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Inside Streaming (Jun 30th, 2017)

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The good news is, we're going to work on expanding those Tuesday emails as well, giving news about upcoming documentaries coming to streaming and other in-depth looks at great non-fiction content going up around the web. If you're already a fan of Inside Streaming, and want to know a lot more about the great stuff being posted on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and beyond, you'll want to read these newsletters.

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Lon

The long-awaited trailer for Season 3 of the animated sci-fi comedy "Rick and Morty" was released by Adult Swim, announcing new episodes will debut on July 30. It's been two years since the debut of Season 2 of "Rick and Morty," the brainchild of co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. The trailer debuted during a Twitch livestream of the show's first two seasons. Harmon also teased to Polygon that work has already begun on Season 4. "Rick and Morty" episodes air live on TV's Adult Swim and stream briefly on AdultSwim.com as well. – VERGE

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Netflix renewed both "Dear White People" and "F is for Family" for new seasons, and announced that the recently-canceled ensemble drama "Sense8" will get a two-hour finale special. "Dear White People," based on creator Justin Simien's indie film of the same name, follows a group of minority students at a predominantly white Ivy League university, and will now get a ten-episode Season 2. Long-delayed animated comedy "F is for Family," from co-creator Bill Burr, will return for a third season. And in response to a passionate fan campaign online, Netflix has agreed to produce a 2018 "Sense8" special wrapping up all the various plotlines. – VARIETY

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Cable company Charter Communications will test a new streaming TV service for its internet subscribers. The bundle, known as "Spectrum Stream," will apparently cost $20/month and include 25 TV channels, including local broadcast networks and some cable options as well, such as AMC, TNT and FX. An additional $15/month tier will add more cable channels, and premium networks like HBO and Showtime, as well as sports content, will also be available for an additional fee. The service also appears to not come with a DVR or set-top box, meaning that it will only allow for live streaming programming. – ENGADGET

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Showtime's standalone streaming video service, for viewers who don't pay for Showtime through a cable subscription, is now available as an app on the Xbox One. The service costs $10.99 per month following a free seven-day trial. It's already available on Apple TV, Sony PlayStation and Roku devices, and is supported by a number of Samsung smart TVs. The VOD app specifically for Showtime cable subscribers - Showtime Anytime - will also get an Xbox upgrade. The package includes the full runs of Showtime original series such as "Homeland," "Ray Donovan," "Shameless" and the currently-running "Twin Peaks: The Return." – VARIETY

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Amazon is offering a $10 credit to anyone who watches an Amazon Prime video for the first time. The deal comes with a number of caveats: Prime members must stream the video before "Prime Day," Amazon's annual sales event on July 11. As well, they must watch the video on a device, such as a Fire TV, Roku, Smart TV, Blu-Ray player or a gaming console. The deal specifically focuses on original Prime content, so videos that have been purchased or rented through Amazon Video, that aren't available for free to Prime subscribers, are also ineligible, as are any accounts that have ever streamed a Prime video prior to June 28. Last year during Prime Day, Amazon offered over 100,000 different discounts to subscribers. A Prime subscription costs $10.99 per month or $99 for a full year. – VERGE

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Vanity Fair charts the backstory of Netflix's new psychological thriller series "Gypsy," starring Naomi Watts and arriving on the streaming platform today. "Gypsy" is the creation of Lisa Rubin, an MFA graduate from Columbia University who teamed up for the steamy drama with "Fifty Shades of Grey" director Sam Taylor-Johnson. (Johnson recently praised Rubin's writing of Watts' character, therapist Jean Holloway, calling her "multifaceted and complex and dark and mysterious and clever and twisted.") Rubin says she was inspired by the 2002 Diane Lane film "Unfaithful" in developing her flawed protagonist, and the title comes from Fleetwood Mac's song of the same name. – VANITYFAIR

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Actress Melanie Lynskey, previously of the HBO series "Togetherness," will star in Hulu's upcoming horror-drama series "Castle Rock." The show is set in the universe of author Stephen King's books, and will be produced by JJ Abrams' Bad Robot Productions. (It's named for the fictional Maine town in which a number of King novels are set, including "Needful Things," "The Dead Zone," "The Dark Half" and "Cujo.") Lynskey will portray Molly Strand, a real estate agent in the supernaturally afflicted town, alongside André Holland as an attorney whose past is intertwined with the area. Sissy Spacek and Jane Levy will also appear. – DEADLINE

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RECOMMENDED: "GLOW" ON NETFLIX

Guys, I don't want to get ahead of myself here, and I've only seen the first 7 of 10 episodes, but "GLOW" may be a just about perfect comedy-drama series. Seriously. There isn't a character here that's not idiosyncratic, interesting and unexpected. There's not a comic scenario explored that doesn't build to some kind of funny, but also sort of sweet, pay-off. The period trappings are detailed and thoughtful and fun but don't become overwhelming or ever play as easy "Hey, the '80s were messed up, right?" pandering. Alison Brie and Marc Maron are giving hilarious, but also brutally honest, performances. I DEVOURED these episodes before I got so sleepy, I had to stop for the night. This is not a show for binging; it's a show for inhaling in one long, satisfying breath. And the BRILLIANT decision to cap episodes at 30 minutes instead of the usual Netflix hour means it never sags, and no episodes feel like "filler" to postpone the big action until the finale.

The set-up, in brief: A ragtag bunch of misfits in 1985 Los Angeles are recruited by schlock B-movie director Sam Sylvia (Maron) to star in a new syndicated women's wrestling TV series, called "GLOW: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling." (Though "GLOW" itself was a real '80s TV show, and some of the elements of the film are based on the real people involved, it's a heavily fictionalized retelling.) Though we get to know all of the women involved, and spend some time with Sam's drug-addled personal life as well, we follow the league's development mainly through the eyes of one of those recruits: struggling actresses Ruth Wilder (Brie).

Brie finally blows away this long-standing idea that she an ideal supporting player who couldn't carry a show on her own. As Ruth, she's playing someone who is often ridiculous, who may not even be a truly gifted actress, and who makes some very questionable choices, but Brie never once makes you doubt whether your want to stay on her side. Even at her worst, she exudes such a purity of spirit - a sense that she's a good person doing bad things - and sharp wit, it's impossible to stay mad at her, even when she's sleeping with her best friend's husband. That friend is Debbie (Betty Gilpin), who shows up at Ruth's GLOW audition to confront her about being a home-wrecker, and winds up getting cast herself.

What's maybe most impressive about "GLOW" is how it manages to extract so much comic material about of this ragtag cast of eccentrics, but without ever coming off as cutting or mean, or reducing them to stereotypes. (Some of the most effective material in the show involves the women reacting with a combination of amused surprise and disgust at the frequently racist and misogynist characters they'll be playing in the ring.) The fact that the show leans in to the sometimes out-of-step, throwback elements of "GLOW" - including a wonderfully wry turn from Kia Steven as the ostentatious "Welfare Queen" - really elevates it as a work of not just charming human comedy, but social commentary as well.

I don't want to say anything more about "GLOW" because you should discover its pleasures yourself. It's only 10 30-minute episodes. I'd say you could reasonably blow through it in an afternoon. It's one of my favorite shows of the year so far, by a lot.

THE BASICS

Title: "GLOW"
Where to Watch: Netflix
Episodes: 10 (1 season)
Running Time: 29-37 minutes each
Genre: Sports Comedy-Drama

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RECOMMENDED: "OKJA" ON NETFLIX

"Okja" is the latest from Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho, previously noted stateside for the offbeat sci-fi adaptation "Snowpiercer" and the supernatural family comedy "The Host." As with those films, Bong takes a number of wildly eccentric, over-the-top characters and places them in a bizarre, absurdist scenario, but keeps the relationships naturalistic and grounded, making fantasy films with real emotion, relevance and pathos. "Okja" is probably the best of the bunch, simultaneously a children's fable and a wrenching, politically-charged expose of the food industrial complex, that skillfully works on both levels at once.

In a dual role as wealthy heiress sisters Lucy and Nancy Mirando, Tilda Swinton opens the films by giving us a quick rundown of "Okja's" near-future world. The Mirando Corporation is developing a breed of new "super-pigs," significantly larger than conventional pigs, and also easier to raise. As part of the marketing promotion for the Super-Pig project, 26 specimens will be sent around the world to local farmers to raise. Our story follows young Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn), who has become best friends with her family's Super-Pig, which she has named Okja. When she discovers what fate the Mirandos have in mind for her best friend, she sets off on an international journey to set things right.

"The Host" showcased Boon's deft ability to navigate different genres and tones within the confines of a single, coherent story, but "Okja" really takes things to another level entirely. Opening scenes establishing Mija's tight bond with Okja are, of course, necessary to give her mission to get her friend back stakes later on in the film, but Boon's able to do so much with very little screen time, and these passages always feel organic to the story (and surprisingly believable considering young Ahn is acting without a real animal). Jake Gyllenhaal is making a meal plus dessert out of the scenery here, as "Dr. Johnny," the TV presenter hosting the Super-Pig specials, but even this wildly over-the-top comic turn doesn't derail or overwhelm any of the genuine sadness in the second half.

"Okja" wears its heart on its sleeve, and could even be considered polemical at times. This is a movie that wants to make you think twice about eating meat, and it's not super-subtle about it. Nonetheless, it's such a funny, charming, likable adventure, that never feels preachy but nonetheless has a ton to say, I can't imagine anyone but the most strident pro-carnivore advocate taking issue with it.

THE BASICS

Title: "Okja"
Where to Watch: Netflix
Running time: 121 minutes
Genre: Adventure-Drama

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