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July 11, 2024

What to stream this week: 'The Bachelorette,' 'A Family Affair' and 'The Acolyte'

As the sweltering heat rages on, viewers can cool off by watching chilling thriller 'Presumed Innocent' with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Streaming Movies
acolyte disney streaming guide Provided Image/Disney+

'The Acolyte,' available to stream on Disney+, is among this summer's crop of new shows. The latest Star Wars series follows Lee Jung-jae as Jedi Master Sol (above) as he confronts his past after a string of murders.

It's way too hot to spend time outside — and what better way to beat the sweltering mid-July heat than by cranking the AC, opening a cold beverage and turning on some good TV? 

If you're already caught up on this summer's biggest hits, like "House of the Dragon" and "The Bear," and you're too squeamish to indulge in this year's Shark Week offerings, there are still plenty of other shows and movies to check out in your free time.

RELATED: What to stream this week: 'House of the Dragon,' 'The Bear' and 'Godzilla Minus One'

Here are some of my current favorite series and films streaming on Disney+, Netflix, Hulu and Apple TV+, along with some information on the plots and the trailers:

The Acolyte

The latest entry in the Disney+ Star Wars universe, "The Acolyte" is set in the High Republic era about a century before the events of the Skywalker saga began. Respected Jedi Master Sol, an amazing addition to the franchise played by Lee Jung-jae, must reckon with incidents and people from his past — including twins Osha and Mae, each played with striking nuance by Amandla Stenberg — as the Jedi investigate a string of murders.

Especially in this new Disney+ era of Star Wars, so-called fans will find anything to complain about — and plenty have voiced their unhappiness with this show. But as a longtime fan of the franchise myself, I find the show to be enjoyable. It also sheds some much-needed light on how the seeds were planted for the downfall of the Jedi and the rise of the Sith. In particular, I found Episode 5, "Night," to feature some of the most thrilling lightsaber battling, and tragic deaths, that I've seen in recent Star Wars series. I also need to give a shoutout to Manny Jacinto, who is deliciously evil as twisted villain Qimir. "The Acolyte" premiered June 4 and has been airing new episodes each Tuesday. The finale drops July 16. 

The Bachelorette

A new season of "The Bachelorette" officially began Monday, and while we don't have much Philly-area representation this season — unlike in Joey Graziadei's season of "The Bachelor" — there will still be plenty of drama for all to enjoy. Season 21 is led by Jenn Tran, a 26-year-old physician assistant student from Miami who appeared on Graziadei's season. Tran, who is a first-generation Vietnamese American, makes franchise history as the first Asian American Bachelorette. If the season premiere is any indication, Tran's season will be full of drama, kissing, love declarations and big personalities. Tran's journey for love will also take her worldwide: She and her suitors are heading to Australia in the second episode.

In a sea of contestants who are wannabe influencers, it's particularly refreshing to see how grateful Tran is for the experience. After handing out the roses at the first ceremony, she got emotional speaking to the cameras about the disbelief she felt at the amazing opportunity to lead the franchise and find love. If you're not watching "The Bachelorette" on ABC live Monday nights from your couch — or at an Urban Saloon watch party in Fairmount — you can stream it the next day on Hulu.

Presumed Innocent 

Viewers looking for a dark, thrilling water cooler show in the style of "Mare of Easttown" — while awaiting its rumored second season — can turn to "Presumed Innocent" on Apple TV+. The whodunnit follows prosecutor Rusty Sabich, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a colleague. Along the way, secrets emerge that threaten to break apart Rusty's family. 

The legal thriller is based on a 1987 novel of the same name by Scott Turow, which also was adapted into a film in 1990 starring Harrison Ford. Apple's "Presumed Innocent" premiered June 11, and episodes have been dropping every Tuesday since. If you start binging now, you'll have time to catch up for the final two episodes of the season, which finishes July 24.

A Family Affair 

Corny yet endearing rom-coms have been in abundance over the past year — with films like "Anyone But You," "Mother of the Bride" and "The Idea of You" — and Netflix has kept the streak going with "A Family Affair." Released on June 28, the film stars Joey King as the assistant to a high-maintenance movie star (played by Zac Efron). As if tailoring to a womanizing celebrity's every unconventional need isn't stress-inducing enough, Efron's character soon falls head-over-heels for King's mom, played by Nicole Kidman. 

There is plenty of physical comedy — like a particularly funny scene where King finds her mom and boss in a compromising position and accidentally smacks her head into a wall — and jokes about how out-of-touch from reality celebrities sometimes are. There are also heartwarming meditations on family and friendships, and lots of flirty chemistry between Kidman and Efron. (And, as a huge "High School Musical" I am loving this current Zac Efron renaissance!) This movie does the typical rom-com arc — they meet-cute, fall in love, a simple misunderstanding tears them apart, they find their way back together and share a passionate kiss — so don't expect many surprises. But, it's a feel-good film full of star power and easy laughs. 

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