Serial killers and cuckoo soldiers, talking birds and friendly demons — it’s an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink month in streaming programming. Hulu and Amazon have both attempted to translate a complex literary treasure for the screen, while Netflix reintroduces Zac Efron as a bloodthirsty dreamboat and turns Ali Wong and Tiffany Haddish into animated birds. Also: Ava DuVernay takes on the Central Park Five case, the notorious A.O.C. takes politics by storm and Phoebe Waller-Bridge finds religion. Check out your best streaming options for the month.
Catch-22 (Hulu, May 17th)
Any soldier deemed sufficiently unstable by a military physician may be exempted from duty … but anyone who’d request an exemption from duty must be necessarily mentally sound. Such Möbius-looped logic defines this brand-new take on Joseph Heller’s bleakly absurdist war novel, which reminds us that warfare is often defined by a bureaucratic clusterfuck of inefficiency and stupidity. Chris Abbott leads the cast as reluctant bombardier Yossarian, supported by Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie and George Clooney as his increasingly screwloose higher-ups. Don’t call them master of wars — they’re all just pawns in the game.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (Netflix, May 3rd)
Ted Bundy was a murderer, rapist, and necrophiliac — but with the dashing face of crush magnet Zac Efron, how could a girl not fall for him? The actor blends his trademark charm with an undercurrent of depravity for this biopic that zeroes in on Bundy’s longtime relationship with his faithful girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins). True-crime veteran Joe Berlinger ponders the question of what could’ve compelled her to fall under the sway of a monster, and winds up with an unsettling reminder that the most repulsive aspects of human nature can also be the most seductive.
Fleabag, Season 2 (Amazon, May 17th)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is back as the irrepressible, incorrigible Fleabag, now doing her best to stop falling back on meaningless sex as to “deflect from the screaming void” inside her “empty heart.” (Her words.) A handsome priest (Sherlock‘s Andrew Scott) with a winningly bitter sense of humor has been making that difficult for her, however, as they tease one another in a sacrilegious flirtation. Waller-Bridge has said this sophomore season of her beloved Britcom will also be its last hurrah; enjoy her winking to the camera one last time.
Good Omens (Amazon, May 31st)
Neil Gaiman personally shepherded his sprawling, intricate 1990 novel with Terry Pratchett onto the screen, condensing its stew of Judeo-Christian arcana and occult fantasy into six episodes. The antichrist is a-comin’, which poses a threat to the cushy lifestyle that angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and demon Crowley (David Tennant) enjoy in England. So they temporarily put aside their differences for the sake of forestalling Armageddon, embarking on a quest to track down the son of Satan and stop him before it’s too late. Their winding path crosses the archangel Gabriel (Jon Hamm), the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rolling as a biker gang and William Shakespeare himself.
Knock Down the House (Netflix, May 1st)
As last year’s congressional primaries drew a record number of outsider candidates from marginalized groups, documentarian Rachel Lears had the idea to track the campaigns of four contenders from start to finish. She followed Nevada’s Amy Vilela, West Virginia’s Paul Jean Swearengin, and Missouri’s Cori Bush to the bitter ends of their hard-fought races; it’s the fourth subject, however — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — who ends up giving Lears a front-row seat to a revolution in American politicking. The footage of A.O.C. getting the news that she’s won is an exhilarating short film unto itself.
L.A.’s Finest (Spectrum, May 13th)
This offshoot of the Bad Boys franchise sends Gabrielle Union’s tough-as-nails DEA agent from the second movie into the LAPD, pairing her with a rule-flouting working mom played by Jessica Alba. (FYI, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are nowhere to be seen.) Each detective will have to earn the other’s trust if they want to survive their two-woman war on Los Angeles’ ruthless drug rings. Look, sometimes you have to leave a snitch in the trunk of the car while picking up her daughter from school, right?
The Perfection (Netflix, May 24th)
Allison Williams has gotten scary-good at playing homicidal white ladies with a crazed eye on black protagonists. (Hey, you gotta find your niche!) The clutch supporting player from Get Out goes up against Dear White People star Logan Browning; she’s an orchestral musician who resents the new girl for taking her place as her former mentor’s new favorite prodigy. It’s only a matter of time until things get stabby. Call it “Black Swan with a cello.”
Tuca and Bertie (Netflix, May 3rd)
No, Bojack Horseman animator Lisa Hanawalt hasn’t had her fill of neurotic talking animals just yet. Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong voice a pair of 30-year-old birds in a sort of “avian odd couple” set-up: Haddish’s carefree toucan Tuca lives to have fun; Wong’s songbird Bertie spends her time fantasizing about a less stressful life. They’re joined by a host of guest talent from the Bojack rolodex and beyond, including John Early, Nicole Byer, Steven Yeun, Richard E. Grant, and Reggie Watts. Come for the abiding, caring female friendship; stay for the giant surrealist snake that doubles as a subway train.
When They See Us (Netflix, May 31st)
In one of the most heinous miscarriages of justice that New York has ever seen, five teens from Harlem were imprisoned for a rape that they did not commit. Dubbed the “Central Park Five” by the media and vilified by one Donald Trump, they steadfastly maintained their innocence throughout their widely-publicized trials. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay takes up the vital work of dramatizing their decades-spanning story, up to their court case against the city in the present day and its multi-million-dollar payout. Timely doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Wine Country (Netflix, May 10th)
Top up that third glass of chardonnay for this free-and-easy comedy with all your favorite comic actresses. Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Emily Spivey and Paula Pell are a group of lifelong friends taking a trip to the vineyards of California to celebrate the big five-oh. Also on deck: impromptu experience with designer drugs, fling with a handsome local, a guest appearance from Tina Fey and a comic rapport that’s as free-flowing as the vino. Enjoy all the low-stakes hanging-out of the Grown Ups films, but with substantially less-insufferable, much funnier company.