What’s new on Netflix, you ask? How about a too-fast-for-love, no-holds-barred biopic on Motley Crue, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut, Ricky Gervais deciding to tell folks what’s really on his mind (uh-oh) and even more Arrested Development? Or how about the scoop on what’s going on over at Hulu, like Aidy Bryant’s breakthrough sadcom on body positivity? Or maybe Amazon Prime is more your jam, in which case you’ll be happy to hear that a new series based on a 2011 killer-waif movie and a conspiracy thriller starring Kate Beckinsale is heading your way. Here’s what you’ll be streaming over the next month. (Our network and cable-TV recommendations can be found here.)
The Act (Hulu, Mar. 20th)
America, your unquenchable thirst for true crime programming has precipitated this anthology series that will focus on one high-profile case per season. (Wait, aren’t there already shows on networks and basic cable channels that do this as well? Shhh, be quiet now.) First up: The sad tale of Gypsy Blanchard, brought before the courts for killing her own mother, Dee Dee. Maybe her many illnesses may had something to do with this heinous act of violence? (Google “munchausen syndrome by proxy.”) Joey King portrays the young defendant opposite Patricia Arquette as mommy dearest. Should be a properly salacious, shocking and scandalizing account.
After Life (Netflix, Mar. 8th)
The latest series from professional button-pusher Ricky Gervais imagines a man with no regard for the people around him, who says and does whatever he pleases irrespective of who it might offend. (So, it’s the closest thing we’ll get from him to an autobiopic.) As Tony, he has it all made — until his wife’s sudden death from cancer completely undoes him, flushing all the joy out of his life. He goes Howard Beale and decides he’s not going to take it anymore, relaying every last impolite thought that passes through his head in an effort to feel something, anything again. But what starts as a bleak existential anti-comedy softens into something more hopeful as Tony learns that life may be worth living after all.
Arrested Development, Season 5B (Netflix, Mar. 15th)
Yes, the lauded meta-sitcom returns for the second part of its latest season; yes, we understand if, due to bad press, behind-the-scenes drama and that still-cringeworthy group interview, the bloom is off the Bluth rose a bit. This back half finds Buster going on trial for murder [cue dramatic musical flourish], the family faces a few hiccups regarding their plan to build a border wall [cue extremely topical reference] and per a press release, the “gay mafia” somehow plays a part [cue headscratching and general confusion].
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Netflix, Mar. 1st)
For his directorial debut, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) adapts William Kamkwamba’s memoir of his extraordinary boyhood in the impoverished nation of Malawi. His village teeters on the brink of collapse due to an unforgiving drought. Our hero (Maxwell Simba) has designed blueprints for a crude water pump that could bring life back to their land; a scheming government representative, however, has plans of his own. Ejiofor does double duty as the lad’s stern father. Prep for uplift.
Catastrophe, Season 4 (Amazon, Mar. 15th)
The chemistry between stars Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney remains this comedy’s north star, though the times, they are a-changing for our screen couple. For example: Rob is back in Alcoholics Anonymous and intends on doing it right this time; and Sharon’s now has cholesterol issues to deal with, facing a diagnosis of her body as being “filled with meatballs and margarine.” But this is still the same ol’ Catastrophe that’s turned the British show into a bona fide hit on both sides of the pond. If a guy can’t make a lighthearted joke about the arrival of children signaling the end of your life and then try to have sex with his wife while wearing a neckbrace, what’s the point of anything, really?
The Dirt (Netflix, Mar. 22nd)
Never mind Bohemian Rhapsody; what you want — nay, need — is the retelling of Mötley Crüe’s debauchery-filled rise and fall. The tell-all book on which this film is based remains one of the most staggeringly hedonistic chronicles of the era, a time when men drank and snorted and shagged until they could no longer move. Daniel Webber, Iwan Rheon, Douglas Booth and none other than Machine Gun Kelly embraced the powers of hairspray to play the arena-filling hellraisers, Armed with kickin’ lixx and skin-tight leopard-print spandex. Devils, you will be shouted at.
Hanna (Amazon, Mar. 29th)
Remember Joe Wright’s 2011 film Hanna? It cast a young Saoirse Ronan as a junior assassin trekking across the wilds of Finland. This series-length adaptation doesn’t mess with a good thing, recasting the central role (up-and-comer Esme Creed-Miles) without altering much of the premise beyond the setting. In America, Hanna and her extreme survivalist father (Joel Kinnaman) must evade capture by an off-the-books CIA agent (Mireille Enos … so yes, it’s an unofficial Killing reunion) who may not have their best interests at heart. No soundtrack from the Chemical Brothers this time around, but Amazon has apparently spared no expense on the relentless, bone-crunching action scenes.
Juanita (Netflix, Mar. 8th)
Alfre Woodard is a woman fed up with her irresponsible grown children, her thankless hospital job and the sorry excuses for men in her life. So of course she plots a getaway to get her groove back, though this particular round of Eat Pray Love roleplay brings her to less-than-exotic Butte, Montana and employed at a local diner. Anyone who’s felt trapped in their own life, who’s had to accept less than they felt they deserved, who’s made do with fantasizing about Blair Underwood instead of actually dating — boy, do we have a show for you.
Shrill (Hulu, Mar. 15th)
Aidy Bryant leads the charge in this adaptation of Lindy West’s memoir about a woman going nowhere — in therapy, in her relationship with a douchebag, in her job under a condescending editor with zero potential for advancement. Luckily, she’s about to go on an odyssey of self-acceptance and empowerment. Hey, judgemental world! [Extends middle finger]. Bryant has been a key utility player on SNL for years now, but this could be the show that makes her a star.
The Widow (Amazon, Mar. 1st)
A plane crashes in the Congo. While the authorities presume everyone has perished, there’s one body they can’t account for. It belongs to the husband of Georgia Wells (Kate Beckinsale), who becomes consumed by a single-minded obsession with uncovering the full story of what happened. Because, well, it’s starting to look like rumors of her husband’s death have been greatly exaggerated. And also, that crashing in the Congo was no coincidence. Oh, and that the plane didn’t go down due to engine failure. We smell a conspiracy thriller!