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What to watch this weekend: Marvel’s What If…?, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and 11 more movies and shows

What to watch this weekend: What If on Disney Plus
(Image credit: Disney Plus)

If only this was a three-day weekend, because there is so much to watch. Seriously, we need more hours to take in all the new movies and TV shows on Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Apple TV Plus and other streaming services. 

This weekend’s lineup is led by the latest Marvel Disney Plus series, the animated What If…? It puts a twist on the familiar stories we’ve already seen play out in the movies. Fans will also cheer for the return of two long-running comedies, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Grace and Frankie, which begin their final seasons. 

For a different flavor, Netflix’s new documentary series Untold starts with a retrospective on the infamous 2004 NBA brawl known as Malice at the Palace. The streamer also has two very different movies — the thriller Beckett and the teen rom-com The Kissing Booth 3. 

And that’s not all: There are a ton of new TV shows and specials available on broadcast and cable. If you’ve cut the cord, just sign up for one of the best cable TV alternatives for access to your favorite channels.

Here are our picks for the new movies and TV shows to watch this weekend.

Streaming now:

What If...? (Disney Plus)

Series premiere | Episode 1 (TV-14) | Watch now
Marvel’s multiverse of madness was introduced in Loki, but is put on full display in this animated anthology series. Each episode asks the titular question to probe alternate versions of the stories we’ve already seen. The premiere ponders, “What if Peggy Carter became Captain America?” She takes the super soldier serum and becomes the Hydra-defeating hero instead of Steve Rogers who isn't voiced by Chris Evans. The second episode, which drops next Wednesday, will be an emotional one for fans, since it features the voice of the late Chadwick Boseman. In this “what if” scenario, T’Challa doesn’t become the Black Panther, but heads to space to become Star-Lord. This kind of fun, slightly zany storytelling is exactly what Marvel should be doing with its Disney Plus shows. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)

Season 8 premiere | Episode 1-2 (TV-14) | How to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine online
After last year’s protests against police brutality, Brooklyn Nine-Nine had to rethink how to approach its final season. A feel-good comedy about cops? Yikes. Not a good look. The cast and crew acknowledged the problem and trashed the four episodes that had already been written. No, the writers did not make all the characters quit the NYPD and join the post office. But the first two episodes manage to highlight the systemic injustice present in policing, while still maintaining the goofy workplace jokes and camaraderie that made Brooklyn Nine-Nine one of the best comedies of all time. 

CODA (Apple TV Plus)

Movie | 1 hr 51 min (PG-13) | Watch now
The acronym in the title stands for “child of deaf adults,” and in this case, it’s 17-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones). Living in Gloucester, Mass., Ruby interprets for her deaf parents (Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur) and deaf older brother (Daniel Durant), plus helps out with the family’s fishing business. But Ruby develops a passion for singing, which is encouraged by a music teacher. It’s something that mystifies her family and hurts them a bit — her mother asks if she like painting if they were blind. With a big choir audition coming up, Ruby feels torn between her dreams and the needs of her family. The heartwarming story, fine performances and excellent sound production made this indie a Sundance darling and are sure to carry it to more accolades during awards season.

Reservation Dogs (FX on Hulu)

Series premiere | Episodes 1-2 (TV-MA) | Watch now
Co-creator Taika Waititi leads the all-Indigenous team of writers, directors and main cast members for this half-hour comedy, which follows four Native teens in rural Oklahoma. After the death of a friend, they embark on a petty crime spree to fund an escape from their dreary home and head to sunny California. The teens dress in suits, just like the characters in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (which also inspires the show’s title). And just like the film, the first episode begins with a heist — they steal a food truck, even though they can barely drive. These aren’t bad kids; they just dream of a better life. And they’re in it together, like indigenous Goonies.

Grace and Frankie (Netflix)

Season 7 premiere | Episodes 1-4 (TV-MA) | Watch now
Well, this is a surprise! Netflix dropped the first four episodes of the final season of Grace and Frankie out of the blue. They were filmed before the pandemic shut down production, so they’ve been sitting in storage for over a year. The cast even did a virtual table read of an episode to raise money for seniors. Season 7 picks up where the sixth installment left off, as Grace and Frankie frantically search for the money they hid at the beach house. They have to evade their exes, who’ve moved in, as well as the FBI agents who arrested Grace’s ex, Nick. 

Modern Love (Amazon Prime Video)

Season 2 premiere | Episodes 1-8 (TV-MA) | Watch now
The slice-of-life romance anthology is back with eight more episodes based on the New York Times column of the same name. Like the first season, the new installments are stacked with big names: Kit Harrington, Anna Paquin, Minnie Driver are among the cast members. The seventh episode is based on an essay by actor Andrew Rannells (Girls, The Prom), who also wrote the script and directed. The stories range from a widowed doctor trying to move on with her life to a middle-school girl grappling with her sexuality. 

Untold: Malice at the Palace (Netflix)

Series premiere | Episode 1 (TV-MA) | Watch now
Each episode of the five-part docu-series focuses on a different fascinating sports story, and the first one chronicles one of the most infamous events of all time: the 2004 brawl involving players and fans during a Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers game. It started with a hard foul by Pacers star Ron Artest on Detroit’s Ben Wallace, which led to a scuffle between the two. Then, things escalated when a fan threw a drink at Artest. He went into the stands, other fans went on court and an all-out melee ensued. The incident resulted in some of the harshest penalties in the history of the NBA. Creators Maclain and Chapman Way had access to footage from 17 different cameras and interviewed players, executives and even a notable fan who took a punch.

Brand New Cherry Flavor (Netflix)

Series premiere | Episodes 1-8 (TV-MA) | Watch now
This extremely weird, trippy gross-out series stars Rosa Salazar as a woman who vomits up kittens. Yes, you read that right. Young filmmaker Lisa Nova arrives in Hollywood with big ambitions. She meets a producer (Eric Lange) who promises to help but ends up betraying her. So, she enlists a witch (Catherine Keener) to put a curse on him. But Lisa gets much more than she bargained for — like vomiting kittens — and she’s plunged into an awful hell of her own making. 

Beckett (Netflix)

Movie | 1 hr 50 min (TV-MA) | Watch now
John David Washington is in the wrong place at the wrong time —basically, the complete opposite of Tenet. He’s an American tourist on vacation with his girlfriend (Alicia Vikander) in Greece. When he sees something shouldn’t, he suddenly finds himself alone and chased by guys with guns. He goes on the run, desperate to reach the U.S. embassy, and winds up getting help from an activist (Vicky Krieps). But his escape is complicated by roiling protests in Athens triggered by the country’s financial crisis.

The Kissing Booth 3 (Netflix)

Movie | 1 hr 53 min (TV-14) | Watch now
Teen romance has enjoyed a revival thanks to hits like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth movies. This trilogy comes to a close with Elle (Joey King) facing the biggest decision of her young life: where to go to college. Should she keep her promise to best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) to go to Berkeley? Or should she venture across the country to be with boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi)? Maybe Elle should pull a Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills, 90210 and choose herself.

Star Trek: Lower Decks (Paramount Plus)

Season 2 premiere | Episode 1 (TV-MA) | Watch now
The animated series returns with the further adventures of four USS Cerritos crew members  Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), D'Vana Tendi (Noël Wells) and Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) and Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid). With Boimler’s promotion to lieutenant on the USS Titan, the remaining three are navigating their changed relationships with each other. Rutherford is also getting used to his new cyborg implant, while Mariner is still at odds with her mother, Captain Freeman.

Coming soon this weekend:

The Walking Dead (AMC Plus)

Season 11 premiere | Episode 1 (TV-MA) | Sunday, August 15 at 3 a.m. ET
The Walking Dead feels a bit like a zombie itself — the show that would never die, no matter how many main characters left. But no, this is the final season. It’s split into three parts, though, which AMC will dribble out over the next year or so. All of the episodes will debut a week early on AMC Plus, before airing on its home network. The premiere kicks off with Maggie leading a group, including nemesis Negan, on a trek to Washington, D.C. But their hostility may be the greater threat than any zombies they encounter. Meanwhile, other Alexandrians encounter a new force — setting up season 11’s big antagonist, the Commonwealth.

Heels (Starz)

Series premiere | Episode 1 (TV-MA) | Sunday, August 15 at 9 p.m. ET
Arrow alum Stephen Amell has quite a bit of experience in the world of wrestling. He puts it to good use in this family drama from creator Michael Waldron (Loki). Think Friday Night Lights, but with wrestling instead of football. Amell plays Jack Spade, a husband and father who inherits the Duffy Wrestling League from his father. He clashes — in and out of the ring — with his resentful younger brother, Ace (Alexander Ludwig), who dreams of making it to the big leagues.

Kelly Woo

Kelly covers streaming media for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.