At long last summer is upon us, and Netflix has taken the opportunity to smother us with their #content. As the networks wind down their regular scripted series and dial up the reality-show insanity, streaming services and cable channels swoop into deliver that sweet, sweet content straight to our eye sockets. There are plenty of treats to look forward to this summer, starting with the delicious (literally — it made me hungry) second season of Master of None, which lands this Friday. Then, get ready for the long-awaited return of Twin Peaks at the end of the month. Beyond May, there are lots of new series on the horizon, including two juicy new dramas from TNT, a pot comedy starring Kathy Bates, a fascinating three-part documentary on the history of making records in the U.S., and a series about working standup comics in 1970s L.A. Happy watching!
5/12: Master of None (Netflix)
TV’s friendliest show returns this month for its second season, nearly a year and a half after the first. It’s worth the wait: Season 2 doubles down on everything that makes the show great. The second season has a definite narrative arc, one that feels more confident than the plotline of the first, and yet it maintains the show’s loose, dreamy vibe. It’s a playful series, which works perfectly for Netflix — every episode is a little adventure, not necessarily picking up where the last one left off. (And yes, Aziz Ansari’s parents are back and better than ever.)
5/12: I Love Dick (Amazon)
In retrospect, the success of Transparent was kind of a miracle. Even so, I don’t expect Jill Soloway’s latest creation — a TV adaptation of the 1997 Chris Kraus book I Love Dick — to get the same kind of mainstream love. The series centers on Chris (an amazing Kathryn Hahn), a woman on the edge of 40 who accompanies her husband to an art institute in Marfa, Texas where he’s received a fellowship. There, she becomes obsessed with her husband’s advisor, Dick (Kevin Bacon, who else), who sparks Chris’s sexual and creative awakening. I Love Dick is bold, unapologetically female-gazing television.
5/16: American Epic (PBS)
Robert Redford narrates this three-part documentary on the “‘Big Bang’ of modern popular music.” American Epic explores the rise of recorded music in the 1920s, as radio forced the record companies to branch out of the big city and venture into the Appalachians, the Mississippi Delta, the Texas-Mexico border, and many other places where for the first time, non-professionals were able to record their sounds. The vast majority of those recordings have not survived, but through film footage, photographs, and interviews, American Epic aims to reclaim this lost history. The doc caps off with a feature-length film called The American Epic Sessions in which Jack White and T Bone Burnett, inevitably, reassemble the recording system from the ’20s and tape performances by 20 contemporary artists, including Alabama Shakes, Raphael Saadiq, Elton John, Beck, and Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
5/19: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has the same volume of jokes as their previous sitcom, 30 Rock, but with more heart. (I mean, when you center your comedy around a woman who spent 15 years being held against her will in a bunker, it should probably have more heart than 30 Rock.) In the new season, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) continues to adjust to life as an adult, enrolling in college and dealing with the newfound presence of her captor (Jon Hamm) in her life. But the real headline here — aside from guest appearances by Laura Dern, Daveed Diggs, Rachel Dratch, Ray Liotta, Andrea Martin, and Maya Rudolph — is the Lemonade homage prompted by Titus (Tituss Burgess) and his boyfriend, Mikey (Mike Carlsen).
5/21: Twin Peaks (Showtime)
In characteristically Lynchian fashion, critics will not be receiving advanced screeners of the Twin Peaks revival; as David Lynch, the co-creator of the original series, with Mark Frost, put it to Entertainment Weekly, “People want to know right up until they know, and then they don’t care.” Tell me about it. So we’re all in the dark here together, which feels appropriate for this cult classic about the mysterious death of a pretty blonde teenage girl and a picturesque Pacific Northwest logging town that’s home to many dark secrets. Most of the original cast is returning, along with an insanely long list of guest stars, and Lynch and Frost have written all 18 new episodes, which Lynch will direct.
Next up: June