If you’re looking for a little bit of guidance on picking something to watch on one of the myriad streaming services not named Netflix, look no further. (If you are looking for Netflix, click here.)
I took an expedition into the overgrown lists of new April arrivals on Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and Hulu and dragged out the two most promising new titles on each of these major other streaming services. If you stick to the path I’ve cut for you with this vouched-for movies and shows, you’ll avoid getting lost in the streaming jungle and succumbing to the dreaded condition of option paralysis. Won’t you put on your finest adventure gear (sweatpants and a t-shirt) and join me on this journey?
Without further ado, these are the best new shows, documentaries, and movies to watch in April 2021.
April 9 | Trailer
Rising mogul Lena Waithe (Master of None, Queen & Slim, a million other things) executive-produces this horror anthology series from creator Little Marvin. It’s the latest horror project to mine the experiences of Black people in America for surreal but grounded terror. (There’s no shortage of Black horror stories like this to tell, unfortunately, because the horrors of American racism are boundless.) This season–which Amazon hopes will be the first of many–follows the first Black family to move into a white neighborhood in Compton in the 1950s. Their home becomes a nexus of terror, both from their racist neighbors who are trying to drive them out to a supernatural evil lurking under the surface. It looks like it’ll get under your skin.
April 16 | Trailer
What’s more charming than one Gleeson? Two Gleesons! Brothers Domhnall and Brian Gleeson (sons of the great Irish actor Brendan Gleeson) write (along with Michael Moloney, not a brother) and star in this comedy series about the titular 33-year-old man who won’t grow up. Even his own mother can’t stand him and wishes he would move out. But there’s something about him you can’t help but like, isn’t there? He’s an entitled, immature wanker, but he’s funny. Brian plays Frank, while his more famous brother Domhnall plays his best friend, Doofus. Keep your eyes peeled for an appearance by their father as well. Catastrophe’s Sharon Horgan is an executive producer, to give you an idea of the acid-tongued wit you can expect.
April 16 | Trailer
Disney+ is funny. The streaming service has a new Mighty Ducks sequel series, Game Changers, that just premiered on March 26, and it’s quickly following that up with another series that has almost the same premise as The Mighty Ducks, where a humbled hotshot finds redemption through coaching a youth sports team. John Stamos stars as the coach, Marvyn Korn, who, after losing his prestigious men’s NCAA coaching job due to an on-court meltdown, gets a job coaching a girls’ high school basketball team. These girls are not at all phased by his macho posturing and intimidation tactics. In fact, they won’t tolerate it. But they also don’t win games. In order to connect with his players and help them win on the court and in life, he has to learn to be empathetic and vulnerable. The show was developed by superproducer David E. Kelley (The Undoing, most recently) and Everybody Loves Raymond’s Brad Garrett, of all people. Like other Disney+ shows, this is a weekly release.
Secrets of the Whales
April 22 | Trailer
This four-part National Geographic nature documentary is all about the sea’s most soulful creatures, and it’s arriving just in time for Earth Day. It follows five different whale species: orcas, humpbacks, belugas, narwhals, and sperm whales. Filmed over three years in 24 locations all over the world, this docuseries gives one of the most in-depth looks at whale society ever caught on (very wet) camera. It’s executive-produced by James Cameron and narrated by Sigourney Weaver. I don’t know about you, but I get very emotional about whales. They’re like giant people who live in the ocean and eat tons of krill!
Godzilla vs. Kong
March 31 | Trailer
The age-old debate is finally going to be settled. Who do you think is going to win? I couldn’t imagine how Kong could possibly beat Godzilla, but then I saw the greatest ape wielding that battle axe in the trailer, so now I’m not sure. If Kong is a combination of Hulk and Thor now, maybe he can pull it off. He’s smart! He can use tools and communicate in sign language! The reviews are in, and critics are mostly describing it as delivering on the brainless spectacle it promises, which sounds pretty good to me. If I’m watching something called Godzilla vs. Kong, all I want to see is King Kong swinging Godzilla around by his tail into a skyscraper, you know? Technically this is a March release, but it’s only going to be available until April 30, so I think it can count it as an April title. And if you want to catch up on the film history of these two titans before you dive in, we’ve got a primer for that!
Mare of Easttown
April 18 | Trailer
Kate Winslet returns to HBO for the first time since her Emmy-winning turn in 2011’s Mildred Pierce with this limited series that will likely put her in Emmy contention once again. Winslet plays Mare Sheehan, a detective in a small Pennsylvania town who’s trying to solve a high-profile murder while her life falls apart. The weight of the whole town and her whole family is on her shoulders, which may as well be the whole world. The series comes from Brad Ingelsby, a screenwriter with a keen eye for character, as shown in films like Out of the Furnace and The Way Back, as well as the culture of his native Pennsylvania, where many of his films are set. It’s directed by The Leftovers and Westworld‘s Craig Zobel. The incomparable Jean Smart (Watchmen, Fargo) plays Mare’s mother. This won’t be a light watch, but it will probably be rewarding for people who want to see some great acting. Episodes arrive on HBO Max weekly after airing on HBO.
April 2 | Trailer
One of America’s latest and greatest cautionary tales about the perils of too much money and not enough sense is the rise and fall of WeWork, the glorified office rental service that raised billions of dollars from credulous investors who fell for founder Adam Neumann’s big-talking b.s. about creating a world in his own hard-partying, messianic image. The company’s implosion from having a valuation larger than the economy of a small nation to one less than the billions of dollars invested is the biggest collapse in start-up history. You’ll be horrified that anyone fell for this, let alone supposedly sophisticated people with billions to burn. It’s like Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, except instead of medical technology that not everyone could understand, even the most blinkered Robinhood trader could look at WeWork’s business and see it made no sense. It’s a documentary with the arc of a Scorsese movie.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4
April 28 | Trailer
The Handmaid’s Tale is no longer “under his eye.” The new season of the dystopian drama adds a little dash of hope to the notoriously bleak show, in time with changes in America’s cultural and political landscape. The world has changed a lot since Season 3 streamed in 2019, but June’s (Elisabeth Moss) struggle to cast off the yoke of Gilead’s authoritarian patricharcy continues. With June in open rebellion against Gilead and on the run, her nemesis Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) is going after her with everything she has, putting the two women on a collision course fans have been waiting for for years. The first three episodes drop on Wednesday, April 28, followed by weekly releases for the rest of the season.