We won’t blame you if you haven’t caught up yet on everything we recommended you watch in April and March. We haven’t either. There are only so many hours in the day and between an abundance of limited series, new seasons of returning shows and the latest movies — both in theaters and on streaming — being released every. single. week. it’s a lot.
Things may be getting a bit less crowded in the future since the content bubble appears to be bursting. Perhaps the future holds a more limited number of new titles premiering each month. In the meantime, we’ll try to help you decide, once again, what to watch this month. Here are some of the most anticipated titles to debut in May.
Some of May’s Most Anticipated New Shows
Ridley Road (May 1), PBS: This four-part drama series is set in London in the summer of 1962 and features newcomer Agnes O’Casey as Vivien Epstein. The PBS Masterpiece is based on Jo Bloom’s novel of the same name and inspired by true events. Vivien is ”a young Jewish hairdresser who fits right into London’s mod scene, while secretly infiltrating the British neo-Nazi hierarchy on behalf of Jewish antifascists,” reads the PBS synopsis of the show. The show also features Rory Kinnear as Colin Jordan, the real-life leader of Britain’s post-World War II Nazi movement, and Tom Varey as Jack, Vivien’s true love.
Ten Percent (May 1), BBC America, Sundance Now and AMC+: If you enjoyed Netflix’s French comedy Call My Agent, you may want to check out this British adaptation. The eight-episode first season follows a small and struggling London talent agency, and how a tragic event puts the professional lives of the agents and assistants on the line, all while they try to keep the show going and cater to their famous clients’ every need. Kelly Mcdonald, Helena Bonham Carter, Dominic West, David Oyelowo and Emma Corrin all make cameos in the show, playing versions of their very demanding selves.
The Staircase (May 5), HBO Max: This eight-episode limited series stars Colin Firth and Toni Collette as Michael and Kathleen Peterson and adapts the true-crime docuseries of the same name that’s streaming on Netflix (as well as several books and reports on the case). The show is an “exploration of the life of Michael Peterson, his sprawling North Carolina family, and the suspicious death of his wife, Kathleen Peterson,” according to HBO Max’s logline.
Bosch: Legacy (May 6), Amazon Freevee: You could tag this as Bosch season eight. Prime Video’s procedural drama about the seasoned LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch returns — this time for a spin-off show. Titus Welliver is still the protagonist of the series and plays Bosch in his new phase as a private detective. Maddison Lintz and Mimi Rogers also return as Maddie Bosch, Harry’s daughter, and lawyer Honey Chandler. Bosch: Legacy will be available on Amazon’s free and ad-supported streaming service Freevee (previously known as IMDb TV).
Candy (May 9), Hulu: Add this title to the long list of recent limited series based on disturbing true events. Jessica Biel executive produces and stars here as Candy Montgomery. She’s a 1980s housewife who seems to have it all: a good husband, two kids, a nice house… But the semblance of a perfect façade starts cracking when her friend Betty (Melanie Lynskey) turns up dead and Candy is accused of murdering her after having an affair with Betty’s husband (Pablo Schreiber).
The Lincoln Lawyer (May 13), Netflix: Here, Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo plays the idealist Mickey Haller, a lawyer who runs his practice out of the back seat of his Lincoln. Michael Connelly fans can rejoice since — with Bosch: Legacy — this is the second adaptation of one of his novel series to hit screens this month. The first season of The Lincoln Lawyer will follow the second book in Connelly’s Lincoln series, The Brass Verdict. Connelly’s work had previously been adapted in the 2011 film that starred Matthew McConaughey as Haller.
The Essex Serpent (May 13), Apple TV+: This limited series is based on Sarah Perry’s novel of the same name and stars Claire Danes as Cora Seaborne. She’s a London widow who moves to Essex to investigate reports of a mythical serpent. She bonds with the local pastor (Tom Hiddleston) over science and skepticism. But a tragic incident prompts the locals to accuse her of attracting the creature.
Conversations With Friends (May 15), Hulu: If you too followed Winona Ryder’s path of watching Normal People during lockdown — and being saved by it — you’ll be happy to know there’s a new Hulu limited series adaptation of another Sally Rooney novel on the horizon. Lenny Abrahamson returns as executive producer and director in Conversations With Friends. Rooney is also executive producing but, unlike in Normal People, she isn’t credited as a screenwriter. Jemima Kirke, Sasha Lane and Joe Alwyn star in this story that features Alison Oliver as Frances, a 21-year-old college student navigating life and relationships.
The Time Traveler’s Wife (May 15), HBO: Steven Moffat (Dr. Who) adapts Audrey Niffenegger’s romantic science fiction novel of the same name. “The Time Traveler’s Wife follows the intricate and magical love story between Clare (Rose Leslie) and Henry (Theo James), and a marriage with a problem…time travel,” reads the HBO synopsis. Moffat has talked about how he loved the idea of time travel affecting romance when he first read the book.
“What is brilliant and thrilling about the interaction of time travel and a love story here is [that] it makes the most common phenomenon of a completely happy marriage interesting again,” he said during a virtual press conference in front of the Television Critics Association. Niffenegger’s book had previously been adapted in the 2009 movie that starred Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana.
Now & Then (May 20), Apple TV+: This bilingual thriller, both in Spanish and English, centers on a group of college friends whose lives change forever when one of them ends up dead during a celebratory weekend. Twenty years later, the remaining five friends are reunited after being blackmailed. The international cast is headed by Rosie Perez, Marina de Tavira, Maribel Verdú and José María Yazpik.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (May 25), Disney+: This may be the one fandom-adjacent title that the geekier side of Ask Media Group’s team of editors and writers is actually excited about. The Scottish actor Ewan McGregor dons the titular Jedi’s garb once again in this six-episode series that will explore Obi-Wan Kenobi’s exile on Tatooine prior to the events of the original 1977 Star Wars film.
Pistol (May 31), Hulu: This FX original is a six-episode limited series that chronicles the ascension of the Sex Pistols to worldwide fame. The show is based on Steve Jones’ memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol. “This is the story of a band of spotty, noisy, working-class kids with ‘no future,’ who shook the boring, corrupt Establishment to its chore, threatened to bring down the government and changed music and culture forever,” reads the FX synopsis.
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) serves as an executive producer. The show stars Toby Wallace as Steve Jones, Jacob Slater as Paul Cook, Anson Boon as John Lydon, Christian Lees as Glen Matlock, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde, Talulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood, Maisie Williams as punk icon and model Jordan, Emma Appleton as Nancy Spungen and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Malcolm McLaren.
Must-See Returning TV on Streaming
The Wilds, Season 2 (May 6), Prime Video: Missing Yellowjackets? We are too. But while we wait for the second season of the Showtime teenage drama series, maybe we can sample this Prime Video original with a similar premise: a group of girls gets stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes. But in The Wilds, they didn’t end up on the island by accident — they’re the subjects of a social experiment. Season two introduces more test subjects: a group of teenage boys who are stranded on a different island.
Hacks, Season 2 (May 12), HBO Max: One of our favorite comedies from last year returns for a speedy second season to showcase, once again, Emmy winner Jean Smart’s many talents. The new episodes see the veteran comedian Deborah Vance (Smart) on tour across the country. She’s joined by sharp writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) who helps Deborah workshop material for her new stand-up act. But Ava’s betrayal at the end of last season — she sent an email with damaging information about Deborah to a couple of TV producers — looms large over her.
Stranger Things, Season 4, Volume 1 (May 27), Netflix: The 1980s-set fantasy drama returns for a fourth season in which El (Millie Bobby Brown), Joyce (Winona Ryder), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Will (Noah Schnapp) are now living in sunny California, far away from Hawkins, Indiana, and the town’s troublingly easy access to the Upside Down. Chances are we’ll all need a recap of what happened during Stranger Things’ season three finale, which first streamed in July of 2019. Just a reminder that, yes, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is very much alive.
Movies and Documentaries on Streaming
Here, we’ve included a selection of films that will debut on streaming as well as movies that first premiered in theaters and are now available digitally.
Along for the Ride (May 6), Netflix: This romantic drama stars Emma Pasarow as Auden and Belmont Cameli as Eli. Auden is an overachiever whose whole life has been about school and her mom’s (Andie MacDowell) world. She spends her last summer before college in the seaside town of Colby, where her father (Dermot Mulroney) lives. There she meets Eli, a fellow insomniac. At night, Eli helps Auden experience the teen life she never had — or knew she wanted.
The Takedown (Loin du périph) (May 6), Netflix: Fans of Lupin and Omar Sy rejoice. The French actor again joins Lupin director Louis Leterrier in this buddy comedy that also stars Laurent Lafitte. This sequel to the 2012 film On the Other Side of the Tracks (De l’autre côté du périph) sees Sy and Lafitte playing two very different cops. The two police agents reunite for a new investigation that takes them across France. “What seemed to be a simple drug deal turns out to be a high scale criminal case wrapped in danger and unexpected comedy,” reads the Netflix synopsis. And remember that even if Netflix defaults to showing you this movie dubbed in English, we recommend you opt for the original French version with subtitles instead.
Sheryl (May 6), Showtime: Told through present-day interviews with Sheryl Crow; behind-the-scenes footage from her studio sessions and time on the road; and archival footage from the last 20 years, Sheryl tells the story of the iconic singer-songwriter. Keith Richards, Laura Dern, Joe Walsh, Emmylou Harris and Brandi Carlile are also interviewed in this story. “Director Amy Scott navigates Crow’s seminal yet hard-fought musical career battling sexism, depression, perfectionism, cancer, and the price of fame — before harnessing the power of her gift,” reads Showtime’s synopsis of this documentary.
Operation Mincemeat (May 11), Netflix: Based on a real event that would change the course of World War II, as well as the non-fiction book by Ben Macintyre that relates said event, this film stars Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen as two intelligence officers who came up with the most improbable of plans. The British forces were about to strike Sicily’s southern shore but the Nazis knew about it. The intelligence officers devised a plot to convince Germany that the target was actually Greece: A corpse would wash up on shore in Spain bearing fake papers. Given the fascists’ network there, the intelligence officers hoped that those documents would make their way into the enemy’s hands, giving them the wrong information. The first part of the plan would be to find a dead man.
The New York Times Presents: Elon Musk’s Crash Course (May 20), FX and Hulu: After a first season of The New York Times Presents, which featured two compelling episodes dedicated to Britney Spears, season two opens with a film dedicated to one of the most influential and controversial figures of the last few years: Elon Musk.
“A New York Times investigation reveals the quixotic nature of Musk’s pursuit of self-driving technology, and the tragic results. Drawing on first-hand accounts, the film traces how Autopilot has been a factor in several deaths and dozens of other accidents that Tesla has not publicly acknowledged,” says the FX logline of this documentary. “It details pressure Elon Musk put on government officials to quash investigations and features inside stories from several former Tesla employees, who speak out against Musk for promoting a self-driving program that they believe was perilous.”
And a Few Movies You’ll Only Be Able to Watch in Theaters
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6): The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first 2022 film after last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home is a sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange. While Benedict Cumberbatch returns to the titular role, Sam Raimi — director of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy — helms this film that’ll also feature past MCU characters, including Wong (Benedict Wong), Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), with the addition of fan favorite comics character America Chavez played by Xochitl Gomez (The Baby-Sitters Club). And yes, Patrick Stewart also stars here in what could be the return of his Professor Charles Xavier and — with him — the addition of the X-Men to the MCU.
Happening (May 6): This film, directed and co-written by Audrey Diwan, is set in 1963 France, a time in which abortion wasn’t yet legal in the European country. Anamaria Vartolomei plays Anne, a young student with a promising future. “But when she falls pregnant, she sees the opportunity to finish her studies and escape the constraints of her social background disappearing. With her final exams fast approaching and her belly growing, Anne resolves to act, even if she has to confront shame and pain, even if she must risk prison to do so,” reads the movie’s logline.
Pleasure (May 13): Ninja Thyberg writes and makes her feature directorial debut with this portrayal of the porn industry in Los Angeles. Sofia Kappel plays Bella Cherry, an ambitious actress determined to become the best — at any cost — in the adult industry.
Men (May 20): After Ex Machina, Annihilation and the trippy TV show Devs, Alex Garland returns as writer and director of a film that’s simply titled Men. The film stars Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter) as Harper and Rory Kinnear, who dons a variety of wigs and prosthetic teeth to play different men throughout the movie. After a tragic personal loss, Harper retreats to the countryside, hoping to heal. “But someone or something from the surrounding woods appears to be stalking her. What begins as simmering dread becomes a fully-formed nightmare, inhabited by her darkest memories and fears,” reads the A24 synopsis of this idiosyncratic horror film.
Downton Abbey: A New Era (May 20): First there were the six seasons of the television drama about a family of British aristocrats, their estate and the servants who ensured everything ran smoothly. Then there was a 2019 movie. And now it’s time for a film sequel: A New Era. Julian Fellowes, the creator of the show, returns once more as the writer. And, yes, the good news is that despite the dire health diagnosis the Dowager Countess revealed to her granddaughter Mary (Michelle Dockery) at the end of the previous movie, Maggie Smith returns to A New Era to dispense fresh doses of perfectly delivered puns. She seems to have inherited a French villa and the whole clan won’t resist the temptation to visit it.
Top Gun: Maverick (May 27): The original Top Gun opened in 1986. Now, this sequel that’s been decades in the making — and spent years waiting to be released due to the pandemic — follows Tom Cruise’s Maverick after he’s served more than 30 years as a pilot in the Navy. When he has to train a group of Top Gun graduates for an impossible mission (pun intended), Maverick meets Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his long-lost friend Goose. Expect spectacular aerial sequences and a lot of need for speed.