Your Sharpest Summer Yet, Part 2: TV and Movies for Industrious Pool Days


Last week, we gave you a list of books to keep your hustle humming beneath all that summertime bliss. This week, we bring you some of the smartest picks for TV and film that have recently come out or are forthcoming:


Orange is the New Black, season 4

The groundbreaking Netflix series returned for its fourth season on Friday, June 17; launder your TV-watching romper, stock up on some La Croix and get ready to dive back in with Piper, Poussay, Pensatucky, Taystee and the whole crew. And sure, it’s entertaining and addicting as all get out, but one of the best parts about OITNB? Showrunner Jenji Kohan has created what is probably the most diverse, women-centric cast that has ever been in the mainstream.


And speaking of Orange is the New Black: Show staff writer Sian Heder wrote and directed this Sundance darling starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney (who previously made each other shine in Juno). Page portrays Lu, a vagabond who, for a lack of options, ends up at the New York City apartment of her missing boyfriend’s mother Margo, played by Janney. A series of mishaps culminates in Lu eventually returning with the one-year-old daughter of a wealthy housewife named Constance, played by Tammy Blanchard, after Lu deems her unfit to watch over the child. To Margo, Lu claims the infant is her daughter and thus Margo’s granddaughter, while Constance’s has the police out looking for the child. Confused? It is a comedy of errors, but Vanity Fair calls it “a poignant film that's both sad and heartening.” It comes out on Netflix on July 29.


At first glance, you might not think the Ghostbusters reboot qualifies as particularly stimulating fare, but consider this: Basement-dwelling cretins have been pissed out of their minds since the all-female cast announcement nearly two years ago; just last month, one video blogger, James Rolf, a.k.a. “Angry Video Game Nerd,” created a video extolling his followers to boycott the film because according to him, “based on the trailer, it looks awful,” and the video has been viewed more than 1.8 million times. Never mind that the film stars one of of the funniest lineups of comedians in recent history: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. And never mind that one of the OG Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd, is the executive producer. And while the director Paul Feig isn’t a necessarily girlboss, he did bring us Bridesmaids, so what’s not to look forward to? Though the film is surely intended to be a comedy in a similar tradition of the original, it will hit the screens with much more political context. Join in the conversation when it comes out in theatres July 15.

UnREAL, season 2

Much like a habit of accidentally-on-purpose having a bag of powdered doughnut holes for lunch, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette is a guilty pleasure we tend to avoid examining too deeply, lest we discover all its seriously problematic ingredients. And former Bachelor producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro gets this better than anyone; so much so that she created UnREAL, a TV series that fictionalizes her real-life experiences from the show in a way that manages to simultaneously mock the premise while endowing it with pathos (this New Yorker profile details the fascinating of trajectory of her background and experiences). The show is surprisingly meaty, dark fare for Lifetime; a storyline this season revolves around a black bachelor (something the real Bachelor has never done and for which it has been criticized) and a contestant who dons a Confederate flag bikini, for instance. Superbly acted by its two leads--Shiri Appleby as producer Rachel Goldberg and Constance Zimmer as her boss, Quinn--these complex anti-heroines populate a perfect companion piece to challenge the schadenfreude-addicted hot-mess part of of our brains that keeps us tuning into the rose ceremony every week. The first season of UnREAL can be streamed on Hulu, and the second season, which started on June 6, airs Mondays at 10.