Feel like there’s just too much to watch these days? You’re not alone. And it’s about to get worse.
We’re experiencing an avalanche of prestige television — the single busiest stretch of the year — and it’s all thanks to a tweak in Emmy eligibility rules. This year, in order to qualify for Emmy nominations, a series must complete its run before the May 31 deadline (previously they only needed a majority of their episodes to air before the deadline). So hoping that Emmy voters are swayed by recency bias, a lot of contenders are coming out at the same time.
It’s not a bad thing — no one’s bemoaning new episodes of “Succession,” “Barry,” “Ted Lasso,” “The Mandalorian,” “Yellowjackets” and a host of newcomers — but it does take a bit of planning to watch them all. Or even most.
Each month, this column offers tips on how to maximize your streaming and your budget, rating the major services as a “play,” “pause” or “stop” — similar to investment analysts’ traditional ratings of buy, hold or sell. We also pick the best content to help you make your monthly decisions.
Consumers can take full advantage of cord-cutting with a churn-and-return strategy — adding and dropping streaming services each month. All it takes is good planning. Keep in mind that a billing cycle starts when you sign up, not necessarily at the beginning of the month, and keep an eye out for lower-priced tiers, limited-time discounts, free trials and cost-saving bundles. There are a lot of offers out there, but the deals don’t last forever.
Here’s a look at what’s coming to the various streaming services in April 2023, and what’s really worth the monthly subscription fee.
HBO Max ($9.99 a month with ads, or $15.99 with no ads)
HBO Max will have an astounding amount of top-notch programming in April.
The pitch-black comedy “Barry” (April 16), one of the best series on TV and likely the most jaw-droppingly audacious, returns for its fourth and final season, with the eponymous hitman/actor (played by Emmy-winner Bill Hader) in prison and finally facing the consequences for his murderous lifestyle, while Gene (Henry Winkler), Sally (Sarah Goldberg) and NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) cope with their Barry-free lives. But don’t expect any of that to go smoothly.
And there are a pair of shows back for the second seasons: “Somebody Somewhere” (April 23), the warm and heartfelt dramedy about loss and acceptance, starring Bridget Everett as a woman who returns to her hometown in Kansas to rebuild her life; and “100 Foot Wave” (April 16), the visceral and visually stunning docuseries about big-wave surfers testing their physical and mental limits off Nazaré, Portugal. (The first season gave me nightmares about drowning. It’s intense.)
More: Here’s everything new coming to HBO Max in April 2023 — and what’s leaving
HBO’s also got the limited series “Love & Death” (April 27), which covers the same ground as Hulu’s 2022 miniseries “Candy,” though this time around Elizabeth Olsen, Patrick Fugit and Jesse Plemons star in the true-crime story of a Texas housewife accused of ax-murdering her best friend in the 1980s; “Music Box: Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed” (April 7), a new installment of the music documentary series from Bill Simmons, focusing on acclaimed singer/songwriter Jason Isbell and his creative process; and a new season of the Emmy-winning comedy “A Black Lady Sketch Show” (April 14), starring Robin Thede, Gabrielle Dennis, and Skye Townsend and featuring a ton of celebrity guests.
There’s also Team USA soccer, with the women taking on Ireland in a World Cup warmup (April 11) and the men facing archrival Mexico (April 19), as well as new episodes every week of “Succession” (still spectacular in its final season), “Perry Mason” (which has significantly improved in its second season) and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (which finds a way to always be thought-provoking and hilarious).
FYI, HBO Max will reportedly soon be rebranded as just “Max,” and will add much of Discovery+’s content. Expect more details from owner Warner Bros. Discovery WBD,
Who’s HBO Max for? HBO fans and movie lovers.
Play, pause or stop? Play. The best TV of the year is on right now, on HBO Max, and no other streaming service or channel is even close. It’s worth every penny.
Apple TV+ ($6.99 a month)
There’s more on Apple AAPL,
The musical parody “Schmigadoon!” (April 5) returns for its second season, starring Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key as a couple who once again stumble into a magical world, this time inspired by “Chicago” and Broadway musicals of the ’60s and ’70s.
Based on the bestselling novel by Laura Dave, the miniseries thriller “The Last Thing He Told Me” (April 14) stars Jennifer Garner as a woman who must team up with her teenage stepdaughter (Angourie Rice) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her husband (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). There’s also “Drops of God” (April 21), an eight-episode multilingual drama about a French woman who must compete to win the extraordinary wine collection of her deceased, estranged father, based on the acclaimed Japanese manga series; and “Ghosted” (April 21), an action rom-com movie starring Chris Evans as a guy who gets, well, ghosted after a first date with a woman he’s smitten with (Ana de Armas). Turns out she’s a super spy and had to leave without a trace. Hijinks ensue.
Aside from the still-delightful “Ted Lasso,” there are also new eps every week of the climate-change-themed anthology series “Extrapolations,” which features a killer cast and an intriguing premise but ultimately fails to satisfy; “Big Door Prize,” the existential sci-fi dramedy starring Chris O’Dowd (“Moone Boy”); and live sports, such as Major League Soccer, and Major League Baseball every Friday night.
One note: The second season of the fantastic ensemble comedy/mystery “The Afterparty” was supposed to premiere in April, but it’s been postponed until July.
Who’s Apple TV+ for? It offers a little something for everyone, but not necessarily enough for anyone — although it’s getting there.
Play, pause or stop? Play. It’s still worth it for “Ted Lasso” alone, and April adds a little something for everyone.
Netflix ($6.99 a month for basic with ads, $9.99 basic with no ads, $15.49 standard with no ads, $19.99 premium with no ads)
Netflix is loading up on big-name releases as well in April. At the top of the list is “Beef” (April 6), a dramedy starring Ali Wong and Steven Yeun as strangers who get into a road-rage incident that sparks an escalating feud. It’s getting fantastic early reviews and should be one to watch.
Meanwhile, Keri Russell returns with her first TV leading role since “The Americans” with the political thriller “The Diplomat” (April 20), starring as the new U.S. ambassador to the U.K. who’s in over her head and immediately gets caught up in an international crisis that also threatens her marriage. The showrunner is Debora Cahn, who also produced “Homeland” and “The West Wing,” and this series looks like a bit of both.
See: Here’s everything new coming to Netflix in April 2023 — and what’s leaving
And while Netflix is losing “New Girl” on April 7, it’s gaining the final season of the brilliant “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul” (April 18), which ended its run on AMC last year. It’s also keeping “Arrested Development,” after a last-minute licensing deal with Disney.
And for a fun binge, the hilariously dense mockumentary “Cunk on Earth” and the fast-paced political thriller “The Night Agent” both fit the bill.
Who’s Netflix for? Fans of buzz-worthy original shows and movies.
Play, pause or stop? Play. “Beef” could soon be on must-watch lists, and Netflix has a pretty solid lineup besides that.
Hulu ($7.99 a month with ads, or $14.99 with no ads)
Hulu has a handful of originals for April, including “Tiny Beautiful Things” (April 7), a miniseries starring Kathryn Hahn as an advice columnist whose own life is falling apart, based on the best-selling collection by Cheryl Strayed, of “Wild” fame; and “Saint X” (April 26), an eight-episode crime drama based on the novel by Alexis Schaitkin, about a young woman seeking answers after her sister’s mysterious death years earlier while on vacation in the Caribbean. Both series span multiple timelines, which is becoming a worrisome cliché in today’s TV landscape.
There’s also Season 3 of “Dave” (April 6), the surprisingly deep (and deeply funny) series about a neurotic white rapper, streaming a day after new episodes air on FXX; Season 2 of the dramedy “Single Drunk Female” (April 13), starring Sofia Black-D’Elia and Ally Sheedy, streaming a day after new eps air on Freeform; and “Dear Mama” (April 22), a five-part docuseries about late rapper Tupac Shakur and his mother, revolutionary and activist Afeni Shakur.
See: Here’s everything coming to Hulu in April 2023 — and what’s leaving
But Hulu’s biggest addition of the month is an old series — the hangout sitcom “New Girl” (April 17), which became a huge streaming hit at Netflix years after its run ended on Fox. All seven seasons will leave Netflix after its licensing deal expires in April, and they’ll move to Hulu and Peacock.
Who’s Hulu for? TV lovers. There’s a deep library for those who want older TV series and next-day streaming of many current network and cable shows.
Play, pause or stop? Pause and think it over. April’s offerings look good but not great, but Hulu’s deep library and selection of next-day network shows could tip the scales.
Paramount+ ($4.99 a month with ads, $9.99 with no ads, $11.99 a month with Showtime)
You can’t turn on Paramount+ without tripping over a rebooted series, and the big one this month is “Fatal Attraction” (April 30). Lizzy Caplan and Joshua Jackson star in the series adaptation of the 1980s psychological thriller about an affair gone off the rails. The twist this time around is that the story unfolds in two parallel timelines, one with all the bunny-boiling action and one 15 years later, dealing with the aftermath. (Showtime’s “The Affair” essentially did all this over its five seasons, but it’s been four whole years since that ended, so … shrug emoji.)
There’s also “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” (April 6), a prequel to the ’70s musical smash, as well as new seasons of the reanimated “Rugrats” (April 14) and “Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-head” (4/20, of course), the CMT Music Awards (April 2), and the addition of all five seasons of Comedy Central’s late, great “Broad City” (April 5).
Paramount+ also has a ton of live sports, including the men’s Final Four (April 1) and national championship game (April 3), The Masters (April 6-9), NWSL soccer and UEFA Champions League and Europa League quarterfinal games.
And while Paramount+ and Showtime aren’t officially merging until later this year (along with a price hike), those who have already bundled the two will be able to check out new episodes every week of the addictive puzzle-box thriller “Yellowjackets”; the five-part drama “Waco: The Aftermath” (April 14), a courtroom drama starring Michael Shannon and Giovanni Ribisi and a follow-up to 2018’s “Waco” miniseries starring Taylor Kitsch; “Personality Crisis: One Night Only” (April 14), a documentary about New York Dolls punk singer David Johansen, aka Buster Poindexter, directed by Martin Scorsese; and “Catching Lightning” (April 7), a docuseries about brawler/UFC fighter/bank robber “Lightning” Lee Murray.
Who’s Paramount+ for? Gen X cord-cutters who miss live sports and familiar Paramount Global PARA,
Play, pause or stop? Pause. There’s a great sports lineup, “Yellowjackets” is fantastic, and “Fatal Attraction” could be worth checking out.
Amazon Prime Video ($14.99 a month)
Prime Video has a bounty of big-name releases in April, starting with the fifth and final season of the Emmy-winning comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (April 14), as Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) is still breaking rules and expectations, finding herself closer than ever to her elusive goal of success as a standup comedian.
David Cronenberg’s twisted 1988 thriller gets a reboot with “Dead Ringers” (April 21), starring Rachel Weisz as gynecologist twins who creepily share everything, including a desire to conduct ethically questionable fertility experiments.
Then there’s “Citadel” (April 28), a high-gloss, six-episode spy thriller from the Russo brothers (“Avengers: Endgame”) and starring Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas as elite agents who’ve had their memories wiped who must remember their past and fight a global crime syndicate to save the future. It’s reportedly one of the most expensive series ever ($200 million-plus), but Amazon AMZN,
More: Here’s what’s coming to Amazon’s Prime Video in April 2023
And after writing so many coming-of-age books for tweens, the documentary “Judy Blume Forever” (April 21) tells the beloved author’s own coming-of age story and explores her legacy.
Also of note: The buzzy stalker thriller “Swarm,” starring Dominique Fishback, and the full season of the disappointing musical drama “Daisy Jones and the Six.”
Who’s Amazon Prime Video for? Movie lovers, TV-series fans who value quality over quantity.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. Prime Video has a lot in the vault, but none of this month’s additions scream “Watch me now!”
Disney+ ($7.99 a month with ads, $10.99 with no ads)
“The Crossover” (April 5) is the series adaptation of the much-lauded YA book by Kwame Alexander, about brothers who are basketball phenoms, their ex-NBA star father who’s adjusting to life after basketball, and their mother who is finally getting to pursue her own dreams. Looks like a Disney-fied version of Apple’s fantastic “Swagger” (for better or worse). There’s also “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (April 5), a Spanish-language adaptation of the classic Jules Verne tale.
The big draw of the month, though, will be new eps every week of “The Mandalorian,” which is a jarring departure from last fall’s brilliant and mature “Andor,” but still good fun once you remember it’s a kids show. (Though I’m not thrilled at how it’s leaning into another cult that devalues individuality and basic emotions — was nothing learned from the fall of the Jedi?)
Who’s Disney+ for? Families with kids, hardcore “Star Wars” and Marvel fans. For people not in those groups, Disney’s library can be lacking.
Play, pause or stop? Stop. I’ve talked myself out of “The Mandalorian” being essential viewing, and this month’s new releases aren’t must-sees (though “The Crossover” has potential).
Peacock (Premium for $4.99 a month with ads, or $9.99 a month with no ads)
Credit where credit’s due: Peacock has been taking some big swings this year (“Poker Face,” “Paul T. Goldman”), and it’s got another with “Mrs. Davis” (April 20), the new drama from Damon Lindelof (“Lost,” “The Leftovers,” “Watchmen”). Betty Gilpin (“G.L.O.W.”) stars as a nun devoted to taking down the world’s most powerful AI, which she fears could replace God. It’s a little bit sci-fi, a little bit about faith and love and death, and a little bit kick-ass action/comedy about a search for the Holy Grail. It look super weird and very, very intriguing.
Speaking of weird, there’s also “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” (April 27), a “life-affirming,” “Queer Eye”-ish nonscripted series about helping people organize their lives and prepare for death, so they can enjoy living their life. It comes from executive producer Amy Poehler, so it has to be nice, right?
Peacock is also adding all seven seasons of “New Girl” (April 17), to go along with “Wrestlemania 39” (April 1-2) and new episodes of hits like “Top Chef,” “Night Court” and “Magnum P.I.” streaming a day after their first air. On the sports side, there’s a full slate of English Premier League soccer, along with golf, motorsports and, amazingly (um, not in a good way) a new season of the USFL.
Who’s Peacock for? If you have a Comcast CMCSA,
Play, pause or stop? Stop. “Mrs. Davis” could be worth checking out, but you can wait a bit. Peacock’s got nothing else essential at the moment.
One final note: Discovery+ has pretty much abandoned its press site and much of its programming is reportedly soon merging with HBO Max anyway, so I’ve dropped it from this column. On the other hand, Showtime content will be mentioned more often, as it gets combined with Paramount+.
See also: What’s new on Netflix and other streaming services in April 2023