With many of the television shows that tided us over during the winter doldrums coming to an end, the emergence of spring brings with it not only relief from the cold, but a slew of new entertainment options as well.
Whereas warmer months used to signal a race towards winter – where reruns dominated the slate on network television – the emergence of streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have created a 365-day-a-year entertainment factory full of both established characters and newer heroes alike.
For those hard-pressed for time – or simply wanting a playbook for your entertainment – be sure not to miss out on these 12 new and returning shows.
When it’s back: April 16
Over the course of five brilliant seasons we’ve seen Selina Meyer ascend from Vice President to President – only to see her tenure as Commander in Chief as brief as any who has ever held the highest office in the land.
Season 6 promises to be a reboot of sorts for Meyer and her staff of misfits who must come to grips with the fact that for as much as they bemoaned being second in the line of succession, being cut completely out of the political sphere poses a whole new set of problems.
As the early reviews suggest, the show continues to deliver its classic insults while also exploring new working dynamics for favorites like Gary, Mike, Kent, Ben and Amy.
When it premieres: April 16
The six-part miniseries, Guerrilla, from Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), tells the story of a 1970s London couple who becomes intertwined with a political prisoner and subsequently forms a radical underground cell who set theirs sights on the Black Power Desk, a true-life, secretive counterintelligence unit within the Special Branch in the UK dedicated to crushing all forms of black activism.
The show stars Freida Pinto and Babou Ceesay as the couple in question, while Idris Elba also figures prominently on the periphery – whose last two forays into television, Luther and The Wire – are both certifiable classics.
When it’s back: April 19
People were initially skeptical when word got out that the Coen Brothers’s classic film would be getting the TV treatment. Luckily, when placed in the skillful hands of showrunner Noah Hawley, he managed to capture the feeling and spirit of the original instead of presenting a beat-for-beat adaptation which proved to be one the best movie adaptions in recent memory.
With a formula firmly in place where each new season will present new characters in different snowy locales, the consistency remains in tact thanks to biting and sadistic humor that intermingles so well with the violence.
In the third season, they’ve recruited Ewan McGregor to play not only one, but two parts; that of brothers Emmit and Ray Stussy – with McGregor donning three different facial prosthetics to achieve the sleezeball look – whose years-long feud over an inherited, valuable postage stamp ultimately leads to murder.
Set in Minnesota in 2010, four years after Season 1, Hawley has said of his fictional universe, “Our first year was set in 2006, which was before the big global event of our time, which was the financial crash in 2008. So 2006 was the sort of salad days of America, and then 2010 was the aftermath and the struggle of everyone to get back to prosperity. And I thought it was interesting if one of the characters is a real estate magnate who’s the Parking Lot King of Minnesota. What were those last two years like for him? What did he have to do to survive this financial collapse?”
Bill Nye Saves the World
When it premieres: April 21
Bill Nye’s self-titled children’s program, Bill Nye the Science Guy, has been off the air since 1999. Needless to say, many are welcoming his “facts-first” approach as a much-needed voice in an era where the Donald Trump administration has coined the term, “alternative facts.”
His new Netflix show will be more geared towards adults – more akin to a talk show format than tutorial – but will continue to deliver arguments on sex, climate change, technology, alternative medicine and other different anti-scientific claims.
Nye will also employ a slew of correspondents a la The Daily Show – calling upon the likes Karlie Kloss, Zach Braff and Tim Gunn.
“I believe that Bill Nye Saves the World promotes critical thinking, to the extent that it can,” he says. “It’s a TV show, so it’s not asking you questions that you have to respond to, but we try to provide this worldview [that suggests], ‘Don’t believe everything you hear or see, do some research, be diligent.'”
When it premieres: April 21
Girlboss is based on the life of Sophia Amoruso, an ahead-of-her-time eBay impresario – who leveraged her vintage clothing acumen into being named one of the richest self-made women in the world by Forbes – who ultimately amassed $280 million USD through her Nasty Gal imprint.
One of the major challenges that creators Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect) and Charlize Theron had ushering the project to the small screen is that most networks wanted them to make the character more likable and the show to be more appealing overall to a male audience.
However, Netflix appreciated the complexity of the “Sophia” character and will present many of the elements that appear in Amoruso’s autobiography of the same name.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
When it premieres: April 22
While it’s technically a television movie, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is simply too compelling a true story to disregard from an analysis of what is coming to television and worth watching.
With similar elements to last year’s sleeper hit, Hidden Figures – about three African American women who helped in the United States’ space race against Russia – Henrietta Lacks is also a name you haven’t heard much about despite her contributions to modern science after doctors unknowingly – and without her consent, used her tissue sample from a malignant tumor on her cervix to advance medical research which would revolutionize issues relating to AIDS, cancer, vaccine industry and in vitro fertilization.
Oprah Winfrey – who plays Lacks’ daughter in the film – remarked about the untold nature of the story, saying, “Wow, if I don’t know this story, I’m sure that there are many many other people who also don’t know.”
When it’s back: April 23
Thanks to the strong ensemble that Mike Judge compiled for his take-down of the technology sector, Silicon Valley seems to get better with each passing season.
Much in the same way that tech companies continually pivot, steal and rebrand themselves to stay ahead of the curve, so too do Richard, Dinesh, Gilfoyle, Jared and Erich need to continue to reinvent themselves – often to their own detriment.
Season four promises to have another major shakeup after Richard tells his crew that he is quitting and taking the “Pied Piper’ name with him after fighting so desperately to stay involved during season three after new investors attempted to push him out.
Network: National Geographic
When it premieres: April 25
Produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Genius is National Geographic‘s first scripted series and is based on Walter Isaacson’s critically acclaimed best-seller Einstein: His Life and Universe.
Featuring Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush, in the titular role as Albert Einstein, it also marks the TV directing debut for Ron Howard who himself earned an Academy Award for helming A Beautiful Mind.
The Handmaid’s Tale
When it premieres: April 26
When we first explored the TV shows we were most excited for back in January, The Handmaid’s Tale was near the top of our list given the current political climate which continues to threaten women’s reproductive rights. This fits in with the show’s plot which focuses on a future where the U.S. government has been overthrown by a fundamentalist regime and women are subsequently enslaved and only a handful of women – headlined by Elizabeth Moss’s portal of Offred – remain fertile enough to get pregnant.
In their review of the show, The Hollywood Reporter called it “Hulu’s first essential original” and “one of the spring’s best new shows and makes Elisabeth Moss an immediate Emmy contender.”
Dear White People
When it premieres: April 28
Based of the Sundance film of the same name which chronicled the exploits of multiple African-American students who attended a fictional Ivy league college, Justin Simien has brought his biting cultural criticism about race relations to Netflix.
Since the film came out, Simien has faced a backlash from white and black audiences alike who charged that he was a race baiter – forcing him to pen an op-ed entitled, “Why did I name it ‘Dear White People?’” amid threats that people were going to ultimately boycott the streaming service.
The TV show will pick up in the aftermath of the film’s conclusion where we beared witness to a black face party that ultimately led to a brawl between students.
But for those that watched the film, Simien reminds us that there won’t be too much exposition thrown in to “catch people up,” saying, “I’m a superhero nerd and I’m so sick of every time something gets rebooted having to watch the origin story again. I got it. He got bit by a spider. We’re good. As an audience member, I like dropping into a story world that feels like it existed before I got there and is much wider than I could get in a single viewing.”
When it’s back: May 21
It’s hard to believe that Twin Peaks first aired 27 years ago. While people often view the resurrection of programs of yesteryear as a ploy to draw in audiences with built-in connections to characters, the fact that it only lasted two seasons – and left more questions than answers – makes this one of the most highly-anticipated shows of the spring.
Rather than rebooting the show completely, season 3 from original creator, David Lynch, will pick up where the show left off.
Twenty-five years after the investigation of the murder of Laura Palmer, the FBI receives a strange dossier from an unknown sender which reawakens interest in the quarter-century-old slaying and the weird happenings in Twin Peaks.
But for those who watched the original, it’s the color and artistic flourishes which made this series a cult classic more than the traditional “whodunit” aspects which permeate modern television dramas.
House of Cards
When it’s back: May 30
You could make the argument that without House of Cards setting the standard for success for how television could segue to the digital landscape, we wouldn’t have any of the aforementioned shows on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.
The biggest change in season 5 will be the absence of creator/showrunner, Beau Willimon, who has stepped away from Hollywood for the immediate future to enact real world endeavors meant to combat the policies of President Donald Trump.
As for what to expect for season 5, we can only assume Claire’s ascent into the second-most-powerful seat in the land will continue to not only threaten Frank Underwood’s position as Commander-in-Chief, but also expose the couple to questions regarding their fidelity to one another.
There have also been rumblings/rumors that this could in fact be the last season of House of Cards. Some have speculated on the Internet that each of the four seasons has run 13 episodes which represents the number of cards in a deck (52). Thus, the “house” has been built only to come crashing down in what would surely be the ultimate climax.
- Featured/Main Image: Chris Large/FX