series is based on two respected non-fiction books, Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain and Barry Meier’s Pain Killer.

Painkiller premieres on 10 August on Netflix internationally

(Credit: Sky)

(Credit: Sky)

7. Billions

Set in the world of cut-throat, quasi-legal high finance, Billions is yet another show ending while it still feels totally fresh, in its seventh season. The series did a spectacular job of reinventing itself when Damian Lewis left after season five. Corey Stoll became the new ruthless centre of gravity as Mike Prince, replacing Lewis’s Bobby Axelrod. He also become a new target for US Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) to try to charge with financial crimes. This season, Prince runs for president with some timely echoes of reality, and Lewis returns as Bobby, although in a relatively small way at least in the season’s first half. Wags (David Costabile), Wendy (Maggie Siff) and Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) continue to be wily and unpredictable. One of these people will have to win or lose big before long.

Billions premieres on 11 August on Paramount+ with Showtime and 13 August on Showtime

(Credit: HBO)

(Credit: HBO)

8. Telemarketers

If you’re fed up with spam calls from marketers, this documentary exposé will confirm your worst suspicions, as it goes behind the scenes with first-hand access to reveal the half-truths and downright fraud in the telemarketing industry. Sam Lipman-Stern, who co-directed with Adam Bhala Lough, was 14 years old in 2001 when he started working for and filming his time at Civic Development Group, a company that, according to the documentary, raised money for charities but kept the lion’s share of what it took in. When news of this documentary dropped just over a week ago, it gained attention because of its high-profile executive producers, including the filmmakers Benny and Josh Safdie. As Lipman-Stern exposes CDG and the industry it helped spawn, he takes viewers into a world even sleazier than that in the Safdies’ down-and-dirty features like Uncut Gems.

Telemarketers premieres on 13 August on Max

(Credit: MGM)

(Credit: MGM)

9. The Winter King

He’s back, that guy named Arthur who pulled a sword from a stone, married Guinevere and has had his story told over and over and over. This version of the legend is far from happily-ever-after Camelot though. Based on Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles novels and set in the 5th Century, it has Arthur (Iain De Caestecker) banished from Britain by his father, King Uther (Eddie Marsan), but determined to fight his way back and save the kingdom from the Saxon invaders. There are swords and spears, there is action and romance, and lots of dialogue about vengeance and unity as the show follows Arthur’s journey from rebel to hero.

The Winter King premieres on 20 August on MGM+ in the US and ITVX in the UK

(Credit: Amazon)

(Credit: Amazon)

10. Harlan Coben’s Shelter

Series based on Harlan Coben’s novels – Netflix has a whole collection of them, including Safe and The Stranger – have become reliable thrillers, following a successful formula. Like those other adaptations, this new Prime Video series reveals the dark underside of supposedly peaceful suburban life, but now with a teenage hero, in a story based on Coben’s 2011 young adult novel. Mickey Bolitar (Jaden Michael) is a new student at a high school in New Jersey, where a creepy old woman tells him his recently-dead father is still alive, and where Mickey’s new maybe-girlfriend, Ashley, goes missing. He and his new friends Scooby-Doo the rest, determined to find Ashley and get to the bottom of the mystery.

Harlan Coben’s Shelter premieres on 17 August on Prime Video

(Credit: Lucasfilm)

(Credit: Lucasfilm)

11. Star Wars: Ahsoka

In the latest live-action Star Wars spinoff, Rosario Dawson stars as the warrior Ahsoka of the Togruta species, complete with serpent-like tails sprouting from her head. Seen recently in episodes of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, now Ahsoka must try to save the Galaxy once more. Mary Elizabeth Winstead joins the fight as green-faced pilot Hera Syndulla. As Ahsoka and her allies battle the evil Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), there will be lightsabers all over the place. Although Ahsoka has a long Star Wars history, a crash course may not be necessary. Dawson recently said of the series, “It is a new part of the journey, but you don’t need to know the previous part of it to get engaged.” Maybe.

Star Wars: Ahsoka premieres on 23 August on Disney+

Advertisement