Though the frigid temperatures of winter are abating and vaccination efforts are progressing, we’re still a ways away from being able to fully leave our caves and re-enter the world. There’s still a dire need for TV—and the streaming gods have been kind once again.
As a host of Rewatchables hit Netflix and Hulu, a long lost Star Wars series finally hits Disney+ while current hits like Invincible and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier continue to churn out new episodes. Check out everything that’s new on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max below ...
Legally Blonde (Netflix, April 1)
Hannah Giorgis: Legally Blonde is one of the best movies ever made, don’t @ me. Reese Witherspoon is perfect as Elle Woods, the “dumb” sorority girl who applies to Harvard in the hopes of winning back her law-school-bound jerk of a boyfriend. The movie subverts the same sexist tropes it traffics in, and Reese shines as the “surprisingly” smart Elle, a woman whom people regularly underestimate because of her love of all things stereotypically feminine. Elle’s motivation for attending Harvard is woefully misguided at first, but it makes her easier to root for: Who hasn’t done something a little outlandish for love?
Die Hard (Hulu, April 1)
Made for Love (HBO Max, April 1)
Alison Herman: Made for Love has plenty to say about technology, capitalism, obsession, and erotics. But neatly packaged lessons about big ideas would run contrary to its ethos. In telling a story about an individual wriggling free of a stifling terrarium—literally gasping to the surface, makeup streaked, in the premiere’s in medias res opening—Made for Love lets itself be as wild and slippery as its near-feral antiheroine. For all the outlandish details that populate the background (“Clicks and Stones: Your memes hurt me,” reads a PSA billboard just outside of Hazel’s hometown) it’s the rare work of speculative fiction that feels irrepressibly real.
Insidious (Netflix, April 1)
Boogie Nights (HBO Max, April 1)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Hulu, April 1)
Kate Halliwell: Nothing says Dad Movie like a rousing maritime battle, and no movie says maritime battle like Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, based on an equally dad-friendly series of books by Patrick O’Brian. Did you know the battle scenes were shot on full-scale battleship replicas? No? Well good news, my dad is here to tell you all about it. Oh look, here comes a touching scene of dialogue between Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. Don’t expect to actually hear any of it, though—my dad is too busy telling me how subtle and how expressive this scene is. And how about those Galápagos scenes: History! Darwinism! Obviously the highlight of the film is all the battles, because dads like to feel smart while watching something that, at the end of the day, is about a bunch of exploding boats. Dads also just really love Paul Bettany.
The Sandlot (Hulu, April 1)
Star Wars: Clone Wars (Disney+, April 2)
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, Season 2 (Hulu, April 9)
Andrew Gruttadaro: In just two TV series, Aussie actor-comedian Josh Thomas has established himself as a singular voice. His first series, Please Like Me, which aired on Pivot, followed a character who’d just come out—including to himself—and was adjusting to life as a gay man while also managing his divorced parents, a kooky father and a mother dealing with mental health issues. His second, Freeform’s Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, also stars Thomas as a similarly whimsical man who becomes the guardian of his two half-sisters after their father dies. The best you can say about both series is their ability to be as laugh-out-loud funny as they are deeply moving. You never get just one thing watching either Please Like Me or Everything’s Gonna Be Okay.
The New Mutants (HBO Max, April 10)
Miles Surrey: New Mutants is intriguing, but not for any of the reasons intended … Instead of being an experimental horror offshoot, the movie is now the final relic of a cinematic universe that’s all but extinct. The movie’s [release] has been delayed five times, including delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic… If New Mutants was a troubled project before 2020, the effects of the pandemic all but confirmed that it is a cursed artifact—the superhero equivalent of Terry Gilliam’s doomed Don Quixote adaptation.
The Circle, Season 2 (Netflix, April 14)
Shea Serrano: Part of what makes The Circle so great is how despite early assumptions that a show like this would lean into the loneliness heavy internet users might feel has been baked into their bones, it somehow does the opposite. Once the novelty wears off several episodes in, everything and everyone begins to feel ultra humanized. The isolation somehow begins mushing people together through their TV screens. It’s incredible to watch happen. There are of course fun and funny moments on the episodes that speed the show forward (the guy pretending to be a woman, for example, is routinely invited into woman-only chats, and every single time he gets invited in he’s two or three sentences away from tipping his hand), but there are also big philosophical moments that ground everything in a I Wasn’t Expecting This Water to Get So Deep way. Watching a catfish having to process why they’ve chosen to catfish feels like peeking inside someone’s diary.
The Master (Netflix, April 15)
Adam Nayman: As portions of The Master’s script were reworked from the initial writing sessions for There Will Be Blood, it’s tempting to compare the films as journeys into the past. Yet their textures as period pieces are distinct: The Master is rich and shimmering in opposition to There Will Be Blood’s purgatorial minimalism. Working with the Romanian-born cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. (who was swapped in when the director’s regular DP, Robert Elswit, became unavailable), Paul Thomas Anderson opted to shoot the majority of the film on 65 mm, a format usually used to accommodate the sprawl of massive outdoor locations. The result is a film whose play with scale is at once subtler and more audacious than There Will Be Blood’s. The enlarged format, combined with short lenses ensuring a narrow, stylized depth of field, has the effect of transforming even probing close-ups into panoramas, suggesting entire universes lying behind the characters’ eyes.
The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 4 (Hulu, April 28)
Herman: The Hulu series, already renewed for Season 2, isn’t just an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s work. It’s an expansion, one that Elisabeth Moss signed a five-to-seven-year contract for before production even started. Unlike Taboo and The Night Manager, which retroactively transformed from miniseries to series once they became hits, Miller planned The Handmaid’s Tale as a long-term project from the start. Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale is Offred’s story, told with a first-person perspective that emphasized her isolated, claustrophobic experience of this misogynist dystopia. Over the last few weeks, Miller’s Handmaid’s Tale has shifted from establishing an atmosphere toward building out the cast and broadening the series’ scope, both necessary to make Offred’s story sustainable over more than a handful of hours. The result feels like an act of foundation laying and boundary testing. Can a show called The Handmaid’s Tale move beyond the titular handmaid?
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.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
Daniel Chin: The premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier suggests that showrunner Malcolm Spellman’s new project will provide a much different viewing experience for MCU fans than one that began as a black-and-white domestic sitcom. Though it’s a familiar marketing refrain from TV shows, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier truly feels like it’s a bite-sized feature film, as the MCU repurposes its often generic superhero formula for its still nascent streaming home. But by highlighting two of Captain America’s longtime sidekicks in a way that gives them the space to explore issues of race and trauma, as well as by granting the spotlight to an actor who too often has had to play the role of a team player, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has the potential to take the MCU to new heights, just like WandaVision before it.
Invincible (Amazon Prime)
Charles Holmes: Created by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker in the early 2000s, Invincible was ostensibly a Superman pastiche that followed Mark Grayson—the son of the world’s greatest hero, Omni-Man—on his quest to become a hero in his own right. Then, on the brink of being canceled by its publisher, Invincible revealed their hand. Omni-Man was evil, he was here to take over Earth, and he’d beat his son to the brink of death to do it. From there, everything began to turn around for the fledgling series.
Beartown (HBO Max)
Katie Baker: A chilly, vivid dive into the headiness of high school and the horror of violent crime, Beartown and its TV adaptation explore both hockey’s appeal and its aggression, examining what happens to a community when its systems are confronted by the chaos they’ve helped to create. “I’ve been dealing with sports all my life,” Beartown director Peter Gronlund says in a Zoom conversation, “so I know that culture, that macho culture. And I think the best illustration for that is probably on the ice, because of the machismo, and the roughness, and the kind of violent DNA of the sport itself. It’s like, you celebrate violence. You expect the crowd to expect violence.” He’s right: Beartown is one more reminder that in arenas around the world, when an enforcer enters a hockey game, the crowd pretty much always cheers.
Mighty Ducks: Game Changers (Disney+)
Alan Siegel: Though it reflects how the world has changed for kids since the ’90s, Game Changers still feels like a true extension of the Mighty Ducks trilogy. “I wanted to hit the same beats that I did in the movies,” Steven Brill says. In the spirit of the originals, he molded a main character who is gritty, endearingly enthusiastic, and constantly underestimated. Like Charlie Conway in the movies, Evan (played by Brady Noon from raunchy middle school comedy Good Boys), the son of Lauren Graham’s working-class single mom Alex, doesn’t seem to have enough talent on the ice. But he definitely has enough heart. After the Ducks cut him, he rounds up classmates from different backgrounds, races, and genders, emboldened by his mom to stand up for himself and draft his own squad. And though not in name, the new team—called the “Don’t Bothers”—feels a whole lot like those kids in hand-me-down equipment who once piled into Gordon Bombay’s limousine.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 3 (Netflix)
Kevin Clark: Drive to Survive is based on the personalities of the [Formula 1] drivers and the team principals, the people in charge of the drivers’ teams who function as a sort of general manager/coach. The show revolves around type-A alphas staring directly into the camera like Jim Halpert from The Office and bluntly saying whatever they mean about their boss or coworker. The team principals are walking, talking Tom Wolfe novels; the drivers are all rich, look like models, and still have a lot to complain about. These are the pillars of the show: The principals try to outflex each other as masters of the universe while the drivers navigate HR dramas and try to race as fast as they can. It is the most chaotic possible mashup of Hard Knocks, Gossip Girl, James Bond, and Game of Thrones. It is perfect television.