This April, it’s the big event series are guaranteed to generate some headlines: Hulu adapts a landmark work of literature with a chilling modern relevance, while Netflix puts white America on blast and gets the world’s preeminent Science Guy back on the airwaves where he belongs. Those not in the mood to binge can catch up with (or revisit, or re-revisit, or re-re-revisit) 2016’s most engrossing South Korean thriller on Amazon, or check in with their old friends Thelma and/or Louise. It’s a great time to have a wi-fi hookup, but then, when has that ever been untrue? Here are the 10 things you should kick to the top of your streaming queue over the next month.
American Playboy (Amazon, Apr. 7th)
Hugh Hefner may be history’s most famous horndog, but this quasi-documentary miniseries gets at the man behind the cavalcade of breasts. With a mix of archival footage, talking-head interviews and dramatized reenactments (New Zealand import Matt Whelan plays the smut magnate), this biography tracks Hefner’s long battle to defend free expression and civil rights against J. Edgar Hoover. The man himself provides plenty of off-color commentary, and viewers looking for more skin than socio-political perspectives will be pleased with the raunchy dramatic-recreation segments. If anyone asks, just tell them you’re watching it for the articles.
Bill Nye Saves the World (Netflix, Apr. 21st)
Everyone’s favorite TV scientist returns for more edu-tainment, turning his focus to the science of sex – someone has grown up since their PBS days, it seems! Also on deck: what GMOs are and whether we should be terrified of them, and how long Earth’s got left until global warming renders it an arid, unlivable hellscape. To make the lessons go down easier, he’ll be joined by a rotating cast of celebrity cohosts including – try not to get whiplash – Karlie Kloss, Zach Braff, Tim Gunn, Steve Aoki and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Rachel Bloom. Mother Earth needs a hero right now, and the closest thing we’ve got to Captain Planet is Bill. (Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!)
Dear White People (Netflix, Apr. 28th)
A helluva lot has happened in the three years since director Justin Simien unveiled his scathing campus-racism satire at Sundance. He returns to a much Trumpier world with this small-screen extension – one in which the same gross displays of prejudice and insensitivity are still playing out in colleges across America, and in which social-activist movements are making a big noise about big-picture issues. Keep an eye out for Logan Browning, who takes on the fiery DJ role that Tess Thompson played in the movie; she’s the show’s conscience, its comic apex predator and its crazy-sexy-cool breakout star.
Dimension 404 (Hulu, Apr. 4th)
It will be a little while before we get more Black Mirror episodes, so why not scratch your sci-fi anthology itch with this wackier alternative? The fan-favorite webseries gets a star-studded expansion from Hulu, with Joel McHale, Megan Mullaly, Lea Michele, Patton Oswalt and Sarah Hyland filling out the assorted tales from inside an online twilight zone. While the beloved British import places a focus on technology, each of these self-contained episodes specifically touches upon the advent of the Internet, and how it could go horribly awry. Be forewarned: Should your video start to glitch out while streaming, don’t reset your router. That may very well be part of it.
The Handmaiden (Amazon, Apr. 13th)
South Korean master Park Chan-wook (of Oldboy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance notoriety) kicked every aspect of his signature style into overdrive for this labyrinthine drama of carnality and passion. If you dig his fixation on betrayal and revenge, then enjoy the twisty double-crosses, triple-crosses, and quadruple-cross, we’ll throw in some mannequin sex and a show-stopping Sapphic centerpiece as a bonus. This will be many folks’ first chance to see one of 2016’s finest films.You’re welcome.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, Apr. 26th)
Imagine, if you will, a dystopian America in which a small group of old white men exert control over women’s reproductive capabilities. Yes, ok, fine – imagine an even worse version of that. Margaret Atwood’s novel about a future society ruled by militarized misogyny gets more creepily prescient every year, and Hulu’s glossy adaptation couldn’t have come at a more receptive moment. The buzzy, visually striking series features a deep lineup of TV’s best, including Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss, Orange Is the New Black alumni Samira Wiley and Madeline Brewer, The Leftovers‘ Ann Dowd, and Rory Gilmore herself, Alexis Bledel. Try to remember that you’re watching a work of fiction, and not a CNN broadcast or State of the Union address.
Louis C.K.: 2017 (Netflix, Apr. 4th)
Netflix continues their systematic takeover of stand-up comedy with yet another new special from a big-league talent, as Louis C.K. drops a new hour of material on the usual topics of fatherhood, dating after divorce and the joys of watching your body break down in middle age. The reactions from the tour during which this special was recorded were overwhelmingly positive (relative even to the raves he usually garners), so this should get America well on its way to forgiving the comedian for making us wait an eternity for new Louie episodes.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Netflix, Apr. 14th)
The streaming service’s “just bring back everything people like” doctrine continues apace with this resurrection of the cult B-movie heckling program. The snarky song remains the same – spaceman Jonah (Jonah Ray, taking over the lead role from creator Joel Hodgson) and his automaton pals Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo and Gypsy crack wise over the forgotten schlock cinema – with new additions to the cast in Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt. A working knowledge of the show’s mythology and assorted in-jokes (Big McLargehuge, anyone?) will definitely make watching the new episodes a richer experience.
Thelma and Louise (Hulu, Apr. 1st)
Buddy movies don’t get more slyly feminist than Ridley Scott’s road trip flick, in which our fast-friend heroines (Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis) cut down the chauvinist pigs, take control of their lives and become Nineties’ icons. (That Brad Pitt kid had quite a future in store) You all remember the image of the ladies flying their Thunderbird over a cliff and into oblivion, but don’t call it a downer ending. This is actually a moment of triumph: In a world where men conspire to minimize and control women, living – and dying – on your own terms is a victory in itself.Which, when you watch it now, takes on a whole other level of resonance.
Win It All (Netflix, Apr. 7th)
Prolific indie director Joe Swanberg partners with Netflix once again (see Easy) for a downtempo character sketch of a degenerate gambler (regular collaborator Jake Johnson) on what could be the last losing streak of his life. A shady friend left a duffel bag of cash at his place – what’s he supposed to do, not blow it on bad wagers at the racetrack?!? Now Johnson’s sad sack has to scramble to recover the missing money before something grim happens to his patellas. Keegan-Michael Key and Joe Lo Truglio costar in this typically Swanbergian mix of nonchalant comedy and introspective drama.