May is going to be a big month at the multiplex, with the releases of Deadpool 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story (and, let’s be honest, you’re probably going to go see Infinity War at least two more times). But if you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your couch, this month also has a wealth of options streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.
We’re not here to judge; in fact, we want to help. Below is our monthly recommendations for the shows, movies, comedy specials, and documentaries arriving this month on streamers that are worth checking out—along with some random recommendations from Ringer staffers that are a bit more off the beaten path. Let’s dive in. —Miles Surrey
What’s New to Streaming in May
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is excited about.
Coco (coming to Netflix on May 29)
Shea Serrano: Coco (it certainly seems) was built by people who wanted to make a movie that relied zero percent on going, “Hey, look at these wacky nonwhite people doing wacky nonwhite-people things, isn’t it strange,” and 100 percent on going, “Hey, look at people doing things, isn’t it great,” which is always the best way to handle things. It is good. And grand. And smart. And vibrant. And we get to say all of those things without a “Latino” qualifier in it, like how nobody said anything like, “Inside Out really delivered for a white film.”
Dear White People Season 2 (coming to Netflix on May 4)
Hannah Giorgis: With more space than the original 2014 film afforded, [Season 1 of] the Dear White People series does an excellent job of thrusting viewers into the hostile world of Winchester University, a fictional Ivy League college. The school is both generic and recognizable enough to be modeled after nearly any elite, predominantly white American university. Each of the campuswide issues raised in the series — underfunded programs for students of color, rampant racism in campus publications, even a blackface party — reflects long-simmering tensions at schools just like it. But the overwhelming whiteness of Winchester — and its antagonistic effect on black students — is perhaps the only fully realized character in the show.
I, Tonya (coming to Hulu on May 31)
K. Austin Collins: The movie is a lot of things—too many things—at once: a poignant sports chronicle, a story of domestic abuse, a riotous account of a dumb crime gone wrong. It’s all a bit much but then, Tonya Harding was always a bit much. That’s the fun—and the trouble.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 4 (coming to Netflix on May 30)
Alison Herman: The show’s had its interlude with serialized, streaming-enabled darkness. Now it’s reverted to the mode its creator knows best. A newly mature Kimmy, a brand-new sitcom just starting to hit its stride, and of course, all seven seasons of 30 Rock: Together, they make up proof that [Tina] Fey’s television aesthetic is consistent and specific.
Last Flag Flying (coming to Amazon on May 4)
Collins: As a piece of filmmaking Last Flag Flying is not the kind of [Richard] Linklater movie that makes a case for the sublime intelligence of his deceptively plain, naturalistic style. More than usual with Linklater, what you see, in this case, is basically all you get. And what you get is above all a bevy of thorough, intelligent performances.
Claws Season 1 (coming to Hulu on May 11)
Herman: Claws fits right into a season when heat-exhausted, barbecue-sated viewers come home, even in these TV boom times, to an irritatingly empty DVR. Steamy and flashy, loud and proud, Claws is the kind of show it only feels right to watch with the AC cranked up.
Scandal Season 7 (coming to Netflix on May 19)
Surrey: It was a groundbreaking series that paved the way for more nonwhite protagonists on network television; when it started in 2012, Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope was the only black woman leading a network drama since the 1970s. It was also truly, unapologetically batshit. The fourth season of Scandal saw the vice president order the kidnapping of Washington’s Olivia Pope, after which she was auctioned on the dark web—and that might not make the cut for the show’s 10 wildest moments (the VP also hijacked his own plane to frame the president; Olivia bombed a plane; a woman was stabbed with a dinosaur tooth—this is all true). That the show began with an affair between Pope and then-president Fitzgerald Grant feels downright quaint.
Baywatch (coming to Hulu and Amazon on May 12)
Collins: We’re already being promised a sequel, which of course we’ve already asked for, even as most of us have yet to see the first one. This is Baywatch for the superhero era — not so much for the way it reflects the style or interests of those films but because it seems painfully aware of what it’s up against: movies that magically spawn other movies.
Some New-ish Things You Might’ve Missed
Because it’s hard to keep up, here are a few things that have premiered somewhat recently that may be worth catching up on.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 (on Hulu)
Herman: As it turns out, the six episodes of Season 2 that were provided to critics are a neat inverse of Season 1. Rather than hitting notes of triumph or inspiration that inevitably ring false, these latest chapters lean into the all-consuming anguish. In doing so, The Handmaid’s Tale follows through on the logical implications of its premise—but also raises a critical question about its overall direction. There’s little hope in Gilead, or for it. How long does it take to drive that home before the show goes inert?
Wild Wild Country (on Netflix)
Herman: Wild Wild Country understands that behind every tabloid-friendly utopia-gone-awry headline is a group of people, however misguided, who earnestly thought they’d found utopia. Losing a home, or a sense of belonging, is a less acute kind of trauma. It’s still worth exploring.
The Week Of (on Netflix)
Rob Harvilla: His Netflix alliance—[Adam] Sandler signed an exclusive four-picture deal in 2014, noting in a statement that he did so because Netflix rhymed with wet chicks—was a prescient business deal seemingly designed to let him keep slumming with even less oversight than usual. The first three films—2015’s The Ridiculous 6, 2016’s The Do-Over, and 2017’s Sandy Wexler—were met primarily with outrage and derision, though at least one broke a record for the most-watched Netflix movie [in the first 30 days]. (According to Netflix.) The fourth and final film in the deal—The Week Of, a mismatched-family wedding comedy costarring Chris Rock—premieres on Friday, and seems unlikely to either win over his many critics or disappoint his many, many fans.
The Standups Season 2 (on Netflix)
Herman: Currently in its second volume, The Standups is Netflix’s answer to Comedy Central’s The Half Hour or the ’90s-era HBO Comedy Half-Hour, a convenient intermediary between an album and a full-blown hour that also functions as a brand in its own right. In 2016, Netflix also tested out an innovative, sketch-specific version of the same premise called The Characters, but has yet to order a follow-up. Meanwhile, The Standups, with its ample precedent set by other networks and significantly cheaper production value compared to a scripted sketch anthology, shows every sign of becoming a sustainable mini-franchise.
The Florida Project (on Amazon)
Collins: It’s [director Sean Baker’s] biggest film to date, yet it still feels like a lovely pipsqueak of a feature, which goes to show you how far Baker has come. The movie was for the most part shot on lush 35 millimeter—the benefit of a meatier budget. It’s entirely worth it. Baker and his cinematographer, Alexis Zabe, make the most out of the Magic Castle’s candyland aesthetic, which, rather than ironically contrasting with the life conditions of the movie’s characters, miraculously works to make their world make sense.
A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path, for when you’re in a certain kind of mood.
What to Watch If You Need a New Girl Substitute With More English Accents and Just As Many Housemates Who Are Secretly in Love: The three-season sitcom formerly and lamentably known as Scrotal Recall, Netflix’s Lovesick also centers on the romantic misadventures of a group of cohabitating 20/30-somethings, but its emotion-to-madcap quotient leans further toward the former. Daniel Ings is a legend as Luke Curran, the show’s closest comp to Schmidt. (In adherence to the inviolable laws of English-actor recycling, Ings is also on The Crown.) —Ben Lindbergh
What to Watch If You Just Realized That Vision in the Avengers Is Hot: As a well-known lifelong Paul Bettany stan, various friends texted me after seeing Avengers: Infinity War about one scene in particular, in which Vision is human-ified and frankly looks GOOD AS HELL (this is not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer). This was no surprise to me, since Paul Bettany has looked good as hell for his entire career. If you, like my friends, left the theater wishing for more blond, British charm in your life, I direct you to the 2004 rom-com Wimbledon, streaming on Amazon, in which Bettany plays a tennis star who falls in love with fellow tennis star Kirsten Dunst. People will try to tell you that this is not a good movie. Those people are wrong. A young James McAvoy plays Bettany’s gambling-obsessed younger brother! Pre–Game of Thrones Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays his German BFF and training partner! There’s a bunch of tennis and sex and more tennis, and a great final scene that makes me tear up literally every time I watch it. It’s a cinematic masterpiece. —Kate Halliwell
What to Watch If You Want to See Harry Potter Survive the Amazon: I’ve already made it very clear on this site that “People taking on nature and getting irrefutably owned” is my jam, and Daniel Radcliffe added a fun one to the pantheon with Jungle. Fittingly, it’s on Amazon Prime, as Radcliffe’s Yossi Ghinsberg finds himself stranded in the middle of the Bolivian Amazon, hundreds of miles from even the scantest traces of civilization. A very poor CGI-rendered jaguar notwithstanding, the movie is a gritty delight—there’s one scene involving worms and a head wound that’s one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen. The fact it’s based on a true story is downright miraculous. —Surrey
What to Watch If You Love Strong Female Characters and Also Love Love: Jane the Virgin, one of TV’s most slept-on shows, is a smart and heartfelt celebration of love, genre, and culture. It’s often mislabeled and dismissed as a guilty pleasure, which is a shame because the show is a treasure. Jane is politically and emotionally intelligent, thought-provoking in its depiction of healthy, complex relationships, both romantic and platonic. It manages to blend cultures as well as it does genres and makes for a fun, thoughtful, and comforting watch. This past season, which hit Netflix on April 28, was stronger than ever in its nuanced portrayals of sexuality—there’s a thread on Petra’s new (female) love interest, an episode on Alba’s more sex-positive outlook, another focusing on power imbalances in sexual relationships involving Jane’s former thesis adviser, and plenty of ramped-up sexual tension, something that Jane has always done well. And speaking of things Jane does well, the female characters in this show are as strong as ever, growing into themselves and supporting one another as they’ve always done. Equally impressive is the way the show continues to deal with issues of immigration and national identity in a way that is timely and nuanced, as thought-provoking as it is heartwarming. All seasons are available on Netflix for your viewing pleasure. —Virali Dave
What to Watch If You Like Workplace Comedies and Pandas—and Don’t Mind Mixing the Two: Aggretsuko—a Netflix Original starring a breakout Sanrio mascot—is an anime workplace comedy about an anxious, vulgar red panda, Retsuko, who works a shitty office job and despairs. Beneath her soft-spoken competence, Retsuko—a.k.a., Aggressive Retsuko—is metal as hell. She carries a microphone in her purse to sing violent karaoke ballads at a moment’s notice. Through each brief and lively episode—they’re about 15 minutes each—Retsuko is beleaguered, but resilient, in the face of comparably bizarre colleagues and their oppressive, bewildering nonsense. Retsuko is every woman. But yes also—reminder—she’s a panda. —Justin Charity
What to Watch If You Want to Laugh So Hard You Could Pass Out: John Mulaney, America’s spindly, baby-faced comedic son, is back with his third hour-long Netflix special, John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City. I saw the show in Chicago—Mulaney’s pseudo-hometown—back in February, and I can say with confidence that he’s at the top of his game right now. Tragic hilarity has defined Mulaney’s performative demeanor since he made his Netflix debut with New in Town in 2012, and six years (and one failed network show) later, he’s added layers of cynicism and spice that will have you gasping for air throughout. You ever have that thing happen when you spend a given amount of time laughing so hard and so frequently that your face is legitimately sore for a couple of hours after you bring it back to its resting position? I can still feel that ache almost three months later. If you love stand-up, Kid Gorgeous is an absolute must-watch. —Rob Schaefer