A not-so-Bad Batch: May’s TV premieres include Halston, Hacks, Ziwe, and more

A not-so-Bad Batch: May’s TV premieres include Halston, Hacks, Ziwe, and more

From left: Girls5eva (Photo: Peacock), Jupiter’s Legacy (Photo: Marni Grossman/Netflix), Ziwe (Photo: Barbara Nitke/Showtime), Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. (Image: Hulu)
From left: Girls5eva (Photo: Peacock), Jupiter’s Legacy (Photo: Marni Grossman/Netflix), Ziwe (Photo: Barbara Nitke/Showtime), Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. (Image: Hulu)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

As the world begins to open up once more to social activities (for those who have been fully vaccinated, that is), TV is making a few big plays to keep everyone indoors this May. A new Star Wars animated show, Ziwe’s hotly anticipated Showtime debut, Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of The Underground Railroad, and more true-crime docs and superhero shows await those who are prepared to wait a little longer before going outside again. Camping out in your living room for another month also means catching the exciting returns of DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, In Treatment, Lucifer, and more.

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Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney+): Premieres May 4

Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney+): Premieres May 4

We’d expect nothing less than the latest assortment of Star Wars stories to arrive in time for Disney/Lucasfilm’s annual May the 4th celebration. The Bad Batch follows the eponymous squad of elite clones—Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, and Echo, who are all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker—also known as Clone Force 99, as they deal with the rise of Emperor Palpatine. This sequel/spin-off of The Clone Wars is created by Dave Filoni, who’s also worked on Star Wars: Rebels and The Mandalorian, which means this latest addition to the franchise is in good hands. This new animated series is full of familiar faces/voices: Ming-Na Wen reprises the role of Fennec Shand (though this is a younger version of her Mandalorian character). Tarkin (Stephen Stanton) and Captain Rex (Baker again) will also be back, as well as Saw Gerrera (Andrew Kishino). After a 70-minute premiere on May 4, Star Wars: The Bad Batch will move to its regular time slot on Fridays. [Danette Chavez]

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The Sons Of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness (Netflix): Premieres May 5

The Sons Of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness (Netflix): Premieres May 5

The new limited series The Sons Of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness is about the notorious killer David Berkowitz, who pleaded guilty to eight killings in New York City in the 1970s. He was given the moniker of “The .44 Caliber Killer,” because of his choice of weapon, but he called himself Son of Sam and claimed to be in a satanic cult. The series examines Berkowitz’s crimes, which were considered solved after his arrest. However, journalist Maury Terry was convinced he did not act alone and investigated the case for years, even writing a book about it called The Ultimate Evil. The docuseries will use archival news footage, interviews with people close to the investigation, and Terry’s words and case files to explore the Sons of Sam story, and whether any cult members still exist. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Girls5eva (Peacock): Premieres May 6

Girls5eva (Peacock): Premieres May 6

Girls5eva aims to fill the void left by a quirky comedy like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Set in New York City and executive produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the show centers on four women who try to revive their pop group Girls5eva, which enjoyed a brief stint with fame in 2000. The quartet faces a lot of challenges in trying to stage an official comeback, especially in how they reckon with the fact that their songs didn’t send a positive message. Created by Meredith Scardino, the stacked cast includes Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell, Busy Philipps, and Daniel Breaker, with appearances from Ashley Park and Andrew Rannells. Since it’s a musical comedy, expect a good number of original songs. [Saloni Gajjar]

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That Damn Michael Che (HBO Max): Premieres May 6

That Damn Michael Che (HBO Max): Premieres May 6

Michael Che has risen in the ranks at Saturday Night Live, now serving as both co-anchor for “Weekend Update” and co-head writer for the sketch comedy series. Che draws from that background for his first solo series outing, That Damn Michael Che, a new HBO Max comedy that combines sketches, vignettes, and the comedian’s perspective on various subjects (policing, falling in love). Each episode will center on a different topic, which will be explored in scenes featuring guest stars like Cecily Strong, Billy Porter, Method Man, and Colin Quinn. Che’s offering a look at the inner workings of his mind, even if, as he muses in the trailer, it means “being canceled by the liberal media.” [Danette Chavez]

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Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix): Premieres May 7

Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix): Premieres May 7

Comic writer Mark Millar is a big fan of deconstructing superheroes, whether it’s in Marvel’s original Civil War event or his Kick-Ass series, and now superhero movies and TV shows have been around long enough that there’s a healthy market for deconstructions there as well. That’s where Netflix’s adaptation of Jupiter’s Legacy comes in. The book, created by Millar and artist Frank Quitely, is about the children of the world’s first superheroes and the struggles they face while growing up in the shadow of an impossible ideal. Though this trailer seems like it’s meant to be a call to action for a superhero to someday rise up and save the world, it’s actually just illustrating the kind of crushing pressure that the super-kids are under. The series, which comes from Steven S. DeKnight (of Spartacus fame), will star Josh Duhamel, Ben Daniels, Leslie Bibb, and Elena Kampouris. [Sam Barsanti]

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Ziwe (Showtime): Premieres May 9

Ziwe (Showtime): Premieres May 9

One of the year’s most anticipated debuts is created and led by Ziwe Fumudoh, the former Desus & Mero writer who revolutionized interviewing in her Instagram Live show Baited. Intensely charismatic and charmingly intense, Fumudoh rope-a-dopes all manner of performers and celebrities in her new Showtime series. Things have turned left long before the subjects—Fran Lebowitz and Adam Pally, among others—realize. But while Fumudoh’s honed her “gotcha” technique to surgical precision, her eponymous show will offset (or ratchet up) the discomfort with sketches and musical numbers. Still, anyone planning to sit across from Fumudoh on the glamorous new set of Ziwe should be prepared to withstand her withering stare. The writing staff includes Cole Escola (Search Party), Jamund Washington (Random Acts Of Flyness), Jordan Mendoza (Cry Battle), and comedian Michelle Davis. As if that weren’t enough, Patti Harrison appears in one of the show’s music videos, “Stop Being Poor.” [Danette Chavez]

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The Crime Of The Century: Premieres May 10

The Crime Of The Century: Premieres May 10

Alex Gibney documentaries have become cultural events: 2015’s Scientology exposé Going Clear and 2019’s Theranos film The Inventor felt almost like blockbusters, and in 2020, the documentarian tackled both Russian interference in the 2016 election (Agents Of Chaos) and the Trump administration’s bungling of the COVID-19 pandemic (Totally Under Control). Now, he’s taking on another timely topic with HBO’s The Crime Of The Century, which is about how “Big Pharma” manipulated the medical community into creating a crisis that has killed thousands and thousands of people and made a bunch of terrible pharmaceutical company executives obscenely wealthy. Gibney’s documentaries aren’t always a fun watch, but if the last few are any indication, this could at least reignite some much-needed discussion of the opioid crisis. [Sam Barsanti]

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The Upshaws (Netflix): Premieres May 12

The Upshaws (Netflix): Premieres May 12

Netflix is ramping up its sitcom slate. First, the streamer released the Jamie Foxx-led Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! Now here come The Upshaws, a new series co-created by Wanda Sykes and Regina Hicks. In the comedy, Bennie (Mike Epps) is the patriarch of The Upshaws, a Black working-class family in Indianapolis. He’s a charming mechanic, but has a knack for being a mess as he tries to care for his family, including his wife, their two young daughters and a newborn, as well as a teenage son he fathered with another woman. Sykes co-stars as Bennie’s sister-in-law. The cast includes Kim Fields, Page Kennedy, Diamond Lyons, Khali Daniya-Renee Spraggins, Jermelle Simon, Gabrielle Dennis, and Journey Christine. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Hacks (HBO): Premieres May 13

Hacks (HBO): Premieres May 13

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Hacks is already stoking high hopes. The HBO Max comedy hails from Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello, and Jen Statsky—all alumni of Broad City—and is led by the iconic Jean Smart. The Watchmen alum plays an eccentric, legendary stand-up comedian named Deborah Vance. Her glory days seemingly behind her, Deborah feels a bit insecure. Her manager hires a young new writer, Ava (Hannah Einbinder), to help Deborah with her act. The two form an unlikely bond as mentor and mentee, even though they get off on the wrong foot. Downs, Aniello, and Statsky executive produce the series with Michael Schur (who recently scored another hit with Rutherford Falls). Kaitlin Olson, Christopher McDonald, Poppy Liu, and Meg Stalter co-star. [Saloni Gajjar]

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The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres May 14

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres May 14

Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-winning The Underground Railroad pulls into the station this May on Prime Video. The Oscar-winning director helms the 10-part limited series, a taut new thriller with more than a touch of the surreal. Thuso Mbedu stars as Cora Randall, a young Black woman who joins her lover Caesar in a run for freedom far from the antebellum South. Cora’s odyssey is as plagued with unspeakable dangers as any ancient Greek myth, though Jenkins takes care to evoke the sights and sounds of the American South. Joel Edgerton, William Jackson Harper, and Lily Rabe co-star along with Chukwudi Iwuji, Damon Herriman, Irone Singleton, Mychal-Bella Bowman, and more. The ever-conscientious Jenkins knows what he’s up against—not just in terms of the abundance of viewing options, but the growing weariness of stories that trade heavily (perhaps overbearingly) in Black trauma. But as he recently told Vanity Fair, the story he’s crafting is one of “Black victory.” [Danette Chavez]

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Halston (Netflix): Premieres May 14

Halston (Netflix): Premieres May 14

Image of Ewan McGregor, David Pittu, and Rebecca Dayan in Netflix's Halston
Ewan McGregor, David Pittu, and Rebecca Dayan star in Halston
Photo: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

For this limited series, Ewan McGregor transforms into fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick, who was simply and mononymously known as Halston. The project hails from Daniel Minahan, who also directs, and is co-produced by Ryan Murphy, who adds to a Netflix slate that already includes The Politician, Ratched, Hollywood, and The Prom. Halston chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the designer, who became famous in the ’70s for his minimalist designs that helped redefine American fashion. He eventually lost his fashion house in the ’80s before his death in 1990 due to AIDS. The show will also feature Krysta Rodriguez as Liza Minnelli, Rory Culkin as Joel Schumacher, and Rebecca Dayan as Elsa Peretti. Vera Farmiga and Bill Pullman co-star. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Pride (FX): Premieres May 14

Pride (FX): Premieres May 14

This six-part FX docuseries centering on the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. has lined up an impressive array of LGBTQ+ directors, established and up-and-coming: Andrew Ahn (Driveways), Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman), Yance Ford (Strong Island), Ro Haber (Pose), Tom Kalin (Swoon), and Anthony Caronna and Alex Smith (Susanne Bartsch: On Top). Pride begins in the 1950s with “People Had Parties,” which takes a look at the vibrant, defiant lives of queer people as the level of state-sanctioned persecution grew. The docuseries travels to the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, charting the gains and losses of the movement. Archival footage, talking heads, and personal testimonies are woven together in this illuminating new series that arrives just ahead of Pride month. [Danette Chavez]

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Run The World (Starz): Premieres May 16

Run The World (Starz): Premieres May 16

With Living Single, Yvette Lee Bowser both followed in the footsteps of urban sitcoms like Good Times and blazed a new trail for hangout comedies full of personable performers (even if Friends’ pop culture dominance seems to indicate otherwise). Leigh Davenport’s Run The World, which Bowser co-executive produces, is the latest in that line of witty and urbane series. The new Starz comedy is set in Harlem, where a group of friends—Whitney (Amber Stevens West), Ella (Andrea Bordeaux), Renee (Bresha Webb), and Sondi (Corbin Reid)—navigate their early 30s, which are full of professional and personal triumphs and a not inconsiderable amount of disappointment. Whip-smart and sexy (this is Starz), Run The World is poised to be your new Sunday-night appointment viewing. The clothes alone are worth a gander, but Davenport’s put together an immensely charming ensemble with powerful insights on love, career, and feminism. [Danette Chavez]

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Death And Nightingales (Starz): Premieres May 16

Death And Nightingales (Starz): Premieres May 16

The 2018 Irish and British historical drama Death And Nightingales finally arrives in the U.S. via Starz. The miniseries boasts an excellent cast, including Matthew Rhys, Jamie Dornan, and Ann Skelly. Set in the Ireland countryside during 1883, Death And Nightingales follows Beth Winters (Skelly), who goes on the run on her 23rd birthday to escape her stifled life and her difficult relationship with stepfather Billy. She is helped in her mission by Liam Ward (Dornan). The story is full of the kind of tensions that can tear families and nations apart. The three-part limited series is created by Allan Cubitt and is based on Eugene McCabe’s 1992 novel of the same name. The cast also includes Charlene McKenna, Martin McCann, Michael Smiley, and Sean McGinley. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Too Close (AMC+): Premieres May 20

Too Close (AMC+): Premieres May 20

This three-part British psychological thriller stars Chernobyl’s Emily Watson as forensic psychiatrist Emma Robinson. Her new client is a criminal suspect named Connie Mortensen (Denise Gough), but instead of assessing her, Emma falls prey to her manipulative ways while trying to find out more about her past. Their sessions, meant to uncover the secrets behind a death, transform into a complex psychological game. The show also tackles Connie’s grief and what might have prompted her to possibly commit murder. The rest of the cast includes Thalissa Teixeira, Risteárd Cooper, Chizzy Akudolu, Karl Johnson, Eileen Davies, Nina Wadia, and Paul Chahidi. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. (Hulu): Premieres May 21

Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. (Hulu): Premieres May 21

This irreverent take on the Marvel megalomaniac quickly sets itself apart from the avalanche of superhero series out there. M.O.D.O.K.’s look resembles Gumby-style stop-motion animation, which gives it a seemingly limitless three-dimensional universe as M.O.D.O.K. (Patton Oswalt) plots world domination, as is his wont. But this M.O.D.O.K.—short for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killingalso has domestic issues to deal with: His marriage is in shambles, and he has to help his son Lou (Ben Schwartz) come up with a bar mitzvah theme (“like sports… or tugboats!”). Plus, his AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) empire is bankrupt, leading him to sell out to the Google-like conglomerate GRUMBL. M.O.D.O.K.’s incessant bluster easily draws laughs (aided by Oswalt’s over-the-top delivery), and the action sways chaotically from laser battles to video game attacks (getting more gory than Gumby ever did). The vocal performances are top-notch, including Beck Bennett as ponytailed GRUMBL exec Austin, Nathan Fillion as M.O.D.O.K.’s romantic rival Wonder Man, and Jon Hamm as Iron Man. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Solos (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres May 21

Solos (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres May 21

Image of Constance Wu in Amazon Prime Video's Solos
Constance Wu stars in Solos
Photo: Amazon Studios

David Weil follows up 2020’s Hunters with Solos, a dramatic science-fiction anthology that ponders the meaning of life, what it means to be human, and how our shared experiences connect us even in moments of isolation. That synopsis sounds eerily perfect after how everyone has spent the last many months of the pandemic. The cast of Solos is exceptional, even in this era of Peak TV; it includes the likes of Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Dan Stevens, Uzo Aduba, Constance Wu, Nicole Beharie, and Anthony Mackie. Solos is the latest series produced as part of Weil’s overall deal with Amazon. [Saloni Gajjar]

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The Bite (Spectrum Originals): Premieres May 21

The Bite (Spectrum Originals): Premieres May 21

Is it too soon to create a satirical TV show about COVID-19? Yes. But if anyone is equipped to handle an attempt, it’s The Bite creators Robert and Michelle King, known for dramas like The Good Wife, The Good Fight, and the much more on-sci-fi-brand Evil and BrainDead. In The Bite, a fictional strain of the coronavirus basically turns infected people into zombies. The six-episode season centers on Rachel (Taylor Schilling), whose husband works for the CDC, and her upstairs neighbor Lily (Audra McDonald), who works on Wall Street, as they embark on a dangerous adventure. The show also stars Phillipa Soo, Will Swenson, and Leslie Uggams. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Flatbush Misdemeanors (Showtime): Premieres May 23

Flatbush Misdemeanors (Showtime): Premieres May 23

Kevin Iso and Dan Perlman bring their 2017 webseries to Showtime in this 10-episode first season. The half-hour comedy follows Iso and Perlman as they play fictionalized versions of themselves. Kevin and Dan are longtime friends who try to connect with others while living in the brash neighborhood of Flatbush, Brooklyn. The show offers a grounded and raw look at city life while poking fun at the growing gentrification of the area, including tracking hipsters. Dan and Kevin try to find the little wins as they also address mental health issues. The show stars Kristin Dodson, Zuri Reed, and Sharlene Cruz. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Panic (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres May 28

Panic (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres May 28

Key art for Amazon Prime Video's Panic
Key art for Prime Video’s Panic
Image: Amazon Studios

Lauren Oliver created this young adult drama series based on her 2014 novel of the same name. The show revolves around recent high school grads Heather (Olivia Welch) and Dodge (Mike Faist), who live in the impoverished small town of Carp. They participate in a mysterious competition called “Panic” with other seniors, one that takes place every summer and involves adrenaline-pumping challenges. Each task progressively becomes more difficult and life-threatening to eliminate the weaker players (think Hunger Games), but the winner scores a large sum of money and a chance to finally escape their hometown. Panic also stars Jessica Sula, Enrique Murciano, Jordan Elsaas, Ray Nicholson, Moira Kelly, and Nancy McKeon. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Oslo (HBO): Premieres May 29

Oslo (HBO): Premieres May 29

Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t the only playwright adapting his own award-winning work this spring. J.T. Rogers reimagines his Tony-winning play Oslo in an HBO film of the same name. Rogers took inspiration from the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, an historic agreement between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Directed by Rogers’ fellow Tony winner Bartlett Sher, Oslo centers on a Norwegian couple who end up at the center of these fraught negotiations. His Dark Materials’ Ruth Wilson stars as Norwegian foreign minister Mona Juul, and Andrew “Hot Priest” Scott plays Mona’s husband Terje Rød-Larsen, a Norwegian sociologist. As the press release elucidates, the film will follow “the secret back-channel talks, unlikely friendships, and quiet heroics of a small but committed group of Israelis and Palestinians.” [Danette Chavez]

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Returning

Returning

Left: Uzo Aduba stars in In Treatment (Photo: Suzanne Tenner); Right: Danny Pudi stars in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (Photo: Apple TV+)
Left: Uzo Aduba stars in In Treatment (Photo: Suzanne Tenner); Right: Danny Pudi stars in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (Photo: Apple TV+)

Pose season-three premiere, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow season-six premiere, The Girlfriend Experience season-three premiere (May 2); Selena: The Series Part 2 (May 4); Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet season-two premiere, Shrill third and final season premiere (May 7); High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season-two premiere, Love, Death & Robots season two (May 14); Special second and final season premiere, Adventure Time: Distant Lands—Together Again (May 20); Trying season-two premiere (May 21); Black Monday season-three premiere, The Chi season-four premiere, Duncanville season-two premiere, In Treatment season-four premiere, Master Of None season-three premiere (May 23); The Bold Type fifth and final season premiere (May 26); The Kominsky Method third and final season premiere, Lucifer season 5b premiere (May 28)

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