• The Literary Film & TV You Need to Stream in July

    For Staying Inside

    Every month, all the major streaming services add a host of newly acquired (or just plain new) shows, movies, and documentaries into their ever-rotating libraries. So what’s a dedicated reader to watch? Well, whatever you want, of course, but the name of this website is Literary Hub, so we sort of have an angle. To that end, here’s a selection of the best (and most enjoyably bad) literary film and TV coming to streaming services this month. Have fun.

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    Apple TV+, July 10

    Literary bona fides: based on The Dark Manual by Colin O’Sullivan (2018)

    Rashida Jones stars in Apple TV’s latest SF offering as an American woman living in a near-future Kyoto; after her son and husband (Drive My Car‘s Hidetoshi Nishijima) die in a plane crash. But something, she realizes, is not as it seems—especially after one of her husband’s colleagues appears at her door with gift: a domestic robot named Sunny. It’s giving The Last Thing He Told Me Wall-E, and I will watch.

    The Serpent Queen (Season 2)
    Starz, July 12

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    Literary bona fides: based on Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France by Leonie Frieda (2003)

    Season two of Starz’s sardonic series about Catherine de Medici premieres this month, bringing with it a new enemy: Minnie Driver (nearly unrecognizable) as Elizabeth I. Fun!

    Those About to Die
    Peacock, July 18

    Literary bona fides: based on Those About to Die by Daniel P. Mannix (1958; republished in 2001 as The Way of the Gladiator)

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    An 86-year-old Anthony Hopkins dons a toga as the Roman Emperor Vespasian in this sword-and-sandal epic based on Mannix’s non-fiction book—the very same volume that inspired Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (which is for some reason getting a sequel this fall, 24 years later, starring Paul Mescal, Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, and Derek Jacobi—what?). All 10 episodes will drop at once, in case you or a loved one hasn’t spent enough time thinking about the Roman Empire that week.

    Lady in the Lake
    Apple TV+, July 19

    Literary bona fides: based on Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman (2019)

    Lippman’s bestselling psychological noir, set in 1960s Baltimore and based on two real-life murders from the era—that of a white Jewish girl, Esther Lebowitz, whose disappearance and death was covered by every paper in town, and that of a Black woman, Shirley Parker, whose death was barely covered at all—has been given the miniseries treatment by Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), and stars Natalie Portman and Moses Ingram. Apple TV has been on it lately; this should be good.

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    The Decameron
    Netflix, July 25

    Literary bona fides: based on The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (c.1353; English publication 1620)

    Apparently the face-pulling, eye-rolling, modern-vibes in period-dress adaptation trend is here to stay. Kathleen Jordan has gone all the way back to The Decameron for this latest version, which stars Zosia Mamet and Tony Hale and is, according to actor Jessica Plummer, like “Love Island, but back in the day.” The Decameron, as you may remember, had a bit of a popular resurgence (?) during the pandemic; if not, it’s a 14th-century Italian text about a small group of nobles waiting out the Black Death, and telling stories to pass the time. Jordan’s Teenage Bounty Hunters was fantastic and under-appreciated and cancelled too soon, so I actually have high hopes for this—but we shall have to wait and see.


    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
    Max, July 1

    Literary bona fides: based on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee (1962)

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    Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the roles they were born to play! Fun fact, this film, directed by Mike Nichols from a screenplay adapted by Ernest Lehman, is one of only two films to be nominated in every category at the Oscars (the other, apparently, was 1931’s Cimarron). It won five of them, and is still very much worth your time.

    The Wiz (1978)
    Netflix, July 1

    Literary bona fides: based of course on The Wiz (1974) but also The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)

    Another theatrical classic translated to the small screen, but I couldn’t help myself: it’s The Wiz, which if you don’t know is an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz with an all-Black cast, in this case Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, Lena Horne, Nipsey Russell, Mabel King, and more. It was a flop. But it has since become a cult classic, and you should watch it with your friends.

    Matilda (1996)
    Netflix, July 1

    Literary bona fides: based on Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)

    Matilda, the book that made all nerdy Millennials stare at inanimate objects for minutes at a time. Then came the movie, and everyone was doing it! Ah well—it was fun.

    American Psycho (2000)
    Netflix, July 1

    Literary bona fides: based on American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

    I’ll leave it to you whether you have the stomach to rewatch this movie; my tolerance for murder has rather decreased since it first came out. But there’s no denying it’s a classic.

    Brokeback Mountain (2005)
    Max, July 1

    Literary bona fides: based on “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx (1997)

    It’s not too much to say that Ang Lee’s beautiful (and blockbuster) adaptation of Proulx’s short story changed cinema for the better, opening the door for queer stories in a whole new way. Also it’s not too much to say that I’m still mad about the Oscars. Crash, people? Give me strength.

    Easy A (2010)
    Netflix, July 1

    Literary bona fides: based on The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

    The last gasp of the classic-literature-but-what-if-it’s-high-school heyday. Still slaps.

    Emily Temple
    Emily Temple
    Emily Temple is the managing editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in June 2020. You can buy it here.

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