This month, Netflix hauls out some comedy-special big guns: the return of Carol Burnett to TV; a new special by recent SNL host/current it-funnyman John Mulaney; and a variety-hour-style showcase for the double act of Steve Martin and Martin Short (who, in the spirit of celebrity couples a la Brangelina, we’re dubbing Steve Martin-Short.) All this, plus a new season of Dear White People and the return of action-movie godhead John Woo! Also: Amazon will debut two new series about young women not to be trifled with; and Hulu moves to lock down the youth viewership with a gambit fueled by social media. Here’s what you’ll be streaming this May. (For you good ol’ fashioned TV options this month, click here.)
All Night (Hulu, May 11th)
In an effort to insulate students from drugs and the demon liquor, high schools hold all-night lock-in parties after graduation. (So you think this has stopped teens from smuggling in Zip-Loc baggies full of gutter vodka, huh? Riiiiight.) During one such shindig, a group of friends sort through their assorted crushes before college scatters them to the four winds. As a coproduction between Hulu and AwesomenessTV, the cast list has been well-stocked with “digital influencers,” i.e. YouTube stars and other social-media hotshots. To anyone over 35, it’s a sign of the end times. For the millennial demo, here’s that next-gen Can’t Hardly Wait you ordered.
Cargo (Netflix, May 18th)
The producers of Aussie horror hit The Babadook give us another Down Under tale of survival at all costs – only this time, instead of a fairy-tale creature/rising gay icon, they’ve got zombies on deck. Martin Freeman wanders the post-apocalyptic desert, his infant daughter in two. After he’s bitten by an infected ghoul, however, he’s left with 48 hours to get her to safety before the hunger takes over. Forget Bilbo Baggins and his run on the British version of The Office; this is where Freeman makes a bid for a kinder, gentler, in-danger-of-going-full-Romero Mad Max.
Dear White People, Season 2 (Netflix, May 4th)
The trailer for the sophomore year of this blistering college-set race satire announces its wide-scale ambition through a whirlwind of buzzwords: cultural appropriation, sex and gender norms, nepotism, racist bots, conspiracy theories, the Sunken Place, salty grits, black Scientology and a practice called “pre-bating” that’s soon to be a household term. Justin Simien’s adaptation of his Sundance-winning feature successfully brought the movie’s radio-wave provocateurs, closeted muckrakers, conflicted jocks and screwy sorority sisters to the small screen. Round Two promises new hookups, more meltdowns, and of course, a fresh round of inspired dissing (“Kirkland Signature Ann Coulter” is currently the one to beat) for this semester’s course catalogue.
Diablo Guardián (Amazon Prime, May 5th)
You’re young, hot, and sick of your life in Mexico. What do you do? Steal $100,000 from your parents so you can start anew in La Manzana Grande. This Spanish-language series follows Violetta (Paulina Gaitan) across the border to New York, where she quickly burns through her cash and resorts to drastic measures to make ends meet. Sex work and drugs follow, but Violetta’s major qualm is with a pair of men in her life that insist on trying to control her: a writer who goes by the handle “Pig,” and the sinister Nefastofeles. (Hmm, where have we heard that name before?) She’ll have to keep her wits about her if she wants to escape with her life and her independence.
An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life (Netflix, May 25th)
It’s a comedic clash of the titans as Martin Short and Steve Martin team up for a night of music, laughter, and shameless self-aggrandizement. The masters of faux-smarm toured around America last winter with a live show styled after the variety programs of their youth – now Netflix brings the whole shebang into your living room. Between new jokes, sketches and the occasional number on guitar, the legends reminisce about SNL hijinks and their strangest brushes with fame. They’ve each got enough anecdotes to fill a book, and having already done that, this special confirms that they’re not going to run out any time soon. They are what you might call two wild and crazy … oh, never mind.
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City (Netflix, May 1st)
The former SNL head writer has been everywhere as of late, from laying waste to Broadway alongside Nick Kroll with their two-man show Oh, Hello! to killing it as the go-to MC for left-of-center awards shows. This concert film finds the tall, lanky drink of water tackling the usual topics – politics, family, work – while one cutting routine about Trump casts him as a metaphorical horse loose in a hospital. And say, have you ever heard the one about the A-lister convinced that his profile will soon be eclipsed by that of his Instagram-famous dog?
A Little Help with Carol Burnett (Netflix, May 4th)
Kids – they can forever be counted on to say the darnedest things. Hosted by TV legend Carol Burnett, this series draws from the deep well of unwitting child hilarity for an unusual sort of talk show, in which a panel of ordinary grade schoolers dispense advice to a celebrity guest. (The lineup so far includes Lisa Kudrow, Taraji P. Henson, Finn Wolfhard and, most incredibly, DJ Khaled.) Marital squabbles, workplace awkwardness, and frenemy feuding will be solved with often-brutal honesty from the mouths of babes. No time-outs allowed.
Manhunt (Netflix, May 4th)
Alert your genre-movie buddies and Nineties nostalgists: John Woo is back! The filmmaker who’s given us the crème de la crème of Hong Kong action flicks and made John Travolta and Nic Cage swap faces returns with a remake of a 1976 Japanese movie about a framed man (Zhang Hanyu) trying to clear his name. This is vintage Woo: Bullets are, naturally, going to fly. Slo-mo shots are plentiful. There will be doves.
Motherland (Sundance Now, May 10th)
The latest comedy from Catastrophe and Divorce creator Sharon Horgan sets its sights on the trials and tribulations of single parenthood. Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin) is doing her best to balance her kids, her job and herself, but she doesn’t know how the glamorous “Alpha Mums” get it all done without your usual weekly nervous breakdown. This series may be the transatlantic cousin of SMILF, but don’t get any ideas about British stuffiness; Horgan deploys curses like a pro. And anyone who says motherhood is nothing but a miraculous blessing of maternal grace shove it up their arse.
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon Prime, May 25th)
Natalie Dormer begins her post-Game of Thrones career with this new take on Joan Lindsay’s celebrated 1967 novel. At the turn of the century, in a cloistered Australian boarding school for girls, a small group sets out for a day-trip to a notable rock formation outside the town of Victoria. When they don’t return, headmistress Hester Appleyard (Dormer) must solve the mystery of their disappearance. Why yes, a dark side of adolescence she couldn’t anticipate does come in to play! Let’s just say that fans of Peter Weir’s landmark 1975 existential Aussie-thriller version will not be disappointed.