Imagine, if you will, a month of streaming programming covering a lot of ground by tone and genre. There’s the big re-launch of The Twilight Zone under the stewardship of one Jordan Peele, and another season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has been conjured. Netflix has a Swedish court procedural revolving around a mass shooting. Comedians offering vastly different perspectives on millennial life — one’s a semi-devout Muslim, the other is a gay man living with cerebral palsy — claim their own spotlight. Plus Brie Larson gets a turn in the director’s chair. Here’s your must-stream TV guide for April. (You can check out our network-to-cable TV selections for the month here.)
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Season 2 (Netflix, Apr. 5th)
The Riverdale set made Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) an overnight sensation in her first season, thanks to the same potent combination of stylized production design and teen hormones. When we saw her last, she was signing her name in the Book of Beasts, accepting her baptism of darkness and generally getting in touch with her witchier side. (Yay?) So now it’s time to do battle with a demon and try her hand at raising the dead, while choosing between her dueling love interests Harvey (Ross Lynch) and Nick (Gavin Leatherwood). And from the Peter Pan-collared dresses to the vintage pop hits, the show’s ineffable sense of hipness is back with a vengeance.
Our Planet (Netflix, Apr. 5th)
Hosting Planet Earth must have done monster numbers for Netflix, because they hired the exact same team — including everyone’s favorite silken-voiced nature-doc narrator, Sir David Attenborough — to make the exact same thing. Not that assembling a panoramic high-def survey of the millions of minuscule miracles playing out on our big blue marble every day is an easy task. Marvel as a lioness slurps Serengeti water, gasp as narwhals dart through frigid Arctic waters and squeal with delight as a newborn moose takes its first steps. Plus: penguins. Lots and lots of penguins!
Quicksand (Netflix, Apr. 5th)
In the wake of a mass shooting, the bereaved need somewhere to put their anger. Maja Norberg (Hanna Ardéhn) provides a suitable scapegoat in the wake of an attack on her prep school in Stockholm’s ritzy Djursholm neighborhood, but whether she’s actually at fault is another question entirely. As she withstands the aggressive murder trial giving shape to this ice-cold crime drama, she gradually fills in the details of that fateful day. How did she end up on the hot seat? Did she do it? And what does her boyfriend Sebastian (Felix Sandman) have to do with this tragedy?
Ramy (Hulu, Apr. 19th)
Every stand-up comedian dreams of the Seinfeld deal: a TV show about the humorous indignities of their own life, named after them. But Ramy Youssef’s series goes past simply visualizing his onstage routines, making more thoughtful inquests into his identity as a young Muslim in an America facing its own spiritual crisis. Ramy (the character) has to reconcile his religion and his generational affiliation with millennials — and the former’s rigid moral code with the latter’s reassurance that nothing means anything — while navigating life in a Jersey suburb. Also, the great Hiam Abbass (Succession) plays his mom. Someone tell Albert Brooks we actually did find comedy in the Muslim world.
Someone Great (Netflix, Apr. 19th)
Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) just landed the perfect music journalism gig out in San Francisco. All she needed to do was pack up her boyfriend (Lakeith Stanfield) and start her new life. Except that he refuses to relocate; a long-distance relationship is also a no-go. So to avoid a downward spiral of despair, Jenny throws herself into one last debauched east-coast evening out with her girls (Brittany Snow and DeWanda Wise), leading to an MDMA-laced adventure through the city that never sleeps. This comedy should pair well with rosé wine and the supportive company of your best friends.
Special (Netflix, Apr. 12th)
Ryan O’Connell will not be made into a victim. For a while, he’d let people believe that the cerebral palsy he’d been born with was the result of a car crash; better to be a survivor than disabled, he thought. The journey of self-reclamation that led to the proud gay man coming out for a second time — from the so-called “disability closet” — forms the basis for this loosely autobiographical comedy. You thought you had a tough time getting dinner with a crush? O’Connell learned how to make orthotics work as part of a cute outfit.
The Tick, Season 2 (Amazon Prime, Apr. 5th)
Amazon released the pilot of this off-kilter superhero series back in 2016; unveiled the first six episodes of the freshman season in 2017; and released the back half in 2018. Congratulations, extremely patient fanbase: It’s 2019 and you may now eagerly greet the continuation of the kookiest show in blue tights. The quip-prone Tick (Peter Serafinowicz) and his trusty charge Arthur (Griffin Newman) are back to purge the streets of crime, but they’ve got a few problems. There’s a new villain in town, though his identity remains a mystery. They’ve also got some competition in the day-saving game. And on top of that, they have to re-convince their government handlers that they still deserve their jobs. Uh-oh.
The Twilight Zone (CBS All Access, Apr. 1st)
You’ve got horror cinema’s most exciting new talent — that would be Jordan Peele, coming in hot off the release of Us — shepherding a revival of the single greatest anthology in TV history, joined by a cast well-stocked with big names: Seth Rogen, John Cho, Adam Scott, Zazie Beetz, Steven Yeun, Kumail Nanjiani. Of course the Rod Serling of today has kept all twists under his hat, but the tantalizing trailer teased a clock capable of turning back time, a missing dog that may or may not exist and perhaps an evil smartphone. Maybe it’s time to start sleeping with the night-light on again.
Ultraman (Netflix, Apr. 1st)
This anime adapts the classic Japanese tokusatsu TV series (the sci-fi tradition which brought us such masked heroes as Kamen Rider and the Power Rangers) for our modern times with a slicker, faster aesthetic. Freed by the animation medium, the heroic exploits of mecha-powered defender Shinjiro take on an unprecedented grandeur, with bigger explosions and more futuristic tech. He must learn the ways of Ultraman from his father, the previous holder of the title, if he hopes to stand a chance against the one-eyed alien menace encroaching on their beloved planet. Nothing that some compressed-energy plasma blasts can’t take care of.
Unicorn Store (Netflix, Apr. 5th)
Before she slapped on the spandex as Captain Marvel, Brie Larson gave the role of director a whirl. She pulls double duty as Kit, a development-arrested twentysomething who won’t let the cruelty of the adult world sully her juvenile innocence. A magical shopkeeper (played by Samuel L. Jackson, natch) introduces her to a real live unicorn, and from there, the plot slips further into fantasy. An intriguing side project from Hollywood’s newest A-lister, this.