Stateless, directed by Cate Blanchett, Photo: Netflix/Ben King

    What’s new on Netflix for summer 2020

    14 July 2020

    As good as barbecues and pub gardens are, few of us will be planning to get through the holidays without at least one decent film – or a new box-set – to get stuck into too.

    Here’s our round-up of the best new releases on Netflix this summer:

    Stateless, from 8 July

    While the Australian network ABC might not be a household name outside of its homeland, it does have a knack for producing the occasional hit drama. And when you’ve got Cate Blanchett – perhaps Australia’s biggest cultural export – calling the shots, the chances of making a hit are all that higher.

    Stateless – the first series produced by Ms Blanchett – is an intelligent and engaging drama about the intertwining lives of four strangers who pass through Australia’s notorious immigration detention system. With Yvonne Strahovski starring as an airline hostess fleeing a mysterious cult (a neat reversal of her acclaimed turn in The Handmaid’s Tale), this could be the big drama of the season.

    The Old Guard, from 10 July

    Is it really summer without a big action release? And with cinemas only just awakening from their hibernation, it’s up to Netflix to supply the goods with the release of their own blockbuster.

    While The Old Guard doesn’t look like departing from the tried-and-tested explosion-laden formula for a second, it does at least make an effort to address the gender balance. Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne get the big billing here, while the ever-reliable Chiwetel Ejiofor has to make do with a supporting role.

    The plot – as you might expect – is too nonsensical to be described here but, rest assured, it’s exactly what plenty of viewers will be looking for. Even if they don’t admit it.

    How to Sell Drugs Online – Fast (season two), from 21 July

    Pitched somewhere between Breaking Bad and Sex Education, this oddball German comedy follows the exploits of two teenage misfits who try their hand at selling ecstasy online – only to end up slightly out of their depth.

    Praised for its snappy writing and emotionally-rounded characters, the first series – based on a real case from Leipzig – quickly became a cult hit with viewers. Though the show came to a neat ending, Netflix have decided to revive it for a second series, though – as yet – they remain tight-lipped on the plot. We look forward to being surprised.

    Umbrella Academy (season two), from 31 July

    The brainchild of My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, The Umbrella Academy began life as a comic book series about a network of unlikely superhero siblings. Perhaps inevitably given the size of the emo maestro’s cultural reach, Netflix rushed in to turn it into a glossy television series (starring the equally popular Ellen Page).

    With reports of the first season racking up 45 million unique viewers, a sequel was inevitable – and here it is. While fans will probably be counting down the days until the end of July, newcomers can at least use the time to acquaint themselves with the first season. For those unsure what to expect, think His Dark Materials – just with more sass and eyeliner.

    Eurovision Song Contest: The Legend of Fire Saga, available now

    Eurovision superfans (you can count the Spectator’s editor amongst their number) may still be spoiling from the cancellation of this year’s competition, but they can at least take some comfort that their obsession is shared by Will Ferrell. So much so that he’s made the whole phenomenon the subject of his latest comedy.

    Based on his own observations at the 2018 and 2019 competitions, Ferrell’s film follows two Icelandic siblings – played by him and Rachel McAdams – as they try to bring the big prize back to Reykjavik. But is Eurovision too silly for even Mr Anchorman himself to send up? We will soon find out. Oh, and keep an eye open for cameos.

    Deadwind (season two), from 1 July

    Once the preserve of television snobs, the good old Nordic noir has turned into a pretty bankable subgenre for streaming services.

    Deadwind, one of the first noirs to emerge from Finland, follows a rookie detective transferred from Helsinki’s brainbox fraud team to the much grislier homicide unit, only to find herself caught up in a highly-political murder.

    Compared – perhaps inevitably – to The Bridge and The Killing, this brooding, character-led drama has won plaudits for its clever screenplay. Now its second series arrives on Netflix. Crime fans – not to mention those television snobs – will no doubt be in their element.

    Cursed, from 17 July

    Fantasy nerds needing their regular fix of myths and legends can look forward to Cursed, a reimagining of the well-trodden King Arthur story, told this time from the perspective of Nimue, a teenage heroine destined to become the famous Lady of the Lake.

    Starring Katherine Langford (the star of the emotionally over-done but undeniably popular 13 Reasons Why) and accompanied by the launch of an illustrated Young Adult book, Netflix are clearly hope this Merlin-esque epic strikes a chord with bookish teens who might otherwise be kicking their heels this summer.

    The Baby-sitters Club, from 3 July

    If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, you will remember The Baby-sitters Club, the best-selling fiction franchise which turned a generation of school-age girls onto reading (and a few boys too – not least precocious and effeminate ones like myself).

    Twenty years on from the less successful Nickelodeon adaptation, the show –  presumably still popular with young readers – now gets a Netflix reboot for a new generation. In what I assume is a knowing wink to any nostalgic millennials watching, Alicia Siverstone from Clueless (another good one for precocious teen boys) plays one of the parents.