Kate Winslet, Phoebe Robinson, Justin Theroux, and Sasquatch lead April’s TV premieres

Kate Winslet, Phoebe Robinson, Justin Theroux, and Sasquatch lead April’s TV premieres

Left to right: Alexa Loo, Nasim Pedrad, and Jake Ryan in Chad (Photo: Liane Hentscher/TBS); Christopher Meloni in Law & Order: Organized Crime (Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC); Melody Hurd and Deborah Ayorinde in THEM (Photo: Amazon Studios); Kit Young, Amita Suman, and Freddy Carter in Shadow And Bone (Photo: David Appleby/Netflix); Birdgirl (Image: Adult Swim)
Left to right: Alexa Loo, Nasim Pedrad, and Jake Ryan in Chad (Photo: Liane Hentscher/TBS); Christopher Meloni in Law & Order: Organized Crime (Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC); Melody Hurd and Deborah Ayorinde in THEM (Photo: Amazon Studios); Kit Young, Amita Suman, and Freddy Carter in Shadow And Bone (Photo: David Appleby/Netflix); Birdgirl (Image: Adult Swim)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

If this past February marked TV’s first steps toward its previous densely packed state, then April represents a leap. There are nearly as many promising returns as there are intriguing premieres (in the case of Dick Wolf’s latest spin-off, a combination of the two). Along with new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, A Black Lady Sketch Show, and Younger, April also sees the debut of HBO Max’s dystopian dramedy Made For Love, the Kate Winslet-led Mare Of Easttown, the latest adaptation of The Mosquito Coast, and an earnest exploration of the legend of Bigfoot. Meanwhile, on Comedy Central, Phoebe Robinson will be doing the most for her new interview series. We’ll also get our first proper looks at The Nevers, Rutherford Falls, and Law & Order: Organized Crime.

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Law & Order: Organized Crime (NBC): Premieres April 1

Law & Order: Organized Crime (NBC): Premieres April 1

For the seventh series in his Law & Order franchise, Dick Wolf’s enlisted a familiar face: Christopher Meloni, who played Detective Elliott Stabler for the first 12 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. But given that Stabler is one of the loosest cannons in Law & Order canon, his reintroduction is still a bit of a gamble, especially as real-life calls for police reform (if not abolition) reached a new peak in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd. But it sounds like the series, which has a new showrunner in Ilene Chaiken, is taking these changes into account—when Stabler comes out of retirement to lead the NYPD’s organized crime task force, he’ll find himself working in a criminal justice system unlike the one he once upheld. Some things will be the same, though: Organized Crime will launch during a crossover event with SVU. [Danette Chavez]

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United States Of Al (CBS): Premieres April 1

United States Of Al (CBS): Premieres April 1

United States Of Al, Chuck Lorre’s latest CBS sitcom, is already garnering attention, but not necessarily in a positive way. The trailer sparked criticism online over the show’s seemingly reductive portrayal of an Afghan man. Here’s the plot, such as it is: Awalmir or Al (Adhir Kalyan) travels to Ohio from Afghanistan to start a new life. He stays with his friend Riley (Parker Young), a Marine vet for whom Al was an interpreter. Riley is struggling to adjust to his new post-combat routine, leading to problems with his wife, Vanessa (Kelli Goss). United States Of Al will delve into Al and Riley’s friendship as the former tries to repair his friend’s marriage while bonding with the rest of his family. The series also stars Dean Norris, Farrah Mackenzie, and Elizabeth Alderfer. [Saloni Gajjar]

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The Challenge: All Stars (Paramount+): Premieres April 1

The Challenge: All Stars (Paramount+): Premieres April 1

For the latest season of The Challenge, Paramount+ is going all out by bringing back 22 of the biggest competitors in the reality TV series’ history—as well as some folks who, like Teck Holmes, haven’t competed in 21 years. But the game is, in some ways, very much the same: veterans of The Real World and Road Rules seasons past will square off against each other for the top spot and an exact-figure-as-yet-unknown cash prize. Once again, T.J. Lavin hosts this grueling contest, which he’s already teased features some events that fit newcomers and seasoned Challengers alike will struggle with. Contestants include three Real World: Las Vegas alums, The Real World: Boston’s Syrus Yarbrough, and Road Rules season one’s Mark Long. [Danette Chavez]

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Made For Love (HBO Max): Premieres April 1

Made For Love (HBO Max): Premieres April 1

It’s not necessarily filling a Black Mirror-shaped hole, even though it stars Cristin Milioti and Billy Magnussen from “USS Callister,” but HBO Max’s Made For Love nevertheless offers an advanced but absurd sci-fi story. Hazel (Milioti) is on the run from Byron Gogol (Magnussen), her controlling tech billionaire husband who planted a monitoring chip in her head without her permission. It can track, watch, and hear her as well as interpret her emotional data. She escapes their “hub” and seeks shelter with her estranged father Herbert (Ray Romano). The dramedy also stars Dan Bakkedahl, The Undoing’s breakout Noma Dumezweni, Augusto Aguilera, and Caleb Foote. It will premiere with three episodes. [Saloni Gajjar]

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The Serpent (Netflix): Premieres April 2

The Serpent (Netflix): Premieres April 2

After gaining critical acclaim for his performance in The Mauritanian, Tahar Rahim returns to the small screen with this eight-part crime drama co-produced by BBC One and Netflix. The Serpent is based on the crimes of Charles Sobhraj, a French conman and serial killer responsible for at least a dozen deaths in the ’70s while traveling across Thailand, India, and Nepal. Rahim stars as Sobhraj while Jenna Coleman portrays Marie-Andrée Leclerc, his lover and accomplice. The two posed as gem dealers and were prime suspects in the murders of young Western travelers on what was known as the Asian Hippie Trail. Sobhraj was given the epithet of The Serpent because of his cunning ways of escaping the law even while he was on Interpol’s top lists in different continents. The Serpent was filmed in Thailand and in the U.K., so it’s poised to offer some great scenery. The drama also stars Billy Howle, Ellie Bamber, and Amesh Edireweera. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Birdgirl (Adult Swim): April 4

Birdgirl (Adult Swim): April 4

It’s been 14 years since the end of Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law (not counting the 2018 one-off special), but the animated comedy finally returns to Adult Swim in the form of Birdgirl. This spin-off of the classic series sees Paget Brewster reprise her role as Judy Sebben—er, the superhero Birdgirl, who is definitely not Phil Ken Sebben’s beloved daughter Judy, unless that running joke has been abandoned by this point. With Birdgirl now running her deceased father’s company, she has to juggle her responsibilities as both a somewhat crummy superhero and a (presumably) somewhat crummy business executive. In addition to Brewster, the animated series will feature the voices of Tony Hale, Rob Delaney, Kether Donohue, John Doman, Negin Farsad, and Sonia Denis (no word if Stephen Colbert will return as Judy’s dad, but he’s even busier now than he was when the old show ended). [Sam Barsanti]

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Hemingway: The Myth (PBS): April 5

Hemingway: The Myth (PBS): April 5

It’s no question that the legend of Ernest Hemingway—the burly, hard-drinking he-man who loved hunting, fishing, and bullfights—has overtaken his literary reputation. Ken Burns and Lynne Novick attempt to get at the heart of the complex and flawed man in their new PBS documentary, airing in three parts over six hours. To travel past his towering mythos, the doc focuses on Hemingway’s obsessive creative process as well as his four marriages, resulting in discoveries Burns calls “revelatory and shocking.” It’s an overdue in-depth look at a literary icon whose writings have since slipped below the Hemingway myth in public perception, even though he’s one of the first names that comes to mind when you think of “American writer.” [Gwen Ihnat]

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Chad (TBS): Premieres April 6

Chad (TBS): Premieres April 6

Nasim Pedrad has been reliable supporting player in comedy movies and TV shows both before and after her 100-episode run on Saturday Night Live (her ability to go toe-to-toe with Lamorne Morris on New Girl cannot be over-celebrated), but now she’s finally getting a sitcom of her own… though it is one where she happens to be playing a teenage boy named Chad. Despite that conceptual twist, Chad seems like it’s aiming to be a relatively true-to-life account of being a teenager in America, with Chad wishing his Persian family could be more “regular” while trying to figure out what kind of person he even wants to be (current status seems to be “lovable dork,” based on how everyone reacts to Chad in the trailer). The series also stars Jake Ryan (who co-leads the series), Thomas Barbusca, Paul Chahidi, and Saba Homayoon. [Sam Barsanti]

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Kung Fu (The CW): Premieres April 7

Kung Fu (The CW): Premieres April 7

First things first: The CW’s Kung Fu is a reimagining, not a reboot, of the 1972 series of the same name and its 1993 sequel series, which starred the late David Carradine as an Asian-Caucasian Shaolin monk. It remains to be seen just what that distinction entails, but we do know that Lost and Hawaii Five-0 scribe Christina M. Kim created the new Kung Fu, which stars Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen, a college dropout and highly skilled martial artist. After spending years training at a Shaolin monastery in China, she returns to her home of San Francisco to, for the most part, single-handledly beat back the Triad. The wonderful Tzi Ma co-stars as Nicky’s father Jin Shen, who’s flummoxed by his daughter’s decisions but isn’t without his own secrets. The series’ executive producers include, among others, Kim, Ed Spielman (the creator of the original series), Greg Berlanti, and Hanelle Culpepper. The pilot definitely bears Berlanti’s mark; it would fit right into the DC CWverse. Hopefully, Kim et al. find a way to make the series stand out in later episodes. [Danette Chavez]

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Exterminate All The Brutes (HBO): Premieres April 7

Exterminate All The Brutes (HBO): Premieres April 7

I Am Not Your Negro director Raoul Peck delves into the dark heart of colonialism and white supremacist ideology in Exterminate All The Brutes, a new four-part series for HBO. Using an innovative hybrid format combining standard documentary techniques with animation and scripted footage that take re-enactments to a whole new level, Peck seeks not only to expose the U.S.’ violent legacy of slavery and genocide, but to “offer a counter-narrative to white Eurocentric history,” as an HBO press release puts it. The result expands the series’ scope even wider, interrogating the nature of history itself. [Katie Rife]

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Home Economics (ABC): Premieres April 7

Home Economics (ABC): Premieres April 7

ABC is filling the void left by Modern Family’s exit with this new family comedy, developed by Michael Colton and John Aboud and partly based on the former’s life experiences. Home Economics tells the story of three siblings belonging to different financial stratas. Tom (Topher Grace) is a struggling writer living a barely-middle-class kind of life; his younger brother Connor (Jimmy Tatro) is filthy rich and just bought a house from Matt Damon; and their sister Sarah (Caitlin McGee) is strapped for cash, living in a small apartment with her wife and two kids. Home Economics is meant to be a heartwarming yet uncomfortable look into how money issues factor into family dynamics. The cast certainly looks promising: Karla Souza and Sasheer Zamata co-star with Grace, who makes his return to leading a series following That ’70s Show. [Saloni Gajjar]

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THEM (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres April 9

THEM (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres April 9

THEM builds on the horrors presented in films like Get Out, Us, as well as 2020’s Lovecraft Country. In the first season of this terror anthology, which hails from creator Little Marvin and is executive produced by Lena Waithe, a Black family moves into an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood in 1953 during the Great Migration. Henry and Lucky Emory (Ashley Thomas and Deborah Ayorinde) are excited to live in their new house with their two young daughters, but their dream of an idyllic home is threatened by malevolent forces. These threats aren’t just of the supernatural variety, but also stem from the close-mindedness of their white neighbors. THEM also stars Alison Pill, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Melody Hurd, and Ryan Kwanten. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Doing The Most With Phoebe Robinson (Comedy Central): Premieres April 9

Doing The Most With Phoebe Robinson (Comedy Central): Premieres April 9

After 13 months (and counting) of stay-at-home orders, you can’t blame Phoebe Robinson for wanting to do the most with her new Comedy Central series. The multi-hyphenate performer will not only conduct charming interviews with a great lineup of guests—Amber Ruffin! Kevin Bacon!—she’ll also join them in activities as wide-ranging as tumbling, horseback riding, and a high ropes course. A Property Brother will teach Robinson magic, Queer Eye’s Tan France will cook alongside her, and we can only imagine what kind of fun the bestselling author will have with actor, activist, and author Instagram luminary Gabrielle Union. Doing The Most With Phoebe Robinson premieres with two episodes. [Danette Chavez]

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The Nevers (HBO): Premieres April 11

The Nevers (HBO): Premieres April 11

HBO’s The Nevers is set in 1899, a few years after a supernatural event imbues certain young women with extraordinary abilities. Those affected are known as “The Touched,” who are anything but accepted by Victorian London society, which is why they form their own gang to protect themselves from zealots and murderers. Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) is one of the first of the Nevers, whose allies include Amalia True (Laura Donnelly), a “quick-fisted widow,” with a penchant for drink, and Lavinia Bidlow (Dollhouse’s Olivia Williams), a rich spinster who runs The Orphanage that houses many of these gifted individuals. The Nevers comes from Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed the premiere. But in November 2020, Whedon “parted ways” with the production, and Philippa Goslett replaced him as showrunner. Like a few other preview entries, The Nevers was intermittently shut down by the pandemic, so “Part One” will consist of six episodes, which will be followed up by the four-episode “Part Two” at a later date. [Danette Chavez]

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Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! (Netflix): Premieres April 14

Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! (Netflix): Premieres April 14

Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! represents a homecoming and a reunion for Jamie Foxx. The Oscar winner returns to his TV roots with this comedy from Bentley Kyle Evans, former showrunner of The Jamie Foxx Show, and co-stars with fellow In Living Color alum David Alan Grier. (The series also filmed just a block away from where that trailblazing sketch comedy show was shot.) The series is loosely based on Foxx’s life, primarily his relationship with his daughter Corinne Foxx, who also executive produces. Foxx stars as Brian, a single working dad who struggles to bond with his teen daughter Sasha (Kyla-Drew), alongside a reverend named Sweet Tee and a character named Cadillac Calvin. Grier plays Brian’s father Fox (that won’t get confusing), who’s determined to enjoy the latest chapter of his life. This multi-cam series aims for multigenerational comedy, as Brian, Sasha, and Fox cramp each other’s style and learn from each other. [Danette Chavez]

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Spy City (AMC+): Premieres April 14

Spy City (AMC+): Premieres April 14

Dominic Cooper stars in AMC+'s Spy City
Dominic Cooper stars in Spy City
Photo: AMC+

This six-part espionage drama from AMC+ is poised to take viewers back to the Cold War. Spy City stars Dominic Cooper, an English spy sent to Berlin in 1961. His mission is to sift out the traitor who might be part of the U.K. embassy or even among their allies. He’s on a tight deadline, as the construction of the Berlin Wall is about to begin. The city has been declared “the most dangerous place on earth” by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and is already teeming with spies and double agents such that one wrong move could trigger the threat of nuclear war. The espionage drama is written by William Boyd and directed by Miguel Alexandre. Cooper is joined in the cast by Brian Caspe, Johanna Wokalek, Leonie Benesch, and Ben Münchow. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Big Shot (Disney+): Premieres April 16

Big Shot (Disney+): Premieres April 16

Believe it or not, Disney+ isn’t just all about Marvel. Along with The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, the streamer is looking to build on its sports drama lineup with Big Shot, developed by David E. Kelley and Dean Lorey. The series stars John Stamos as temperamental basketball coach Marvyn Korn, who gets fired from his fancy NCAA job. His road to redemption comes in the form of his new gig, one he isn’t too keen about at first: coaching an all-girls private high school team. The drama also stars Yvette Nicole Brown as the school’s no-nonsense dean Sherilyn and Jessalyn Gilsig as Marvyn’s assistant coach. The rest of the cast includes Holly Barrett, Keala Settle, Richard Robichaux, Monique Green, Tiana Le, and Sophia Mitri Schloss. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Mare Of Easttown (HBO): Premieres April 18

Mare Of Easttown (HBO): Premieres April 18

Kate Winslet buckles under the expectations of a small town in Mare Of Easttown. The Oscar winner stars as Detective Mare Sheehan, who’s a local hero thanks to a high school basketball victory and her dedicated service. Though she followed in her late father’s footsteps in joining the force, Mare is mostly fighting to get out from her own shadow. But this limited series from Brad Ingelsby has more in store for Mare than just crushed hopes—she also leads the search for a missing person. And as the investigation drags on, no amount of former glory can keep her fellow Easttown residents from getting restless. There are shades of Sharp Objects, what with the insular setting, the missing girl, and Mare’s contentious relationship with her mother Helen (Jean Smart). But HBO and Winslet already proved to be a winning combination in 2011, when the actor took home an Emmy for Mildred Pierce. Guy Pearce, Winslet’s Mildred Pierce co-star and fellow Emmy winner, co-stars along with Julianne Nicholson and Evan Peters. [Danette Chavez]

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Sasquatch (Hulu): Premieres April 20

Sasquatch (Hulu): Premieres April 20

The idea of a prestige docuseries about the hunt for Bigfoot sounds like parody, but investigative journalist David Holthouse and director Joshua Rofé manage to pull it off with Hulu’s Sasquatch. The key here is that the story isn’t just about the legendary ape; there are humans who would rather not be seen hiding out in the Pacific Northwest as well. In the series, which is executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, Holthouse uses an apocryphal tale of three men torn into pieces at a Northern California pot farm as his gateway to the worlds of cryptozoologists and underground marijuana growers, two groups that are not as chill as you might initially think. [Katie Rife]

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Cruel Summer (Freeform): April 20

Cruel Summer (Freeform): April 20

Jessica Biel apparently cannot get enough of psychological thrillers. After producing The Sinner and starring in its creepy first season, Biel returns as a producer on Cruel Summer, a YA mystery drama that involves two teen girls and their interconnected fates. When popular Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) goes missing in the summer of 1993, all signs point to school nerd Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) and her possible connection to the disappearance. The show is set over three summers, which see Jeanette transform from the loner to the popular girl to the primary accused. But is Jeanette really guilty, and is Kate really who she seems to be? Cruel Summer also stars Michael Landes, Harley Quinn Smith, and Froy Gutierrez. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Rutherford Falls (Peacock): April 22

Rutherford Falls (Peacock): April 22

Michael Schur reunites with Ed Helms and Brooklyn Nine-Nine producer Sierra Teller Ornelas for Rutherford Falls, which boasts the largest Indigenous writing staff on television. Helms stars as Nathan Rutherford, a descendant of the founder of Rutherford Falls. Nathan gets into a conflict with the town’s mayor and the Native American reservation, who want to move his ancestor’s statue, which is causing accidents in its current location in the middle of a road. Jana Schmieding plays Nathan’s best friend Raegen Wells, who finds it difficult to get help in saving the local cultural center. Rutherford Falls also stars Michael Greyeyes, Dustin Milligan, Dana L. Wilson, and Jesse Leigh. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Shadow And Bone (Netflix): April 23

Shadow And Bone (Netflix): April 23

Netflix’s latest ambitious fantasy adaptation, Shadow And Bone is based on Leigh Bardugo’s novel of the same name (the second book in her Grishaverse trilogy) and the duology Six Of Crows, a sorta-sequel that takes place in the same war-torn world. It’s a lot of territory to cover, but with Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer serving as showrunner, Shadow And Bone isn’t likely to get lost in its own lore. Jessie Mei Li stars as Alina Starkov, a mapmaker who, after surviving an attack at sea, finds out she wields an incredible power. General Kirigan, a.k.a The Darkling (Ben Barnes), quickly enlists Alina in the Grisha army, but whether the two will be allies or foes is unclear. This adaptation maintains the Russian influences of Bardugo’s novel, but Heisserer and his team also set out to make the story more inclusive, starting with the biracial Alina. [Danette Chavez]

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The Mosquito Coast (Apple TV+): Premieres April 30

The Mosquito Coast (Apple TV+): Premieres April 30

After his Emmy-worthy turn in HBO’s The Leftovers, Justin Theroux returns to the world of prestige TV and adaptations with the suspenseful The Mosquito Coast, based on the 1981 book of the same name written by his uncle Paul Theroux (so it’s a family affair). The book was previously adapted into a film starring Harrison Ford and River Phoenix, but the Apple TV+ drama will bend the narrative a bit. Theroux plays Allie Fox, an idealist and brilliant inventor who uproots his entire family to Mexico because the U.S. government is after him. It also stars Melissa George, Logan Polish, Gabriel Bateman, and Kimberly Elise. After a two-episode premiere, the streaming platform will drop new episodes on a weekly basis. [Saloni Gajjar]

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Returning

Returning

Elisabeth Moss stars in Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale
Elisabeth Moss
Screenshot: The Handmaid’s Tale

Top Chef, season 18 premiere (April 1); Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, season-two premiere (April 8); The Circle, season-two premiere (April 14); Younger, season-seven premiere, Infinity Train: Book Four (April 15); A Black Lady Sketch Show, season-two premiere (April 23); The Handmaid’s Tale, season-four premiere (April 28).

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