With the returning flowers come returning series: Both Bill Hader’s Barry and Starz’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink fantasy American Gods return for their sophomore runs; Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti are consolidating even more power as Billions goes for Round Four; and Gina Rodriguez gets ready for her final season as the not-so-virginal-anymore Jane the Virgin. And that’s not taking into account cult-hits-in-the-making Now Apocalypse and What We Do in the Shadows coming down the pike. Or what may be the most controversial music-related documentary in decades. Here’s what you need to tune into this month. (Our streaming recommendations can be found here.)
American Gods, Season 2 (Starz, Mar. 10th)
Showrunners Michael Green and Bryan Fuller pulled out after the first season; cast members Kristin Chenoweth and Gillian Anderson went with them. Plus novelist Neil Gaiman has been focused on the other adaptation of his writing currently in the works. No matter to Starz, which is mounting the sophomore installment of this bizarre mythological epic. Ian McShane’s grizzled deity Mr. Wednesday resumes his quest to prepare for a clash between the old gods and new that will decide the fate of the universe, hoping to recruit the show’s assorted leprechauns and zombies and vagina-goddesses. One of the few shows in which caveat that “anything can happen” rings 100-percent true.
Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul (CBS, Mar. 10th)
Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Patti LaBelle (!), Common, Janelle Monáe — everyone who’s anyone will show up to pay their respects during this musical salute to Aretha Franklin’s incomparable catalogue. Tyler Perry steps in as host for a night of reverent remembrances, stirring speeches about the Queen of Soul’s impact and legacy, and plenty of performances breathing thunderous life back into her greatest hits.
Barry, Season 2 (HBO, Mar. 31st)
Like many actors starting out, Barry Berkman’s having trouble finding his “type” and dreads the prospect of auditioning. Unlike his fellow performers, he’s got to cover up his murder of a police investigator while navigating a tense new partnership with an international drug cartel. Series creator Bill Hader returns as the most neurotic assassin in L.A.’s theater scene, supported by acting coach Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) at one job and upbeat killer NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) at the other. He’ll continue to wrestle with those big existential questions of identity, morality and purpose while evading jail or worse, hopefully leaving a little time to study his sides.
Billions, Season 4 (Showtime, Mar. 17th)
Can it be true? After spitting every obscenity in the book — not to mention a few newly invented ones — at one another over the past three seasons, mortal nemeses Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) have reached a ceasefire. Oh, they’re only joining forces for the sake of revenge, mind you, against their common enemy: a preening, malicious magnate played by guest star John Malkovich. Still, this should be a nice, juicy season. Expect the lifestyles of the rich and soulless to reach a fresh high of excess (and, undoubtedly, scenery-chewing).
The Case Against Adnan Syed (HBO, Mar. 10th)
This nonfiction series picks up where Serial left off, taking up the cause of the wrongfully convicted (or was he?) Adnan Syed as he heads to retrial. He was imprisoned as a teen on murder charges in 2000, but Sarah Koenig’s hit podcast found enough holes in the state’s arguments to reopen the investigation. Amy Berg’s four-part documentary follows the defense team’s trenchant efforts to pinpoint the truth once for all, combing through each document page by page and each video frame by frame.
Jane the Virgin: The Final Season (The CW, Mar. 27th)
After five years and several box sets’ worth of telenovela twists, the saga of Jane Villanueva is approaching a conclusion. Last season wound up with the surprise reappearance of a man from Jane’s past, and the new episodes will sort through the aftermath of his shocking arrival. Also on deck: happy endings for Jane’s assorted family members; a resolution for her triangular love life once and for all; and the reveal of the much-murmured-about identity of the show’s narrator. Not to mention that star Gina Rodriguez will get behind the camera to direct at least one of the episodes. It’s the end of an era.
John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky (A&E, Mar. 11th)
In 1971, at the forefront of the peace movement and deep in the throes of love with Yoko Ono, John Lennon recorded the album widely regarded as the magnum opus of his solo career. This in-depth documentary covers the passion and politics of this chapter in the legend’s life with an unprecedented level of access. In addition to new archival footage of interviews with Lennon himself, the film collects soundbites from all the key figures in his orbit: Ono, Lennon’s son Julian, photographer David Bailey, even the couple’s former personal assistant Dan Richter. For the immersive viewing experience, drag your bed into whichever room contains your television and watch from there.
Leaving Neverland (HBO, Mar. 3rd)
The word “harrowing” got a lot of use at the Sundance premiere of this documentary about Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck. In their childhood years, the two men caught the attention of Michael Jackson. Friendships were forged. Then, according to them, things took a turn. Dan Reed’s film takes down their stomach-turning account of surviving sexual abuse at Jackson’s palatial Neverland Ranch that spanned years and scarred the rest of the boys’ lives. The film strives to close the book on a case marked by tragedy of both intimate and national proportions. And it may very well do so.
Now Apocalypse (Starz, Mar. 10th)
New Queer Cinema legend Gregg Araki has spent the past few years working on other people’s television. (Red Oaks! Riverdale! 13 Reasons Why!) But in his first series as creator, the director gets to tick all his trademark boxes from the big-screen days: wanton sexuality, generous drug use, writing fluent in the dialect of camp, an atmosphere of free-floating paranoia. (Though that could just be a bit of bad weed.) A bunch of Los Angeles bohemians scramble to figure out their jobs and love lives while a conspiracy swirls around them, all with a vibe best described by the choice line, “It’s so fairytale-slash-vintage-gay-porn!” Enough said.
What We Do in the Shadows (FX, Mar. 27th)
Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s cult-classic mockumentary about vampire roomies living Down Under gets the series treatment in this re-imagining that swaps the setting for New York City. The ancient Nandor (Kayvan Novak), hot-tempered Laszlo (Matt Berry) and bemused Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) bicker about who’ll wash the dishes in between feeding frenzies. There’s also Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), the mild-mannered LARPing enthusiast conscripted into an eternity of servitude by Nandor. Did you love the movie? You’ll dig this. If not? You can (blood)suck it.