In March, as spring continues to evade our grasp, trade the great outdoors for the wilds of your couch. This month, there’s something streaming for everyone: an animated video-game adaptation; a drug-trafficking drama; a dark mystery-comedy. Check out everything that’s new on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime below, as well as a few personal selections from the Ringer staff.
What’s New to Streaming in March
A selected list of movies and TV shows coming this month that The Ringer is very excited about.
Castlevania Season 3 (Netflix, March 3)
Micah Peters: The Netflix adaptation of Castlevania is reasonably faithful to the plot of the third installment, Dracula’s Curse, even if it’s something of a departure from the spirit of the games. I was told there would be speed metal. (There was none.) I was also told that more of the story would take place in Castlevania, Dracula’s castle. (It didn’t.) As I understand them, the basic narrative assumptions of the Castlevania video game series are like that of any other side-scrolling RPG with whirring MIDI music. Dracula pits himself against humanity; Dracula begins wiping out humanity; Dracula is thwarted by the good guys; Dracula dies. You see him lose and know he’ll be back in the next installment, just as hammy and motivated by revenge as before.
Westworld Season 3 (Amazon Prime, March 15)
Miles Surrey: There’s still hope: With Dolores and Bernard ostensibly in the real world, perhaps we can see what humans of the future are like while hosts assimilate alongside them, Blade Runner–style. If nothing else, it will be a refreshing change of pace from the trappings of the parks, which were beginning to reach a derivative nadir. In Westworld’s future, Westworld the park should be put in the rearview. It would behoove the series to do the same for its worst storytelling vices.
Search Party Season 3 (Netflix, March 16)
Alison Herman: The first season of mystery-comedy Search Party was a pleasant, if tart, surprise. With its well-calibrated combination of genuine suspense and sharp-edged satire, the TBS show became a late-breaking addition to many year-end best-of lists and a well-deserved vehicle for Alia Shawkat, 13 years after her breakout role as Maeby Fünke on Arrested Development. Shawkat plays Dory Sief, a 20-something Brooklynite who finds an outlet for her post-college ennui in a missing-persons case involving a former classmate. Over a 10-episode first season, Dory recruited her reluctant boyfriend and indifferent best friends to a makeshift, amateur detective squad, heading up a hunt that took them all the way to Montreal. The long-awaited Season 3 should promise more millennial ennui with a side of murder.
Luther Season 5 (Amazon Prime, March 23)
Justin Charity: Luther is at its worst, and at its best, when it is overbearing in its pessimism. The series puts its characters through the meat grinder. There is no police procedural in which a key character is more likely to get killed in the most senseless, gruesome fashion. A stabbing on Luther is more vivid and painful than a stabbing on any other cop show. By design, Luther bums the viewer out. According to Idris Elba, Luther shoots exclusively in autumn and winter so as not to let London’s sunshine brighten the show’s mood. “It’s a tough show to make,” Elba says, citing the morbid plot lines and the grim resources required to render them realistically. “It’s depressing.” For five seasons now, Elba’s character has been fueled, ironically, by his own exhaustion. Luther sloshes through his investigations with great physical resilience despite the heavy fatigue brought on by the malaise of traumas from seasons past, which have sapped him of almost all romantic traces. He’s overextended. Luther will lose track of time by slipping away from a crime scene to survey an unrelated fiasco, thus tempting fate in time-sensitive confrontations. “Where have you been?” his supervisor will demand to know. By 5 p.m., Luther has been all over London—his long, wool coat is a signature feature of his wardrobe, but his five o’clock shadow is a character unto itself.
Ozark Season 3 (Netflix, March 27)
Chris Ryan: Ozark is often compared to Breaking Bad, and for good reason. Jason Bateman (who doubles as Ozark’s executive producer and has directed several episodes) is the show’s Walter White—an everyman, stripped of his lust for life until he finds his true calling as a criminal mastermind. Laura Linney plays Wendy, a Skyler White stand-in, who alternates between standing by her man and backing away slowly. For Jesse Pinkman, Ozark has Ruth Langmore (pugnaciously played by Julia Garner), the local talent guiding the family through this new hell they’ve found themselves in. Both shows tell the story of characters finding themselves through morally transgressive acts. Breaking Bad is considered one of the greatest shows of all time. Ozark, by my anecdotal research, is not.
The uncharitable view of Ozark is that it is a trashy version of a prestige show. But in truth, it is a series that’s been optimized for the Peak TV era. It tells a Breaking Bad story at a 24 pace. In Breaking Bad, it took Walter White until the third season to reveal his true occupation to his wife. It takes Wendy Byrde all of two episodes to tell her daughter that her father is laundering money for a drug cartel.
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.
I Am Not Okay With This Season 1 (Netflix)
Herman: When a project invokes the résumés of its collaborators in the marketing, it’s often a bait and switch. From here on out, every Blumhouse release will be billed as “from the producers of Get Out”; even if Todd Phillips goes back to hard-R gross-out comedies, he’ll always be “the Academy Award–nominated director of Joker.” Rolling out the credits helps reel in an audience with what they already know, an easier task than selling a new concept from scratch. Nine times out of 10, the practice has more to do with building interest in an upcoming release than the release itself.
In the case of Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This, however, genealogy is indeed destiny. The seven-episode series is adapted from the work of Charles Forsman, the same graphic novelist who provided the source material for The End of the F***ing World; the two TV series share a director in Jonathan Entwistle, who also cowrote many episodes. Two executive producers, Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen, also preside over Stranger Things. And starring as Sydney “Syd” Novak, an awkward, tomboyish teen whose trauma starts manifesting as psychic powers, is Sophia Lillis, best known as the teenaged Beverly from It. (Lillis also played a young Camille in Sharp Objects; between Amy Adams and It Chapter Two’s Jessica Chastain, “de-aged version of famous adult redheads” has proved a fruitful micro-niche for the 18-year-old actress.) Speaking of It, Wyatt Oleff, who played young Stanley Uris in the movies, also stars as an entirely different Stanley.
Alive From New York (Netflix)
Rob Harvilla: One fights the urge to view this special entirely through a prurient celebrity-dirt prism, but the fact of the matter is that Davidson’s other material is C+ at best: the grody sex jokes, the somehow grodier kid jokes, the buoyant self-deprecation. (“I found a nice lady suit at the Banana Republic,” he announces, of his nattier-than-usual stage attire. “I look like a divorced wife who just, like, got it together.”) Halfway through, he interrupts his stammering to look straight at the camera and say, “Congrats on fucking. Thanks for unpausing and continuing to watch.” Big awkward laugh. “Sorry, I always wanted that to happen while I was watching a Netflix thing.” Pretty good bit, really. But one cannot deny that Alive From New York, in much of the real world, exists as a yes/no proposition, the question specifically being Does Ariana Grande come up?, and the answer being Yikes.
Hunters Season 1 (Amazon Prime)
Harvilla: Amazon Prime’s Hunters, which dropped its first 10 episodes on February 21, is both not good and not shy about its influences, starting (and possibly ending) with Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. The gleeful Nazi-crushing revenge fantasies. The necessity, then, of lavishly staging various fictionalized Nazi atrocities to stoke our thirst for that revenge. The resulting lurid mix of whimsy and horror is so clumsy (and lurid) it gets harder and harder to tell the whimsy from the horror. No less an entity than the Auschwitz Memorial Museum denounced one especially vivid scene in the Hunters pilot—a human chessboard whose pieces are concentration camp prisoners forced to slash each other’s throats as those pieces are “taken”—as “dangerous foolishness and caricature” that both diminishes reality and emboldens real-life Holocaust deniers to continue denying it.
The Clone Wars Season 7 (Disney+)
Ben Lindbergh: The new season of The Clone Wars will likely be more of a love letter to longtime fans than a new tentpole intended to broaden the reach of Star Wars; this is the end of a series, not the start of one. For fans who’ve followed The Clone Wars from the start or caught up on its 121-episode library while it was off the air, the new season promises to flesh out gaps in the histories of iconic characters like Ahsoka Tano and Darth Maul and resolve relationships and story lines that Dave Filoni has long hoped to complete. But because of where the series sits in the Star Wars release schedule and fictional timeline, Filoni’s final bow should also appeal to casual fans who are coming in cold. Not only is The Clone Wars the only on-screen Star Wars content coming before Baby Yoda returns in October, but its last act may give us a second, even more emotional look at the climactic events of Revenge of the Sith—including Order 66 and Anakin’s descent to the dark side—while also illuminating some of the murky history that set the scene for The Mandalorian, which Filoni helps write, produce, and direct.
High Fidelity Season 1 (Hulu)
Harvilla: Hulu’s High Fidelity is less whimsical and more ruminative than its predecessors, slower and quieter, gently running the Gen X self-regard at its core through the punishing filter of HBO’s Girls: the utopia-dystopia binary of modern New York City and its $8-coffee joints, the lethal awkwardness always quick to undercut the sexiness, the smartphone as a tool of Satan or at least late capitalism, the reality that owning a record store in 2020 is a sort of death sentence. “Half of the neighborhood thinks we’re washed-up relics, the other half thinks we’re nostalgic hipsters,” is how this new Rob puts it. “They’re both kinda right.” She spends a lot of the series obsessing over the perfect running order for a Spotify playlist, which is bizarre on its face, but it underscores the reality that the quarter-century time jump from novel to TV show is more jarring—given advances in the music industry—than the gender swap.
Created by Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka, with a pilot directed by Girls (and Juliet, Naked) alumnus Jesse Peretz, the brisk series (10 half-hour-or-so episodes) ditches the troublesome “revisit my top-five heartbreaks” framework quickly and lets Kravitz just vibe, calmly but thoroughly, with whoever’s in front of her. This crew includes her exasperated most recent ex Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir), and the foxy Scottish singer-songwriter updating the Lisa Bonet role (Thomas Doherty), and the half-schlub/half-stud new love interest named Clyde (Jake Lacy) who she spends much of the first five episodes abusing. (Lacy starred opposite Jenny Slate in 2014’s great Obvious Child and clearly excels at absorbing abuse from whimsical 21st-century rom-com heroines.) High Fidelity works far better as light Valentine’s Day programming than as deep-thought sociology; the whole point of this enterprise is that people who take pop culture too seriously are terrible humans doomed to ridicule and despair.
Giri/Haji Season 1 (Netflix)
Brian Phillips: Giri/Haji, the Japan-centric, BBC-produced crime series that’s newly available to stream on Netflix, loves these kinds of sudden narrative shifts. “Loves” might even be understating it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show that wanted to be more shows at once than Giri/Haji, or a show that largely succeeded at being more shows at once, or a show that failed more interestingly to become several kinds of shows it had no business attempting to be in the first place. This is an ultraviolent action series that also fits in a lesbian coming-of-age drama. A preening Cockney crime boss out of an early Guy Ritchie comedy shares screen time with moody animated flashbacks that evoke Netflix’s recent devotion to anime. The bones of the show are those of a hard-boiled noir procedural; the climax of the show—I’d put “spoiler alert” here, but you’ll think I’m lying until you’ve seen it—is a long interpretive dance.
Narcos: Mexico Season 2 (Netflix)
Surrey: You can expect a lot of things when you’re watching Narcos—shocking violence, glitzy mansions, ’80s fashion, backstabbing narcos, piles of cash, even bigger piles of cocaine—but one thing you don’t expect is a twist. This is, after all, a series loosely based on historical events, so there’s no use withholding something big from the audience when they can just find the answers—i.e., what happened to Pablo Escobar or the many other drug lords with dope nicknames like “The Lord of the Skies”—on Wikipedia. (This is not a problem, since the show creates a rich atmosphere that convinces viewers to stick around; the best way I can describe it is that it’s Prestige TV comfort food.)
Love Is Blind Season 1 (Netflix)
Herman: Love Is Blind is a cringey experience, the kind of show that’s bound to get as many eyeballs from ironic curiosity as credulous investment. (No disrespect here: That dynamic has worked out pretty well for the show’s most obvious influence.) The “blind” part of the premise is certainly the flashiest: 20 individuals, 10 men and 10 women, sort themselves into pairs based on nothing more than a few days’ worth of conversation, separated by a wall. But as laid out by hosts Vanessa and Nick Lachey, what comes next is far more horrifying: Newly forged couples will go on vacation, move in together, and meet each other’s parents on a highly accelerated timeline. Everything is set to culminate in a wedding, prescheduled for 40 days after the “experiment”—the Lacheys’ word—begins. It’s like a slasher film for commitment-phobes.
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet Season 1 (Apple TV+)
Lindbergh: [Mythic Quest’s] studio seems so dysfunctional that it’s hard to imagine a masterpiece emerging from the disorder, but that turmoil mirrors the real-life horror stories behind many great games. “It’s a miracle that any game is made,” an exhausted designer tells Schreier in Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. Whether they’re built by one person or hundreds, many games run on opaque code cobbled together on deadlines so tight that some features may still be broken or untested weeks or days before the final build goes gold. As Schreier notes, “Every single video game is made under abnormal circumstances.” Mythic Quest’s circumstances may be more abnormal than most, but the series finds humor in a heightened version of actual development hell.
To some degree, the makers of Mythic Quest court dedicated gamers: Rob McElhenney showed off the series at E3 last June, and the show’s script drops DOTs and OPs, loot boxes, and vanilla versions without stopping to explain every instance of specialized lingo. But most of those terms are clear from context, and the appeal of the series doesn’t depend on extensive experience with games or MMOs. Mythic Quest’s comedy comes from conflicts familiar to anyone who’s held a job, and it doesn’t require intimate knowledge of games, any more than Silicon Valley or The Office require intimate knowledge of the tech or paper industries. McElhenney told The Hollywood Reporter that the writers’ room was split between gamers and nongamers to ensure that the series would serve both audiences.
A random collection of movies and TV shows that are a little more off the beaten path.
What to watch if you want an unexpected love story: I couldn’t tell you the moment Fleabag became my favorite show of 2019, but I can pinpoint the second it became a personal obsession. At the end of the second season’s third episode, the eponymous star, played and written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, sits in conversation with her forbidden love, the Priest. “We’re not going to have sex,” he tells her. “I’d really like to be your friend, though.” She says she’d like to be his friend too, before turning to the camera and telling the audience they’ll “last a week.” Up to this point, everything about this is normal: Since the first installment aired in September 2016, the only real constant of the series was Fleabag breaking the fourth wall to speak with us directly, and in a manner that’s unnoticed by those around her. This time, though, is different.
“What was that?” the Priest asks her. “Where did you just go?” For three years, and nine episodes, Fleabag spoke to us in confidence. But finally, she’s seen. The kinetic energy of the interaction not only has the power to fuel all of London, but it confirms the first line Fleabag says to camera in the season: This is a love story. —Shaker Samman
What to watch if you want to appreciate your friendships: If you’re still blasting our playlist of the best heartbreak songs, then here’s the best movie to go with it. Waiting to Exhale—coming to Hulu on March 1—is an oldie but a goodie. In just over two hours, you’ll experience love and love lost; hearts breaking and hearts mended; tears from laughing too hard and tears from crying too much. But, most importantly, Waiting to Exhale lets you into a tight-knit friendship that’s unwavering. Cozy up with a glass of wine and a group of your best friends to indulge in this original story by Terry McMillan. This all-star cast features the likes of Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Lela Rochon at the peak of their ’90s prime. (P.S. Besides Tina Turner, Bernadine Harris is Bassett’s most iconic character, for this scene alone.) —Jordan Ligons
What to watch if you want to feel stressed out for two and a half hours: There’s no better way to escape the cruelties of everyday life than by watching a film about greed, death, and awful parenting, amirite? For a bad but culturally enriching time, set out for the oil fields with Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film, available on Netflix March 1. An epic loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, the film spans 30 years of oil-related triumphs and betrayals. The soundtrack, written by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, recalls the whir of a dentist’s drill as he bores into your molar. All these elements combined will have you anxiously clenching your muscles for the film’s duration. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! —Charlotte Goddu