This January, a mini-deluge of U.K. productions will make their way to the fair shores of the States, including a legal thriller, an espionage thriller and a slightly-less-thrilling coming-of-age drama. Elsewhere, Netflix revives an animated favorite; gives Atlanta’s hardest MC his own platform; and gets the lowdown on the most catastrophic music festival since Altamont. And thank you, CBS, for rewarding the Star Trek faithful with a sophomore season of its All Access spinoff. Here’s what you’ll be streaming in the start of this fine, fine new year.
Black Earth Rising (Netflix, Jan. 25th)
Kate Ashby (Chewing Gum‘s Michaela Coel) has carved out a decent life for herself as a legal investigator in London, but she’s still haunted by childhood memories of the Rwandan genocide she barely escaped. When her adoptive mother Eve (Harriet Walter) takes on a case prosecuting a surviving militia leader (Noma Dumezweni) in her work as a barrister, everything Kate has spent years repressing will rise to the surface. And then there’s Michael (John Goodman), the mysterious American lawyer who’s somehow tied up in all of this. This miniseries imported from the BBC checks all the requisite courtroom thriller boxes: intrigue, secrecy, danger and an attorney who’s got a little too much skin in the game for her own good.
Butterfly (Hulu, Jan. 18th)
Though assigned male at birth, a youngster named Max (Callum Booth-Ford) has come out as female-identifying and asked to be called Maxine. His mom (Anna Friel) takes a more supportive stance. Her ex-husband (Emmett J. Scanlan) sees this as an opportunity to regain a foothold in the home once more. In this three-part miniseries also created by Friel, the parents come to blows over the same issues of tolerance, understanding, and progressivism currently making headlines in the culture beyond their home.
Carmen Sandiego (Netflix, Jan. 18th)
Everyone wants to know where in the world Carmen Sandiego is! This animated prequel series, however, delves into the globetrotting criminal mastermind’s backstory in order to answer: Who in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Gina Rodriguez voices the red-hatted thief extraordinaire, taking viewers on an animated tour criss-crossing Earth that doubles as edifying edu-taintment. (Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard voices a character known only as “Player,” suggesting an interactive component to engage kid-aged audiences.) It’s like your sixth-grade social studies class all over again.
Friends From College, Season 2 (Netflix, Jan. 11th)
This sleeper hit dramedy about the tangled social web between a group of Harvard buddies navigating adulthood in New York left off with novelist Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key) outed for his affair with Sam (Annie Parisse). We rejoin the gang one year later, as the adulterous author does penance by writing a YA book for the paycheck. His jilted wife Lisa (Cobie Smulders) seems to have dropped off the face of the planet; meanwhile, Sam makes a go at reconciling with her husband Jon (Greg Germann). The main critique lodged against this show’s first season was that all of the characters were horrible people — and it looks like creators Francesca Delbanca and Nicholas Stoller have only embraced that principle in their sophomore run.
Future Man, Season 2 (Hulu, Jan. 11th)
This idiotically inspired sci-fi comedy watched as a pair of emissaries from the future (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson) tasked unambitious janitor Josh (Josh Hutcherson) with salvaging the course of history. Turns out he really blew it; the new batch of episodes drags Josh into the dystopia he failed to prevent, i.e. an absurdist hellscape that resembles the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker team’s take on Fury Road. Executive producer Seth Rogen makes a cameo as the ominous “Susan.” (Gendered naming conventions pretty much fell apart in 2050. Go figure.)
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Netflix, Jan. 18th)
The Fyre Festival was supposed to be the event of the season: a multi-day extravaganza of art, music and tropical ragers with an ultra-exclusive guest list made up of celebrities and taut-skinned Instagram influencers. Once the attendees arrived n the Bahamas, however, they were greeted by a disaster zone of dirty mattresses, pathetic cheese sandwiches and legally actionable negligence. The boondoggle of the century gets the all-access doc treatment, courtesy of American Movie director Chris Smith. There’s a perverse pleasure in seeing misfortune befall rich people.
Informer (Amazon Prime, Jan. 11th)
Raza Shar (Nabhaan Rizwan) wouldn’t know a terrorist from Adam; the Pakistani-Brit wants nothing more than to get some schooling, make a little money and party on the weekends. But when he gets pinched on a minor possession charge, the agent handling his case (a sinister Paddy Considine) wants Raza to infiltrate a local terror cell. For those anticipating a tough withdrawal after Homeland’s upcoming final season, this could be just the thing to tide you over.
Sex Education (Netflix, Jan. 11th)
Long gone are the days when overprotective parents would shield their offspring from talk of the birds and the bees. In fact, anxiously pubescent Otis (Asa Butterfield) has the opposite problem; his therapist mom (Gillian Anderson) has been bombarding him with skin-crawlingly specific sex talks since he was old enough to cringe. As a result, he’s pushed down a lot of his libido, but troublemaker classmate Maeve (Emma Mackey) has a lucrative plan to capitalize on his unique knowledge base. Guess who starts an underground sex-ed clinic right under the school’s nose and thus promoting healthy practices with fittingly vulgar language? Explanatory diagrams included!
Star Trek: Discovery, Season 2 (CBS All Access, Jan. 17th)
This prequel/spinoff was supposedly conceived as an anthology series, joining a different crew each season to get a below-deck view of what makes the USS Discovery go. CBS didn’t feel similarly, and compromised by tweaking the ensemble and pivoting their story from year to year. (Although an anthology series is apparently going to happen as well.) The series picks up a decade before the events of the original Trek, with the Discovery having answered a distress call from the famed Enterprise at the finale of last season. That paves the way for Captain Pike (Anson Mount) to replace Jason Isaacs’ Captain Lorca, and rumors that a young Spock may rear his pointy-eared head this time around continue to circulate. May we all live long and prosper.
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike (Netflix, Jan. 18th)
Mike Render, a.k.a. Killer Mike, a.k.a. one half of Run the Jewels, a.k.a. the coldest rapper this side of Stone Mountain, has made the next logical step in his career and landed a reality show. More accurately, he’s remaking reality in his own image; each of the six episodes focuses on a quixotic effort from Atlanta’s proudest son to better his community. He’s also going to extremes that Mike himself has described in press clippings as “fucking crazy.” A mission to only spend money in black-owned businesses, an advertising campaign for a Crip-themed soft beverage, an olive branch extended to the All Lives Matter Set — it’s just a sampling of the button-pushing mayhem Mike’s got in store.