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Stay In, Stay Cool: Your Guide for Streaming Subscriptions This Summer

Erin Pullmann
ByErin PullmannJul 14, 2021 | 5 comments

Are you looking for your next great binge watch? With so many subscription options out there for new and classic TV shows, family entertainment, and the hottest summer movies, choosing exactly which services to subscribe to can feel like an overwhelming task. We're here to break down which services offer the biggest blockbusters, most binge-worthy series, and most impressive catalogs of the classics, so you'll be covered whether you're looking for a new movie for an at-home date night, something to entertain the kids on a rainy summer day, or your next comfort re-watch. So kick back, relax, maybe even toast it off with a bottle of wine, and be entertained this summer.

Streaming content is always changing. Can anyone even remember what app you need to download to watch The Office these days? While we can't promise availability of individual shows and movies won't change by the time you read this, we can provide a breakdown of the types of offerings you can expect from each of the big streamers to help make the best decisions for your subscription stash.

Best for the Biggest Movies: HBO Max

The Suicide Squad on HBO Max

HBO Max made big waves when they announced that all new Warner Bros. titles for 2021 would debut simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. This means you could spend your Saturday nights this summer streaming hits like In the Heights, No Sudden Move and The Suicide Squad without having to pay any additional fees for premium titles, or check out classics like Clueless and Scream. If TV is more you're thing, HBO Max is also the place to catch up on prestige HBO series like Hacks and Mare of Eastown. It's also the only place to stream Friends, in case you're ready for yet another re-watch.

The Cost: $9.99 per month or $14.99 for ad-free

Best for Comfort TV: Peacock

The Office on Peacock

NBC's Peacock boasts an impressive catalog of classic  sitcoms including The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family, but has also been gaining buzz for original comedy series such as Girls5Eva and Rutherford Falls on the paid version of the service. While Peacock hasn't gotten into the original movie business yet, tons of movies ranging from Bridesmaids to The Bourne Identity are available to watch.

The Cost: A portion of the site is available for free, but a Peacock Premium subscription unlocks everything for $4.99 per month, or a Peacock Premium Plus subscription will give your an ad-free experience for $9.99 per month.

Fancy a refreshing beverage to pair with your streaming? For a limited time, Winc is offering an exclusive deal to get 4 bottles of wine for $29.99 plus 3 months of Peacock Premium unlocked at no additional cost!

Best for Reality TV Fans: Paramount+

Big Brother on Paramount Plus

Formerly known as CBS All Access, Paramount Plus brings together content from Viacom-owned TV channels CBS, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and Smithsonian Channel. This is the service you need if you want to binge reality faves like Big Brother, Love Island, RuPaul's Drag Race, and Teen Mom 2. But don't overlook their scripted fare! Paramount Plus offers some truly original hidden gems that you couldn't find on broadcast TV like the addictive drama Why Women Kill, the outrageous legal drama The Good Fight, the adults-only iCarly revival and several new series set in the Star Trek universe.

The Cost: Following a 2-week free trial, you can subscribe to Paramount Plus for $4.99 per month or $9.99 for an ad-free version.

Best for the Whole Family: Disney+

Luca on Disney+

It should surprise absolutely no one that Disney+ offers the biggest, most in-demand movies and series your family will want to watch this summer, from Pixar's latest Luca to the Marvel blockbuster Black Widow to the latest season of the teen hit High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, on top of their already massive library of classics from the Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic brands. If you can get your kid to turn off Raya and the Last Dragon for a few minutes, it's fun to scroll through the app to find old forgotten favorites like the original Pete's Dragon or Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken.

The Cost: Plans start at $8.00 per month, with an option to bundle Hulu and ESPN+ for $14.00 per month, and $20.00 per month for ad-free versions of Hulu and ESPN+. Certain movies that are being simultaneously released in theaters, including Cruella and Black Widow, are temporarily only offered with Premier Access for $29.99 which includes unlimited viewings. These titles will later be added as part of the regular Disney+ library.

Best for Prestige TV: Apple TV+

Ted Lasso on Apple TV+

Unlike their competitors, Apple TV+ didn't lure subscribers in with massive libraries of beloved old TV shows. Instead, they took a gamble on only offering original series. So while you won't be able to login and binge a sitcom you grew up with, you'll be able to stay current on a new crop of buzzworthy, star-studded, award-winning series that everyone's talking about, like Ted Lasso and The Morning Show.

The Cost: $4.00 per month following a 2-week free trial.

Best for Getting Caught Up: Hulu and Amazon Prime Video

Maybe you aren't looking for the latest hits to stream this summer. Maybe you're embarrassed because you still haven't seen Fleabag yet, no matter how much you've been meaning to get to it. While they may not be producing the biggest blockbusters this summer, both Hulu and Amazon Prime Video are affordable subscriptions offering tons of original and vintage programming you'll enjoy catching up on anytime, including The Handmaid's Tale and all your favorite FX series on Hulu, and critical favorites like Fleabag and The Underground Railroad on Amazon.

The Cost: Hulu packages range from $5.99 per month for their ad-supported platform to $64.99 per month for a package that includes live TV. Amazon Prime Video is included with an Amazon Prime membership for $119.00 pear year.


Best to Be On Top of the Next Big Thing: Netflix

Never Have I Ever on Netflix

You just never know when the next big Netflix craze is going to hit. (I mean, did anyone see The Queen's Gambit coming last summer?) The king of streamers likes to keep us on our toes, always refreshing our recommendations hoping we'll find the next To All the Boys I've Loved Before or The Witcher. This summer, a Netflix subscription will guarantee you'll get to see the next season of last summer's breakout comedy Never Have I Ever, the innovative comedy special Bo Burnham: Inside, the horror anthology Fear Street, and the all-star female action flick Gunpowder Milkshake. We can't wait to find our next obsession.

The Cost: Plans start at $8.99 per month.


Have you tried any of these streaming subscriptions? Or do you have a favorite we didn't mention? Head to the comments section to let us know what you'll be watching this summer!


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Erin Pullmann
Erin Pullmann
When Erin finds a new box she loves, she wants the world to share her joy, especially if it includes something sparkly. Her non-subscription addictions include knitting, reading, baking, running and dancing with her husband and daughter.

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Oh, another great service if you like “cozy” murder mysteries is AcornTV. It touts itself as a “British tv” streaming service, so it has shows like Rosemary & Thyme, but it also has Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (and its sequel, Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries) and long-running Canadian series Murdoch Mysteries. All are great for binge watching, comfort TV.

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The other Lee

Britbox is really good too. I think they have more content than Acorn. I have tried both and am currently subscribed just to Britbox. They recently had a special for $39 for one year.

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My summertime viewing recs:

HBO Max: Lovecraft Country! A young man returning from the war in Korea goes looking for his missing father, heading straight into the “here there be monsters” portion of the map. Although not picked up for a second season by HBO, this “limited series” just garnered a whopping EIGHTEEN Emmy nominations! I’m currently participating in weekly viewings at a friend’s house.

Peacock: Psych! A man with an eidetic memory pretends to be psychic to solve crime. This month marks the 15th anniversary of the show’s premiere, and the lighthearted goofiness of the show is as welcome as ever.

Paramount+: RuPaul’s Drag Race! A reality competition show in which drag queens compete for a crown & a cash prize. I believe Paramount has all seasons of this streaming, which is kind of a big deal, since it used to be nearly impossible to view the first couple seasons, and those are still the best ones, IMO. All Stars Season 6 is currently airing new episodes weekly.

Disney+: Teen Beach Movie is a made-for-cable parody of those 1950’s surf movies. A high school couple get transported into a favorite musical. Naturally, this sets the plot awry, and they have to try & fix it before the movie ends & the evil scientist blows up the beach. Very cute.

Hulu: Killing Eve! A paper-pushing government employee gets caught up in the world of espionage, and ends up in a cat-and-mouse game with a world-class assassin. This is a twisty show with a dark sense of humor. Very sexy.

Amazon Prime; Chuck! A Stanford washout accidentally downloads a bunch of government secrets into his brain. This is more a parody of spy dramas. Also has a lot of romcom vibes, and since Chuck’s “cover” job involves him working at a Best-Buy-type store, anyone who has ever worked retail might also get a kick out of this.

Netflix: Nailed It! The latest series to capitalize on the hilarity of bad cooks, Nailed It! is similar to the Great British Bakeoff: contestants are given a recipe to follow, and left to their own devices. There are 3 judges every episode: comedian Nicole Byer (the host), pastry chef/chocolatier Jacques Torres, & a celebrity guest judge. Nicole Byer’s sense of humor suffuses the show with a chaotic energy beyond even what the bad cooks can provide, and it’s delightful to see a classically trained chef with a legit serious career go along with the wacky hijinks.

Another great streaming service is Crunchyroll, which has, like, ALL the anime. I don’t watch a whole lot of anime, but my sister does & definitely gets her money’s worth out of the subscription. We are currently watching My Hero Academia together.

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Erin Pullmann

These are some excellent recs! Chuck is one of my favorite shows of all time 🙂

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I used to go to every Chuck panel with the cast at San Diego Comic Con, and since there’s been no SDCC for 2 years, I’m feeling especially nostalgic!