Look, we get it: The first thing you’re going to think about when it comes to entertainment options this month is Game of Thrones. It’s the final season; winter has finally come; an aunt and her hot nephew are boning. It’s fun stuff. But there are just six Thrones episodes to occupy your time—and there are plenty of other enticing options to watch this month when you aren’t dialed into the politics and dragons of Westeros.
Netflix will be debuting the second part of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, as well as Lee Chang-dong’s psychological mystery drama, Burning—while Hulu and Amazon Prime are both unveiling A Quiet Place. Below you’ll find The Ringer’s guide for streaming in April, featuring the most exciting new additions to the three streamers’ digital libraries, along with some random recommendations from Ringer staffers.
What’s New to Streaming in April
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Part 2 (coming to Netflix on April 5)
Alison Herman: Sabrina’s most obvious influence is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Refreshingly for Netflix, the show quickly adopts a monster-of-the-week structure, often featuring a demon with shockingly hokey prosthetics for an otherwise handsomely shot show. Our heroine is a blonde chosen-one type who doesn’t shy away from her own femininity. There’s even a Hellmouth-like plot device: Greendale is a mining town, and legend has it the tunnels go down to the underworld itself, allowing the occasional demon to slip through.
A Quiet Place (Hulu and Amazon Prime, April 2)
K. Austin Collins: A film that demands silence of its characters implicitly demands the same of the people watching it, and it’s strange, even admirable, how effective A Quiet Place can be when you realize that you’re holding your breath not only as a natural reaction to suspense, but in abidance of the rules of the movie. You’re not in danger, but you might find yourself inadvertently behaving as if you were.
Burning (Netflix, April 29)
Adam Nayman: One of the highest compliments that I can pay to Burning—besides calling it one of the year’s flat-out best films, which it is—is that the nature of this symbolism is somewhat indeterminate. There is a difference between movies that refuse to fix their meanings for fear of exposing their essential vacuousness—that leave so much space for interpretation that they end up feeling legitimately empty, like a shell game without a marble—and movies that bristle with an ambiguity derived from the complex, irreconcilable nature of reality itself. [Lee Chang-dong]’s film, which has been freely adapted from a short story by the Japanese author Haruki Murakami, belongs in the second category, and near the top of the roll call as well. It’s a flawless exercise in suggestiveness, in which images, characters, and lines of dialogue are relentlessly, unmistakably doubled.
Beetlejuice (Amazon Prime, April 1)
Alan Siegel: The original story was significantly more sinister, particularly the lead role. “Betelgeuse was much more scabrous,” [Laurence] Senelick said. The character was supposed to be a homicidal demon, not a scheming, horn-dog exterminator. At first, the Maitlands died a truly gruesome death, and the Deetzes had not one, but two daughters. When [Michael] McDowell and [Larry] Wilson finished, the latter has said in interviews that he dropped the script off with an executive he knew at Universal, where he’d served as the director of development for filmmaker Walter Hill. The unnamed higher-up read the draft and a few days later called Wilson into his office. “He literally said, ‘What are you doing with your career?’”
I Am the Night (Hulu, April 18)
Herman: I Am the Night is not a rigorously accurate breakdown of a notorious crime, in the vein of the still-fruitful docuseries boom. On a smaller scale, Patty Jenkins—who helmed the first two of I Am the Night’s six episodes—and her fellow directors make ample use of the striking Sowden House, the Mayan-inspired Hollywood mansion designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s eldest son.
Destroyer (Hulu, April 9)
Nayman: In Karyn Kusama’s new cop drama Destroyer, Nicole Kidman’s self-consciously and spectacularly unflattering LAPD lifer Erin Bell is the kind of hard-driving, harder-drinking loose cannon familiar from countless movies dating back to (and before) Dirty Harry. There isn’t much originality to her off-duty pursuit of a ruthless bank robber with whom she has a history; when she tells her superior to let her have this perp for herself, it could just as easily be a Simpsons parody of a hard-boiled action film as the real thing. What’s subversive, at least in theory, is the revision of this familiar alpha-male type into a female character, as well as the question of whether the accompanying uglification of Destroyer’s beautiful star—the most conspicuous such makeover since Charlize Theron transformed into Aileen Wuornos for Monster—accentuates or undermines the film’s intended incursions on both genre and gender conventions.
New Girl, Season 7 (Netflix, April 10)
Ben Lindbergh: For 22 minutes a week, New Girl filled viewers with vicarious companionship by giving us a glimpse of adult friendships that were, emotionally and physically, as close as college friendships. The series’ scripted bonhomie was all the more convincing because its cast’s on-screen chemistry clearly crossed over when the cameras were off (or at least a lot smaller). That blurring of lines between actors and characters made New Girl’s fictional friendships seem more attainable, even though they never quite were.
Book Club (Hulu and Amazon Prime, April 20)
Lindsay Zoladz: With its CGI skies, flimsy premise, and crudely Photoshopped flashback photos that try to convince us that these actresses who range in age from 65 to 80 all went to high school together, much of Book Club is pure, enjoyable fluff—a Sex and the City episode fast-forwarded about 30 years. And then there are moments like that first-kiss speech, or another one late in the film when the widowed Diane stands up to her daughters, who fret about her frailty as though she were 95 years old. These moments remind you what her breezy, off-hand nature sometimes makes you forget: Diane Keaton is a phenomenal actress.
Some New-ish Things You Might’ve Missed
Because it’s hard to keep up with everything, here are a few things that have premiered somewhat recently that may be worth catching up on.
Amy Schumer: Growing (on Netflix)
Herman: Over the past few years, [Amy] Schumer has largely stayed the same, with the changing response to her work saying less about her than us. With Growing, Schumer finally, consciously evolves. It remains to be seen whether the special will lead to some substantive shift in her celebrity. But for now, Growing marks the point where Schumer has been under fame’s magnifying glass long enough to have undergone real change—and to try to reflect that change in something as durable and digestible as a comedy special.
Terrace House (on Netflix)
Brian Phillips: If the basic unit of drama on American reality TV is self-assertion, the basic unit of drama on Terrace House is self-conformation, not in the sense of making oneself like other people but in the sense of adapting oneself to live among them. I have no idea if any of this is intentional on the part of the creators, but where the artificiality of American reality TV tends to work toward enabling the clarify—>amplify—>fireworks dynamic, the artificiality of Terrace House works to create a kind of laboratory in which the possibilities of that kind of adaptation can be tested and discussed. What’s the highest possibility of self-conformation, after all? It’s knowing and being known by another human being, accepting and being accepted by them. It’s love.
Catastrophe (on Amazon Prime)
Herman: Watching the fourth and final season of Catastrophe, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan’s look at the indignities and intimacies of long-term partnership, I found myself not only wishing, but believing the show could go on in perpetuity. It’s the strongest endorsement of Catastrophe I can think of. Catastrophe’s central subject is a not particularly special marriage between two not particularly special people. Yet its co-creators, -stars, and -writers have imbued their story with such humor and specificity I sincerely believe they could extend it for the rest of their protagonists’ natural lives. They won’t, but that belief is what makes the farewell so bittersweet.
Turn Up Charlie (on Netflix)
Rob Harvilla: The only consistent pleasure of Turn Up Charlie is, most likely, the only reason you gave this show a shot in the first place: the copious footage of Idris Elba DJing, whether he’s commanding huge, adoring crowds in dream sequences or humiliating himself in front of bored gawkers half his age in this show’s confused idea of reality. His tinted shades and bulging-armed roof-raising antics are cheesy in quite an appealing and authentic-seeming way, at least. For those who’ve long regarded Elba’s DJ past (and present!), with its Coachella slots and IRL Ibiza antics, as the rare humanizing aspect of his superhuman rise to fame, this show fills out his celebrity backstory, even if it can’t sustain a fictional character.
Triple Frontier (on Netflix)
Andrew Gruttadaro: J.C. Chandor’s Netflix movie brings together five friends and former Special Forces operatives as they plot to steal millions of dollars from a Brazilian drug lord, putting their tactical skills to use after the U.S. government has chewed them up and spit them out. It’s incredibly enjoyable, due in large part to the group being composed of Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund—a murderers’ row of actors you want to spend time with. It is also the movie that gave us this photo of Affleck’s back tattoo, and for that it will always be an American treasure.
Lorena (on Amazon Prime)
Herman: Twenty-five years of punch lines mean [Lorena] Bobbitt is now synonymous with a single act of desperation: cutting off the penis of her abusive husband, John Wayne. Despite Bobbitt’s trial and her devastating testimony being televised in full, her long-term legacy has amounted to little more than a single appendage. Lorena shows why, and how, this happens almost in real time—the SNL sketches, the David Letterman Top Five, the Andrew Dice Clay routine. It’s a lot easier to make a macabre version of a dick joke than it is to grapple with the years of rapes and beatings that built up to a headline-friendly climax.
A Clockwork Orange (on Netflix)
Nayman: The film’s aesthetics may be pop brutalist all the way, but as a subject for analysis, A Clockwork Orange is positively cubist. It can be viewed (and deconstructed) from a dozen angles at once, from its postmod, prepunk Britishness to its censor-baiting extremity and “video nasty” status—or as auteur worship for [Stanley] Kubrick, an actor’s showcase for [Malcolm] McDowell, a collision of art-cinema rigor and counterculture brashness, prescient prophecy or dated posturing, or a critique of sadism, sensationalism, sexism, and exploitation in entertainment and an all-time case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Pen15 (on Hulu)
Kate Knibbs: Like Big Mouth, [Pen15] uses a clever device to make a narrative about the sexual lives of its young protagonists more palatable. [Maya] Erskine and [Anna] Konkle, who created the comedy, are both in their early 30s, but they play characters based on their younger selves among a supporting cast made up of actual middle schoolers. But while Big Mouth’s cartoon status has freed the show up to be almost limitlessly daring, the gimmick Pen15 uses to deal with the perilous terrain of adolescent lust isn’t much more than that: a gimmick.
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’d Like to Sweat Through Your Palms Watching an Extraordinary Athletic Achievement: You shouldn’t feel stressed about watching Free Solo, the Oscar-winning documentary now streaming on Hulu, since you know its subject will prevail. Alex Honnold, one of the world’s preeminent rock climbers who specializes in free soloing—a method of climbing where the person uses no equipment, and any wrong step could prove fatal—did successfully free solo El Capitan, a 3,000-plus-foot granite cliff in Yosemite Valley. But knowing the outcome, and even describing a dude scaling a giant cliff with just his hands, feet, and a bag of climbing chalk, can’t do the experience of watching Free Solo justice. It’s horrifying and extraordinary at the same time: an athletic achievement the likes of which we may never see again. (El Capitan is notoriously difficult to climb, and nobody had free soloed it before Honnold.) Yet the best part of Free Solo is its dissection of Honnold outside of his climbing pursuits, particularly the relationship with his girlfriend Sanni McCandless, maybe the most patient human alive. She is enduringly optimistic, despite the fact Honnold has a hard time expressing his emotions and flat-out says he’d never put a partner ahead of his climbing. As he eventually descends El Capitan, McCandless achieves an equally remarkable feat: She gets Honnold to open up emotionally, and they even buy a house in Las Vegas. (Honnold was living in a van full-time.) Naturally, Vegas gets Honnold’s stamp of approval because it’s close to … a lot of climbing opportunities. —Miles Surrey
What to Watch If You Want to Dive Into the World’s Most Popular Racing Series: The problem with Formula 1 is most races follow the same pattern: a Mercedes car starts on pole, keeps the lead through the first corner, and speeds off never to be seen again until it takes the checkered flag. The new Netflix docuseries Formula 1: Drive to Survive works because it ignores Mercedes (and Ferrari) and focuses on the middle- and lower-ranked teams, among which most of the in-race drama happens, and whose drivers and team principals are a complex and interesting mix of characters. The racing series co-produced the TV show, so it’s cut to portray maximum drama and show the series in a positive light. But because it only has real-world footage to work with, the show can’t help but produce a few villains: Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who shells out millions to two different teams to find a race seat for his teenage son, Lance, who acts like the son of a billionaire. Red Bull boss Christian Horner comes off like an asshole and a bully, while hapless McLaren boss Zak Brown comes off like a buffoon. Meanwhile the heroes of the series are the drivers trying to keep their heads above water in this world of immense money and privilege: Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon. Formula 1 leaves a lot to be desired as a sporting and entertainment product, but Drive to Survive takes us inside the cockpit, and indeed inside the helmet, to deliver addictive human drama. —Michael Baumann
What to Watch If You Need a Reminder That Beyoncé Was in Some Terrible Movies: This spring marks the 10th anniversary of a Beyoncé milestone. No, not for one of her award-winning albums or songs. It’s for that one time she starred in a romance-horror (?) film with Idris Elba that everyone forgot existed. Thanks to Netflix, we can all be reminded of Obsessed when it arrives on the streamer this April. Derek (Elba) gets caught up with a possessive temp Lisa (Ali Larter), who goes off the deep end and starts stalking him. Too many “Oh, no she didn’t” moments later, it all boils over into a climax where Queen Bey and Lisa get into a good ol’ girl fight. Beyoncé throws her off the second story of her house. Yes, the movie is as bad as you think it is, and yes, we’re also thankful Bey transferred her acting energy strictly to her musical short films. Unfortunately for Beyoncé, Austin Powers in Goldmember is also streaming on Netflix. —Jordan Ligons